Confronting Our Racism

Monday, November 20, 2017
8:45am – 4:30pm
Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida
Fox Hall and Wireman Chapel
4200 – 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33711
(727) 864-8587

Whether you are just thinking about this issue for the first time or have been doing this work all of your life, you are invited to join us for a day long conversation about opposing racism. We will be asking questions and talking about next steps in dealing with racism in our own local communities.

Our guests will be the Reverend Paul Roberts, President of Johnson C. Smith Seminary, and Professor Erin Cooley of Colgate University. There is no cost to register for the conference. You will be asked to pay $15 (cash or check) for lunch on the day of the conference. To register for the conference, please visit the following Google link:

This conference is made possible with funding from the John and Phyllis Ogden Fund of the Synod of the South Atlantic.

Doug McMahon
Director of the Center for Spiritual Life and Chaplain
Wireman Chapel, Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711


Restoring Respect”, a community conversation, at The Cathedral Church of St. Peter

ST. PETERSBURG–The Cathedral Church of St. Peter will host a five-part series, “Restoring Respect: A Community Conversation,” starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The initial gathering, “Restoring Respect: Where Did It Go?” will offer a panel discussion with President Donald R. Eastman III; Eric Deggans, television critic for National Public Radio; and Dr. Brendan Goff, professor of history at New College, Sarasota.

“Lack of respect for those who look, think, worship or vote differently is one of the compelling issues of the day,” said the Very Rev. Stephen B. Morris, dean of the cathedral. “It is something we all confront, day in and day out, regardless of who we voted for in the presidential election, where we are on the political spectrum, where we get our news,” Dean Morris said. “This is a time of heat without light, shouting without listening. We want to contribute to a community conversation that helps us get beyond that, listen and learn from each other.”

Additional sessions and topics are:

Nov. 14: Restoring Respect: In the Media; Jan. 16: Restoring Respect: In Religion; Feb. 20: Restoring Respect: In Race; March 20: Restoring Respect: In Politics.

All five sessions are free and open to the public. The Cathedral is at 140 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. The entrance is on Second Avenue N, and there is free parking in the city-owned lots on the north side of Second Avenue opposite the Cathedral. Information:(727) 822-4173.


Workshop Offers How-to for Citizen Action

Workshop Offers How-to
for Citizen Action
A spirit of activism not seen since at least 2008 is sweeping across America. Motivated by the 2016 election campaign and its outcome, people on both sides of the political aisle are energized to become active in the political process – either to support the policies of the current administration at the national, state or local level, or to oppose them. But many are unsure of how the process works. How does one begin to make a difference in the political world?


Former Congressman David Jolly and Pinellas County Commission Chair Janet Long will provide national and local perspectives on our system of government at a workshop as part of our Civics Literacy Initiative. Sponsored by the Institute and the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area Democracy 101: A Civic Action Primer takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 28 at the American Stage Theatre, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg. This free workshop will provide the basics of government structure, policy-making, and civic engagement.


Moderating the workshop will be Tara Newsom, Professor of Social and Behavioral Science at SPC, and Julie Kessel, president of the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area. They will give a brief overview of the nuts and bolts of government as well as strategies for engaging with elected and appointed officials. Advance registration is available here.

World Refugee Day Commemoration

Each year the Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force hosts a local event to commemorate World Refugee Day.
This is one day set aside internationally to recognize the courage and resilience of refugees.

This year’s local event will be held on June 16th at 1:00pm at Pinellas Technical College located at 901 34th Street South in St. Petersburg.

The event will begin at 1:00pm with a networking time in the lobby area featuring heavy hors d’oeuvres from the PTC Culinary Arts Department and live music from Lakewood High School’s 54th Ave Jazz Combo.

