Wednesday, September 20, 2017

allyship: Sept. 17 recap, Sept. 24 homework & discussion questions

Hello all--

Thanks for a wonderful start to our Allyship Series!  Below is a recap, a reminder about your "homework" and some discussion questions to think about for next week.

Summary of Sunday discussion 9/17
For the first week, we played a game to explore the assumptions we make about one another.  We learn that as a group we may have "invisible diversity," due to aspects of identities such as class background that may not be immediately visible.  We talked about some guidelines for conversation that we will revisit during future discussions.

I also introduced the Allyship Project's definition of allyship, which is:

An ally is a person who seeks to end poverty (or work for justice more broadly) and who partners with people from all (class) backgrounds to work toward that goal.  An ally develops personal, responsible, respectful and mutually beneficial relationships with people from different (class) backgrounds than him/herself.  These relationships are not necessarily friendships, but are at least respectful working relationships bound together by a common goal of ending poverty (working for justice).

A few things to note: for the purposes of the forum series, we are broadening the definition beyond just working for economic equity to include all forms of working for justice, and allyship across all aspects of difference that sometimes divide us, including race, gender, religion, citizenship, disability and class.  Also, note that our definition of allyship is not restricted to people outside an oppressed group being allies to those within.  We felt strongly that everyone has the potential to be an ally to everyone else, so our definition is more inclusive.

Finally we watched a short YouTube video from Francesca Ramsey about how to be an effective ally.  If you missed it, here is allyship in five easy steps (in 3 1/2 minutes).

But please still hang in there with me.  My book has seven steps and takes a little longer than 3 1/2 minutes...

Please think about what you'd most like to explore or learn about, or just generally what is on your heart regarding this concept of allyship. If you're comfortable, send me a note or give me a call at 612-382-2274 to talk about it so I can try to move the conversation in that direction at some point.

Reading reflections for the coming week 9/24
This upcoming week we'll be discussing how to educate yourself on the lives and perspectives of others who've had different experiences from yourself.  IF you're following along in the book (and that is totally NOT required), it will correspond to pages 1 - 26, covering the introduction and step one.

Here are some things to think about:

  • What resources (books, videos/movies, blogs, personal conversations, etc.) have made an impact on you in opening your eyes to other groups' different experiences?
  • Have you ever felt the burden of having to explain your life experience of oppression to someone else who was just clueless?  Or have you ever been singled out to give the "black perspective" or the "female perspective" or the "gay perspective" or the "disabled perspective" when you didn't seek or want to represent the entire group?  How did that feel?
  • Can you think of a time when your ignorance got in the way of an effective relationship, whether or not you were aware of it at the time?  

Thanks again!  Have a wonderful week, allies,


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Differences in how we think about racism

The content of this blog post has been removed at the request of Pastor Jenny. The reason for her request is that it was found by some to be "offensive".

Out of respect for Pastor Jenny, I am honoring her request. But I do so with serious misgivings ...

This blog was begun in 2007 under the title CUCC News and Chat with the subtitle News and dialog shared among members and friends of Community UCC, Raleigh NC. The blog was not created as the official news organ of CUCC or as in any sense representing the opinion of CUCC (whatever that might mean). At present there are 26 CUCC members or friends who have authorship status for this blog. Any of these contributors can at any time hype their church event, ask if somebody wants to go with them to a Durham Bulls game, or publish their own grocery list.

For most of the past 22 years I served as church webmaster. Not once when acting as church webmaster was it ever suggested that I was using the church website as a vehicle for my own opinions. The News and Chat blog was always accessible from the church website, but the practice that is followed is similar to the practice that is followed by the news media. The New York Times, for example, has its website. And it also has blogs that are accessible from the website. The website is the voice of the NY Times (or its chosen op-ed contributors), but the blogs and comments contain unfiltered opinion. When our niece recently published her major article on the vandalism of a mosque in Arkansas, her article attracted some 300 comments of every conceivable flavor. That's the way dialog works.

The first thing I had mentioned in my blog post was Mark Lilla's book The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics. Lilla comments on the crippling of free speech and open dialog that liberals have brought about via the focus on identity politics ...

Young people today on the left--in contrast with those on the right-- are less likely today to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas. They are much more likely to say they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness ...

"Speaking as an X" is not an anodyne phrase. It tells the listerner that I am speaking from a privileged position on this matter. It sets up a wall against questions, which by definition come from a non-X perspective. And it turns the encounter into a power relation: the winner of the argument will be whoever has invoked the morally superior identity and expressed the most outrage at being questioned. So classroom conversations that might have begun "I think A", and here is my argument, now take the form Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. This makes perfect sense if you believe that identity determines everything. It means that there is no impartial space for dialog. White men have one "epistemology," black women have another. So what remains to be said?

One example of the iron grip that identity politics has on free speech lies in the concept of "safe spaces". Shelby Steele (an African American scholar at Stanford) has this view of safe spaces ...

