Conference Call

Header

This Florida Conference newsletter features Lakewood United Church of Christ and the participation in the Lights for Liberty event which focussed on the treatment of children in detention camps. 

John Vertigan

Greetings, Church. It’s been good to re-enter the day-to-day life of the Florida Conference after a tense, and sometimes contentious, General Synod in Milwaukee, Wisc. Was there joy and fellowship and the renewing of relationships we expect from such an event? Of course! But I came away with a recognition that there is much about us that needs attention if we are to continue providing a vital witness under the name United Church of Christ.

A resolution that was submitted for consideration illustrates this and keeps me awake on a pretty regular basis. Titled “Oversight of the Local Church and its Covenantal Relationship with the Association in Which it Holds Standing as a Local Church of the United Church of Christ,” it was an attempt to address what feels like a broken relationship when a local church uses the name UCC and its resources but does not contribute to that relationship with time, volunteer leaders beyond the local church, or financial support of the ministries of the wider church through sacrificial giving to Our Church’s Wider Mission. Here is the text of the resolution that came to the floor for debate:

“WHEREAS Article III of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ describes the ideals of covenantal relationships but does not describe or provide for the accountability necessary to live into these covenantal relationships; and
WHEREAS Article V of the Constitution of the United Church of Christ defines how Associations receive churches into membership in the United Church of Christ, yet provides no guidance as to how a local church may be released from membership; and
WHEREAS the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry names specific responsibilities of the Local Church to the Association and the Conference;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the United Church of Christ Board provide guidance, which may include revisions to the Constitution of the United Church of Christ, for Associations and Conferences on how to release Local Churches from membership in the United Church of Christ.”

Here’s the spoiler for those who don’t want to wait for the Synod minutes: the resolution was tabled and no action was taken. There are many reasons for this.

On the one hand, we are a church that says, “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” On the other hand, we have an organizational relationship of covenant with every local church that calls for mutual support and accountability. What happens when that relationship feels lopsided or even absent because the local church is not participating in the covenant?

That’s still an open question. Coincidentally, it is a question the Conference Board asked me to address back in May. We see congregations staffed by talented pastors and led by talented lay leaders who don’t contribute their skills and energy beyond their local walls. We see congregations who don’t make a gift to Our Church’s Wider Mission (thus weakening our potential for shared ministry) and in some cases don’t remit their per capita dues (a by-laws requisite for membership in the Florida Conference.) Shy of these two markers, what is the nature of our covenantal relationship? That’s part of the openness of the question.

The answer is still pending. The Spirit will answer if we keep faithful to the aim of the church “that we may all be one.” In the meantime, check to see if your church has remitted per capita dues; check out how your church makes provision for financial support of the conference at sacrificial levels. (I wonder sometimes how we can ask parishioners to make tithing and sacrificial giving a norm when we don’t practice it corporately). At the same time, check out the United Church of Christ at www.ucc.org and the Florida Conference at our evolving website www.uccfla.org and consider how we might be in stronger relationship for such a time as this.

I remain committed to serving a United Church of Christ where what is meant to be true for individuals is true for congregations, too, that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” in relationship with the Florida Conference. I covet conversation about how that relationship can best be accomplished in an atmosphere of mutual support and accountability even while acknowledging there will be a multitude of “right” answers to be shared.

Be at peace, and be in touch, won’t you.Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

Watch for email on 2019 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference

Keep an eye out for an email and announcement on our website in the next week or so on the upcoming 2019 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference.

Your Annual Gathering Planning Committee has been working hard over the last many months to put together a plan and programming that’s going to make this year’s event a bit different than gatherings past, and we think you’re going to like the subtle changes.

The conference’s annual meeting will take place at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive Oct. 10-12. Stay tuned for details and a link to register soon. We look forward to seeing you there!

Lights for Liberty vigils

Members of Lakewood United Church of Christ in St. Petersburg, Fla., gather after a July 12 Lights for Liberty vigil. Left to right are Janet Blair, Patti Cooksey, the Rev. Sue Sherwood and Lucille Ruga. Photo courtesy of Lucille Ruga.


UCC folks help vigils shine light on border ‘concentration camps’

United Church of Christ clergy and congregations took leadership, served as hosts, lit candles and planned follow-up actions during many of the hundreds of “Lights for Liberty” vigils held Friday evening, July 12. The events around the country protested the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers detained at the southern U.S. border, in what national vigil organizers refer to as concentration camps.

