Meriden Congregational Church Newsletter JUNE 2021

We are a Spiritually Progressive,
Open & Affirming, Sanctuary Congregation 
dedicated to 
Transforming Lives
as a Compassionate Community,
extravagantly welcoming EVERYONE,
celebrating diversity, cultivating awe & wonder,
and seeking Peace with Justice for all Creation!

Join us for our Intergenerational
Faith Community Celebrations
Each Sunday at 10:00 AM
VIA ZOOM ONLIINE

Watch for weekly e-mail notices,
and/or contact
john@meridenucc.org or
susan@meridenucc.org
for the Zoom Links and/or phone numbers
Here it is! Volume 4 Issue 1 of our e-mail newsletter
FEATURED IN THIS NEWSLETTER
 
Pastoral Ponderings

Worship & Music Ministry News
  • Our Sunday Faith Community Celebrations in June
  • Music and Ministry Notes
  •  Tenderly Held in our Hearts and Prayers
  •  Into God’s Hands

June Calendar of Events in the Life of our Spiritual Family
  • Blessing of the Animals Service June 13th (weather permitting)

MCC Administration & Finance News
  • The Ins and Outs of our Zoom Services, updated since Rod's departure
  • Report of the Assistant Treasurers
  • COVID-19 Task Force Notice For June

Welcoming and Caring Ministry
  • June Birthdays & Anniversaries
  • Equal Exchange Coffee

Growing a Just World for All
  • Just Peace Resolution between Israel and Palestine
  • Recordings of "A Cry for Hope" Virtual Study Series

Peace & Justice Ministry Coordinators Report
  • Racial Justice Ministry News
  • "Amend" Docuseries Discussion
  • Open Letter and Rally Opposing "Divisive Concepts" Legislation
  • Black Lives Matter Vigil
  • "When did We See You?" by the Rev. Dr. Velda Love
  • Worker Justice News
  • "We Must Not Be Fooled by a Slogan!"
  • Guide to Participating in Legislative Session
  • Legislator Contact Information
  • Climate Justice News
  • Immigrant Solidarity Actions
  • Advocating for citizenship for essential worker immigrants
  • SHARe Housing for Asylum Seekers
  • Poor Peoples Campaign


Revs. John and Susan Gregory-Davis,
Co-Pastors
Meriden Congregational Church
603-469-3235
john@meridenucc.org
susan@meridenucc.org
 PASTORAL PONDERINGS

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:19
 
 
As we round the corner into the summer months, the change in the air is palpable! The warmth of the sun, the sweet smells of new life, and the verdant colors of June—purple irises, green leaves, pink azaleas—help make the long pandemic months of 2020-21 a less vivid memory. How fortunate we are in this part of the world to be able to enjoy not only the exquisite beauty of nature all around us but, with access to the COVID-19 vaccination, the increasing opportunity to re-gather with family and friends. As a church family, we are keenly aware of these blessings--indeed, privileges. We seek not to take them for granted, nor become complacent in our work for justice so that these blessings will become more accessible to all. I know you join us in being so deeply grateful for the support of this church community in our ongoing work for justice and peace.
 
With the gift of increasingly being able to gather again in-person, we are so looking forward to the grand re-opening of our red church doors in September, namely September 12th for our annual Re-covenanting Sunday Service! Although the thought of actually re-gathering in our beloved church sanctuary may seem a little hard to imagine at this point, with our not having had indoor in-person services for what will have been eighteen long months, we are steadily working toward our re-opening--beginning with resuming outdoor in-person services (May 16th and other Sundays over the summer months) and planning carefully with our church’s COVID-19 Task Force to ensure a safe and smooth re-opening process for the fall. Paramount to this process is ensuring that our Sunday services are accessible to all—whether one joins in-person or on-line. Many details related to this new “hybrid” worship will need to be worked out. And more helping hands will be needed to make it happen. But we will be keeping you posted and encourage you to be in touch with us to help with this “new thing”--this new way of our being together post-pandemic that God is calling us to embrace.
  
Similarly, our small groups and ministry teams are looking at resuming in-person gatherings. Beginning in June, some will be meeting in-person in outdoor settings. We are taking this process of re-gathering very slowly and carefully with utmost respect and consideration for each and every church member—recognizing that there are members among us who have not yet been able to be vaccinated or for whom the vaccination may have less efficacy due to other personal underlying health concerns. Always, at the heart of our considerations, is love and compassion for one another, patience and understanding toward our different needs, and the commitment to include all who wish to be part of our spiritually progressive community! 
 
Together we have come through a difficult pandemic year and have learned a tremendous amount about ourselves, our country and our world, especially related to where we as human beings fall so woefully short on love and justice, and how essential it is that we are part of the solution or, in Gandhi’s words, that we “be the change we wish to see.” But we have also witnessed and participated in magnificent movements this past year—world-wide—of increasing awareness and re-commitment to humankind and our planet--within neighborhoods, communities and governments. It truly is a rich and compelling time to be alive. Without a doubt, all of our energies (large and small) are needed to continue helping bring about God’s Beloved Community of Justice and Love, Compassion and Peace!
 
So over the next few months, as we regather as church in-person, it will be such a joy to experience each other’s tangible energy again! It will feel different after all these months of being “together, separately.” We may need to relearn and practice some things. Part of our being together again will feel familiar, part may feel strange. Undoubtedly, we will be envisioning new ways of being together, of being church, as we can’t go back to being exactly who we were pre-pandemic—even if we wanted to! It will be a holy adventure that we, as your Co-pastors, are very excited to embark on with you! In the meantime, keep watch in our weekly Spiritual Family emails for when—over the summer months--our Sunday services will be held outdoors/in-person or via Zoom. And blessings upon your joyous opportunities to gather with family and friends during this glorious month of June!

 With deep gratitude for travelling
this journey of life and love with each of you,
Susan and John                             
                                                                                                            

Our outdoor Farewell Celebration for Rod & Barb Wendt!


OUR SUNDAY FAITH
COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS IN JUNE
(All on Zoom, or outside,
weather permitting)

JUNE 6th @ 10:00 AM
Second Sunday of Pentecost
Join us for this Intergenerational Communion Celebration featuring one final lovely anthem by our virtual choir to celebrate our transition into summer re-creation!

JUNE 13th @ 10:00 AM
Animal Blessing Service
All God's Critters got a Place in our Service" today so bring your four-legged, winged and finned friends, along with any special stuffed animals who would also like a blessing and, of course, photos of beloved pets who have already crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Come one, come all!!!

