Last week during the Thursday morning Bible study I picked up my phone to google a passage to share with the group (the one from Ephesians about being rooted and grounded in love and having the power to understand the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all understanding....) When I picked up my phone I saw that my son and husband had been texting back and forth on our family group chat – unusual enough in the middle of a school day that I took time right in the middle of Bible study to check in.
Someone was drawing swastikas all over the public high school Jacob attends, and he was pretty freaked out. The school’s response? They called in lots and lots of security guards and said NOT ONE WORD to students or parents. Not one word about keeping kids safe. Not one word inviting community dialogue and education. Not one word. About swastikas. In Hillsboro, Oregon, in 2017. My heart breaks with sadness, fear, and outrage.
My first, somewhat inane thought was, “why is there such a display of anti-Semitism in a school with such a small Jewish community.” It took me a moment to connect the dots. Our school has many, many students whose parents are the first generation in this country. There are families who came originally from Mexico, Guatemala, the Philippines, Kosovo, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan. There are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and unaffiliated students. I have always thought that was the beauty and strength of the school community. Someone in the community disagrees and wants everyone else to know it.
This got me thinking again about being white in America: What does the social construct of “whiteness” mean, and what benefits does it confer – whether we white folks recognize it or not? What wounds are inflicted on our spirits by being part of the group who benefits from an oppressive system?
In his introduction to “White Privilege: Let’s Talk,” UCC General Minister John Dorhauer wrote:
“The truth is, the mental and spiritual health of even the oppressors is badly affected by the work of supporting or maintaining systems of injustice. One of America’s lingering realities is the unprocessed grief, shame, fear, anger, and guilt of living in a culture of racial inequality. It is a heavy price we pay to maintain our silence in the face of such evil...”
This month, as part of our Lenten journey, you are invited to participate in this chapter of the UCC’s ongoing Sacred Conversation on race. Together we’ll consider the work of justice and the work of healing our own spiritual wounds as we seek to be rooted and grounded in love.
At the February Church Council meeting we discussed Jeanne becoming our settled pastor. All contributed their thoughts, including several who could not attend. Will Fuller, representing the Pastoral Relations Committee, relayed the input that this committee received. The council vote to have Jeanne Randall-Bodman as our settled pastor was unanimously approved (10-0). The decision now goes to the entire congregation. A vote by the congregation is set for March 19, 2017, immediately after the morning church service. Vote will be via paper ballots and proxies are allowed for those who are unable to attend. If approved, Jeanne has indicated her willingness to accept the position of Pastor at our Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ.
Blessings to the community at Kairos-Milwaukie UCC. You have a special place in our hearts. Your community has walked with us to offer hope to those who had lost hope and provided opportunity for many vulnerable girls and boys to see a new beginning and start the life's journey a fresh. We are still praying that one day, we will get the opportunity to meet face to face. I wish to share briefly about the girls who did their exam last year 2016.
The mentorship and Education Support Programme had 15 students who sat for the Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2016 with support from you all and Jack Courtney’s Endowment fund. The results were released on 29th December 2016. Out of the 15, 5 passed well and will secure direct entry to the university. The rest did fairly and will enroll to colleges for diploma, certificate or vocational studies.
We thank God for the sponsorship that has seen these girls through high school. Happy New Year full of God's blessings once again.
In honor of the approaching Earth Day, our Green Team will be providing one thought a month for protecting the health of our earth.
The "Meatless Monday" campaign is an attempt to reduce meat consumption, especially beef, by 15% for our own personal health and for the health of our planet. Livestock are responsible for 20% of green house gases that contribute to global warming. Grazing, burning fuel to produce and transport meat, and the release of methane gases from waste are some of the ways the beef industry contributes to climate change. If a four person family skips eating beef 1 day a week for a year, it is like taking your car off the road for 3 months. For more info, check out the DVD "Before the Flood" available in the Green Team library.