The Jackson Community Church

United Church of Christ

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How are we making a difference in our own village and valley?


Recent initiatives:

 

  • Preparation of Christmas stockings to be delivered to veterans and families by Pease Greeters
  • Collection of gifts for children supported by Angels & Elves program
  • 'Reverse Advent' calendar bags for families: collection of food pantry , humane society, Vaughan center items for 25 days of Advent to mark the season
  • Meals, fundraising & communal care for local family living with cancer
  • 260 sandbags filled by church team along with other community volunteers to preserve a home endangered by riverside erosion after recent floods
  • Assistance to a family forced to choose between medical bills and groceries
  • Support for a local family whose home was destroyed by hurricane flooding
  • Moved family to new home
  • Hosted Advanced Care Planning Directive workshop and embedded trained facilitator within congregation to assist with ongoing preparation of these documentsSent care packages to students and young adults living away from home
  • Soups delivered during home visits to people living in isolation or recovering from illness
  • Collected and assembled 14 hurricane recovery buckets used in flood zones and sent matching funds to areas such as Puerto Rico, worked with UCC grant program to
  • Walked and raised funds for Alzheimers Research
  • Climbed, danced and raised funds for Cancer Research
  • Helped support conservation and educational organizations such as Tin Mountain Conservation Center and Saco Valley Land Trust
  • Hosted acapella concert for Mountaintop Music
  • Walked to support Recovery
  • Donations to several local  and international organizations

ADVENT & CHRISTMAS

Please see our Advent & Christmas page for a full schedule.

 

From UCC:

 
Faith leaders revive MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign as a national organizing call to end racism, poverty
December 04, 2017

 

Written by Connie Larkman

P1030360.jpgOn December 4, 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. announced plans for a Poor People's Campaign to organize individuals around the country to action, in a movement to end poverty, racism, and militarism in America. Monday, exactly 50 years later, interfaith leaders came together in Washington, D.C., to launch a revival of that campaign, which was stalled by King's assassination in 1968.  

The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is led by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a black minister and civil rights leader from North Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a white theologian from Milwaukee, with the full support of a number of religious denominations, including the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Traci Blackmon, a UCC national officer, joined the movement leaders in D.C., to lend her voice to the campaign's launch.

During a briefing at the Methodist Building in the shadow of the U. S. Capitol the morning of Dec. 4, Blackmon drew parallels to Advent, a season of waiting for salvation, in her comments about the need for justice to overtake greed.

"The prophet Isaiah says … a voice is crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. In Isaiah's day, I believe that cry was the voice of those who were victimized and villainized by the oppressive and unjust actions of those in power," Blackmon said. "Today, I believe a voice is still crying out. I believe that this Poor People's Campaign, led by Dr. Theo Harris and Dr. Barber, is that voice today. I believe that all of us gathered here to declare a pathway toward justice are that voice.

IMG_6803.jpg"I stand with the full support of The United Church of Christ, a denomination rooted in a history of crying out and standing up for JUSTICE – to declare our commitment to crying out," Blackmon continued. "Again – to showing up. Again – to acting with The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, for the people, with the people, all the people  –  until a pathway toward justice is made plain."

After the briefing, the group crossed the street to the U.S. Capitol Building, where faith leaders attempted to deliver a letter to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, and were turned away. They then gathered in the center of the rotunda to pray, with Barber proclaiming, "we have to re-consecrate this as our holy ground. Jesus went in the temple, so we've got to do the same."

Barber is the founder of The Moral Monday's movement, which began in North Carolina in 2013 as challenges to legislative issues around redistricting, labor laws, women's rights, LGBT equality and the environment. At the weekly gatherings, hundreds of people were willing to publicly protest and risk arrest, with scores of UCC members and ministers taking part. The new campaign aims to take that model nationwide, using a multi-faith, multiracial movement to break through the nation's polarized politics.

P1030285.jpgDuring a national tour to muster support for a moral values campaign, The Revival: Time for A Moral Revolution of Values, launched in April 2016, Barber and his allies visited churches and union halls to mobilize thousands of activists and people of faith. Next year, organizers hope to mount large protests across the country on 40 consecutive days, in at least 25 state capitals and other locations, with thousands of people engaged in civil disobedience.  

According to the campaign, "We aim to shift the distorted moral narrative often promoted by religious extremists in the nation from personal issues like prayer in school, abortion, sexuality, gun rights, property rights to systemic injustices like how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations."

