The Justice & Witness Ministry Council is requesting nominations for the 2014 Haystack Awards.
The Haystack Award of the Massachusetts Conference UCC was created to encourage participation in charitable and social justice ministry. Churches are inspired to engage in local and global mission in a variety of ways. Our aim is to recognize these exemplary initiatives currently underway in churches throughout the Conference, express appreciation, and offer incentives for new initiatives. Any individual, group or institution affiliated with the Massachusetts Conference, UCC is eligible for consideration.
The Council is also encouraging nominations for a youth award.
The application deadline is May 9. Awards will be presented at the 215th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference in Sturbridge, following a luncheon on Saturday, June 14.
Note: This background information was compiled by the Israel/Palestine Task Team to accompany the resolution (Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ) being proposed at the 215th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, June 13-14, 2014.
The search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians has been a concern of the United Church of Christ for decades. Many General Synod resolutions have endorsed the peace process, advocated for a just and fair resolution to the conflict, involving Israel’s secure existence next to a free and secure Palestinian state, condemned the building of the separation wall and encouraged the application of economic leverage to influence the Israeli government to engage in a just peace process.
Discerning the need for a grass-roots movement to educate UCC members and call for implementation of these resolutions, a group of concerned UCC members, both volunteer and staff, organized themselves into the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network (UCC PIN) in January 2012. Since that time UCC PIN has written a Mission Statement, put up a Facebook page, created a web site of resources (www.UCCPalestineIsraelNetwork.org), and invited others to join us. At General Synod 29 (2013) UCC PIN sponsored a workshop and a table of resources. We now offer a resolution to General Synod 30 (2015), which would extend economic leverage to support the Palestinian civil society’s call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
In 2005 many segments of Palestinian civil society, frustrated with the lack of implementation of the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to lead to a Palestinian State in five years, and inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, issued a call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel. They also invited conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
The Palestinian civil society BDS call, now led by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee has three stated goals:
At this time UCC PIN chooses to focus particularly on the first of these goals believing that an end to the occupation is an essential ingredient for a just peace. Therefore, we are calling for divestment from and boycott of companies, which are benefitting financially from the occupation or from the military control of Palestinians. We believe that this step follows from actions already endorsed by previous Synods and is a faithful response to the Kairos Palestine Document.
In 2009 Palestinian Christians of many denominations issued the Kairos Palestine Document, A Moment of Truth, patterned on a similar document written by South African Christians in 1985. They called it “A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” They described their reality under occupation and called out to their fellow Christians around the world to recognize their suffering and to engage in boycotts and divestment as a non-violent means of peaceful resistance. In April 2010, the UCC General Minister and President commended this document to churches and members. He suggested making four commitments:
Although Palestinian resistance to conquest and occupation has been ongoing since the days of the Ottoman empire, the present boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has gathered considerable international momentum in the past nine years. Following questions by Quakers concerned about investments linked to the Israeli occupation, Friends Fiduciary, an investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions in the US, divested from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Veolia. In 2013, the Mennonite Central Committee voted to divest from companies that benefit from products or services used to perpetrate acts of violence against Palestinians, Israelis and other groups. Hampshire College has divested from companies profiting from the occupation, to name just a few. Many Israeli individuals and human rights organizations support the BDS Movement as do the US groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Palestine solidarity groups have sprung up on campuses all over the US calling for divestment.
The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA,) and the United Church of Canada have all voted to boycott settlement goods. Two of the largest banks in Northern Europe, the Swedish Nordea Bank and the Norwegian Danske Bank have announced they will boycott Israeli banks because they operate in the Palestinian occupied territories.
Within the UCC, the General Minister and President and the Executive Minister of the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries in October 2012 joined thirteen other ecumenical leaders in signing a letter to Congress calling on them to investigate whether Israel’s use of military aid provided by the United States violates US laws; specifically the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act.
For Advent 2012, the UCC’s Collegium of Officers issued a pastoral letter calling upon church members “to make conscious decisions not to buy products which contribute to the denial of people’s rights to livelihood, land, and property” and to “avoid purchasing” items such as Ahava Dead Sea skin care products, SodaStream home carbonation products, HP computers and peripherals, and Caterpillar products.
Past General Synods of the UCC have endorsed numerous boycott campaigns, including those of the United Farm Workers, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the Immokalee Workers, and against companies such as Gallo, Taco Bell, Mt. Olive Pickles, Nestle, and Farah Slacks.
The General Synod of the United Church of Christ in 1985 endorsed the international campaign to divest from corporations in South Africa in order to press for the end of apartheid;
Why should we American Christians care about the resolution of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict?
As members of one body in Christ, we are called to solidarity with our fellow Christians in the Holy Land, who have called us to pursue justice for them and their fellow Palestinians. Their hope is in a God of faith, hope and love and so is ours. With the Disciples of Christ we are in partnership with churches and organizations working directly with Palestinian Christians and with Israeli human rights organizations, which have extensively documented the human rights abuses to which Palestinians are subjected by the Israeli government, military forces and settlers.
