Meriden Congregational Church Newsletter MAY 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

Watch for weekly e-mail notices,
and/or contact or
for the Zoom Links and/or phone numbers
Here it is! Volume 4 Issue 1 of our e-mail newsletter
Pastoral Ponderings

Worship & Music Ministry News
  • Our Sunday Faith Community Celebrations in May
  • Farewell Celebration for Barb & Rod Wendt on May 16th
  • Music and Ministry Notes
  •  Tenderly Held in our Hearts and Prayers
  •  Into God’s Hands

May Calendar of Events in the Life of our Spiritual Family

MCC Administration & Finance News
  • The Ins and Outs of our Zoom Services
  • Report of the Assistant Treasurers
  • COVID-19 Task Force Notice For May

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

Growing a Just World for All
  • Just Peace Resolution between Israel and Palestine
  • "A Cry for Hope" Virtual Study Series
  • Steppin' Up Virtual March to End Violence May 15

Peace & Justice Ministry Coordinators Report
  • Racial Justice Ministry News
  • "Amend" Docuseries Discussion
  • "Decolonizing Christianity," Dr. Miguel De La Torre
  • Black Lives Matter Vigil
  • Worker Justice News
  • Tipped Workers Deserve Dignity & Respect
  • Guide to Participating in Legislative Session
  • Legislator Contact Information
  • Climate Justice News
  • Immigrant Solidarity Actions
  • Immigration Pathways
  • SHARe Housing for Asylum Seekers
  • Poor Peoples Campaign

Revs. John and Susan Gregory-Davis,
Meriden Congregational Church

“Weeping may tarry
for the night, but
Love comes with the morning."
-Psalm 30:5b
             Are you finding yourself walking with a little lighter step these days, as I am? Joy abounds! Spring is blossoming all around us. Many, if not most of us, in our community have received our second vaccinations. We can now look forward to long-awaited visits with family and friends. We may be realizing, as we reflect upon the experiences of this past year, that we have become a little bit wiser, a little more compassionate and loving, and probably a whole lot more flexible (in spite of ourselves!). We have perhaps gained a deeper sense of what is truly important to us in our lives and are learning (at least hoping) to let go of what we once thought was essential but now know is not! “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” What a gift of joy these lighter moments are! When they come, we faithfully cherish them to the fullest. 

             Yet, we are also so aware of the ongoing pain and suffering all around us--in our community and well beyond—as our closest and most distant kin experience the depth and breadth of loss, some of which we too have known and some which is unimaginable. Somehow, as human beings, we have the blessed capacity simultaneously to hold both joy and sorrow in our hearts. I am reminded of the words of Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran: “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. . .When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight” (The Prophet). Is not our calling to welcome and embrace both our joys and sorrows, even to make room in our hearts for the joys and sorrows of our world? 

   The merry month of May brings to our church much joy and celebration as we recognize on May 2nd, the two hundred and forty first birthday of the Meriden Congregational Church! We are so joyfully grateful for the fourteen people who gathered in the kitchen of Benjamin Kimball’s home (now our MCC parsonage) in 1780 and voted to found and build our church. Our joy continues to flow as we reflect on the ten or so generations of church family who, since then, have carried on our founders’ vision. And always we are so deeply grateful for our “wise and wonderful church friends,” those who have been members for forty years or more and continue to be active friends and ministers within our community of faith. How blessed we are to look forward with confidence, trust and joy, not only to the near present, but to the future love and ministries of our “brave, little church” on the hill.

         May also brings lots of other joyous celebrations, whether Mothers’ Day, high school and college graduations, nearing the end of a momentous school year, and other special seasonal events leading us into the summer.  High on this list is the joyful anticipation of the Meriden Community Camp Ministry Team as we continue working hard to prepare for our COVID-safe in-person camp season (July 6-August 20)—the eighteenth season of MCC! And we are so grateful to our Camp Director, Micah Dewey, and our Assistant Camp Director, Kelsey MacNamee, and the Camp Ministry Team (Cathy Rodriguez, chair, Cindy Griffin, Karen Heaton, Beth Kopp and Jill Marshall) for helping to bring on the joy that our campers will know this summer!

