Sermon 7.1.18 Peer Pressure

Scripture Lessons:  Matthew 13:33 and 16:5-12                                                       Pastor:   Rev. Kim P. Wells

We have three dogs.  One of them is new to us.  Stephanie, a 6 year old Newfoundland, came to live with us in March.  We have another 6 year old dog, Andre.  He is small, about 50 pounds, with short black hair.  And our third dog is Nahla, a golden retriever/German Shepherd mix, who is about 15 years old.  So, this spring, Stephanie joined Andre and Nahla in our household.  

Every night when I  take my vitamins I give the dogs a fish oil pill.  Andre and Nahla LOVE them.  They hear the rattle of a bottle of pills and they appear in the bathroom wagging and panting for their fish oil.  When we first got Stephanie, she didn’t know about this ritual so she would remain wherever she was, usually lying like a rug, in the middle of the living room.   Each night, I would find her and offer her a fish oil pill.  She sniffed the thing and left it.  She was not interested.  This went on for about a week.  

Then one night Stephanie appeared in the bathroom with the other dogs when they heard the pill bottles.  She stood and watched as Andre and Nahla eagerly devoured their fish oil.  I offered one to her as I had each night for the previous week expecting her to reject it as usual.  But no.  She gulped the thing down.  And she has appeared in the bathroom every night since for her fish oil pill along with Nahla and Andre.  

To me, this was clear evidence of pack behavior, or what in the human realm we call, peer pressure.  You see others doing something and you join in.  To fit in.  You think that is what you are supposed to be doing.  You follow the lead of those around you.  

We tend to associate issues around peer pressure with children and youth.  We think of a scene, perhaps on the playground, where kids are harassing or taunting someone, and everyone pretty much joins in; even those who would typically not engage in such mean behavior.  Maybe you have been part of such an episode.  I am reading a book with a scene where a group of kids coming home with bats from a ball game, find an injured horse lying on the ground and one kid takes a swing at the horse and, as expected, the other kids join in.  We reflect on such experiences and see how we are taken in by the crowd, allowing ourselves to blindly join in what is going on around us.  This happens partly because in childhood and youth fitting in is so important.  Loving, responsible adults try to teach children to think for themselves, make good choices, and not get taken in by the crowd.  

Then come the teenage years and loving adults hope and pray the message has gotten through because the stakes can be higher.  Teens are at a party and someone brings out alcohol or a joint.  Today, that is tame.  It could be a bowl of pills, mixed.  Or some kind of powder.  Or who knows what.    And then, it could be a sexual situation without mutual consent.   Or a hazing of some kind that turns very violent.  There are limitless possibilities.  So, we parent types, hope the teens we love know that they don’t have to go along.   Though they desperately want to fit in by going along, we hope they have learned that they have choices.  

So many times, we hear stories of people who do bad things, bad for themselves and others, because they followed those around them.  They succumbed to peer pressure.   And people with bad intent know how susceptible we are to peer pressure.  They know if they just start something, and apply little motivation, like shaming those who are resisting, they can pretty much get others to participate.  And it doesn’t stop in childhood or adolescence unfortunately.  Adults, too, are extremely vulnerable to peer pressure.  They, too, want to fit in, to be part of the group, to be accepted.  Especially if they did not feel a part of things growing up.  

Jesus knew about this tendency to want to fit in; to go along with things so that you feel a sense of belonging.  And he knew about our human tendency to want to exploit this to our own advantage.  Numerous times in the gospels we see Jesus accusing religious leaders of manipulating people, exerting peer pressure essentially, toward ends that are not consistent with the intentions of God.  In the verses we heard from Matthew this morning, we hear Jesus lambasting the religious authorities for leading the common people astray for selfish gains:  “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 

In this story, Jesus uses the image of yeast in the typical way.  Yeast had negative connotations in Jewish tradition.  Going back to the story of the Passover and leaving Egypt without time to make leavened bread, the image of yeast was a symbol of corruption.  It was very bad.  It was an image used to show how a little of something bad can have a huge negative influence.  Jesus draws on this tradition in his accusation.  One person or a few people start something bad and it is easy to get others to go along, to get along, to belong.  Very effective means toward harmful ends.  We see this again and again and again throughout history from Nazi Germany to college hazing.

What is surprising from Jesus, what is new and unexpected, is the other verse we listened to this morning; the one about a woman baking bread with yeast.  First I want to let you know that the Jesus Seminar, a group of highly respected brilliant Bible scholars, consider this verse one of the few in the New Testament to be authentic to the voice of Jesus.  The gospels were written well after Jesus’ death.  Much of the teaching associated with Jesus had been passed down over the years.  And, like any oral tradition, there were changes along the way to make the teaching applicable to the circumstances.  The Jesus Seminar was an academic initiative to try to determine what may be actually attributed to the historical Jesus.  The result was a book called The Five Gospels.  It includes Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the gospel of Thomas, a gospel that, for a variety of reasons, was not chosen to be included in the canon, the church-authorized New Testament.  In The Five Gospels, the words attributed to Jesus are printed in different colors.  If the quotes are in black then the scholars pretty much agree that this was not actually spoken by Jesus.  If the words are in gray, there is the possibility that this could have come from Jesus.  If the words are in pink, then there is more of a possibility that they may be attributable to Jesus.  And if the words are in red, then the group of scholars is in close agreement that those words are very likely words that were actually spoken by Jesus.   There is very little red print in the book.  In The Five Gospels, the words, “Heaven’s imperial rule is like leaven which a woman took and concealed in fifty pounds of flour until it was all leavened” are in red.  [The Five Gospels:  The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and The Jesus Seminar, p. 195]

Part of the reason they are in red is that Jesus was known for taking tradition and twisting it on its head.  Here the commonly used negative image of yeast as a symbol of corruption is turned around and used in a positive way.  That is characteristic of the historical Jesus.  

There are two other features of this teaching that are unexpected.  One is the amount of flour.  Three measures.  About 10 gallons.  Maybe the equivalent of 50 pounds.  Probably enough to make bread for 100-150 people.  So this image of the woman adding yeast to flour and baking bread is a common image but the way the symbol of yeast is used is a turn around.  It only takes a little to have a big influence, that is yeast, but this yeast is having a HUGE influence, and that HUGE influence is positive, it is good, it is of God.  Jesus is imbuing common images with new meanings.

And, there is something else unexpected in this teaching.  It is lost in the New Revised Standard translation and in the Inclusive Language translation we heard this morning.  But the original language tells us that the woman hid the yeast in the flour.  She conceals the yeast in the flour.  This is done surreptitiously.  Not out in plain view.  The realm of God can surprise.  It may not be an attention grabbing spectacle.  It may sneak up on us.  It may sneak into us.  Just a bit.  To huge effect.  Who knows?

This teaching is a beautiful image for the church today, for us, as Christian people.  It reminds us that we can be the yeast.  Just a little.  Making a big difference.  Perhaps without anyone even noticing.  Maybe we ourselves don’t even know the effect we are having.  

But look how easy it is to manipulate people with negative peer pressure.  Just a little shame and the enticement to fit in and you can get people on board.

This teaching of Jesus about the yeast is meant to motivate us to use positive peer pressure.  Do the good.  Quietly.  In the background.  Without a lot of fanfare.  Stand up for justice.  Help others.  Serve the common good.  Wherever you may be involved, in whatever your sphere of influence.  And trust the rest to God.  Trust that what you do will make a difference and may even influence others to make a positive difference.  

This positive modeling is what led to the burgeoning of the early church.  About Christians, people said, “see how they love each other.”  That is how Christians were known.  And people were attracted to that.  They weren’t attracted by the fear of rotting in hell.  They weren’t originally attracted by the glories of heaven.  It wasn’t about money or status.  It was the love.  The care.  The compassion.  The sharing.  The looking out for each other.  And this approach was not limited to just those in the faith community.  The first Christians shared this love with others out in the world who then were attracted in to the church because of what they saw.  Here we see the yeast.  A relatively small group of people, making real the realm of God, in their context.  And it has literally changed the world.  

Friends, I don’t need to tell you that the world is in desperate need of the yeast of the realm of God.  The church is needed to exert a positive example.  We are called to model another way.  We must speak for love in the many circumstances of our lives and trust the rest to God.  Let the love grow how and when it will.  But people need to see love, to feel it, to experience it, even if they don’t know what it is.

You can barely open a newspaper or check social media without seeing something about how uncivil our society has become.  People are confronting others in mean and hostile ways.  People of various political and social perspectives.  It isn’t limited to only one group.

I attended my book club last week and this topic came up.  One woman, an outspoken liberal, and a Catholic, got very heated.  Her complaint was that liberals are too nice.  The Democrats are too nice.  That’s why things are so bad.  That’s why our country is going down hill.  In her view, the people who are right are just being too nice about it.  She feels they need to be more devious and scrappy like their opponents.   I found this view alarming.  Since this was not a church setting, and I was not there in a pastoral role even though the woman saying this is Christian, I didn’t feel I could respond referring to Jesus, like what about “love your enemies.”  So, I turned to another authoritative source.  I said, “So much for Michelle Obama: ‘When they go low, we go high.’”  Well, that quieted things down.  

It’s not that we can’t disagree.  We SHOULD disagree when we see people treated with inequality, with hatred, with degradation, and when we see the Earth abused and harassed.  We should be saying something.  We should be strong and convicted about our values in defense of human life, human rights, human dignity, peace, and care for the Earth.  We should be saying something.  But to do it in a way that is degrading to those with differing opinions, to be mean, uncivil, and demeaning is to do the very thing we decry:  It is to diminish the value of the life of another person.  When confronting someone with differing views, it’s one thing to say, “This is what I think” and explain why.  It’s quite another to say, “You’re a bigot and an idiot.”   

What is needed in America and in the world today are bold people of conscience and principle who are not afraid to be the yeast in a positive way; in content and in style.  We are needed to model service, generosity, and reconciliation.  We are needed to be the people who help someone that is having a difficulty, not laugh at the person or scorn them.  We are needed to be the people who offer comfort to the stranger sitting crying in the waiting room at the doctor’s office instead of sitting as far away as possible because it is embarrassing and we feel uncomfortable.  We are the people who are needed to offer help, to say yes, to reach out in compassion and kindness.  We are the people who are needed to speak up and to speak out for human rights and human dignity.  We are needed to show love for our enemies.  

And then, see what others do.  How do they respond?  It’s likely that other people, seeing the example, are going to join in.  Your example is going to work like positive peer pressure, enticing people to do the right thing.  To join in a good cause.  To lift a finger to help.  To offer a word of comfort.  To change hearts and minds with love.  Use that peer pressure for good.  That’s what we need to be doing.  

And we don’t have to make a big deal about it.  We don’t have to get any credit.  We don’t have to be thanked.  Remember the hidden part of the yeast story.  The woman hid the yeast in the flour.  We just need to do what is right and neighborly and good.  We just need to see that every human being is treated like a human being.  We just need to show that all life is sacred.  But we need to do it.  To involve ourselves.  And with that quiet example, well, we just have to let go of the outcome.  In the Jesus’ teaching a bit of yeast made bread for 100 to 150 people.  That is a ridiculous outcome.  A woman could not manage that much dough at once.  So we have to let go of our expectations around the outcome.  We just have to do what is Jesus-like and let go of the rest.  

I heard a story this weekend about a woman who saw a bored boy outside her church on a summer day.  She had pity on him and invited him inside.  She had one game, Monopoly, so she asked him if he wanted to play.  Then she went to the corner store and got him some snacks.  The next day, he was back with some friends.  And this has turned into a neighborhood youth program that now has 75 students involved.  And they are not only playing games but getting help with homework and getting into college.  And the woman who started this program swore that she would never work in the church, her parents are pastors, and that she would never work with kids.  

And then there is the yeast.  Open yourself to the Love.  Let Jesus live and grow in you.  The world is hungry for your witness.  Amen.  

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Sermon 6.24.18 Timeless Faith – Timely Faith

Date:  61st Anniversary of the United Church of Christ  

Scripture Lesson: Mark 2:18-3:6

Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

“The Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy word.”  Listen to that again.  “The Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy word.”

These are the words of John Robinson, pastor of a separatist congregation that left England seeking religious freedom.  Having been harassed and scorned in various European locations for their “expression” of Christianity,  Robinson’s congregation decided to send a group to the shores of North America hoping to find a place where they could practice their version of Christianity in peace.  

As those heading to the New World left to join the Mayflower, Robinson gave a farewell speech to his congregants.  It included these words:  “I charge you before God and his blessed angels that you follow me no further than you have seen me follow Christ. If God reveal anything to you by any other instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as you were to receive any truth from my ministry, for I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy word.”

Lest there be any misunderstanding, Robinson continued:  “The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw.  Whatever part of His will our God has revealed to Calvin, they [Lutherans] will rather die than embrace it; and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery much to be lamented.”

Robinson encouraged his followers to expect new leadings from God in the way of Christ as they faced new circumstances.  As heirs of the Reformation, Robinson encouraged his flock to keep growing and changing in ways that were consistent with the ministry of Jesus.  He foresaw that new situations would require new responses and he wanted his people to feel free to be completely faithful to Christ and not be limited by certain human teachings of the past.  And so he adjured them, “The Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy word.”

John Robinson and those who came over on the Mayflower are our forebears in the United Church of Christ.  This is part of our heritage.   And the UCC has taken Robinson’s perspective very seriously in its 61 year history.  Most recently his sentiments have been promoted in the Gracie Allen quote widely used in UCC:  “Never place a period where God has place a comma.”  

This way of looking at matters of faith is not new to Robinson or the UCC.  It is clearly evident in the Bible.  Many times in scripture, God is portrayed as promising to do something new, a new thing.  The prophets speak for a God that is very willing to try new approaches to help humanity live into the fullness of joy and peace.  [See Jeremiah 31:22, Isaiah 42:4, 43:19, and 48:6]

Jesus is an example of this; of God doing a new thing.  One way we see this is in Jesus’ role in salvation history.  Many people were expecting a king-like, political, military messiah on the order of King David.  There is much to point to this expectation in the Hebrew Bible.  There are also verses in Isaiah about a suffering servant but that was the decidedly “minority” opinion.  [See Isaiah 53]  The more dominant view was that God would send a classic, powerful ruler who would garner the support of all the people and boot out the Roman invaders.  Jesus was not this messiah.  To those who saw Jesus as messiah, they believed that God was doing a new thing through a suffering servant.  

We also see God doing something new in the teachings of Jesus.  Jesus does not establish a new religion.  He does not condemn the heritage of Judaism.  He is born Jewish and remains Jewish, fully and completely.  But he offers new understandings of what had become core assumptions in the Judaism of his day.  In some cases, his teaching is actually going back to the original intentions.  We heard several examples of this in the scripture that was read this morning.  Regarding fasting, the old rules don’t apply.  Jesus is known as a glutton and a drunkard.  There are times to celebrate as well as to fast.  Sometimes you need to let the fasting go.  The story of picking grain on the sabbath and the healing of the withered hand show the humanitarian intent of the law.  Doing good is more important than being legalistic.  Jesus is challenging the current interpretation of the Law.  As one commentary points out:  The Pharisees and Scribes have no concerns for God’s will.  They substitute human traditions for the truth, which comes from God.”  [Pheme Perkins, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 7, p, 422]  This is always a temptation in religion.  So Jesus does a new thing.  He rocks the boat.  He is helping people see the truth.  And truth is sometimes upsetting, especially new truth. 

So when John Robinson declared, “The Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy word,” he knew that he was part of a long standing stream of faithfulness in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  He knew that he was standing on solid ground in terms of scripture and tradition within Christianity. 

This idea, that God is doing something new, that faith continues to evolve and emerge, has continued to be an important part of the history and identity of the United Church of Christ.

The UCC was formed in 1957 from two predecessor denominations each of which was formed from two previous denominations.  While both were Protestant, the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Church was in some ways an unlikely match and it took many years of discussion to come to the point of actual merger.  One big difference was polity.  The Evangelical and Reformed Church was “connectional.”  That means there was a carefully constructed hierarchy and churches were under the authority of the hierarchy and they were bound to comply with the hierarchy.  The Congregational Christian Church had congregational polity.  Each congregation was responsible for its own affairs.  There was a wider church structure and churches were in fellowship and mission together but the final say was within the congregation.

The denominations differed in another important way.  The Evangelical and Reformed church was a creedal church.  The doctrine of the church was contained in the Heidelberg Catechism, Luther’s Catechism, and the Augsburg Confession.  The Apostle’s Creed was regularly recited in worship.  The creed was the test of faith.  The Congregational Christian Church did not use a creed as a test of faith.  The content of belief was left up to the conscience of the individual believer. 

We can see potential problems with two such differing expressions of Christianity coming together but they had a very strong bond.  As each was a merger of previous denominations, they had already shown their commitment to the unity of the church.  They really did believe that the church was the body of Christ, one body, and not a dismembered body.  They believed that God wanted one church working together for the good of the world.  Thus the motto chosen for the newly formed United Church of Christ was, “That they may all be one,” from Jesus’ prayer for the disciples in the gospel of John.  This was a church that would be united and uniting.  The anticipation was that other Christian communions, like the Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. in the US, would also join the UCC and it would be something like the United Church of Canada today.  

Obviously we know that this did not happen.  But those who were part of creating the UCC in 1957 wanted to create a communion that was open; open to welcoming other churches, open to working together with other churches, and open to God doing a new thing for the good of the world.  

