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Islamic State Attacks on Religious Minorities ‘Genocide,’ Canadian Ambassador Says

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In this Feb.17, 2011 file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 kilometers (12 miles) south of Mogadishu, Somalia. U.S. military forces targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network in an operation Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Somalia, the Pentagon said. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

In this Feb.17, 2011 file photo, hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 kilometers (12 miles) south of Mogadishu, Somalia. U.S. military forces targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network in an operation Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Somalia, the Pentagon said. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

 

(The Star) – The explosion of ethno-religious hatred, forced expulsions and gruesome murders by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria has risen to the level of genocide, says Andrew Bennett, Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom.

“ISIS is a barbaric terrorist group that has taken Sunni Islam and warped it, distorted it, twisted it and usurped it for its own barbaric goals of establishing a so-called caliphate,” Bennett said in an interview in Toronto on Monday, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the group was previously known.

Although the factors are complex, he added, “it is religiously motivated and religion is at the centre of this conflict.”

Last week, Ottawa announced the deployment of “several dozen” members of the military who will join U.S. forces in advising the Iraqi government on becoming more effective in fighting the militants, who have killed, pillaged and terrorized their way through Iraq and Syria in an effort to revive the Muslim conquests that began in the 7th century after the Prophet Muhammad’s death.

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Conference Offers Classes to Support Disabled People at Churches and Families

OAKLAND POST — A Northern CA Disability Ministry Conference (NorCal DMC) to support people with disabilities at churches will take place Sept. 28 at Abun­dant Life Christian Fellow­ship. 2440 Leghorn St. in Mountain View, CA. In partnership with the Dis­ability Ministry Conference of Southern CA, the NorCal DMC will feature keynote speaker Diane Dokko Kim, a local special needs mom, dis­ability ministry advocate and nationally renowned author.

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Gisele Darden, of Doing It Their Way Prepares for the 1st Annual Northern California Disability Ministry Conference (Photo by: NorCal DMC).

By Carla Thomas

A Northern CA Disability Ministry Conference (NorCal DMC) to support people with disabilities at churches will take place Sept. 28 at Abun­dant Life Christian Fellow­ship. 2440 Leghorn St. in Mountain View, CA.

In partnership with the Dis­ability Ministry Conference of Southern CA, the NorCal DMC will feature keynote speaker Diane Dokko Kim, a local special needs mom, dis­ability ministry advocate and nationally renowned author.

Workshops will include Autism and Sensory, Under­standing Behavior, Supporting Families, Curriculum Activi­ties, among others.

Organizer and consultant Gisele Darden of Doing It Their Way says many churches are unequipped for guests with special needs and disabilities.

“The conference is designed to offer tools for new parents, parachurch ministries, for churches just considering first steps of disability ministry, those in early stages and estab­lished ministries looking for further training,” said Darden.

“Mobility issues or staff unequipped to assist those with disabilities prevent people with disabilities from coming to church or actively participating within their ca­pacity.

“There are many people who want to attend church but just don’t come because their disability makes it difficult to either get to church or they are limited once they do arrive. The workshops will also be applicable to supporting chil­dren, teens and adults.”

In the spirit of Bible scrip­ture Luke 12:13-23, Darden says the event will help at­tendees advance the quality of their disability ministry by creating inclusive faith com­munities at local churches through coaching, training, encouragement and collabo­rating.

By equipping local church­es with training, practical tools and coaching along with supporting families with en­couragement through Chris­tian community, Darden says people with disabilities can be viable participants in congre­gations.

“We invite you to join us in prayer and partnership, as we strive to build a connect­ed and thriving community of disability ministry teams, churches and families.

For more information visit: Disability Ministry Conference or email [email protected] or (408) 359-7331

This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post.

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Palm Coast church to host Football Sunday

DAYTONA TIMES — Palm Coast United Methodist Church will hold its eighth annual Football Sunday services on Aug. 18 at 5200 Belle Terre Parkway, Palm Coast,   Members of the Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas High School football teams, coaches, cheerleaders, and band members will attend the contemporary worship service at 9:30 a.m.  