As American citizens and taxpayers we are complicit in these abuses by virtue of the $3.1 billion we give to Israel in military aid every year. The US is now committed to giving Israel $30 billion in military aid between 2009 and 2018, thus subsidizing one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Contrary to ordinary US policy, Israel is allowed to use approximately 25% of military aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers thus indirectly subsidizing Israel’s arms industry. UCC PIN believes these funds could be better used in our own communities to address the needs of America’s poor.
In 2005 General Synod passed a resolution “Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage to Promote Peace in the Middle East”. In 2013 the Executive Council asked the Covenanted Ministries, United Church Funds and the United Church Pension Boards to submit reports to it as to how they had carried out the mandate of the Resolution. United Church Funds reported that they have been part of the Ecumenical Action Group for a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine since 2006. Its purpose is to coordinate engagements with US corporations profiting from the Israeli Occupation. “To ensure its ability to engage with companies most obviously profiting from the Occupation, UCF established a Social Action Fund with its own discretionary funds; that fund holds shares in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.” UCF has co-filed shareholder resolutions with these companies and intends to file with Microsoft. However, over eight years of corporate engagement have brought little modification in the behavior of these companies and none except Veolia have withdrawn any of their operations from West Bank settlements or ended their lucrative contracts with the Israeli military. UCF has welcomed a UCC PIN Steering Committee member to its meetings and shared information about its corporate engagement work.
The Pension Boards of the UCC have maintained that their fiduciary responsibility to pensioners is paramount and takes precedence over any social justice concerns. They assume that there is no way to develop a human rights screen which would both screen out companies whose products are used by militaries to oppress or control and fulfill its fiduciary responsibility to pensioners. They promote their “positive investment” in the Siraj Fund, but nowhere do they acknowledge the complete control over the Palestinian economy by the Israeli occupying forces, nor the enormous extraction of resources from the West Bank, which benefits the Israeli economy.
The World Bank issued a report on the Palestinian economy on September 23, 2012, which stated that “the sustainability of growth in the Palestinian territories depends upon increasing private investment” but that “restrictions put in place by the Government of Israel continue to stand in the way of potential private investment and remain the major impediment to sustainable economic growth,” citing restriction of movement of persons and goods, the fragmenting of the territory into small enclaves, the restrictions on land and water use, and the unavailability of land in Area C for development as some of the reasons why “the investment climate will remain unfavorable and business opportunities much below potential”.
All of these companies are involved in supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in some way as documented by the Israeli organization We Divest (www.wedivest.org) In particular:
Caterpillar is a U.S. American firm that manufactures and provides bulldozers and civil engineering tools. It sells bulldozers to the Israeli army that are weaponized and used in the systematic demolition of homes and civilian infrastructure as part of the Israeli army's doctrine of urban warfare. The Caterpillar sales are covered under U.S. military aid to Israel. Caterpillar bulldozers have been used in war crimes in South Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. They have also been used to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank as an arbitrary punitive measure and to build the Separation Wall and illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a global provider of computer products, including PCs, printers, servers, software, and IT services and solutions. HP provides ongoing support and maintenance to a biometric ID system installed in Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, which deprive Palestinians of freedom of movement in their own land and allow the Israeli military occupation to grant or deny special privileges to the civilians under its control. HP also provides the Israeli military with other equipment and services to help it maintain the illegal occupation. In the United States HP is one of the government’s top 25 defense contractors.
Motorola Solutions is an electronics and telecommunication corporation that split from Motorola Inc. in 2011. Through its subsidiary, Motorola Solutions Israel, the company profiÂÂÂts from Israel’s control of the Palestinian population by providing surveillance systems around Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and military camps in the West Bank, as well as by providing communication systems to the Israeli Army.
Group 4 Securicor (G4S) is a British-Danish security conglomerate that operates in 120 countries with a net worth of $1 billion. Through its Israeli subsidiary, G4S provides security systems for Israeli prisons and detention centers in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It also provides security services for Israeli military checkpoints, business operating in illegal Israeli settlements, and the Israeli police headquarters in the occupied West Bank.
Veolia’s Israeli subsidiaries operate a settler landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley, and dump Israeli waste from within Israel and from illegal settlements in the occupied area, in violation of international law. Veolia Transdev, which through its subsidiary Connex, operated bus lines for settlers on segregated roads in the Palestinian West Bank, and other lines throughout Israel, it has sold off all of its bus services in Israel/Palestine, but it still owns shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail and continues to operate it. The Jerusalem Light Rail is an infrastructure project connecting Jerusalem with Israeli settlement neighborhoods and settlements, designed by the Israelis on Palestinian land.