To create this openness, the new United Church of Christ incorporated congregational polity.  Each church was responsible for its own affairs and for discerning its ministry.  You could keep using the same hymnal and financially supporting the same mission projects and using the same curriculum in Church School that you had been using.  You could keep your church organization and structure.  Or you could change it all.  That was up to the congregation.  

While making the UCC open and welcoming to additional communions, congregational polity also gave churches the freedom to adapt and change according to how they felt called to serve.  We see this in the history of Lakewood United Church of Christ.   Through the years this church has functioned in different ways depending on the times.  And we take seriously the responsibility to be always evaluating what we are doing and to adapt so that the way we are organized and how we make decisions facilitates our mission and ministry rather than obstructing it.  We appreciate the freedom to worship and teach and serve in ways that are relevant to our circumstances.  We take seriously the responsibility to discern our calling and to respond with generosity and love.  We have embraced the flexibility and openness that is a hallmark of the UCC.  

Along with this practical openness the UCC has also embraced theological openness.  With the merging of a creedal denomination and a non creedal denomination, the decision was made not to require a creed, a test of faith, for being part of the UCC.  If you look in your hymnal at readings 881-887 you will see the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed.  Churches are welcome to use those creeds if they so choose but they are not required to do so.   

The newly formed UCC decided to create a Statement of Faith for use in churches if they so desired.  We read one version this morning.  The Statement of Faith conveys a way of understanding God and God’s activity in human history and in our lives. It is not a test of faith.

In the original form, as was accepted for the time, God was referred to with male pronouns.  As the church evolved and became aware of the negative  effects of gender specific language for God in the church and in society, a new version of the Statement was created which uses the second person, You, instead of He.   Given the character of the UCC we can expect to have new forms of the statement in the future, or other statements of faith.  In the back of the hymnal, you can see that not only are there several historic creeds and the UCC Statement of Faith, but there are also several other affirmations of faith from other communions.  The idea is that no one statement is the be all and end all for all time.  

And this brings us to LUCC today.  The church has a constitution and by-laws.  Some of the organizational arrangements in the document are no longer fitting for our current situation so the advisors have undertaken conversations about updating this document.   While we may have thought that the discussion was going to revolve around practical arrangements for our life together, the conversation took an unexpected turn.  There was an involved theological discussion, this stemming from the fact that the constitution leads off with the Mission Statement of the church and the statement of the core assumptions of belief associated with the church:   “This church affirms God as Creator, Jesus Christ as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our strength.  This church recognizes the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith.”   What we discovered is that it is important to the church today to have these foundational statements be truly inclusive of the congregation today and into the future.   These foundational statements in the constitution convey religious and theological language that implies certain understandings of faith.  Given that the church is evolving, today these statements may be perceived as limiting.   Can we say something that includes a broader spectrum of Christian understanding and expression?

The statements in the LUCC constitution specifically portray a traditional theistic view of God.  But some people in the congregation have found themselves growing toward a non-theistic understanding of God.  The desire of the church leadership is to explore ways to describe our faith in the constitution that include the theistic as well as the non-theistic.  Are there ways to state our faith that are inclusive in this way?  Can we open the door wider in our language and portrayal of our faith?  Can we let more light and truth break forth into our church constitution and our church life and language and worship?  Will this help us as a congregation to welcome more people who need the church and who are needed by the church?  Can this help us to grow in ways that increase the love we are sharing in the world?   Is this an extension of our ministry that is needed going forward?  There will be more conversations about this in the weeks to come and the advisors hope that you will want to participate.  

I think this is well worth exploring.  Many people today in our culture feel that Christianity is irrelevant or hypocritical or regressive.  Some of the traditional language and theology is contributing to this.   There are issues around some of our traditional Christian views that are at odds with currently verifiable scientifically proven reality.  Heaven is not “up” there.  Space is out there.  God is not “out there” somewhere.  The Cosmos is out there.  Our universe may be floating in a sea of universes.  The church talks about Jesus as God.  Was Jesus categorically, genetically different than the rest of humanity?  The church talks about Jesus resurrected and ascended into heaven.  Then where is he?  Orbiting in space somewhere?  We already see these ideas ably expressed by the evangelical atheist movement.  When I hear their voices, I agree with much of what is said.  But they are confronting a traditional view of Christianity.  And they are telling us that that expression of Christianity is going extinct.

So, going forward and into the far future (beyond the next election cycle), is Christianity viable with these claims that are at odds with science?  Can there be an expression of Christianity that respects science as it continues to unfold?  And can the understandings and concepts of Christianity continue to function in  figurative and metaphorical ways so that the teachings of Jesus continue to inspire faith communities to offer love and peace to the world?

I hope so.  Because when we look at the world today, at what is going on in our times, it’s clear that the message of Jesus is badly needed.  The world is crying out for his vision of unconditional, universal love which leads to relationships that are just and communities that are anti violent; a world characterized by peace and joy.  Look at the families divided at our southern border.  Look at the treatment of those lost children.  Look at an administration forming a space force, taking the use of military force out into space, beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere, spreading the cancer of violence.  We have a president that wants new nuclear weapons that are easier to use.  That is completely at odds with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Then there is the increasing abuse of the environment and economic arrangements that continue to abuse workers.  The world sorely needs a church loudly proclaiming the values and world view of Jesus.  And the people who share those values need a church, a  community of inspiration and support, that doesn’t require them to suspend their rational intellect when they come through the door.  

The teachings of Jesus remain very attractive to many people who are not part of a church because of some of the archaic ways of talking about things in church.  Yes, there are those who think of God in theistic terms – think of God as a You, or a He, or a Creator, or a something, somewhere, an entity, with power to influence and control human history and individual circumstances.  People with understandings along these lines need to feel welcome in church.  There are also those who are moving toward thinking of God in non theistic terms.  No “You,” no anthropomorphism, no entity somewhere.  Instead, the non theistic believer may think of God as a principle, as an idea, as a concept of unity and love and life and relatedness or as the “ground of being” to quote 20th century theologian Paul Tillich.  Some are thinking about God as a foundational precept.  The core of reality.  And new ways to think about Jesus are emerging.  He may be seen as a manifestation of the full embodiment of universal, unconditional love.  The fullness of humanity.  The journey of faith then is to live in ever greater alignment with these concepts of love and unity and life.  Can we as one congregation embrace all of these views and more in the faith statement of our LUCC constitution?

We can see how these newly emerging theologies and understandings are an extension of those prescient words of John Robinson:  “The Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy word.”  Robinson well understood, that as humanity evolves and develops and confronts new challenges, new ways of conveying faith will be needed or it will be left behind as anachronistic, archaic, and irrelevant.  It will go extinct.   And what prevents extinction?  Adaptation.  So we are right to hearken back to Robinson.  This is our moment to let more light and truth in; to revision how we speak of our faith, to expect new wine and new wineskins, because the world still desperately needs the healing love of Jesus.  Amen.  

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Weekly Update 28 June

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, JUL 1 THIS SUNDAY: The theme for this Sunday is Peer Pressure. It’s not just about teens anymore. How are we influenced by the behavior of others? Can peer pressure be used to work for positive change?

Summer Sundays Services are more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time.

SUN, JUL 1 COMMUNION:  All are welcome to participate in communion at Lakewood UCC, children at the discretion of the adults who brought them. The communion offering goes to the Special Needs Fund, used to help people in our community and the congregation with basic necessities such as food, rent, utilities, and prescription medication costs. Please be generous as you are able.
SUN, JUL 1 A/C UPDATE: Following worship this Sunday, July 1, there will be a congregational conversation to hear about the ongoing projects on the church property with a focus on the next large undertaking – new air conditioning.  Most of the system in the church building now dates from the 1960’s.  A new system will help to save energy, the planet, and, yes, money.  Plan to stay for this brief conversation after church this Sunday.
SUN, JUL 1 GOD AND BEYOND: The Advisors are hosting conversations about faith and the LUCC constitution. The advisors have undertaken the updating of the LUCC Constitution and By Laws. This conversation has led to an examination of the faith statements that are made at the beginning of the document: “This church affirms God as Creator, Jesus Christ as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our strength. This church recognizes the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith.” The mission statement of the church is also included.
 The advisors would like to involve the congregation in this conversation. The first opportunity will be on Sunday July 22 before church at 9:00am in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome!
In preparation, you may want to review the sermon that was given Sunday June 24. The theme was requested by the advisors to help give some perspective on this conversation.
JUL 2-10 REV. WELLS AWAY: Pastor Wells will be away from July 2nd to July 10th. Many thanks to Victoria Long who will preach on Sunday. For pastoral care, please contact Emily Bell or the church office.
DEATH PENALTY ADVOCACY: Last week, Bernie McCabe, the State’s Attorney for Pinellas and Pasco Counties agreed to meet with two religious leaders to discuss the death penalty: LUCC pastor Kim Wells and Father Bob Schneider of St. Cecelia’s Catholic Church. The conversation was mutually enlightening and Mr. McCabe has agreed to meet again after the upcoming gubernatorial election. Many thanks to Lucille Ruga and Sally Purvis for helping Kim prepare for this important initiative.
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

JUN 29-30 CLIMATE CONFERENCE: Rev. Wells will be attending the 4th annual gathering of the Florida Interfaith Climate Actions Network June 29-30 in Orlando. The theme is Collaborating for a Healthy Environment and Climate Resiliency.
The program includes:

  • Earth Charter 18th Birthday Celebration
  • World Health Organization Report
  • Global Health and climate change challenges
  • Campfire honoring Miccosukee-Simanolee clan leader Bobby C. Billie
  • Hear how people came together to work on brownfields, air quality, and sea level rise
  • Brainstorm about how to cultivate resilient communities
  • Hear examples for policy education and actions
  • FL youth celebrations & success stories
  • Healthy food prep demonstration
  • Sowing a culture of peace in Florida
TUE, JUL 10 LGBTQ PROGRAMS: Teacher and children’s book author Rob Sanders will be featured in a pair of programs at the Gulfport Public Library (5501 28th Ave S) on Tuesday July 10th in which he will read from his new children’s book, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. The new book has already been praised by Publishers Weekly as a “poignant and uplifting biography.” There will be one afternoon program geared to children and their families from 4 – 5pm, as well as an evening program geared to adults from 7 – 8pm. Both programs are free and open to the public and all ages.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Summer Sundays church services. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez following Children’s Time. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!
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Blog – Pride and Prejudice

This past week, thousands upon thousands of people participated in the annual St. Petersburg Pride Celebration which culminated in a parade and a street festival.  Sleepy St. Pete has the largest Pride extravaganza in the southeastern United States.  This is something for our city to be PROUD of especially since Florida is not a liberal bastion like Massachusetts or California.  

Our church has supported the Pride initiative in St. Petersburg since its inception being one of the few churches to walk in the first Pride Promenade through the streets of Kenwood.  Lakewood UCC voted to become an Open and Affirming Church in 1998 intentionally welcoming people of all sexual identities into the full life of the church.  The UCC has been ordaining gay people since the 1970’s and supported the Supreme Court case which led to the legalization of gay marriage.  As a heterosexual, married woman and a mother, I am exceedingly proud to be part of this church!

As part of the Pride festivities this year, I attended the Interfaith Pride service at the First Presbyterian Church downtown.  The service was well planned and included leaders from differing faith traditions.  The music was lively and uplifting.  The speaker was from the Muslim religion and one of a handful of “out” gay imams in the world.  While there is great vigor for Pride in the Tampa Bay area, this service did not reflect that extensive support.  It was not very well attended.  And, if you think about it, that is really not surprising because there has been much religious condemnation of homosexuality and the diversity of sexual and gender expressions.    At the least, many religious settings have been subtly unwelcoming of sexual diversity.  I am from the Christian tradition and I know this to be true in Christianity.  I doubt if anyone reading this has escaped seeing images of supposed Christians preaching anti gay sentiments sealed with the threat of hell.  From friends and colleagues, I understand that these things also happen in other religious expressions.   

Before the Civil War, there were Christian abolitionists energetically trying to rid the country of the scourge of slavery.  BUT there were also Christians and not only in the South, that adeptly used scripture to defend slavery as God-ordained.  There were sermons upon sermons preached in sanctuaries on Sunday mornings declaring slavery to be the will of God;  a blessing even, not only for the slave owners but for the slaves themselves.  Yes, in churches on Sunday morning, in worship, this was proclaimed in the name of God.  

To Christians in the US who go to church today, that is unimaginable.  It was a heinous misuse of scripture and tradition and authority.  We know that now.  We see it.  The church was wrong.  And many denominations and expressions of Christianity in the US in recent decades have repented of those sins.  There has been acknowledgement that defending slavery in the context of the Christian church was wrong.  The church let human prejudice poison its message.  

Churches that decry homosexuality today, churches that name homosexuality a sin, are wrong about this just like the churches that defended slavery.   And the time will come when this will be acknowledged and recognized and there will be repentance.  The sooner the better!  

Happy PRIDE to one and all of the wonderfully diverse human beings created in the Divine Image!  

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Weekly Update 21 June

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, JUN 24 THIS SUNDAY:  This Sunday will honor the 61st anniversary of the United Church of Christ which is June 25. One characteristic of the UCC is that it is a “non creedal” church. Maybe you have noticed that the Nicene Creed, or the Apostle’s Creed, or other creeds are not regularly recited in church. What does this mean for the identity of the church? What does it mean for LUCC going forward?

Summer Sundays Services are more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time.

WED, JUN 20 WESTMINSTER SUNCOAST LUNCH: The next luncheon for residents of Westminster Shores and Suncoast will be Wednesday June 20th at 11:30 in the private dining room at Westminster Suncoast.
SUN, JUN 24 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: This potluck lunch will give the opportunity for fellowship and celebration of May and June birthdays. Dessert will be provided. Please bring other dishes to share. Many thanks to Earl Waters who will be the host for Sunday Celebrations in June. If you are able to help with clean up afterwards, please let Earl know.

Those who are involved in volunteering for Family Promise will sit together and hear updates about the program. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and helping homeless families with children become financially stable, please join in the conversation!

MAY-JUN THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Ministry items for months of May and June will benefit Covenant House Florida. The items being collected are as follows:

  • Travel or trial size hygiene supplies (e.g. shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste)
  • New or used bath towels
  • Notebooks, pens and pencils
In July Wally LeBlanc will bring these items  to Covenant House Florida shelters in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary where items may be placed. Thank you for all the donations thus far!
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

JUN 1-30 UCC GLOBAL MINISTRIES: Introducing the Global Ministries FESTIVAL OF STORIES! It’s happening during the month of June on various online platforms . Throughout the Festival of Stories, you’ll learn about how individuals and churches are supporting Global Ministries and international partners in unique ways. You’ll also have opportunities to share stories about how you and/or your congregation, region/conference are involved, too!
THU, JUN 21 INTERFAITH PRIDE SERVICE: Mark your calendars for June 21st at 7:00 PM for the interfaith pride service at First Presbyterian Church (701 Beach Dr NE). The Guest Speaker will be Imam Daayiee Abdullah, one of only 4 openly gay imams in the world.
FRI, JUN 22 WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Please save the date for this important event which will combine a citizenship ceremony of former refugees conducted by USCIS, voter registration drive, and a celebration of the contributions of refugees in our community. Pinellas Technical College (901 34th St. S) from 1 to 3:30pm Friday, 22 June. All are welcome.
WED, JUN 27 SOLAR CO_OP: There will be a St. Pete Solar Co-op Info Session on Wednesday, June 27 at 1:30pm at Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd N). If you live in south Pinellas County and want to go solar, now’s your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed a Solar Co-op with the help of the League of Women Voters, Solar United Neighbors of Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, and Suncoast Sierra Club. Co-ops make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. Learn about solar energy, as well as how co-op membership simplifies the process of going solar while providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power. RSVP here.
TUE, JUL 10 LGBTQ PROGRAMS: Teacher and children’s book author Rob Sanders will be featured in a pair of programs at the Gulfport Public Library (5501 28th Ave S) on Tuesday July 10th in which he will read from his new children’s book, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. The new book has already been praised by Publishers Weekly as a “poignant and uplifting biography.” There will be one afternoon program geared to children and their families from 4 – 5pm, as well as an evening program geared to adults from 7 – 8pm. Both programs are free and open to the public and all ages.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Summer Sundays church services. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez following Children’s Time. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

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Pax Christi Tampa Bay newsletter

Pax Christi Tampa Bay E-mail Newsletter

WEEKLY
ONGOING EVENTS

 MISSIO DEI SUNDAY DINNER:
Missio Dei
 is a
small church that meets in the refurbished corner of a warehouse at
1330
Burlington Avenue N.
 (map;
the entrance is on 2nd Avenue on the south side of the building.)
They serve a meal after their worship service.  The congregation is
largely homeless or precariously housed.

The
service begins at
5:30 PM; the dinner begins at 6:30.  For information
on how you can help prepare, serve, or financially support the meal, contact G.
W. Rolle at (727) 424-1088.

