Religions and Spirituality

Faith and Politics Subject of 'Christian Activist' Claiborne's Talk at Summit's Beacon UU Sept. 21

Shane Claiborne

SUMMIT, NJ -  Shane Claiborne, a Philadelphia-based Christian activist who worked in India with Mother Teresa and continues to campaign for nonviolence and service to the poor, will speak on Faith and Politics at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit on September 21, beginning at 6 p.m.

The program will focus on the intersections of faith and politics in the life of religious institutions, the federal budget and the non-profit sector. It is being sponsored by Rev. Carmine A. Pernini, pastor of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rahway.

The public is invited to the free event, with check-in beginning at 5:30 p,m. Light refreshments and beverages will be served.

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Claiborne’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion, including two New Jersey advocates for social justice: Archange Antoine, executive director of Faith in NJ, a multi-faith, multi-racial community-organizing network of faith leaders and faith communities, and Sara Lilja, director of the Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey (LEAMNJ). Erich Kussman will be panel moderator.

Claiborne, a prominent speaker and best-selling author, is part of the New Monasticism, a Protestant movement emphasizing a communal life, thoughtful, prayerful contemplation, a focus on hospitality and practical engagement with poor people. In 1998, he founded The Simple Way, an intentional faith community in one of the poorest neighborhoods of North Philadelphia where he still lives. He was also a founder of Red Letter Christians, a movement committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.” The group is named for the red lettering of Jesus’ words in traditional Christian Bibles. 

Claiborne has gone to jail for advocating for the homeless and has visited war-ravaged areas in Iraq and Afghanistan to stand for peace. In 2011, he withheld a portion of his income taxes, meant to correspond to the percentage of the federal budget spent on the military, and instead donated the money to charity. His current passion has been to end the death penalty. Last year, he published the book Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us (Harper Collins).

Antoine, a New Jersey native of Haitian background, works with Faith NJ to provide realistic approaches for improving the quality of life for poor and middle-class people. Faith in NJ is a faith-based community-organizing initiative aimed at reducing racial and economic disparities. It is affiliated with the PICO National Network , which involves more than 1,200 congregations in 17 states.

Lilja has served as director of the Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry since 2011, leading the public witness of nearly 80,000 Lutherans and Episcopalians in 450 parishes in New Jersey. She serves as a faith-based advocate in Trenton on issues related to hunger, housing, economic empowerment, immigration and community violence and also helps congregations learn more about using their voices in the public square.

For additional information about the program, contact Reverend Carmine Pernini at 732-284-6054.

Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit is located at 4 Waldron Avenue.

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