Pastor Connection
June 11, 2020

A Note from Pastor Amy
God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

This is a verse that many people bring out when talking about justice. But what exactly does acting justly mean? This might be a hard question for some people to answer. At least, that is what I've found when I ask people to define it. And yet, it's a critical question for Christians today as we look at our world right now and listen to the cry for racial justice.

Many times white Christians have defined justice as treating everybody the same way. So, acting "justly" has taken form in efforts to bring diverse groups of people together and celebrate difference. These are noble causes, and yet they miss a critical part of justice work.

Acting justly also means examining systems where injustice is deeply embedded. I explained it in a rather simplistic metaphor to the zoom group on Tuesday:

A man was sitting by a river fishing one day. Everyone in his town fished for a living. It was a way of life. One day his neighbor came and lamented, "I don't have as much fish as you do, and I'm struggling to make ends meet." Can you help? The man said, "Of course, I'll help. I have more fish than I need. I can give some to you." More and more neighbors came to him and had the same problem. There was clearly an inequity. The man kept trying to help in charitable ways. But at some point, he started asking, "Why? Why is it that some people are having so much trouble? What about the river or the surrounding area is contributing to the difficulty?"

The work of justice gets at that question. Why? Why do inequities occur? Why is it, for example, that in Waterloo a black family making more money is less likely to be approved for a mortgage than a white family who makes less money? Why is it that a black child is less likely to graduate from our schools than a white child? Why is it that a black man is more likely to be imprisoned or die at the hands of the police than a white man? Why is that a black women is more likely to be followed in a store than a white women? These are the questions that we must start taking seriously and asking from a systemic standpoint. Racism is not simply defined as people being mean to each other. Racism is defined by systems that give more power to one group of people over another simply because of the color of their skin. Understanding these systems is part of acting justly. Who has power in the system and who doesn't?

But it is a difficult path to begin. Here is the hard truth: we are more comfortable with acts of charity than acts of justice, which make charitable acts easier. Like the man in the story, we are happy to give away our extra fish. This makes sense. Giving charity puts the powerful in the driver's seat and maintains that power. Doing the work of justice requires the kindness and humility that the prophet Micah describes. It requires us to listen, learn new things, un-learn old things, take responsibility, and act in courageous and sacrificial ways.

I pray that many among our church are ready to start walking this road of justice, especially when it comes to understanding the deeply embedded racism that runs throughout out our economic, educational, and criminal justice systems. I know several of you have already taken steps on this path, and I pray that you keep walking it. There are a number of resources in this Pastor Connection that I encourage you to explore. If there is something specific that you want to learn more about or understand, you can always contact me. If you simply need someone to listen to you, I'm here as a conversation partner.

The path of justice is not always easy or comfortable, but it is the way toward lasting peace and in the words of the prophet, it is what the Lord requires of us. May God strengthen us for the journey.

May the peace of Christ be with you,
Pastor Amy
Some Resources for Understanding Racism Today
Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving is an introduction to understanding white privilege and the marker of "whiteness." Our church read this together a few years ago. Click HERE .

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is a pivotal article by Peggy McIntosh that helps people identify their own privilege and power. The markers might be surprising to you. Click HERE .

"Deconstructing White Privilege" This 20 minute video has been put out by the Methodist Church as another helpful and introductory tool to the concept of white privilege. Click HERE . video that is helpful.

The National Museum of African American History has resources on
Social Identities and Systems of Oppression, including a YouTube video (7 minutes) on power and a worksheet for people to map their social identity. Click HERE .

During the month of June several films on race are being made available for free streaming in the interest of providing education on systemic racism. Warner Brothers films is offering "Just Mercy" based on the book by the same title authored by civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson. Click HERE . The film "Selma" is also available. Click HERE

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander examines the inequities and injustices in our criminal justice system. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Click HERE .

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby examines the ways that the church has perpetuated systems of racism throughout history. Our church was encouraged to participate in a community book study in the Fall where participants read this book. Click HERE .

Zoom Bible Study
We are making a few changes to our regular Zoom Coffee Hour. Starting next Tuesday, we will be engaging in a deeper Bible Study. The group will study the upcoming sermon text together to prepare for worship, share our own insights, and gain a better understanding of Scripture. This is open to ALL church members. Be sure to grab your Bible and join us!

Our next coffee hour will be Tuesday, June 16, at 9:00 a.m. Click this link to join.
Online Giving Now Available
Thank you to all those who are continuing to faithfully give their pledges and offerings to the church. In an attempt to make giving easier during this time, we have initiated online giving to our church through the Presbyterian Foundation. Click on the button below to set up on account for continual giving. You may also give a one time gift. You may also continue to mail checks to the church. Please call Kelley if you have questions.

We are still engaging in meaningful ministry and your offerings make that ministry possible. Thank you for your generosity and please continue to give as you can.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers
With our Sympathy:
Marsha Muir's brother's grandson Drew died suddenly of a heart attack while playing basketball. We pray for his parents and their entire family.

New to the prayer list and updates:

Prayers of safety for Lorraine Baker's nephew and Barbara Benksin's son, who are both truckers.

Jo Beaver is recovering from knee surgery.

Donna Beaver is recovering from surgery for carpal tunnel on her other hand.

For specific individuals:
Kason (Connie Leeper's daughter-in-law's nephew) recovering from a car accident; Rev. Gary Catterson, recovering from surgery at home; Steve Miller, Iowa City; Gerald Buls, home; Bob Cutsforth, who began treatment for cancer this week; The Platts' friends in Venezuela who are struggling with food and other resources; Karen Dew's cousins, Sherry and Holly, who have been affected by COVID-19, Joe Fernau (Marie's son), who started treatments for lymphoma; Sarah (granddaughter of Evelyn and Carl Boice) who is an RN at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester MN, and her husband, Dylan, who is an essential non-medical worker at Mayo; Megan and Emma Schellhorn as they work at Fareway; Jan and Dean Bellinger's daughters and granddaughters who are serving in hospitals and nursing care facilities; for Alexa (granddaughter of Janis Shea) who works in an essential business credit union and is subjected to the virus; Courtney Pilcher who works in health care services; Don Broadston, home; Pat Stanhope, Friendship Village; Shirley Sorensen, Friendship Village; Neva Kerr, NewAldaya (Hospice); Crystal Lorenze, recovering from back surgery; Paul Holtz, Hospice Care; Mary Davis, Ravenwood

Broader prayer concerns from the congregation:
that justice and lasting peace will come to our nation
leaders in all areas who are making decisions for people's well-being
all those living and working in nursing homes, assisted living, and retirement communities
workers at Tyson's
that all will stay well
all doctors, nurses, and health care providers along with their families
all those who are essential workers
those who are strictly quarantined for a variety of reasons

Add to the Prayer List
Click  HERE  to submit a prayer request online. Our pastors will be praying for you and sharing concerns with the congregation as requested.
Happy Birthday!


4 Nancy Valentine
5 Jackson Bass, Marilyn Lottich
8 Judy Anders, Steve Cose
9 Shirley Sorensen
11 Dr. David Kabel, Doug Newhoff

First Presbyterian Church | Waterloo, IA | 319-233-6145 |