At 2:00pm a short program will be held in the main auditorium featuring Al Ruechel of Bay News 9 as the Master of Ceremonies, Mayor Kriseman of St Petersburg providing opening remarks and a Dance of Hope by refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A brief awards ceremony will also recognize 5 former refugees/immigrants who have distinguished themselves by giving back to our refugee population in our community through our “Making a World of Difference” awards. These awards highlight the fact that our community is stronger and more welcoming because of the former refugees/immigrants who invest their time and resources here by giving back.

Finally, a citizenship ceremony will be held with 30 former refugees becoming U.S. citizens. The keynote speaker will be Sandra Grudic, a Pinellas County high school teacher, former refugee from Bosnia and current volunteer for refugees in our community.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Doug Haskitt at

World Refugee Day Celebration:

“Yesterday, Refugees–

Today, Americans”

When:   June 16, 2017, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Where: Pinellas Technical College, 901 34th Street South, St. Petersburg, FL, 33711. From 34th Street South, go westbound on 11th Ave. S. (across from Gibb’s High School), go past the Commercial Trucking Training Area on your right, and take your 2nd right into our Main Parking Lot. The Main Entrance and Reception Area will be on the north side of the Main Parking Lot in the center of the building.


Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Gov. LeRoy Collins, 33rd Governor of Florida (

Gov. LeRoy Collins, 33rd Governor of Florida

Please read,6666.

“Excellent, excellent column by one of Florida’s best. This is especially prescient as The ‘Groveland Four’ bill has a passed the FL House and heads for passage in the Senate.” — Facebook page of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The author of the article is Martin Dyckman, a former St. Petersburg Times political writer.


Dr. Forrest Harris, Sr. guest preacher

guest_preacher copySunday Feb. 7, Dr. Forrest Harris, Sr., President of the American Baptist College, Nashville, TN, Associate Professor in the practice of ministry at Vanderbilt University and Director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies preached at Lakewood UCC. It was an honor to have this church leader, inspiring visionary, and teacher in our midst.

The recording begins with Rev. Wells reading the scripture, followed by Dr. Harris’ sermon.

To listen, right-click HERE and select the save link option and play the downloaded file with your computer’s media player. If you have a one-button mouse (on a Mac), press and hold the “Control” key and click the link and select the save link option.


Heritage Lecture Series information

Click HERE to register for the Heritage Lecture Series. The Heritage Lecture Series is a three day presentation focusing on recent changes in Law, Education and History in the African American Community. The speakers for this year are: Professor Lani Guinier – Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Massachusetts; Attorney John Burris – Law Offices of John Burris, California; Dr. Gerald Horne who holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, Texas and Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary. Please register early!


UCC Pastoral Letter on Racism

For those who are interested in being part of the Sacred Conversations on Race, a 5 week series beginning Tuesday Sept. 22, 2015, from 7;8:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, the following article will inform some of the discussion at the first session.  To see the full article, simply click on the link below.  Please read it before coming to the first session.  Many thanks!  Kim Wells and Claire Stiles




The Bookclub will meet, 4-25, at 12:30 in the church fellowship hall, please bring your own sandwich, drinks and dessert will be provided by Mary Stokes. The book is Please Look After Mom, By Kyung-Sook Shin. It is a story of a familial dilemma in South Korea and also experienced throughout the World.


Harry Knox article in Huffington Post

Harry Knox, President and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is also a former member of Lakewood UCC. Please take a moment to read Harry’s article, Hobby Lobby’s Argument Should Alarm People of Faith, Co-authored by Jill C. Morrison, vice chair of the board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Rev. Knox, President and CEO-Elect of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, was the founding director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program and was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He will begin his position at RCRC July 16.



PCTB newsletter: James Douglass, Project Unspeakable, and Gandhi and the Unspeakable


Author and longtime nonviolence activist James W. Douglass will be in the TampaBay and Sarasota area from March 27-30. Douglass is the author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters and, most recently, Gandhi and the Unspeakable. Both books analyze the role of “the Unspeakable,” monk Thomas Merton’s term for systemic evil, in the two leaders’ assassinations.

