Renewing the World with our Collective Power
January 30, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.OnlineOnly Guest preacher Rev. Violet Johnicker
Pastor Violet will preach on how we might come together to make a better, fairer, and more holy world.
Violet holds a Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary and a Master of Public Policy degree from Adler University with a Bachelors degree in nonprofit management. She has been involved with faith-based policy advocacy and social justice work ever since her undergraduate internship at the General Board of Church and Society, the United Methodist agency devoted to working for policies that live our faith, seek justice, and pursue peace. Violet joined the staff of Rockford Urban Ministries in July 2021 and is proud to be part of the community’s interfaith work to build love for neighbor into our public policies. She also serves as pastor of Brooke Road United Methodist Church in southeast Rockford.
Happy Birthday to: Brock Heckel (01/27), Ana Maria Warner (01/28), Lola Gustafson (01/29), Nancy Hyzer (01/29), & Sue Garwick (01/31)!
We will Share the Plate with Rockford Urban Ministries 1/30 & 2/6
Founded in 1962, RUM (as Rockford Urban Ministries is affectionately known) is the outreach of more than twenty faith communities working together on social justice ministries. In its nearly years RUM has had four clergy directors. Since 1985, lay director Stanley Campbell has had the pleasure of doing the work. Click Here to Donate
Matthew’s Memo January 24, 2022
Are you feeling anxious? Are you noticing anxiety among others?
I am! And not just in those most anxious of places, Twitter and Facebook. But in conversations with staff, members, friends, family, and strangers I notice that anxiety is popping up here and there. Folks are nervous about things they were not nervous about before. People worrying about “what might happen.”
Here are some helpful things to know about common anxiety. (I am not writing about “Anxiety disorder” which is a physiological condition in the brain wiring of some people; that’s different and can be assisted through professional support).
Anxiety is rarely about what we think it is about. Often, when we feel like we cannot control situation A, we will be anxious about situation B – where we can do something. We feel like we can’t make the President do a better job on climate change, so we get anxious about if we are recycling the right way. We are nervous about whether we can afford to retire, so we get anxious about a 10c/gallon increase in gas prices. Anxiety is “free-floating”, which means it finds something to latch on. It can be helpful to ask yourself: “what am I _really_ anxious about? Even identifying it can lower your anxiety.
Second, anxiety is contagious. If people around us are anxious, we might get anxious too. We are social creatures and this is happening at the level of the vagus nerve and the reptilian brain – it is not conscious. So be aware if people around you – or you yourself – are transmitting anxiety. It is necessary to have the feeling observed – “I notice you seem anxious” – but not mirrored. Indeed, “observing” is a powerful tool. Anxiety thrives when nobody names it.
Lastly, we have good reason to be anxious! The omnicron wave is still spreading rapidly. People we know and love have been ill, and some have died from it. Too many continue to not take it seriously. We can name our worry, our grief, and our anger. We can identify what we can do, and let go of what we cannot do. This will help us deal with the anxiety that we and others might be feeling.
P.S. I will be at the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association “Institute for Learning in Ministry” from Thursday until the following Friday, Feb. 4th. Contact Autumn or Rev. Joyce if you need anything in the meantime.
Thank You from Meld Dear Members of the the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford,
Thank you for your continued support of our young MELD families this Christmas! The household items, personal items, socks, and toys were shared with the moms and children of our MELD shelter and Transitional program. Every family received a basket filled with presents, and the moms truly appreciated getting something from their wish list (which was from you!). I believe that we are always “planting seeds” with our families… the seed of hope, of generosity, and of love… and your gifts were seeds of caring.
May the New Year bring you continued health and blessings!
Meld Social Worker
Being An Anti-Racist Church
The Board and leaders of the church are moving towards articulating that being on a continuous journey toward being an “anti-racist and multicultural church” is important to us. What does that mean? Let’s figure that out.
To get us together in this work, we want every member of the congregation to attend one of the four sessions we are offering on “being an anti-racist church.”
Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color are welcome to attend any of these sessions AND/OR to attend a session for BIPOC folks ONLY on Wednesday, Jan 19th, at 5:30pm at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82720790087. co-led by Rev. Matthew and Rev. Joyce.
The other sessions will be led by Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson. All the sessions are identical in content, choose one.
The sessions will be 1 hour. This is a high-level overview. We will work through a list of the characteristics of an anti-racist and multicultural congregation. Please plan to attend one of these sessions.
What is relational organizing, and how do we do it? Even more importantly, why do it? Join Scott Aaseng for an interactive session on how we can grow connections in our congregation, show up powerfully and accountably in our community, and strengthen the movement for justice – by building relationships.
Rev. Scott Aaseng serves as Executive Co-Director of the Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois (UUANI), our statewide UU faith in action network. Scott has served UU congregations around the state, including a brief stint as UU Rockford’s Social Justice Ministry Consultant in 2017-2018. Originally from Minnesota, he has lived on Chicago’s West Side for 25 years.
