Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Epiphany 4: Jan. 29, 2017 ~ #theworldwewant

Sunday, January 29, 2017
Epiphany 4: Matthew 5:1-12
Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas


In this Epiphany season we have been journeying alongside Jesus as his ministry begins on Earth; birthed by the Spirt of whom God says, “She will descend upon and remain with Jesus”. Witness to this holy baptism, this christening with light into a world where domination and political corruption were codependent, we are entreated by this Rabbi, to Come and see, to follow, to sit with a while, to taste the freshness of transformational life. Not unlike these early followers, Once we ourselves are caught by the net of incriminating love we not only keep coming back for more; hook in mouth, we look for ways to keep fishing, to widen our cast, to continually re-define what it means to catch or be caught…to live in this rogue fisherman’s world, to keep telling the story.
This morning, as we bear witness to this mountaintop experience of a Holy Teacher with his students crowded around, it would be easy to paint the stars above someone else’s night sky, one cliche after another; it would be even easier to denounce what is and forget what is more than possible, bereft of dreaming and curating, cultivating and depositing; time, energy, love, tears, and endless courage. 

You have read the headlines, the fine print, heard story after story, some of you from personal friends or family members of the hate, the harm, the willful and calculated evil actions taken towards thousands of people, friends of this country, who in the name of nationalism, protecting our sovereign land from the evils of terrorism, The President has all but shown the inverse of what Jesus is describing here— a truth so upside down for us today that all we can do is stop, come together and imagine a better way.

As we STOP, I pray that we might hear the echoes of Jesus’ uttered blessings as hopeful participation in the DREAM, a DREAM that will take each one of us to realize, and that today we might join in the dreaming.

 As human as the crafted ego upon which Jesus’ offerings are perched, as sacred as the eyes of the gathered ones sat circled around him; Jesus-imagined out loud, each word a boxed sorrow, each Blessing a crafted and faith-filled destination, a world upon which ours depends. There on that hill, with his new followers and friends, one by one peering out over the hillside and back into the faces of those who’d been caught, caught from the belly of their beastly souls, they dreamed of what this call to transformational living might actually look like? 

Of this Beatitude text, Theologian Mark Allan Powell suggests that these stanzas are to be "interpreted as promising eschatological reversals to those who are unfortunate. Theologically, then the point of the beatitudes is not to offer 'entrance requirements for the kingdom of heaven' but to describe the nature of God's rule, which characterizes the kingdom of heaven, the Beloved Community.” (Monson, Glen, Law and Gospel Everywhere: Two Types of Blessedness, Jan. 1, 1970)

In offering these mountaintop blessings; Jesus is in complete opposition to the law of the land;  suggesting already an intentional pathway of otherness, a highway made plain by what has been made low, by who is cast out, one immigrant and refugee after another, by crafting from the resistance an offensive strategy; he flees the crowd, grabs his trusted few, and takes to lofty HOPES and DREAMS. 
With brush in hand, Jesus is illustrating with blended and bold colors, some soft as if a whisper, others fashioned by the righteous anger heard in the Prophet Micah’s tone. Yet, a fully anticipated and complete picture of what we can expect of this, our Beloved Community, emerges.  

I think of these blessings then as a kind of map; not a roadmap that will take us where we need to go, but rather a map that when visiting a new city, I love to read: a colorful map of the city center with pictures and icons that illustrate and point out important historical landmarks, that place encircling golden stars around significant buildings, subway stops, bridges or ticket offices; so that you will recognize them when you see them. This kind of map illuminates the journey, but even more so the destination, so that there is no question about what it is you are journeying towards. The landmarks are keenly marked, bedazzled with bright colors, the names are stamped in bold ink, and there is a clear pathway paved for your journey and on some maps there are even little footsteps strategically placed as a guide for pointing the way.  
Whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, we have been called into this story, placed strategically on the map, written into the main plot, both explicitly as followers grazing upon the shoreline, and in-explicitly as fish in a sea that is raging and thrashing around us, quite literally as the temperatures continue to rise. As I hear Jesus words, coupled with the Prophet’s sense of urgency, calling the people to an inside-out way of living, to accountability, to repentance, to a counterintuitive lifestyle, contrary to the prosperity gospel of the day, and quite possibly a death sentence for some, I hear this call as deeply rooted in “covenantal” relationship..not unlike that which was birthed on that first night; as Jesus, John, and Andrew talked, laughed, and shared by candlelight—Souls inexplicably bound by love and its power to transform.