While he is in the area, Douglass will lead discussion after two dramatic readings ofProject Unspeakable¸ a play examining the truth about the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. A reading in Sarasota will be on Thursday, March 27 and a St. Petersburg reading will be Sunday, March 30. Details are below.

He will also lead Gandhi and the Unspeakable: Will We Wake Up to Nonviolence?, a retreat at the Dayspring Conference Center in Ellenton fromSaturday, March 29-Sunday, March 30. A talk about his JFK book will precede the retreat. Details are below.

Pax Christi Tampa Bay


A staged reading and discussion

featuring author James W. Douglass

A dramatic reading of Project Unspeakable, a new readers’ theater play about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy, will take place on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 4:00 PM, at theStudio@620, 620 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg. An acting ensemble of professional actors including Bob Devin Jones, Roxanne Fay, Tia Jamison and Bob Heitman will present the reading under the direction of Bonnie Agan. The reading is open to the public and admission will be “pay what you can” at the door.

In the actual words of the four assassinated leaders and the people surrounding the assassinations, the play challenges the silence that has surrounded these four “unspeakable” assassinations for decades and sheds light on the “unspeakables” of today: the covered-up crimes by elements in the U.S. government and corporations. The play also includes the words of courageous individuals who, despite government intimidation, refused to be silent about their knowledge of the assassinations, and challenges us to consider how we react toward our “unspeakables.” Douglass will lead the discussion after the reading. This reading is sponsored by Peace First, the St. Petersburg Friends Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and Pax ChristiTampa Bay. For more information: (727) 439-0147; For more information on the Studio@620 performance:

Sarasota reading: The PEACenter will present a dramatic reading of Project Unspeakable on Thursday, March 27 at 7:00 PM at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court in Sarasota. Author James Douglass will lead the discussion following the production. The reading is open to the public. Tickets are $5.00 in advance and $7.00 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at

Project Unspeakable Asks the Big Questions” is a National Public Radio news story about a reading of the play. For an overview of Project Unspeakable, go to

For more on Project Unspeakable, go to the website at

Note to those attending the Gandhi and the Unspeakable retreat: Jim Douglass recommends attending Project Unspeakable along with the retreat. The DayspringConference Center in Ellenton is between St. Petersburg and Sarasota, so retreatants can attend the Sarasota reading before the retreat or the St. Petersburgreading on the way home.

GANDHI AND THE UNSPEAKABLE: Join James W. Douglass for “Gandhi and the Unspeakable: Will We Wake Up to Nonviolence?”, a two-day retreat that explores Mohandas K. Gandhi’s confrontation with the Unspeakable through his nonviolent experiments with the infinite force of Truth.

“We are unconscious of the right questions to ask,” Douglass says of our deep denial of the “the Unspeakable”: assassinations on our doorstep, an unending war of terror, a total-surveillance empire, nuclear weapons poised to destroy all humanity, and catastrophic climate change. “I hope to raise a few. Gandhi offers us the right questions and the right directions about the Unspeakable. He is so truthful he sees the right questions, and they are the same as our questions, except in scope.”

The retreat is Saturday, March 29-Sunday, March 30. It is at the DayspringConference Center, a wooded retreat center on the Manatee River just east ofBradenton ( It will feature talks by Douglass, time for personal and group reflection, and worship. All meals are included. Registration deadline is March 20. More information is at

Varying prices and scholarships are available. For a retreat brochure with a schedule, costs, and more details, go to

“JFK and the Unspeakable”: Before the retreat, at 10:00 AM Saturday morning,Douglass will examine John F. Kennedy’s miraculous turning from the edge of a nuclear holocaust to a commitment for a disarmed world, a decision that cost him his life.