And UCC leaders are among those speaking out against a coming U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement campaign to arrest undocumented persons, announced July 12 by President Donald Trump.

At Lights for Liberty in St. Petersburg, Fla., a chain-link fence stretched in front of the altar of Allendale United Methodist Church. Behind it, 20 representatives of area faith and justice communities – some wearing foil blankets like those issued in detention centers – read aloud from interviews with detainees. One reader was the Rev. Susan Sherwood, a retired UCC minister who belongs to Lakewood United Church of Christ in St. Petersburg.

“This was a powerful evening of committed people and organizations, willing to move out of their comfort zone to make a difference,” Sherwood said. “I read the testimony of a sick baby who was denied medical care. As we read, the hundreds gathered lit candles throughout the sanctuary. During the vigil, people wrote words of hope and promise for the children on ribbons of commitment that were then tied to the fence.” -> Read more! ->

PATHWAYS announces Fall/Winter courses

PATHWAYS, which offers asynchronous online learning, has announced its Fall/Winter course schedule. Descriptions of courses coming up soon follow:

July 31-Aug. 27 — ESC12 Environmental Justice This four-week course is an introduction to environmental justice through the faith lens. We will explore God’s design for humanity and the great need to reshape the narrative that exists today. Through today’s challenges, the course will explore the harmful effects of pollution from a macro and a micro level. And more closely, our eyes are opened to the extreme effects of pollution on people in vulnerable communities. And finally, what steps can we take to advocate for the health and well-being of our brothers and sisters in places where corporate greed has too often overwhelmed and suppressed human need? Cost is $99.

Aug. 28-Oct. 8 — The Art of Worship This six-week course explores worship in an overview that highlights but is not limited to the “Sunday morning worship service.” It considers the theological, biblical and historical underpinnings of Christian worship, the significance of the integration of “intensive” and “extensive” worship, individual and corporate worship, the sacraments and current worship issues and trends. The format of the course further seeks to “open the arts” in the art of worship in appreciation and celebration of our Creator-God. Cost is $295.

Aug. 28-Oct. 8 — Making Sense of Theology In this six-week course, participants will learn how to reflect critically on their lives and the world around them using the resources of traditional Christian theology. They will learn to differentiate between embedded and deliberative theologies; articulate their own theology at this point in time; differentiate between their theology and those of others; and reflect on the importance of doing theology in community. Cost is $295.

Aug. 28-Oct. 8 — Old Testament Hermeneutics In this six-week course, participants will explore the Hebrew Bible using historical critical methods and other tools of Biblical interpretation. Participants will learn the interpretive tool of Midrash (sanctified imagination) and apply Biblical insight to 21st century issues. Cost is $295.

Aug. 28-Oct. 8 — Ecological Theology This six-week course explores the Earth and all that lives here as the dwelling place of God. There is an ongoing dialogue between scientists’ (especially Darwin’s) meticulous observations of natural selection and evolution on Earth with the Nicene Creed, scripture, and theologies through the ages. This dialogue allows science and theology to both maintain their own language while at the same time challenging each other to broaden their thinking about this mystery called life and an unexplainable Giver of life that many of us call God. Elizabeth Johnson uses Rolston’s concept of three Big Bangs to contemplate: the divine spark at the beginning of the universe, the beginnings of life on Earth and the emergence of Homo sapiens. Cost is $295.

Aug. 28-Nov. 19 — UCC History and Polity This 12-week course explores the history, polity, theologies, and practices of the United Church of Christ and its predecessor denominations. The course will include an exploration of denominational identity, hidden histories within the denomination, case studies around current issues of polity and structure, current ecumenical conversations, emerging trends within the United Church of Christ, and more. Successful completion of this course will fulfill the history and polity requirement for authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ in many associations and conferences. Cost is $595.

For the complete course schedule, to inquire about courses or to register, visit www.pathwaystheological.org or email registrar@pathwaystheological.org.

T-shirts for your next event!

The Florida Conference has T-shirts with the Conference logo on the front and the popular “Be The Church” wording on the back. We have light blue and a few gray shirts. They would be great for summer program staff, a summer youth event, for the members of your mission trip, or even for fall fundraising events!

Cost is $6 per shirt, which includes shipping. We have five 2X gray shirts, and the following quantities of light blue shirts: eight small, two medium, 20 extra large, nine 2X, and three 3X.

