—Vernon Mansell Visick—
Vernon Mansell Visick was called home Sunday evening June 18, 2017, after a life of self-giving service, dying peacefully in his sleep after a brief kidney infection at the age of 78.
A memorial service for Vern will be held in Decker Hall at Pilgrim PLace in Claremont, CA, on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. with a reception following. A service will also be held in Madison, Wisconsin.
Vern was a stalwart supporter of Progressive Christians Uniting, being especially active in the Pomona Valley Chapter with the lectureship of Agenda for a Prophetic Faith. He was one of the founders of the Inland Valley Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby as well as a key organizer in the 2015 Conference “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization" initiated by John Cobb.
Vern was the eldest of six children in an Evangelical United Brethren pastor’s family. He visited Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California—his most recent residence—as a 7 and 8 year old when he spent the summers at Camp Bethel in San Dimas which his grandfather founded. He attended public schools in California, started college at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, and graduated from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington. He intended to go to law school, but in college had some ethical questions that “could only be settled by some serious theological studies,” and he decided to take a break for a year to study theological ethics. He never returned to the idea of law school and graduated from Evangelical Theological Seminary in Naperville, Illinois. He was ordained in 1964 in the California Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (now California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church).
Vern then went to the University of Chicago Divinity School to study pre-ministerial development. He focused on Ethics and Society, and Religion and Personality in order to develop strategies to understand and help resolve whatever conflicts students might be dealing with that impeded their spiritual growth or occupational choice. With his M.A. degree in hand, he went on to become Campus Minister on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus to serve an ecumenical Campus Ministry, centered at Pres House, with a Danforth Study special assignment to study religion and politics, and student development around spiritual and ethical issues. He worked there from 1975-1998, and earned the Francis Asbury award for “creativity in campus ministry programming” in 1996.
His Ph.D. thesis at the University of Chicago Divinity School was on Ethics and Society, as were all the many subjects on which he gave seminars, arranged workshops, organized and nurtured “Events,” and wrote. He taught courses on Christian realism, problem-centered courses on topics such as the ethics of population growth, the ethics of sexuality, ethical deficiencies of mainstream economics, and more. He helped organize and then led for fifteen years the Agenda for a Prophetic Faith in Madison, the largest and longest running series of lectures on religion and politics in the country, and even served as an academic consultant on a movie: “Hellfire: Journey from Hiroshima,” focusing on the lives and art of the Japanese Atomic artists, Iri and Toshi Maruki. Propelled by the prophetic voice he found in the work of Paul Tillich, Vern gravitated to people who were concerned about ethics and helped others to seek the prophetic element in their own efforts.
From 2003-2008 he was Director of New College—Madison, an “Experiment in Prophetic Ministry” which highlights the ethical issues that arise between the Church and the Research University, looking at the larger issues and implications of what is being taught. He also was a fellow at the AuSable Institute for Environmental Studies, and a long-term friend, colleague, and advisor to its director, Cal DeWitt with whom he shared their love for discussing the design and nature of institutions, and with whom he founded and led the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists.
Vern pursued his interest in environmental, economic, and political ethics while at Pilgrim Place, and had several personal projects. These include working on his pilot’s license, learning how to tear down and rebuild a Saab 900, working on his still and video photography, and renewing his Nautilus workouts! He also was a fan of male vocal groups (his father had sung in the Navigators Quartet) and Gilbert and Sullivan in all forms.
Vern was Vice Chair of Wisconsin’s Official State Ceremony honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - now in its 37th year. He had served in this capacity since 1987. It remains the oldest “official” state ceremony honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King.
During his frequent return visits to Madison for the Oshkosh Air Show, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and other events, he was a regular at Geneva Campus Church where he refreshed relationships with numerous long-time friends, including many staff of InterVarshity Christian Fellowship.
Vern had a high regard for Reinhold Niebuhr and the prophet Jeremiah as trustworthy guides for these unnerving days. He was an organizer's organizer, and a true and loyal friend. His companionship, thoughtfulness, passion for justice, keen sense of humor and sharp intellect will be sorely missed. He had a great heart for the "least of these." He always was pushing all of us to do better. We have lost a great giant of justice for the planet.