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Photo by: Jean-Daniel Francoeur | pexels.com
Photo by: Jean-Daniel Francoeur | pexels.com

By The Daytona Times

Palm Coast United Methodist Church will hold its eighth annual Football Sunday services on Aug. 18 at 5200 Belle Terre Parkway, Palm Coast,

Members of the Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas High School football teams, coaches, cheerleaders, and band members will attend the contemporary worship service at 9:30 a.m.

Members of the Bethune-Cookman University football team and coaches will attend the traditional worship service 11 a.m.

Parishioners and guests are encouraged to wear a football jersey representing their favorite high school, college or professional teams. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, call 386-4451600.

This article originally appeared in the Daytona Times.

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Afro

Rankin Celebrates 125 Years

THE AFRO — In 2020, Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel will celebrate its 125th year of serving as a spiritual, historical and cultural center on Howard University’s campus.  Built between the years of 1894 and 1895, Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel has served as a pillar of truth, service and a spiritual oasis for students, faculty, staff, alumni, the greater Washington D.C. community and visitors from across the nation and throughout the world for almost 125 years. 

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Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel is celebrating its 125th year serving the Howard University spiritual community. (Courtesy Photo)
By Brianna McAdoo

In 2020, Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel will celebrate its 125th year of serving as a spiritual, historical and cultural center on Howard University’s campus.

Built between the years of 1894 and 1895, Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel has served as a pillar of truth, service and a spiritual oasis for students, faculty, staff, alumni, the greater Washington D.C. community and visitors from across the nation and throughout the world for almost 125 years.

The chapel was constructed under the leadership of former Howard University President Jeremiah Rankin. In 1896 the chapel was dedicated and named after Andrew Rankin, President Rankin’s late brother. Rankin’s widow had donated $5,000 to the construction of the chapel.

Throughout its existence, the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel has had four Deans of the Chapel including Dr. Howard Thurman, Dr. Daniel Hill, Dr. Evans Crawford and Dr. Bernard Richardson who currently serves as the Dean of the Chapel. The Chapel is serviced and supported by the Chaplains, Chapel Assistants, the Chapel Ushers, Interfaith Fellows and “Friends of Rankin Chapel.”

In a newsletter to the Howard University community, President Wayne A.I. Frederick shared that an architectural assessment of Rankin chapel took place.  Frederick explained that major monetary contributions are necessary, in order to renovate and repair the historic chapel to the extent that the university wants and needs.

“A significant fundraising effort will be needed to complete this project,” Frederick wrote. “Our desire is to move forward with the renovation and expansion of this national landmark given its central place in Howard University history and those chapters yet to be written.”

Rankin Chapel is a non-denominational chapel that has welcomed prolific people throughout history to the pulpit including Howard’s very first Black President Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Eleanor Roosevelt, Desmond Tutu, Vernon Johns and Mary McLeod Bethune. For over a century, many people have been able to find a spiritual haven in the 90-foot long building that offers an array of worship, ranging from their Jummah Prayer Series to their Sunday Chapel Service.

“As a member of the Howard Gospel Choir, the chapel became my second home,” Samiyah Muhammad, a current student at Howard University shared. “Rehearsals in the Chapel became my place of refuge and release from the stressors of college life, and I am grateful to know I always had a place where I could find peace of mind.”

Their Sunday Speaker Series is one of a kind.  Every Sunday a new sermon is delivered by a different speaker, who range from clergy, to civil leaders, ambassadors and the president of the Howard University himself.

“Andrew Rankin Chapel is the easiest way for me to stay connected not only spiritually, but also politically. Being that every Sunday there is a new speaker and it’s situated in the capital, Rankin creates somewhat of a breeding ground of different forms of Christianity, while bringing in notable speakers with different sets of social beliefs,” said Howard student, Kennedy Jennings.

“The chapel itself feels like nothing short of home, and seeing the families within the community that come out allows for it to be a pivotal part of history by linking us all by experience and spirituality.”

President Frederick also emphasized the importance of Rankin to Howard history and the community at large.

