Ministry Reports for 2020

LUCC Creation Justice
2020 Annual Review
January 31, 2021

A Creation Justice Church in the Environmental Ministries Program of the United Church of
Christ as of February 12, 2019, LUCC has pledged to review our progress annually. Thus this
report is offered to the congregation as a summary of 2020 initiatives. A list of 2021 Initiatives
to guide our work this coming year and to extend our creation justice commitment is also
included.

Since 2020 was a year unlike any other in recent history, our progress was severely affected by
limited gathering of our Task Force and other church members in mostly outdoor settings.
Although meetings were scheduled for the first 6 months of 2020, the CJTF only met in January
and February. We kept in touch via zoom with a few film events and discussions, but overall,
we accomplished less than what we had hoped. We look forward to a renewal of energy and
commitment this year.

2020 Initiatives:

  • Activate EV charging station and advertise location for community use – ACTIVATED and ADDED TIRE BARRIERS PLUS BETTER LIGHTING WITH EXTENSION OF LIGHT ON NEARBY DUKE ENERGY POLE.
    • Researching street sign to increase visibility of EV Charging area from street
    • In progress – finding information and ordering a sign
  • Complete solar panel estimate process – choose installer and continue research for funding – ON HOLD until Adult Day Care is in operation in 2021 to estimate monthly electricity needs
  • Represent LUCC Creation Justice work at local events – Earthfest St. Pete, April 4, 2020 at Williams Park, etc. – ALL EVENTS CANCELLED
  • Review Permaculture Design when available and make decisions about grounds – NO PROGRESS YET – IN PROCESS
  • Adult Day Care – Green practices agreement- AGREEMENT MADE AND FELLOWSHIP HALL SOON READY FOR PROGRAM
  • Extend Green Practices agreement to other renters – AA GROUP ONLY RENTERS
  • Continue to expand LED lighting in church – INSTALLED IN CHANCEL – PROGRESS
  • Environmental Education Opportunities for Congregation
    • 2040 – Free online Film with discussion afterwards in February 2020 – CIRCULATED TO INTERESTED CHURCH MEMBERS
    • EC Environmental Film Festival – FEBRUARY 21 – 29 – FREE FILMS at the COLLEGE– CIRCULATED LIST OF QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION ON MARCH 5 TH AT 6:00 IN CHURCH LIBRARY – CANCELLED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST IN MEETING
    • Planet of the Humans – Free online film – ZOOM DISCUSSION ON MAY 6 AT 5:30PM FOR 5 INTERESTED CHURCH MEMBERS

2021 Initiatives:

  • Drainage from roof runoff – OBTAINING ESTIMATES FOR INSTALLATION OF LARGE GUTTERS ON SANCTUARY AND FELLOWSHIP HALL
  • Reengage with Permaculture group and reconsider landscaping and property use
  • Identify free online films and resources for congregation to view and plan zoom discussions
  • Alignment with other faith-based green initiatives and programs
    • Reach out and connect
    • Meet up on Zoom

Summary

Although the Creation Justice Task Force provides guidance and energy for setting and working
toward our goals for environmentally sustainable living and justice for all, only as a genuinely
committed congregation can we hope to live up to our highest ideals. All of us must work
together toward fulfilling our covenant to work for “for peace and justice throughout creation”.
Anyone interested in becoming more involved on the task force, please consider joining us!
We need your help and support!

Ideas for Landscaping and Permaculture in 2020

LUCC Grounds
Kim Wells and Claire Stiles
November 2019 meeting

LUCC Library Task Force
January 31, 2021 Report

Beginning in March 2020, a small group of women determined that the LUCC library needed a major renovation and beautification. Thus the Library Task Force/Team was formed by Claire Stiles, Colleen Coughenour, and Patti Cooksey who began to visualize and actualize a transformation of the space and resources in our church library. With the approval of Pastor Kim Wells, these three members with the occasional help of Gabi our Administrative Office Assistant, and Rick Coughenour, Colleen’s brother, set about to rethink and recreate the library space. One of the first tasks was to create a mission statement to guide their work.

Mission of the LUCC Library Program

The mission of the LUCC Library is to support the greater mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ by providing print and digital resources for congregation members and friends of the church to assist them on their spiritual path and a deeper understanding of life and faith. The library collection will primarily reflect the values of our faith tradition as well as broaden perspectives on other faiths, cultures, and social issues to challenge assumptions and open minds and hearts to
other world views. Those seeking growth and development and whose curiosity leads to a desire for an expansion of knowledge and wisdom may find sources of inspiration in the library collection.

