Ever Flowing Streams 2013
April 2017
ORGANIZE AND TAKE ACTION
"The Convergence Leadership Project is a powerful new initiative to develop and deploy spiritual activists, align and energize local churches, and organize regional and national networks who embody a just and generous Christian faith."  Brian McLaren, CLP Faculty Member

From the CLP website
Many of our churches and denominations, like our country at large, are polarized and paralyzed. They have to walk on eggshells for fear of offending members (including major donors) who openly or tacitly support an ugly, fearful resurgence of white Christian nationalism.   Fortunately, growing numbers of individuals and congregations are tired of walking on eggshells. They're fired up and ready to move forward... We want to help these people and congregations find each other, dream together, and learn, get organized, and work together. That's why we're creating the Convergence Leadership Project: to train you and thousands of others like you to be vibrant spiritual activists in a growing, multi-denominational movement of just and generous Christianity. 


Top 5 Ways That Faith Communities Can Rise Up on May 1st National Day of Action

From the Interfaith Immigration Coalition
May 1 is International Worker's Day: A historic day to respect the contributions of workers, organize in support of workers' rights, and demonstrate solidarity with immigrants. This May 1, immigrant leaders of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) will Rise Up! to demonstrate the power, resilience and strength of immigrant communities in America. 
Learn about the march in East Boston and Chelsea here.

Many groups are organizing marches, rallies, protests and town hall meetings to resist President Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim policies and call on Congress and local policy makers to support a vibrant and diverse future for our country.  
 
Resistance School is in Session

"When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." ~ Resistance School

Resistance School, founded by a group from Harvard's Kennedy School, is a free four-session practical training program to sharpen the tools we need to fight for our values at the federal, state, and local levels.  The goal of the program is to keep the embers of resistance alive through concrete learning, community engagement, and forward-looking action.
The next live session is at 7 p.m. on April 20: "How to Structure and Build Capacity for Action."  Access here Also available live on the Resistance School  Past sessions are also available on Facebook.

CLIMATE CHANGE MARCH / EARTH DAY
Minister & President Jim Antal marches in the 2014 Climate March in NYC.
UCC Calls Creation Care Advocates to People's Climate March in Washington D.C.
Earth care advocates from United Church of Christ congregations around the country will be converging on Washington D.C. for the  People's Climate March. It's no surprise that the denomination is expecting to field a large contingent at the Saturday, April 29 event, since creation care and climate change top the  list of priorities UCC members believe the church needs to focus on going forward in the future.

"Climate change makes all the other justice issues worse," said the Rev. Jim Antal, Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. "From war, to the refugee crisis, to hunger and famine, to the lack of potable water, to the spread of the Zika virus and other insect-borne disease, to world-wide homelessness with tens of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth subject to rising oceans - these and other justice issues are all amplified when the natural cycles of God's creation are disrupted as they are today."
RESOURCES FOR EARTH DAY 
From the United Church of Christ
The Bible is full of beautiful language and theology for celebrating God's Creation. Yet sometimes, in the rhythm of the liturgical year, it can be challenging to find a specific time to focus as a church community on the theme of Creation. Earth Sunday provides just such an opportunity. This year Earth Day is on April 22nd. Typically, Earth Sunday is celebrated on the date closest to Earth Day. For 2017, that would be Sunday, April 23rd, but you may also choose a different Sunday that works for your church.
 
This year, with the help of Creation Justice Ministries, we are exploring the theme "Environmental Justice with Indigenous People." Christian communities living in the United States have a unique role to play in developing relationships of solidarity with indigenous peoples, especially on matters pertaining to the environment. 


INTERFAITH ACTION AND ECUMENISM
Conference Leaders Issue Letter in Response 
To  Anti-Islamic Propaganda
Note: the following letter was released by leaders of the three southern New England Conferences of the United Church of Christ:
When someone asked Jesus to name the greatest commandment, he said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength. And the second is Love your neighbor as yourself." When asked to define "neighbor," Jesus told a story involving a foreigner of a different religious tradition acting with love toward a wounded stranger. For millennia, Christians have understood these commandments to be the foundation of our words and deeds.


Recently, many of our churches received a mailing from an organization called "ACT for America." In a letter and accompanying brochure, the organization asks the question "Should Christians speak out against Islam as a religion which promotes violence and human rights abuses?" The brochure specifically targets Muslim refugees as a threat to our nation and calls for Christians to oppose refugee resettlement of Muslims.  
AFFORDABLE HOUSING
HUD 101   
 
From City Mission Boston:
On Feb. 27, President Trump announced that he would cut $54 billion from non-military spending in the Federal budget. On March 16, the impact of this cut on the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was announced: a 13% cut from FY2017, totaling a loss of $ 6.2 billion from the department. As the Washington Post reports, this would mean a loss of up to 200,000 subsidized housing vouchers in coming years.