SodaStream International, registered in the Netherlands and Israel, manufactures and distributes home carbonation devices and flavoring for soft drinks. SodaStream’s main production site is in Mishor Edomin, the industrial park of Ma’aleh Adumim, an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
Ahava manufactures cosmetic products using minerals from the Dead Sea. The company's factory and visitor's center is located in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley. In addition, Ahava is partially owned by the settlement.
Hadiklaim exports dates from Israel and from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, especially in the Jordan Valley. The company markets most of the dates from the occupied Jordan valley and all the dates from the occupied Dead-Sea area. The company markets dates under the brand names of Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Top and King Solomon, and under private labels of supermarket chains.
In view of all the conditions outlined above, UCC PIN believes the time has come to fulfill the clause of the 2005 Economic Leverage resolution mentioned above “to divest from companies that refuse to change their practices of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation” , and to boycott companies which profit from the occupation of Palestinian land, and therefore, submits the Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Sponsored by the Israel/Palestine Task Team and the Justice and Witness Council of the MACUCC
The planning committee for the 215th Annual Meeting June 13 - 14 at the Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center want to hear your church's storiy!
The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting is that of "Works" coming from John 14:12: "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father."
This resolution will come before the 215th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, June 13-14, 2014. There is also background information compiled by the Israel/Palestine Task Team.
Presented by the Justice and Witness Council of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ
The psalmist celebrates, “How good it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133) Yet today the Middle East is torn by disunity between Semitic brothers and sisters separated by “dividing walls of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14) We hear the call of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) As disciples of Jesus, we hear and seek to heed his call to be peacemakers: responding to violence with non-violence and extending love to all. In the words of the Kairos Palestine Document, “True Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.” (Kairos-Palestine 2009: A Moment of Truth)
Therefore, in the spirit of the ancient prophets and the ministry of Jesus, we offer this resolution:
WHEREAS in 1985 the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ committed itself to be a Just Peace Church; and
WHEREAS historically the UCC has affirmed Israel’s right to exist within secure and internationally recognized boundaries (GS 16, GS 18), and asserted the rights of Palestinians to enjoy sovereignty in an independent, contiguous, and viable state of their own, within secure and recognized boundaries (GS 16 , GS 17) & GS 18; and
WHEREAS past General Synods have identified the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land and its human rights abuses committed therein to be a major source of conflict and have called for the end of the construction and expansion of settlements (GS 18  & GS 21); and
WHEREAS the UCC is deeply committed to interfaith relationships and General Synods have confessed to the sin of anti-Semitism and proclaimed its renunciation (GS 23 ); and have denounced actions against Islam or Muslims based on ignorance or fear (GS 28  ); and
WHEREAS the UCC values its relationships with Jewish groups in the US who have differing perspectives on the conflict and with Jewish Israeli peace activists who have sought justice, equality and freedom for both peoples; and
WHEREAS Palestinians in the West Bank have lived since 1967 under Israeli military occupation which subjects them to many human rights abuses including; loss of their land for the purpose of building Israeli settlements; limited access to their land and to each other due to the route of the Separation Wall on Occupied Palestinian Territory; being systematically pushed into small, non-contiguous geographic enclaves separated by barriers and checkpoints; gross inequality in the amount of water allocated to them; severe and arbitrary travel restrictions; limited access to holy sites; segregated roads; the demolition of homes; destruction of their crops by settlers and the Israeli army; arbitrary arrest, including the arrest of children; and
WHEREAS the Israeli government subjects Palestinians in Gaza to: military attacks using disproportionately overwhelming force; severe limits on personal entry and on the entry of products essential to Gazans’ well-being;
a six mile fishing limit in violation of international law; strict Israeli control of electronic communications, air and sea space, and destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, and economy; and
WHEREAS Israel has annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem and separated it from the West Bank and Gaza and continues to appropriate Palestinian properties there for Jewish settlements and to deny building permits to Palestinians, as well as revoking the residency rights of many of its Palestinian citizens there; and
WHEREAS Israel refuses to end its occupation of territory conquered in the 1967 War, leading to numerous illegal actions and human rights abuses there by the Israeli government and military in defiance of United Nations resolutions , and Israel refuses to respect the 4th Geneva Convention as called for by the International Court of Justice in its opinion concerning the Separation Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory ; and
WHEREAS our Palestinian Christian partners, seeking an alternative to violence born of hopelessness and despair, have called on their global partners to engage in non- violent measures pressuring Israel to end its occupation, Kairos Palestine 2009-‘A Moment of Truth’: A Word of Faith, Hope, and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering; and