Providing timely and relevant resources for individual and family use can encourage, enrich, and reinforce our efforts to work toward peace and justice, stewardship of the earth, environmental sustainability, inclusive love, care of self and others, and the celebration of diversity.

To this end, the LUCC library will strive for the following:

  • Be organized, well-maintained, and user friendly
  • Keep a collection of resources that are timely, relevant, of interest of our congregation, and updated
  • Be accessible at regular times for use and checkout of materials
  • Be welcoming, attractive, and comfortable
  • Create opportunity for individuals to upgrade the collection with a small gift for new materials monthly, e.g., current book or DVD donation or money to purchase one.

In practical terms, the library needed the following, much of which has been obtained or installed:

Culling of current collection for outdated, unused, and irrelevant resources (completed as of November 2020)

Reshelving of books, recategorizing, and relabeling of shelves (except for new labels affixed to shelves, completed as of December 2020)

Better lighting for reading (two lamps added, one table donated by Patti and one floor lamp, free from a neighbor)

One or two small comfortable chairs (looking for used or donated)

Meeting Table with folding leaves (donated by Claire)

Folding chairs for meetings (retrieved wooden folding chairs by Pastor Kim which were previously removed)

One or two wall shelves to display current books and materials of interest (purchased and installed)

Chart posted of categories of materials and placement on shelves (TBD)

Possible expansion of collection into hallway on small shelf (alcove where grocery cart currently sits now transformed by Rick Coughenour into large space with wire shelves to accommodate Operation Attack donations as well as Library and other resources)

Possible expansion into corner of sanctuary with small shelf (donated by Claire), and a few chairs, small area carpet, and coffee table (looking for used or donated)

Coffee maker, tea pot, and small refrigerator from office to make beverages (donated and now ready to use in sanctuary when available)

When the sanctuary is in use again by the LUCC congregation, the Library resources and areas will also become more available to all of us. At that time, we might host a “grand reopening” and celebrate our improved library and its supportive mission to the LUCC.

LUCC Little Free Library

At the initiative of Lucille Ruga, LUCC is also installing a Little Free Library Box for access to free books right outside of the LUCC office near the bench. Started her locally by Kristine and Michael Dowhan to celebrate International Literacy Day on Sept. 8, the Little Free Library program now has just over 100 of the LFL boxes in St.Petersburg, the 100th placed in front of City Hall just weeks ago. Lucille heard about the project and applied for one of the 30 new boxes being prepared by the founder in celebration of her 30th birthday.

A partnership with 321 Books gives the Dowhans new books in exchange for donated old ones that the bookseller can recycle. Former tbt* boxes which housed the free weekly paper owned by the Tampa Bay Times are repurposed, painted, and used for the LFL box. The worldwide neighborhood book organization Little Free Libraries posts the locations of the LFL boxes on its
website’s map.

The network of “librarians” who look after the little free libraries are known as St. Pete Shush (a shush is a group of librarians) and our very own Lucille Ruga is now one of them!

Look for this LFL box on our property coming soon!


Operation Attack

Operation Attack, like a lot of things this year, looks very different. However, this hasn’t stopped us from serving our community. During this past year, we were able to start drive thru style pickups for people in need. We would make bags of food in advance (thanks to the donations from Lakewood UCC) and hand them out along with clothes to those who drove by. Every time we’ve done one of these events we have helped a lot of members of our community and hope to continue helping more people in the coming months. From the members who came and helped pack and distribute food, to those who donated to Operation Attack, you’ve helped all of us keep Operation Attack alive during this trying time and we wish to keep working and improving in this brand new year.   


Lakewood United Church of Christ Annual Report – Jan. 2021
The Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice: Sue Sherwood, representative

Mission Statement: The mission of the Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice is to advocate that all people who approach our borders receive compassionate, just and dignified treatment, whether asylum seekers, refugees, or those in search of a better life.

Membership:

In the 1 1/2 years that LUCC has been a member, the PCIJ has grown from 7 member organizations to 22 and is continuing to grow, reaching out to organizations with similar concerns as members and/or allies. Among them are LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), FLIC (FL Immigrant Coalition), Unimex, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), and the Border Patrol Victims Network.

The Coalition asks that each member organization appoint 2 people as representatives so that there might always be representation at meetings. I would like to step back into the alternate position. Is immigration an issue you feel drawn to? Please contact me, Kim, or the LUCC advisers if you would like to represent Lakewood on the Coalition. Zoom meetings are the first Tuesday of the month at 7 pm.

