Insight Interviews with EYN Leaders about the Crisis in Nigeria

Nathan Hosler traveled to Nigeria in late 2016 and spoke with people in the north-east region of Nigeria. The Office of Public Witness has created 3 different versions of these clips for varying audiences.
Overview of the Crisis in Nigeria-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvDjSkJ8OQk
Overview featuring EYN and other leaders-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jf4MfMdI-0
Full-length interviews-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX-NUMilsyE
Peace,
  Emmy

Statelessness in the Dominican Republic

If you think back on your day, can you count the ways your citizenship affected you? Being a member of a country is an intangible concept many take for granted. However, this privilege affects almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Statehood

Statehood simply means belonging to a country. The term nationality, or belonging to a nation, is also commonly used, as is the term citizenship. This concept seems simple, but the way statehood is assigned can be complex. There are two general ways countries determine statehood. One system is based on birthplace. This is often referred to as jus soli, or “right of soil.” Another system, jus sanguinis, is based on national or ethnic lineage. This literally translates to “right of blood.” This is more complicated because it can be based on maternal or paternal lineage and first or older generations.

The norm in the Western Hemisphere, an area marked by a history of momentous immigration, is to base statehood on jus soli. If a newborn baby is granted statehood where he or she is born, it is unlikely that the person will become stateless. Therefore, there are few areas in the Western Hemisphere with a significant population of stateless people.

The Development of Jus Sanguinis in the Dominican Republic

Over time, the Dominican Republic contradicted the hemisphere’s norm of jus soli. In the Dominican Republic, about 200,000 people are currently stateless. Most of these people are of Haitian descent. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an island historically known as Hispaniola. Spanish and French settlers came to the island in the 15th century. They all but annihilated the indigenous population and brought many people from Africa as slaves. In the 17th century, Spain ceded the Western third of the island to France. The French portion of the island became Haiti, and the Spanish portion became the Dominican Republic. The two countries have long and complex histories, but until 1937 they shared a fluid border.

In 1937, the dictator Trujillo ordered the genocide of thousands of Dominican residents with Haitian heritage. The differentiation of ethnicity was largely based on dialect and physical features. Haitians are generally considered “more Black.” Trujillo wanted the Dominican Republicans to be associated with their Spanish ancestors and not considered Black, despite his own Haitian heritage. This racial prejudice undergirds much of the discrimination of Haitians. There is also a socio-economic component to the discrimination: present-day Haiti is significantly poorer than the Dominican Republic. Many Haitians have immigrated to the Dominican Republic for economic opportunity, and work in agricultural and service sectors.

During the 20th century, the Dominican Republic continued to offer citizenship to people who were born in the country despite their parents’ historical statehood. However, there were periodic reports of people being refused birth certificates or other documents based on their presumed ethnic heritage. In 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights specifically investigated this issue, finding the country’s current practice and application of law to be a discriminatory infringement of the Republic’s constitution.

The Sentence

The Dominican Republic did not respond well to being rebuked. In 2013, a woman who had previously been issued a birth certificate was told that her certificate was invalid based on the fact that her parents were immigrants. She brought her case before the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal (think Supreme Court). At this time, the court interpreted the constitution to mean that children of undocumented parents are not eligible for citizenship. The interpretation was applied unanimously and retroactively, meaning anyone who was born after 1929 was subject to the judgement. Immediately, about 200,000 Dominicans’ citizenship were annulled. Not eligible for citizenship elsewhere, they became stateless.

Las afectados

The individuals who were stripped of their statehood are known colloquially as las afectados or “the affected.” The implications of being statelessness are far reaching. Without statehood, an individual cannot get a passport, legally work, marry, open a bank account or get a loan, get a driver’s license, vote, or attend school. Individuals are also not subject to protections of the legal system and may not see justice for crimes such as assault or rape.

The Dominican executive branch enacted a pathway to re-naturalization. Those without citizenship were eligible to re-apply until February 28th, 2015, but they needed several state-issued documents.   The deadline for submitting the required documentation was May 31st, 2015. On that date, all who had not successfully completed applications or had declined applications were eligible for deportation. Only about 9,000 of the 200,000 stateless persons successfully completed applications.

One might ask: to where could stateless individuals be deported?  Some of those affected are living in migrant camps on the border. Last year, about 4,000 people were estimated to be living in these camps.

Response:

While there is significant support of The Sentence in the Dominican Republic, many have pushed back, including our fellow Brethren. The Church of the Brethren was founded in the Dominican Republic in the wake of disaster response work following a hurricane in 1979. Today, the Dominican Brethren include about 1,650 members in 21 congregations.

The Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic actively supported its stateless members.  One way the church was able to do this was through the naturalization process. Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service financially supported this effort.

Church World Service (CWS) has distributed emergency supplies to camps in the form of meat, hygiene kits, blankets, and baby kits (when the Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries collects kits, they are distributed by Church World Service).