WHEREAS the resolution “Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East,” passed by the General Synod in 2005, called upon “the Covenanted Ministries, Pension Boards, United Church Foundation, local churches and members to use economic leverage, including, but not limited to: advocating the reallocation of US foreign aid so that the militarization of the Middle East is constrained; making positive contributions to groups and partners committed to the non-violent resolution of the conflict; challenging the practices of corporations that gain from the continuation of the conflict; and divesting from those companies that refuse to change their practice of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation”; and
WHEREAS despite years of corporate engagement and the submission of shareholder resolutions from United Church Funds and other religious and secular groups, few companies have withdrawn any of their operations that support the Occupation; and
WHEREAS Jewish groups in the US such as Jewish Voice for Peace and American Jews for a Just Peace-Boston as well as Israeli groups such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Coalition of Women for Peace support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against the Israeli Occupation;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Thirtieth General Synod:
CALLS upon the churches and church members to study the Kairos Palestine document and take heed of its call for solidarity with the Palestinian people; and
CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board, United Church of Christ Pension Boards, United Church Funds, Conferences, local churches, members, and other related United Church of Christ entities to divest any holdings in companies profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel, including, but not limited to, Caterpillar Inc, Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP, G4S, and Veolia Environnment and its subsidiaries; and
CALLS upon all entities of the church to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including, but not limited to, Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products, and Hadiklaim dates; and upon church members to join boycotts in their local communities; and
CALLS upon the UCC Collegium Officers and church members to request Congress to investigate whether US military aid given to Israel violates US laws, specifically, the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act; and
CALLS upon the United Church of Christ Board to monitor the implementation of this resolution by all UCC entities and to ensure that those who manage the United Church Board’s own invested funds and provide United Church Board employee health and pension benefits are in compliance with the resolution; and
ASKS the General Minister and President to provide an annual report to the whole church on the implementation of this resolution.
By Eric Anderson, Connecticut Conference UCC
and Tiffany Vail, Massachusets Conference UCC
The Twitterverse offers a snapshot of the Super Saturday experience last weekend: “Inspiring.” “Amazing.” “Diana Butler Bass left me tweetless--didn’t want to miss a word.” And it didn’t hurt that the keynote speaker herself declared, “Thanks, Mass & CT UCC. YOU ROCK!”
|Tweets about "#supersatucc"|
Nearly 700 people have registered for Super Saturday, being held on March 1st in Ludlow, meaning the event cannot accommodate any more attendees. Most of the 45 workshops are fully booked, and the cafeteria is at capacity for lunch. No walk-ins will be accommodated.
The event, being co-sponsored by the Massachusetts and Connecticut Conferences, is featuring acclaimed author Diana Butler Bass.
Anyone wishing to follow along with the discussions on Saturday can do so using the Twitter hashtag #supersatucc. The next Super Saturday will be held in October, 2014 - the date and location have yet to be announced.
by Sarah Myntti (from her sermon at Athol Congregational Church)
At the beginning of last summer , I told my mom I wanted to go on an adventure; I wanted to do something exciting and experience something new. A few days later my mom jokingly mentioned that our pastor, Reverend Beverly, was going to Chile and I should tag along with her as my adventure. My mom didn’t think I would take that suggestion seriously …but I did. It sounded perfect. I approached Reverend Beverly about it and she along her friend and coworker Elena Huegel, Global Ministries missionary to Chile, worked so hard at figuring out my travel arrangements, my schedule, and where I would be staying for the next week. So I owe so much thanks to them both. I set out to visit our sister church, which is part of a program of the Massachusetts Conference. We are partnering for three years with a church in Chile that lost its church building in the earthquake of 2010. We will pray with each other, communicate, and our church will raise money to help them rebuild.
On our second day Beverly, Elena, and I traveled to a city called Talca. I was shown around the city by a girl named Daniella. I speak very little Spanish and she spoke very little English so it was a bit of a challenge to communicate. As I was walking down the street with her, it kind of hit me all at once how far I truly was from home...as if the 13 hour plane ride didn’t give me enough of a clue. Daniella and I were doing some shopping and I began to have a little bit of an uneasy feeling as I realized a few things. I had no idea what the girl on the phone in front of me was saying because I couldn’t understand the Spanish. I had no idea what the street signs said or what the store names were, or I didn’t even know what was around the next corner. Everything was so foreign to me. Daniella had to order for me at the restaurant because I couldn’t read the menu or communicate with the waitress.
It was such a strange, uncomfortable, and confusing feeling to be somewhere that was so different to me and having to give all control over to someone else, and to depend on someone else wholly to guide me. I didn’t like feeling that way, but it’s something I never want to forget because I would never want someone else to feel lost like that either. I definitely have more compassion now than I ever did for people just coming into our country because even as I tried to learn more Spanish, picking up a new language is not easy by any means and neither is figuring your own way around foreign land. These thoughts and feelings were really eye opening to me and nothing I ever considered would happen to me on that trip. I knew I was going to have an amazing adventure wherever I ended up, but I didn’t anticipate a feeling of helplessness along the way.