Polly Gates with additions by John Forney and Cal DeWitt. Final editing, James Dwyer.
For online ticket sales and more details, drop down the menu link above right or go directly to Eventbrite.
(If you are using a smartphone or tablet you way want to download the Eventbrite or Eventbrite Neon App. Then search for “Proclaim Jubilee!”)
The events of 2016 brought an end to the establishment’s comfortable reign through its control of the two party system. Much that once seemed steady and secure in our common life is now in flux. The result may be disastrous, and we must be prepared to resist some of the changes that now have political power behind them. But the new situation also offers an opening to think more radically and to organize for what is truly needed. The 2017 lecture series of the Agenda for a Prophetic Faith considers what we are called to do now in light of the Jubilee vision. What can we do to renew the conditions for life to flourish in what Pope Francis has called “our common home?”
Looking ahead to 2018
We anticipate hearing from the following speakers next year:
•Prof. Peter Dreier
•Amy Hunter, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for St. Louis Children’s Hospital
•Professor Amir Hussain of Loyola Marymount University
•Dr. Melvin L. Oliver: Pitzer College's 6th President
•Prof. Richard D. Wolff
Peter Dreier is the Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He joined the Occidental faculty in January 1993 after serving for nine years as Director of Housing at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and senior policy advisor to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1977) and his B.A. from Syracuse University (1970).
In addition to teaching courses on American politics, urban politics and policy, community organizing and leadership, and work and labor, Dreier runs a summer internship program for students interested in housing and community development. Since 2008, he has coordinated Campaign Semester, a program that provides Oxy students with a full semester credit to work off-campus on an election campaign. It is the only program of its kind in the country.
For more than three decades he has been involved in urban policy as a scholar, a government official, a journalist, and an activist and organizer. Professor Dreier has written widely on American politics and public policy, specializing in urban politics and policy, housing policy, community development, and community organizing. He is a frequent speaker on this topics to a wide variety of professional, scholarly, and civic organizations.
His latest book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, was published by Nation Books in 2012. It includes profiles of the century’s most effective and influential reformers and radicals, an introduction putting their efforts in historical context, and a brief look into their 21st Century counterparts so far.
He is coauthor of three other books, and coeditor of another book, about cities and urban policy:
Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century (coauthored with John Mollenkopf and Todd Swanstrom) was published in 2001 by the University Press of Kansas. A third edition was published in 2014. The book won the Michael Harrington Book Award, given by the American Political Science Association for the “outstanding book that demonstrates how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world.” The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City (with Oxy colleagues Regina Freer, Bob Gottlieb, and Mark Vallianatos) was published by University of California Press in 2005. Regions That Work: How Cities and Suburbs Can Grow Together (coauthored with Manuel Pastor, Eugene Grigsby, and Marta Lopez-Garza) was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2000. It examines the disconnect between regional economic development strategies and community development practices in low-income neighborhoods. Up Against the Sprawl: Public Policy and the Making of Southern California (co-edited with Jennifer Wolch and Manuel Pastor), published by the University of Minnesota Press, examines the government policies that promoted sprawl in Southern California. In May 2014, the Haas Institute at UC-Berkeley released a report he coauthored, “Underwater America,” that documented for the first time the magnitude and location of the nation’s “underwater” mortgages. His op-ed based on that report, “What Housing Recovery?” was published in the New York Times in May 2014.
In 2009, with coauthor Christopher Martin, Dreier wrote a report on media coverage of the controversy over the community organizing group ACORN, Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN Was in the News and What the News Got Wrong. The report generated considerable media attention. Columnists for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the story. Dreier appeared twice on the “Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC-TV, and on more than a dozen radio shows, to discuss the report. An updated version of the report was published as “How ACORN Was Framed” in the Fall 2010 issue of Perspectives on Politics, a journal sponsored by the American Political Science Association.
Dreier is co-coordinator – with historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara and Donald Cohen of In the Public Interest – of the Cry Wolf Project. Funded by the Ford Foundation and the Public Welfare Foundation, the project examines the accuracy of warnings by business groups and their allies that government laws and regulations designed to make corporations act responsibly will “kill jobs” and “hurt the business climate.” The Cry Wolf Project’s website can be found here: http://crywolfproject.org.