JUNE 20th @ 10:00 AM
Fathering Sunday /
Juneteenth Celebration
This Sunday we will explore and reflect upon scriptural images and prayer that lift up the Fathering qualities of our Creator God, within the context of re-membering the liberating power of the African-American holiday, Juneteenth!

June 27th @ 10:00 AM
Open & Affirming /
LGBTQIA+ Pride Sunday
Today we celebrate and support the LGBTQIA+ community with a service drawing upon spiritual resources, prayers and readings that lift up the sacred diversity and joy of our human family!
Whoever you are,
Whomever you love,
Wherever you are on
life's journey,

YOU are WELCOME to
share in all our
Spiritual Family Services, Celebrations,
and Activities!

Woohoo -- it's summer! I hope your children are looking forward to the end of this bizarre, virtual spring of school! Please join us for the following Sundays at MCC as we transition into summer fun!

June 6th: Join us for this Communion celebration especially focused on the wisdom and joy of the child within us all!

June 13th: In the hope of good weather, come join us outdoors on our church green, and bring your favorite critters and/or stuffies along too, 'cause this service is especially for them, and you too! 

June 20th: A great day to remember and celebrate all the dads in our lives!

June 27th: Come celebrate with us the beautiful rainbow of our human family, where each and all of us are loved just as we are, no matter how we are nor whom we love.

Here's to a wonderful summer!

Kelsey MacNamee 
 


Kelsey MacNamee
Spiritual Formation Coordinator
Meriden Congregational Church
(603) 504-4257

Music and Ministry Notes
Music and Ministry
June 2021

Well it’s almost June - Summer is right around the corner. With the pandemic easing and the Covid-19 case numbers retreating from our mass vaccination efforts we humans are hopeful for a return to a semblance of normal. The living things in nature that were re-born in Spring are now flourishing and growing. The trees are green and leafy, the Lilacs are blooming, Daffodils and Hyacinths have worked their way up through the soil and bloomed. Perennials have re-appeared, Hostas, Rhubarb, Irises (my favorite) and the grass is greening and growing. It’s a yearly miracle that never ceases to amaze me. As much as we sometimes try to mess up our earthly home God always comes through to remind us to be grateful. A quote that I like:
“Every blade of grass has it’s angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’ " - The Talmud.

On our worldly level, we had a wonderful outdoor send off for our dear Rod and Barb Wendt, complete with worship, testimonials, gifts and cupcakes.We will miss them tremendously and wish them the best in their new home. Looking ahead is Father’s Day, a time to celebrate those fathers among us, fathers who have departed this world, fathers-to-be, those who long/hope to be fathers, step fathers, foster fathers, those who have mentored like a father. A time to Give thanks for their presence in our world.

Looking forward to gathering together in person over the Summer,
Cindy Marx-Wood, for Worship and Music

John and Susan at Rod and Barb Wendt Service 5-16-21

Susan Gregory-Davis and Lee Oxenham May 16 2021
Tenderly Held in our Hearts and Prayers
           
        As we journey throughout this Season of Pentecost, we give joyous thanks for the caring and sharing which make this community of faith such a welcome home for all of us. We fervently pray for all those affected in any way by the Covid 19 pandemic, especially all front line teachers, heath care deliverers, and other “essential workers.” So too do we celebrate with those bearing new life, and we pray with those yet trying to conceive or seeking to adopt, even as we also pray for our friends in Bolivia, Mexico, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and Zimbabwe, and all those living in such troubled lands as Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea, Hong Kong, Yemen, Nigeria, Burma, South Sudan, the Congo, Iraq, & Iran. We pray for all immigrants & refugees seeking sanctuary & welcome throughout our world, that we may be among those who offer an oasis of hospitality & compassion within the kin-dom of God’s heart. And we pray too in solidarity with our BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) friends and neighbors, seeking to build with them a world whereinBLACK LIVES MATTERas fully as all lives.  

Likewise do we pray for Rosemary Mills; Rev. David Grishaw-Jones’ mother, Linda; Allyson Wendt; Glenn Griffin; Linda Perkins; Kathy Wright’s sister, Carolyn Youtz; Jim Griffiths; Cindy LaFlam; Jan Lord’s son, Brian; Christine Heins’ sister, Rosalyn Braeunig; Jody Schubert’s brother, Rick: Vicki Ramo-Glew’s step-sister, Ellen Moore; and her daughter; Laine Gillespie’s cousin, Becky, and Laine’s friend, Perry AllisonJeannie Hines’ father, Joe McClellan; Joan Burch; Clare Louzier; Selden Lord’s sister, Sharon Hammond; Suzanne Lenz; Jo Ellen Courtney’s friend, Maureen Knight; Penny Arcone’s niece, Cathy, as well as Penny’s friend Dick Sluben’s sister, Maureen MacKenzie; Gail Kinney’s friend, Josh Lloyd; Pat McNamara; Carol Hartman’s daughter-in-law, Michelle;  Cindy Griffin’s and Susan Borchert’s uncle, Arthur; Judy Croitoru; Jim Lenz’ friend, Jim; Bob & Robyn Carpenter;  Joan Dumont; Chris Dye; Linda Perkins’ friends, Dorothy, Barbara, Albert, & Doug; Caren Saunders’ father, William HomeyerScot Zens; Rev. Jed Reardon; Rod & Barb Wendt’s granddaughter, Ada Jane; Greg Marshall; Larry Burch’s brother, Charlie; Susan Turner’s cousin, Buddy Stevenson, and Sue’s friends, Barbara Zenker & Jane Miles; Susan Sanzone’s aunt Rita; and Odile Clavier’s mother, Marie-Claire, as well as Odile’s niece, Amelie Marie.

So too do we pray for these members and friends of our faith community currently receiving treatment for cancer: Sue Turner’s dear friend, Linda Armstrong; Laura Cousineau’s brother, Eric; Linda Perkins’ friend, Linda Stone; Shideko Terai’s friends, Melanie & Paul; Suzanne Lenz’ brother, Bob; Michelle Chamley; Bailey Sibert; Ed Foltyn; Sue Turner’s cousin Jesse’s husband, Ron Letterchio; Caren Saunders’ mother, Betty Homeyer; Selden Lord’s brother-in-law, Edward; Jan Lord’s former daughter-in-law, Michelle; Jo Evarts, as well as Jo’s sister, Jingles; Robert Bryant; Cynthia Howe; Jeff McNamara; Lauryn Moeller’s daughter-in-law, Lisa Rae Moeller; and Kevin Ramos-Glew’s nephew, Duncan.