On Thursday evening I was going to part ways with Reverend Beverly and stay with Pastor of our sister church and his family for the next four days in a town called Vichuquen. I admitted to Beverly - it finally hit me I was getting a little nervous to go to their house because of the communication issue. As we were talking and she was giving me some advice, I glanced down at the floor and right by feet I saw a penny. During worship, a choir member, Jason has talked several times about finding a penny when he was lonely or afraid, and he said it meant a guardian angel was watching over me. I couldn’t have found it at a more perfect time. As I showed Reverend Beverly I got a huge smile on my face and there was part of me that felt a little better on the inside. I put it in my pocket for the rest of the trip. But I quickly realized, I really had nothing to be nervous about. The language barrier was challenging but Pastor Luis and his wife, Pastora Mari, and their two children Fernanda and Luis Jr were so patient with me and so kind. They welcomed me with a huge cake Pastora Mari’s friend made for me. We sat in the living room that night eating cake and drinking tea while Pastor Luis played the accordion, Luis Jr played the guitar, and Fernanda sang and played the mandolin. They made me feel so comfortable. After that Luis Jr took my hand and showed me the bed I was going to sleep in. I slept in his bed, while he slept on the couch. Already I could tell how truly kind this family was and I felt extremely humbled to be there.
Over the next few days the family showed me all around their town, we went sight-seeing, to the local wood crafter’s shop, I made pottery with Fernanda, we went to the beach, out to eat, and I visited Fernanda and Luis’s school. They also took me to the site where their church got destroyed by the earthquake. It was so sad to see. Everything was completely gone and so far in the three years since the earthquake all they’ve had the money for to rebuild was the frame of the church. So until it gets done they travel to another Pentecostal Church about an hour away and use that building for their services. It’s a small building with no windows and little decoration, but filled with some of the most high spirited people I have ever met. Seventeen people make up their congregation and each of them greeted me with nothing but smiles and blessings. Everyone was so friendly and warm. As Pastor Luis was preaching two of the men had tears in their eyes and the congregation repeatedly shouted AMEN. Without even speaking the language, you could tell how much they praised God. It was beautiful to witness.
At the next service the following day, the English teacher from the school, also named Daniella, agreed to come to church with us so she could translate for me. And I also got to address their congregation too, telling a little bit about myself, my family, and our church. I received a blessing from Pastor Luis that night, and tears filled my eyes. It was absolutely great to be able to communicate with them with Daniella there. I truly feel like I have a new family with their church, which means we all do. They are all so humble and look to God with all aspects of their lives and have complete trust in Him. They don’t have nearly as much as we do here but they are so grateful for what they do have. Pastor Luis says he prays every night that their new church will come together soon. And these people really deserve it.
I’m so happy I went on this trip with Reverend Beverly and the people I met, the connections I made, and the beautiful land and sights I saw are things I will never forget.
Photos by Beverly Prestwood-Taylor: Author and traveler Sarah Myntti; Pastor Luis and Pastora Mari in their church, destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.
Twenty members of Massachusetts Faith Voices delivered a letter to State House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray last week, signed by the interfaith group of 344 religious leaders and written in support of a new state minimum wage bill. While both houses have approved a hike in the current $8 minimum wage over the next three years, the group is urging lawmakers to tie the minimum wage increase to the rate of inflation (which is not currently part of the House-proposed bill), and to increase the minimum wage for workers who earn tips to 50 percent of the regular minimum wage.
Ian Holland, pastor of First Church in Swampscott UCC, was among those addressing lawmakers last week.
"It’s a moral issue for us. We believe it’s a right of dignity for all workers and we believe there are members of our congregations who are behind this bill - and a complete bill and a just bill that includes indexing as well as justice for workers who are on tipped wages,” Pastor Holland told the State House News Service.
Dear Friends and Family:
I am sure that by now you have heard of tragedy heaped upon tragedy in Chile. As Bishop Ulises of the Pentecostal Church of Chile prepares to fly to northern Chile to assess the damage from the recent earthquake, a devastating fire in the historic port of Valparaiso has consumed now over 1,000 homes with at least 8,000 people homeless. The weather conditions with hot, dry and shifting winds, along with the coastal mountain terrain has made it very difficult to control the blaze.
Valparaiso is a world heritage site, also known for having been one of the ports mentioned in Moby Dick by Herman Melville. It is the third largest city in Chile, with homes built on the tops of the coastal hills down to where the skirts of these slip into the sea. These coastal hills have been built up in the past years with wooden houses teetering on stilts that cling to the sides of ravines and have spectacular views of the bay. On the opposite side of the hills, away from the coast, the rough terrain is covered with highly flammable pine plantations - where every year there are forest and shrub fires. Sunday night, one of these fires got out of hand and began to burn towards the city.
There are about seven churches of the Pentecostal Church of Chile spread out on the different hills in Valparaiso, but so far, according to the reports that Bishop Ulises has received, none have been affected by the fires. We still do not know if any church members have been affected. For those of you who know the Aguirre family and Pastor Mario Torres and his family, as far as we know they are all ok.
