Monday, February 27, 2017

The children go fishing

Fish made by our children
Last week the children learned about Jesus calling the disciples, "fishers of men." Today we had a guest who told us about "Loaves and Fishes."  The fish we created last week were very appropriate today.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

UCC-sponsors Lenten "Church in Society" Town Halls

The Southern Conference of the UCC is offering opportunities for us to talk with others in the denomination about "the issues of today and try to minimize the idea of us vs. them."  Events are being held throughout the conference, with several nearby (March 13 in Cary, March 31 in Holly Springs).  [If you would like to carpool with Jane Smith on March 31, email her at smithjeg@mindspring.com.]

From the Town Hall announcement:

The prophet Isaiah shares with us the question to ponder, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yolk, to set the oppressed free and break every yolk? (Isa 58:6-7)

As we begin to observe this season of repentance and reflection during Lent, let us use this time for prayer and preparation by engaging ourselves in reflective questions and answers. From Asheville to Virginia Beach and everywhere in between, "Town Hall Meetings" will be held in churches throughout the Southern Conference. It will be open to clergy, lay and the community. It will be titled The State Of The Church In Society. These are truly the times that "try our souls." Now is the time for us to engage in healthy dialogue that captures the essence of who God is calling us to be. It will be a time to listen, talk and discern. We will talk about the issues of today and try to minimize the idea of us vs. them. We will talk about what unifies us more so than what divides us. During this time of discernment, let us come out and talk about the issues of the day and ask ourselves how we can be the church together for such a time as this.

The dates and the churches where the Town Hall Meetings will be held.  All the meetings will begin at 7 pm.

What happened February 20 at Council?

During the transition process, members of the congregation expressed a desire to improve how we train, support, and release church leaders.  

Your church council took another step toward that goal by combining orientation and business during its first meeting of the “class of 2017.”  Pastor Jenny helped us think strategically:  we are doing ____ “so that” _____. [You will hear “so that” more and more around CUCC.]  We paired up for a laugh-inducing game of Council Trivia to learn (and improve) the ways we do Council business.  [Congratulations to teams Gary/Grady and Maria/Susan on their trivia victory and prize.  I owe everyone on Council the traditional trivia-player’s beer!]   Treasurer Lavon filled us in on our financial health (good so far, but keep those pledged contributions coming) and Jane did a whirlwind introduction to ongoing business for 2017.

Also during the transition and at congregational meetings, members of the congregation expressed a desire to strengthen our relationship with the United Church of Christ.  

The Council urges you to consider being part of the group from CUCC who will be attending the Southern Conference annual meeting (June 22-24, Virginia Beach) or to soak up the atmosphere and resources at the denomination’s General Synod (June 30-July 4, Baltimore).

Not just a meeting of delegates, the Southern Conference’s annual meeting is a gathering of the members of the UCC in the south.  Traditionally congregations send large groups; attending together is part of the fun.  This year Council wants CUCC to send a group, too; let’s experience the meeting together to bring home a variety of impressions and ideas.

The Southern Conference is transforming.  Members of congregations who had been at odds with one another over past disagreements have done the hard work of healing – still a work in progress – and lines of theology, structure, and politics which divide us are being transcended within the family of Christ.  If you have been longing for a place to get to know people who are not like you, this is a perfect opportunity to learn from those who are paving the way toward healing and relationship building.  Yes, the annual meeting brings us together to discuss the business of the Conference, but more than that, it brings us together to delight in one another.

If you would be willing to be part of CUCC’s group attending the Southern Conference Annual Meeting, contact me (smithjeg@mindspring.com).  Let me know if you need financial assistance.  The registration form provides logistical details about the gathering.

[Council would be delighted if one or more people chose to attend the General Synod.   If that is your interest, contact me smithjeg@mindspring.com.]

- submitted by Jane Smith, Council Moderator

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Lives of Others - March 3 Lenten film

Movie poster for The Lives of Others
A week from today is Ash Wednesday. Two days later on Friday, March 3 this year's Lenten Film series opens with "The Lives of Others". This German film debuted at CUCC in the Lenten Film Series of 2009 and has not been shown since. It was scheduled as the lead-off film last year, but that showing was cancelled because of an ice storm.