The "safe spaces" for minority students on university campuses are actually redemptive spaces for white students and administrators looking for innocence and empowerment. As minorities in these spaces languish in precious self-absorption, their white classmates, high on the idea of their own tolerance, whistle past the very segregated areas they are barred from.

A question that I have raised several times in various CUCC settings is the question of whether CUCC is moving in the direction of becoming a fringe church. One essential step in so doing is to restrict speech, since hegemony is hard to achieve if dissenting speech keeps surfacing. I pass that thought along to the congregation as food for thought.

With much affection,


Friday, September 15, 2017

From the Pastor

Dear Community UCC members and friends,

I received the following letter (below) from my colleague and dear friend, Rev. David Mateo, on behalf of La Mesa in Chapel Hill. He shares it with an appeal for neighborly support as well as to draw attention to the deportation crisis across our nation.

A Letter from “La Mesa"

     I greet you on behalf of your Hispanic brothers and sisters, members of the United Church of Chapel Hill who are suffering the injustices, racism, and anti-immigrant climate of this country.

     Since 1993, "Tent City" has been a  Nazi style concentration camp for undocumented people. It was built by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona. This “outdoor tent” jail, in the heart of the Arizona desert, was denounced by Amnesty International for the possible violation of human rights. From there, according to CNN, "He (Arpaio) was ordered to stop targeting Latinos for traffic stops and detention. He flouted the Constitution. He disobeyed court orders. "On July 31st, 2017 US District Judge Susan Bolton found Joe Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt." Two weeks ago, President   Trump pardoned Arpaio alleging "ratings" reasons.

     In 2014 President Obama proposed the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, an executive order to protect undocumented parents of children who were born in the United States. In February of 2015, Andrew Hanen, a Texas Republican Judge, stopped this order the day before its implementation. About five million (5,000.0000) people lost the opportunity to be protected.

     Two weeks ago, again, President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also decided to cancel the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program that protects DREAMERS, the undocumented children who have grown up in the United States. 800,000 people will be left unprotected unless something is done before six months. After these malicious actions, we ask, What is the message to our Hispanic community? But more important, What the good citizens of this country have to say and do about it?  

     Moses and Jesus were also DREAMERS in Egypt. Their lives and destinies eventually changed, but they received the support and compassion of many good Egyptians who supported them. Through history, there have been many good and bad "Egypts" and "Egyptians," and the USA is one of them. Here, we have received the help and support of many good US citizens who have shown us compassion and made us feel welcomed. Others have abused and exploited us, called us criminals, rapists, system abusers and many more.

     Today, I appeal to the compassion and solidarity that characterizes every person who appreciates the human dignity, and the clean spirit and loving heart of the members of the United Church of Chapel Hill, so that you may be walking with us in this difficult time of our history as immigrants on the margins and in the shadows. Please, don’t let fear, disinterest, or the lack of knowledge about the topic be excuses to denounce the injustices and the trampling over the most vulnerable people who are members of our beloved church. As disciples of Christ, we cannot allow privilege to continue protecting privilege.

     We are sure that your company in this journey as immigrants, will help us to find strength, faith, and hope that our sons and daughters will have a dignified life, as well as a place where they can feel welcomed and appreciated. The apostle Paul summarized it, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some entertained angels without knowing it."


Rev. David Mateo, M.Div.
Associate Pastor for Outreach & Language Ministries 
United Church of Chapel Hill

Lectionary for the Week of September 17, 2017

  Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Green 
Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114 or Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21 or Genesis 50:15-21;
Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

This Week's Opportunities

Sunday  9/17    
     9:00am TaizĂ© Worship – Sanctuary
  9:30am  Animate Faith - Hoffmann Room
  9:30am  Seven Steps to Becoming a Better Ally - Fellowship Hall
  9:30am Youth Confirmation Class - Youth Room
10:30am Worship Service  - Sanctuary
10:45am Children’s Sunday School - Sunday School Rooms
10:45am Youth Sunday School - Youth Room
12:00pm Caring Committee - Library
12:00pm Economic Justice Task Force Meeting - Bradow Room
12:00pm Religious Education Ministry Meeting - Hoffmann Room 
  2:00pm Sanctuary Matters - Vaughan Fellowship Hall
  4:00pm Covenant Community - Bradow Room
Monday  9/18 
12:15pm Monday Lunch Group - Hoffmann Room

Tuesday  9/19 
10:30am Office Staff Meeting - Pilgrim House
  5:00pm Peace Picnic - Youth at Loaves & Fishes  

Wednesday  9/20   
  9:30am Tai Chi – Vaughan Fellowship Hall
  6:00pm Bible Study - Pilgrim House
  7:00pm PFLAG - Vaughan Fellowship Hall
Thursday   9/21    
  7:00pm Deacons’ Ministry Meeting - Hoffmann Room

Saturday  9/23    
  9:30am Saturday Morning Book Club – Library
Sunday  9/24  
  9:00am TaizĂ© Worship – Sanctuary
  9:30am Animate Faith - Hoffmann Room
  9:30am Seven Steps to Becoming a Better Ally - Fellowship Hall
  9:30am Youth Confirmation Class - Youth Room
10:30am Worship Service  - Sanctuary
10:45am Children’s Sunday School - Sunday School Rooms
10:45am Youth Sunday School - Youth Room
12:00pm Stewardship Ministry Meeting - Library
  4:00pm Covenant Community - Bradow Room  

Thank you from Joan McAllister

Hi church family!  Thank you SO much for your responses to all the various collections I have been doing.