I have been preparing materials on emotional and spiritual first aid from the information we collected after the 2010 earthquake to send to the pastors in northern Chile. This same information will be shared with the pastors in ValparaÃso. Sometime later this year, brothers and sisters from the Pentecostal Church of Chile who have been trained by the Shalom Center's "Roots in the ruins: hope in trauma" program will be training pastors and Sunday school teachers to further facilitate trauma healing and resilience development in the churches and communities affected by both the fire and the earthquake.
I thank each of you for your prayers; we certainly need them as the sense of loss this Easter Week will be palpable in the lives of many people. May we bring the hope of Christ's victory over death and destruction to those who suffer in the midst of the ashes and the rubble.
Elena Huegel, Centro Shalom
A letter from Elena Huegel, Global Ministries' missionary to Chile
April 2, 2014
Greetings from Chile in the name of our Creator and Sustainer! I am writing to you this morning to thank all of those who have emailed me and called me asking about the situation in Chile after the earthquake last night in the northern part of the country. Thank you for your concern and your prayers.
I would like to let you know that the earthquake was in the northern part of Chile, in the same area where there have been several severe tremors in the past few weeks, between the cities of Arica and Iquique. We here in the central part of the country, have not felt the effects of these quakes. Even though there were tsunami warnings and massive evacuations, ¡Gloria a Dios! that there wasn`t severe damage and the warnings have been lifted. We can all see that there has been much work to prepare the population for such emergencies - quite different from the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that caught everyone by surprise.
This morning I spoke with Richard, the Bishop's son, to ask him about our brothers and sisters in northern Chile. He has told me that they had been able to communicate with the pastors, and up to this point, there is no report of damage to people's homes or to the churches.
As an additional note, I would like to let you all know that during the past weekend we had an all staff gathering at the Shalom Center along with several members of the new Board. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to affirm our commitment to Shalom! I am sending you a picture of the staff so that you might remember us in your prayers.
Once again, thanks to everyone for your prayers and concern for us here "at the ends of the earth."
A letter from the MA Coalition for the Homeless.
In a collaboration with the MACUCC, and considering the latest MACUCC resolution to end homelessness (read the resolution here), please join with us in working to end unaccompanied youth homelessness by supporting House Bill 135, An Act providing housing and support services to unaccompanied homeless youth.
This bill seeks to reduce youth homelessness and its adverse effects by funding a continuum of housing and support services geared specifically for unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25. The goals of these efforts are to improve housing and residential stability, reduce the risk of harm and improve educational, physical and mental health outcomes for this population.
On August 12th, the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities reported the bill out favorably, and sent it to the House Ways and Means Committee but the work is far from over. The time to act is NOW! The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education estimates that nearly 6,000 high school students are experiencing homelessness and out on their own. Thousands more unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness are not reflected in these numbers because they have already dropped out of school or are older and have finished school. With only 12 beds available in the metropolitan area of Boston, there is a desperate need for increased shelter and housing options for youth living without their parents.
While many youth are resilient and are able to overcome the ravages of homelessness, homelessness often leads to poor health outcomes including increased risk of death, exposure to violence, susceptibility to exploitation and high risk behaviors, and poor academic performance with increased risk of dropping out of school.
We are calling you out to take action and help us make sure that this bill won’t “die” this June. We need all of your support to make sure that the bill will be sent out to the Senate Ways and Means! You can help by engaging in the following:
Rep. Brian Dempsey
Boston, MA 02133
Rep. Stephen Kulik
Boston, MA 02133
We can’t pass this bill without your support! Help us make sure that teens and young adults in Massachusetts have a safe place to sleep, we only have until June 2014 to make this possible or the bill will “die”. Thank you for your solidarity and support!
Exa Mendez-Guerrero, for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Endorsed by the Task Team to End Homelessness and the Justice and Witness Council of the Massachusetts Conference, UCC
This Easter season marks the anniversary of the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. There will be many ways in which people and churches may be marking this anniversary. Ian Lynch, on behalf of The Disaster Resource Team, has crafted this prayer for use in our MACUCC churches. Please feel free to use it and adapt it as needed. Blessings in the Holy Season from the Disaster Resource Team.
Rev. Don Remick
O God, our God, the one who always was, the one who goes the distance, slow down a while and walk with us this day: on the eve of running and persevering, on the eve of pain and remembrance.
We have waited for the day when we might renew our strength and run without growing weary. But the path to this starting line has been longer and harder than we expected. It has led us through suffering, loss, anger and death. Between the shock and pain at the finish line in Copley Square and the hopeful new start tomorrow in Hopkinton, we had to travel through violence and fear in Cambridge and Watertown. The heartbreak we will feel on the hilly marathon path tomorrow will be bigger than than empathy for the runners it defeats. Our hearts will be heavy remembering limbs, hearing and innocence lost. And we most especially grieve for Krystle, Lingzi and young Martin whose races are run, and for Officer Sean whose duty is over.