Reflection:

Exodus 22:21–23: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

 

Creator God, we pause to remember those who are stateless, living in limbo. Grant us the courage to care for them; they are connected to us by our shared heritage of your creation. We pray for those who are already acting as Jesus’ hands and feet, working with the oppressed. We ask you to illuminate the ways we can engage our churches, communities, and governments to eliminate statelessness.

Further Reading and Sources:

 

Blake: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Race-Based Statelessness in the Americas

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2450631

Church World Service: Emergency Situation Report Update: Haiti-Dominican Republic Statelessness

http://cwsglobal.org/emergency-situation-report-update-haiti-dominican-republic-statelessness/

Nolan: Displaced in the D.R. A country strips 210,000 of citizenship

http://harpers.org/archive/2015/05/displaced-in-the-d-r/

Church of the Brethren: Global Mission and Service-Haiti

http://www.brethren.org/global/haiti.html

Church of the Brethren: Partners- Dominican Republic

http://www.brethren.org/global2/dr/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

State of Uncertainty: Citizenship, Statelessness and Discrimination in the Dominican Republic

http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1112&context=iclr

 

Related  posts on Statelessness in the Dominican Republic:

 

http://blog.brethren.org/2016/virtual-ghosts-an-update-on-statelessness-in-the-dr/

http://blog.brethren.org/2014/statelessness-the-least-of-these-nationality-identity-and-when-you-have-neither/

http://blog.brethren.org/2016/our-stateless-brethren/

http://blog.brethren.org/2015/ebrethren-7-30-15/

 

With peace,

 

Stephanie Robinson

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

cranberry oatmeal cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


It’s National Cookie Day and you still have leftover cranberry sauce in the refrigerator from Thanksgiving. Make everyone happy with these treats!

Note: if you don’t have 1 ½ cups cranberry sauce, you can use one cup and throw in some dried cranberries. Or you can probably make the cookies with 1 cup. I think this is just what I had left when I made up the recipe!

Second note: My leftover cranberry sauce was made with real berries. I do not know what would happen if you use the canned stuff with the lines in it. Leave a note and let us know if you try it!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
(Makes around 4 dozen)

Cream together ½ cup butter (one stick) with 1 cup brown sugar.

Add 2 beaten eggs (or, if you’re like me and just made a pavlova for someone’s birthday, three egg yolks)

Stir in 1 ½ cups leftover cranberry sauce

In a large measuring cup, mix 1 ½ cups flour (part whole wheat is fine) with 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon.

Add to the liquid mixture. Then mix in 3 cups of uncooked oatmeal (I use rolled oats, but I imagine quick oats would be okay, too. The cookies would be a little less chewy, presumably.)

Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. Cool one minute on the cookie sheet and then on a wire rack.

Heard in my kitchen: “They have oatmeal; I’m calling this breakfast!”

You can find many delicious cookie recipes in the New Inglenook Cookbook, which is a wonderful Christmas gift!

Three ways to help your leaders be healthier

  1. Pay for a gym membership or other recreational equipment that they enjoy
  2. Rather than meeting for lunch, invite them to walk and talk
  3. Laugh a lot together

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list and previous posts?

Supporting Leaders: Emotional Support

  1. Send notes, emails and calls of appreciation
  2. Keep an eye out for opportunities to offer random acts of kindness and support to the pastor and other leaders: an impromptu meal delivered, the lawn mowed, car washed, etc.
  3. Provide free childcare for a night out. Go a step further and give them gift cards for dinner and a movie
  4. Evaluate and learn from mistakes; don’t use them to attack one another

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list and previous posts?

Supporting Leaders: Sabbath Rest

Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California

Clergy Women’s Retreat 2014 in Malibu, California . Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

  1. Honor the pastor’s days off – no phone calls, emails, visits unless an absolute emergency
  2. Make sure that vacation time is honored, both by granting it and ensuring that the leadership needs are cared for while the pastor is away (no interruptions!)
  3. Support Sabbath rests/sabbaticals for pastors, and other leaders as well
  4. Notice and give value to your leaders’ hobbies and avocations

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list and the previous post? Future posts in this series will cover supporting leaders in the areas of health and emotional support. Join the conversation, share ideas, and learn from others!

Supporting Leaders: Professionalism

  1. Have a solid job description and set of realistic expectations for your pastor. Review them regularly and hold the church accountable for helping to ensure that the pastoral load is reasonable
  2. Same as above, but for other leadership roles in the church
  3. Allow and/or help leaders say “no”
  4. Provide an adequate salary and benefits package, following denominational guidelines
  5. Limit the number of early morning or evening meetings each week

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list, specifically considering “professionalism”? Future posts in this series will cover supporting leaders in the areas of health, Sabbath rest, and emotional support. Join the conversation, share ideas, and learn from others!

 

Top Brethren things to do on a snow day

snowy day from a window6. Watch a video recording of a webinar or event you missed. It’s free! What could be more Brethren than that?

5. Sew on buttons. Sure, your winter coat still works with one button and a belt (speaking from personal experience), but maybe you will be warmer being able to close all those holes.

4. Plan your garden. Order seeds or plants after you make a few decisions. Will you clear a new spot? Rotate what grows where? Create raised beds? Put in a rain barrel or drip hose? (How did simple living get so complicated?!)