If you or someone you know would like a name to be added to our Prayer List, please let us know. In an effort to keep it as up-to-date as possible, please also let us know when you would like a name removed. Occasionally, we carefully remove a name to make room for others, but if you would like a name restored, please simply let us know and we will be happy to do so. Thank you for praying for these members of our Church Family.   

Into God's Hands 
    
We continue to grieve with incomprehension and anguish the nearly 595,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in this country alone, as well as all other pandemic-related deaths throughout our world, while likewise both rejoicing that the pandemic tide has finally begun to recede in our nation, even as it is still very much surging elsewhere in our world. 
      As God has welcomed each of these much beloved ones back into the realm of God's eternal embrace, may their families and loved ones be comforted with God's healing presence in the midst of this time of remembrance and grieving.

“A Blessing of all God’s Creatures”
Sunday—June 13th  at Our 10:00 Service 
(on the Green, weather permitting)

Come join us on Sunday—June 13th, as in the tradition of Saint Francis, we will give thanks during our service for the gifts in our lives of “all creatures great and small!” Weather-permitting, we will hold our worship service on the Church Green—complete with chairs for own comfort and plenty of grass for our multi-legged friends to likewise relax (or roam) on!  

All beloved creatures are welcome!! Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep, horses, donkeys, fish, alpacas, goats, turtles, iguanas, pigs, birds, chickens, etc., etc. And especially if you don’t have a special pet in your life, PLEASE come and enjoy the love that these animals in our extended spiritual family have to share (and maybe even take a little love into your lap to pet during the service—there will be plenty to go around!).

MCC ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE NEWS
June, 2021
The Ins and Outs of our Zoom Services, Updated

It’s been more than a year since MCC began doing Zoom services. This amounts to more than 60 services that Rod, Evan and I have worked. I thought it might be time to give the congregation a little “peek behind the curtain” — to find out what really goes into putting on our Zoom services.

Until his recent departure, Rod had been the “producer” of the show, setting up the Zoom meeting that becomes our service on Saturday and distributing the parameters for it to the copastors and me. We all know that he used to give a brief introduction at the beginning of the service to acquaint attendees of the “Zoom rules of the road” and handles the Koinonia and Habari Gani segments of the service. He also changed the “Spotlight” function depending on who is the current focus of the program. All three of us were always on the look-out for an “open mic” that might be disturbing (or embarrassing!) and are ready to mute any microphones that are open.

Evan is our “security guy” and spends the service scanning for any potential “Zoom bombers” that might disrupt our meeting. He is also in charge of recording the service and distributing it to the congregation. And now Evan has taken over Rod's responsibilities, so that now our tremendous trio has been transformed into a dynamic duo!

Saturday I accumulate all the bits of music and video that will be used in the show: these may come from John, Susan, Michael, Kelsey, and/or Carol. I preview everything and do any pre-processing that is needed. This avoids any unwanted ads (most of time) and eliminates other unwanted sights and sounds from the service.

The morning of the service begins for me at 8:30 when I set up my devices at home. These consist of two computers and an iPad. I use one computer to join the meeting and to provide the “shares” during the service, one computer to remotely control the sanctuary computer, and the iPad to view the bulletin, so I can see the order of service to prepare for the next share. I remote into the sanctuary computer to make sure that link works and use that time to set up the necessary computer apps and check the internet connection, which is courtesy of KUA.

At 9:00 I go to the sanctuary and set up the cameras and microphones and at 9:15 I sign the sanctuary into the meeting, which Evan has already begun. He and I then check to make sure that all the devices in the sanctuary are working properly: video cameras pointed in the right direction, microphones set to the right levels, and speakers working.

By 9:30 or so I’m home and do any final preparations that are necessary and set up for the first shares in the program.

During the service I’m often pretty busy. I have two screens on the Zoom meeting computer and I use one for the shares and the other to monitor the service and the participants. The other computer is used to control the computer in the sanctuary and I use that access to change cameras and microphones. For instance, in order to “play a hymn” I have to sign into the sanctuary computer and change the microphone to Carol and then share the correct spot in the bulletin on my other computer. As the hymn ends I change the microphone back to the pulpit, end the share, and get ready for the next share of the service.

That’s it; if all goes well. If it doesn’t, we have to be creative on the fly. We’ve gotten better over the year and are now a “well-oiled” team. And we enjoy making the service available to anyone with a computer, tablet device, or phone.

Jim Lenz
For the Administrative and Finance Ministry




REPORT OF THE ASSISTANT TREASURERS

For the month of May we received $11,720 in pledge payments for a year to date total of $70,853. Plate donations totaled $1,416 to bring that total to $3,026 for the year. We have also received $1,063.53 from the Annie Duncan Trust, $783.45 from Utica National and $1,641for the birthday/maintenance fund. We also received $48 fro OGHS and $50 fro the Step-in’ Up to End Violence fundraiser.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard Atkinson
Jim Lenz




Personal Note from Richard Atkinson



On a personal note, Sue and I intend to be moving to a retirement community in Pennsylvania with-in the next year. I will continue to serve as an Assistant Treasurer until that time. However, a replacement for my position will have to be identified before then. If you feel this is a service to the Church you could fill please consider it. I would of course work with anyone who steps forward to assume this position to ensure a seamless transition. Anyone taking this on would also have support from the other people who serve as Assistant Treasurers, Jim Lenz and Rod Wendt. There is some work that does take some time, but on a week to week basis it is not too time consuming. 

Richard Atkinson
Richard Atkinson "roasting" Rod Wendt, with great humor, and much appreciation!
COVID-19 Task Force Briefs for June 2021

Unmasking Thoughts: Going back to Normal-ish

We are so ready and perhaps “too” eager to get back to ”normal,” even while so many other countries in this world are still struggling with the pandemic disease and it’s overwhelming effects on meager international health care systems. These countries still labor to attain minimal vaccination rates or must try to outbid neighbors to obtain an essential supply of vaccines. They often deal with this plague and the violence of poverty, conflict and war simultaneously.  

Yes, for this moment we are among the lucky in this pandemic: What we have now are just “post-pandemic emergence issues.” First, perhaps, planning for deferred personal vacations and travel to distant places. Maybe figuring out immunization timetables for younger members of our families and communities. Then anticipating a full resumption of in-person learning this fall. We continue to “re-emerge” as we determine when it’s safe to not wear that mask, or when to hug or even shake hands. And, oh yes, finally being able to admit out loud that Zoom meetings and worship can be fatiguing. 