       With our joy also comes poignant sadness as we bid a loving farewell to Barb and Rod Wendt this month as they make their long-anticipated retirement move to Maine. Rod and Barb have been such active and faithful members of our community and church family these last eighteen years. From planting and nourishing beautiful flowers around our church steps and sign to hanging festive Christmas wreaths on our church doors to participating in virtually all church ministry and social activities, including innumerable leadership positions, Barb and Rod have helped to make our church the warm, welcoming and inclusive faith community it is today. We will miss them immensely. But, again, we embrace the sorrow and joy of this significant change by coming together—on Sunday, May 16th at 10am—for a time of worship, gratitude and celebration. We are hoping to gather outdoors on the green for our service, with an outdoor reception to follow, weather-permitting. We hope you can join us for this special time of being church family with all the joy and sadness that being a loving community brings. 

          No matter the waves of sorrow and joy that cause our little church boat to bounce along in the sea, we have faith, trust, comfort and inspiration in the Rudder of our God’s Love for us and our love for one another to keep our faith, our lives, and our ministries joyfully afloat. Our church has been on a steady course of Love these past two hundred and forty one years! Blessed be the gift of our faith community as we continue to seek to be the faithful people our God calls us to be. 

 Your loving and grateful Co-pastors,
Susan & John

John and Susan on Zoom

(All on Zoom, or outside,
weather permitting)

MAY 2nd @ 10:00 AM
Fifth Sunday of Eastertide
Founders' Day Sunday!
Join us for a virtual celebration of the 241st Birthday of the Meriden Congregational Church! Our Intergenerational Communion Service will be feature a Birthday Cake, and highlights of our life and ministry together.

MAY 9th @ 10:00 AM
Sixth Sunday of Eastertide
Mothering Sunday Celebration
Join us as we explore and reflect upon scriptural images and prayers that lift up the mothering qualities of our Creator God, while giving thanks for all those who haver "mothered" us in so many loving ways.

MAY 16th 10:00 AM
Seventh Sunday of Eastertide
Loving Farewell to
Rod & Barb Wendt
Come join us to bid farewell to Rod & Barb Wendt on this last Sunday with us before they move to Maine, for a beautiful outdoor celebration, weather permitting!

MAY 23rd @ 10:00  AM
One of the major Feast Days of the Christian Church, Pentecost Sunday celebrates the  birth  of the Church on that day when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, blessing them for ministry in Jesus' name. Hang on to your hat and be ready for the Spirit to blow within and around us, filling us and blessing us once again on this Sunday! 

May 30TH @ 10:00 AM Memorial Day Sunday!
Join us for this Sunday when we remember and give thanks for the lives of those who died in service, as well as loved ones whose memory we also cherish and give thanks for. Be with us as we recommit ourselves to working toward a world of justice and peace, compassion and love for all God's people, everywhere.
Whoever you are,
Whomever you love,
Wherever you are on
life's journey,

share in all our
Spiritual Family Services, Celebrations,
and Activities!
Happy Easter from your Meriden Congregational church family! As the new life of spring blooms all around us, we are beginning to glimpse the day when we we finally be able to re-gather in person--yeah!! But for now, we are continuing youth programming opportunities that allow us all to stay safe and healthy. Our middle school students are reading and reflecting upon the insights and challenges of he book, Stamped, by Ibram X. Kendi. And of course we are continuing our weekly Zoom Children’s Messages during our church services. The Spiritual Formation Ministry Team and I are excited to share more safe and engaging programming this spring! Please stay tuned for more information coming soon! 

As a mom and Language Arts teacher, I love children’s books. As my child becomes older, I have been discovering some new and progressive books that help children understand skills and concepts essential to healthy spiritual development, such as empathy, confidence, and anti-racism. If you have some little readers at home that are seeking a chance to connect with others while in the safety of your home, I’d love to invite your young elementary aged children (Kindergarten through fourth grade) to join me for our weekly Zoom story time. I will read aloud and we will discuss it after, reflecting on the story and making connections to our own lives. Stay tuned for more information as to which stories we will be reading and when.
I hope your children can join me! I miss seeing you all in person and am hoping for a healthy Spring!

Be well,

Kelsey MacNamee
Spiritual Formation Coordinator
Meriden Congregational Church
(603) 504-4257
Music and Ministry Notes
In spite of cool temperatures and crazy wind Spring is persevering in her arrival. The grass is greening up and the trees are budding. I’m beginning to sneeze a lot, a definite sign that the seasons are moving along. 
Here in the U.S. the Covid Pandemic is trending in a positive direction. Thanks be to God for being there to sustain us through this unprecedented time. We also express thankfulness for the gradual progress that we are making toward return to our pre-pandemic normal while keeping the people in India in our prayers as they are experiencing a surge of Covid cases complicated by a lack of needed supplies.
At MCC we are very fortunate to have very talented musicians who continue to provide beautiful music for our Zoom services. With the Covid guidelines changing almost daily we hope to be able to experience their song in person soon. Music and Ministry in conjunction with the MCC Covid Task Force are working to make that happen soon.