The prophet Micah depicts a courtroom, calling on the mountains and the valleys as witnesses to the ancient Israelites betrayal of the YHWH of their deliverance. Saying, “Rise, and plead your case…and Answer Me! O my people, what have I done to you?” This call to covenantal relationship which is the backdrop whereupon Jesus has called his first disciples to transformational living, is a reminder of just how important this connection to our Creator God, the Spirit within and with us is. Who else can stand three inches from your face and call you to “order," to “accountability” — stating, I carried you, I delivered you, and it almost killed me! Answer me, now! 

You see, #theworldwewant, the world where the kin-dom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit, where peacemakers will be called children of God, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled, demands an accounting for, our accounting. 
Award winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate, and interfaith leader and storyteller Valerie Kaur reminds us of this accountability to which we will all be held saying, “As I said in a recent speech alongside Dr. William Barber: What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our nation is not dead but a country still waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor? The midwife asks us to breathe and push. Because if we don’t push we will die.
If we don’t push now, our nation will die. So let us take one another’s hand 
and push together.”  (Kaur, Valerie: Groundswell Movement: The Time for Civil Disobedience has come. January 2017)

Carl Jung famously said, ”The most important question anyone can ask is: What myth am I living?" (Keen, Sam: Thinking out Loud Workshop: thesamkeen.wordpress.com. October 28, 2009)

Friends, we are only living a myth if we limit ourselves in this life; if we short sight our own place in the world as transforming fishers of people. We are called to action: to creating, nurturing, curating the womb, laboring towards the birth of this Holy destination, a lived and experienced Beloved Community of which Jesus spoke so plainly. 

Isn’t it a wonder that the sermon for which Jesus is most known and holds the most authority in historical as well as contemporary spaces depicts a world unknown to us all; depicts a world wherein to be realized would mean the complete obliteration of this one, the one we know, the one we are chained to yet of which we are too afraid to let go.

At times such as these when “forsaken” feels like a generous depiction of how many of us feel as our country seems to have become inundated with infantilism at the highest level; we can depend on our story to help lead the way. Will it lead us to war? Will it lead to the largest demonstrations of civil-disobedience this nation has ever known? Will it lead us to life? 
Since the Inauguration, there has been a cascade of executive orders that threaten the safety and lives of hundreds of thousands of people – refugees, immigrants, Muslims, the indigenous, Black people, and all working people in need of healthcare. 

Lest I forget how I heard God’s words in these words this week, and become derailed by the false encroaching fear-fed narrative, I want to invite you to join me in dreaming into being #theworldwewant. Just as Jesus did, with friends, upon a hill-top. A world where those for whom the world we know has little to offer. 
This is atypical of our Sunday morning experience, but as we come together as a community of faith, as a group of individuals each part of this shared worshipping life I feel strongly that our response to God, our worship, should include our deepest yearnings, most buried fears, and present anxieties about what is and what is to come. I also believe that if we are to labour together as if preparing to push our way into existence, to push for life in the face of death, to push to survive, to push to thrive, we must be able to articulate #theworldwewant. 
I want to give you the opportunity to both share your fears and concerns as well as your deepest longings and hopes for this faith community, for our larger community and for our nation and world. 

Doug is going to play some music for us as we gather around with those closest to us in our pews, forming groups of 4-6.

During the next 5 minutes you are invited to share with one another what has surfaced for you this morning or over these last few days and weeks. At the end of your pews there will be a piece of paper and a pen upon which you will be invited to either illustrate with a drawing, describe with a word, phrase or sentence what emerged during your group sharing. 