Here in our Meriden Congregational Church community the COVID-19 Task Force has begun looking ahead toward the next several months, albeit in a limited fashion. We have already begun to re-emerge and have cautiously held several outdoor “picnics” during May 2021. Our Meriden Summer Camp is resuming with restricted numbers of campers and many sanitary precautions. Outdoor worship is resuming, small groups can now gather outdoors unmasked on church property especially if vaccinated. Limited use of the parish house is acceptable when small groups of ten or fewer are masked, although we are not yet allowing food or beverage for consumption indoors.

Looking ahead, some measures are being considered to reopen sealed windows in the church building to improve air exchange. With this we can anticipate some manner of indoor autumn worship. Please note, though, that this will probably start out as masked, hand-sanitized Sundays with well-spaced seating. Instrumental music will be played “live,” though flute and trumpet or even choral voices may have to be reintroduced more slowly into the congregation. That’s the “-ish” element qualified in the title above.

It is not yet clear when things will be back to near normal-ish. That caution is still a part of this roller-coaster pandemic time. The interdependency and the interconnectedness that we have learned during this pandemic year, that we have observed this time of increasing racial honesty and what we have seen in recent international political conflicts, each separately and together emphasize that what may work for some of us will not always work as well for others.

The deepest lessons of our long COVID year are still to be learned and then they must be taught.


Ed Cousineau, Convener
MCC COVID-19 Task Force


Penny Arcone Celebrating Barb Wendt as our "Gardening Angel"
WELCOMING and CARING MINISTRY


Happy Soon to be Summer! The gardens are planted and the trees have green leaves. The event of last month which Evan Oxenham so graciously recorded on film documents many of the highlights of the in person May 16th service when Barb and Rod Wendt were celebrated as they left to live in Maine. Above is a picture of Susan Gregory-Davis and Penny Arcone giving Barb Wendt a flower arrangement in recognition of her many years of providing flowers around the Church. Rod Wendt was recognized as the Micah Hero of the Church for this year.

We actually had a reception following church! Thanks to Lee and Evan Oxenham for being Ushers. Thanks also to Jill Marshal, Cindy Marx-Wood, Susan Turner and Ann Cragin for providing the delicious cupcakes which were provided for refreshments. Kathy Wright made the coffee. Others who helped were Jim Lenz and Evan Oxenham for bringing out chairs and Shideko Terai who provided the sound system.

This June we will be planning for a few outdoor services. I've heard that June 13th will be our Blessing of the Animals service. Hope to see you there as well as on our Zoom Sunday Services in between.

Kathy Wright, Coordinator of the Welcoming and Caring Ministry



JUNE BIRTHDAYS


 
6/2         Dalton Winslow
6/3         Daffodil Mumuli Lavoie
6/3         Beth Kopp
6/3         Linda Wilkinson
6/4         Estyn Elkouh
6/4         Rick Hildebrant
6/4         Rob Johnstone
6/5         Gwen Fuller
6/6         Annie Pullen
6/6         Jeff Cook
6/6         Amy Lappin
6/7         Garrett Wilkinson
6/8         Emma Greenough
6/10       Karen Heaton
6/11       Kaitlyn Elliot
6/12       Jeff McGlone
6/13      Odile Clavier
6/13       Brenda Caswell
6/13       Larry Burch
6/13       Steve Taylor
6/14       Jean Strong
6/14       Lauren Anikis
6/14       Sheila Cragg-Elkouh
6/15      Ben Griffin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



6/15       Liam Moynihan
6/15      Betsey Pensgen
6/15       Don Parsons
6/16       Rob Grabill
6/17       Charlie Houmard
6/17       Dylan McGraw
6/18       David Seabolt
6/19       Charles Muhlari
6/19       Owen Johnstone
6/19       Betty Walker
6/21       Michael O’Leary
6/22       Alison Moynihan
6/24       Cynthia Winters
6/24       Angie Hinton
6/24       Isak Tell
6/25       Betty Clark
6/25       Bette Stockwell
6/25       Bob Phelps
6/26       Taylor Sheehan
6/26       Otto Hildebrant
6/26       Cindy Svensen Griffin
6/27       Roberta Garfield
6/27       Jon Schafer
6/28       Ed Cousineau

 
 
 

 
JUNE ANNIVERSARIES


6/2/99          Naomi & Tim Goodwin
6/14/69     Barbara & Rodney Wendt
6/14/14        Harrison & Melissa Currier
6/16/62     Donna & Steve Beaupre’
6/16/13        Phelan Brady & Jennifer Doyle
  6/21                 Lisa & Bruce Elder
6/21             Andrea & Rangi Keen
6/22           Nancy & Jess Kilgore
6/25/94     Amy & Darrell Beaupre’
6/28/97     Katy & Steve Sheehan
 
Coffee & Cocoa products are featured from Equal Exchange! Please contact Shideko Terai if you would like to order Coffee, Decaf, Hot Chocolate or Chocolate Bars. These products are delicious and promise a reasonable return for the growers and farmers who produce them! K-CUPS are also available!
Cool weather! Fine chocolate. Or hot chocolate anyone?

Shideko's e-mail is mary.n.boyle@gmail.com.
Shideko Terai, Coordinator of Outreach, Peace and Justice Ministry

Meriden Congregational Church to Sponsor “Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel” resolution at UCC General Synod, July, 2021

On December 29, 2020, your Leadership Team unanimously voted to become a sponsor to bring a resolution “Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel” developed by the UCC Palestine Israel Network, to be considered by the UCC General Synod meeting in July, 2021.

Resolutions submitted to the UCC General Synod for consideration require sponsorship of at least six UCC congregations across the country. Sponsorships must be in place by the January 2, 2021 deadline for submitting the resolution. Because the opportunity to become a sponsor was not brought to us until early December, quick reflection was required on our part. Your Leadership Team considered whether or not to become a sponsor in our December 5 meeting, and again in special meetings on December 28 and 29. We were joined in our December 28 meeting by Rev. John Thomas, a key player in the UCC Palestine Israel Network that drafted the resolution, and former General Minister & President of the United Church of Christ nationally. His input was very helpful in getting your Leadership Team to “yes” the following night.