The film provides a strong statement about redemption and reconciliation. In the 2007 Academy Awards, it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film for 2007.

The film will be shown in the Fellowship Hall starting at 7 PM and runtime is 137 minutes. So with a short break the film will end around 9:30 PM. We'll follow with a brief discussion of the film for those who are interested.

Popcorn will be provided. Feel free to bring other snacks to share if you like. The room will be open by 6:40, so come early to pick a good seat, grab some popcorn, and perhaps help set up chairs. Years past have demonstrated that a good bit of socializing goes on at these Lenten movie events where attendance is generally between 15 and 25.

This mailing is going to the mailing list for last year's Lenten Film Series. If you would like to recommend someone else to be added to the list, or if you would like to be removed from the list, just let me know at lavonpage@gmail.com.

Purchase your Lenten study book now

There are two Lenten offerings that will be using a book to guide the group’s time together. If you are interested in being part of either of the offerings listed below you may want to purchase your own book to supplement your experience. (Note: you are also welcome to participate without doing so)

Sundays, 9:30am
Coffee & Conversation using the book “Grounded: Finding God in the World, a Spiritual Revolution” by Diana Butler Bass, facilitated by Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas  Order your book from Amazon  or Quail Ridge Books

March 20 and 27, April 3 and 10: 
A meat-loving omnivore’s book discussion about eating vegetarian/vegan. Gary Smith will lead a book study on “The Restore-Our-Planet Diet: Food Choices, Our Environment, and Our Health”. by Patricia Tallman, PhD.  Order your book  from Amazon or Quail Ridge Books

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hearing to support Habitat and documentary

Adrienne Little, our Social Justice Ministry's liaison to Congregations for Social Justice, commends these community events to you.

1 -  Please attend Town of Cary public hearing on February 23! from Rachel Zeitler
        Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 6:30pm. Arrive at 6pm to get a seat.
        Council Chambers at Cary Town Hall
        316 Academy Street
        Cary, NC 27513

Habitat Wake requests rezoning to add affordable housing in Cary
Habitat Wake is seeking to build 15 affordable homes in Cary off of Trimble Avenue. These would be a mix of single family detached houses and townhome units.
The surrounding neighbors have voiced concerns about the project and are planning to oppose rezoning of the land at a Town Council hearing on February 23rd.

We want to demonstrate to Council that there are also residents of Cary who support this affordable housing development. If you live in Cary, please help us pack the house at the hearing! At one point, we'll ask Cary residents in support of the project to stand.

Also, please consider signing on to our letter of support. You can add your name online at this link: http://bit.ly/SupportTrimble.

Thanks so much for your support and ongoing dedication to making affordable housing available in our community!

2 - Documentary - AL HELM - Martin Luther King in Palestine from Sue Woodling
                 Tuesday, February 21, 2017  - 7:00 PM
                  Highland United Methodist Church - Conference Room
                  1901 Ridge Rd., Raleigh, NC  27607
A documentary of discovery as an African-American gospel choir and the Palestinian National Theater perform the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and travel through the Occupied West Bank.

Journey with us this Lenten season

Ash Wednesday, March 1 - Sunday, April 9 (Palm Sunday) 

What is Lent? The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word “lengten,” which simply means “spring” — when the days lengthen and new life springs forth. It is a time in which we reflect upon and 'admit' our mortality that then frees us to relinquish all that keeps us from relying on God.

2017 Lenten Guide
At CUCC we invite all ages to journey with us on the way. Please read through the CUCC 2017 Lenten Guide, and join us when you are able.

Updates to CUCC 2017 Lenten Guide
If we get more details about any of the events in the guide, we will post them here.

Update on ordering books for Lenten studies:  Here a links to places you can order books (if you desire) for two of our Lenten studies.

Update on Ash Wednesday (March 1) and children:  I hope you will join us for an Ash Wednesday Service, March 1 @7pm, as we kick-off this Season by getting “ashed” together, remembering from whence we have come and to what we shall return, dust to dust, and for a simple family friendly meal at 6:30pm. We will not offer childcare during the service, but there will be Lenten coloring sheets and a child-friendly space created in the sanctuary, so that children will feel welcome on this special night.

