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So far Admin Imago Dei Fund has created 16 blog entries.

Release of New Girl Rising Book

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A gorgeous, full-color oversized book about educating girls across the world inspired by the documentary that Entertainment Weekly says “every mother, sister, daughter, should see, as well as the men who love and support them.” This is the right book for the present moment and perfect for fans of inspirational nonfiction such as I Am Malala and anyone who believes that one girl can change the world.

Worldwide, over 62 million girls are not in school.
But one girl with courage is a revolution.

Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, created a film that chronicled the stories of nine girls in the developing world, allowing viewers the opportunity to witness how education can break the cycle of poverty.

Now, award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone deftly uses new research to illuminate the dramatic facts behind the film, focusing both on the girls captured on camera and many others. She examines barriers to education in depth—early child marriage and childbearing, slavery, sexual trafficking, gender discrimination, and poverty—and shows how removing these barriers means not only a better life for girls, but safer, healthier, and more prosperous communities.

With full-color photos from the film, infographics, and a compelling narrative, Girl Rising will inspire readers of all ages to join together in a growing movement to help change the world.

“A moving account of hardships and triumphs that is bound to inspire future activists, this is a devastating but crucial read.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred

Additional Praise for the Film:

“Delivers . . . tangible hope that the world can be healed in a better future.” —Meryl Streep

Girl Rising stands as a testament to the power of information.” —The Los Angeles Times

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World Relief Announces the Layoff of 140+ Staff and Closure of Five Local Offices Due to the Trump Administration’s Reduction in Refugee Resettlements in the U.S.

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BALTIMORE, MD — As a direct result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration to dramatically reduce the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. throughout fiscal year 2017, World Relief has been forced to make the difficult decision to layoff 140+ staff members across its U.S. Ministry and close local offices in Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Glen Burnie, Maryland. Collectively, these five offices have resettled more than 25,000 refugees over the past four decades.

“It has been our great privilege to serve both local churches and resilient refugee and immigrant families in each of these communities,” says World Relief President Scott Arbeiter. “Our staff at each of these locations have served diligently and sacrificially—some of them for many years—and we are deeply saddened to have to make this difficult decision. These staff members are also experts whose vast experience has brought an effectiveness and professionalism to their work. This represents a loss of more than 140 jobs—which by itself is deeply troubling—but also decades of organizational expertise and invaluable capacity to serve the world’s most vulnerable people.” Read More

A New Approach to Gender-Lens Grantmaking

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This post is a re-release of an article that originally appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review but was adapted to appear in the Spring 2017 edition of a journal called “Impact India” sponsored by The Bridgespan Group, Dasra, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Omidyar Network. We are grateful to be part of this “gender-lens” movement that has been changing the face of social innovation, global development, philanthropy, and investing.

India provides particularly fertile ground for the gender-lens movement, which is beginning to fund culturally tailored efforts to transform underlying beliefs that systematically disempower females.

Philanthropists and for-profit investors are increasingly using a gender lens to screen opportunities for funding social change as awareness of the need continues to grow. Funders now take it for granted that empowering women is a linchpin of global advancement. Yet report cards marking the 20th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995—a blueprint created by 189 governments for advancing women’s rights in 12 areas—show that progress toward gender equality has been painfully slow.

The most shocking indicator revealed that global rates of genderbased violence—which the World Health Organization estimates affects about one in three women—have remained unchanged over the past 20 years despite billions of dollars in private and public investment to combat it. Gender-based violence is just one indicator, but it is both a proxy for stalled progress on multiple fronts and testimony to one of the most stubborn obstacles to bettering women’s lives: the persistence of both conscious and subconscious beliefs and norms that sanction an imbalance of power between men and women and foster conditions that inflame violence. Read More

An Ongoing Forum and an Invitation for Contributions and Dialogue: What Practical Relevance Does the “Imago Dei” Have for the Advance of Human Rights, Peace, and Global Development in the 21st century?

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An ongoing forum for friends and partners to share how they see this ancient theological doctrine playing out in their own work of enlisting faith to mend and restore the “imago dei” where it is threatened and vulnerable in our world

All too often religion has been force used to divide, exclude, rank order, and to build walls where our world could really use some good bridges. For very valid and good reaons, many find their inspiration for working for a more just, humane world outside of a religious creed or context. For those who remain in a faith tradition and are engaged in any way in the work of global development, how can we mine these traditions for that which is unitive and liberating for humankind – all of us – and inspires us to get out of our comfortable religious silos and roll up our sleeves to work with others to tackle shared problems which undermine our collective wellbeing as human beings?

To kick off this series, we have invited two theologians, Dr.’s Richards Middleton and Elizabeth Gerhardt to expound on their understanding of this ancient tenent of the “imago dei” and what implications it has in our world today.