Being a “sponsor” does not mean we agree with every word of the resolution, or that we are experts on the issue – by no means. Rather, it means we believe this issue is important enough, and urgent enough, to warrant consideration and robust discussion at the General Synod meeting in July, 2021. It also does not mean we will attend the General Synod meeting (our NH delegation will represent us as it always does). It does mean we are committing to learn more about the issue between now and General Synod, and much of your Leadership Team’s discussion on December 29 was how to do that. Stay tuned!

A copy of the resolution is available here if you wish to delve into it. Essentially, it decries actions of the government of Israel in oppressing Palestinians in many ways, and actions by the United States in supporting the government of Israel in that oppression. It decries the United States for declaring anything challenging Israeli policies or actions to be antisemitic, and for limiting freedom of speech in support of Palestine and Palestinians on college campuses. It affirms the rights of the Palestinian people, rejects new Israeli laws that enshrine one type of person in a privileged position over another, and rejects ideologies that claim one group’s divine right to the land at the exclusion of others. It further asks that UCC churches commit to hearing the voices of Palestinians, learn about the history and dynamics of this complex issue, and advocate for restoration of US funding to the UN and decrease of US funding to Israel until Palestinian rights are restored.

While not specifically in the resolution, we hope that we Christians, and specifically we UCC Christians, will find common cause with people of all faith traditions in the Middle East, who, like us, seek a fair and just peace for both Palestine and Israel. This is about governments – Israel and the United States – acting badly and oppressing the rights of the Palestinian people of all faith traditions. All faith traditions must call it out for the injustice it is!

We will keep you apprised as we move closer toward the UCC General Synod meeting coming up next month in July, 2021.

To learn more about the rationale and need for this resolution, we urge you to view one or all of the recordings of this recent series hosted by the Community Church of Durham. The links for each of the recordings are listed next to the topics below:

A Cry for Hope:
Responding to the Palestinian Call for Advocacy & Action
A Four-Week Virtual Discussion / May 2021 Community Church of Durham, UCC


“A CRY FOR HOPE” (LOREN MCGRAIL)

“PALESTINIAN EXPERIENCE” (ZOUGHBI ZOUGHBI)

“WHAT THE CHURCH CAN DO” (DALIT BAUM & ROCHELLE WATSON)

“UCC’S RESOLUTION OF WITNESS” (ALLIE PERRY)

Thank you, Ed Cousineau
   Docuseries Virtual Discussion
           
As part of our continuing re-learning of our nation’s history, our Racial Justice Ministry Team invites us to view separately, and discuss together, the informative and provocative Netflix Docuseries, Amend: The Fight for America.  

Check out the trailer at:
 
           Amend: The Fight for America is a six-part docuseries that explores the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, an amendment added back in 1868 and largely unknown to many of us, yet profoundly integral to our democracy in its assurance of “liberty and equal protection of all persons.”   “Amend” is a powerful, multimedia journey through American history that encourages viewers to question what “united states” really means.”         
We are half way through viewing on our own each segment of this series, and then convening on zoom each Monday evening to discuss and unpack these amazing chapters of our history, with an eye toward sharing both what we have learned, and what difference this new knowledge makes in our lives. We still have 3 chapters left, and welcome you to join us, even if you have missed our previous sessions:

       Monday—June 7th   @ 7:00 PM   Chapter 4  “Control”
       Monday—June 14th @ 7:00 PM   Chapter 5  “Love”
       Monday—June 21st @ 7:00 PM   Chapter 6  “Promise”

 
For regular phones:
call 1 929 205 6099 US (toll call to New York),
and enter the Meeting ID:  880 7898 4398, followed by # and then # again.
You should not need the Meeting Passcode, but if you do it is 650751

Divisive Concepts Language
Doesn’t Belong Anywhere in NH Law
An Open Letter Opposing the Language of House Bill 544 to:
State Representatives, State Senators Governor Christopher T. Sununu

New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility and 270 workplaces (including our church) have taken a stand in opposition to HB 544 (Divisive Concepts) language appearing anywhere in NH law, whether as a stand-alone bill or an amendment (HB 2). The ambiguous language of HB 544 appears to be supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion, but its intent to restrict free speech is not. Our work to address systemic racism and sexism cannot be limited at any level — in our schools, our communities or our workplaces.

We invite businesses and organizations across the state to join us in raising our voices in support of open and honest exploration of racism and sexism, and in opposition to the restrictions within HB 544’s language and its inclusion anywhere in NH law. We believe that if enacted, the language of HB 54 will have a chilling impact on our workplaces and on the business climate in New Hampshire, and we raise our voices in opposition to it.

Our experience has shown that diverse and inclusive work environments support innovative thinking and problem solving. We value the opportunities that arise from different perspectives and open-minded inquiry. The success of New Hampshire businesses depends on the ability to attract diverse generational, gender and racial employee groups at all levels within our organizations, and we must constantly work to create an environment that makes all employees feel empowered in their roles.

Our businesses, large and small, have seen that inclusive work environments dramatically increase employee retention, which directly impacts our financial bottom line. Inclusive work environments must be fostered, including enabling open and honest discussions about racism and sexism, implicit bias and how we can eliminate structural racism.

As a geographically small state, we constantly compete with neighboring states to attract the best talent. Creating the image that New Hampshire is regressive and intolerant puts us at an economic disadvantage.

We value each of our employees and their diverse backgrounds. We strive to foster an environment that lifts the human spirit and helps individuals to achieve their fullest potential within our workplaces and our communities. This bill would diminish our ability to do so.

The language of HB 544 would not only harm the ability of New Hampshire businesses to be competitive, it would severely harm the state’s image as business-friendly, since it stifles the ability of organizations who do business with the state to foster diverse workforces as they see fit. It is important to explore, inquire and learn from our past as we move to the future.