Join City Mission as we explore the role HUD in our communities, how the new administration might affect local progress on homelessness and affordable housing, and what we can do right here in Massachusetts to ensure that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.

HAYSTACK AWARD NOMINEES INVITED
KNOW SOMEONE WHO DESERVES RECOGNITION 
FOR THEIR CHARITABLE OR SOCIAL JUSTICE WORK?

NOMINATE THEM FOR A HAYSTACK AWARD!
The Justice & Witness Ministry Council is requesting nominations for the 2017 Haystack Awards. 
The Haystack Award of the Massachusetts Conference UCC was created to encourage participation in charitable and social justice ministry. Any individual, group or institution affiliated with the Massachusetts Conference, UCC is eligible for consideration. 

Deadline for receipt is May 2.  Awards will be presented at the Annual Meeting recognition luncheon on Saturday, June 17, in Hartford, CT. 
IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE JUSTICE
No More Deaths
A blog by John Allen
Immigration and Refugee Concerns Task Team 

In 2012, I spent the month of June working with an organization called No Mas Muertes, No More Deaths. This ministry of the Unitarian Church of Tucson operates humanitarian aid stations in the desert between Nogales and Phoenix.

By the time I arrived that summer 128 people had already died in this region, Border Patrol's Tucson sector, trying to make the crossing into the United States.

In 1994 Operation Gatekeeper was launched by Border Patrol; the goal was to seal off the safer urban crossing point in hopes that the Sonoran Desert would act as a natural boundary preventing migration. Tragically, the architects of the plan drastically underestimated the desperation of Central American refugees to reach the United States, and since 2001, when the Pima County medical examiner began keeping count, 2,058 people have died trying to cross the desert, mostly of dehydration, heat stroke, and exposure. There are likely hundreds if not thousands more whose bodies were never recovered.  
DROUGHT AND FAMINE HIT EAST AFRICA. HOW TO HELP
From UCC Justice and Peace Action Network

Famine has officially been declared in South Sudan and, for the first time in recent history, there is a very real possibility of four famines - in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen - breaking out at once. Twenty million people could face starvation within the next six months. International aid officials warn that this is one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.
To understand how serious this moment is, we first have to understand that the word "famine" has a very specific definition. It does not simply mean a lack of food and water, rather a famine must meet at least three criteria before it can be declared, including:
  • Four out of every 10,000 children die each day.
  • One in five families experience extreme food shortages.
  • And one in three people are acutely malnourished to the point that they are too weak to go to school or work.
Every person who will be a impacted by this crisis is a child of God, with a story and a family; with life hopes and dreams. They are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

DISASTER RESOURCE
DISASTER CHAPLAIN TRAINING  
May 10-11 ~ Edwards House Meeting & Retreat Center, Framingham

This chaplaincy training is based on the National Disaster Interfaiths Network Disaster Spiritual Care training course, which trains and credentials faith leaders, spiritual care providers and institutional  chaplains to volunteer as disaster chaplains or spiritual care workers in mass-care settings, or to serve their house of worship or local community during times of crisis.

OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN AND GET INVOLVED 
 
SEAFARERS' FRIEND
Seafarer's Friend, a ministry that serves the men and women that work and live on the sea, is looking for volunteer ship visitors.
CT RIVER PILGRIMAGE

An interfaith coalition is inviting people of all faiths to take part in the "River of Life: Connecticut River Pilgrimage " May 31 - July 9.
THE OCEAN MATTERS
The ocean supplies us with the oxygen for every other breath, provides 1 billion people with their food, regulates our weather..
IMMIGRATION DETENTION VISITOR
If you hear Jesus's call to visit those in prison , join the Massachusetts Council of Churches and Refugee Immigration Ministries (RIM) for training to visit those being detained in Plymouth County. 
MASS INCARCERATION
Join Arthur Bembury, Exe-cutive Director of Partakers, and Gary Strickhartz and Pastor Dawn Adams, who work with Partakers, to discuss issues around mass incarceration. April 30, 12-3, First Congregational Brimfield.
SUSTAINABLE HOUSE OF WORSHIP
Attend this informative, hands-on workshop conducted by Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light to evaluate the essential areas of energy use and costs in your House Of Worship.
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