From Inclusion to Belonging
September 25, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. Online and in-person
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson We’ll look directly at our theme for September, “Belonging” and explore why this is such a powerful concept. How might belonging shift our understanding of our common life together, and how can we resist efforts to cheapen or commodify it?
We will Share the Plate with JFON
Northern Illinois Justice For Our Neighbors (NIJFON) provides free high-quality legal services to low-income immigrants, engages in education and advocacy efforts and builds cross-cultural relationships.
In addition to legal services provided by skilled attorneys at clinics across Northern Illinois, staff and volunteers provide hospitality and needed childcare, assist with requisite paperwork and offer a free legal consultation for every immigrant who comes to the clinic.
Rooted in the United Methodist Church and moved by our faith to welcome immigrants, we are a non-profit organization that welcomes people of all background and faiths.
Happy Birthday to: Judith Boone (09/20), Sally Trefz (09/23), Bill Stanton (09/24), Janice Scott (09/25), Bob Bowling (09/25), Leah Krippner (09/25), Kathryn Heyer (09/26), Kathryn Haun (09/26), & John Armstrong (09/27)!
Please keep Geri Carter in your thoughts and prayers as she deals with some health issues.
Volunteers for Sunday, September 25
Ushers: Art Beneditz & Sue Molyneaux.
Greeters: We Need 2 Volunteers
Guest Table: Gloria Perez & Rev. Joyce Palmer
Coffee Hosts: Tim Palmer & We Need 1 More Volunteer
Please note that if you volunteer for coffee host you will need to clean up afterward and run the cups through the sanitizer.
Matthew’s Memo Sept 20 2022
I want to do something unusual with my column this week, and respond here to questions I’ve gotten about the Pre-Trial fairness act. I invite you to correct others when you hear false statements repeated and spread the word about the truth. Feel free to copy, paste, and share this column with others directly as well.
Earlier this month, State’s Attorney J. Hanley published a letter critiquing the SAFE-T act, and the Pre-Trial Fairness provisions. Here, I examine his piece paragraph-by-paragraph. The headline is that J. Hanley is wrong about some of these facts, and that he could help make the new law work well instead of attacking it, and he should.
First let me say that I respect S.A. Hanley. I’ve gotten to know him a little and find him sincere, dedicated to public safety, and a decent human being. That makes it especially disappointing that he hit “copy-paste” on the taking points against this bill being peddled by the right-wing across Illinois. His column closely matches those published by other S.A.’s. In responding to his column, I hold no animus and believe that S.A. Hanley can use his powers to help this law work, and I hope he will.
Let’s take the column section by section. You can find his piece in the RR star online from a few weeks ago, or here, to follow along: https://www.facebook.com/WinCoSAO/posts/pfbid02A8uPRV2zmcwcJbxBK9aVxGh3xJwQ9tCzZiK27WGT94Ppciry6e5mMckBvBMxfRscl
In paragraph 1, S.A. Hanley uses misleading and alarmist language. “Inmates” and “criminal defendants” gives you the impression these are convicted criminals – but that’s not true. Everyone we are talking about is awaiting trial. They have not pled guilty nor been convicted of a crime by a judge and jury. They are “innocent until proven guilty” – and neither the police nor the prosecutors can simply assert their guilt. Currently, those accused of a crime either use money to bail out of jail until their trial (regardless of the danger they may pose) or they sit in jail, at taxpayer expense, because they can’t afford bail (again, regardless of danger to others). The new system will assess danger, not wealth, to see if a person should be held in jail before trial or released until that time.
Before January 1st, the prosecutors can bring evidence to a judge indicating that a person currently held awaiting trial should remain in detention because they pose a danger to a specific person. If they can’t prove that, then yes – that person, as if they had money to pay bail, will await trail outside of jail – just like anyone who has enough money already does. Prosecutors and judges are already setting aside time in their calendar to do this – they are planning ahead, as they should.
In paragraph 1, S.A. Hanley also says that the bill was passed late at night by the legislature. But this is silly – the bill was debated for years, many hearings were held, and all major bills pass the Illinois Legislature late at night on the last day of the session – that’s just how our state government works. This bill was no secret.
In paragraph 3, S.A. Hanley repeats a false claim that pretrial detention is only possible for some crimes. This is NOT TRUE. If a judge determines that a person who has been accused of a crime is a danger to a specific person, they can be held in jail until trial. This is why domestic violence prevention groups across the state support the bill – because under the current system, remember, if you have money for bail, you can get out even if you are clearly a danger to others.
In paragraph 4, S.A. Hanley gives readers a highly misleading impression of what happens in bond court. It is not a process where a judge carefully considers the particular circumstances of the accused, hears from victims, and decides what’s best to keep people safe. Bond court is an assembly line not worthy of the name “justice.” If you don’t believe this, attend a session of bond court – they are open to the public, and you’ll be shocked to see how this supposedly “evidence-based” system actually works.