We cannot shy away from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training. It is critical to our understanding and ability to build strong workplaces. HB 544’s language will stymy the brand image of our businesses as well as the state’s innovative spirit and economic opportunities. We believe that the language of HB 544 disadvantages our businesses and tarnishes New Hampshire’s future
We strongly urge our elected representatives, to protect the state, its people, and its businesses from this dangerous and damaging legislation.
Rally in opposition to the ‘divisive concepts’ language
Saturday, June 12th at 4:00 PM at the Capitol in Concord
 
While the House and Senate are meeting to negotiate a budget compromise, we want them to hear clearly from the people of New Hampshire, both the original language of HB 544 and its amended version have no place in our budget, in our laws, or in our hearts. This is an event to show our opposition to the entire premise of HB 544 in all of its permutations. This is a flawed premise and a flawed process being perpetuated by a flawed legislature. We will gather at 4:00 pm on the corner of N. Main St. and Park St. in Concord. Please wear a mask both for public safety and for the visuals of our silent march around the state Capitol. We'll be passing out red or white duct tape X's for participants to put on their masks as we march to the Capitol steps. There will be a faux burning of books that schools may find difficult or impossible to include due to the original language of HB 544 or its amended version. We will then have speakers and songs as well as actions people can take that day to voice their opposition to both this legislation and the actions of this legislature. Please feel free to bring appropriate homemade signs, banners or artwork."
Steve Beaupre' faithfully rings our church bell
each Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 PM as a clarion call to
our Community BLACK LIVES MATTER Vigil
Thank you, Steve!!
 With protests happening throughout our nation in response to the continuing "lynching" of Black and Brown bodies, we are continuing our Showing Up for Racial Justice BLACK LIVES MATTER Vigils each Wednesday afternoon, now happening from 5:00 to 5:30PM, on the SouthWest corner of the intersection of Rte 120 & Main Street (at the blinking yellow light, with parking available at Poor Thom's Tavern). We have “BLACK LIVES MATTER” signs available for folk to hold, but please feel free to make and/or bring your own signs.

Come join us in “showing up for racial justice,” and Standing for  LOVE , and AGAINST racism, white supremacy, hatred, and violence, here in our community and beyond!  Togetherlet us publicly declare that we will NOT be complicit in white terrorand let us call our friends and neighbors to rise up with us in our resolute affirmation of the inherent and sacred value of us all within Beloved Community
When Did We See You? 

Rev. Dr. Velda Love 
Minister of Racial Justice 
May 27, 2021 
Some of the church folks in the crowd were confused, looked around and asked Jesus, “When did we see you hungry, thirsty, and imprisoned? And you say you were beaten, shot, and hung? When did we see you treated like an animal, and less than human?”
 Matthew 22:35-40 (The RSVP Remix) 

“I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams,” Viola Fletcher testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee last week, commemorating 100 years since the tragedy occurred on May 31, 1921. She was 7 years old when her town was burned to the ground and over 300 black residents were killed without mercy over a period of two days. “I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”  

Jesus speaks, “Church folks, come and listen to what I have to say. Some of you believe and practice the great commandment to love God, and to love and welcome neighbors and strangers. The rest of you love your nation more than you love God. You serve idols and worship yourselves. You ignore my commandment to love. Your hatred unleashes genocide, ethnic cleansing, and ruthlessly kills my sacred family members.” 

The remixed Matthew 22:35-40 text incorporates a contemporary feel so that our lived realities can be seen and felt while many of us know that justice will not prevail in our lifetime. Viola, her brother Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randall spoke with clarity as they recounted to lawmakers the day white anger was unleashed in Greenwood. Their testimony included a demand for reparations for the survivors.  

“Some of you looked at me without judgment, fear, and hatred. You saw me! Yes, you saw me hungry, thirsty, naked, and imprisoned. You fed me, gave me clean water and clothes, and came to see about me while I was incarcerated. I had health concerns and pre-existing conditions, and you provided free healthcare and medicine. I was a stranger, separated from my family, and caged like an animal and you came to advocate for my release.” 

Racism is alive. Racism and racists never stop professing their love for country, guns, wealth, and a small white god. Racism killed George Floyd. It was May 25, 2020, that a human being with hatred in his heart murdered Floyd by kneeling   on his neck until he stopped breathing. Not everyone wept and felt a sigh of relief when the verdict in favor of sending George Floyd’s murderer to prison was read.  

Many Christians are horrified when justice and reparations are preached from the pulpit. Yet the visual horror of 300 black people murdered then and George Floyd’s murder a year ago ignited a flame around the world that had people shouting, marching, and protesting police brutality and demanding justice for black lives. Jesus’s justice and the Gospel was embodied in protestors who marched in Germany, France, Palestine, London, Australia, and North American cities.  

Jesus replied, “You practiced love of neighbor to those who were oppressed and marginalized, stereotyped and hated, enslaved and put into cages. You stood in solidarity with those who suffered under apartheid conditions, lost their land, and experienced genocide. You provided safe passage to freedom for your siblings. You stood at gravesites with mothers and fathers whose children had been murdered by the state. You cared for grandmothers when hatred attacked them on the streets. These are members of my family. Just as you did it for them, you did for me.” 

Who were the 300 people killed in Greenwood, OK? Are their names remembered and written in churches across the country? Will they be forgotten after May 31st? Will George Floyd be forgotten? Will he remain a symbol that marked his public execution and a global uprising? Will those who claim to love Jesus remember that black lives are under attack?  

Will Jesus continue to be denied justice? When Jesus is killed while protesting, will we care? When Jesus walks down the street and is shot dead by a white supremacist, will we advocate for stricter gun laws? When Jesus is arrested, forced to the ground and has a knee on his neck until he stops breathing, will we remain silent when neighbors blame Jesus for his death?   Will we see Jesus when he’s of African, Asian, Native and indigenous, or Latinx descent? “Just as you did it to them, you did it to me.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
Velda Love is Minister of Racial Justice and member of the Education for Faithful Action Plus (EFA+) Team in Justice and Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ.


"We must not be fooled by a slogan!"

by Gail Kinney, Worker Justice Minister
and Michael Honey,
author of "Martin Luther King, and the Fight for economic Justice"

In 1964, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for his work to overturn legal segregation in the South, particularly during the difficult struggles involving police dogs, fire hoses, jailing, and the bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that left four young girls dead and another blinded for life. The struggle of King and others won passage of the Civil Rights Act guarantees of equal rights in public accommodations, education, and at work. We still struggle to make those rights real. King felt that to change America’s racial inequalities and reduce poverty, we needed something more: union rights.

He resisted powerful people and institutions opposing unions and workers’ collective action, especially across racial lines. During the Jim Crow era, a wealthy Texas industrialist, Vance Muse, was a prime architect of so-called “right to work” legislation. His clear purpose was to divide workers so they would have weak bargaining power, ultimately resulting in lower wages, fewer benefits, and compromised working conditions.