Cindy Marx-Wood

John and Susan at Sunrise Service, Easter April 4, 2021

Tenderly Held in our Hearts and Prayers
        As we journey throughout this Eastertide Season of rejoicing in God’s resurrection power to heal even our deepest sorrows, 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, health 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 for our BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) friends and neighbors, seeking to build with them a world wherein Black Lives Matter!”

Likewise do we pray for Glenn Griffin, Kathy Wright’s sister, Carolyn Youtz; Jim Griffiths; Cindy LaFlam; Jan Lord’s son, Brian; Christine Heins’ sister, Rosalyn Braeunig; Terry Henry; 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 Allison;  Jeannie Hines’ father, Joe McClellan; Rich Pullen; 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; Arthur & Linda Perkins; Jo Keiller; 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 Homeyer; Scot Zens; Rev. Jed ReardonAllyson Wendt, as well as her daughter, Ada Jane; Greg Marshall; Larry Burch’s brother, CharlieSusan 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 her niece, Amelie Marie.

So too do we pray for these members and friends of our faith community currently receiving treatment for cancer: 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 
As gradually warming weather leads us to yearn for the new life of spring, so too have our hearts ached with the loss of dearly beloved friends and relatives of our faith community.

We grieve with incomprehension and anguish the more than 575,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in this country alone, as well as all other pandemic-related deaths throughout our world.

So too do our hearts ache with Selden & Jan Lord, and their dear friend, Drew Reed, as together they mourn the loss of Drew’s husband, Will Reed on Thursday—April 15th, 2021.

As God has welcomed each of these dearly departed 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 sorrow.

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe (27 May 1819 – 17 Oct 1910) was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet most famous as the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” was one of the early calls to celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

March 2021
The Ins and Outs of our Zoom Services

It’s been exactly a year since MCC began doing Zoom services. This amounts to almost 50 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.

Rod is the “producer” of the show. Rod sets up the Zoom meeting that becomes our service on Saturday and distributes the parameters for it to the copastors and me. We all know that he gives 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 changes the “Spotlight” function depending on who is the current focus of the program. All three of us are 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.

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 Rod 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



For the month of April we received $7,740 in pledge payments and $335 for plate offerings. The totals for year to date are $59,133 for pledges and $1,610 for plate. We have also received a $2,800 contribution for repair and upkeep of the picket fence. $800 has been received for the OGHS special collection. 

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
COVID-19 Task Force Briefs for May 2020

Here are some points that may help you anticipate what could be ahead for our congregation. These are consistent with Zoom discussions and emails among members of our church’s COVID-19 Task Force in recent months:

1)Meriden Congregational Church will move to outdoor Sunday services as the weather improves this spring and summer.
2) Indoor Sunday worship may resume this autumn as pandemic circumstances will allow. These services may also be live-streamed, however they will not be as interactive as the Zoom format services we have experienced over the past fourteen or fifteen months. Masking, hand hygiene and distancing will continue to be observed as recommended by public health guidance.
3)On rainy summer Sundays some form of Zoom worship may occur if timely technical arrangements can be made.

The Pandemic and its COVID-19 coronavirus will be with us for some time to come. So, any definitive planning about when to resume indoor worship with choral and congregational singing is almost impossible at this early date. Resumption of unmasked meetings and social events will be gradual and follow timely public health guidance. Of course, the emergence of new viral strains, any need for annual booster immunizations or similar unknowns may cause our church, our communities and our nations to rethink and plan anew.

Bright points will continue:

4)Our Meriden Summer Camp will resume this year with limited small cohorts of children and limited numbers of counselors. The camp will observe the same practices and health protocols as those used so successfully by the Plainfield and Cornish elementary schools this year.
5)The COVID-19 Task Force has okayed limited outdoor receptions for the church family so long as distancing, hand hygiene and masking among non-households can be observed.
6)In recent weeks some fully vaccinated households have already resumed careful socializing among themselves. Many of us are becoming more comfortable in interpreting and following the public health norms and guidance in our personal and familial lives.  