3. Lay out a small four square court with masking tape on a countertop. If you can’t find a little rubber bouncy ball, try making a ball. You had to be saving those rubber bands from the newspaper—and the broccoli—for something!

2. Make snow ice cream:  canned milk, vanilla and sugar mixed with a bowl of the cleanest snow you can find. Yes, we Brethren believe in a land flowing with milk and honey… it’s just that the milk and honey have to be below the freezing point.

1. Shovel for a neighbor… or a stranger… or even your dog. You know, whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Jesus!

What would you add to this list?

–Jan Fischer Bachman

What is Fasting?

As Lent nears we encounter a number of people taking on a fast- from giving up chocolate to not eating meat on Friday. This short reflection first appeared in the Congregational Life Ministries publication Basin and Towel. To subscribe download this form.

“‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’” Matthew 6:16-18 NRSv

It is interesting to encounter fasting in the Sermon on the Mount.  Right after Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for “our daily bread” in the Lord ’s Prayer (6:11) he shifts to talking about not eating it.  Yet, the connection is clear- Fasting, like prayer, is an assumed spiritual discipline that demands a particular mode of practice.  In more clear words, it’s what people of faith do and Jesus wants to make sure they do it right and for the right reasons.

So what is fasting?  In its most simple form, fasting is the act of going some time without food.  Earlier in the book of Matthew we read of Jesus taking 40 days to go without food (4:2). Now that is one long fast!  Fortunately for us, the expectation is not for such grand heroics on our part.  In fact, there are many types of fasts, all of which can be done in any length of time.  Some drink only juice for a few days, some may not eat during the daylight hours, and still others might fast from a particular thing like chocolate during lent.

But why fast?  There are two ways to approach the question, one by saying what it is and the other by describing what it’s not.  In the reading from Matthew 6 above, it’s clear what fasting is not: It is not about a show for others. It’s not meant to be manipulative or political in nature but rather assumes it is a spiritual matter between God and the faithful one.  In other words, fasting is not about drawing attention to yourself. Actually, as we see in the temptations of Jesus in chapter 4 we see that fasting is not about us at all- not our hunger, not our pride, and not our vanity.  In today’s terms, this means that fasting is not about out weight, not about our desire for great political outcomes, and not about drawing the attention of others to our beliefs or our bodies.

Yet, as a spiritual practice it is in some ways about you- you and the creator to be more specific.  Religious and non-religious persons alike speak of fasting as a way of getting our minds and bodies out a rut.  For the non-religious the time of intentional hunger allows the body to clean itself and gain a clearer mind.  But for the person of faith the reframing of the mind is about shifting ones attention to God.  Just like the temptations of Jesus following his time of fasting in Matthew 4, we start to ask questions of how we are and are not connected to God. How am I distracted from listening to God by everyday life?  How do I look for the extraordinary as a way to test God rather than see God’s care in the food that I eat?  Those questions asked in the place of eating a meal help us gain perspective on the state of our faith and our relationship to God and the world.

The short answer to this question though goes something like this: We fast from food or drink in order to reorient ourselves to God, and by looking first to God we change our relationship to the things of this world. What we do after the fast is the fruit of our spiritual discipline and our renewed relationship to God.

Hourly Prayers for Peace

Brothers and sisters, my apologies for not getting these on the blog in a more timely manner. Below are the first set of hourly prayer updates on this International Day of Prayer for Peace. May the peace of Christ be with you.

8pm EST – As you close the day, pray that the peace that started in these prayers today is only the start, laying the foundation for a peaceful world.

7pm EST – Pray for our mission workers around the world, that they might carry the peace of Christ w/ them, helping build a world of peace.

6pm EST – Pray for the peace of the church-for your church, for your communion, for the body of Christ-that we might walk in the way of Christ.

5pm EST – Pray for all of those who have been impacted by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as by terrorism and the war on terrorism globally.

4pm EST – Pray for the influence of violence on our children and youth. Be an example for them, that they might know another way of living.

3pm EST – In this hour, pray for those who continue to suffer from domestic violence and the violence of sexual exploitation.

2pm EST – As millions are impacted by disaster-man made & natural-pray & act to seek sustainable living w/ God’s creation. http://t.co/BkLNxtt4

1pm EST – As millions go jobless & live in a life of systematic poverty & hunger, pray that we might transform systems of injustice around us.

12pm EST – This hour, say a prayer for #TroyDavis, all of those on death row, & this country that continues to seek vengeance through violence.

11am EST – Pray for #Obama, as he speaks at the UN & meets w/ Israeli and Palestinian leadership. And seek mid-east peace – http://t.co/CTB79IiJ

10am EST – This hour, pray for the peace of your family-whoever that is. Pray that they may find the peace they each need, and peace with one another.

9am EST – Move from the peace within, to extend it to your immediate surroundings. Pray for the peace of the person standing next to you.

8am EST – Start this #IDOPP by seeking your own peace. Begin by praying for the peace you need within. Loving your enemies begins with loving yourself.