RESIST
TRUMP TUESDAYS AT SENATOR MARCO RUBIO’S NEW OFFICE
:
Indivisible
and other local activist groups gather outside Marco Rubio’s office in the
Sam M. Gibbons
U.S. Court House, 801 N. Florida Ave.
 in Tampa, FL 33602
(map).
The protest is
every Tuesday, 10:30-11:30 AM.  Bring
signs, or the Indivisible organizers can provide
them.  There is parking around the courthouse and the meters take credit
cards.  For more information (FMI):
sjstew@gte.net

WEEKLY
SARASOTA DEMONSTRATION
: Activists from Veterans for Peace and Manasota
Pax Christi, among other groups, will demonstrate for
peace through justice from
4:00-5:00 PM every Tuesday in downtown Sarasota along Bayfront Drive/N. Tamiami Trail near its intersection with Gulfstream
Drive
 (map).
The demonstration is south of Unconditional Surrender, the “kissing
statue.”  FMI: Russ at
Rjbannerusa@gmail.com 

NEW ITEM: WEEKLY POSTCARD
PARTY
: Join Indivisible FL-13 in
reaching out to Pinellas voters and promote voting by mail every Tuesday at
6:00 pm at Allendale United Methodist Church, 3803 Haines Rd. N. in St.
Petersburg, FL 33703.  For more information, or to help write postcards
from home, please email
info@indivisiblefl13.com for information.
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PEACE
FIRST
:
During
every
Wednesday in June,
Peace First activists will be at the corner of
38th Avenue and 4th Street North in St. Petersburg from 4:30-5:30 PM
(
map).
There are a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Publix and a Chase Bank at this
intersection. They will focus on gun violence and other issues, including
immigration.  Bring a sign, or they will provide one.

The group
eats at a restaurant in an “after party” following the
demonstration.   For more information (FMI):
SMcCown@tampabay.rr.com 

PEACE
MEDITATION
: Biweekly meditation for peace every other Wednesday at
7:00 PM  (
June 27) at Sacred Lands,
1620 Park Street N.
in St. Petersburg, Florida 33710-4348
For more information:
http://www.sacredlandspreservationandeducation.org/;
727-367-3592 or 347-0354

FRIDAY
NIGHT PICNIC ON THE PLAYGROUND IN ST. PETE
The Friday Night
Picnic
is
a potluck picnic for hungry people, most of whom are low income or experiencing
homelessness.  The picnic continues to need
potluck food,
beverages, picnic supplies, and volunteers.
The picnic, which serves over
100 people a week, is at
6:00 PM every Friday at the Unitarian
Universalist Church, 719 Arlington Avenue N.
at Mirror Lake Drive in downtown St.
Petersburg. 
FMI: http://uustpete.org/2014/09/17/friday-picnic-playground or
(
973)
768-3256
.

WEEKLY
BREAKFAST
: Loaves and
Fishes
is
a breakfast held at Trinity Lutheran Church on Saturday mornings. Volunteers
serve a full hot breakfast to over 150 people. The breakfast is held on
the third floor of
Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 4th Avenue North in St. Petersburg.  This is
the breakfast the Drag Queen Bingo supports.

The
breakfast runs from
7:30-10:30 AM, and volunteers can participate
with some or all of the breakfast.   Please contact Anita Podgwaite at (727) 565-8742 or G. W. Rolle
at (727) 424-1088 to help.

SINGLE
EVENTS

1.  Puerto Rican Father’s Day Food and
Music Celebration

 

Saturday, June 16 from 6:00-10:00 PM
Unitarian
Universalist Church of Clearwater, 2470 Nursery Road, Clearwater, FL 33764

Join
evacuees who left the devastation in Puerto Rico and are now living in Pinellas
County to celebrate Father’s Day with Puerto Rican food and music. Proceeds
from this family-friendly fundraiser will be used to build a Puerto Rican/hispanic cultural and service center in Pinellas
County. Featured vocalist will be “La Dama de la
CancionDulmary Sabater

Cost is
$10.00 per Person; under 12 accompanied by an adult is
free. Tickets and information are at
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/puerto-rican-flavor-savor-fathers-day-food-music-celebration-tickets-46609820227?aff=efbeventtix

 

2. School Board Candidate Forum

 

Saturday, June 16 from 12:00-2:00 PM

James B. Sanderlin Family Center
2335 22nd
Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Hear from
candidates for Pinellas County School Board — District 7 and At-Large. Bring
your questions for this moderated forum, which will be preceded by a short
business meeting of the South St. Petersburg Democratic Club.  Light
refreshments served.

 

3.
Drag
Queen
Bingo
Monday,
 June 18
6:00 PM

 

Hamburger
Mary’s

2901 Tyrone Blvd. N. in St Pete

Drag Queen Bingo will put the
“fun” in fundraising this
Monday, June 18 when
friends and supporters of Celebrate Outreach’s Saturday morning breakfast will
gather at
Hamburger Mary’s, 2901 Tyrone Blvd. N. in St
Pete
for
the third
Drag Queen Bingo to support
the breakfast.  Drag queen Alexis De La Mer will
call the game (motto: “This ain’t your Gramma’s bingo!”).  We guarantee food, friends, double
entendres, single entendres,
triple entendres, and a whole lot of fun. 

The Bingo last January raised enough money to finance the
breakfast for sixth months, and we hope to do the same this time. 

Bingo sheets are available for a $10.00 cash donation.
There will be gift bags for the winners.  There is a $10 minimum for food which can be paid by credit card.  The website
information for the bingo is
here

Seating is first come, first served, and
seats are already filling up.  
Call Hamburger Mary’s at (727)
851-9386 for reservations. 
The last Drag
Queen Bingo for the breakfast was a sellout
, so please call ASAP. The
restaurant will seat people from 5:30-6:30. Bingo starts at 7:00. 

 

4. St.
Pete Pride Festival

June 22-24

Celebrate
Florida’s largest LGBT Pride with events all weekend long.  
Website;
Facebook
page

 

 


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5. Summer
Film Series

 

7:00
PM

Unity
of Tampa Fellowship Hall

3302
West Horatio   Tampa FL 33609

The Bridge’s Summer Film Series does not just inform; each
film showing is followed by a discussion with local experts and advocates which
will empower the audience for action.  Each film is shown at 7:00 PM; a
donation of $7.00 is suggested for each showing.  A brief description of
each film is below; details are at http://www.thebridgetampa.com/images/stories/2015events/7th-SummerFilmSeries-2018.pdf
 

June 22nd
| Weather Gone Wild
 Portrayed in this film are
the ways in which communities all around the world (including Florida) are
changing in order to survive a world of superstorms.
It explores recent extreme weather events and the scientific projections of
what we can expect over the next few decades.

 


July 20th
| Mother Nature’s Child
 This film explores
nature’s powerful role in children’s health and development. It asks compelling
questions about what it means to educate the ‘whole’ child and depicts the
latest breakthroughs related to our relationships within the natural world
(also relevant to adults).

August 24th| Edible City A fast-paced journey
through the local Good Food Movement this film introduces us to extraordinary
people who are challenging the paradigm of our broken food system with
innovative approaches like edible education and grassroots activism building
the local economies.

6. Understanding One
Another – Finding Common Ground

Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Unity of Tampa, 3302 W Horatio St, Tampa, FL 33609

This is a
free three-hour workshop sponsored and presented by Better Angels with specific
focus on understanding one another beyond stereotypes and finding common
ground. The workshop will emphasize deep listening and learning rather
than declaring and debating. After a lunch local activists and decision-makers
will mingle to talk about what can be done to move forward to support climate
justice in our community. Trained facilitators will provide guidance for having
respectful conversations that clarify differences and search for common good.

Website
Facebook
Event Page



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7.  Soap and
Pizza: Laundry Love

Monday, June 25, 6:30-8:00 PM  

Coin
laundry at 365 8th St S, St Petersburg, Florida
 (map). 

Laundry Love
Projects
 are regular
opportunities to help financially struggling people do their laundry. There are
now over two hundred projects nationwide.

Locally, Laundry Love is sponsored by the Missio
Dei and takes place the last Monday of every month.  Organizers and their
supporters provide soap, coins and pizza for those washing their clothes.

Each
Laundry Love costs around $200.  FMI on how you or your group can support
and participate, contact G. W. Rolle at (727)
424-1088 or
gw@themissiodei.com 


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<![endif]>

 

8. St. Pete Solar Co-op Info Session

Wednesday, June 27, 1:30pm
Allendale
United Methodist Church, 3803 Haines Rd N.

St.
Petersburg, FL 33703

 

Neighbors across the area have formed
solar co-ops with the help of the League of Women Voters, Solar United
Neighbors of Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, and Suncoast
Sierra Club. Co-ops make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar
panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. Join this
session for people in southern Pinellas County to learn about solar energy, as
well as how co-op membership simplifies the process of going solar while
providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power.

RSVP
here

Facebook
event page

 

 

9. Just Faith: Changing People
to Change the World
 

 


JustFaith Ministries
 is an
organization created to invite and prepare people of faith for the
life-changing and world-changing call of the Gospel to help heal the world and,
in so doing, experience a deeper faith, a more fulfilling life, and a community
of care and vitality. Since 2001, over 50,000 people have completed a JustFaith Ministries program.   Over 90% of
participants say JustFaith has increased their
commitment to social justice and volunteerism.  JustFaith
changes people – and those people change the world.  

 

JustFaith’s
program
Just Matters consists
of modules that allow small faith communities to explore critical current
issues such as hunger, prison reform, migration, nonviolence, and
Christian-Muslim dialogue within a prayerful environment that invites personal
transformation.  Just Matters modules are eight weeks long.
Descriptions of the modules, with links to more information, are below.

Cultivating Nonviolence, Harvesting Peace –
This program invites small groups of Christian people to explore peace,
nonviolence and their roots in the radical, life-changing teachings of Jesus
Christ. 
Learn
more.

 

Exploring Migration:A
Faith Journey
 –  It explores some of the
central questions related to the reality of migration on a global level and in
the U.S. context. The sessions provide historical, biblical, and theological
perspectives and suggest ways participants can take action in their own
context.
Learn
more.  
 

 

 Hunger for Change –
This module explores the realities of food insecurity in the United States
and around the world. This is an 8-week, prayerful process that includes study,
rich dialogue, and an immersion experience. This process inspires participants
to take concrete action to end hunger. 
Learn
more.
 

 

Church of Second Chances – This
module will inspire and challenge participants through prayer and dialogue. By
looking through the eyes of those from inside the prison cell, both at our
world and back at ourselves, we can begin to expand our thinking about
prisoners and punishment and reform our hearts by God’s mercy. 

 Learn
more.
 

 

10. From Indivisible
FL-13:

&#x1f449;Pinellas
County Progressive Calendar

 

Resist Bot, fax your representatives via text message.
Text RESIST to 50409

 

&#x1f449;Fax
your congressperson for free at FaxZero.com

&#x1f449;Indivisible.org

&#x1f449;Indivisible435.org

&#x1f449;Register
to vote, vote by mail!
 

 


 

 

Florida
13 Congressperson Phone Numbers:


Senator Marco Rubio (R):
DC
(202)224-3041
Local (813)287-5035

Senator Nelson (D):
DC (202)224-5274   Local
(813)225-7040

Representative Charlie Crist (D):     DC (202)
225-5961  Local (888)205-5569

 


<![if !supportLineBreakNewLine]>
<![endif]>

 

11.  IF TRUMP FIRES MUELLER:  Indivisible
FL-13 will sponsor an emergency rally in 
Demen’s Landing, St Petersburg if President
Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller:

  • If Trump fires Mueller BEFORE 2:00 PM, meet at 5:00 PM
  • If Trump fires Mueller AFTER 2:00 PM, meet at NOON of following
    day.

Indivisible
FL-13 will send an email notification and post it on Twitter and Facebook.

Indivisible
FL-13 Contact Information:

Indivisible
FL-13 on Facebook

Indivisible
FL-13 on Twitter

Email
Indivisible FL-13 at info@indivisiblefl13.com

 

 

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Sermon 6.17.18 “Raising Fathers, Boys, and Men”

Scripture Lesson:  Mark 4:26-34                                                                               Pastor:  Rev. Kim P. Wells

Once there was a farmer who planted a crop of pumpkins.  Walking through the field when the pumpkins were just beginning to develop, the farmer noticed a glass gallon jug that had been tossed onto the field and was unbroken.  As an experiment, the farmer poked a very small pumpkin through the opening of the jug but was careful not to damage the vine.  

Months later, when the pumpkins had grown and were ready for harvesting, the farmer inspected the field and came across the glass jug.  This time, the jug was completely filled with a pumpkin.  The other pumpkins on the same vine were very large and well developed, but the one in the jug had not been able to grow any larger than the jug.  It was smaller than the other pumpkins.  Confined to its glass prison its growth and size were restricted.  [The Sower’s Seeds: 120 Inspiring Stories for  Preaching, Teaching and Public Speaking, Brian Cavanaugh]

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not easy raising fathers, boys, and men today.  For those of you who don’t know my situation, I am married to a man, and I have three children, two of them sons, ages 22 and 33.  Our sons outwardly discuss how they experience their place in society and the contrast between their situation and when their father or their grandfathers were their age.  They feel the losses that many men experience as society continues to change.  So I actually do have some intimate knowledge of this matter even though I am a woman.  

And there is something else I have noticed about the raising of fathers, boys, and men today.  Have you noticed, with all these mass shootings, seldom if ever are they perpetrated by, well, mothers, girls, or women.  Mass shootings are most often carried out by men.  Often young men.  Often white young men.  Have you noticed that?  It’s a hard time for some men these days.  There have been significant shifts in roles, mores, and power over just a generation or two.  And many fathers, boys, and men have been left reeling and some have lost their way.  

As gender roles have changed in recent decades, men have seen doors open to women.  Women have more job opportunities than they did.  They are in positions of greater power and authority than in generations past.  Women successfully pursue careers in business, technology, science, the arts, medicine, and many other areas.  Women now head hospitals and corporations.  And women even run for president.  

Many women see their opportunities increasing and doors opening though there is still gender bias in many forms in our culture.  But things seem to be getting better.  But are they getting better for men?  How do men perceive their situation?

Men’s roles are shifting.  Men have more jobs open to them, without stigma.  Men can be nurses and teachers and secretaries and this has become accepted.  It is even becoming socially acceptable for a man to be a stay-at-home dad.  Fathers regularly change diapers, take a child to school, go to the pediatrician.  This was not the case just a generation ago.  My husband remembers when we went together with one of our children to the pediatrician.  As we drove home, he said, Did you notice that the whole time we were in the examining room, the doctor spoke only to you, looked only at you, addressed himself completely to you as if I was not even in the room?  I hadn’t noticed.  But  I knew what he was talking about.  But that is far less likely to happen at the pediatrician today than 20 years ago.   

For generations, men have been extremely confined by societal expectations.  Men were to be the breadwinners for their families.  They were to take charge in every situation.  They were to hold their emotions in check – even when a child was killed, or a wife died.  Men didn’t cook at home unless it was on the barbecue.  They were to do the driving on a trip.  They were to follow sports and use tools like screwdrivers, drills, wrenches and saws.  They were to fix things.  There was a clear set of expectations for men.  And, for the most part, it did not include cooking, ironing, or doing the laundry.  And it did not include much in the way of caregiving.  It did not include many jobs and professions that were considered women’s work.  I grew up in a fairly liberated household with two working parents, an anomaly in our social milieu where most families had a stay-at-home mom.  My dad was a feminist.  And while he was a great typist, thanks to the army, I’m not sure he knew how to operate the washer though I think he knew how to iron.  

There has been a lot of pressure on men to behave in certain ways, adopt certain attitudes, and achieve certain competencies.   Along with this, they could also expect to receive certain privileges, to assume dominant roles, to be cut certain breaks, to garner a certain measure of respect, and to have certain access to positions of power.  

But in their own way, these societal expectations of men restricted men.  It was as if men were put in the glass jug like the pumpkin, restricting growth.  Women were also put in a jug, a smaller jug, also restricted and confined.

In recent decades, the liberation movement has sought to remove these socially constructed barriers that have limited fathers, boys, and men as well as mothers, girls, and women.  While most women see the benefits of removing the restrictions, this is not always as evident to men.  Many men don’t see the changes in society as doors opening to them.  They don’t see that their options are increasing; that they have more choices, that some of the expectations placed upon men that were burdensome are being lifted.  They may not see that in some significant ways they are under less pressure than in the past.  We don’t see society or the church, really, celebrating the increasing freedom and liberation of men.  Instead of seeing how things are getting better and what they are receiving as society becomes more free, many fathers, boys, and men perceive that they are losing something, that something is being taken away from them.  And it is.  The bottle that was confining them is being taken away.  And for some men, that is producing resentment, fear and anger.  They no longer know where they fit in.  They don’t feel they belong.  They don’t know how to grow freely.  They aren’t prepared for full maturity.  

In the scripture we heard this morning, we see Jesus undermining typically held assumptions.   The story about the mustard seed is about a small seed that grows into a large bush.  But it is also a comment on the Hebrew Bible’s use of the imagery of tall, majestic trees, like the cedars of Lebanon, as an image of God’s favor and blessing.  

In the Hebrew Testament, the image of the towering tree is used for large, flourishing empires.  It is used in reference to strong, dominating kings.  It is used as a way to refer to power arrangements, nations, and rulers that are considered to be blessed by an all-powerful God.  