In paragraph 5, S.A. Hanley lists a set of offenses that require a risk of “willful flight” for the person accused not be held in jail before trial. Remember that these persons have not been convicted of a crime yet – they are accused, not guilty. Nonetheless, if a gun is used in any of these crimes, then the defendant is eligible for detention awaiting trial – and anyone who is in violation of parole is as well. It is simply not the case that habitual, gun-wielding robbers will be set free awaiting trial.
In paragraph 7, S.A. Hanley notes that defendants who fail to appear for a hearing are given a court order, instead of a warrant for arrest, the first time they miss court. (If they miss again, a warrant may be issued). A court order is still binding, and the goal is getting them to court, not adding to their rap sheet.
In paragraphs 8 and 10, I must, by and large, agree with S.A. Hanley. The prosecutors, public defenders, and court system is understaffed and under-resourced. On this point, he is right. I hope that in the trailer bill that will be passed after the election, more resources are given to counties with high court-volume, like ours, from the State, to help implement this law.
In paragraph 11, S.A. Hanley calls for the law’s implementation date to be delayed. I hope the legislature will not do this. The current system is deeply broken. It cannot continue. It makes us all less safe. We need to move forward.
In paragraph 12, S.A. Hanley proposes some changes to the bill. Some of these are fine clarifications – though I think the current language which says that if a person accused of crime is danger to a “specific person” would cover danger to witnesses, for example. But starting over is not necessary. It is time to move forward.
In the end, I urge everyone to take a deep breath and get to work. Changes to the law will be made, and more will be made after it begins, and probably many years thereafter. A big change takes time, and we will learn things. If all parties focus on making it work as well as they can, instead of playing politics, we may make progress towards a system that is more just, and where, is someone is held in jail before trial, it is because they are danger to others, and not just because they’re poor.
Senior Minister, The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford
Join Us in Saying Goodbye
Long-time Rockford UU members Sue and Duane Wilke are about to move to their new home in Boston. The Unicantors and the Caring Team invite everyone to give the Wilkes a warm send-off at an informal reception in Deale Hall after the Sunday morning service on October 2.
Belonging Discussion Wonderful Wednesday, September 21 at 6pm Join in person or via Zoom
A couple years ago, an initiative was launched to create a culture of belonging in Rockford. Belonging is foundational for doing anything together.
Organized by NICNE (No IL Center for Nonprofit Excellence) with consultation from john powell, who founded the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkely; three members of our church are involved, Billie Callahan, Shiraz Tata & Ellyn Ahmer. There are task force work groups with events & activities planned. Two employers are co-creating a culture of belonging within the workplace, Collins Aerospace & the Rockford Park District Hear more about the effort at the Wonderful Wednesday on September 21 at 6 pm. In person at church library or via Zoom.
Finding Your Way with Starting Point Starting Point is small group ministry especially designed for newcomers and those looking to discover Unitarian Universalism and their church all over again. This program will help participants live Unitarian Universalism more fully, bring our history and theology to life, and leave everyone feeling grounded, connected and renewed.
Join Rev. Joyce, newcomers, friends and members looking to make connections and “dig deeper” into Unitarian Universalism.
Starting Point is a 4 week program, we will meet Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Session dates September 13, September 20, September 27, October 4.
Register by completing the form at this link:
Common Read 2022: Defund Fear: Safety without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment by Zach Norris
Community Conversations Open to All Hosted by the Racial and Economic Justice Team
All Sessions Online at 7:00 pm
Wednesday, September 28 Part 1: The Unsafe World
Wednesday, October 26 Part 2: A Vision of Safety
Wednesday, November 30: Reimagined Realities
The UUA Common Read offers us an opportunity to learn about an important topic and discuss how it relates to our Unitarian Universalist values. Zach Norris is a lawyer and the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. His book offers a new blueprint for public safety that holds people accountable while still holding them in community.
You can purchase books at church with Li M Blacker. The books have been pre-purchased to receive the bulk discount. Please submit payment to Connection Victory for $15.
Memorial Patio Update
As part of the work to rebuild the Memorial Patio we would like to encourage members who want to order a memorial brick for a loved one who has died to submit a form with the information needed for inscription. We realize that there have been a number of deaths since bricks were last ordered and we would like to catch up as much as we can during this rebuilding phase. Please note that there is no need to do new forms for anyone who already has a brick in the current patio.
Forms are available from the church office or you may click the button below to print out the form at home. They should be submitted to the office. Our current policy is that bricks are engraved at no cost for members of the church. The engraving fee is $50/brick for non-member children, parents, spouses and life partners of members and $130 for former members and friends of the church. Payment should be made to the office.
If you have any questions about the orders or the patio please contact Pat Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday September 29, 2022 6:00 p.m.
Join us by zoom for a discussion of Semitism: Being Jewish American in Age of Trump by Jonathan Weisman. Weisman shows how hatred can slowly chew away at the moral fabric of society. Weisman has written a manifesto that outlines the dangers of marginalizing all minority groups This is more than a personal response to bigotry he experienced because of his Jewishness. It is a book for all of us.
Please read the book on your own and we will discuss it.