Desolation: Cause and Remedy January 3, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at facebook.com/uurockford)
Rev. Matthew Johnson This week, we begin a four-sermon series on the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah (and his followers) write almost 3000 years ago, but their reflections on tragedy, justice, the prophetic task, healing, and hope resonate today as much as they ever had. In the first chapter, Isaiah sees the devastation, inequality, and injustice around him and argues that the remedy is not shows of piety, but justice for the poor and neglected. A message for our day as well.
Happy Birthday to: Emily Pfleiderer (12/31) Jackson Foster (12/30), Sheila King (12/30), Martha Pippitt (01/02), Jami Edmonds (01/02), Randi Best (01/03), Amanda Tapfield (01/04), & Shane Baker (01/05)!
We will share the plate with UUANI UUANI (Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois) was founded in 2013 and organized to build power among UU congregations in Illinois, in order to put our UU values into meaningful, concrete far-reaching action toward social justice. We work collectively with each other and collaboratively with effective partner organizations to influence the creation of meaningful social change toward justice, beloved community, and a healthy planet. Click here to donate.
Dec 29, 2020
My last newsletter column for 2020. I have hopes for the new year! For a better year for our nation and for our world.
I stopped making resolutions a long time ago, but I do set “main intentions” for the coming calendar year. My sabbatical and other work I’ve been doing to set life-goals have shaped my intentions for this year.
Personally, my intentions include being a generous, patient, and joyful father, partner, and friend. I’m intending to nurture the physical habits, like running, that makes me feel good and keep exploring this beautiful and interesting world – when and how it is safe to do so.
Professionally, my intentions include working with you all to recover well from our year of “online-only” worship as we, when it is safe to do so, move to an “in-person AND online” worshipping community. We already had good online worship and that will not go away. But I long to see your faces and hear your voices. So, please, as soon as you are eligible to do so, get your vaccine.
Other professional intentions include doing my part to organize and led a transformation of our ecosystem for early childhood in Rockford. I want to play a contributing role to other causes and justice efforts that matter to me and to us as well. I will continue to Unitarian Universalism – while setting limits on how much that’s on me. Others can take their turn for a while.
It has been a hard year, and we have many losses yet to grieve and process. And yet we have learned so much about what matters to us. And one thing that matters so much to me is this church community. Your faithful searching, your care for each other, your longing for beauty and justice – it is a gift to the world and to each other. Keep it up.
What are your intentions for the coming year? I hope you will share them with each other and/or with me.
Invitation to learn more about The 8th Principle which reads a follows
“We covenant to affirm and promote:
Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by building a diverse, multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountability dismantles racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
There is a long history of racism in the United States. Racism continues today – some examples include being denied immigration, being treated differently by police than white Americans, being prevented from voting all because they look different, have different beliefs, have different sexual orientations, etc. A number of UU congregations throughout the United States have already adopted the 8th Principle.
Our Justice for All… committee was recently made aware of this 8th Principle and ways in which other congregations are working to adopt it. This is not a fast process but is something we hope to bring to our church Board. I have been attending meetings (by Zoom) of a group that is made up of over a hundred people from various UU congregations throughout the United States (many of whom have already adopted the 8th Principle). I am listening to the conversations of both people whose congregations have already adopted or are in the process of adopting the 8th Principle. I am reporting back to Justice for All… Committee on what the members of this group have been discussing. If you would like more information or want to be involved in learning more about this process, please let me or Shiraz Tata know. Thanks.
Submitted by Doug Rix
Looking forward to 2021
Last week I was finally reading the Spring 2020 issue of the UU World magazine. (I sometimes get behind on my reading.). In the opening article, “From the President,” Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray wrote:
How is your spirit—your body and mind and heart—these days? It’s early in the new year and already there has been so much tragedy. Terrifying hate crimes, devastating fires in Australia, escalating conflict with Iran, daily breaking news on the president’s impeachment. Honestly, I don’t know what more might have happened between me writing this and you receiving it. That’s how difficult these times are.
“What more happened” was the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted our lives and caused the 2020 General Assembly to be virtual. And that was just in March.
Looking forward, we have the Widening the Circle of Concern report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change. From the Preface:
We need to both learn the lessons of history and acknowledge that these are new times.
We need to center the experiences of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.
Too few white people are engaged in intentional anti-oppression work.
People of color and others targeted and endangered in this world come into our congregations seeking solace, only to discover that while our beliefs are grounding and life-giving, the ways they are practiced in too many of our communities cause harm, confusion, and pain.
This same Spring issue of UU World documents the effect of changes made in the UUA’s hiring practices since General Assembly 2017 when institutional racism was revealed and the Commission on Institutional Change formed. Now the Leadership Council of the UUA is 42% people of color and its members are no longer minister-heavy. Of the 60 new employees of the UUA, 63% are people of color. This is “centering the experiences of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.”