That’s the kind of greatness people are used to hearing about and used to associating with God in Jesus’ day and often today as well.  And in the parable we heard this morning, Jesus talks about faith using the image of a bush, suggesting the image of a bush as symbol of great faith and favor and blessing from God.  And this bush is not tall and straight and towering (and phallic?).   It is low to the ground and spreading and it provides shade, shelter, and nesting space for birds and other critters.  And this plant is used in cooking not for building great temples and palaces.  The mustard seed produces a plant associated with nurture not dominance, empire, or machismo.  This story involves the intentional subversion of commonly held notions associating God with certain kinds of power.  We still need to hear that today.  

We also heard the story of the sowing of the seed.  After the farmer sows the seed, what does the farmer do?  Nothing.  The farmer sleeps and wakes and sleeps and wakes.  And while the farmer is doing that, the seed is sprouting and growing; “first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain” until the harvest is ready.  Then the farmer is back on duty.  Well, no actual agricultural worker will last taking that approach.  But parables are meant to use everyday images to offer new insight, to surprise, to illumine.  In this parable, the seed that is sown is associated with the realm of God, the dreams of God, the intentions of Divine Love.  And these seeds grow.  They progress.  They come to maturity.  And then all enjoy the harvest.

In this story, we can see a way of looking our situation today.  The way of Divine Love has been planted, sown, it is present though at times it may seem inconspicuous.  And that seed is growing.  The greater freedom and dignity of women and men are evidence.  But sometimes we humans do things to limit and restrict that growth.  Still the seed has been sown. It is there.  And the growth proceeds.  It may be mysterious and inexplicable.  We may not see a blueprint.  The growth may challenge us.  But the Divine commonwealth continues to grow, to become more evident, to mature.  It cannot be thwarted.  There will be a vast harvest.

The seeds of Divine Love will grow to full maturity. They will produce a human community characterized by dignity and respect for all life and for the cosmos that sustains life.  The seeds will grow communities of justice, peace, and creativity.  They will grow communities of acceptance, choice, and self-determination .  Essentially, the seeds of the way of Love will produce communities that are truly free – characterized by freedom from want, hunger, poverty, abuse, violence, fear and domination;  communities embracing freedom of expression and self determination.  The seeds that have been sown will yield the way of full humanity.  

Given the past, maybe one message we need to hear is that sometimes we need to get out of the way because well-intentioned as we may be, sometimes we are creating obstacles and restrictions to the growing of seeds of Divine Love even in the church.   Sometimes our humanly conceived machinations and constructs get in the way of growth.

Seeds buried by a squirrel in the Ice Age 32,000 years ago, found 128 feet below the permafrost have germinated and produced flowering plants.  [https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/02/120221-oldest-seeds-regenerated-plants-science/]  On the space station, seeds have grown zinnias in zero gravity.  Seeds are life.  The seeds of Divine love and community that have been planted will grow.  They cannot be stopped.  Wonderful fathers, boys, and men will be raised.  And all of humanity as well as all of Creation will flourish.  Amen.  

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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UCC leaders: Keep Families Together!

A message from the National Officers of the United Church of Christ and the Council of Conference Ministers of the United Church of Christ:

We must resist the evil of dehumanization enacted upon the vulnerable among us. The United Church of Christ strongly condemns the dismantling of families, the criminalization of the quest for freedom, and the caging of those whose only crime is to seek shelter from harm. How we treat those who seek shelter in our midst is a direct reflection of how we treat God. We call upon our 5,000 member churches to write letters to your representatives in Congress as an act of worship this month. Refugee Justice Sunday is June 17, World Refugee Day is June 20. Remind Congress there is a law that supersedes partisanship and political bantering, and that is the sanctity of all people of God.

Call on Congress to Keep Families Together! Use this link.

Donate, designating your gift to Keep Families Together here. 

Learn what the Bible has to say about how to treat immigrants and refugees here.

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50th Anniversary Timeline of the Future

As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Lakewood UCC this past year, the congregation was invited to write down their hopes for the next 50 years of Lakewood:

Peace and harmony
Prosperity
Increasing the number of youth
Increased racial diversity
Caring
Let the 3rd way guide us on our journey through life
Boycott Wendy’s
Open and honest
Become a community leader promoting environmental justice
Continued growth with youth involvement
Working to overcome racism
Diversity
No one died because of random violence
Familia
Accepting
Freedom from the financial burdens of a capitalist economy
A visible active leadership in actions for justice
Continue light of inclusive love
Peace
Off the grid
Influencing the community
A leader of other UCC churches
Continue to promote peace, love, and happiness
A church orchestra
That we continue to live out our mission statement in ways that speak to the emerging realities of our future
No one died of gun violence
Greater economic diversity
Grace, happiness, goodwill
More anniversaries
Lead the city in bridging the racial divide and dismantling white privilege
Peace

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Pictures of Gun Violence Die-In Protest at Marco Rubio’s Tampa Office

On Tuesday June 12, Earl Waters and Rev. Kim Wells participated in the “Die In” in front of Marco Rubio’s office in the federal court house in Tampa.

Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths.

Rubio is one of the top 10 career recipients of NRA funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members. The New York Times estimates the NRA has spent $3,303,355 to support Rubio.

The demonstration in front of Rubio’s Tampa office included about 30 people most of whom were teenagers. In addition to signs and chants, the event included thoughtful remarks from several of the high school students.

The event was held on the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Participants in the “Die In” were invited to lay down on the sidewalk, as if they had been shot, for 12 minutes. Those who did not lie down carried signs for the benefit of passing cars.

 

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Weekly Update 14 June

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, JUN 17 THIS SUNDAY:  The Father’s Day service includes the opportunity to for the naming of those who have been father figures. This Sunday provides a time to think about the nurturing and cultivating of boys and men in our society. Take a look at Mark 4:26-34.

Summer Sundays Services are more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time.

THU, JUN 19 SINGING: Anyone interested in singing in the Interfaith Pride Service (7:00pm on June 21st at First Presbyterian Church) should go to the “y’all come sing” rehearsal in their choir room on Tuesday, June 19th at 7:00pm (701 Beach Dr NE).
SUN, JUN 24 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: This potluck lunch will give the opportunity for fellowship and celebration of May and June birthdays. Dessert will be provided. Please bring other dishes to share. Many thanks to Earl Waters who will be the host for Sunday Celebrations in June. Those who are involved in volunteering for Family Promise will sit together and hear updates about the program. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and helping homeless families with children become financially stable, please join in the conversation!
MAY-JUN THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Ministry items for months of May and June will benefit Covenant House Florida. The items being collected are as follows:

  • Travel or trial size hygiene supplies (e.g. shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste)
  • New or used bath towels
  • Notebooks, pens and pencils
In July Wally LeBlanc will bring these items  to Covenant House Florida shelters in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary where items may be placed. Thank you for all the donations thus far!
ROOF UPDATE: LUCC has a beautiful new roof! Many thanks to all those who contributed to this effort, especially the anonymous donor who inspired the congregation’s generosity.
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

JUN 1-30 UCC GLOBAL MINISTRIES: Introducing the Global Ministries FESTIVAL OF STORIES! It’s happening during the month of June on various online platforms . Throughout the Festival of Stories, you’ll learn about how individuals and churches are supporting Global Ministries and international partners in unique ways. You’ll also have opportunities to share stories about how you and/or your congregation, region/conference are involved, too!
THU, JUN 14 LGBTQ FILM: Join the Gulfport Public Library for a special viewing of “Reel in the Closet.” This film was created by Filmmaker Stu Maddux who reveals a treasure trove of rare home movies made by gay people – some dating back to the 1920s – that have long languished in the backs of people’s closets. This free screening starts at 7pm today (June 14th) at Gulfport Public Library (5501 28th Ave S).
SAT, JUN 16 RAPID RESPONSE TRAINING: Alarming headlines week after week remind us of the current unstable political climate, and the upcoming midterm elections have the potential to be one of the most transformation elections ever for Florida. We need to be an active force for positive change now more than ever. Equality Florida and Planned Parenthood are partnering to hold Rapid Response Corps boot camps across Florida to prepare our supporters to engage on critical issues that intersect with access to safe and legal abortion, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ equality. This training event will include a legislative update from our staff and partners, a space for questions, and a comprehensive volunteer training. Each attendee will walk away with an action plan that they can use to make their local community and the state of Florida safer and more inclusive. Saturday, June 16 from 9:00am – 1:00pm in St. Petersburg, FL. Register here.
THU, JUN 21 INTERFAITH PRIDE SERVICE: Mark your calendars for June 21st at 7:00 PM for the interfaith pride service at First Presbyterian Church (701 Beach Dr NE). The Guest Speaker will be Imam Daayiee Abdullah, one of only 4 openly gay imams in the world.
FRI, JUN 22 WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Please save the date for this important event which will combine a citizenship ceremony of former refugees conducted by USCIS, voter registration drive, and a celebration of the contributions of refugees in our community. Pinellas Technical College (901 34th St. S) from 1 to 3:30pm Friday, 22 June. All are welcome.
WED, JUN 27 SOLAR CO_OP: There will be a St. Pete Solar Co-op Info Session on Wednesday, June 27 at 1:30pm at Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd N). If you live in south Pinellas County and want to go solar, now’s your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed a Solar Co-op with the help of the League of Women Voters, Solar United Neighbors of Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, and Suncoast Sierra Club. Co-ops make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. Learn about solar energy, as well as how co-op membership simplifies the process of going solar while providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power. RSVP here.
TUE, JUL 10 LGBTQ PROGRAMS: Teacher and children’s book author Rob Sanders will be featured in a pair of programs at the Gulfport Public Library (5501 28th Ave S) on Tuesday July 10th in which he will read from his new children’s book, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. The new book has already been praised by Publishers Weekly as a “poignant and uplifting biography.” There will be one afternoon program geared to children and their families from 4 – 5pm, as well as an evening program geared to adults from 7 – 8pm. Both programs are free and open to the public and all ages.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Summer Sundays church services. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez following Children’s Time. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Family and friends of Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Shirley Locke,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Willy Zessoules

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Weekly Update 7 June

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, JUN 10 THIS SUNDAY: Genesis chapter 3 invites reflection about original sin.  Is the serpent guilty?  Are our eyes opened?  Come be part of exploring this foundational story of our faith. Summer Sunday services are more informal and relaxed and include the singing of favorite hymns suggested by the congregation. Children will attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time.
MON, JUN 11 IN MEMORIAM:  Betty Harris of the LUCC congregation and a resident of Westminster Suncoast died Sunday June 3rd.  Sincere sympathy is expressed to her family and friends. Services for Betty Harris will be held on Monday June 11 at the Hiers-Baxley Funeral Home, 910 E. Silver Springs Blvd in Ocala.  There will be a viewing from 10-11am and a service at 11:00 followed by burial in the Bushnell Cemetery. Rev. Wells will be officiating.
SAT, JUN 9 YARD SALE: New Philadelphia Ministries will hold their annual yard sale from 8am to 2pm on LUCC church grounds Saturday, June 9th. Proceeds go to fund their various mission projects.
THU, JUN 19 SINGING: Anyone interested in singing in the Interfaith Pride Service (7:00pm on June 21st at First Presbyterian Church) should go to the “y’all come sing” rehearsal in their choir room on Tuesday, June 19th at 7:00pm (701 Beach Dr NE).
SUN, JUN 24 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: The next Sunday celebrations will be held in June. This potluck lunch will give the opportunity for fellowship and celebration of May and June birthdays.
MAY-JUN THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Ministry items for months of May and June will benefit Covenant House Florida. The items being collected are as follows:

  • Travel or trial size hygiene supplies (e.g. shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste)
  • New or used bath towels
  • Notebooks, pens and pencils
In July Wally LeBlanc will bring these items  to Covenant House Florida shelters in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary where items may be placed. Thank you for all the donations thus far!
ROOF UPDATE: Roof work has begun!

NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.
SPECIAL VISITORS: An update on the mockingbird nest in the bush in front of the church office – the babies are getting bigger and keeping mom very busy!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

SCHOOL SHOOTER VIDEO GAME PETITION: Valve Corporation of Bellevue is planning to launch a video game on June 6 that is a school shooting simulator. This is horrific. Let the company know you think it’s wrong for them to profit from turning tragedy into entertainment and profit this way by signing this online petition.
JUN 1-30 UCC GLOBAL MINISTRIES: Introducing the Global Ministries FESTIVAL OF STORIES! It’s happening during the month of June on various online platforms . Throughout the Festival of Stories, you’ll learn about how individuals and churches are supporting Global Ministries and international partners in unique ways. You’ll also have opportunities to share stories about how you and/or your congregation, region/conference are involved, too!
FRI, JUN 8 WORLD OCEAN DAY: A free, family-friendly waterfront festival and celebration of the waters in and around Tampa Bay on Friday June 8th from 5 to 9pm at the Marine Exploration Center (250 8th Ave SE).
FRI, JUN 8 FILM: Celebrate World Oceans Day with the Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition by the pool with the documentary film Straws highlighting the threat of single use plastics to the oceans. Friday, June 8th from 8 to 10pm at the downtown Hyatt (25 2nd St. N).
SAT, JUN 9 FILM: The Coral Reef Research Group will screen the documentary Chasing Coral on Saturday June 9th at 2pm at the PMFWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (100 8th Ave SE). This film will be followed by a Q&A session about Florida’s reefs with biologists from FWC, NOAA and USGS.
MON, JUN 11 POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN: Join Fight for 15 Florida for a trip to Tallahassee to stand in solidarity with the Poor People’s Campaign on Monday June 11th. Reserve your seat here. Please keep Rose Robie and the others from St. Petersburg who have gone to Washington for the Poor People’s March in your prayers. They were so grateful for the financial support that the church provided. When she returns, Rose will share about her experience with the congregation.
TUE, JUN 12 DIE-IN: Keep the movement for common sense gun laws going; join March for Our Lives Tampa Bay at Marco Rubio’s office (801 N Florida Ave, Tampa) from 11am to 1pm for National Die In Day June 12th. For more information visit facebook.
TUE, JUN 12 RAPID RESPONSE TRAINING: Alarming headlines week after week remind us of the current unstable political climate, and the upcoming midterm elections have the potential to be one of the most transformation elections ever for Florida. We need to be an active force for positive change now more than ever. Equality Florida and Planned Parenthood are partnering to hold Rapid Response Corps boot camps across Florida to prepare our supporters to engage on critical issues that intersect with access to safe and legal abortion, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ equality. This training event will include a legislative update from our staff and partners, a space for questions, and a comprehensive volunteer training. Each attendee will walk away with an action plan that they can use to make their local community and the state of Florida safer and more inclusive. Saturday, June 16 from 9:00AM – 1:00PM in St. Petersburg, FL. Register here.
THU, JUN 21 INTERFAITH PRIDE SERVICE: Mark your calendars for June 21st at 7:00 PM for the interfaith pride service at First Presbyterian Church (701 Beach Dr NE). The Guest Speaker will be Imam Daayiee Abdullah, one of only 4 openly gay imams in the world.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Summer Sundays church services. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez following Children’s Time. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

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Sermon June 3, 2018 “Mother’s Milk”

Scripture Lesson: Psalm 138
Sermon: Mother’s Milk
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Sure we have a good life. Most of us have plenty of food to eat and a safe place to live. Many of us have adequate access to health care. We have friends and family to love. There is awe and delight in every day for many of us. We have blessings to count and we know it.

But still, these are trying times by most people’s standards. You can hardly have a conversation with anyone without some hot button issue coming up: Rosanne. The Mueller investigation. Gaza. Korea. Trade wars. #metoo. School shootings. Immigration. Puerto Rico. All of this with a backdrop of increasing income inequality, a health care crisis, never-ending wars, and environmental problems. It can seem like we are under assault. Being continuously re-traumatized.

In these times it is important to cultivate and nurture compassion, reconciliation, and courage. This is a time for fierce, tenacious, healing love. Oh Jesus, how we need you now. How we need your model of just that kind of loving. Strong. Honest. Bold. Gentle.

In the past couple of weeks people in the church have expressed gratitude for the ministry of the church; for the support and inspiration they’ve received from this faith community. Twice the expressions of gratitude noted how extraordinary this is. How special. How notable. Really? To me it seems like we are simply doing what we have always done. Trying to be a church. A faithful part of the body of Christ. A supportive, loving community. Why does that seem extraordinary? I think it is because things in the public realm have become so charged. So uncivil. So coarse. So mean-spirited. The “outside” has changed, and so the church, which I think has pretty much stayed the same, seems much more loving and kind. And, of course, that is how the church should be.

We need our religion, our spiritual path, now more than ever to help us to stay grounded in compassion, love, justice, and reconciliation. We need the church to help us to stay kind and courageous. We need our faith community to help us to resist sinking to the ways of many around us, sad to say, the ways of many in leadership in this country. It is a time to band together and stay strong and loving. There is that beautiful verse in the Psalm that we read: “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” Oh how we need our faith to help us stay strong and courageous and grounded in love. We need our faith to nourish us, to feed us, to keep us healthy, and to help us grow as we journey through life never knowing what lies ahead.

Now, in the realm of life science and biology, one of the most nourishing, sustaining substances we know about is breast milk. In recent years, studies by evolutionary biologists, dairy scientists, microbiologists, anthropologists, and food chemists have uncovered amazing information about human breast milk. Breast milk has proteins, fats, carbohydrates, nutrients, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamins A, C, and E, and long chain fatty acids that provide omega 3’s. Sounds like a liquid multi vitamin!