– Dr. Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis, Northeastern Seminary and Roberts Wesleyan College, and Author of The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1

– Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt, Professor of Theology and Social Ethics, Northeastern Seminary and Roberts Wesleyan College, and Author of The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls.

Our Topic:

“b’tzelem Elohim”
These two words appear in the first chapter of the Bible, pregnant with meaning, and arguably are two of the most important words in the entire Bible. The notion of human beings made in the “image of God” (Hebrew: צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים, translit. tzelem Elohim; Latin: Imago Dei) is a foundational but untapped tenet in all Abrahamic faith traditions.

The “imago Dei” first appears in the opening chapter of Genesis in a beautiful poetic account of how the world came into being with an original goodness and wholeness. “And God said ‘Let us create humankind in our image after our likeness…’” (Genesis 1:26).

Strikingly, this stamp of God is portrayed as a relational plurality – an “us” that is reflected in a “they”: “So God created humans in their own image, in the image of God God created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

While most identified with Jewish spirituality, there is evidence that the “imago dei” language also appeared in ancient Mesopotamian and Near Eastern cultures where kings and rulers were cast as images of particular deities to vest their authority with a Godlike sanction and power.

The Hebrew root of the Latin imago (צלם tselem) is derived from the words “to carve” or “to cut out,” and suggests a mysterious “shadow” or “phantom,” a facsimilie or representation of the original. Interestingly, throughout the Bible the word tselem is often translated as “idol” and ties us back to the ancient world where idols pervaded culture and religion. Given that the ancient Hebrews so strongly condemned idolatry (“Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above…” Deuteronomy 5:8) it is fascinating that the word tselem appears in the creation account in Genesis with a positive connotation describing human beings in the image and likeness of “Elohim” (God).

Given all of the evils we human beings have inflicted on one another and on our world, this indeed is a daring assertion!

This meta-theme of human beings as sons and daughters who possess a shared dignity, creative capacity and authority (“dominion”) and a sacred quality which resembles our Creator extends throughout the scriptures, Old Testament to New. All of the Abrahamic faith traditions draw from this basic theological premise, and it has a timeless and universal quality that extends beyond the walls of faith.

Sadly though, all of these faith traditions have lost touch with this foundational tenet and time and again throughout history have succumbed to cultural and ideological influences which have in various ways cast humankind as a “Great Chain of Being” with only those at the top seen to be possessing a Godlikeness to rule over others. So many groups – enslaved peoples, ethnic and racial minorities, and women – have been deemed at one point or another by our religious traditions to be morally, intellectually, and spiritually inferior and thus less reflecting of the image of God and meant for subjugtation and submission not the shared dominion we all were created for as image-bearers of God.

The oppressive realities of our world today demonstrate vividly that we have yet to fully claim and live into the spiritual, ethical, relational, and humanitarian implications of what it means to be created b’tzelem Elohim—in the image of God.

To assert our common God-likeness is indeed a daring and mysterious endeavor which theologians, philosophers, and ethicists have written tomes on and debated for millennia. It’s ancient meaning is hard for us to fully grasp today but in a world where religion has all too often been used to sanction unjust hierachies, ethnic warfare and genocide, and injustices of all stripes, it is our hope that we can reclaim it’s meaning to more fully enlist faith in the work of justice, equality, and shared human rights for all. The imago Dei is a spiritual jewel within the treasury of faith, an untapped gift to humankind, which reminds us that in our truest expression we are all linked as human beings, not rank ordered.

We chose the name “Imago Dei Fund” to inspire us and remind us of this shared dignity and cre-ative capacity we all possess as human beings which makes us more alike than we are not alike and gives us common cause to work across dividing lines on shared problems which plague our planet and create needless alienation and Read More

Final Report of Phase III of the Gender Parity in Evangelical Organizations Research Released

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We are proud to announce the release of the final report of phase III of the Gender Parity in Evangelical Organizations Research project written by lead researchers Janel Curry, Gordon College, and Amy Reynolds, Wheaton College. Thank you to all of the organizations who participated in the study and to all who helped make it happen. Read More

Silencio: A FREE Resource for Your Soul

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Check out a free online soul care resource called Silencio put out out monthly by Leadership Transformation, Inc. This issue is focused on the “Seasons of the Soul”… For those who live in winter climates and for all who feel particular darkness this season, Diana Bennett, Spiritual Formation Associate at LTI writes:

“Winter is a time of dormancy in anticipation of a new awakening. As with the other seasons, winter has its positive and negative nuances. Winter can be a delightful season, resting from the rigors of fall. The ground is resting, and so are we. If we are in a bleak winter, God seems faraway. We might feel despondent or unproductive. It might be a time of the dark night of the soul.”

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“There is in all things a hidden wholeness.”
Thomas Merton