This revolution doesn’t only affect the association; it also affects each of its thousand congregations, including ours in Rockford.
If we wish to preserve Unitarian Universalist traditions, our congregations must center themselves in the communal and covenantal and not primarily the comfort and familiarity of the social club.
When we complain that we don’t seem to attract people of color, we need to consider this observation:
The testimonials collected show that congregations may not know about the experiences that people of color have within their walls because Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color have experienced a lack of safety when honest.
Another of the spiritual earthquakes of this past year was the murder of George Floyd. We now understand that our perceptions of police differ vastly between those of “white” citizens and those of people of color. Now that we have experienced this difference, we can’t un-see it. It is time for us to become upstanders instead of bystanders.
UU Winter Concerts and Art Fair
News – the Web-site name changes.
If you need help, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use this link to go to our marketplace website. https://www.auctria.com/auction/UUwinterConcertsandArt There is still time to get Sunday Streaming Concert tickets at our new web-site. Art Show items are still available.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of the racial and economic injustice in our society. This is an opportunity to learn and reflect on what we can do to change it. This workshop is intended to challenge participants towards growth and inspire ongoing work and action. During workshop participants will have the opportunity to:
Examine the prison industrial complex root: its reach, impact and our ability to transform it.
Connect Unitarian Universalist (UU) values to the work to divest from prisons and police and invest in building new systems of safety, healing, and accountability.
Build connections with organizations engaged in prisoner solidarity and restorative justice.
Learn about the UU Prison Ministry and how your congregation or community can support our work.
*ZOOM Church Calendar*
Most “all church” events will be 337-267-3668. This is the Personal Meeting
ID for “Thomas Kerr,” our online identity (and the minister from 1870-1900,
who used all the new technology of his time to reach those he
served). Generally, there will be a waiting room and the host will need to
– Coffee Hour on Sunday. 337-267-3668. 11:10 am. Chris will
– Touchstones: contact your touchstones group facilitator for the time
and meeting ID, if you don’t already have it.
– Caring Team Meeting – The first Tuesday of each month at 6 pm. ID 337-267-3668
Want to have a group – a book group, a parent group, a “circle supper”, or
whatever you like? You can create a free Zoom account (40-minute limit,
though often waived by zoom at minute 35). Or, you can use “Thomas Kerr’s”
– just email Autumn email@example.com she can give you the login
Literature Link Dec. 27 about Kindness
• Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson [public library] Reading age: 5 – 8 years.
The book is about a young girl who joins a class after the school year has started. She is left out by her classmates because she’s poor and dirty * “Woodson teams up with illustrator Lewis to deal a blow to the pervasive practice–among students of all economic backgrounds–of excluding those less fortunate. . . . Lyrical and stylistically tight writing act in perfect counterpoint to the gentle but detailed watercolor paintings. With growing income disparity, and bullying on the rise, this story of remorse and lost opportunity arrives none too soon.” — School Library Journal. For more reviews, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Each-Kindness-Addams-Award-Awards/dp/0399246525 For listening/viewing on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VEC21ZtyJ8&ab_channel=TheReadingTeacher
The UUA Poor People’s Campaign Leadership Council is kicking us off with a phone bank to Georgia on Sunday, January 3rd from 4-6 pm ET/1-3 PT. Please join Co-Chairs Rev. Beth Johnson and Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and the other Members of the Council, along withUUs for Social Justice (UUSJ) who are co-sponsoring this event.
They are all asking their congregational members to join them in the afternoon after worship services with this last UU the Vote phonebank to Georgia as a first collective and faithful act of hope and determination in 2021! We hope that you will too.
We’ll be calling Georgia voters to make sure they have the information they need to vote on January 5th in the Senate run-off election. We’ll let people know where they can vote and what they need to have with them. We’ll provide support and encouragement to help them reach out to others they know who may not have yet voted.
The Poor People’s Campaign is organizing around 14 Moral Priorities for the First 100 Days and aPeople’s Jubilee Platform for justice that centers the needs of the people. Getting out the vote of poor people targeted for voter suppression will help build the power we need to get them passed.
As the Poor People’s Campaign states: “From Alaska to Arkansas, the Carolinas to California, Mississippi to Maine, Kansas to Kentucky, the Bronx to the Border, Appalachian hollers to Apache sacred lands, people are coming together to organize their moral outrage against systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and the war economy and the false narrative of religious nationalism into a powerful moral fusion movement. There are 140 million people who are poor and struggling against these injustices in the richest country in the world. A society sick with these interlocking injustices needs a voice rooted in our deepest Constitutional and moral values to remind us of who we are and who we must be.” All this has been intensified and exposed through the pandemic and the struggle to get economic relief to those in need is on.
Georgia is our front line now. Join us in reaching out and supporting Georgia voters on January 3rd.Please sign up todayand share this invitation with your congregation and friends.
In faith and hope,
Susan & the UUA Poor People’s Campaign Leadership Council