Our congregation’s Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry, AIM Team is meeting on Thursday, February 10th at 6:00pm.
The AIM Team strives to welcome individuals with disabilities and their families into the congregation. The main purpose of the team is to keep track of the big picture of the congregation’s welcome and accessibility, address issues of concern and possibly develop strategies to address these concerns.
AIM team meetings will be held quarterly, February, May, September, and November. Each meeting will last about an hour and a half. We may organize workshops, or guest speakers at other times of the year.
Consider being part of the AIM Team at UU Church Rockford. If you have questions, please give me a call. We will meet via Zoom on Thursday, February 10th at 6:00pm.
If you plan to join us, please let me know. There is a report and other information to review prior to the meeting.
Thank you to the colleagues who have signed onto our faith leader support letter that defends pretrial fairness and supports criminal justice reforms made last year with the passage of the Safe-T Act. We are in a political climate where legislators -who supported pretrial fairness and ending money bond- are backpedaling due to bad information, fear-mongering, and racist rhetoric in the midst of a really wonky, short session with elections coming up. Just last week Republican legislators introduced a bill to repeal the entirety of the Safe-T Act, which includes the Pretrial Fairness Act. We don’t think this will go through, but this is one of dozens that are entering the hopper.
We have only around 40 clergy signed onto this letter that not only supports the pretrial fairness act but also says we support criminal justice reforms. We need at least 100 clergy signed on.
So far we only have 15 people signed up to attend the faith-based teach-in. With your help, we can have a robust group of people of faith building new relationships together while learning about decarceration through pretrial fairness.
THE TWO-PRONGED ASK:
1) You can share the content and graphics below in your newsletters to help us educate UUs about pretrial fairness and how we really are at the 50-yard line, still working for a touchdown.
Faith Based Pretrial Fairness Act Teach-In: Join us on February 15th at 6pm for “On Faith and Freedom,” a virtual interfaith teach-in for clergy and people of faith on the Pretrial Fairness Act and the movement for pretrial freedom.
Many thanks for your continued dedication in a time where your demands are many. Your moral voice matters to us at UUPMI and as part of the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice.
Defend the Pretrial Fairness Act and Stop Bills Promoting Mass Incarceration
One year ago, Illinois legislators passed the Pretrial Fairness Act as a section of the SAFE-T Act, a large criminal justice reform package. Next year, the Pretrial Fairness Act will go into full effect, ending our state’s use of money bond and transforming our pretrial legal system by ensuring people will no longer be locked up before being convicted of anything simply because they cannot pay for their freedom.
But, the fight isn’t over. Law enforcement and other political conservatives are already trying to convince legislators to dismantle the Pretrial Fairness Act before it is implemented. We must demand our legislators–elected officials who work for us!–say NO to mass incarceration and YES to pretrial freedom and the presumption of innocence. You can do two things:
Writing to Legislators: Reactionary racist backlash is threatening to not only undo the changes we’ve set in motion, but also to push for regressive policies fueling mass incarceration. We are calling on people across Illinois to come together and let our legislators know that real community safety comes from ensuring that our neighbors have the resources they need to thrive, not through punishment. Simply use this form to contact your legislators.
Attend our Faith Based Pretrial Fairness Act Teach-In: Join us on February 15th at 6pm for “On Faith and Freedom,” a virtual teach-in for clergy and people of faith on the Pretrial Fairness Act and the movement for pretrial freedom. Presenters from the Network will share how faith calls us to defend the historic progress made through this legislation and there will be space for attendees to engage in community conversation on these themes. Register here.
To make sure the law is fully and faithfully implemented, we have to make our voices heard to defend it against this dehumanizing backlash!
Eliminate Racism 815 Book Discussion
Thursday January 27, 2022 6:00 p.m.
Join us by zoom for a discussion of 1619 Project-A New Origin Storyby Nikole Hannah-Jones and multiple other contributors.
We will be discussing this book over two months: the preface-page 246 on January 27, 2022 and pages 249-480 on February 24, 2022.
The book reframes our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative.
Please read the book on your own and we will discuss it. Join the Zoom Meeting here:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81211275487 Book discussions are presented in partnership with Rockford Public Library.
Get Your Free COVID Testing Kits!
The government website to order FREE Covid test kits is now open.
You get 4 kits per order and 1 order per residential address.
Go to: covidtests.gov to place your order online (very easy) and then spread the word.
These tests will likely go very quickly.
Early Bird Deadline Extended!
Women’s Retreat 2022
Friday, April 1 – Sunday, April 3
Be in community, create, chant, dance and howl at the moon at this fabulous weekend long retreat! This time to relax and recharge is priceless, but it’s always nice to get a deal! The early bird pricing deadline has been extended through January 26!