This outreach and current events themselves have enlarged the focus of our mission. Many of us joined in 2019 because of the mistreatment of refugee children at FL’s Homestead private detention facility, as well as the separation of families seeking asylum at the Mexican border. The Homestead facility closed and with the help of Reps. Crist and Bilirakis we were able to locate the children’s new placements and turn our attention to the Border.

2020 in Review
In Jan. 2020 a PCIJ group with several fluent Spanish speakers traveled to Brownsville, TX, and Matamoros, Mex, to witness the unhealthy and unsafe conditions as asylum seekers waited in Mexico in tents by the river ever since the US Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) aka “Remain in Mexico.” PCIJ assured them “we see you: you are not forgotten” and provided asylum-seekers with food and clothing. The group returned to share what they had seen and heard, but suddenly Covid appeared and the follow-up educational gatherings were shelved.

PCIJ continued with our original action lanes:
1) Monitoring litigation:
continued focus on Flores Agreement, which assures the rights of detained youth; ICE kept children weeks after required to release them, some taken secretly to hotels where Flores conditions were not met & unable to be supervised; issue with Covid of separating kids from parents or remaining in unsafe detention. A special report of conditions was due but never released to the public. “Remain in Mexico” was declared unconstitutional, but as in most violations under this Administration, the judge’s decision was appealed so the status quo persisted.

2) Legislative Accountability: Until Covid in late March, LUCC continued our post card/letter writing to US Reps. and Sen. We also called/emailed Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Fried on behalf of the Immokalee farmworkers to receive PPE, free Covid tests, & places for isolation – which, with the help of public outcry/Doctors Without Borders, finally happened!

PCIJ: wrote our Reps./Sen. and met staff from Sen. Rubio to sign onto immigration bills before Congress; CDC compliance in detention centers; Border Patrol’s sending 200 children from other countries to Mexico, where they knew no one; Gov. DeSantis’s request for FL Dept. of

Corrections to work with with ICE. Crist signed the Dignity for Detainees Bill and asked for Congressional oversight of unauthorized medical procedures (hysterectomies).

Good News: Gulf Coast Jewish Services was awarded a $ 2.5 million government contract for a shelter for up to 50 children aged 10-17 who crossed the Border with no family.

3) Holding Corporations Responsible: This has been difficult because the corporations are so huge & without discernible products to boycott. However, with the continued legislative pushback, the Tampa Bay Times printed a long investigative article about the mismanagement, medical conditions, falsified records, and lack of fiscal responsibility of private detention centers. After the Nov. election, CORE Civic’s stock fell 19%!

Looking ahead in 2021:

While still keeping track of litigation and responding to legislation, we looked around for local needs and listened to our new members. The result is that in 2021 the PCIJ mission will be enlarged to include immigrants already within our country, whether they be Dreamers, undocumented farmworkers, or students/workers who have overstayed their visas. There is great hope

We are continuing to support the Immokalee farmworkers and have urged for further investigation of the killing of a worker by a member of the sheriff’s department. You can also be proud that Florida UCC churches donated $200,000 to the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance to purchase property for safe new low-income housing for farmworkers, critical with the overcrowding especially during Covid.

LUCC’s Janet Blair spoke in Sept. on behalf of the FL Dept. of Children and Families as the Regional Liaison for Refugee Services. She pointed out the crunch at the Border: Pres. Reagan’s immigration quota had been 140,000 and Pres. Trump’s was 18,000. We are all hoping for responsive legislation now with the election of the new administration. Janet told us about a refugee’s 5 year process after struggling to get here, paying off debt, needing a job quickly, and completing the difficult government process. Janet said to remember that refugees usually came to the USA for their kids and wear “a badge of strength, courage, and victory.” We are making driver’s license availability a Florida state legislative priority in 2021 for undocumented workers so that, in a state with not enough public transportation, more will be able to drive safely and legally to work, school, church, and medical appointments.

for more updates, PCIJ is on Facebook and daily Border info is available on FB at Witness at the Border.  The Coalition also has a Google website with updated info from the monthly meetings.

Sue


The LUCC Care Teams

Last year was a busy and enlightening year for the LUCC Care Team. As soon as
the COVID quarantine was announced, the team expanded and added six more
church members, forming the Care Team Plus. Together the teams initiated a plan
to keep all members connected when meeting in person was suddenly no longer
safe. This plan included drivebys, which evolved into the Mobile LUCC Ministry.

