On Sunday, March 19, the congregation of Kairos-Milwaukie UCC voted, by secret written ballot, to call the Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman as its Settled Pastor. The final tally was 65 in favour, with 1 abstention. Jeanne accepted the call gratefully and enthusiastically, affirmed by smiles and hugs all around.
This overwhelmingly-positive decision was especially meaningful given how important the former pastor was to the spirit and substance of the congregation. For not quite 40 years the Kairos part of the congregation wandered in the wilderness from building to building, following its pastor, Rick Skidmore.
When Kairos joined with the 100-year-old Milwaukie UCC, they kept Rick as pastor in defiance of the common practice of calling a new pastor for the blended congregations, and Rick was accepted by the combined congregations in an almost-seamless transition that has endured over a decade.
In April and May our Two Cents a Meal special offering will go to the Annie Ross House for homeless families. In 1986 Northwest Housing Alternatives bought the Queen Anne style house at 2400 SE Willard Street in Milwaukie. The house was remodeled to conform to fire and safety standards to accommodate five families with children as they transitioned from homelessness to permanent housing. More than just providing a bed, the Annie Ross House staff helps families with food supplies and nutrition information. They assist with job search skill development and self esteem and confidence building. They also help the homeless access medical care and provide help in seeking permanent housing for their family. The Annie Ross House is one of the few shelters in Oregon that allows homeless families to stay together. Families can stay at the house up to one month. If a family can't find or afford safe, permanent housing by then they may move into one of three transitional homes on the Annie Ross campus or other longer term housing. The Annie Ross House provides a great service to help families as they face homelessness.
Annie Ross Roberts was known as Milwaukie's "First Lady". She was the daughter of an Oregon pioneer family and was born in 1868. Annie was one of Milwaukie's first teachers. Her philanthropy and community work included helping Chinese laborers, Armenian refugees and low income children. Annie lived on Lake Road, a few blocks from the Annie Ross campus. She died at the age of 91. Her Grand-Nephew, Frank Kerr, says, "This is just the kind of program she would have supported if she were alive today."
As a shareholder in a company that manages mutual funds, I recently received a ballot for voting on the board of trustees. Researching the nominees online, I found it impossible to locate any information relating to the social values or responsibility of 9 out of 11 of them. What I found on the remaining two amounted to less than a sentence. This struck me as absurd. Why should I empower individuals to manage millions of dollars without any notion of whether those individuals support social justice? I ended up withholding my vote for 9 of the 11 nominees and sent the company's website an explanation of why.
Out this experience, I have drafted the following pledge, which I invite others to use, adapt or share to assert shareholders' power as a force for social justice:
Private business holds considerable power in our world. It is, therefore, important that those who represent businesses be people of social conscience.
As a voting shareholder, I pledge to withhold my support from any individual who does not clearly communicate his or her track record on social issues. To be considered for my vote, an individual must issue an easily accessible, public statement of the following:
Individuals running for public office are expected to issue a statement of their values and track record for upholding those values. Those who wish to be voted into positions of trust in the private sector must be held to the same standard.
Gary Salyers: The Logus Road Preschool shares our Church classroom facilities and contributes to the Church for utilities and other expenses. The Church has always considered the Preschool as one of our missions and has been pleased to contribute to the education of these young children.
There has been a preschool in our Church since the 1960's. The first was a co-op program run by parents with some Church members. In 1977 the Church formed a committee to organize and run our own Church supported Logus Road Preschool. We hired a teacher and 1977-78 was our first school year. The Church Preschool Committee became the governing board. The Board grew and changed over the years as we hired staff, collected tuition, and paid the expenses of the program. We had excellent teachers including Nancy Sharrett, Kim Gilliam and Susan Johnson. The reputation of the Preschool was very good and enrollment always nearly full. However, after more than 25 years, the Preschool Board passed the responsibility off to someone with the time, education and experience to make the program even more successful. Cheryl Forsberg was asked to take over the program and she accepted the challenge.
Cheryl Forsberg: In the spring of 2008, I was approached by the Clackamas County Head Start Pre-Kindergarten Program (OHSPP) about operating a Head Start Preschool at Kairos United Church of Christ. At the time, I was director of Marylhurst Early Childhood Center, a large preschool serving middle to upper income families. The challenge of working with low income families was intriguing to me, and I was looking for a new challenge. Therefore, I formed Early Childhood Education Management Services (ECEMS). My goal was to develop community partnerships to provide the best possible early childhood experience for children ages 3 through 5.
With that in mind, ECEMS contracted with OHSPP to enroll preschool children at Logus Road Preschool. OHSPP provides parenting support through home visits, access to health and dental care, and assistance in locating resources for housing, food, and clothing. North Clackamas School District provides transportation to get children to and from school, and Kairos United Church of Christ provides a warm and welcoming environment.