Please call the conference office at (407) 835-7501 for more information.

Prayers for churches and ministers

We invite you to join us in praying for the churches of your Conference. Each issue of e-Celebrate will contain the names of the churches we hope you will pray for personally and as a congregation. Meditate on them, pray for them, and sense your oneness together as the Body of Christ that is the United Church of Christ in Florida. This issue’s churches:

  • Faith United Church of Christ, Bradenton
    Rev. Brian Bagley-Bonner, co-pastor
    Rev. Judy Bagley-Bonner, co-pastor
  • Faith Family United Church of Christ, Brandon
    Rev. Dr. Katherine Rooke, pastor
  • Cocoa Beach Community Church
    Rev. Ed. Middleton Jr., pastor

We also remember those in specialized ministry settings outside the local church whose presence provides spiritual care and support to many who are in need:

  • Rev. Martin Montonye, chaplain, Bellevue Hospital, New York City

Save the date

Oct. 10-12: 2019 Annual Gathering of the Florida Conference, Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive, 8001 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. Stay tuned for details and registration.

Oct. 18-20: UCC Southern Region Women’s Retreat, Blowing Rock Conference Center, Blowing Rock, NC. For more information, -> click here ->.

July 22-25, 2020: National Youth Event, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. For more information, -> click here ->.

Weekly Update July 17

This Sunday: These Summer Sundays are an opportunity to be reminded of some of the most well-known stories and images from the Bible.  This Sunday is a time to take a look back at the story of Jesus walking on the water.  Does this image really imply proficiency and competence as it is generally thought of?  Or is there more to this image?  In this season of much rain and this historic era of sea-level rise, what can we learn from the story of Jesus walking on the water? 


Advisors Meeting: The meeting takes place July 21 following Sunday worship. All are welcome!


Theological Orientation Discussions: These discussions were requested as part of reviewing the church mission statement and possibly creating a new mission statement. The next gathering will be Wednesday July 24 beginning with a potluck at 6:30 and a presentation at 7:00. Kim Wells will offer the remarks that she gave to the Religions and Faith interest group at the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College. The presentation was entitled, “Theological Challenges for Today’s Christian Churches.” There will be a variety of topics for discussion afterward. Upcoming dates for additional gatherings: August 7, 14, and 21. That will conclude the series. All are welcome to participate!


Children’s Ministry:  The church is putting in place a children’s ministry for the rest of the year. If you are interested in being part of this effort, please speak with Kim Wells or one of the advisors. Many thanks!


July Birthdays:  Ann Quinn(7/6) Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Sherry Santana, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Elinor Ross, and Ann Rogers.


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Sermon 7/14 Still Under Attack

Date:  July 14, 2019

Scripture Lesson: Daniel chapters 3 and 6

Sermon: Still Under Attack

Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

I don’t know about you, but I did not wake up this morning afraid of being thrown into a fiery furnace or scared of being eaten by lions.  I don’t think a lion has been seen in these parts recently, unless it was at Busch Gardens. So, it’s easy to see how these two famous Bible stories are dismissed as quaint, simplistic folk tales that witness to a more primitive view of faith in an interventionist God. 

Given this background, it’s actually a bit surprising how timely these stories are to our situation today, even though we don’t have any lions, or even Florida Panthers, around.  

The root of the conflict in the two stories are problems around ethnocentrism, bigotry, and intolerance.  In the stories from Daniel, there is conflict between those who are the dominant group and the captives, the foreigners.  The natives have it in for the foreigners. Daniel and his people are Jews, transplants, outsiders. And they are being groomed by the king for positions of authority, prestige, and power.  But the hometown people resent this. And so they target these foreigners. They scheme to get the foreigners in trouble. And what are these foreigners doing? They are working hard and doing their jobs.  They are not defiantly making trouble. And yet they are targeted by the natives, the citizens, the insiders.  

This ethnocentrism specifically takes the form of religious intolerance in the stories from Daniel.  Daniel and his people merely want to continue to practice their religion even though they are in this new culture.  They want to continue to worship and pray to their God. In a cultural situation where the worship of many gods is accepted, this should not be a problem.  What is one more? But the Jews do not want to worship the gods of their captors because that is against their religion which has only one God. They only want to worship and pray to their God.  