James W. Douglass was a co-founder of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolence inWashington state to campaign against the building of a Trident submarine base and the installation of Trident nuclear missiles. He has travelled to the Middle East on several peace missions and stayed with Iraqi civilians during the 2003 U.S. invasion. His books include The Nonviolent Cross, Lightning East to West, and The Nonviolent Coming of God. He and his wife Shelley operate Mary’s House, a house of hospitality for homeless and indigent people in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a co-founder of Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth.


Two lectures of interest in Eckerd College Burchenal Lecture Series

A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts
Hal Taussig

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Fox Hall, 7:30pm

Hal Taussig is Visiting Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York (since 1999), Professor of Early Christianity at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (since 1993), and Co-Pastor of the Chestnut Hill United Church in Philadelphia (since 1990). The most recent of his 13 published books are Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark Amidst Pain and Trauma; A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts; The Thunder: Perfect Mind: An Introduction and New Translation; In the Beginning Was the Meal: Social Experimentation and Early Christian Identity.

“Because of Science I Have to Be an Atheist” and Other Fallacies of Our Age
Philip Clayton

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Fox Hall, 7:30pm

Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of theology. A Christian theologian, he has been a leading advocate for interreligious dialogue, comparative theologies, and the internationalization of the science-religion dialogue. Among his 22 authored or edited books are Religion and Science: The Basics; Transforming Christian Theology: For Church and Society; Adventures in the Spirit: God, World, Divine Action; In Quest of Freedom; and The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy, Faith.

For more information on the Burchenal Lecture Series see


A Book Club Event: Catherine the Great

The Pass-a-Grille Beach Community Church invites you to a live presentation of Nan Colton’s performance of Catherine the Great on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 1:00 P.M. This event will be held in the church at 107 16th Avenue, St. Pete Beach, FL. Parking is available in lot and on the street. A $5.00 donation is requested.

The church book club recommends the book, Catherine the Great, by Robert K. Massie, however you will thoroughly enjoy the performance if you have not read the book.

This live performance by Nan Colton will portray the Empress of Russia as a ruler and a woman. Many of her decisions are relevant to the world today. Come hear why this woman was named, “great.”

Nan Colton is a playwright, director, storyteller, actress, and arts educator having performed and lectured professionally on stages through South Africa, Great Britain, and the United States. Nan has been the Performing-Artist-in-Residence at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, for the the past 14 years, having researched, produced, and performed over 37 vastly different original scripted presentations that explain the art and the exhibition.

For more information, please contact Ann(

Door prizes!


Viewing of “Chasing Ice”

“Chasing Ice” is a documentary film about the Extreme Ice Project (EIP) which uses time lapse cameras on five continents to film the retreat of major glaciers in response to global warming. The EIP was conceived and created by a National Geographic photographer who became intrigued by taking pictures of ice and over time began to see what was happening world wide to glaciers and polar ice caps.

The film is beautiful visually and compelling in its message.

You are invited to view the film at the Helm’s (2900 68th Ave. S., St. Petersburg) on Wednesday Nov. 13. Gather at 6 for a potluck snack supper and “Chasing Ice.”


Bible Study Notes – Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Bible study this past week [Tuesday May 21] focussed on the beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” [Matthew 5:9]

The discussion began with identifying those considered peacemakers. Here’s the list that was generated:
Abraham Lincoln, because he was not bent on revenge
Alexander the Great
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mohandas Gandhi
Lyndon Johnson
Anwar Sadat
Mother Teresa
Rosa Parks
The Dalai Lama
St. Francis of Assisi
Frederick Douglass
Jesus [mentioned almost as an afterthought!]

How do we define peace?
It includes respect, acceptance, love, equality, making a positive difference in the lives of many, lack of violence and vengeance.

There are different facets of peace – economic, political, personal/spiritual/psychological, as well as social dimensions to peace. It was agreed that greed is a major factor contributing to violence and undermining peace.

How was Jesus a peacemaker? He cared about everyone. He loved everyone. He ate with tax collectors, the poor, women, etc. He did not discriminate. He decried greed.

Next week: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”