We have waited for this day when you might give power to the faint and strength to the powerless. But more than that we have waited for you, waited for even a glimpse of you, who never gets tired, who doesn't need to stop to catch your breath. O God, we wait in confidence that like a mother eagle you will feed us and cover us with the shelter of your wing. Remind us that we, too, are eagles, that we have wings with which to fly. Be for us the gentle breeze beneath us as we soar this day, confident of your healing presence, confident of your gracious love. Having been forgiven, may we forgive. Having known defeat, may we savor the victory that is ours in your grace this day, and in every race that is set before us. Amen.
The First Church of Monson, Congregational/UCC, 5 High Street, Monson, will be having an UNO's "Dough Raiser" on April 22, 2014, at the UNO's on Boston Road in Springfield [across from the Eastfield Mall]. We need your help!
Please visit our website, www.firstchurchmonson.org, click on the link for the UNO's fundraiser, and print the coupons. Be sure to bring a coupon with you when you dine at UNO's on April 22 [and give the other 3 coupons to your friends!]; no coupons will be available at the restaurant. Just give the coupon to your server -- and UNO's will then donate 15-20% of your check back to the church! You can dine at any time on April 22 -- lunch, dinner, afternoon snack, etc.
Please help First Church by dining at UNO's on April 22 -- and remember your coupon! Thank you!!
Scholarship, poetry, music, storytelling, laughter and inspiration will weave themselves into the fabric of the awakenings 2014 study conference, set for April 24-27, 2014.
awakenings plenary presenters will include:
Look for great workshops, a bookstore and marketplace, and many more surprises.
This year, partial registrations will be available for those who are not able to attend the entire conference.
Conference meals can be reserved for Friday and Saturday -- lunch and dinner.
Students are welcome to register for half-price.
Directions can be found here.
Park Avenue Cong. Church will hold its annual rummage sale on Sat., 4/26, from 9 am to 2 pm. For sale will be clothing for men, women and children, jewelry, books, CDs, DVDs, toys, sports equipment, housewares, and white elephants galore. There will be a ladies' boutique with accessories. At 1 pm, the popular bag sale will start. A bag is purchased for $3 and can be filled with any remaining items for sale. This event is free and handicapped accessible. Please call the church office at 643-8680 for more information.
See information at the bottom of this page about bus transporation to the rally.
A rally is planned for Saturday, April 26, on Boston Common in support of the Jobs NOT Jails initiative. As many as 10,000 people from across Massachusetts are expected to attend. Download a flyer here.
Jobs Not Jails is an umbrella campaign, bringing together a diverse array of people who care about the future of our economy, and about the damage that mass incarceration is doing to our communities. It is not a legislative strategy. It pulls together dozens of organizations who are leading separate legislative strategies – for everything from a higher minimum wage to the creation of an innocence commission – uniting all with the realization that each goal will be more attainable if there are 10,000 people on Boston Common on April 26, 2014 demanding Jobs, Not Jails.
The campaign needs volunteers to help inform citizens of its goals, collect petition signatures (access a petition form here) and join the rally on the Common on April 26. Some MACUCC congregations have held 'signing sabbaths', and others have gone out into their community to collect petition signatures. To learn more about how you or your congregation can help, please contact Jon Tetherly (Innocence Commission Task Team chair); Mike Rich (Restorative Jusitce Task Team chair); or Cassandra BenSahih of EPOCA: http://www.exprisoners.org/
Lawmakers need to know what their constituents want. Too often we hear legislators say, “my constituents want me to be tougher on ‘criminals’, even if it actually leads to more crime.” Here is the chance to let them know that voters appreciate careful and thoughtful strategies to address the root causes of crime – poverty, desperation, mental illness and addiction – rather than damning people to decades of “busting rocks” for low-level offenses.
So how is Jobs Not Jails building and demonstrating this groundswell of public opinion? For one, they are collecting signatures on a petition, with a goal of 50,000 signatures by April 26. These petitions will be wrapped around the State House in Boston like an art installation, letting legislators know that they need not be afraid to be smart about criminal justice policy or about job creation.
The rally planned for the Boston Common on April 26, 2014 is of unprecedented scale: 10,000 Massachusetts voters speaking with one voice, demanding Jobs Not Jails! The target number 10,000 is significant:
There will be buses leaving from Springfield, Northampton, Fitchburg, Worcester, Lynn and Brockton that will arrive in time for the rally. If you would like a seat on the bus, please contact Laura Wagner: Ljwags@comcast.net
Endorsed by the Innocence Commission Task Team of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
A LETTER MISSIVE
Greetings to the churches and ministers of the Central Association
You are hereby invited to attend a
Service of Installation for
Rev. Antonette DiPina
on Sunday, April 27, 2014
at 2:00 PM to be held at
Rockdale Congregational Church
46 Fowler Road, Northbridge
Antonette has been called as Pastor
to Rockdale Congregational Church
Those attending should be aware that an offering may be received during the service to benefit the Central Association Scholarship Fund.