To help get you started I will invite you to respond to 2 questions: 
1. What is #theworldwewant? What does it look and feel like?
2. What is our role as the faith community in laboring, in birthing this Beloved Community? 
As you speak you may want to begin with sharing a fear or deep longing that then spurs you to action, to HOPE, to BELIEF that #theworldwewant is within our reach. 
     At the close of the 5 minutes I will ask you bring your conversations to a close and that you use your pen and paper to tell the rest of us what you shared, via image or words, and then I will offer a brief closing prayer. 
Before you close you can decide as a group if you would like to (anonymously) offer up your fears, hope and dreams by dropping them in the offering plates as they pass by. If so, I will make sure that we collect these offerings and share them via our community blog. 
     Let us enter this time of sharing and dreaming.

O Holy One, who longs for this world to be, the world we all want, the world we all need, the world we were created to experience, Receive the deepest grievances, fears, worries, and longings of our hearts; receive our intercession as living prayer for those most affected by the latest decisions of our nation’s leaders and build a wall around them, a wall of protection, of comfort, of deep knowing, of all-consuming love that alone can penetrate even the most vile and malicious of actions taken against them. Guide us now as we seek to listen for how you are calling us to participate in living into being the Beloved Community; draw us to accountability, to action and to steadfastness as we take one step closer to #theworldwewant. 

May the Spirit lead the way, Amen.


Dear CUCC community, 

These last few weeks have been rough. 
I am listening to a podcast even now as I write about the pending Supreme Court Justice appointment that will be announced this evening in prime time, 8:00pm. Whether or not we agree with Roe vs. Wade or are pro-life or pro-choice, it is imperative that we, as people of faith, take a deep breath and understand what is quickly happening within the white-walled edifice that stands in Washington DC. This nation was not born today, and will not die tomorrow, but has been gifted unto a people with whom God has given a “choice”. The choice to either receive or reject love. 

Many people are unfamiliar with the relationship extended in love from Creator to her created, and are, therefore, incapable of seeing it as anything besides a limited commodity with which to manipulate and destroy anything that lives and breathes life, spirit, light. 

Drawing on the words of our own Dr. William Barber, as people of faith it is important that we resist the compulsion to polarize one another as division and unity fight for our affections, “Some issues are not left or right or liberal versus conservative. They are right versus wrong.”

Many of the decisions we are seeing come out of the white house as well as those things being threatened are just wrong, restricting and limiting of all that God has created. It is our job as the Church to lead the way in choosing “rightness," to create a clear path towards #theworldwewant. 

On Sunday, in 10:30 worship many of you took the opportunity to talk with one another about your fears, and your hopes as we thought about how to articulate #theworldwewant during these uncertain times. Please take time to read through and listen to the heartbeat of this beloved community and know that you are loved. 

Our hopes and fears… #theworldwewant

“No more America first”
“Can we preserve our democracy?”
“Hope for a peaceful world…we are in an unpredictable time”
“CUCC - keep everyone near; we must practice welcoming and caring”
“Bad things are happening, but people ARE responding!”
“Equity in education”
“Natural beauty as God intended”
“We fear a growing anarchy that erodes our democracy”
“We at CUCC can not only help energize, but provide a pathway for connected action — let people know what they can do to effect change”
“We want a world where we examine our fears, a world where all people feel safe and seek understanding”
“We should start with listening to those with whom we disagree & speak from our hearts from out of our faith”
“What myth am I living? The American Dream” 
“Courage to speak against what actions are bad without angry voices, to one person or many”
“Speak in peace”
“Reclaim our Christian story”
“Fear is future based! We need to live today and speak with peace, love and hope”
“We hope the new presidency will make us do more at the community level to help people who are negatively impacted by Trump!” 
“What is #theworldwewant? Peace, joy, kindness, tolerance, civility, listening, trust, led by beliefs and not fears” 
“Explore becoming a sanctuary church”
“We want more unity”
“What can we do? Pray regularly, show up, write and call legislatures”
“Embracing refugees, becoming a sanctuary church, walk in HK on J, return to being a City on a Hill, Giving birth to who we want to be” 
“The family of our green card holder will be able to visit them here”
"Let's become a sanctuary church"

May the Spirit lead the way,

~Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Culture of Character

Cathy Marshall recommends this daily devotion written by Rev. Emily Heath on the StillSpeaking Daily Devotional blog.  A Culture of Character

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Justice comes in many flavors

Since the election many of us have been in a funk. What's happened to the notion expressed by MLK that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice"? We all have our own concepts regarding what constitutes "justice", and to many of us the general mood since November is that the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Not so fast. Nicholas Kristof poses this little test ...