And there are microbes in breast milk; it is not sterile and these bacteria aid the baby’s digestion. Breast milk also has 150 oligosaccharides. These are complex sugars unique to breast milk that cannot be digested by the baby. They are to feed the microbes in the baby’s digestive system. So the milk feeds the baby and the good bacteria in the baby’s gut. Pretty amazing!

Breast milk has all the nutrients that a baby needs for the first six months of life and added to that are germ and disease fighting substances that protect the baby from getting sick. Breast milk is amazing for promoting health. And on top of all that, apparently, the taste of the milk changes according to what the mother has eaten. It’s not just the same flavor day after day after day. How perfect is that?

Breast milk also has pluripotent stem cells. These can form more that 200 different kinds of cells found in the human body. So breast milk has huge potential for regenerative medicine.

Now all of that seems pretty incredible, doesn’t it? But here is what I think is the most amazing characteristic of breast milk. The composition of the nutrients and disease fighting elements of the milk change. Daily. Every day the make up of the milk changes to meet the baby’s need at the moment. And the hormones in the milk change during night and daylight hours to promote sleep or activity depending on the time of day. So there is night milk and day milk each with different hormones. Breast milk is constantly changing according to the infant’s needs. How incredible is that?

And how does this happen? Well, here’s where we get a little graphic so bear with me. Apparently, when the baby sucks a vacuum is created. The milk comes out. But it has been discovered that saliva from the baby’s mouth gets sucked into the mother’s nipple. Basically, think back wash. And there are receptors in the mammary glands that adjust the milk depending on what is in the saliva. So if the saliva includes indication of a sickness of some kind, the mother’s body sends the antibodies needed by the baby through the milk. Now that is awesome in my book. You can read all about this in Angela Garbes new book, Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, or in the article that she wrote for The Stranger in 2015. [“The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am,” https://www.thestranger.com/features/feature/2015/08/26/22755273/the-more-i-learn-about-breast-milk-the-more-amazed-i-am]

Now you may be wondering why in heaven’s name we are discussing human breast milk of all things. Well, we are talking about how we need our faith to stay strong and grounded in love and goodness. How we need our faith to keep us healthy. I think that Christian spirituality, faith, religion, and certainly the way of Jesus, work kind of like breast milk. I think that we can find in our faith whatever it is that we need for any given moment, any circumstance, any issue, any problem, and any challenge. I don’t think ours is a religion that only addresses one problem or issue. I think our faith tradition has lots of teachings and traditions and expressions that meet us where we are and help us to find our way so that we stay rooted in universal, unconditional love for ourselves, for others, and for the world. Our faith gives us the strength to respect the fundamental dignity of every human being – even if they have done something terrible; even if we disagree with them; even if we find them hateful and harmful. Our faith gives us the strength to love. What we need at any given moment to sustain our love, courage, and compassion is offered to us by our faith tradition. Just like an infant, at different times in our lives, we need different things. And the way of Jesus offers us what we need. Whatever that may be. We have but to take it.

In today’s world, a time of drastic change, including of changing theologies, some Christians embrace the concept of a theistic God, a spirit God, alive and active in the world. Our faith tradition helps us to draw upon that image of God for strength, forgiveness, and love. The teachings of Jesus speak to those rooted in that kind of faith. There is a source of strength for the living of these
challenging days.

Some Christians today embrace a concept of a non-theistic God. This is an image of God as ground of being, love, unity, a concept of cohesion and interconnectedness. And there is much in our tradition to offer strength, wisdom, and guidance, for people rooted in that kind of image of God.

Some Christians don’t really care to concern themselves with doctrine and theology about things like whether Jesus is God and whether there is life after death, etc. They find their roots in the ethical, wisdom teachings of Jesus. Ok. For those Christians, again, there is sustaining food and nourishment for staying rooted in love and facing the many issues of our times and the challenges of life’s journey.

We know that throughout our lives, we need different things from our faith, depending on the times, depending on what is going on in our lives, and we are part of a faith tradition that speaks to us, that meets our needs, that offers us sustenance and health in all circumstances.

The world is changing around us, there are new developments everyday that confront us with racism, sexism, oppression, greed, callousness, and violence. New technologies present new ethical challenges and issues. We face health concerns; physical health concerns, mental health problems, addiction. We must come to terms with our mortality. Our families face problems. Our relationships change. Abilities change. Geography changes. We must deal with life decisions and transitions day after day.

We are in a constant dynamic state. Our lives and the world around us are in continuous flux. And like the breast milk that adjusts to the needs of the infant at the moment, so our faith will speak to us in the ways that we need to stay strong and grounded in compassion and love. We want to be open to receive what we are being given.

The psalmist celebrates, “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” We can count on our faith, on the way of Jesus, on the teachings of the Bible, on the wisdom of the ages, on the messages that come to us from countless sources, to increase our strength of soul wherever we are on the journey so that we might be agents of goodness and compassion in this ever-changing world. The strength we need will come tailored to our situation. It will be just right for our circumstances. Designed to promote our growth as we seek to serve the world. And it may even come in a way that offers pleasure, awe, and delight. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Festival of Stories

 

 

 

 

Introducing the Global Ministries FESTIVAL OF STORIES! It’s happening during the month of June on various online platforms. Throughout the Festival of Stories, you’ll learn about how individuals and churches are supporting Global Ministries and international partners in unique ways. You’ll also have opportunities to share stories about how you and/or your congregation, region/conference are involved, too!

Stories will be shared in the following ways:
• Through the Global Ministries website where there are already some great stories from people like you. Check it out!
• Through Facebook and Twitter with special opportunities to share YOUR stories.
• Through Instagram (@globalministries) and Snapchat (globalminuccdoc) with opportunities to hear from Global Ministries supporters from all over the USA and Canada.

We are excited to see what stories we will tell together over the next month!

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Lakewood UCC parishioner’s letter to Tampabay Times

Lakewood UCC parishioner, Earl Water, recently had his letter to the editor of the Tampabay Times published. Below, is a scan of that letter.

Text of graphic:

TRUMP SHOWS TRUE COLORS
Congratulations, Mr. President. Your comments on players kneeling at NFL games are honest and open.
By saying that players should not be on the field if they are not standing and that they should not be in this country, you make it clear that you are an unapologetic racist. You suggest (not in so many words but clearly) that they should be sent back to Africa.
I condemn your comments but salute your open honesty regarding your disgusting attitude toward those different from you. We are, in fact, all members of the same race: human.
Earl Waters, St. Petersburg

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Sermon 5.27.18 Memorial Day

Scripture Lesson: Matthew 2:1-12
Sermon: Looking to the Stars
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

It was the last Christmas of the 20th century and the space shuttle was in orbit. At the transition to a new century, Commander Curt Brown delivered this message from the shuttle to Earth:

“The familiar Christmas story reminds us that for millennia people of many faiths and cultures have looked to the skies and studied the stars and planets in their search for a deeper understanding of life and for greater wisdom. We hope and trust that the lessons the universe has to teach us will speak to the yearning that we know is in human hearts everywhere. The yearning for peace on Earth good will among all the human family. As we stand at the threshold of a new millennium we send you all our greetings.” [Quoted in Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, Scott Kelly, chapter 12]

From the stars, from the heavens, from space, come messages of peace. It is a universal human longing. We see this in our beloved stories of Christmas. We celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace. We revere the story of Jesus as one who is coming to Earth from heaven to bring peace. We have the beautiful story of the magi that was read this morning; these astrologers, philosophers, astronomers, from a distant land, a foreign culture, following a star, in a search for wisdom and understanding, in a quest for peace. These wise ones are led by the heavens in their search. The trek is well worth the cost, the inconvenience, the financial burden, the hardship, because it is in the interests of peace. Peace is worth the price as we will later learn from Jesus as he makes his sacrifice.

But the dearly beloved story of the magi and their journey following the star is not just a romanticized fantasy. In their search for the Prince of Peace, these wise ones encounter Herod. They come face to face with a leader who is filled with “warring madness.” Herod is a violent, tyrannical despot. He has killed his own family members to protect his power and position. Herod will not tolerate any threat and will stop at nothing to maintain his control and authority. Intimidation, fear, violence, and death, these are the tools he uses to reign. We are told that he orders the killing of all young boys in an effort to eradicate this new baby king who is a potential future rival. So the magi are faced with conflict and violence as they make their way to peace.

The magi follow the star, the leading of the heavens, their dreams, and steer their way between love and fear, war and peace, as they navigate past Herod to the Divine peace symbolized in the birth of Jesus. Then they go home another way. They avoid Herod; they steer clear of confrontation and violence. They choose another way; a way of peace.

Memorial Day, as we remember those who have served our country, is a time to think about how we are navigating our way to peace in our time. Those who have served in the military and who have been killed in armed conflict have given their lives in the pursuit of peace – for their families, their communities, our country, and the world. This is the honorable basis for military service.

So the most reverential way we can honor those who have served is by working for the peace. Memorial Day is a time to think about how we navigate to the destination of peace on Earth in a culture that is wracked with violence and pursuing endless wars. It is a time to think about what stars are guiding us, what stars we are following, and where they are leading us.

In today’s world, so many lives and resources are devoted to war and to violent resolution of differences. What other species devotes such resources to destruction, to death? What other species diverts so much energy away from what fosters life to what destroys life?

We mere mortals here on Earth seem so bent on pursuing war. The US is involved in armed conflict in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and Syria. Pursuing these wars is costing lives and resources; resources that could be used to building up this country and the quality of life for all of its citizens. We are all suffering the effects of these endless wars in many ways though we may not feel directly involved with, say, a loved one serving abroad in the armed services. Still we are involved. And we are being affected by the government’s pursuit of war. This contributes to reduced funding for education, healthcare, sustainable energy, the arts, infrastructure, and so much more. Our society as a whole is suffering the effects of prolonged armed conflict.

In addition, we project destruction, violence and war into space through our entertainment. The Star Wars, get that Star Wars, franchise is one of the most valuable entertainment franchises in existence. There are many instances in which we have projected the concept of war into space in our entertainment. This is a symptom of our captivation and some say addiction to war.

And we project our very real, earthly conflicts onto space. US astronaut Scott Kelly recently spent a year in space on the International Space Station. He recounts his experiences in the book, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery. While on the International Space Station, the US astronauts were asked to participate in a hearing with a congressional committee about the funding of the space program. The crew told of bio medical experiments and growing lettuce. Then they were asked about Russia. The US and Russia were in a difficult geo-political situation. Were the American astronauts sharing data with the Russians on the space station? Kelly told the committee that international cooperation was one of the strengths of the space station. He mentioned that when he was the only American on the space station, the counted on the two Russians. “We have a great relationship and I think the international aspect of this program has been one of its highlights.” [Endurance, chapter 17]

While conflicts brew and boil on Earth, astronauts tell us that space is very peaceful. The view of the Bahamas is gorgeous. From space, Earth looks beautiful and peaceful. In addition, the International Space Station involves many people from many countries working together. The countries may not be getting along on Earth but they work together in space. The astronauts all cooperate beautifully in space. They must. They know that their survival depends on their cooperation. I’m wondering when we will learn that lesson on Earth. On the space station, there is commitment to a higher goal, a nobler aim. With the space station there is no room, no literally or figuratively, for disagreement, competition, domination, or hostility. The enterprise can only succeed if the astronauts as well as all of those involved on the ground fully cooperate with each other. And everyone involved knows this.

Though I do not have much interest in space exploration, unlike like my husband who minored in astronomy and teaches physics, I do love the international cooperation that happens on the space station and in conjunction with the space program. It is an encouraging model for what can happen on Earth.

In the story of the magi, they find the baby Jesus, bring him gifts, worship him, and head home. They must decide how they will proceed. Are they going to go back to Herod and risk possible involvement in conflict and violence or will they go home another way, a peaceful way? Will they risk taking a new route, through unfamiliar territory, in pursuit of peace? Yes. That is what they choose.

We, too, have encountered Jesus. We know him through his teachings and the stories of his followers. We know him through our experience and through the church. In Jesus, we see the way of peace. It is a lifestyle of generosity and self giving. It is an orientation of humility and meekness. It is a way of strength through gentleness. It is a way of peace that steers us away from competition, from greed, from conflict, from violence, from domination, and away from the intimidation and fear that lead to armed conflict and war and death. Not peace. Having encountered Jesus, like the star that leads the magi, we are being led to proceed on the path to peace. And, yes, it can be very difficult. And it can require sacrifice.

After spending a full year on the International Space Station, US Astronaut Scott Kelly boarded the Russian Soyuz to return to Earth. His last view of the space station as he departed prompted these reflections:

The International Space Station is “the work of 15 different nations over 18 years. Thousands of people speaking differing languages and using different engineering methods and standards. . . In a world of compromise and uncertainty this space station is a triumph of engineering and cooperation. Putting it into orbit, making it work, and keeping it working is the hardest thing that human beings have ever done. And it stands as proof that when we set our minds to something hard, when we work together, we can do anything including solving our problems here on Earth. I also know that if we want to go to Mars it will be very, very difficult. It will cost a great deal of money. And it may cost human lives. But I know now that if we decide to do it, we can.” This is how Kelly ends his book, Endurance, about his year in space.

May we look to the stars, the stars in space, the stars on our US flag, the stars of our faith tradition, and decide to create peace on Earth. Yes, it will be very, very difficult. It may cost a great deal of money. And it may cost human lives. But if we decide to do it, we can. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Sermon 5.20.18 Pentecost

Scripture Lesson: Acts 2:1-21
Sermon: Have You Heard the Good News?
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells and congregation

Maybe you were among the hoards that thronged MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for the airshow recently. The newspaper says upwards of 150,000 people attended, or tried to attend, the air show. That’s the equivalent of over half the population of St. Petersburg. Can you imagine that many people all together in one place for one event? Pretty crazy! Yes, there were traffic issues, but otherwise, things seemed to go pretty smoothly.

And why did people go to the airshow? Probably many reasons. I did not personally attend so here I am definitely speculating. I imagine there are folks that celebrate the technology and speed. And folks that glorify the military. And folks that like to see what their tax dollar, actually tax dollars, many, many of them, are doing. There may be people who went to be with their friends that wanted to go. And people who had nothing else to do so went to avoid boredom. Some people just like a parade, so to speak. Along with many reasons for showing up in the MacDill vicinity last weekend, I am sure there were many kinds of people who attended the event. A wide range of people. A diverse population.

In the story of Pentecost, we are told of a festival, a large public event, a harvest festival. And people have come from many places and backgrounds and circumstances to give thanks for the harvest. Well, everyone needs food. . . Among those at this festival are friends and followers of Jesus. They are still confused and scared after the crucifixion. They don’t have a sense of cohesion, direction, or purpose. But they go along with the crowd and participate in the festival. In the course of things, they find themselves filled with boldness and courage, and speaking about Jesus. And we are given this story of the followers of Jesus, mostly Galileans, speaking to the eclectic, multicultural crowd, in various languages so that all could hear and understand the good news of the teachings of Jesus. Everyone heard a message of Divine hopes and dreams for humanity. It was uplifting, transforming, exciting, surprising, inexplicable. But there was good news for all who had ears to hear.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is intended to be good news for all people. Even people of other religions. The values and affirmation and respect and hope of the Jesus way are meant to be good news even to people on other spiritual paths. People who are living the Jesus way are intended to be a force for good in the world for all people whatever their background or religious sensibilities or lack there of.

The church, the on going community of Jesus, the body of Christ, is charged with continuing, in every age, in every circumstance, in every setting and situation, to share that good news, that word of hope and life and meaning and joy. This good news is not just something for people in the church. This is something the church has to give to the world; to feed and nourish the life of Creation. So the Jesus people were given words of hope and love to speak to that wildly diverse crowd gathered at the Pentecost harvest festival. Each hearing in a way they could understand.

I am thinking about that crowd at MacDill, or at the Fourth of July fireworks, or at the Pride Festival, or the Santa Parade, or Gasparilla, a setting where there is a multitude of diverse peoples. Many languages spoken. Different kinds of food being eaten. This is a land that has historically welcomed people from every background and circumstance. This was a land of second chances. So here there are many occasions for the gathering of diverse peoples. What kinds of people are there? What are their needs and concerns? As we think about this, we must ask, what good news does the church have for all of these people? What words of joy and hope and goodness does the church have to offer? What message of comfort and encouragement are we being given to share with others? The church teaches that baptism is recognition of the presence of the Divine spirit of God in the life of the one baptized. So everyone who has been baptized is being given good news to share with the world.

So what good news do we have for the diverse crowd around us – either literally, at
a festival, or around us in our daily lives, on social media, in our communities and
the wider world? What good news do we have to share?

We can imagine people in a crowd, like the Pentecost crowd or MacDill, who are lost and afraid. We can imagine people in the crowd around us who are made poor, facing job insecurity and economic fear. Surely there are people with physical infirmities which diminish their abilities and the stress and grief that come with that. People facing a cancer diagnosis. We can imagine people who because of how they were born face discrimination and disrespect each and every day and the anger and defeat that comes with such treatment. People who have little hope for future prospects because of how they were born. We can think about people who ache inside over what humans are doing to the planet.