Dreier has also written other policy reports for various think tanks and foundations. in 2008 he wrote an analysis of U.S. urban and housing policy for the Eisenhower Foundation as part of a report on the condition of American cities 40 years after the Kerner Commission report. With Todd Swanstrom, he was co-investigator of a Brookings Institution report on widening inequalities in America’s suburbs and coauthor of the report, Pulling Apart: Economic Segregation among Suburbs and Central Cities in Major Metropolitan Areas, released in October 2004.
Along with economists Richard Green and Andrew Reschovsky of the University of Wisconsin, he co-directed a $655,000 grant from the Ford Foundation focusing on expanding homeownership opportunities. They coordinated a team of 12 researchers to examine the impact of federal tax policy on homeownership and the housing industry and to recommend new ways to design tax policy to increase the homeownership rate, particularly among low-income households.
Dreier’s research has been funded by the Haynes Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Century Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the Ford Foundation, the Brookings Institution, the Eisenhower Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, and other funders.
He is frequently quoted as an expert on housing and urban issues, including in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, National Journal, Los Angeles Business Journal, San Diego Union-Tribune, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Business Week, and has appeared on “The Tavis Smiley Show,” “Moyers and Company,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” KCRW’s “Which Way LA,” PBS-TV’s “McNeil-Lehrer Report,” and other shows.
His scholarly articles have appeared in many edited books as well as in the Harvard Business Review, Urban Affairs Review, Social Policy, Journal of the American Planning Association, North Carolina Law Review, Housing Policy Debate, National Civic Review, Planning, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Real Estate Finance Journal, Journal of Urban Affairs, Cityscape, Columbia Journalism Review, Social Problems, Housing Studies, Humanity & Societyand other professional journals.
Dreier writes frequently for the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, American Prospect, and the Huffington Post. His articles have also been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, New Republic, Dissent, Washington Monthly, Progressive, The Forward, Commonweal, Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere.
Dreier is actively engaged in civic and political efforts at both the national and local levels. He currently serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the Pasadena Educational Foundation, and the National Housing Institute.
He was founder and co-chair of the Progressive Los Angeles Network (a foundation-funded project to link academic experts and practitioners to develop a progressive policy agenda for LA), co-chair of the Housing Innovations Roundtable (sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office to identify “best practices” in housing policy), and chair of the Horizon Institute (an LA-based think tank). For many years he was a member of the board of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and of the steering committee of Invest in PUSD Kids (a community organizing group to rally support for public schools in Pasadena). He has been a member of two Los Angeles City Council task forces — on economic development and on affordable housing. He was also a member of the Bring LA Home: Blue Ribbon Task Force on Homelessness and of the United Way of Los Angeles’ Community Reinvestment Task Force. He served on the Pasadena Charter Reform Commission. He has also served on the advisory boards of United for a Fair Economy, Campaign for America’s Future, Boston Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Neighborhood Housing Services, and other groups.
He has served on the editorial boards of Urban Affairs Quarterly, Housing Studies, Cityscape, and Shelterforce. He also served as chair of the Advisory Committee of the Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Policy of the American Sociological Association (ASA), as a member of the ASA Program Committee for its 2007 and 2015 meetings, as a member of the ASA’s Committee on Public Sociology, as a member of the elected Council of the ASA’s Community and Urban Sociology Section, and as a member of the Best Book Award committees for the American Political Science Association’s Urban Politics Section and the ASA’s Community and Urban Sociology section.
He has worked closely with a wide range of community organizations, labor unions, and public interest organizations, and has worked as a consultant for a variety of foundations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), VISTA, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Boston Foundation. He has provided pro bono consulting for the California AFL-CIO, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), the Industrial Areas Foundation, and others. In Boston he served on the boards of Neighborhood Housing Services, Urban Edge CDC, Health Care for the Homeless Project, and other organizations. In the early l980s, he was a founder of the Massachusetts Tenants Organization. While working in city government, he was named “Hero of the Week” by the Boston Phoenix for his efforts to fight redlining (bank discrimination) in Boston’s neighborhoods.