There seems to be a growing sense that we may not be returning completely to the “old” societal norms at all. Our communities are in the process of exploring and creating some “new” social norms. While these will not come about so easily or so quickly, the Task Force is optimistic that our church family will be coming together in the foreseeable future.

Ed Cousineau, Convener
MCC COVID-19 Task Force


Happy Spring!! Soon we will be able to meet outside on the Church Green. We have been supported and nourished by our Zoom Services during this Winter. Thanks to John and Susan and all the wonderful musicians from our church and everywhere that have raised our sprits in the past months. To be frank I have gotten used to drinking my coffee while I have watched Zoom Church. At this moment we plan to gather on the Green this May 16th. I hope you will be able to join us for this opportunity. Of course we will be masked and distanced still but the chance to see people in person will be great.

One part of the May 16th Service will be to thank Rod Wendt and Barb Wendt for the many years of service they have given to this church. The list of their contributions is too long to mention here. We will miss them when they go to their new home in Maine. We wish them all good luck and good fortune.

Kathy Wright, Coordinator for Welcoming and Caring Ministry


5/1        Cayden Van Dolah
5/1         Mike Van Dolah
5/1         Louise Filiault                                   
5/1         Thembi Muhlari
5/3         Kate Brady
5/4         Adam Perotti
5/4         George Butler
5/4         Lauren Lenz
5/4         Hadley Pensgen
5/4         Hank Ruppertsberger
5/4        Maia Garfield
5/4         Patrick Duany
5/5       Kurt Shaffert
5/5         Brian Garfield
5/6        Harrison Daniel Jeschke
5/6         Sylvia Clark
5/6         Emma Lewis
5/6         Samantha Clerkin
5/7         Nicole Annis
5/7         Miles Saunders
5/9         Susan Sanzone
5/9         Grace Bradley
5/10      Rob Constantine
5/10       Zeda Wolf
5/10       Marianna McKim
5/11       Alyssa Packard
5/11       Nancy Wightman
5/12       Ian Cattabriga
5/13       Stephanie Harding

5/14       Kristen Wendt
5/16       Phil Crowell
5/17       Emma Porrazzo
5/17       Caitlyn Porrazzo
5/17       Owen Winslow
5/18       Melanie Elliot
5/18       Molly Jean Elizabeth Kells
5/19       Richard Swett
5/19       Audra Bucklin
5/19      Corinne Tomlinson
5/20       Doug Carver
5/21       Rigel Cable
5/21       Amira Chichakly
5/21       Haddie Houde
5/21       Ryan McGraw
5/22       Linda Perkins
5/23       Christy Trudo
5/23       Elizabeth Todd
5/25       Greg Castell        
5/25       Steve Beaupre”
5/26       Gretchen Cherington
5/26       Joe McClellan
5/26       Rangi Keen
5/26       Oliver Herfort
5/26       Des Tolentino
5/26       Suzanne Lenz
5/27       Sawyer Constantine
5/27       Sue Richardson
5/28      Katy Sheehan
5/31       Pam Miller Custer
5/31       Richard Miller


5/4   Lee Walker and Evan Oxenham
5/10   Selden and Jan Lord
5/16   Robyn and Bob Carpenter
5/18   Nancy and Kurt Filiault
5/18 Laura Packard & Paul Churchill
5/26   Karen and Doug Heaton
5/26   Rick and Heather Hildebrant
5/29   Rachel and Robert Stoddard
5/31   Maura Hart and Frank Perotti
5/31   Leslie MacGregor and Dalton Winslow

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
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 in July, 2021. Thanks! Rod

May Weekly Program on
Justice in Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Some awkward and peculiar questions I keep asking myself

The modern State of Israel was created in 1947—that’s the year that I was born. My earliest memories of evening newscasts on my family’s brand new 12 inch Philco TV screen were of grainy black and white film clips flown back from Jerusalem showing street fighting, tanks rolling in the desert, bottles being hurled and non-combatants fleeing. To be honest my young mind was confused and it muddled the facts about who were the intruders and who were those being displaced. In retrospect it seemed simple then, like good folks fighting with some bad folks—but really, who was whom? World War II had just ended—"we “were the good guys and “we” had won, hadn’t “we”?

Fast forward to today—more than 70 years later—these same conflicts continue unabated. But the intricate, tangled issues of Israel and Palestine seem so much less clear now. Child-like innocence and simplicity have been lost: Now our digital TVs can broadcast live wars 24 hours a day in vivid color. Black and white morals are no longer so obvious nor even tenable. Our complex adult questions cannot easily be resolved. Sometimes when there are no clear or simple answers, it’s so much easier to identify and get hooked on the endless details. 