Wishing you Grace, Mercy, and Peace.
The Rev. Richard F. Jones, Moderator
The Rev. Doreen Oughton, Vice-Moderator
Board of Directors of the Central Association
The Wellesley Hills Congregational Church (WHCC) is a Christian community of faith with committed ordained and lay leadership, vibrant educational programs for all ages, a rich music program, and active outreach. Located about 10 miles west of the city of Boston in the suburb of Wellesley, MA, our open and affirming congregation welcomes all comers into fellowship. Leadership in our church is characterized as an active partnership between our multi-clergy staff, non-clerical staff, and many faithful lay leaders, with an emphasis on cooperation and collaboration.
Seafarer's Friend is seeking a dynamic Executive Director to lead change. Individual will provide leadership, strategic planning, team-building, financial management, and serve as public face of a faith-based agency. Supervise chaplains, staff, and volunteers in maritime industrial setting. Develop relationships with the maritime community, and government to promote seafarer's welfare. Identify, build, and manage relationships with donors. Lead key fundraising events, and write grant proposals. Responsible for all budgeting, bookkeeping, purchasing, and payroll. Responsible for marketing organization in various media including newsletters, website, and other promotional material.
To apply submit a cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Square Congregational Church, UCC in Bridgewater, MA is seeking a part-time (15 hours a week) Sexton. We are looking for someone with excellent communication skills, knowledge of cleaning "green", someone who can be nurturing and attentive to our much-used building. We have a fun staff and the hours are fairly flexible. Send your resume, cover letter, and list of three references to: email@example.com.
Music loving congregation looking for a vibrant and exciting Organist/Music Director.
This position is a 3/4 time position with salary and benefits. Please send resume to:
Ideally, you will have some familiarity with (a) the Montessori- format Godly Play curriculum; (b)developmentally appropriate service and justice projects for children and youth; and (c) Prezi online presentation software.
Discerningly and with excellence, you will divide your attentions between administrative tasks and Creativitys call; that is, you are an adept organizer and inspired innovator.
The Rev. Robert Ripley ("Rip") passed away on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 and is survived by his wife Connie, their children and grandchildren. Rip was the beloved pastor of First Congregational Church of Braintree for over 40 years, retiring from the position in 2001. His legacy is one rich in Christian faith and service, a legacy in which First Church proudly stands.
The Rev. Emil Charles Beck, of Needham, died on March 7, 2014. Emil is the beloved husband of the late Betty May (Preston) Beck, father of Charles Beck of Shrewsbury and James Beck of Needham.
Rev. Beck received his Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1951. He is a retired pastor of the Union Church in Waban. He was active in the leadership of the Board of Ministerial Aid in Massachusetts and Honorary Trustee Emeritus of Andover Newton Theological School. He is author of My Journey into the Trinity. Rev. Beck enjoyed summers with his family on the First Connecticut Lake in Pittsburgh, NH.
The Rev. Mr. Leroy (Roy) Nelson Hastings, Jr. died on January 27, 2014 in Derby, Vermont. Roy was born in Palmer, Massachusetts in 1921. He went to Worcester public schools, graduated from Clark University in 1943 and earned his masters from Hartford Theological Seminary in 1951.
Roy was called to many places, and spent 14 years at First Congregational Church in Whitman, MA.
To read more about Roy, please follow the link: http://caledonianrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=144&ArticleID=106133
There was a memorial service at the Brownington Congregational Church in Brownington Village, VT on Saturday, February 1, 2014.
It is the wish of the deceased and his family that contributions be made to the Brownington Congregational Church UCC for the church building fund.
The Rev. Mr. William E. Wimer III passed away on January 14, 2014. The Rev. Wimer is survived by his wife Alice, whom he met when they were both students at Yale Divinity School in 1942. He was ordained as a minister in 1945 in what later became the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Wimer served at Immanuel Congregational Church in Beverly, Massachusetts, as well as churches in Rhode Island, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and England. From 1963-1981, he was the Director of the Office of Audio Visuals for the Stewardship Council of the UCC. The Rev. Wimer is also survived by his three children, Allan Wimer (wife Robin Weiss) of Key West, FL, William Wimer IV of West Yarmouth, MA and Alice Wimer Erickson (husband Ken Erickson) of Gloucester, MA, in addition to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held at South Church in Andover, 41 Central Street, Andover, MA on Saturday, January 18, 2014.
To read more about the Rev. Mr. William E. Wilmer III please go to: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=169118089
The Dr. Rev. Margaret W. Crockett passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 11th, 2013. She was the beloved wife of the late James U. Crockett and the late Frederick E. Dickerman.