What good news to we have for immigrants – legal, illegal, dreamers. refugees, for surely there are immigrants in a crowd. Surely there are people in the crowd from problem schools, teacher and students, who are struggling with a broken education system. What’s the good news for students who are forced to learn in a way that can be reflected on a test but are not encouraged to think or take delight in knowledge? Or celebrate curiosity? And there are young people worrying about succeeding in school, getting into college, and paying for college. In a crowd, surely there are homeless people, people who can’t find a way to live in a safe and secure manner. What good news do we have for rich people who have all this money but still feel hollow inside and are drifting and not satisfied – lost?

Sadly, in a crowd there are people who have had loved ones killed, murdered, shot. People who are grieving the natural loss of a loved one. People who feel alienated from society, from the world around them. People who can’t read and write. People disgusted by the dysfunction in the government, all three branches on the federal level, as well as problems at the state and local levels. Kids worrying about their family, safety, the future. Teens worried about the pressures of sex and drugs and lack of meaning in life. People trying to afford healthcare and worrying about paying for needed medications.

In a crowd, there may be people who are worried about going back – to somewhere that is not safe and where there is no way to make a living. People whose lives have been taken over, wracked by addiction and its ravages. People facing an unplanned, perhaps unwanted, pregnancy. People coming to terms with their sexual identity in an environment that can be hostile to difference. People who have lost a sense of meaning, purpose, or wonder.

If we think about the crowd at MacDill, we can imagine people worried about loved ones serving in endless wars; life at risk on a daily basis, and for what? Yes, Jesus taught about laying down your life for others but many people in the military today have a hard time seeing how their sacrifice is helping anyone. Hence the high suicide rate among veterans.

What good news do we have for this crowd? For society? For our friends and family? What good news are we being given to share?

Here the congregation was invited to share the good news that they have to share with the world. There were several written suggestions submitted by the children of the Church School:
The church helps people who need it.
The church teaches peace.
The church teaches us not to litter and to keep the world clean.
The church is a community where we care about our moms and ourselves and everybody.

Some years ago, Vita Uth, a charter member of the congregation called me and requested that people in the church bring dinner for her and her husband each night for two weeks. This request stemmed from the stresses of health issues and care giving. People from the church all signed up on a schedule that was passed around on a clipboard on a Sunday morning. One evening our family brought food and had dinner with Vita and Knud. Recently, we were talking about that dinner many years ago. Our son, Malcolm, 22 years old, reflected that it was great that Vita knew what she needed and the church stepped up. He said, People my age don’t understand that that is what church is about. It is about the community. They just don’t understand it. And he thinks they are missing out.

Thinking about our situation today, it is not enough for just the pastor to talk to the congregation. We have to be taking the good news we have out into the world and sharing it with people. And in today’s world, we not only have many languages and Google translate, we have social media to help share that good news. What an amazing tool! And if people want more they can come to church. But if not, we are still giving them good news whoever they are, wherever they are, in their context. Because there is always good news in the reality of God and the Jesus way of life. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Weekly Update 24 May

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, MAY 27 THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is a time to reflect on the importance of peace. Every war, every armed conflict, is explained as a way to secure peace. What do the Christian faith and human experience teach about peace? This Sunday is also the start of Summer Sundays at LUCC! Services are more informal and relaxed and include the singing of favorite hymns suggested by the congregation. Children will attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time which will be returning for the summer!
SUN, MAY 27 POOR PEOPLE’S MARCH: The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is planning a march to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City erected in 1968 on the National Mall. The march will begin on June 2nd from the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia and end on June 12th at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where they will be joined by the Homeless Marathon. LUCC is supporting the local Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s participation in this March by making a donation to offset their travel expenses. Checks may be made out to the church with the memo Human Rights, the deadline for donations is Sunday May 27. See economichumanrights.org and facebook for more information.
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER: A reminder to all those who signed up for this dinner, it is Wednesday, 30 May from 6-9pm at the The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N).
SUN, JUN 3 ADVISORS MEETING: The advisors will meet following worship on Sunday, June 3rd. All are welcome to attend.
SUN, JUN 3 CHOIR PARTY: The choir will be having an end of the season party at Yoko’s house on Sunday June 3 from 5-10pm. Contact Yoko for more information.
SUN, JUN 24 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: The next Sunday celebrations will be held in June. This potluck lunch gives the opportunity for fellowship and celebration of May and June birthdays.
MAY-JUN THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Ministry items for months of May and June will benefit Covenant House Florida. The items being collected are as follows:

  • Travel or trial size hygiene supplies (e.g. shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste)
  • New or used bath towels
  • Notebooks, pens and pencils
In July Wally LeBlanc will bring these items  to Covenant House Florida shelters in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary where items may be placed. Thank you for all the donations thus far!
ROOF UPDATE: As I write, trees are being trimmed in preparation for the new roof, set to be installed next week. MANY THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THEIR GENEROSITY WHICH IS MAKING THIS NEW ROOF POSSIBLE. Special thanks to the anonymous donor who inspired the generosity of the rest of the congregation!
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.
SPECIAL VISITORS: A Mockingbird has made her nest in the bush in front of the church office!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

SAT, MAY 29 – JUN 3 TIBETAN MANDALAS: Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India bring teachings of global peace, nonviolent conflict resolution, compassion, and wisdom. Highlighting their trip is the creation of a Sacred Sand Mandala in Florida CraftArt’s exhibition gallery (501 Central Ave). It will be on display from 29 May – 3 June. The Sacred Art Tour supports the 2,000 monks in Mundgod, India, with funds for their education, healthcare and nutrition. For more information see floridacraftart.org.
WED, JUN 6 WORKSHOP: The free “Examining Privilege” Workshop on June 6 from 10am to 3pm at the Florida Church House (9300 University Blvd. in Orlando) will feature Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, President and Associate Professor of Biblical Hermeneutics & Religious Leadership at Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). “Racism is the pre-eminent social justice issue of our time. The purpose of this spot is to challenge people to see the oppressive ubiquity of racism in our world — and inspire dialogue.” The registration deadline is June 4, and you can register online. Rev. Wells plans to attend, contact her if you would like to carpool.
THU, JUN 21 INTERFAITH PRIDE SERVICE: Mark your calendars for June 21st at 7:00 PM for the interfaith pride service at First Presbyterian Church (701 Beach Dr NE). The Guest Speaker will be Imam Daayiee Abdullah, one of only 4 openly gay imams in the world.
WED, MAY 30 GOING SOLAR WEBINAR: As part of the monthly Creation Justice Webinar Series, the UCC has teamed with GreenFaith to offer a webinar designed to assist churches who are interested in going solar. On May 30, the Rev. Fletcher Harper will address issues related to technology, finance, physical plant, communications and more. Sign-up today for this webinar!
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Bill Lindsay,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Dee Dee Young, Willy Zessoules

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Earth Sunday at Lakewood UCC

In honor of Earth Day, the service focused on the healing of Earth and the healing of humanity. The Bible tells of a God that forgives people for the crucifixion of Jesus. Can there also be forgiveness for the damage being done to Earth? Divine forgiveness is important to the healing process. Using a Vidui (a Jewish prayer of confession) for the twenty-first century, the congregation participated in a healing ritual:

We confess our sins against the earth.
We commit ourselves to saving it.
We have assaulted our planet in countless ways
We have blamed others for the spiraling, deepening crisis
We have consumed thoughtlessly and irresponsibly
We have driven myriad species to the point of extinction
We have exhausted irreplaceable resources
We have failed to transcend borders and act unselfishly
We have given in to our many appetites and our gluttony
We have harmed beyond repair the habitats of living beings
We have ignored the signs of change in our climate and our seasons
We have jeopardized the well-being of future generations
We have known the problem but left problem-solving to others
We have lost sight of our role as God’s partners in creation
We have mocked, cynically, those who love creatures great and small
We have neglected the environment, most of all, in places of poverty
We had over-populated our cities and over-fished our oceans
We have polluted seashore and sky, fertile soil and freshwater springs
We have questioned and doubted solid evidence of danger
We have ravaged the old growth forests – ecosystems created over centuries
We have spewed poison into the bloodstream of our land: its rivers, lakes, and estuaries
We have transformed dazzling beauty into industrial ugliness
We have used shared resources for personal gain and corporate profit
We have violated the commandment “Do not destroy”
We have wasted precious treasures, our God-given gifts
We have exploited the weakest and most vulnerable in our midst

And yet we yearn to be better guardians of this earth and the fullness thereof
Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos, this planet – our sacred home.

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos –
We commit ourselves to the healing of the air.
We commit ourselves to the healing of the waters.
We commit ourselves to the healing of the forests, trees, and plants.
We commit ourselves to the healing of the healing and restoration of animal life. We commit ourselves to the healing of the earth.
We commit ourselves to the healing of humanity.

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United Against Racism: Churches for Change

Available Now for Just $12!!

United Against Racism: Churches for Change

Authentic Christianity requires the loving inclusion of all God’s creation. An inclusive, beloved community is a community free from racism. United Against Racism is a call to an authentic Christianity, a religion that strives to become God’s inclusive, beloved community. It summons Christians to pray, think, and act to end racism. This resource aims to support churches, communions, and those who endeavor to share the journey of the Christian faith in the pursuit of an unfinished agenda to embody a more excellent way of racial equity. Church leaders from many backgrounds have praised United Against Racism:

 

United Against Racism is a huge gift from the church to the church. Its generative format invites every Christian and Christian community to hear the call and assume the vocation of being ambassadors of reconciliation. Without apology I encourage its wide use.

–Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer
Ohio West Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church

 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, after marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote, ‘When I marched in Selma, my feet are praying.’ This resource presents a compelling chorus of diverse Christian voices that will inspire our feet to pray with people of other religions and worldviews for an end to racism in our time.

–Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

It is the essential role of the church to speak out against the sin of racism and mend the persisting divides it has caused in our society. This resource is a valuable tool in provoking thoughtful responses on the meaning of repentance for the sin of racism and helpful as Christians seek to live faithfully to God’s call to love our neighbors and seek the common good.

–Jim Wallis
New York Times bestselling author, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America
President and Founder, Sojourners

 

A heartwarming and inspiring ensemble of voices inviting the Church and our nation to re-engage America’s sin of racism. The National Council of Churches spurs the conscience of every American in the quest for a more just and equal America.

–Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary Emeritus
American Baptist Churches USA

 

Get your copy today for the discouted price of just $12! This is a limited time offer so make sure you buy your copy soon. Special discounts are also available for orders of 10 copies or more, just email ks@natcc.us. Use it for your Sunday School class, area conference pastor gatherings, youth groups, small groups – or just use it yourself.

Order your copy online at http://bit.ly/unitedagainstracismbook

 

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Weekly Update 17 May

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, MAY 13 THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday is Pentecost. It was originally a Jewish harvest festival 40 days after Passover. In the Christian church it is one of the three great festivals of the year: Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. For the church it is the celebration of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the frightened disciples after the crucifixion marking their transformation into a bold, courageous community of faith. Christians consider Pentecost the “birthday” of the church. It is customary to wear red, the liturgical color for the Holy Spirit.

At LUCC, the service will include a “crowd sourced” sermon. The story of Pentecost tells of many people from different backgrounds hearing the good news of the gospel in their own tongue. What good news does the church have to share today? What good news do people of faith have for the world? If we think of a crowd from many different experiences, conditions, identities, and circumstances, what kinds of good news does the church have to share? Please come ready to share your thoughts!

SUN, MAY 20 GRADUATION PARTY: LUCC’S Zach Blair-Andrews will celebrate his high school graduation this Sunday! Join Zach for a luncheon/party in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service. You are invited to consider a gift to help Zach with his college education. All are welcome.
TUE, MAY 22 CREATION JUSTICE: The taskforce plans to meet on May 22, Tuesday at 3:00pm in the church library. All are welcome to attend.
SUN, MAY 27 SUMMER SUNDAYS: On Sunday May 27th summer Sundays begin. Services will be more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children will attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time which will be returning for the summer!
SUN, MAY 27 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: There will be no Sunday Celebrations in May because of the luncheon for Zach the week before. There will be a Sunday celebrations in June.
 MAY POOR PEOPLE’S MARCH: The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is planning a march to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City erected in 1968 on the National Mall. The march will begin on June 2nd from the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia and end on June 12th at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where they will be joined by the Homeless Marathon. Help the local Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign participate in this March by making a donation to offset their travel expenses. Checks may be made out to the church with the memo Human Rights, donations will be collected throughout May. See economichumanrights.org and facebook for more information
MAY-JUN THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Ministry items for months of May and June are travel or trial size hygiene supplies (e.g. shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste) these will be given to Covenant House Florida shelters in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary where items may be placed.
SUN, JUN 3 ADVISORS MEETING: The advisors will meet following worship on Sunday, June 3rd. All are welcome to attend.
WED, JUN 6 WORKSHOP: The free “Examining Privilege” Workshop on June 6 from 10am to 3pm at the Florida Church House (9300 University Blvd. in Orlando) will feature Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, President and Associate Professor of Biblical Hermeneutics & Religious Leadership at Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). “Racism is the pre-eminent social justice issue of our time. The purpose of this spot is to challenge people to see the oppressive ubiquity of racism in our world — and inspire dialogue.” The registration deadline is June 4, and you can register online. Rev. Wells plans to attend, contact her if you would like to carpool.
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

FRI, MAY 18 ONE CITY CHORUS: Mark your calendars for May 18th at 7:00 PM for a concert at the Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd). It’s free, but a goodwill collection will be taken to help support the family of Plant City construction worker Luis Blanco. After 20 (law abiding) years in the United States, Luis was deported to Mexico leaving behind a pregnant wife and six children.
SAT, MAY 19 HANDS ACROSS THE SAND 2018: On May 19, communities all over the world—including nearly 30 Southeastern coastal communities—will participate in the 9th annual Hands Across the Sand day of action by gathering at their local beach and joining hands to “draw a line in the sand.” Stand up against offshore drilling at this event by joining hands for 15 minutes at 12:00pm at Indian Rocks Beach (between 17th and 18th Ave) or Treasure Island Beach (behind the Bilmar Beach Resort).
SAT, MAY 19 FILMS AND DISCUSSION: Sea Level Rise in the Time of Climate Change will be held on Saturday, May 19th at 6pm at the Quaker Meeting House (130 19th Ave. SE). Two short films will be shown: “Major Sea Level Rise in Near Future”, a TED talk by Jason Briner, Associate Professor of Geology at the University of Buffalo and “Life in a Sea-Level Hotspot”, a newscast of interviews with local Miami residents. These films will be followed by a discussion led by Beverly Ward, Quaker Field Secretary for Earthcare. Free and open to the public, refreshments will be served. For more information, email or call 727 895-6878.
SUN, MAY 20 ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will have their annual Spring Concert at 4pm on Sunday May 20 at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 9th St S). The choir is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of spirituals, anthems and gospel music.
WED, MAY 30 GOING SOLAR WEBINAR: As part of the monthly Creation Justice Webinar Series, the UCC has teamed with GreenFaith to offer a webinar designed to assist churches who are interested in going solar. On May 30, the Rev. Fletcher Harper will address issues related to technology, finance, physical plant, communications and more. Sign-up today for this webinar!
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!
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Pax Christi Tampa Bay E-mail Newsletter

Pax Christi Tampa Bay E-mail Newsletter

 

WEEKLY EVENTS CALENDAR

 

  1. If Trump Fires Mueller
  2. Get Out the Vote Pinellas Conference
  3. St. Pete City Budget Open House and People’s Budget
  4. Nakba 70th anniversary observance
  5. Laundry Love
  6. Kings Bay Plowshares indicted

 

Friends,

The Kings Bay Plowshares have been indicted for their action at the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. Details and updates, including a press release and an article from the local newspaper, are at the end of the newsletter.

Other items include a get-out-the-vote workshop, Laundry Love for people experiencing homelessness, observing of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, when Palestinians were forced to leave their homes, and more.

Pax Christi Tampa Bay

WEEKLY ONGOING EVENTS

MISSIO DEI SUNDAY DINNER: Missio Dei is a small church that meets in the refurbished corner of a warehouse at 1330 Burlington Avenue N. (map; the entrance is on 2nd Avenue on the south side of the building.) They serve a meal after their worship service. The congregation is largely homeless or precariously housed.
The service begins at 5:30 PM; the dinner begins at 6:30. For information on how you can help prepare, serve, or financially support the meal, contact G. W. Rolle at (727) 424-1088.

RESIST TRUMP TUESDAYS AT SENATOR MARCO RUBIO’S NEW OFFICE:
Indivisible and other local activist groups gather outside Marco Rubio’s office in the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Court House, 801 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa, FL 33602 (map). The protest is every Tuesday, 10:30-11:30 AM. Bring signs, or the Indivisible organizers can provide them. There is parking around the courthouse and the meters take credit cards. For more information (FMI): sjstew@gte.net

WEEKLY SARASOTA DEMONSTRATION: Activists from Veterans for Peace and Manasota Pax Christi, among other groups, will demonstrate for peace through justice from 4:00-5:00 PM every Tuesday in downtown Sarasota along Bayfront Drive/N. Tamiami Trail near its intersection with Gulfstream Drive (map). The demonstration is south of Unconditional Surrender, the “kissing statue.” FMI: Russ at Rjbannerusa@gmail.com

PEACE FIRST: During every Wednesday in May, will be at the corner of 38th Avenue and 4th Street North in St. Petersburg every Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 PM (map). There are a McDonald’s, a Burger King and a Chase Bank at this intersection.