Early in the 20th century, at the end of World War I, the desert lands of Palestine had been carved out by European nations as a geographical homeland for European Jews seeking a return to the lands of biblical times. This political urge to return to a historical biblical homeland is called “Zionism.” Back then the European powers saw a Palestine that did not resemble the traditional boundaries, governance structures or populations they associated with modern nation states. And so, like Europeans who journeyed out in past migrations, they assumed that they could bring the enlightened benefits of their civilization to lesser or absent cultures. It apparently did not matter that there were large numbers of residents who had lived and flourished there for centuries and millennia. These residents were almost invisible to the far-off European powers and, consequently, their displacement was of trivial concern—maybe just a bit of “collateral damage” in a time of assumed modern progress.

If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, reminiscent of the forced relocations of Native Americans, perhaps like the fate that enslaved peoples faced when kidnapped from Africa, or perhaps analogous to the challenges encountered by contemporary immigrants from far off lands coming to the USA, then you might want to consider joining one or all four of the evening Zoom sessions on Thursdays in May 2021 originating from our UCC neighbors in Durham, NH.  
A Cry for Hope:
Responding to the Palestinian Call for Advocacy & Action
A Four-Week Virtual Discussion / May 2021 Community Church of Durham, UCC

Each evening’s session from 7 pm to 8 pm will be arranged as follows:
--25 minute conversation with a guest specialist: 
--15 minute Zoom Breakout Rooms Discussion
--A concluding 20 minutes for Questions, Conversation, and Responses

Inspired by the commitment of the Durham’s UCC pastor, Rev. David Grishaw-Jones, our church (Meriden UCC) is one of six co-sponsors from throughout the United States of an important resolution and discussion to be held at this summer’s UCC General Synod concerning Palestinian rights in modern Israel. We are extremely pleased to share this opportunity for all of us to learn more about this complicated and sensitive justice issue. Immediately below is an announcement of this series to which we at MCC have been given special invitation. Resource links will be available for those wishing to further their own knowledge before each session. Please contact me if you have questions.  

Thank you, Ed Cousineau
Steppin' Up supports the Turning Points Network
Community members may reach staff by emailing them directly or emailing  
Survivors may reach us through our 24-hour crisis and support line, 1-800-639-3130.
Advocates are also available via text at 603-506-6553 or to chat live at between the hours of 9 and 4, Monday through Friday.
- A check made out to Turning Points Network with MCC Team on the memo. Send it to or leave it at the church office or send to TPN at 11 School St, Claremont, NH 03743.

- Donate online by going to the Turning Points website, click on the Stepping Up banner, then the Fundraise Online box, Donate to a Team, and scroll down to MCC Team. It’s easy to enter your information and donation amount. 

   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.”         Our plan is to watch, or re-watch, on our own, each segment of this series, and to convene on zoom for 6 Monday evenings to discuss and unpack each of 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:

       Monday—May 17th  @ 7:00 PM   Chapter 1  “Citizen”
       Monday—May 24th  @ 7:00 PM   Chapter 2  “Resistance”
       Monday—May 31st  @ 7:00 PM   Chapter 3  “Wait”
       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”

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

Tipped Workers In Our Midst Deserve Dignity, Respect, and Decent Treatment
by Gail Kinney, Worker Justice Minister

Are you or have you ever been a tipped worker – in a restaurant or a hotel/motel or some other venue? Or has a friend, family member or other loved one held (or maybe still holds) such a position? 

I encourage you to give serious thought to the life and livelihood of the tipped workers in our midst. Tipping can indeed result in decent pay – except when it doesn’t. Someone on a restaurant’s waitstaff perhaps can bring home a real living wage on a busy weekend evening. But I think about a dear friend, a mother of two, who actually loves her restaurant server job because of the people she serves. But she is assigned mid-week, mid-day hours, and she tells me she is barely surviving economically and that she suffers from never-ending economic anxiety (and that’s with her husband working in the hospitality sector, too). She says it hurts her deeply to have to say “no” over and over to her children who don’t ask for much but who yearn for some of the basics that teenagers hope for.
Did you know that the base wage in NH for a tipped worker is 45% of the applicable minimum wage – in NH’s case, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour? That comes out to $3.27 per hour! When the current NH legislative session started, it appeared that an increase in federal minimum wage might be imminent, meaning that NH’s base tipped wage would increase as well. (The federal “raise the wage” effort is less sure today.)