 

Zimbabwe Between Crisis and Kairos

ZIMBABWE BETWEEN A CRISIS AND A KAIROS (OPPORTUNITY):
THE PASTORAL MESSAGE OF THE CHURCHES ON THE CURRENT SITUATION
ZIMBABWE HEADS OF CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS

"As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your opportunity (KAIROS) from God.” - Luke 19:41-44

The Moment of Truth

Many Zimbabweans are confused and anxious about what has transpired and continues to unfold in our nation. While the changes have been rapid in the last few days, the real deterioration has been visible for everyone to see for a long time, especially during the public political rallies of the ruling party, coupled with the deteriorating socio-economic situation.

On the 30th of October 2017, during the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Association between Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, it was highlighted that the abrasive and exclusionary politics, characterized by increased use of ethnic identities that was now dominating the public discourse, would further fragment and threaten the already weak cohesion of our society.

Now we have reached a new chapter in the history of our nation.

As we look at this situation as the heads of churches in Zimbabwe, we are reminded of the warning of Jesus in Luke 19:41-44. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem when he saw the catastrophe of its destruction and the massacre of the people that was imminent, “because they had not recognized their opportunity (KAIROS) when God offered them” (Lk 19: 44).

We see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless. We see the current arrangement as an opportunity for the birth of a new nation. Our God created everything out of chaos and we believe something new could emerge out of our situation. But first we must properly define our problem. Proper naming of the problem will give us a clear sense of where we must go as a nation.

What is the nature of our problem?

It may be easy to describe our problem in terms of the economy and the accompanying myriad of social challenges. But all these are manifestations or symptoms of a deeper disease that has affected the nation for a long time. Ours is the challenge of the loss of TRUST in the legitimacy of our national processes and institutions. There is a strong sense that our hard-earned constitution is not being taken seriously. There is not enough confidence whether the separation of the three arms of the state, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary are functioning in proper relationships of checks and balances. There is a deep concern that there seems to be no clear distinction between the ruling party and the government. There is concern that the priorities of the poor have become relegated to charity of those who have access to national resources without proper commitment to addressing the root-causes of these problems. There is a general feeling that the wheels of democracy have become stuck in the mud of personalized politics where the generality of the citizenry plays an insignificant role. It is this lack of democratic renewal and the resulting stagnation, sterility and fatigue that has culminated in the current situation.

Everyone is implicated

But the current situation is not only the doing of the ruling party and government. It is also the result of the connivance of the different arms of the state and complicity of the church and civil society. All of us at some point failed to play our roles adequately. The church has lost its prophetic urge driven by personality cults and superstitious approaches to socio-economic and political challenges. Civil society over time has become focused on survival and competition and lost the bigger picture of the total emancipation of the population. The current situation is also a result of the many people in the ruling party who feel outdone, but have enjoyed unbridled access to the trough of patronage. Also, journalists fanned the politics of hatred by giving it prime space in the name of sales and profits. In a way, all Zimbabweans must take some level of blame for our current situation.

What should be done?

The church makes the following calls:

1 Call to prayer for the nation - We call the nation to a moment of prayer for repentance, deep reflection and discernment. We all need to go before God and ask God to forgive us for ways in which we contributed to the situation through neglect or wrong action. We need individual and collective deep reflection on what this means for all of us as individuals, families, churches and the nation. We need to find meaning in this situation which may appear meaningless. We need collective and individual discernment on what should be the next direction for us as a nation.

2 Call to calm and peace - Right now, there is not enough information and many people are peddling opinions as facts especially on social media. Some of this misinformation is causing despondency and fear. We are calling for peace and calm. Let us not sensationalize the situation but encourage calm and be modest in our engagement.

3 Call for the respect of human dignity - We are aware that the Zimbabwe Defense Forces is currently managing the situation. But we want to make it clear to them that it is their responsibility to ensure that human dignity and rights are respected. Human life is God-given and is therefore sacred. All human beings, no-matter the wrongs they will have done, have rights. This is not a time to allow for lawlessness and vindictive and selective application of the law.

4 Call for a transitional government of national unity - The Zimbabwe defense Forces have stressed that theirs is not a military coup, but an effort to manage the current situation. In the light of this position, we are calling for the formalization of a transitional government of national unity that will oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election.