On any given day, the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty:
  1. Rises by 5,000, because of climate change, food shortages and endemic corruption.
  2. Stays about the same.
  3. Drops by 250,000.
Polls show that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same. But in fact, the correct answer is #3. Every day, an average of about a quarter-million people worldwide graduate from extreme poverty, according to World Bank figures.

Or if you need more of a blast of good news, consider this: Just since 1990, more than 100 million children’s lives have been saved through vaccinations, breast-feeding promotion, diarrhea treatment and more. If just about the worst thing that can happen is for a parent to lose a child, that’s only half as likely today as in 1990.

When I began writing about global poverty in the early 1980s, more than 40 percent of all humans were living in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 10 percent are. By 2030 it looks as if just 3 or 4 percent will be. (Extreme poverty is defined as less than $1.90 per person per day, adjusted for inflation.)

For nearly all of human history, extreme poverty has been the default condition of our species, and now, on our watch, we are pretty much wiping it out. That’s a stunning transformation that I believe is the most important thing happening in the world today — whatever the news from Washington.

So let's keep our rants in perspective. Yes, some of our own pet justice issues have suffered a setback. Yes, this matters. But when Jesus talked about justice he generally talked in terms of feeding the hungry and helping the poor. So let's try to be open minded and receptive to those whose justice issues may be a bit more basic than our own justice goals. There's plenty of justice work to be done in the world, and those doing good justice work aren't all of the same political stripe.

Nicholas Kristof's article in New York Times, Jan. 21

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I have acquired a simple little book called,
LOST IN TRANSLATION: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from AROUND the WORLD.  

It includes words like KARELU, a TULU word from Southwestern India, meaning "The mark left on the skin by wearing something tight"; and the Arabic word, GURFA, a noun meaning "The amount of water than can be held in one hand"

The word that has most reached out to me these past weeks is HIRAETH, from the Welsh, meaning "A homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were." 

As much as I don't want to acknowledge it, or maybe just don't know how to, I feel that this word is calling me to some kind of confessional, inviting me to really see what “is”. It encapsulates a feeling that is hovering over us as a nation as of late, a kind of grief and longing for something that never was really, but what many of us thought existed. I think the allusion of unity, the power that exists in a shared striving, especially when it is "mirrored" back to us as the voices and faces and hands and feet of those called to guide and lead embody this call to shared living and caring, is enough to make it so.

What I love about humanity and about the human spirit is that she is not easily defeated. What has been infused into these bodies that strive and seek, that limp and long, that are easily led, but otherwise never leading is HOPE and BELIEF, is the power of a living, breathing GOD that loves to a fault; so much so that she walked among us, hurt alongside us, marched with us.

Thanks be to God, that we don't have to "return to" what was, but can look to what can and will be. 

May the Spirit lead the way, 

Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Stewards of Children/Safe Church Training

As you know we are ever-mindful about the changing needs and hopes of families with young and growing children in our midst. One way that we have committed to increase our capacity for ministry, continuing to offer dynamic programming for the youngest among us, is through expanding our childcare services on Sunday mornings to include care during the 9:00am Taize service, for programming offered from 9:30-10:30, and during our 10:30 worship service. Each Sunday, beginning Jan. 29 childcare will be offered from 9:00am-12:00pm for children through 4 years of age.

In addition to expanding the ministry through additional childcare we will be hosting a Safe Church Training sponsored by the Religious Education Committee on Sunday, Feb. 5, 12:00pm - 2:00pm.  The Stewards of Children Training will be facilitated by our community partner, YMCA of the Triangle. This training is nationally recognized and has been used by organizations all over the state including non-profits, the education system, as well as professional corporations. We hope you will join us as a partner in expanding our care to families with children; whether you are interested in volunteering yourself or are a parent or grandparent of a child participant or a member or friend who is interested in learning more about this program, please join us for lunch at Noon to learn how to be "Stewards of Children" at CUCC.  Please register no later than Thursday, Feb. 2 by calling or emailing the CUCC office at 919-809-8850 or office.cucc@gmail.com.

 - Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Monday, January 23, 2017

Walk with CUCC's HKonJ delegation - Feb. 11

The Social Justice Ministry invites all of us - all ages - to this annual march hosted by the Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ) People’s Assembly Coalition, which was formed under the leadership of the NC NAACP.  CUCC will have a delegation walking with our banner.

CUCC-specific details  Want to carpool?  Meet at the Dixie Trail parking lot; we'll leave at 8:15 sharp.  Gary Smith and Sue Cottle will there to take passengers.  Want to meet there?  Call Jane Smith's cell phone (ask Jane for her phone number).

You may want to walk from the beginning (Memorial Auditorium) or, if walking is problematic, gather at the end (at the state capitol).

Plan to eat your lunch at Jersey Mike's, 2712 Hillsborough Street. CUCC's Youth Group receives a share of sales for their mission and BYC trips.  Be sure to tell the cashier you are from CUCC so they get credit.  If you can't come to the march, join the folks at Jersey Mike's to hear what happened and what follow-up action you might take.

Practice this song "You gotta put one foot in front of the other and lead with love," by Melanie DeMore so we can sing as we walk.

What is this march?
The Moral March on Raleigh is part of a love and justice movement to fight for an intersectional agenda to support public education, economic sustainability, workers’ rights and livable wages, health care for all, Medicaid expansion, environmental justice, voting rights, criminal justice reform, and equal protection under the law without regard to race, immigration status, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

General details
When: Saturday, February 11th at 8:30 a.m. (opening rally at 9:00, march begins at 10:00 followed by the mass People's Assembly at the doorstep of the state capitol)

Where: Gather across the street from the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 East South St., Raleigh

Notes for families with younger children
This is a family-friendly gathering.  Your children will walk with people of all ages and walks of life.  They will see colorful signs and banners, participate in chants (most rated G), hear drummers, clap and dance to music, and listen to speeches.  Expect to stand still for a half hour or more in the beginning as people arrive.  The march is several blocks long and gently paced.  Then there are speeches at the terminus for the main program which lasts about an hour.  Some families decorate a wagon or stroller to help with tired legs.  Your family might want to make a sign expressing something important to you; be sure to think about how to carry it when young (or old!) arms start getting tired.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

CUCC's Prism ministry based in Wake Forest hosts a Theology on Tap gathering every last Friday, 6PM.  The location changes each month, so check the calendar on the Prism website.  Join them for conversation and a libation of your choice (on your dime).  The event is co-hosted by Joy Alford and Amy Burki.

Please pass the word on.  Tell new folks that we will meet on street (look for Prism shirts or the Cross shirt).

Your next step on racial inequality in the criminal justice system?

In December we heard presentations from Dennis Gaddy (Ex. Dir. Community Success Initiative) and from men who had been released from incarceration and were rebuilding their lives.  Mr. Gaddy invites us to attend the film "13th - from Slave to Criminal in One Amendment" as a next step in our learning about incarceration.  Here is the information:

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial equality  in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.                              

Showing of the film followed by a facilitated discussion will allow the community to explore the situation together.  This event is being sponsored by the Wake County Public Defender's Office, NC Advocates for Justice, and the NC Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.  The Jan. 25 showing is sponsored by SERA, INC (Southeast Raleigh Assembly) .

Jan. 25th, from 6PM to 8:30PM,
Cooperative Extension of Wake County Auditorium,
4001 Carya Drive, Raleigh NC 27610.

Producer’s description of the film:  "In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom".