They will focus on gun violence and other issues. Bring a sign, or they will provide one.

The group eats at a restaurant in an “after party” following the demonstration. For more information (FMI): SMcCown@tampabay.rr.com


PEACE MEDITATION
: Biweekly meditation for peace every other Wednesday at 7:00 PM (May 16 and 30) at Sacred Lands, 1620 Park Street N. in St. Petersburg, Florida 33710-4348 For more information: http://www.sacredlandspreservationandeducation.org/; 727-367-3592 or 347-0354

FRIDAY NIGHT PICNIC ON THE PLAYGROUND IN ST. PETE: The Friday Night Picnic is a potluck picnic for hungry people, most of whom are low income or experiencing homelessness. The picnic continues to need potluck food, beverages, picnic supplies, and volunteers. The picnic, which serves over 100 people a week, is at 6:00 PM every Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 719 Arlington Avenue N. at Mirror Lake Drive in downtown St. Petersburg. FMI: http://uustpete.org/2014/09/17/friday-picnic-playground or (973) 768-3256.

WEEKLY BREAKFAST: Loaves and Fishes is a breakfast held at Trinity Lutheran Church on Saturday mornings. Volunteers serve a full hot breakfast to over 150 people. The breakfast is held on the third floor of Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 4th Avenue North in St. Petersburg.

The breakfast runs from 7:30-10:30 AM, and volunteers can participate with some or all of the breakfast. Please contact Anita Podgwaite at (727) 565-8742 or G. W. Rolle at (727) 424-1088 to help.

SINGLE EVENTS

  1. IF TRUMP FIRES MUELLER: If President Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller, Indivisible FL-13 will sponsor an emergency rally in Demen’s Landing, St Petersburg:
  • If Trump fires Mueller BEFORE 2:00 PM, meet at 5:00 PM
  • If Trump fires Mueller AFTER 2:00 PM, meet at NOON of following day.

Indivisible FL-13 will send an email notification and post it on Twitter and Facebook.

Indivisible FL-13 Contact Information:
Indivisible FL-13 on Facebook
Indivisible FL-13 on Twitter
Email Indivisible FL-13 at info@indivisiblefl13.com

 

  1. GET OUT THE VOTE PINELLAS

Friday, May 11, 2018 6:30-8:30 PM

Allendale Methodist Church

3803 Haines Rd N, St. Petersburg FL 33703

Pinellas County progressive organizations with Get Out the Vote Pinellas will help people connect, make a plan, and get training for the upcoming election. Workshops include organizing neighborhoods, understanding the Constitutional Review Commission ballot, issue-based canvassing, mindfulness for activists, and more. This workshop is important because:

  • One in three new registered voters will vote in the next election
  • Mail-in ballots can result in a double-digit increase in registered voter turnout
  • Face to face issue-based contact is a proven way to get people out to vote
  • 60% of mail in ballot voters fill their ballot out the day it is received and mail it back in

Information and registration are here; Facebook invitation is here

Sponsored by Fired Up Pinellas, Indivisible-13 and Women’s March St Pete/Pinellas.

  1. FY2019 St. Petersburg City Budget Open House

Monday, May 14 6:00 PM
The Coliseum
535 Fourth Ave. N., St. Petersburg FL 33701

Citizens can discover how city leaders create an annual city budget and learn next year’s spending priorities during the FY2019 City Budget Open House.

The open house allows citizens one-on-one access with Mayor Rick Kriseman, Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin, City Council members and senior administrators.

Staff from City Development, Public Works, Public Safety, Neighborhood Affairs, Leisure Services, and General Government will also be available to answer citizen questions from 6:00-6:30 p.m.

Following the breakout session, Budget Director Liz Makofske will present an overview of the budget process and explain city spending priorities. Citizens will then have an opportunity to comment before City Council members share their thoughts on the proposed budget.

The People’s Budget Review, a local budget activist group, is working to make St. Petersburg better for all its citizens. Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/peoplesbudgetreview/

  1. NAKBA 70TH ANNIVERSARY OBSERVATION
    Tuesday, May 15 4:30-5:30 PM
    Corner of 49th Street and Park Boulevard
    Pinellas Park, FloridaMay 15, 2018 is the 70th Anniversary of Nakba, the Arabic word for Catastrophe, when Palestinian families were force to leave their homes. Interfaith Alliance for Peace in the Holy Land will observe the anniversary with a peaceful demonstration holding signs on the corner of Park Blvd. and 49th St. on Tuesday, May 15th (map here). The demonstration will be followed by dinner at a local restaurant. Please join the Alliance and help make people aware of the injustices and oppression that the Palestinian people continue to suffer. FMI: arichter581@gmail.com.

  1. SOAP AND PIZZA: MONTHLY FREE LAUNDRY
    Monday, May 28, 6:30-8:00 PM
    Coin laundry at 365 8th St S, St Petersburg, Florida (map). 

    Imagine being homeless and living in unwashed clothes for days on end.Laundry Love Projects are regular opportunities to help financially struggling people do their laundry. There are now over two hundred projects nationwide.

    Locally, Laundry Love is sponsored by the Missio Dei and takes place the last Monday of every month. Organizers and their supporters provide soap, coins and pizza for those washing their clothes.

    Each Laundry Love costs around $200. FMI on how you or your group can support and participate, contact G. W. Rolle at (727) 424-1088 or gw@themissiodei.com

  1. KINGS BAY PLOWSHARES

 

On the evening of April 4th, the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Kings Bay Plowshares, seven Catholic Worker peace activists, entered the Trident submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, the largest nuclear submarine base in the world, to hang banners, string crime scene tape and pour their own blood on facilities at the base.

Below are updates from the Plowshares, including a press release announcing their indictment and an article from the Tribune and Georgian, the local newspaper.

 

 

Press Release

May 4, 2018

For more information contact:

Jessica Stewart: 207.266.0919

Paul Magno: 202.321.6650

Brian Hynes: 718. 838.2636

Kings Bay Plowshares Indicted in Southern District of Georgia Federal Court

On April 4, 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Liz McAlister, 78, Stephen Kelly S.J., 70, Martha Hennessy, 62, Clare Grady, 58, Patrick O’Neill, 62, Mark Colville, 55, and Carmen Trotta, 55, entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. Carrying hammers and bottles of their own blood, the seven sought to enact and embody the prophet Isaiah’s command to: “Beat swords into plowshares.” In so doing, they were upholding the US Constitution through its requirement to respect treaties, international law through the UN Charter and Nuremburg principles, and higher moral law regarding the sacredness of all creation. They hoped to draw attention to and dismantle what Dr. King called, “the triple evils” of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism.

In an indictment filed this week in the Southern District of Georgia, Brunswick division, the seven were charged with four counts: Conspiracy, Destruction of Property on a Naval Station, Depredation of Government Property, and Trespass. They will appear before a magistrate in Brunswick on May 10th. Although currently being held at the Camden County jail in Woodbine, Georgia, they expect to be acquitted of all charges. Attorney William P. Quigley, Professor of Law at Loyola University, New Orleans, LA, noted, “These peace activists acted in accordance with the 1996 declaration of the International Court of Justice that any threat or use of nuclear weapons is illegal.”

Kings Bay Naval base opened in 1979 as the Navy’s Atlantic Ocean Trident port. It is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. The Kings Bay Plowshares hope to draw attention not only to the threat of nuclear annihilation posed by the weapons aboard the submarines whose homeport is Kings Bay, but to emphasize how the weapons kill every day. Clare Grady wrote from Camden Country jail, “We say, ‘the ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide’, and yet, the explosive power of this weapon is only part of what we want to make visible. We see that nuclear weapons kill every day by their mere existence. We see the billions of dollars it takes to build and maintain the Trident system as stolen resources, which are desperately needed for human needs. In response to news of the indictment, Mark Colville, of New Haven, Connecticut, wrote from the Camden County Jail, “Once again the federal criminal justice system has plainly identified itself as another arm of the Pentagon by turning a blind eye to the criminal and murderous course from which it has repeatedly refused to desist for the past 70 years.”

For more information visit their facebook page: Kings Bay Plowshares.

PLOWSHARES : WHO ARE THEY? WHAT DO THEY WANT?

Fri, 04/27/2018

BY: JILL HELTON

(Appeared in Tribune & Georgian, St.Marys, GA newspaper)

It could have been a dinner party at any Camden County home.

As southern Georgians do, they opened their potluck gathering on Friday evening with prayer. With plates of hors d’oeuvres and half full glasses of wine, the guests assembled around the living room for some engaging conversation.

Yet these party guests may not have been welcome in every Camden County home.

This was a gathering for members of the Kings Bay Plowshares, who visited the area to support the anti-nuclear protestors who were arrested at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base earlier this month. They are part of an international Plowshares movement that wants to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

The full verse from Isaiah 2:4 (KJV) states, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Seven of their members, all Roman Catholic, remain in jail this week after bond was denied in Camden County Magistrate Court. They illegally entered the base on April 4 and staged protests into the early morning hours of April 5 at three areas of the installation: the nuclear weapons storage bunkers, the D5 missile monument and the administration building.

Carrying bottles full of their own blood and hammers, they “attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction,” according to a press release from the organization. The activists defaced the properties with what appears to be their blood, spray-painted messages like “love one another” on sidewalks and pounded with their hammers in a symbolic gesture.

Mark Colville, 55, of New Haven, Conn.; Clare Grady, 59, of Ithaca, N.Y.; Martha Hennessy, 62, of Perkinsville, Vt.; Steve Kelly, 69 of Los Gatos, Calif.; Elizabeth McAlister, 78, of Baltimore, Md.; Patrick O’Neill, 61, of Garner, N.C.; and Carmen Trotta, 55, of New York City; were charged in Camden County Superior Court with interference with government property, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, both felonies, and criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. No federal charges have been filed.

Several Camden County citizens have voiced their outrage on social media because they feel the group wrongly characterizes its demonstrations as non-violent.

“I am all for freedom of speech and expression but there is a time and place. Entering without authorization and vandalizing is not part of it,” said Andrew Bellendir of Kingsland, whose letter to the editor was published in a recent edition.

The Tribune & Georgian Facebook page also elicited mostly negative comments about the seven offenders and their detention at the Camden County jail.

Various peace groups have protested the nuclear weapons on base since the early 1980s with few incidents and appear to be mostly tolerated as they picket at the front gate of the base.

The Plowshares’ actions drew a stronger response, in part because laws were broken, but also because blood can contain disease-causing pathogens and hammers can be used to cause grave bodily injury.

However, they don’t put much into the idea that Camden County citizens, even those who live on base, might be legitimately disturbed or fearful of their safety because of the protest.

Plowshares’ member Bill Streit said he was sorry for anyone who truly felt threatened by the demonstrators, but questioned how one could be fearful of a hammer but not the destructive power of the missiles at Kings Bay. He said it shows how skewed and numb people have become about weapons of mass destruction.

“(The hammers) are not used against any human being,” he said. “Our souls are messed up when we are more afraid of Christians with bolt cutters,” Streit said.

When a reporter suggested that others don’t know what there intent might be, group members emphasized that the hammer was an essential element of this symbolic action.

“Hammers are also used to build things,” added Beth Brockman from Durham. N.C.

In the book, “Religion and War Resistance in the Plowshares Movement,” Plowshares activist Mary Sprunger-Froese explained why they use human blood.

“War has been sanitized … because we mostly do it through our technology and satellite surveillance. Back when people [fought] hand to hand, you would see the blood and gore and you would see the consequences,” she said. “Now we’re so far removed and we watch war coverage on TV like it’s a miniseries. That’s so desensitizing, deadening. So when we use blood, it has a very powerful effect. … The blood is very real, very arresting, shocking, and in your face. It says, ‘This is what we’re talking about — human life.’ All this technology is made to destroy it, to spill human blood.”

The activists realize that some of the blood that is spilled may be their own.

Group members said those who demonstrate spend up to a year preparing with prayer, fasting, political analysis and other rituals before attempting to breach sensitive areas that are often guarded with armed Marines.

The group shared the thoughts of Elizabeth McAlister, one of those arrested, on their Facebook page after the demonstration:

“We raise our voices in a cry to dismantle the weapons — all of them — and we risk life and limb and our future hopes to make this plea: ‘dismantle the weapons.’

“Admirals at Kings Bay, you must know as well or better than we, that the payload of your six Tridents is more than enough to obliterate all life on Earth. We plead with you to examine your priorities. Is this really what you want to be about?

“How can you look at your children and grandchildren and continue to grease the wheels of destruction. Turn it around before it is too late …”

The Plowshares organization has protested at about 100 installations around the world and some of the support team members have themselves been arrested in similar operations. If the trial for the seven base protestors is set in Camden County, the Plowshares said many more peace activists will come to the community in a show of support for the accused.

The Plowshares’ press release said they selected the Georgia base as a demonstration site because April 4 was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Robert Randall, a support team member from Glynn County, said Dr. King was also characterized as radical or even violent because of his actions during the early days of the civil rights movement. He preached nonviolence through sit-ins and marches.

“We want to make sure that message does not get lost,” Randall said.

Streit said he understands that abolishing nuclear weapons is an unpopular proposition in a community where the economy is so heavily dependent on that military program.

“To them, it would be a radical way of thinking,” he said. “We are hoping to reach hearts.”

Brockman said the money spent on the nuclear weapons program could address an endless list of public needs, such as hunger and homelessness.

It seemed to matter little that the group would be fighting an uphill battle to grow its membership in Camden County.

They point to the teachings of Jesus Christ and question how any Christian could feel differently. To them, this is just following the path upon which their faith has placed them.

“We’re not really in charge,” Streit said. “We just do what is right, just and good and then we leave it in better hands than ours.”

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Join with the Poor People’s Campaign

 

 

We hope you will review these events by the Poor People’s Campaign and join!

Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will launch a season of nonviolent moral fusion direct action in Washington, DC and across the country, and we need you to join us. In communities across America—Black, white, brown and Native—we have built a Poor People’s Campaign to become what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.”
The Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.  Each week of the 40 days of action will have an issue focus.

 Weekly Themes of 40 Days of Action

WEEK ONE (May 13-19) – SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE: Children, Women, and People with Disabilities in Poverty
WEEK TWO (May 20-26) – LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities
WEEK THREE (May 27-June 2) – THE WAR ECONOMY: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence
WEEK FOUR (June 3-9) – THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET: Ecological Devastation and Health Care
WEEK FIVE (June 10-16) – EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE: Education, Living Wage Jobs, Income, Housing
WEEK SIX (June 17-22) – A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative
June 23 – Global Day of Solidarity and Sending Forth Call to Action Mass Rally in Washington DC
40 Days: Weekly Schedule
Sundays: Mass Meetings: National Broadcast @TBD
Mondays: Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action @ 2 pm in State Capitols
Tuesdays: Teaching Tuesdays – National Webinar 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm EST
Thursdays: Theomusicology and Movements Arts Culture
By engaging in highly publicized, nonviolent moral fusion direct action, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and our distorted moral narrative. These enmeshed evils know no boundaries. That’s why we need people who care about this nation to build something better.
 

Action Kit

###

Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions and more than 40 million Christians in a common commitment to God’s love and promise of unity.

NCC News contact: Steven D. Martin: 202.412.4323 or steven.martin@nationalcouncilofchurches.us.

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Sermon 5.13.18 Mother’s Day “Why Women Voted for Trump”

Scripture Lesson: 1 John 4: 7-21
Sermon: Why Women Voted for Trump
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Note: There were certain background comments made before the sermon.

The topic for this sermon was requested by someone in the congregation.

LUCC supports the constitutional concept of separation of church and state. Regarding implementation, the church seeks to follow the guidelines of the organization Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. So this sermon is not intended to be political or partisan.

The pastor is trained as an historian and knows that everyone speaks from their own perspective and experience. Here are some of my biases upfront:
I was born into a church that is not fear-based but justice oriented. The United Church of Christ.
I was born to parents who were feminists. They believed men and women are equal and deserve equal rights. They encouraged my brother and I to follow our dreams whatever they may be.
I was born into a family that was, relatively speaking, financially advantaged. My parents could pay for whatever was needed for me to follow my dreams.
I am a graduate of Wellesley College, the alma mater of Hillary Clinton.

Several people in the congregation have made it known that they do not speak the name of the current president and they do not want to hear the name of the current president. So, here is the trigger warning. The word Trump is used 6 times in this sermon.

In the book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Harari, a professor of history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and best-selling author, talks about the importance of the mother-child bond: “We can argue about other emotions but since mammal youngsters cannot survive without motherly care it is evident that motherly love and a strong mother-infant bond characterize all mammals.“ He adds, “It took scientists many years to acknowledge this.” Well, I don’t think it would take any of us many years to acknowledge this. From time immemorial we know the bond between a mother and child. It is fundamental. It is instinctual.

A human mother will innately provide for and protect her children. She will fiercely defend them. Yes, there are exceptions, in cases involving mental illness or addiction for instance, but basically, a human mother will care for her young, regardless. She will deprive herself of food to feed her children. She will endure any hardship to protect her children. She will resort to whatever it takes to ensure their health and well-being.