So, the locals knowingly get the king to carry out laws which conflict with the religious beliefs of the Jews.   The Jews are only to pray to their one God so the local leaders get the king to make a law ordering people to pray only to the king for thirty days.  This law is specifically designed to entrap the Jews, specifically Daniel who has risen to great power through his hard work and reliability and wisdom.  In the furnace story, the young men are targeted for refusing to worship a statue. Ethnocentrism and jealousy take the form of religious intolerance in laws created to target foreigners.  

How this resonates with our situation today!   We see this kind of religious and ethnic conflict happening all over the world even in our beloved United States which was intended to be a beacon of religious tolerance and freedom.  And yet there are issues over turbans and headscarves and prayers and public displays. Where is the spirit of tolerance and acceptance and respect for religious freedom that marked the founding of there United States?

This impulse to target foreigners is what is behind the ICE raids taking place today in 10 cities across the US.  We hear this anti foreigner sentiment expressed daily here in our United States – not only by fringe hate groups but by main stream politicians and even by the president.  They’re taking our jobs. They don’t belong here. They are undermining our cultural unity with their strange ways. They are causing trouble. So, let’s make laws that they will necessarily break so that we can arrest them and get rid of them.  How familiar is that???? That is just what happens in the book of Daniel. But we don’t want to put these foreigners in a lion’s den or a furnace – just cage them up in a detention camp, thank you very much, and deny them the most basic necessities so that they are made to feel subhuman and undeserving.  Of course, is it seems lost on many that this strategy makes the perpetrators appear subhuman not the victims.   

These stories from Daniel display the spirit of intolerance shown to foreigners and how dangerous it is and we see this same dynamic playing out in our midst today.  THAT is scary.    

This brings us to another theme in these stories.  Power. The dictatorial, absolute power of the king in each story appears clearly foolish and absurd.  All peoples, all nations, all languages, bow down. This is ridiculous. Humanity has supposedly progressed to the point of realizing  that social groups are most effectively managed by law and representative governmental arrangements not by dictators with authoritarian powers.  And yet we have a president who esteems dictators with authoritarian control and seeks such a role for himself. But as these stories show, this kind of concentration of power always leads to a bad end.  As Lord Acton said in a letter written in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So these stories bear a warning about absolute power.  

While I may not be afraid of lions or a furnace, I am afraid of concentrated power in the hands of the federal government.  This week I sent an email to someone about the ICE raids with instructions about how to respond if confronted by ICE agents.  I was very careful in the email not to mention any names, not to make any personal references. I just gave the list of instructions and said here is some information that might be helpful.  I did not mention anything else because I was afraid that my email might be read by federal authorities and I don’t want to be leading ICE to potential targets. To me, that is more scary than the lions!  But that is where we are today.  

These stories from Daniel also address civil disobedience.  The people are told to kneel down and pray to the golden statue whenever the band plays.  Is this law merely based on the egotistical bravado of the king or is is specifically designed to entrap the Jews who are only to pray to their one God?  Either way, it is problematic for the Jews. So, Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not comply when the band plays. This is breaking the law in that context.  But they refuse to comply with a law that is in conflict with their religion. This is civil disobedience. It is nonviolent, passive resistance.  

In the second story, the king makes a law about only praying to him.  When Daniel and other Jews pray to their God, they are defying this law which was intended to snare them.  So, their defiance can be seen as civil disobedience.

In a way, this is like taking the knee.  The national anthem plays and people are supposed to stand out of respect.  It’s not the law, but it is accepted practice. But now many are kneeling during the national anthem in defiance.  They are not breaking the law, but they are defying convention to make a public statement. And while it may not lead to death, it can ruin a career.  This is nonviolent, passive resistance.  

The examples from Daniel have inspired others to take up civil disobedience.  It is interesting to note that these stories from the book of Daniel were inspirational to Mahatma Gandhi as he fought for civil rights first in South Africa and then in India.  In referring to Daniel, Gandhi commented that he had, “found much consolation in reading the book of the prophet Daniel.” Gandhi saw Daniel as, “one of the greatest passive resisters that ever lived.”  In coming up with a strategy to resist the pass laws directed at Indians in South Africa, Gandhi advised people to “sit with their doors flung wide open and tell the gentleman [South African authorities] that whatever laws they passed were not for them unless those laws were from God.”  [The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 6, p. 771] This was inspired by Daniel praying three times a day to his God with the windows open.  

