Ever Flowing Streams 2013
May 2017
CLIMATE CHANGE/ENVIRONMENT
UCC advocates show love for creation at People's Climate March in D.C.
On President Trump's 100th day in office, 200,000 people from all walks of life ringed the White House to send him a message about climate change.

The United Church of Christ, as one of the official co-sponsors of the People's Climate March, was well-represented. Scores of advocates from several UCC Washington D.C.-area churches were joined by dozens of others who converged on the Capitol from congregations across the country.

Massachusetts Conference Minister and President The Rev. Jim Antal was one of the leaders of the UCC group, along with the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice. 
Two retired Mass. Conference pastors, the Rev. Andrea Ayvazian and the Rev. Peter Ives, biked down with other cyclists from Massachusetts, joining many other MACUCC participants.

Prayers for the Planet:  Reverence and Resistance
June 11, 2017 ~ 2 p.m.
Congregation B'nai Israel ~  253 Prospect St., Northampton

A festive, spirited interfaith outdoor service to lift up our love for Earth and our resolve to protect it. Free, family friendly, and open to all!  Endorsed by the MACUCC Justice and Witness Council.

Defend Our Parks and Monuments

from Take Action
(a newsletter of the Justice and Peace Action Network)

On April 26th, President Trump signed an executive order attempting to eliminate or shrink parks and monuments that have been protected by our presidents in recent decades, including Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado as well as 26 other national monument designations spanning desert vistas to giant sequoias.

The order also includes the incredible Bears Ears National Monument, which protects more than 100,000 irreplaceable sites of archaeological, cultural, and spiritual significance in an area held sacred by the Navaho, Hopi, Ute and Zuni. The executive order puts God's creation-parks and national monuments-as well as our shared American history and heritage in jeopardy. 
Report from Ecumenical Advocacy Days
A blog by Valeria Schmidt
Trinity Church Northborough

Rev. Schmidt, right, and others gather at Ed Markey's office to present their case.
I attended Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC from April 21-24. This is an annual gathering of progressive Christians from different denominational backgrounds all over the country, joining in an effort to advocate for peace and justice. There were close to 1,000 attendees and many more followed the live-stream on Facebook.
This year's theme was what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the "giant triplets": Racism, Extreme Materialism, and Militarism. It was quite an eye-opener to look at all the issues he named 50 years ago that we still haven't moved forward on significantly. He also pointed out that if the church does not reclaim its prophetic zeal it will become an irrelevant social club without any moral or spiritual authority. (Speech at Riverside Church April 4, 1967 - not quoted verbatim.) OUCH and AMEN!
IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE JUSTICE
REFUGEE JUSTICE SUNDAY 
JUNE 18, 2017 
From United Church of Christ and Church World Service
#UCCRefugeeJustice

PROTECT WELCOME, RESTORE HOPE
Refugees are forced to flee their country of nationality as they are under threat and it is not safe for them to remain. We are accompanying our refugee neighbors, both in the United States and around the world, as they seek safety and security. We are promoting welcome. Get your congregation involved. Register your congregation's participation and find resources and a downloadable banner here.

Access an archived webinar on the current state of refugee resettlement here .
Webinar Addresses Sanctuary Church Questions

A newly archived webinar by the UCC Insurance Boards, featuring Heather Kimmel, General Counsel of the United Church of Christ, provides useful legal information to churches considering sanctuary status. Sign up to view this free webinar  here
This program is endorsed by the Immigration and Refugee Concerns Task Team. View more of the task team's resources on sanctuary here .

Sanctuary Group Works for Release of Mother of Two Detained by ICE
by Connie Larkman
United Church of Christ

As a group of almost two dozen people, faith leaders and immigration activists, stood in solidarity outside the Fairfax, Va., ICE office on Thursday morning, a mother of two young children and a resident of Virginia for more than a decade was detained and moved to a detention center, so she can be deported.
 
Liliana Cruz Mendez, a 28 year old undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, was accompanied to her check-in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on May 18 by allies and representatives of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) Sanctuary Congregation Network, who believe that the presence of clergy, congregants and activists at these check-ins can lead to a better outcome.

HEALTH CARE

   Call on the Senate to Protect Health Care   
The House of Representatives narrowly
 approved  a bill on May 4th that would dismantle the infrastructure of the Affordable Care Act, undermine patient safeguards, open the floodgates for higher out of pocket expenses, and jeopardize health care coverage for millions of Americans.  The next stop for this harmful legislation is the U.S. Senate. Here's where we can hold the line.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) will strip millions of their health insurance. If this bill becomes law federal funding for low-income people on Medicaid would be  limited , putting the lives of the most vulnerable in jeopardy, especially the very poor and children and people with disabilities. The new proposal also  allows states to seek waivers  from enforcing the ACA's  
 

LGBT RIGHTS
A year ago on June 12, 2016, on a Sunday morning, many of us awakened to the reality that Latinx Night at Pulse Night Club, an LGBTQ+ community gathering spot... a sanctuary... a safe-haven... in the midst of Pride Celebration, had become the site of one of the worst mass shootings in US history.  Many of us gathered afterwards to pray and grieve the 49 lives lost, the 53 wounded survivors and some of us, with difficulty found the energy to pray for the one lone individual who lost his connection to love. 

 
This year Orlando, Florida is calling for a day of unity on June 12 dedicated to the lives lost at Pulse Orlando: "Orlando United Day - A Day of Love and Kindness."  There are many ways that the Orlando community will be actively engaged, but one way that we as communities of faith are being invited to participate is with the use of our church bells.  
 
MA Faith Leaders Stand Against Transgender
Discrimination
by Tom O'Brien
Freedom Massachusetts

Last week, we were ready to speak out forcefully against any executive order that would have discriminated against LGBT people. In the end, what we got was more insidious-an order that sends a signal that discrimination is OK-and that faith should be used to justify it.

This order is only the latest instance in a long history of public figures twisting religious teachings to justify advancing a discriminatory political agenda. Now, here in Massachusetts, where a 2018 ballot initiative seeks to repeal our state's non-discrimination law, this rhetoric is targeting our transgender friends, coworkers and neighbors.

As a pastor and the father of a transgender son, this disturbs me. Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom, and it should be praised and protected as such. But religion cannot and should not be used as a weapon to discriminate.

NEW RESOURCES FOR OUR CONGREGATIONS
 
We at the Justice and Witness Council realize the difficult task placed upon our clergy to preach week in and week out in a time when we are, more than ever, called to be "the guide and critic of the state... We invite clergy to submit sermons that they feel speak to this moment through the lens of the Gospel." 
 

Have you visited the Massachusetts Conference UCC's new resource for action ? Whether planning mission work in your church, finding ways to advocate for justice, or supporting disaster relief efforts around the world, you'll find helpful links to resources on these pages.
 

The Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
508-875-5233
macucc@macucc.org