The NH Council of Churches represents ten denominations and each denomination appoints two people to serve on the Board of Directors. We are blessed with gifts and talents of all kinds. Each person around the table brings unique perspective out of their faith tradition, theology, and call. Our life and work as a Council is strengthened by our common claim in Jesus Christ and is enriched by this diversity.
Each month we are going to introduce you to a member of the board so that you can get to know who's around the table and share in the wealth. We begin with our awesome president, Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, pastor, Concordia Lutheran Church in Concord.
Meet Jonathan Hopkins, NHCC Board Chair
I will often talk to young people about the Church, and one thing I hear a lot is that Christians are hypocrites. We say one thing on Sunday and do other things Monday through Saturday. Since it is lent and the time of repentance it is good to admit that often we as Christians don't live up to our high ideals. When I think of the New Hampshire Council of Churches it is one place where I get to live out the Christian ideals of unity, charity, and love of my neighbor. Different Christian denominations are not going to agree about every piece of doctrine. We are not going to agree about the exact theological meaning of baptism or communion. However, there are many things that we do agree on. We agree that it is our calling to help the poor, to speak out for those that can't speak for themselves, to act for justice and mercy. When we do those things together we serve as a Christian witness that we are not hypocrites but actually live out our ideals (even if it is always imperfect).
This is why I love the Council of Churches it is the place were Christians of different cultures, theological beliefs, and histories come together to make a witness to the world that we are not as divided as some might think. We do love and care for each other and the world. I am honored to play my part in this organization that shows the unity, and speaks out against the death penalty, gambling, and for immigrants and people experiencing poverty.
Rev. Jonathan Hopkins
Concordia Lutheran Church
Women's Prison Ministry Update
"And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?"
Matthew 25: 39
Rev. Beth Richeson brings a great presence of love as she serves, visits with and counsels the women and staff of Goffstown Women's Prison. Ministering to women as they struggle being away from their children and families, deal with sorrows that led them to this time and place, and as they pass interminable days of waiting, Beth brings encouragement, meaningful worship and other activities, presence and fellowship that bring healing and hope. NH has the highest recidivism rate for women in New England and so Beth also works with inmates and the communities to which they return upon release to aid integration back into "normal" life. You will be heartened by her latest report which can be read here.
We have received word from the Episcopal Diocese that retired Bishop Robinson's "purse" (which he designated for the Goffstown ministry) will be settled in May. Bishop Robinson had a special tie to the prison leading Christmas Eve worship there each year, as well as playing softball in the spring. We are very grateful for that the interest income from this purse will help insure this continued ministry for years to come.
Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship Council presents:
Because generosity is liberating!
Attend a two day conference for clergy and lay leaders on stewardship. This conference is designed for stewardship committees, vestry, trustees, pastors, leadership and all who are interested in using money faithfully. Holiday Inn, Boxborough, MA, March 15-16. Visit www.nestewardship.org for details.
Reducing the Risk
A workshop sponsored by the NH Council of Churches
Protecting God's Children
For Religious Educators, Congregational Leaders, Pastors, Priests, Rabbis, Youth Ministers, and Children's ministries Leaders
People of faith and others testified at a recent hearing for Bill # 443 on March 7th. This bill would have allowed the state to receive& consider bids from private contractors to build and operate a private prison (as opposed to a publicly run prison). The Council spoke in opposition to this bill-grounded in our faith traditions which are reflected in the recent Statement on Privatization of NH Prisons. The full statement can be found here.
We encourage use of this statement in your ministry settings-as a resource for prayer, catalyst for conversation, learning tool for youth or social justice teams-in any way that might sharpen compassion and wisdom on this issue. Let us know how it goes-and with your permission-- we'll share your ideas here. Members of the Public Policy Committee are available to speak/facilitate conversation on any of our Joint Statements (immigration, state budget as a moral document, death penalty, and expansion of gambling in NH, as well as this one cautioning against the privatization of prisons.) Please be in touch to talk further or to schedule, email@example.com.