So, when you think about is, it’s surprising how these ancient folk tales from Daniel, entertaining for children in Church School, deal with themes that are current for us today.   So what do they say to us? Well, here we turn to Jesus. Jesus knew these stories from Daniel. He knew other stories, like the story of Esther, where the Jews are targeted for death because of their religion and their beliefs.  And what do we see in the ministry of Jesus? Jesus specifically reaches out to and interacts with people from groups that have targeted the Jews. He reaches over those divisions of ethnicity and religion that have divided people.  He specifically makes references to stories in the Hebrew scriptures that involve Gentiles and foreigners showing that they are to be embraced and welcomed and treated with respect and dignity. Jesus, despite the harm done to his people because they are Jews, does not allow racial, gender, ethnic or religious divisions to get in the way of loving our neighbor.  When you think about what other groups have done to the Jews, in Jesus day and before, his welcome and embrace of all people is all the more radical.  

So, here we get our inspiration for the ordering of our loyalties.  Sure, we are to be dedicated to our families. Yes, we put trust in our governmental system.  Or we used to. It is appropriate for us to support our national leaders. We may get behind a particular political party.  Our country is important to us. Our culture and language have value. We have respect for the rule of law. But the message of Daniel and the witness of Jesus backs up the sentiments of the Psalms [146]:

Do not put your trust in princes,

in mortals in whom there is no help.

When their breath departs, they return to the earth;  

on that very day, their plans perish. 

Happy are those. . .  whose hope in the Lord their God. . .  

who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed;

who gives food to the hungry.  

The Lord sets the prisoners free;

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the strangers;

the Lord upholds the orphan and the widow. 

Scripture teaches loyalty in that kind of God.  The book of Daniel and the gospel of Jesus remind us that there is something GREATER than human leadership, a governmental system, a political party, nationality, empire, law, religion, and even family.  Our tradition compels us to put our ultimate trust in God – however we may understand or define God – in something beyond our individual experience, in something eternal and all-encompassing. In something within us, at our very core, that binds us to the greater whole of reality.  So our concept of God needs to be worthy of this kind of ultimate loyalty because God is what is to be given our ultimate devotion, loyalty, and reverence.  

We see this orientation in the stories of Daniel and in the life of Jesus.  And we notice that it got them into trouble because there will always be human constructs that vie for our ultimate loyalty and devotion.  But Daniel and his people and Jesus remain true to God as they understand God despite the pressures of their contexts. Daniel ended up in the lion’s den.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ended up in the furnace. Jesus was crucified. Maybe if we’re not in some kind of trouble, we don’t have our loyalties properly aligned. 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.

Evan Kinney & Van Burchfield Concert and Workshop

Evan Kinney with Van Burchfield, Old-Time Banjo Workshop and Concert at Lakewood United Church of Christ:  “Georgia Old-Time Repertoire”

Date: Saturday, August 17th

Time: Workshop: 4-6PM Concert: 7-9PM

Admission: Pay at door; cash or check only Workshop: $20 Concert (suggested donation): $20 Both Concert and Workshop Package Deal: $30

Please feel free to share this event on social media with your friends! Here is the link!

https://www.facebook.com/events/2343322152419092/

Bio:

Evan Kinney grew up in a family of old time music in his native Kennesaw, Georgia. He learned from his father at an early age and has continued to hone his skills by studying the eccentric playing of 20’s recording artists such as John Dilleshaw, The Skillet Lickers and Earl Johnson. Evan has performed with bands such as The Griddle Lickers, Georgia Crackers and Dixieland Squirrel Skinners and has taught and performed traditional music at The Blue Ridge Old Time Week in Mars Hill, John C. Campbell, The Alabama Folk School, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and The Brooklyn Folk Fest.
Guitarist and 78 rpm record collector, Van Burchfield will be accompanying Evan.

Van Burchfield has learned a great deal about hillbilly and blues music from listening to records and most recently has been performing jazz and ragtime in New Orleans with groups like the Big Dixie Swingers and Crazy Arms.

As a duo, Evan and Van perform southern breakdowns, rags and novelty songs from the turn of the 20th century.

