Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 31 Congregational Meeting Vote

At the Congregational Meeting to be held after worship on May 31, the Social Justice Ministry is seeking a vote by the congregation to send a letter of support for a resolution titled: An Economic Justice Covenant, which will be brought before the UCC General Synod in late June. The resolution was drafted by the United Church of Chapel Hill and endorsed by the Southern Conference. Please read over the resolution and join us at the meeting on May 31.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vanguard Funds genocide resolution on proxy

If you hold shares in any Vanguard Funds, the Social Justice Ministry asks you to prayerfully consider voting in favor of this shareholder resolution:

Shareholders request that the board institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egregious violations of human rights.
This resolution is relevant to the conflict in Darfur and, of course, to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Your proxy information will give the rationale behind the shareholder resolution and Vanguard's response.
I checked with Save Darfur to seek insight into Vanguard's claim that the resolution is redundant to their current practices. I found their link to this 4/21/09 Huffington Post article to be helpful: Don’t Trust Vanguard: Vote For Genocide-free Investing .

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is it like to pray on-line?

Surprising! I logged onto the UCC's Prayer Chapel out of curiousity and logged off nourished in much the same way I am after Taize. I thought it would feel cold, techno, forced - I was a sceptic. But I'll go back. Here is what happened.
To log on (the services are at noon weekdays or 9 pm any day), I simply typed in a user name (I typed "Jane") - there was no joining or other info required. Because I was a minute early, I saw a gray blank square which became a white message box when the service began. On the left was a list of all "in" the Chapel (just two of us that day) and at the bottom was a place to type what I wanted to say (do keep it short). Just above that I saw "Euphonne is typing" which told me that someone was about to "speak." I was greeted by the worship leader, Euphonne (her leadership name). Not knowing what to do, I typed in my prayer request. Euphonne greeted me personally, asked if I was new. She explained that she'd lead me through the experience, which she did in a clear and reassuring way; she also gave me her "real" name which I appreciated. The service was much like a regular service; Euphonne would type instructions and leave long pauses for silence. In fact, much of the time was spent in silence. She typed, line by line, a scripture reading, leaving time for meditation. Then she called for intercessory prayer, offering two prayers placed in the Prayer Chapel Forum and inviting me to include prayers. There was silence after each and she would sometimes add a reassuring comment or allow me time to do that if I wanted. We moved to the Lord's Prayer and then she offered a benediction. It all took 20 minutes.
I was surprised at how sacred the experience was - just two of us connected electronically, me at my kitchen table, her in Iowa. My breathing slowed and I found that reading the short phrases as Euphonne typed caused me to focus deeply on the words in much the same way the Taize chants do for me. The pauses were long enough to allow me to enter the prayer, but not too long that my mind wandered. I felt safe and, most important, in the presence of the Spirit. Amazingly, I felt connected to Euphonne and to those for whom we prayed; the experience reminded me of our Prayers of the Church at 10:30 worship.
I invite you to try this. This could be an excellent way to worship when you are traveling or homebound or simply need to be in prayer with someone else. Let me know what you think. Maybe I'll "see" you there.submitted by Jane Smith