Update on The Lives of Others, March 3 of Lenten Film Series

Below are two additional online resources offered to accompany your Lenten Journey:
    House for All Sinners, Nadia Bolz-Weber, 40 Ideas for keeping a Holy Lent
    Luther Seminary (ELCA) Lenten Devotional

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Settled Stardust

Settled Stardust
Feb. 14, 2017

People who think Ash Wednesday is for Catholics who forgot that they were living in the 21st Century totally don’t get it. I mean, there is part of me that knows that getting dirty and exposing my dirt is sorta taboo, but I think that makes it all the more necessary.

Whilst society is doing our best just to tread the hellacious waters of absolute chaos at the unraveling of our common shared life as we know it, our ashen-poached heritage, the settled Stardust that has speckled our fragile bones with a wrinkled-radiance, and freckle-faced beauty, is screaming out to be remembered.

That we might know from which we have come, and make known that which we are, and receive that which we will all be, dust to dust, as an invitation to bless and be blessed.

If anything this untold story is refreshing, casting each one, of many colors, shades and flavors within the kaleidoscope of our shared humanity, in the image of one another, bone for bone, breath for breath, complete with both a cadre of perils and praises from the living as well as the living dead.

As we prepare ourselves to enter into this season of Lent, let us be marked not by what we have accomplished or what we have let go, not by who we are known by or for, but by whose and what we are.   

Ash to ash, dust to dust.

I pray you will join me as we journey through Lent together beginning with an Ash Wednesday service and a simple meal of bread and broth on Wednesday, March 1st (dinner at 6pm, service at 7pm)  Please read through the Lenten Guide which   
          will be made available this week, thanks to Śānti, in electronic and print forms.


May the Spirit lead the way,
   
~Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Out of the Silence...

Feb. 8, 2017

If you were in worship on Sunday you heard some of my personal story, bits and pieces of a past still alive in the present. I shared about an experience I had while on a mission trip, as a teenager, to the Philippines with a fundamentalist evangelical Christian group when I was “silenced” for being a woman, and was told that I was “not to speak at all”.

Last night during another intense debate where Democratic Senators held the floor for 24 hours, this time protesting the nomination of Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General after having just endured the election of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass) stood up in protest and read a letter from the late Coretta Scott King, written in 1986, in protest to Jeff Sessions nomination to the judgeship. Not only was Warren rebuked, but in a brief telephone interview with MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show," a program watched loyally by many Warren devotees, she explained that, "I've been red-carded on Sen. Sessions, I'm out of the game of the Senate floor. I don't get to speak at all.”

So many women, men, young and old have been silenced so that I might speak, have been silenced so that my voice, our voices can be heard. This week is not unlike so many others in our nation’s history where the souls, the bodies, the minds of our children have been compromised, the dignity of women across the globe, the decency of humanity threatened by our own self-interests.

This morning when my own words are full of rage and revenge, I am reminded of the beautiful Malala Yousafzai who so graciously empowered us to dig deeper, to hold onto the only thing capable of speaking truth to power, love to violence, peace to pain. In her address to the
UN General Assembly following her attack she said,

“Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me……This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.”  (you may read the full text here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-full-text-malala-yousafzai-delivers-defiant-riposte-to-taliban-militants-with-speech-to-the-un-8706606.html)

May it be so this day and all of our days,

Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Town Hall meeting on redistricting reform

Town hall details
Town Hall Topic:  Redistricting Reform in NC           
Flyer with details

Panel:  Jane Pinsky, Common Cause, and Mitch Kokai, John Locke Foundation

They expect a tremendous turn-out, so pre-register by emailing BallLA@ncleg.net

CUCC has sponsored a number of educational events on the effect of gerrymandered districts on our legislative process.  We have an opportunity to learn more about current redistricting efforts in NC at a nonpartisan Town Hall sponsored by our own Cynthia Ball.  Cynthia serves as representative to the NC House from District 49.

February 23
Beth Meyer Synagogue
504 Newton Road
Registration 6:30PM
Town Hall 7:00PM

Wonder if you are in district 49?  Use the Board of Elections Public Voter Search to find your district.