Sadly, we live in a climate of fear even though statistically things are better now than ever for people in the US any way. Life is safer and healthier and material comforts exceed those known by generations past. Medical science has made incredible advances. We are living longer. Worldwide, war, famine, and disease account for fewer deaths than in the past. Think about it – In the US, even a no income homeless person has a cell phone. That would have been unimaginable even 30 years ago.

Yet there is fear. Fear of your neighbor. Fear of someone who does not look like you. Fear of someone you do not know. Fear of robbers and murderers. There is fear around money, jobs, and the economy. Fear of dishonest business people. There is fear of war and terrorist attacks. There is fear of random mass shootings. These things happen. It is horrific when they do. The grief and suffering is immense and tragic. I am not trying to paint a rosy picture, but you can ask our resident award-winning statistician, Charlie Lewis, or consult Yuval Harari, we’re better off, safer and healthier than any previous generation.

Nonetheless, the fear continues to increase. There are people that work at increasing the fear in our society so that they can have more control over others. And they are succeeding. So in today’s climate of induced fear, many mothers are afraid for their children. They feel their children are under direct threat. They feel their way of life, economic opportunity, values, and culture are being taken away. And they feel desperation about the future of their families and their children and their property.

And what do mothers do when they feel their children are threatened? They protect them. They will fiercely fight for their children. For their future. For their well-being. In the face of all of this fear, unfounded for the most part, but experienced by the majority of people nonetheless, mothers will feel instinctually led to protect their children whatever the cost.

In the last presidential election, I suspect many mothers who voted for President Trump, whether they know it or not, voted out of fear. The statements about I will protect you, I will make you safe again, I will make sure your children are taken care of, I will defend you, etc. I think these kinds of statements provided security and comfort to mothers who are frightened for their children’s future. And this influenced their vote. As I said, whether they know it or not.

Let’s zero in for a moment on economic issues. We live in a time of great economic fear and anxiety despite the low unemployment rate, the high stock market, and the growth rate of the economy. And this fear, this anxiety, is actually well-founded though not in the ways some may expect. Following the economic policies begun in the 1980’s, CEO compensation has skyrocketed, corporate taxes have been lowered, real worker wages and benefits have decreased, and the government tax base is shrinking due to corporate tax cuts and loop holes, and lowered taxes for the most wealthy. People, mothers, are and should be afraid for the economic future of their children. And with the growing wage gap, social instability is increasing. The poor and disinherited are not going to stay silent forever nor should we. That is why the Lakewood UCC advisors chose for the church to support the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, a legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We want to work for positive, constructive economic justice through institutions and channels in our democratic republic. Better for change to happen that way than through violent revolution or civil war as we see in some societies today.

Mothers are concerned about their children’s future. In the face of economic anxiety and financial fear maybe many of the mothers who chose to vote for the current president did so because they thought a millionaire would know how to create an economic climate that works for everyone; in which everyone has a chance to at least be economically successful if not become extremely wealthy. Surely a millionaire could do this. Was this something up front and conscious among most of the women who voted for President Trump? I don’t know. But we can see that there could be a motivation here even if it was subliminal.

Yes, we live in a culture imbued with fear. It is also imbued with oppression on many fronts including oppression against women. We know that women’s pay lags behind that of men for the same job. We know of the inequities in the IT sector, in the math and science sectors, in the visual art sector and the entertainment sector as well as many other fields.

Here is a recent Facebook post from a book store in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s not the US, but I imagine we have the same issues. Here’s the post:

Nothing like a count of Oxford University Press catalogue to let you know casual sexism & racism are alive and kicking in academic publishing! Leading academic publisher in uk? We’ll just leave the numbers here…
July-Dec books:
105 (white) men
26 (white) women
6 writers of colour

As I said, it is not the US, but I don’t think things are 50-50 here by any means.

There are multitudes of ways that women are not only not equal to men in the US but they are blatantly taken advantage of, disrespected, and demeaned. And it really pains me to have to point out that this happens in church settings. In the body of Christ. All the time. In fact, I think that a case could be made that the church brought the oppression of women to this continent and has perpetuated it.

Several years ago, I had a prominent, local politician, a woman, a Catholic, tell me that she thought only men should be priests because if a parishioner needed the priest in the middle of the night to go to the hospital, say, and the priest was a woman, she would have to ask her husband for permission to go. Again, this is from a woman elected to office and serving the public good in Pinellas County. And, in case you are wondering, she happens to be a Democrat. I was dumbfounded when she said that. I didn’t even know where to begin to refute her remark. I think I said something like, “If I need to go to the hospital for a parishioner in the middle of the night, I do not need to ask my husband for permission.” Actually, I don’t know if I have ever asked my husband for permission to do anything.

The point is, we live in a very sexist culture, and women, whether they know it or not, are oppressed. And if you are a woman of color, it is a double whammy. And this oppression is largely internalized by women. They don’t see it. They don’t notice it. They are not aware of it. They don’t realize that it exists. It is just part of who they are. It can be very subtle and it is ingrained in many of the attitudes and assumptions that are part of our culture. And it is very present in the church, from male priests, to few women pastors of tall steeple churches, to women passed over for lay leadership in the church, to the church teachings that draw from the sexist cultures of Bible times. And there is plenty to work with there.

We can readily see the sexism in the culture of Jesus’ day. There are many stories in the gospels where men cry out to Jesus to be healed or they come to Jesus asking for something. But how often do women come to Jesus asking for help? Begging for healing? Of the many healing encounters portrayed in the gospels, sometimes Jesus initiates those encounters with men and with women. In one story, Jesus approaches a man with the withered hand. In another story, Jesus approaches a woman with a bent back. In some stories, people bring their friends to Jesus to be healed. While the gender of those involved in these references is not always specified, when it is, they are male. For example the paralytic that is lowered through the roof of the house. In addition, there are stories of some men who come to Jesus seeking healing for their loved ones – a daughter, a slave. But in many stories, men come to Jesus for help and healing for themselves. In one gospel, even a thief crucified with Jesus begs Jesus for mercy.

Now let’s think about the stories in which a woman comes to Jesus begging for help or healing. There is the story of the woman with a hemorrhage who touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. She takes the initiative but she doesn’t plead or beg. Her intention is to remain unnoticed. Where are we told of women begging? Pleading? Where do we see that? There is a mother who begs for healing – for her daughter. There is Martha who begs for help – for Lazarus, her brother, who has died. There is the mother of the sons of Zebedee who begs Jesus for a favor – for her sons, that they might have a place of honor in Jesus’ realm. Each time a woman comes to Jesus to beg or plead – it’s for someone else. Of course, because women are caregivers. They see to the needs of others. Not themselves. These women will brazenly approach a man, a holy man, a prominent man, pleading and begging, violating religious law and social convention. They will risk being criticized, derided, and berated. For others. Not for themselves. If a woman is healed, it is because a man took the initiative. While there is story after story in the Gospels of men seeking healing for themselves, there is not one story about a woman begging Jesus for healing for herself. Not one. This sends the message that women are not worthy of seeking their own healing from Jesus. So women never hear a story from the gospels that tells them that they have the agency, the value, and the worthiness to seek healing for themselves from Jesus. So is it any wonder that women of today, especially, sadly, Christian women, live with internalized oppression?

So part of the internalized oppression of women, mothers, in our time, is that from stories and movies and TV and entertainment and religion, we absorb the idea that when women are in trouble or in need, it will take a man to rescue them. Noble and chivalrous, maybe, but a man will need to come to the rescue. Women will be saved by a man. From Little Red Riding Hood to Jesus Christ, we all hear it again and again and again and again. Stories of a girl or woman being rescued by a man. And we internalize that narrative as men and as women.

So, the women of today, mothers who are afraid and desperately trying to protect their children, are pre-programmed to be looking for a man to save them and their kids. And whether they know it or not, I imagine that this also contributed to the election of the current president because he certainly seems to portray himself as a male savior.

While Hillary Clinton talked about our working together to create a better future, Donald Trump personally promised to make things better himself. As I said, whether the women voters are aware or not, that narrative ties right into the socialization of women in our culture.

There are other signs of internalized oppression in the election results. I am sure there are women who voted for the current president because, whether they know it or not, they do not believe that a woman is capable of doing that job; it is a man’s job. I am sure there are women who believed all the negative things that were said about the woman candidate while they minimized, ignored, or overlooked the negative things that were said about the man candidate. There are women who voted for the current president because their husbands told them to and they are used to doing what their husbands tell them. I expect there are women who voted with their party and always vote with their party, whichever one it is, because they don’t have confidence in their own ability to think for themselves. They don’t trust themselves to analyze information. They don’t feel capable of sorting through the facts. So they choose to rely on an outside organization, in this case, a political party, to do that for them. There are all kinds of ways that internalized oppression could have influenced the way women voted in the election.

But those kinds of explanations may be subliminal, unconscious; not matters of conscious choice. So, why did women vote for Trump? I think in a fundamental way, it was out of concern and love for their children. They have allowed themselves to be made afraid. They feel they are in a perilous situation. They are desperate. So they chose to overlook a lot because they believed what they were doing was in the best interests of their kids, their families, and their future. So I can even imagine some women holding their noses while voting for Trump.

While this may explain some things, it does not reflect an approach that is consistent with the core character of the teachings of Jesus, despite the fact that many women who voted for Trump go to church or at least consider themselves Christian. They may be part of expressions of Christianity that reinforce the cultural biases of patriarchy and contribute to the second class status of women. This is usually done in the name of Bible-believing Christianity either by people who are ignorant or people who want to perpetuate male dominance and so attribute their desires to the scriptures.

True Christ-like love has no room for such biases. As we noted above, Jesus chose to heal many women. He took the initiative. He demonstrated their worth, equal to men, in the economy of God. The universal, comprehensive nature of Divine Love leaves no room for oppression or fear. As we heard this morning from the First Letter of John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect [or complete] love drives out fear. To fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect [incomplete] in love.” [1 John 4:18]

Jesus showed love for everyone which was evidence of his lack of fear. When we let ourselves be filled with love the fear is driven out. When we let the fear in the love is driven out. The potential for the love is always within us. It is our choice whether we function from the fear or the love. It is the business of the church to admonish people to choose love and cast out the fear. The church needs to encourage people to trust the power of love to transform.

Jesus chose love over fear. He chose love over self interest. He chose love over self protection. He chose love over greed and economic interest. He chose love over social conditioning. He chose love over twisted religious teachings. Jesus lived by the power of love. From a Jesus perspective, the best way we can protect children and provide for their future is to teach LOVE, love for all people, love for Creation, and reverence for all forms of life. That’s how you get a better, safer, more vibrant future for your beloved offspring.

If this was a love-based society where the glue that held us together was our commitment to the common good, we would not have the problems we do. We would not be such easy prey for fear. And we would not have the president that we have. But fearful people are often consumed with their own well-being, their own safety, and their own survival. It’s a higher level of moral development to be able to choose love, not just for yourself, not just for your family, not just for your tribe or even your country, but to choose love for the stranger and the enemy as well. Love is what will create a more just, more stable, and more creative society. Science may never prove it but love is the strongest force in the universe. Just ask a mother. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Text of the anthem, “The Lost”

Recently, at the request of a few folk, I posted the text I wrote for an anthem the choir sang. There were several very positive, and quite unexpected, responses to the post.

I’ve only ever consider myself a lyricist-by-necessity, since anthems need texts and I’m too cheap to pay for new ones and to lazy to go to the trouble of applying for copyright permission. So…I’m amazed that anyone would show an interests in my anthem (hymn, song) texts.

Here’s another one, and it’s sung to an original tune. The choir has done it a few times.


As the sheep wandered lost ‘midst the cold and the dark.
it did hear its shepherd’s voice and know that love was near.
Peace and closeness and safety as it felt the embrace
and was lifted and carried to a home free of fear.

And the coin once lost that is valued and prized
by the woman who sweeps her home,
has been found and shown to the neighbors in joy
as she holds her lamp up high.

And the child returned from a life of despair
now is fêted and welcomed home,
for the acts that matter are not our mistakes
but our taking the gift that’s giv’n,

that we not push away God’s love…
that we not push away God’s love.

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Weekly Update 10 May

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, MAY 13 THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday, Mother’s Day, the service includes the opportunity for the naming of Mothers. Come be part of this celebration of A Mother’s Love. At the request of someone in the congregation, Rev. Wells will be preaching on the theme “Why Women Voted for Trump.” Several people in the congregation have mentioned that they do not like to hear or use the word “Trump.” There will not be heavy use of the word in the sermon despite the topic.
SUN, MAY 13 MISSION: This Sunday there will also be a Moment for Mission about the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. This is the initiative that drew Dr. Martin Luther King to the March on Washington in June of 1968. In honor of the 50th anniversary, there will be another poor people’s march on Washington in June. A delegation from the local Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign will be going. The LUCC Advisors have decided to encourage the congregation to financially support the efforts of the local group to attend the March. Donations will be received to help defray the expenses of the folks going from St. Pete to participate in DC. Checks may be made out to the church with the memo Human Rights. Or put a donation in an envelope and write Human Rights on the envelope. Donations will be received through the end of May. See economichumanrights.org and facebook for more information
MAY 13 – 19 FAMILY PROMISE: LUCC is serving as a support congregation at Lakewood Methodist Church the week of May 13th. If you would like to become involved in this important ministry helping homeless families with children achieve financial stability, please speak with LUCC Family Promise Coordinator Patti Cooksey.
SUN, MAY 20 PENTECOST: Sunday May 20 is the annual observance of Pentecost. This is a Christian holy day honoring the story of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the friends of Jesus who then invited others to be part of the Jesus community. See the story in the second chapter of Acts. The liturgical color for the Holy Spirit is red, so Pentecost is a Sunday to wear red if you would like to! The followers of Jesus extolled “God’s deeds of power.” During the service, there will be a time for the congregation to say something about the power of faith. How is the way of Jesus needed in the world today? How do we see faith at work for good in the world? Please consider sharing your thoughts on Sunday May 20 during morning worship.
SUN, MAY 20 NEW MEMBERS: The church is planning to receive new members on Pentecost Sunday May 20. Those considering church membership may speak with Rev. Wells.
SUN, MAY 20 GRADUATION PARTY: LUCC’S Zach Blair-Andrews will celebrate his high school graduation on Sunday, May 20th! Join Zach for a luncheon/party in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service.You are invited to consider a gift to help Zach with his college education. All are welcome.
SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: There will be no Sunday Celebrations in May because of the luncheon for Zach the week before. There will be a Sunday celebrations in June.
TUE, MAY 22 CREATION JUSTICE: The taskforce plans to meet on May 22, Tuesday at 3:00pm in the church library. All are welcome to attend.
SUN, MAY 27 SUMMER SUNDAYS: On Sunday May 27th summer Sundays begin. Services will be more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children will attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time which will be returning for the summer!
AWARD: LUCC’s Yoko Nogami’s student won an award for his art that includes a scholarship for his continuing education. See wtsp.com for a short video featuring Yoko and her student. Congratulations!
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.
BOXES: Ed Kaspar is moving and needs boxes, get in touch with him if you can help out.
LAPTOP: The church was able to meet Christy’s need for a laptop for her daughters. Thanks to all who offered to help out!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

THU, May 10 FILM AND TALK: The Florida Holocaust Museum presents a special screening of Lea and Mira, followed by a Holocaust Survivor talk at 6:30pm tonight, May 10th at The Studio@620 (620 1st Ave S). Lea and Mira, a Spanish film with English subtitles, tells the story of two elderly Polish Jewish women living in Argentina who were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp as children. The movie depicts the thoughts of these two Holocaust Survivors: their wisdom, their resilience, and their way of looking at the world and life after trauma and horror. Following the film, local Holocaust Survivor Pieter Kohnstam will share his personal experience of escaping Nazi Europe to Argentina. Pieter was born in the Netherlands and lived in the same building as Anne Frank and her family. When his family was scheduled for transport to Theresienstadt, they fled Amsterdam and arrived in Argentina one year later in 1943. To reserve your seat, call 727.820.0100 ext. 301. This program is free and open to the public.
FRI, MAY 18 ONE CITY CHORUS: Mark your calendars for May 18th at 7:00 PM for a concert at the Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd). It’s free, but a goodwill collection will be taken to help support the family of Plant City construction worker Luis Blanco. After 20 (law abiding) years in the United States, Luis was deported to Mexico leaving behind a pregnant wife and six children.
SUN, MAY 20 ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will have their annual Spring Concert at 4pm on Sunday May 20 at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 9th St S). The choir is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of spirituals, anthems and gospel music.
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER:  On Wednesday, May 30th at The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N) Mayor Rick Kriseman and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host the 2nd Annual Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Doors open at 6pm, prayer at sundown (8:21pm). Sign up in the narthex if you plan to attend by May 13th.
WED, MAY 30 GOING SOLAR WEBINAR: As part of the monthly Creation Justice Webinar Series, the UCC has teamed with GreenFaith to offer a webinar designed to assist churches who are interested in going solar. On May 30, the Rev. Fletcher Harper will address issues related to technology, finance, physical plant, communications and more. Sign-up today for this webinar!
JUN 2-12 MARCH: The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is planning a march to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City erected in 1968 on the National Mall. The march will begin on June 2nd from the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia and end on June 12th at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where they will be joined by the Homeless Marathon. Sign up to join the Poor People’s March.
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Bill Lindsay, Shirley Locke,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Antin Young, Willy Zessoules

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