Muse made no effort to hide the racism at the core of “right to work.” He declared that if such laws were not passed, “white women and white men will be forced into organizations [meaning unions] with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”

King argued long and hard to stop these laws. King urged: “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a dishonest twisting of words with the aim of making a vicious law sound like a good law. It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

In 1968, King marched with striking Memphis sanitation workers. Mayor Henry Loeb’s resistance to the simple deduction of dues from a worker’s paycheck held up the settlement of the strike for months. He knew that a union could not function without funds. King was assassinated in that struggle, but the workers finally won the right to union representation and dues checkoff. Wages went up and conditions improved. That’s what unions do.

Dues deduction simply supports worker representation. Once workers democratically vote to form a union, they may negotiate a “fair share” contractual clause that all workers either pay union dues or contribute a transparently calculated fee for the cost of contract administration and representation. In negotiations, the employer can freely choose to accept or reject such a contractual provision. That is, unless a “right to work” law denies employers and employees the freedom to decide for themselves what is best for their workplace.

It is not unreasonable to have a rule that everyone who signs up to work in a unionized workplace must pay union dues or a representation fee. No worker is required to join a union, but if workers agree and the employer also agrees, every worker contributes something to the cost of representation. Otherwise, as workers in Memphis knew, they would have no treasury and no one whose job it was to represent them in the work place. Government should not intervene to overrule these contractual rights.

King spoke out against “right to work.” He said, “Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights.” This hurts not only union workers, but everyone. Ever since King’s death, well-funded, nationally orchestrated “right to work” campaigns and related litigation have whittled away at union rights. New Hampshire has long been in the crosshairs of this national effort. The “right to work” drive here is not homegrown but perennially pushed from outside.

New Hampshire employers with existing unions and fair share contractual clauses have implored the Legislature not to interfere with their labor relations. Does New Hampshire really want to succumb to out-of-state pressure to pass an intrusive law aimed solely at unionized New Hampshire workplaces? Dr. King said the civil rights movement stood against such laws because “they constitute an obstacle to the progress of the Negro people and are inimical to the interest of America’s underprivileged.”

Why would New Hampshire embrace a law founded in racism, perpetuating divisiveness, and designed to sow conflict? Someone who does not want to join a union does not have to do so. But it is not right for someone to benefit when other workers pay union dues in order to improve conditions without contributing something to the cost of securing advancement for all workers.
Dartmouth Sociology Professor Marc Dixon recently traced the history of “right to work” laws for the New Hampshire House Labor Committee, saying: “Right to work has been an important tool for organized business. It is a clear way to defund and destabilize a political opponent. . . . The historical record on right to work’s primary use is clear, and it is not the protection of employee rights.”

King said “right to work” laws provide no “rights” and no “work.” The New Hampshire Legislature should reject the misnamed “right to work” in favor of the rights of workers to be well represented at the workplace.

Exercising Your Voice in the NH Legislature:
A “How To” Guide

LEARN: How do I know what’s happening?
The Legislature is generally in session from January-June. Legislative hearings likely will not occur after early to mid-May. Typically a House Calendar and Senate Calendar come out on Thursday evening and indicate what’s coming up (hearings on bills and more) in the coming week and beyond.

You can find the House Calendar here: http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/caljourns/default.aspx

Also (and perhaps easier), those concerned about particular justice issues should stay tuned to NH legislative alerts from state advocacy groups that are following the matter of interest. And for a comprehensive report on various justice and democracy issues, subscribe to the American Friends Service Committee’s indispensable State House Watch e-newsletter that typically hits your email in-box on Friday evenings or over the weekend. State House Watch covers bills related to housing, the death penalty, immigration, labor rights, the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more. These informative alerts usually include Committee names, bill numbers and hearing times. HB means House Bill and SB means Senate Bill. Here’s the link to subscribe to the AFSC’s

LISTEN: How do I “Attend”/Monitor a Hearing?
If you look at the most current House or Senate Calendar for the specific hearing in which you are interested, you will find the link to “attend” or listen to that hearing. (See the Calendar links above.)

TAKE ACTION: How do I exercise my voice on a pending bill during a Hearing?
To sign into a House or Senate hearing either to indicate your support for or opposition to any bill, you will need to know the Hearing Date, the Committee Name, and the Bill Number. Then use either the House link or the Senate link (below) and follow the easy prompts. It is here that you can designate your position on a bill and/or if you would like to testify on a bill. Even if you have no interest in testifying, noting your support or opposition is really valuable. Be sure to do this “sign-in” in advance of the hearing on the bill. As soon as a bill is listed in the calendar, you can record your position or sign up to testify.



Added Notes:  If you’re listening to a hearing and suddenly feel compelled to testify but haven’t signed up in advance, at the end of the hearing the Committee Chair will (or should!) ask if anyone else would like to testify. If you raise your hand via the Zoom icon, he/she should call on you.
You can also submit written testimony on a bill (ideally PRIOR to a hearing). In the House, you can go to the Committee list (http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/standingcommittees.aspx), click on the Committee you want, and, at top, you will see on the Committee page a link to “Email All Committee Members.” In the Senate, click on the Committee list (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senate/committees/Senate_Committees.aspx), and in this listing of individual committees you will see a link to “Email Entire Committee” below the names of the each Committee’s Chair and Vice Chair. You should, of course, feel free to contact your own Representative(s) or Senator at any time to share your public policy views or concerns.

Lift every voice for humane public policy!
Legislator Contact Information
 FEDERAL
                                                                                 Rep. Annie McLane Kuster
137 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-5206 (Washington)
18 North Main Street, Fourth Floor
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: 603-226-1002 (New Hampshire)

Sen. Maggie Hassan
330 Hart Senate Office Building  .
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3324 (Washington
1200 Elm St. Suite 6
Manchester, NH 03101
Phone: 603-662-2204 (New Hampshire)

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
506 Hart Senate Office Bdg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-2841 (Washington)
2 Wall St #220
Manchester, NH 03101
Phone: 602-647-7500 (NH)
STATE

Rep. Lee Walker Oxenham
92 Methodist Hill Road
Plainfield, NH 03781-5415
Phone: 603-727-9368

Rep. Brian Sullivan
642 Olde Farms Road
Grantham, NH 03753-3124
PHONE 603-381-7889


Rep. Linda Tanner
PO Box 267
Georges Mills, NH 03751-0267
Phone: 603-763-4471

Sen. Suzanne Prentiss
Legislative Office Building, Room 102
33 State Street
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: 603-271-3092
Climate Justice Ministry News –