Other honors include the Public Service Award from the University of Chicago Alumni Association (2002), the Will and Nan Clarkson Visiting Chair in Urban and Regional Planning at the SUNY-Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (2005), and the Benjamin and Louise Carroll Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oregon (2001). In 1980-81, while teaching at Tufts, he was awarded a Public Service Fellowship by the National Science Foundation to work with community and consumer organizations in Boston.
In 1987, while serving in city government, Dreier drafted the Community Housing Partnership Act, legislation sponsored by Congressman Joseph Kennedy and Senator Frank Lautenberg, which became part of HUD’s HOME program, created under the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990. This legislation provides federal funds to community-based non-profit housing development organizations.
In 1993, the Clinton administration appointed Professor Dreier to the Advisory Board of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), the Savings-and-Loan clean-up agency.
Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for St. Louis Children’s Hospital since mid-2016. Previously served seven years as Racial Justice Director of YWCA St. Louis where she initiated and sponsored Witnessing Whiteness groups. Co-facilitator of St. Louis’ Truth and Reconciliation process; educational equity and youth activism ally and advocate; frequent media commentator and speaker. Expertise in critical race theory. (Ted Talk "Lucky Zip Codes")
https://www.facebook.com/MayDayLB/posts/1826079424343999 "Amy Hunter is the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for St. Louis Children's Hospital Amy Hunter has recently visited the Occupied Territories on the West Bank in Palestine and says “My lens is truth and liberation, my stance was a bit calmer before going to Palestine and now my sense of urgency has heightened. With my travel to Palestine, there were so many similarities to what I had participated in and witnessed in Ferguson. I titled my talk “I Drink My Coffee Black” for a number of reasons. 1. Black coffee is served after a death, to denote mourning. 2. I don’t want to forget how we are connected, ever so I no longer use sweetener or cream in my coffee.3. Black coffee is a reminder that in order to stay the course in the work of activism, we must know the truth of violence, where it stems and how it looks. The Palestinians are my people too. As a mother I gave a talk 3 days after Mike Brown was killed. I related to the mothers I met in Palestine the entire time. Our work is to make the world a better place for our children. ” Presented by People for Palestinian - Israeli Justice (PPIJ) co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace - LA "
•Professor Amir Hussain
Dr. Amir Hussain is Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he teaches courses on world religions. His own particular speciality is the study of Islam, focusing on contemporary Muslim societies in North America. His academic degrees (BSc, MA, PhD) are all from the University of Toronto where he received a number of awards, including the university’s highest award for alumni service. For the Fall semester of 2016, he was on a fellowship to the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California. From 2011 to 2015, Amir was the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the premier scholarly journal for the study of religion.
He has a deep commitment to students, and holds the distinction of being the only male to serve as Dean of Women at University College, University of Toronto. Before coming to California in 1997, Amir taught courses in religious studies at several universities in Canada. He is active in academic groups such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and the American Academy of Religion. He is on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals, the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace; the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies; and Comparative Islamic Studies. Amir is also interested in areas such as religion and music, religion and literature, religion and film and religion and popular culture. He is an advisor for the television series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. In 2008, he was appointed a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.
Prior to his appointment at Loyola Marymount University, Amir taught at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) from 1997 to 2005. Amir won a number of awards at CSUN, both for his teaching and research. In 2001 he was selected for the outstanding faculty award by the National Center on Deafness. For the academic year 2003-04, he was selected as the Jerome Richfield Memorial Scholar. In both 2008 and 2009, Amir was chosen by vote of LMU students as the Professor of the Year. His most recent book is Muslims and the Making of America, published in 2016 by Baylor University Press. He is the co-editor for the fourth editions of World Religions: Western Traditions, and World Religions: Eastern Traditions, textbooks published in 2014 by Oxford University Press. He is also the co-editor for the third edition of A Concise Introduction to World Religions, published by OUP in 2015. Prior to those books, he wrote an introduction to Islam for North Americans entitled Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God (Kelowna: Copper House, 2006). He has published over 50 book chapters and scholarly articles about religion.