5 Call for national dialogue - Finally, we are calling the nation to a table of dialogue. The current situation gives as an opportunity to reach out to each other. There is no way we can go back to the political arrangements we had some days ago. We are in a new situation. But our shared future will only be realized through dialogue. This dialogue cannot only happen within the ruling party. What we need is a National Envisioning Process (NEP) that will capture the aspirations of all the sectors of society. The church alongside other stakeholders in the private sector, academia, and other spheres can establish this NEP as an inclusive space to enable Zimbabweans from all walks of life to contribute towards a democratic transition to the Zimbabwe We Want.

Conclusion

The church derives its mandate from its calling as a sign of hope, especially in a situation of despair and discouragement. God has put the church in the nation so that it can be a conduit for the healing of the nation. God has promised that: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). We are the people of God who are being called to champion the spirit of reconciliation. The church is made up of those who have been reconciled to God and hence is called to be a sign of this reconciliation by calling the nation to reconciliation. Zimbabweans can find each other again as they did in the 1960s and 1970s when they joined hands against the colonial forces; Zimbabweans can find each other again like they did when the signed the unity accord and stopped the self-destruction in Matabeleland and Midlands; Zimbabweans can find each other again like they did when the produced the current national constitution; Zimbabweans can find each other like they did when they shared power during the government of national unity. There is no chasm that is too big not to be crossed through the power of reconciliation. Without reconciliation and openness to a process of shared national envisioning, we are all doomed.

We can either take the current situation as a mere crisis to be resolved by a winner-takes-all mentality or we use this as an opportunity for us to find one another to build something that is permanently healing for our nation. The first option spells disaster for us and future generations. The second option allows us to embrace our situation as a Kairos, an opportunity given to us by God to dream together that another Zimbabwe is possible!

“If you, even you, would only recognize on this day the things that make for peace!” Luke 19:42

 

SIGN UP to PROVIDE MEALS for MURPHY FAMILY

Forwarded from Susan Ross-Parent and Amanda Murphy, friends coordinating meals and child care for Amiee Murphy and her children in the wake of Mike's passing:

We are starting up the Meal Train and Child Care coordination again. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and support of this family during this difficult time. For more details please contact Amanda Murphy 603-733-6132, or Susan Ross-Parent 603- 383-6861 (work at Jackson Grammar School) or 603-730-7572 (home).

Regarding child care, Amiee's work as the substiture teacher coordinator at Kennett High School requires that she leave home by 6am. She needs consistent coverage for her 3-year-old and 8-year-old from 6am-8:30am daily during the week; Mike used to provide this presence.

Additionally, she'll need rides for them to their respective locations: Patrick to Jackson Grammar School and Riley to Kennett High School for the preschool program. See the schedule by following the link below.

You can view the Meal Train Plus by clicking the following link.

UCC CARING for NEIGHBORS in AFTERMATH of WILDFIRES

 

Shared from UCC.ORG website: October 18, 2017 -- Written by Connie Larkman

SonomaCR.JPG

As scores of Northern Californians are being allowed go home to put their lives back together – to see if their houses are still standing, and to recover belongings torched by deadly wildfires, a Sonoma United Church of Christ congregation, many of them returning evacuees, went out into a neighborhood of immigrants Tuesday morning as the hands and feet of Jesus.

"The long road to recovery begins one day at a time," said the Rev. Curran Reichert, pastor of First Congregational Church of Sonoma UCC (FCCS). "Our church, in partnership with Congregation Shir Shalom and our other churches in town will do all we can to reach out to those who may have lost property, wages, and the basic ability to function day to day. Our goal at FCCS will be to help one family at a time get back on track with the basics—rent, food, water, electricity, school or work supplies and health care."

On Oct. 17, church volunteers hoped to greet people as they came back to the area to offer cleanup assistance and to provide gift cards to help restock refrigerators. Finding it too early for returnees, they'll be focusing on community gatherings to meet people where they are.

"Leaders from the Latino community have arranged for a community dinner and lunch program each day this week at the local hall located in Springs neighborhood," Reichert said. "In partnership with the school board members, an equity and justice task force will join in those meals to help discern where the greatest needs are bubbling up."