MCC Climate Justice – TALK IT UP!
         Earth Day, celebrated on Saturday, April 24, turned out to be a lovely, relatively warm day – just shy of picnic weather. A small but intrepid group gathered on the church grounds and proceeded to weed-whack, rake, and generally spruce-up the grounds. Special thanks to Ann Tracey for her bounty of cookies and for Penny Arcone whose wit and ingenuity made the afternoon fly by.
         If you missed last week’s Earth Day service – do yourself an enormous favor and check it out on the web. Beautiful imagery, uplifting hymns and an outstanding sermon from our fearless pastoral leaders. We are the Earth, we are her children, and the time is now to revere and protect our Mother.
         The Biden administration marked Earth Day as well, with an ever more refined explanation of their commitment to stewarding resources and mitigating the climate crisis. We can all help by TALKING IT UP. On the phone. or on zoom, or in a line waiting to be served. Talk about how great it feels to have folks in office who are knowledgeable and taking positive action. Who could have imagined a goal of conserving a third of our lands and oceans? Having climate represented in the cabinet? Or throughout the many federal departments and agencies.
         Talking to family, friends and neighbors about our changing climate has never been easier or timelier, and getting a positive, action message out can help build critical support.
  Submitted
Lee Oxenham
Immigrant Solidarity
Meriden Congregational Church is a member of NH Immigrant Solidarity Network or NHISN. There is plenty going on. The next monthly meeting is Tuesday, June 1st at 10 AM. 

There will be an update on the Immigrant Solidarity Walk being planned for sometime in September. Also, faith leader signatures are being collected on a letter to Senators Hassan and Shaheen asking them to champion a roadmap to citizenship for essential workers who are immigrants. The letter, developed by Granite State Organizing Project, is a clear, unified statement that reflects the message in Leviticus 19:34. For those of you not ordained, you are welcome to sign on if you hold any leadership position in your congregation. A plan on how to deliver the letter together with our immigrant neighbors to Senators Hassan and Shaheen will be discussed at the NHISN meeting on June 1st. 

Dear Senator [Hassan/Shaheen],
   As faith leaders in the New Hampshire community, we affirm the dignity and value of our undocumented immigrant siblings. We lift up wise words from the Jewish and Christion traditions that inspire us: “the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34).
   
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many essential immigrant workers have risked their health to keep the American economy running for us all, performing vital jobs in healthcare, agriculture, food service, transportation, and caregiving. They will continue to be a driving force in the economy after the pandemic.
   
As Congress considers the Build Back Better recovery package, we want to acknowledge that there is no building back better without including and honoring the contributions of the undocumented immigrants who are taxpayers, homeowners, entrepreneurs, frontline workers, and members of our faith communities.

   A 2016 report by the New American Economy estimates that undocumented immigrants in New Hampshire earned approximately $195.6 million in 2014, paying $6.2 million in state taxes and $14.3 million in federal taxes.

   However, significant contributions by undocumented immigrants have not generated political action from our members of Congress to deliver immigration reform. For several years, we have stood alongside our immigrant neighbors and their families as they endure broken promises.
The time has come to honor our immigrant neighbors with legislation that grants them security and a sense of belonging in a country and state they call home. We ask for passage of legislation to create a roadmap to citizenship that includes protections for all 11 million undocumented immigrants and address punitive criminal bars and exclusions that hurt families.

   We undersigned faith leaders, therefore, call on you to support and champion the inclusion of the Citizens for Essential Workers Act in the Build Back Better reconciliation package. 

Sincerely,
[your name], [representing MCC as ]

Many thanks from Shideko Terai (she/her), Outreach, Peace & Justice Coordinator 603-252-7898 mary.n.boyle@gmail.com 


Introducing SHARe –
“Supporting and Helping Asylees and Refugees”

UVIP Immigration Support Network (ISN) is now SHARe-- Over the past two years, dedicated volunteer work and generous financial contributions to the United Valley Interfaith Project’s Immigrant Support Network (ISN) helped local asylum seekers struggling to establish a home in the Upper Valley. While that work continues, it is transitioning to a new Upper Valley nonprofit: Supporting and Helping Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SHARe). Organizers include members of the Upper Valley Refugee Working Group and UVIP. While SHARe will continue the service work and financial support of the ISN, UVIP’s immigration organizing efforts are transitioning to the Granite State Organizing Project and Vermont Interfaith Action. 

Back when our church was first discerning whether to become a Sanctuary Church, many of us wished we could open our homes as well. Although legal issues complicated offering “sanctuary” in our homes, there are no such problems with hosting asylum seekers. And since asylum seekers are legally required to have host homes in order to live freely among us, SHARe provides this profound opportunity for their needs and our hearts to align.


As this new year begins,I hope we can acknowledge some blessings of 2020. Covid-19 has shone a bright light on the inequities that have surrounded us for decades. Our country is hungry. Millions of our people are still without healthcare. There are many unhoused and soon to be unhoused people. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us our inhumane prisons and immigration policies. We have a lot of work to do. The work that we must do was begun by Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm, and Fannie Lou Hamer. Rosa Parks had the strength to sit down, so that I might stand. Sojourner Truth fought for women's rights so my voice would be heard. Harriet Tubman freed the enslaved so I might be liberated. Shirley Chisholm showed all the little Black girls (and Brown women like me) we could be anything we wanted to be. Even when people thought we were second class citizens. However, Fannie Lou Hamer showed us with grit and determination we could win if we organized. I feel their fear and anger. I cannot imagine running for my life across fields to freedom. Yet having the strength to return again and again to liberate others.

Now, imagine you are one of several ordinary, everyday men and women sitting in church basements, around kitchen tables and meeting on your college campuses. After being trained, you would sit at lunch counters, get on Freedom Buses (to register Black voters in the South) and cross the Edmund Pettus bridge. Each knew they would be beaten up and some would not be returning home. They still sat, rode the bus, and crossed the bridge.

 “And we won’t be silent anymore!”

There are some among us that believe that we should lay-low until the present danger is distanced again; I say we cannot back down. Yes, these are scary, unstable times that we are living through, and we cannot back down. We have got to fight for justice, equity and freedom anyway. Remember, the STRENGTH that flowed in the veins of those who have gone before us.
 
 Forward Together!

Thanks!
In solidarity and peace,
Shideko (she/her)
The UVHS & The Plainfield Community Resource Room have teamed up to help all Cat & Dog Owners in our area.
Every Month on the 3rd Saturday
when the Resource Room & Food Pantry is open
the UVHS will be present to provide  
FREE Cat & Dog Food.
For more information
please contact Stephanie at 469-3201.