“For more than a century, Rankin Chapel has served as the locus of spirituality for generations of Howard students, faculty and staff and has been a consistent haven for all marking different seasons of life,” he said.  “Within its walls, students have been inspired and provoked to manifest heavenly values here on earth. Sacred vows have been exchanged at the altar to celebrate love and marriage. Generations of families have been comforted in its pews even as they grieved loss.”

Frederick is hopeful for Rankin’s future.

“We look to the future of Rankin Chapel with great anticipation, knowing that a thriving chapel advances a dynamic University and strong community,” the 17th Howard University said. “In the words of Dr. Howard Thurman, ‘community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish where always the boundaries are giving way to the coming of others from beyond them — unknown and undiscovered brothers.’  With open hands and open hearts, we begin to press beyond old boundaries to build an even stronger community in our time with Rankin Chapel leading the way.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Education

Math Skills and Black Culture Come Together at CBAC

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Like many parents, Pastor James Thomas of the Living Word Community Church, and his wife, Mona, aimed to place their children in a private school with the expectation that they would receive an exceptional education, and have the best chance possible of thriving in college. But once their children were enrolled in a private school, the Thomases were deeply disappointed to see how the Black students were treated.

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Pastor James Thomas and First Lady Mona Thomas are the founders of CBAC. (Courtesy Photo)

By Imani Sumbi

Like many parents, Pastor James Thomas of the Living Word Community Church, and his wife, Mona, aimed to place their children in a private school with the expectation that they would receive an exceptional education, and have the best chance possible of thriving in college. But once their children were enrolled in a private school, the Thomases were deeply disappointed to see how the Black students were treated.

“We had no idea that in the minds of the folks in the Valley, and in this particular private school that we were involved in, that it was like the ‘60s almost,” Pastor Thomas says. “[There was] a lot of racism [and] a lot of stereotyping.”

Even their own children, who were all excellent students, were not immune to the underlying prejudice. Pastor Thomas got on the board of the school in an attempt to exact change, but found his voice was not being heard.

Eventually, the Thomases concluded that the culture of the private school system was not conducive to the success of Black children, and many Black children were simply tolerating the prejudice for fear that they would get in trouble if they spoke up.

If they wanted to give these children the attention and care they deserved, they would have to take it into their own hands. So, with the help of their church, the Thomases launched their own educational program, which would later become the Culturally Based Algebra Camp (CBAC).

“We started this because we felt like, even though Black folks are moving to the Valley hoping to get a better education, these people are treating us as if we don’t even deserve respect or dignity,” says Mr. Thomas.

When the Thomases first got the idea to start an after-school educational program, it was not actually a math camp at all. It started as a weekly Saturday morning tutoring session for students attending public and charter schools in the San Fernando Valley. The prevailing sentiment among those who attended was that they did not enjoy school, and they especially dreaded math classes.

Realizing that these children needed much more support and encouragement than could be provided in a weekly study group, the Thomases transformed these sessions into an Algebra-focused camp. Now, it runs five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., for six weeks each summer at CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts in Van Nuys. The camp serves the first through the 12th grades, which are divided into five classrooms. Third graders are the only children who get their own classroom apart from any other grades, and for good reason.

“Usually, Black students, especially Black boys, are excelling in school until they get to grade three,” says Mr. Thomas. “At grade three, they begin to decline. And so, we decided to separate them out and work specifically with them so that wouldn’t happen.”

While the camp’s main objective is to prepare students to do well in Algebra 1 and more advanced math levels, it is anything but a typical summer program. As its name implies, the Culturally Based Algebra Camp prides itself on contextualizing lessons within the historical origins of mathematics and specifically its connection to Africa.

“Our motto is, you’ve got to be able to do math because you invented it,” says Pastor Thomas. “And so, what these students find out is not only did we invent math, but just about everything else. And so, most of what the world celebrates started with us. We show them that.”

In addition to being a pastor, Mr. Thomas is also a professor of Pan-African studies at Cal State LA. He says he repeats many of the same lectures he would give to his college students to the children at CBAC. Each morning, when the first students begin to arrive, he talks to them about a variety of topics including cultural appropriation, HBCUs, Black Greek letter organizations, post-traumatic slave syndrome, reparations, medical apartheid and slave religious customs.