Well, heartless hospitality lobbyists and legislators in NH wanted nothing to do with the possibility of any such increase, so Senate Bill 137 was introduced (and ultimately passed in the Senate!) to eliminate the “45% of the applicable minimum wage” provision and, instead, FREEZE the NH tipped worker minimum wage at $3.27 per hour, no matter what kind of minimum wage increase comes into being. Here’s what the American Friends Service Committee-NH Program had to say about SB 137 in its April 30 State House Watch: “NH already has the lowest minimum wage for tipped employees among our neighboring states. Maine’s minimum wage for tipped employees is $6.00; Vermont’s is $5.88; and in Massachusetts its $5.55. This bill is offensive.”

I encourage you to register your opposition to this incredibly mean-spirited and cruel legislation which is scheduled for a hearing in the House Labor Committee on Wednesday May 5. Use this link – – then look for May 5, House Labor Committee, and SB 137 – and note that you OPPOSE SB 137. It is the least we can do for our tipped worker sisters and brothers (in addition, of course, to leaving generous tips!)  

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:

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 (, 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 (, 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
                                                                                 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)

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. We hope to have a prime example here in Plainfield soon as we look to federal funding to help address the “road repairs” on River Road. We all remember the million-dollar effort needed on 12A just a year or two ago. This will be a smaller, but still costly, project. Our “new normal” of torrential downpours will continue to erode the Connecticut River’s banks.   
         Let the Select Board know you support an ecologically-sound, long-term fix that requires new thinking about this vulnerable transportation corridor. Alternative solutions need to be explored, including shifting the road inland. The Select Board will be meeting Wednesday evening, April 28 on zoom at 6pm. Continually ”armoring” the banks with rip-rap and rock costs our increasingly stressed local flora and fauna vital habitat, and only shifts the problem to the next exposed area. 
         Please join us by zoom for our May Climate Justice meeting on May 17 at 6:30pm.  

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, May 4 at 10 AM. 
There will be a discussion about a possible Immigrant Solidarity Walk in 2021! 
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 May 4. 

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. 
[your name], [representing MCC as ]

Many thanks from Shideko Terai (she/her), Outreach, Peace & Justice Coordinator 603-252-7898 

From American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): 
Individuals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Cameroon are being held at the Alexandria Staging Facility in Louisiana and are reportedly scheduled for deportation this week. We understand that some of these individuals have pending motions to reopen their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals or petitions for review before
a circuit court, while others claim that they were not afforded the opportunity for a credible fear interview for asylum in a language they understand.  We are urging you to take action now to stop these deportations: 

Call: The White House (202-456-1111), DHS (202-282-8495), Speaker Pelosi (202-225-4965), Majority leader Schumer (202-224- 6542)  
Demand: Ask them to Stop deportations, expulsions, transfers and ground ICE air related flights
during this global health crisis. 
Sample Script: Hello, I am calling to demand that you stop the mass deportations of people from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Haiti. ICE transfers, deportations
and expulsion flights spread COVID19 and put everyone at risk. You have the authority to stop all deportations now. I also urge you to halt all Title 42 expulsions, transfers and ground all ICE Air related flights during this global health crisis. President Biden must not return families, individuals and children to countries experiencing violence and political instability in which their lives are endangered. 

Tweet: @POTUS @FLOTUS @VP @DHSGov @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer @BennieGThompson @AOC @REpPressley @Ilhan @JoaquinCastrotx @RitchieTorres @RepKarenBass @RepJayapal 
Sample Tweets:  
Hundreds of Black immigrants fled human rights abuses, violence, and political persecution. They are now at risk of being returned to unsafe countries. @[Congressional leader], will you demand @ICEgov stop these deportations? 
[Handle @Congressman/Senator] don’t stand by as ICE detains + deports Black asylum seekers! Urge @ICEGov to release them to their families and communities in the U.S. #FreeThemAll 
Detention is a death sentence. Deportation is a death sentence. @ICEgov, the only humane and responsible solution is to #FreeThemAll. @[elected official] stop the deportation of Black immigrants now. 

Shideko Terai (she/her), Outreach, Peace & Justice Coordinator
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.

To sign up for SHARe’s online “Open House” introduction on either Friday—May 7th @ 11:00 AM, or Thursday—May 20th @ 6:30 PM, go to

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!

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.