Big Drama of Funding a Small Faith-Based Nonprofit (JEM)
by Lee Van Ham
In January, JEM opened the envelope with the latest bank statement. The bank balance was the lowest it had been in three years. Despite our frugality, more had been distributed across the Circles than had come in through donations. Heading toward the March 13 Board meeting, John Michno, treasurer, drew up a proposal that would reduce redistributions to the Mexico ministries by a total of $1000.00. Jubilee ministries faced a sad reality.
And so the Board met. We heard from Board member, Lindsey Mercer-Robledo, in San Cristobal what this reduction meant there. She said that because the U.S. dollar has lost value against the Mexican peso, their redistribution was already lowered. For the Alter-Nativas ministries, cutting redistributions by their share of the $1000.00 meant they’d be unable to pay the rent where they live and where all their meetings and workshops happen. The thought of needing to find a new place was a huge stressor for Isai and Lindsey who expect to become parents this summer.
This one story alone made it nearly unthinkable to lower the redistributions. The Board decided we could not vote in a way that prevented us from living as close as possible to our Jubilee value of loving justice. So we began to review every possible way we could avoid reductions.
John informed us that only a few days prior to the meeting, a couple donations had given JEM’s thirsty bank balance a big drink—over $5000. The Board took that into consideration and then looked at John’s projections for 2023. What we learned was enough. We decided we would NOT vote to decrease the redistributions. The Spirit moved among us, as she does so often. What a difference your donations make!!!
There’s more. Your donations have made possible a gradual development of Jubilee ministries in the past several years—in San Mateo, in San Cristobal, and, the new start-up in 2022, in Tapachula. The yield of these ministries is increasing; more people are benefitting economically, relationally, and spiritually. They are learning ways to live self-sufficiently in an alternative economy that uses only the resources of our planet. No more. What is happening in their ministries led the Circles to request increases for 2023. The Board could not vote for such increases. So simply maintaining 2022 levels of redistribution is certainly a triumph, but only a partial one.
The Board has done good work. At the same time, two more funding challenges face OneEarth Jubilee: (1) we are not able at this time to increase funding for the Mexico ministries despite their requests to do so; and (2) we are not yet able to replace the reduction that John Michno voluntarily took in his small salary when Covid struck. These two will require over $20,000. It seems huge at this moment. The Board prayerfully hopes that both of these challenges can be met in 2023.
Why OneEarth Jubilee Sponsors Trips to Mexico
We go to learn by seeing and hearing how the talented people in the Jubilee Circles create activities that fit what people need—especially people for whom neither the economy nor other systems work. The work is to scale with the need. There is no displacement as happens with gentrification. Rather, by accompanying and empowering, OneEarth Jubilee works with people to create alternatives that work justly and give life. There’s much to learn in all of this.
Furthermore, we go to affirm the people in their creative work. Innovating and creating alternatives have rich moments of success, but also long moments of uncertainty, and loneliness. So we go with deep interest. Who they are and what they do challenges us to reflect on who we are and how we do things. Together we seek to live within the abundant limits of one planet, a rich, evolving home.
From April 16 to 23, 2023, six people will be traveling to San Cristobal and San Mateo—the first trip JEM is sponsoring since the pandemic made trips impossible. We stay close with the people who welcome us and don’t retreat unnecessarily to luxury hotels. Do plan to be part of a future trip sponsored by OneEarth Jubilee.
Why OneEarth Jubilee Holds Monthly Forums
How Can We Find the Language for What’s Happening
The demands of the multiple crises confronting us—The real-life issues that push themselves upon us go beyond language and concepts most of us have learned to use. Many people speak and act in extremist ways or, conversely, in ways that abandon our agency to understand and change how we live. Also, many people refuse to accept responsibility. In that case, we live defensively, ashamed, and impotent to change.
The Purpose —In Forums we help one another find the most accurate, non-denying language and concepts that describe our current reality. We connect with a spiritual power that is real, relevant, and helpful. We help one another accept responsibility for where our actions contribute to the crises, rather than live with humility amid collapse and apocalyptic change.
Mark your calendar for the first Saturday of each month, 9 am Pacific Time. Register free and we’ll send you a link so you can participate. It’d be so good to see you.
The Poison in Patriarchal Religion; The Spirit in Creation Spirituality
Most of the U.S. media’s references to religion in recent years have been to the religious right. Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Republicans and Donald Trump. Conservative Catholic bishops refused the sacrament to Joe Biden and continue to ignore the Pope on caring for the environment and recognizing that all migrants are equally God’s children.
Importantly, right-wing Evangelicals and conservative Catholic bishops express what the patriarchal culture evangelistically promotes.
- Their “No” on abortion attacks the full personhood of women while prioritizing birthing no matter what.
- Their claims that God had anointed Trump for this moment were supported by biblical passages that come from the Bible’s patriarchal narrative, not its creational narrative.
- Right-wing religion repeatedly shows a simplistic understanding of the Bible even though they claim it as part of their religious authority.
- The love of money, despite the Bible’s rejection of such love, excites the religious right as much as others in societies.
These are only a few prominent examples of how patriarchal religion poisons culture with division and hate instead of love and cooperation. And on ecological breakdown? Patriarchal religion shows no love for life on the planet and has no apparent awe of the interdependence that supports all life, theirs included. Patriarchy cannot bring us to OneEarth living. Instead, it is more devoted to economic growth, which equals ecological disaster, than to a Creator tending all the evolutions of our environments. Some right-wing Evangelicals abandon all ecological caring and say “Don’t worry. God will rapture us out of the collapse.”
The OneEarth Jubilee Forum on March 4 went further into seeing the pervasiveness of patriarchy in culture than many of us ever had before. It was eye-opening. It was terrible to become aware of, but simultaneously uplifting to be able to name what goes mostly unnamed. Our Forum conversations were based on three blogs on the OneEarth Jubilee website. These, in turn, were initially inspired by a book by black feminist author, activist, and teacher, bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love.
By the end of the March Forum, we were ready to get into spirituality and patriarchy. So that’s the topic for April 1, 9 am Pacific Time. The title of this article is the topic for April 1. Register free by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lee Van Ham facilitates the forums.
Creation Spirituality is the antidote to the poison of patriarchal religion and patriarchal culture. It is lived by many Indigenous peoples who live in traditional ways. Naropa University has a Creation Spirituality curriculum. Jesus lived in this tradition. It is also expressed throughout the Bible, and does so in contrast to the patriarchal teachings there as well. The “Spirit” in Creation Spirituality empowers life in ways filled with imagination, awe, wonder, justice, and love. More at the Forum.
Notes from the Circles
San Cristobal—Lindsey writes, “We’ve been super busy this week with planning activities for this weekend. We had two all-day activities today (Isai and I each had to take a group to make it work) and one more tomorrow.
San Mateo—Multiple communications revolved around the health of David Delgado who spent days in intensive care and then recovery in a Puebla hospital. He is home now and plans to participate in hosting people from the U.S., April 20-23.
San Diego—Tree planting partnership with the San Diego Episcopal Diocese continues to evolve. On March 14, John wrote in an email, “The Episcopal Diocese is planting their first trees, today, at the Lemon Grove Episcopal church. Feel free to stop by and network if you’d like! This is the first congregation to plant; they wanted to start with a tree-underprivileged neighborhood. This particular church lot has very few to almost NO trees!”