“I don’t dumb it down for them,” he says. “Some of it is over their heads, and that’s fine.”

What is important, he says, is that these children are exposed to their culture and history from a young age so that they can feel proud of their heritage and assured of their abilities to excel academically — something many of the campers truly seem to take to heart.

“I’m learning about how Black people have invented many things and knowing that my culture is a pretty smart culture and they have done a lot of things for this world,” says Donovan, a 14-year-old student. “So, it’s nice to know that, and nice to see that I come from a culture with rich history.”

CBAC campers play football during recess. (Courtesy Photo)

CBAC campers play football during recess. (Courtesy Photo)

However, the cultural discussions at CBAC are not solely focused on the past. The camp is also a safe space for students to air their thoughts about the current political and racial climate.

“The year that Trayvon Martin was killed, we wanted to know how the kids were feeling about that,” says Mrs. Thomas. “So, there was a whole discussion about that, just so that the kids could have clear perspective and have an opportunity to voice whatever it was that they felt about that.”

The Thomases say the enthusiasm that CBAC students show in dedicating themselves to showing up each day and practicing their math skills is truly stunning. It goes entirely against the stereotype that Black children are uninterested or unskilled in academic performance.

Martha, 16, has been coming to CBAC since she was in fourth grade.

“Before I came to camp, math was not really my friend,” she says. “I didn’t really understand much of what was happening and sometimes my teachers were going too fast or they were not explaining it thoroughly. But then, when I started coming here, and I started learning more, I feel like math is now one of my strongest subjects.”

She is now preparing to take the SAT next year and says she wants to become a pediatric surgeon.

Kruse, a 7-year-old student, likewise had only positive things to say about how the camp has impacted his learning.

“I think it’s pretty good,” he says. “I haven’t learned multiplication or division yet, so I’m starting to get the hang of that and I’m thinking that I can take this stuff over to school and I’ll be probably smarter than other kids.”

Since the camp’s inception, countless parents have praised the program, attesting that their children have not only gained confidence in their math skills but have also developed a greater appreciation and pride for their identity as African Americans.

Shade Mokuolu has two children, a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old, who are returning to the camp for their third year. She appreciates that CBAC keeps their minds busy and engaged during the summer so they will be right on track when they go back to school.

BAC students create projects to show the connection between African history and mathematics. (Imani Sumbi / Los Angeles Sentinel)

BAC students create projects to show the connection between African history and mathematics. (Imani Sumbi / Los Angeles Sentinel)

 

“The moment they came, and they saw other kids like them, they started making friends, [and] they loved it,” Mokuolu says. “It’s also a very unique program because it helps them to connect to their roots [and] their heritage as African Americans. They do a lot of projects here that help them to connect with who they are, they study different parts of the world, [and] they study history.”

While CBAC holds its students to high academic standards, the Thomases espouse the philosophy that “parents are the most important component,” and they are held to equally high requirements in terms of their involvement in their children’s success at the camp and beyond. They must attend workshops and meetings throughout the summer to learn more about CBAC and stay updated on college admission requirements such as standardized testing and the FAFSA. They even take a pledge promising to help their children maintain a positive self-image, resolve issues in the household that may hinder academic achievement, limit unhealthy use of electronics and do everything in their power to help their children flourish.

If there is one thing the Thomases hope to accomplish through this program, it is that their students will never feel as though they have to accept racial intolerance in order to succeed academically – exactly what the Black students at the private school their own children once attended, seemed to feel.

“The one thing that I want them to take away is that when they fight, they win,” says Pastor Thomas. “I say that because I think we’re in a place now that we can’t just take for granted that people are going to do right by us. We have to make demands and we have to push for those demands. I hope that they will fight to go to college, that they will fight to get access to the classes that they need and that will help them to grow.”