Donning festive regalia and bringing signs designed by Ruth Pettis, the Care teams
set out on visits to shut ins, nursing homes, and healthcare facilities during
holidays and on special occasions. They formed car caravans, bringing love; hope;
and connection to many. They visited beloved church members Ann Rogers and
Elinor Ross, bringing personalized signs, warm hearts, and prayers. A special visit
was made to Olivia Gibson, bringing her love, support, and gratitude for her work
in the COVID unit at a Tampa hospital. The Care Team even made a driveby visit
to Pastor Kim after her first foot surgery. What a blessing to give back; to bring
love, signs, and well wishes to her!

The Care Team’s card ministry also expanded during the year of COVID.
Together, the teams sent out hundreds of care and holiday cards and made just as
many phone calls. Along with the Christmas mailing, team members delivered
poinsettias to all shut-ins. To sum it up, the Care teams shared prayers, support
and hope with the entire LUCC congregation. Together they shared blessings, and
in return they have all been richly blessed.

The Care Teams will be having their first Zoom meeting of the new year on
February 5 th . Along with sharing reflections, they will be discussing creative ways
to bring this ministry forward in 2021. Watch for updates! Watch out for Care
Team cars pulling into your driveway!


Property and Grounds

Property and Grounds 2020 No major projects creating expenses for property and grounds in 2020 (thankfully). We had two charging stations installed on the North side of the Church this last year.  The install was covered by Duke Energy,  Jeff Wells picked up the cement wheel stops and brought them to the Church and Jeff & Kim placed and installed them and painted them with my help.  Modest cost for the bumpers.There was extensive trimming and pruning in the front circle area, the oak tree at the south end of the fellowship hall and the palms & oak trees and bushes around the playground area.  The chain saw was donated and William Cowan did most of the work and I helped. 2021 may be a different story.  We are about to get the Adult Day Care up and going.  In order to do that, we are having to replace some broken window & door glass.   We are attempting to mitigate the water collecting near and sometimes into the Fellowship Hall.  The first step is installing wide gutters with leaf covers down the east side of the Fellowship Hall and the south side of the Sanctuary.  The exact cost has yet to be determined but will probably be close to $10,000.00.  We may have to follow up with removal of the oak tree in the ‘crotch’ of the two wings and the regrading the land inside the circle.  Over the years the land level has raised due primarily to the grass clippings building up soil.  This may include replacing the cross with a drainage pond in the center of the circle.  The exact plans have yet to be approved and estimates for them will need to be acquired.  This project will easily exceed the cost of the gutters.Repairing the retaining wall between the back porch off the nursery and playground needs to be replaced and the drainage system from there around the west side of the Fellowship hall and on to the street will need to be cleared and maintained.  This project will likely be able to be largely done by volunteers if we can manage to gather a team together.  If you have any questions or ideas, please do not hesitate to get with me.

Earl Waters


Education Ministry Team

Through the caring concern of the Education Ministry Team(EMT) school supplies  and treats were delivered to LUCC’s children, youth and teachers at the beginning of the school year. The deliveries were made through a drive-by in order to make a personal connection with the families.  At Thanksgiving cards were sent and at Christmas  another drive-by was made to deliver gifts from the church family to our children and youth. 

Through the generosity of our LakewoodUCC congregation,  in partnership  with the Social Justice Team at Westminster Suncoast and St. Matthew Episcopal Church,  2020 was a time of a beautiful, meaningful ministry to the children experiencing homelessness at Maximo Elementary.  We provided  uniforms and Covid 19 supplies including 250 masks.   At Christmas we began by purchasing gifts for 30 children.  Donations of money and purchased toys kept pouring in to the church.  It was truly heartwarming!  Ms. Moses, the Principal, and Ms. Jones, the Family and Community Liaison, greeted us to receive the love offering of toys for the children.  As part of our ministry,  Emily Bell is mentoring a first grade child via zoom, helping her with reading.

Our EMT also made contact with Claudia Rodriguez about needs at the Early Childhood Learning Center at McCabe UMC  where Claudia teaches.  Claudia’s two year old class received blankets and a toy for each of her six children.

The EMT plan  is to continue to meet needs of these  children and to listen for ways we  can make a difference.  Thank you LUCC for giving us the opportunity to serve in this way.

        The Education Ministry Team
Pastor Kim,  Patti Cooksey, Claudia Rodriguez,
Olivia Gibson, Marg Radens, Emily Bell

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