Here I am, Send Me! January 10, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at facebook.com/uurockford)
Rev. Matthew Johnson In the sixth chapter of Isaiah, the Lord asks “who will I send” to tell people to live with justice and mercy. Isaiah replies, “Here I am, send me” – even though he is terrified, imperfect, and unsure. What does it mean to answer the call of our own life, even though we too are imperfect? What does it mean to say yes to a life of purpose? What does it mean to shout out “send me!”
Happy Birthday to: Shane Baker (01/05), Chandra Pellman (01/07), Claire Rotolo (01/07), Caralou Erickson (01/08), Rebecca Quirk (01/08), Barb Wilson (01/08), Robin Enders (01/09), Annie Collins (01/09), Christina Geiselhart (01/09), Ronda White (01/09), & Mark Schultz (01/11)!
We will share the plate with UUPMI We equip UU’s in Illinois to transform institutions and support people harmed by the prison industrial complex. For more information click here. Click here to donate.
January 5, 2020
I made it my goal to seriously reduce my Twitter use – and move away from breaking news and towards other ministers and causes – after the November election. I was doing okay at this for a while, but I’ve found myself this week slipping back a little. Why?
Well, the run-off elections in GA are today. The electoral college votes are certified on Wednesday. The President is attempting a coup – his attempt is bumbling and preposterous, and yet 1/3 of the national elected GOP is going along – which is terrifying. I will exhale, first, when GA is called (I hope the way I wish), and a little more on Jan 20th at around 11:05 central time.
But the trauma, adrenaline, and anxiety that lives in many bodies won’t go away right away. That takes time. And that’s true for our response to the virus, too – I’ve resisted calls for memorials and grief-marking because we are still in the midst of the crisis. It isn’t over. We can’t start healing and building until we get closer to the end of this phase –and the beginning of the next.
So I’m planning and imagining what comes next – for our country, for our city, for our church, and for my own life (I have more power over some of those things than others). Planning and imagination are good. But it’s not time yet. Now is still time to protect democracy, wear a mask, and keep your distance.
I do encourage everyone in the church to get a vaccine as soon as it is your turn! We are pro-science and pro-public health faith. The more people who get vaccinated, the sooner we can begin to see one another and build the better world we long for.
CDFI: Diverting Capital into Low-income Neighborhoods
An astounding statistic is that 1 out of 4 people in the US don’t have a basic bank account—a checking account. This week I called a person in my neighborhood who shovels snow. When I told him that I didn’t have cash and would pay him by check, he asked me if I could add 6 dollars to the amount. That was what it cost him to cash a check. I was appalled.
We don’t consider a bank account as a “privilege,” but we should. Banks don’t open checking accounts for everyone; they don’t grant mortgages to everyone; they don’t loan money to everyone. Sometimes the problem is education—schools don’t teach basic finance: how to write checks; how to establish a credit record; how to manage a credit card; how interest rates affect what you owe. But often, the problem is that banks don’t want low-income customers. And sometimes they don’t want customers of color. The reason people in low-income neighborhoods don’t own their homes is that they can’t get mortgages from banks.
For many low-income families, a CDFI is their savior. CDFI stands for Community Development Financial Institution, a federally defined and audited designation for a bank or credit union which primarily serves low-income neighborhoods. A CDFI can use long-term credit funds at below-market interest rates from the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program to provide loans and mortgages to its low-income customers. This infusion of capital raises the economy of the neighborhood.
Currently, Rockford has no CDFI institution. My goal is to change that. It’s not an easy goal or one that will be fulfilled soon. I first became aware of this financial tool at General Assembly 2020. The UUCEF, or UU Common Endowment Fund, announced an increase in its investment in Community Development from 1% to 5% of its $212 million fund, or about $10.6 million dollars. To help implement this goal, the fund will match investments in CDFI’s by its member congregations up to $10,000. I hope that one of these years, our congregation will be able to support a local CDFI using a fraction of its million-dollar investment fund to tap the UUCEF’s matching funds. We will be able to power the economic development of Rockford.
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot
UU Winter Concerts and Art Fair Sunday Streaming Cocktail Concert Series
Each Sunday at 5:00. A concert streamed to your living room via You Tube.
January 10 – Nanette Felix, harpist
January 17 – Trinadora – jazz, rock, cajun
January 24 – Fireside Hygge – poet laureate readings
January 31 – Beertz and Handlin – symphony soloists
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 firstname.lastname@example.org she can give you the login
Literature Link For Jan 3 sermon about desolation and remedies
• Sugathakumari: Activist whose poems gave voice to the weak dies after Covid at 86
I am including her obituary here [I couldn’t find a good translation of a poem of hers] because she was an amazing activist and embodied Matthew’s message so fully. “One of the pioneers of green activism in Kerala, Sugathakumari’s poetry championed the causes she believed in. She warned people against exploiting nature and counseled them to think about future generations. Her poems also gave a voice to the weak and suffering. She raised her voice for oppressed women time and again, leading to the opening of Abhaya in 1985. It became a home for destitute women and a daycare center for people with mental health issues.” https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/sugathakumari-pensive-poet-who-fought-nature-and-mankind-passes-away-140140 Another obit here: https://www.magzter.com/news/572/1580/122020/gvfh9
• Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy [public library], a non-fiction book, is a memoir describing the experience of Bryan Stevenson and his work as founder of the Equal Justice Institute, an organization that defends the poor and those unjustly convicted of crimes. Quote from a reviewer:
“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindicate and abusive, unjust, and unfair until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.”
The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL | 4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107 | 815-398-6322 | uurockford.org |