To learn more about CBAC, contact Pastor James and Mona Thomas at info4cbac@gmail.com

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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COMMENTARY: For the Last Time, God is Not Schizophrenic

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “When I looked for a biblical reference point, there were actually too many to quote. I mean the bible is full of confirmation regarding God’s consistency. His unwavering faithfulness to us. God does indeed keep His promises and in His unpredictability, He is predictable.”

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James A. Washington is a father, husband, Christian, writer, entrepreneur and the owner/publisher of the Dallas Weekly.

Spiritually Speaking….

By James A. Washington, Publisher of the Dallas Weekly

Let me state up front. This is not new. I heard something recently that has stayed with me and has rapidly become embedded in my spirit, so I thought it was worthy to again pass along to you. “God is not schizophrenic.” It sounds simple enough, but, at closer inspection, you might want to seriously consider it implications.

When I looked for a biblical reference point, there were actually too many to quote. I mean the bible is full of confirmation regarding God’s consistency. His unwavering faithfulness to us. God does indeed keep His promises and in His unpredictability, He is predictable.

God loves us no matter how hard we try to deny this. We can never remove ourselves from this truth. It/He never changes. Warts and flaws and faults, God loves us. That means you and all your hidden secrets too. Deal with it.

The problem with God’s consistency is our inconsistency. When put into that perspective alongside God’s steadfastness, our fickleness screams out almost as some kind of bizarre trick.

What I’m saying is our behavior can become unsteady and sinfully shaky. But our faith should not. In the context of our faith, the consistency of God’s promise and His covenant with us should flourish. It should provide us with that proverbial ‘rock’ that we need to lean on.

After all, we’re not dealing with trick questions, slight of hand or spiritual illusions when it comes to God’s promise of eternal life and everlasting salvation. With faith comes the understanding that “God is not schizophrenic.”

Someone once told me that there should be some things and people in life that you can always count on. Folk who will be there for you no matter what! The reason we can relate to this is we know so many things and people in our lives that we cannot count on, or certainly shouldn’t.

So called friends will let you down. Family will fail you. Circumstances will change. Results are inconclusive and fame is fleeting. Being a Christian does not exempt us from everyday and every people challenges. They can be severe and debilitating.

Tests and testimonies are real. Yet God is steadfast. He does require however — or should I say, demands — the discipline of faith.

Unfaithfulness, schizophrenia, relapses, backsliding; all combine to get us into spiritual trouble. Faith, fortunately, always gets us out. That’s because God is good all the time. And God is God all the time, always was, always will be. He is not lost. He has not moved and left no forwarding address. He’s at the same place where you originally found Him and blessedly for you, he’s patiently waiting for you to acknowledge His presence there again and again and if needed, again.

My bible says faith proves itself by its obedience to the Lord. The more we accept His steadfastness, the clearer our paths become. When all is said and done, once you know where home is, you’re never lost. Because when we acknowledge the Almighty and who we are in relation to Him, we too, will never be lost or forsaken. May God bless and keep you always.

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Business

Women in Worship host Marketplace Panel

MILWAUKEE TIMES WEEKLY — Women in Worship was a two-day gathering for women to pray, worship and hear the word of God. As part of the event a Marketplace panel featuring some to the community’s most notable female business leaders who talked about how their faith has helped and guided them to both spiritual and business success.

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Melissa Goins and Megan Westra at the Woman in Worship Collage (Photo by: Yvonne Kemp)

On Saturday, May 25, 2019, Melva Henderson Ministries presented the “Woman in Worship Collage,” at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd. Women in Worship was a two-day gathering for women to pray, worship and hear the word of God. As part of the event a Marketplace panel featuring some to the community’s most notable female business leaders who talked about how their faith has helped and guided them to both spiritual and business success.

The panel featured Maures Development Group, LLC founder and president Melissa Goins; author Megan Westra; Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Director of Public Affairs and Community Engagement Faithe Colas; Social Development Commission Marketing and Social Media Specialist Chantell Sain; TMJ4 News Anchor Shannon Sims, who served as event MC; and Melva Henderson Ministries founder and president Pastor Melva Henderson, who hosted the event.

This article originally appeared in Milwaukee Times Weekly

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