Sonoma-sign.jpgReichert, pastoring a church in the heart of one of the areas hard-hit by more than a dozen major wildfires still tearing across California, has spent the last week displaced — staying with her parents, monitoring the progress of the fire teams, and offering love and care to her congregation in daily written missives. The messages, which kept her spiritual family up to date on daily events, offered helpful information — and hope.  Though the fires have scorched over 217,000 acres, and destroyed more than 5,700 structures, her home is safe, the church is safe, and other Northern California Bay Area congregations are offering much needed support.

"We didn't lose anybody. Two families lost houses," she said. "Everybody just so exhausted. You wake up at 4:30 to see if you missed anything while you were sleeping."

On Sunday morning, about two dozen people from her congregation of 200 gathered at FCCS for worship.

"Everybody who showed up sat a circle, had donuts, talked about what they knew, and shared where things stood with them," Reichert said. "One of the families that lost everything showed up at church on Sunday, it was an amazing moment — so good to see them, so good to lay eyes on them."

Sonomathanks.JPGShe is also thankful for first responders, and for several other UCC churches, some which took offerings for FCCS on Oct. 17, so that members can reach out to offer help in their community. In Sonoma County, damages are expected to top more than $3 billion.

"Sonoma FCC was very much in our prayers (Sunday) at Danville Congregational Church," said Kristina Kelchner, church moderator. "We hope this will provide some small measure of help and hope to FCC members and friends who are suffering."

'This' is almost $1,500 that Danville Congregational Church will be sending over this week. Kensington Community Church UCC, Congregational Church of San Mateo, College Heights Church UCC and First Congregational Church of Alameda UCC also delivered cash and a collection of gift cards.  In addition, Alameda pastor, the Rev. Laura Rose, dispatched an RV that Reichert plans to park outside her church so people who may not have a home will at least have a place to sleep.

"Sonoma has an enormous undocumented population, that's where we'll be concentrating our efforts," she said. "Those brothers and sisters are facing such terrible obstacles and they are the people who will also rebuild our community."

Reichert is planning to make the donated cash and gift cards available to immigrants and those with low incomes. She's partnering with two elementary schools, a homeless shelter and other faith groups, using the relationships already in place to find and immediately help the people who need it most.

She said the Northern California Nevada Conference already provided financial assistance to a family who lost their employment options in the fire. Conference Minister the Rev. Diane Weibel said that it's pretty certain that support will continue in many forms.

"What I can say, without a doubt, is this is a disaster that has affected every church in our Conference," Weible said. "Even places not directly in the line of the fires are experiencing the smoke and reminded of their siblings in communities most affected. People are asking how to help and what they can do and all of us are keeping everyone in prayer."

"We are deeply grateful for the support of Rev. Diane Weible and NCNC, UCC who has been with us every step of the way," said Reichert. "Together we will once again rejoice, though it may not feel that way right now."

UCC's Response to Las Vegas Mass Shooting

UCC clergy, part of interfaith prayer vigil in Las Vegas, mourn 59 lives lost to gun violence
 
 
 
 
October 03, 2017
Written by Connie Larkman

VegasVigil.jpgThree United Church of Christ ministers were part of a unity vigil Monday night in Las Vegas, a gathering of people of all faiths coming together in solidarity to mourn the 59 lives lost to gun violence.

Charlotte Morgan, a UCC member in discernment and pastor of Indigo Valley Church, a three-year-old new church start, helped organize the candlelight prayer service at the Guardian Angel Cathedral the evening of Oct. 2. A vigil made necessary after a gunman opened fire on a concert crowd during the weekend, wounding more than 500 people.

"We are a city, despite the bright lights and neon, with hundreds of churches. We are a people of deep and profound faith," Morgan said. "We all gathered right off the Strip because it was necessary—to feel the energy of the city as we expressed our heartfelt grief and our faith. It was important to be in the midst of the energy that makes this the city what we are."

VegasVigil-gong.jpgEight faith leaders took turns hitting a gong 59 times to remember those who died. Tears streamed down the faces of the people in the pews as they prayed.

"I was at first taken back by all of the outstretched hands of those who attended, wanting to touch the hands of clergy," Morgan said. "Attendees were physically reaching out for care, for connection. It was an amazing physical presence that people wanted to have."

"We put this worship service together in 45 minutes," Morgan said. "We wanted to have interreligious engagement—so eight of us came together. Everyone stepped aside from faith, race, creed, job, position to make this vigil happen." 