“Georgia Old-Time Repertoire”

Evan and Van will discuss and teach lesser known old time tunes from the state of Georgia. Evan and his father have spent a great portion of their time digging up and learning obscure tunes from field recordings and transcriptions from masters such as Frank Malloy of Tifton, GA and Art Rosenbaum of Athens, GA and take great pride in bringing them into the spotlight for all to enjoy. We will break down the tunes into segments for rapid learning and discuss bowing patterns, syncopations and chord choices before moving on to playing them up to speed. All instruments welcome. Video and audio recording is allowed but please refrain from posting on social media.

Lakewood United Church of Christ Concert Series:

This concert and workshop is part of the Lakewood United Church of Christ Concert Series.

About:

LUCC Concert Series invite Old-Time, Blues, Blue Grass, Folk and Country musicians, emerging and obscure in spirit to celebrate and promote Americana music and musicians from all over the United States. 

Concerts at Lakewood United Church of Christ (LUCC) is $20 suggested donation at the door. All proceeds benefit the musicians. Doors open at 6:30PM, show at 7PM. 

Lakewood United Church of Christ Concert Series

http://lakewooducc.org

Lights for Liberty

Lights for Liberty:  A Worldwide Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps,
Friday, July 12th at 7:00pm at Allendale United Methodist Church 3803 Haines Road N.  Please contact Lucille Ruga if you are interested in riding together from the church.  ceilruga@gmail.com

Friday’s Vigil at Allendale UMC to End Immigrant Detention sounds powerfully moving, plus there will be break-out action/information groups afterward for those who want to stay. This is a national/international event to compel response & action.

Several people from LUCC attended a coalition building meeting this week to address this issue.  These are the notes from that meeting:  

St. Petersburg Coalition to End Immigrant Detention

Notes from Kickoff Meeting at Allendale UMC

July 9, 2019

A kickoff meeting for the St. Petersburg Coalition to End Immigrant Detention was held on July 9, 2019 at 6 PM at Allendale United Methodist Church.  The official name will be discussed at our next meeting. Vickie Dunn (lead organizer for Indivisible FL-13 & Allendale Church Council Chair) facilitated the meeting.

Attending:  ACLU -Wendy Snyder; Safety Harbor Indivisible – Charrie Moscardini, Kevin McCullough, Barbara Nelson, Amy Bryant, Temple Beth-El – Joshua Bean, Rabbi Michael Torop; Network Of Spiritual Progressives – Rev. Fred (last name?); For Our Future – Nick Arent; Clearwater United Universalists – Rev. Patrice Curtis; The Weekly Challenger – Jake-ann Jones; Lakewood United Church of Christ – Rev. Sue Sherwood (retired,) Patti Cooksey; Indivisible FL-13 – Meryl Blackman, Cynthia Lippert, Kate Pravera, Vickie Dunn

Goals

Given the limited time of the meeting, the following goals were identified, but not discussed in detail or prioritized. The objective was to have a common reference point from the onset.

  • To end family separation
  • To reunite families
  • Short-term: Improve conditions for children and identify appropriate places they can go
  • Return children to sponsors
  • Eliminate for profit facilities
  • Advocate for people to sponsor a child

Strategies

The following strategies were identified for consideration, and there was some discussion of planning an action for July 19, when there will be a hearing on the Flores Agreement. However, it was decided that we should wait until the hearings are held, and a ruling is made.

  • Research corporations that benefit from immigrant detention, expose them to the public and put pressure on them
  • Follow laws regarding asylum (It is still legal and people should be allowed to enter U.S. for this purpose.
  • Secure an international observer
  • Pressure congress to exercise oversight, i.e. hold hearings
  • Increase public awareness by making more “noise”
  • Network and collaborate on the national level to leverage greatest impact

Tactics

Numerous tactics were raised for future consideration. The following list represents what was captured on the white board.

  • Promote and facilitate trips to Homestead
  • Organize boycotts to pressure complicit corporations 
  • Network in Dunedin (incomplete information here)
  • Organize a demonstration in front of Rubio and Scott’s offices in Tampa
  • Participate with others in the weekly ongoing presence in front of senators offices (Rubio, Scott)
  • Letter to senators
  • Focus on statewide exposure and education
  • Consider pressuring state child welfare agency
  • Set up a series of in person meetings with elected officials during the month of August. Utilize the weight of business, civic and religious leaders to gain access (Based on HIAS model & possibly in coalition with HIAS)

Next Steps

  • Next meeting will be held at Allendale on Tuesday, July 23 at 6 PM, but we will  plan to rotate with meetings in north county.
  • Cynthia Lippert will draft a mission statement for discussion on July 23.