•Richard D. Wolff http://www.rdwolff.com/about Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Visiting Professor at the New School University in New York. Wolff’s recent work has concentrated on analyzing the causes and alternative solutions to the global economic crisis. His groundbreaking book Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism inspired the creation of Democracy at Work, a nonprofit organization dedicated to showing how and why to make democratic workplaces real. Wolff is also the author of Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism and Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He hosts the weekly hour-long radio program "Economic Update," which is syndicated on public radio stations nationwide, and he writes regularly for The Guardian and Truthout.org. Wolff appears frequently on television and radio to discuss his work, with recent guest spots including "Real Time with Bill Maher," "Moyers & Company," "Charlie Rose," "Up with Chris Hayes," and "Democracy Now!." He is also a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities across the country.
Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). Wolff was also regular lecturer at the Brecht Forum in New York City.
Professor Wolff’s public speaking engagements and media interviews usually focus on one or more of the following topics: a. The Current Economic Crisis: Origins and Consequences b. Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capiatlism c. The Current Economic Crisis and Globalization d. Economic Crisis and Socialist Strategy e. The Difference Among Economic Theories (Neoclassical, Keynesian and Marxian) f. The History of the Marxian Theoretical Tradition g. The Contemporary Relevance and Unique Insights of Marxian economics h. A Class Analysis of the Rise and Fall of the USSR
•Dr. Melvin L. Oliver: Pitzer College's 6th President http://pitweb.pitzer.edu/president/melvin-l-oliver/
Melvin L. Oliver is the sixth president of Pitzer College, an award-winning professor, author and a noted expert on racial and urban inequality.
Before joining Pitzer College, President Oliver served as the executive dean at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s College of Letters and Science, where he was also the SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences and a professor of sociology. During his 12-year tenure as the dean of social sciences at UCSB, he promoted faculty diversity and championed increased access for underrepresented students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Prior to UCSB, Oliver was the vice president of the Asset Building and Community Development Program at the Ford Foundation. Under Oliver’s direction, the program developed pioneering grant initiatives, including a $50 million program to secure home mortgages for 35,000 low-wealth households and change the way banks evaluate applications for home mortgages.
As professor of sociology at University of California, Los Angeles, from 1978-96, he was named California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and received the Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1989, he was the founding co-director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Urban Poverty, which is a leader in the development of undergraduate and graduate curriculum and world-class research on urban poverty and social welfare policy.
Oliver co-authored Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality with Thomas M. Shapiro, which won the Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award from the American Sociological Association, the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the award for the outstanding book on the subject of human rights from the Gustavus Myers Center for its groundbreaking exploration of race and equality when it was first released in 1995. He is the co-editor of four books, including Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles, and the author of numerous special journal issues and more than 50 scholarly publications. In acknowledgment of the quality and impact of his scholarly contributions, Oliver was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.
Oliver earned his BA at William Penn College and his MA and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. Washington University awarded him the Distinguished Alumni Award, Arts and Sciences in 2002 and the Sesquicentennial Celebration Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003. William Penn honored him with the Distinguished Career Award in 2012. Oliver received a 2016 ASSET Builder Champion award from the Center for Global Policy Solutions.
Our 2017 Schedule
Claremont United Church of Christ (UCC),
233 W. Harrison St.,
Claremont, CA 91711
Rector, All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA
"Property, Slavery, and the Gospel of Economic Growth
America was built on property rights. Property rights determined who wrote the Constitution, was a primary concern of the Constitution, and determined who got to vote. Today, property value determines the quality of public education, economic opportunity, health care, food and more. Slavery and the genocide of our natives is a story about how property - and the ability to use it to generate wealth – became more important than people. Today, property and the ability to use it to generate more property and capital is still our nation's central concern. The Gospel of economic growth is not allowed to be challenged ... despite the fact that it is ecologically and morally unsustainable. The valuing of economic growth over all else is literally causing vast disparities in living conditions and life expectancies as well as a global environmental catastrophe. Yet every major political and spiritual voice continues to promote it as the greatest good. Tragically, looking through the lens of uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee and elsewhere, it is clear that property still matters more than people. What is our call right now as American Christians to intervene on behalf of people?