The event, led by Bishop Joseph Pepe of the Las Vegas diocese and Fr. Bob Stoeckig of the cathedral, brought together clergy from many Christian denominations—UCC, Catholic and Episcopalian, as well as Jewish rabbis, Unitarian Universalists and Muslim groups. Morgan, the Rev. Jamie Sprague-Ballou, of Mary Magdalene Friends UCC, and the Rev. Kathryn Obenour, a member of Indigo Valley Church and former pastor at Las Vegas United Church of Christ, represented the denomination. 

VegasVigil-Charlotte.jpgAs members of the Clark County Ministerial Association, Morgan said the interfaith leaders came together after the shooting Sunday night to create a clergy emergency response team. The vigil was part of that response. They were able to do that, she said, because of strong relationships previously forged before the massacre called them to action.

"I am so proud of the clergy in our community who came together to create this same-day clergy response team," Morgan said. "There was a writer who once said 'Dig a ditch before you need water.' We did that. We needed to form caring everyday relationships with each other. Ministers and rabbis get together...  to study the Torah, or to have coffee. Those relationships made a difference today."

"Before the service, I met with several clergy at the front of the church," Morgan continued. "We discussed that the vigil is one step. We must continue over days, weeks and months to help our community. We set plans in place that our next step is to contact the area hospitals and begin to reach out to the healthcare workers in the hospitals. This meeting became important and prophetic. After the vigil, I spoke with one of our senators and he had horror in his eyes. He had visited a local (emergency room). As he told me, 'There was not an inch of the E.R. floor without blood.'  We just stood and held one another. There were no words."

FINANCIAL SUPPORT
for PUERTO RICO's RECOVERY

 

While help in the domestic United States has been possible in both financial and tangible forms, the response in Puerto Rico must be financial in order to help them recover. This is the conclusion of the NHCUCC; it is the same decision that our own Mission Team reached last week. Consequently, we will send $500 allocated to hurricane relief for Puerto Rico.

 

If you want to help, you may make a financial donation to Jackson Community Church with subject line “Puerto Rico” to benefit the UCC’s Emergency Relief Fund. Or donate directly online.

 

United Church of Christ's Disaster Ministry reinforces this reality for the need for financial giving, in response to events like the earthquakes in Mexico and the hurrican in Puerto Rico:
 

UCC Disaster Ministries  

Perspective on In-Kind vs. Monetary Donations

 

Dear Friends -- I can't stress enough the importance of monetary donations. I continue to receive phone calls and e-mails from our churches, with good intentions, wanting to send things to disaster locations. There are several major issues with this type of giving ... I am also sharing a note below, related to this topic, from a friend and colleague Peter Gudiatis who is the president and CEO of National Disaster Interfaiths Network.  

 

From Peter Gudiatis: After today's meetings with the PR governor's office. Puerto Rico is already so overwhelmed with shipping containers (150) and plane loads of donated goods that they have no place to safely store or sort it - and, limited means to move it The word is that Puerto Rico will ban the importing of non-pre-requested and approved donated goods tomorrow - cash only from now on.

 

Zach Wolgemuth  

Executive, UCC Disaster Ministries

www.ucc.org/disaster/ 

 

 

ASSEMBLED: HURRICANE CLEANUP KITS

Through many contributions in combination with Mission funds, our church also provided "cleanup kits" — which were recommended and requested by multiple denominations — by filling 14 buckets with the items below. They have been conveyed directly to hurricane-devastated areas by CWS (Church World Services), which is an ecumenical ministry supported jointly by several church denominations, including many Mt Washington Valley congregations.

 

KIT CONTENTS

  • One five-gallon bucket with resealable lid
    (If bucket has been used, clean well but do not use if it has held chemicals of any kind.)
  • 4 scouring pads
  • 7 sponges, including one large
  • 1 scrub brush
  • 18 reusable cleaning towels (Easy Wipes)
  • One 50 oz. or two 25 oz. bottle(s) of liquid laundry detergent
  • One 16-28 oz. bottle of liquid disinfectant dish soap
  • One 12-16 oz. bottle of household cleaner that can be mixed with water (no spray bottles)
  • One package of 48-50 clothespins
  • Clothesline, two 50 ft. or one 100 ft.
  • 5 dust masks
  • 2 pairs non surgical latex gloves
  • 1 pr work gloves, cotton w/ leather palm or leather
  • 24-28 heavy duty or contractor type 30-45 gallon trash bags on a roll and removed from carton
  • One 6-9 oz. bottle of non-aerosol insect repellent
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