Blue bags from Food Lion:  I gave what I had collected to  my friend from Atlanta, and she was thrilled to get so many!  I'm not collecting them any more, though, since it is outrageously expensive to mail them.

Eyeglasses:  the eye clinic at Pullen which is sponsored by the Hindu community will be September 16.  They have to calibrate all the glasses that are donated prior to the clinic so have stopped taking in glasses for this event.  It is an annual event though, so if you have some you want to donate for next year's clinic, I will hang on to them for Prabhakar.

Sign up for Walk for Hope

We welcome Andrea Chase to our worship service on Sunday, September 17. Andrea is the President of the Board of Directors for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in Wake County. She will be sharing our Ministry Moment today as we look toward the Walk for Hope on Sunday, October 8. This annual walk is a favorite service project among our youth. It benefits research and care for those with a mental illness. Thank you Andrea for increasing our awareness and for inspiring a renewed commitment to help.
Join the CUCC Youth Group, families, and friends, as we show our support for those who suffer from mental illness. You can participate by walking, contributing or both! 

Register to walk at;  click on REGISTER -  team name is Community UCC

Donate: Stop by the table in the narthex on September 17 or October 1, and donate in cash or write a check to The Walk for Hope. You can also contribute online - click the red DONATE button, then click “donate to a specific individual or team” start typing in Community UCC and pick a person on our team. You can only contribute to a specific walker this year and not to the team in general.

Nicaragua, here we come!

Registration has begun! The CUCC Youth are going on a Mission Trip to Nicaragua: June 14-23, 2018.

We'll be taking 24 youth and adults to Ciudad Sandino, one of the most densely populated and underprivileged cities in Nicaragua. We’ll be hosted by the CDCA (Center for Development in Central America). We hope to make new friends and to help the CDCA in their efforts to support health and alleviate poverty for the people of Nicaragua. Keep your eyes and hearts open for many opportunities to support our trip - spiritually, financially, and logistically.

Registration information can be found on the flier in this bulletin, and also on our website at Please direct questions to Santi Matthews, Paul Kiel, Maria Mayorga, or Fawn Pattison.

Esperamos que un viaje significativo para todos nosotros. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gather to watch "The Vietnam War" - episode 1

At a small meeting this week I thought to invite those gathered to come to our house to watch episode one of the Burns/Novick PBS series The Vietnam War.  What surprised me was the stories that poured out of our little group instantly.  Vivid, intimate, no two alike.  As the movie trailer is titled, there was "no single truth.

And that is why I invite any of you who would like to watch episode 1 with other folks to come to our home Sunday night, Sep. 17.  Arrive anytime after 7:30; the 90 minute episode starts at 8.  If the mood strikes (before and after, but not during), we'll share memories and ask questions.  No agenda, no debates, just people hearing stories together.  All ages welcome (parents, you discern whether it is appropriate to bring your children with you).

Need our address?  Ask Jane Smith.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Raleigh candidates respond on climate change

What do candidates for Raleigh mayor and city council have to say about climate change and our neighbors with the fewest financial resources to adapt?  The City of Raleigh will hold elections for mayor and city council on Tuesday, October 10.  CUCC's Justice in a Changing Climate Task Force asked Raleigh candidates the following question:

"As you help Raleigh adapt to climate change, what do you plan to do to make sure our residents with the fewest financial resources aren’t left behind?  Some of the expected effects of climate change are extremes of heat, asthma and heart issues, and storm intensity throughout the year."

We contacted all candidates for Mayor, City Council At-Large, and City Council District E.* Candidate responses are copied in their entirety from their email to us.**

This is a non-partisan, citizen education project.  Community United Church of Christ is a 501c3 organization and does not endorse candidates.

Candidate responses
Responses from candidates for City of Raleigh Mayor
Responses from candidates for Raleigh City Council, At-Large
Responses from candidates for Raleigh City Council, District E

Other voter information

Find your district  After your search, your voter information page includes where you vote and a link to print a copy of your ballot.

Register to vote  Final day to register Sept. 15

Schedule for early voting (begins Sept. 21)    Election day:  October 10

*City Council Districts A, B, C, and D are also fielding candidates, but we had a limited number of people working on this project and did not submit our question to them.  See who is running in those districts as well as in the Town of Cary.

**Candidates were informed that our publication deadline was September 9.  If candidates choose to submit a response after that date, we will do our best to update the response pages.