Description of the movie and discussion

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sacred Space

There are those places along our journeys, the kinds that knew us before we did, the kinds that hollow out room for the passers by, the comers and goers, and those that linger or loiter. I am never quite sure when a space will entranse me to its calm, invite me to remain, endeavor to call me to something, someone, or send me on my way with just the right concoction of steamed milk, the raw roast of molten beans…and a taste of the human condition. This morning as I have done the last several mornings I squeezed into the old desk row seats along the heavy bricked wall at Cup-A-Joe on Hillsborough Rd. You know it better than I do…

“Its better than church,” said Julia, the whimsical woman with dark-rimmed glasses and just the amount of pizzaz in her hair that messy meant beautiful. Pointing to the corner table she said, “When we were here 30 years ago, with our toddlers climbing the benches and hiding under the tables, we were told 'that’s the grown-up table'. There are a cast of characters in here, some with a number of Nobel Laureates.” Her friend, Mike leaned over saying, “It’s egalitarian, it’s more Democratic… After the election, we allIts need to be reminded of what is real. The realness here is what keeps me coming back, every single day.”

From the grown-up table there was murmur of Louisville, KY where I went to high school, and thus the sacred space that held us all invited me to inquire. Bill Tucker and I went to the same high school; him when it was still an all male school, and me 50 years later when duPont Manual High School was a Math and Science Youth Performing Arts School on the campus of the University of Louisville. Then across the table, Mitch whose last name would remain a mystery until next time… who recounted name after name of those whose funerals he had attended at Community UCC where he describes he’d like to visit. “It’s too liberal for me," he said. “I tried to go there once, but as I got closer and closer I fell off the edge.” Getting up to better things he was replaced by another tall and friendly-faced man: Henry Haywood, of the Haywoods of Raleigh… kind and gentle, the conversation grew from a world known before to both of us. Then, one by one as the seats were filled and filled again, the newcomers as “familiar” and necessary to the experience as the coffee in the cups, I understand: Cup-A-Joe, a world of resilience and resolutions, of people and personas —the Commons is alive and well.

Today, as your world beckons you to the tasks at hand, look around, look up, look across the table, out your window, into the eyes of passers by, and wait for it-wait for the sacred spaces and faces to tell a different story… than the otherwise complicated and disagreeable existence that waits just outside the door.

“Holy and Mystical Spirit, weaver of life and giver of light, we know that your love, your presence can never be contained by space or time, but that in it you are eager to invite us to a deeper knowing, a deeper listening where our lives knit together can tell a different story. Help us to listen deeply, look closely and share the mystery, one person at a time. Amen.”

-- Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas

Monday, January 16, 2017

Invitations to do justice from our friends

Adrienne Little, the Social Justice Ministry's representative on the Congregations for Social Justice (CSJ) coalition, passes along these opportunities for your consideration.

1 - Accepting Reservations - CSJ Annual Dinner Meeting from Al Reberg           Monday, February 6, 2017 – 6:00 PM
          Highland United Methodist Church - Bradley Hall
          1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh 27607
Our Guest Speaker will be David Guice, Commissioner of NC Department of Corrections
CORRECTION: Deadline for RSVPs is Monday, January 30  😉
      Email RSVP's to

2 -  Building the Beloved Community - The relevance of MLK and Gandhi today from Joe Burton  
               Tuesday, January 17, 7 p.m.
               Highland United Methodist Church
               1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh 27609

3 -  Save the Date for Cary Town Council Hearing - Feb 23 at 6:30pm - from Rachel Zeitler
Habitat Wake is planning to purchase some land from Bethel Baptist Church in Cary off of W Chatham Street. Our hope is to build up to 23 affordable townhome units that will be available for affordable homeownership.

Right now, the land is zoned for single family homes and we've applied for a rezoning change to multi-family. We need the rezoning to be approved to make it feasible for Habitat to build affordable units there. As you may have heard, the project’s been met with a considerable amount of concern from neighbors and many are opposed to us building in that area.

Part of the rezoning process includes a public hearing in front of the Cary Town Council on February 23rd and we would be extremely grateful for support from CSJ members at that meeting. Ideally, we would like to fill the room with as many supporters as possible to show the Council that affordable housing in Cary is critically important and needed.

If you are available, please save the date for this public hearing on Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30pm. It will be at Cary Town Hall (316 N. Academy Street) in Council Chambers. I’ll send more details as we get closer to the date, including coordinating shirt colors. Also, if you are a resident of Cary and would be willing to speak in support at the hearing, please email rachel.zeitler@habitatwake.org.

Social Justice Ministry Opportunities to “show up”

CUCC's Social Justice Ministry is co-sponsoring these events.  By "showing up," you can take a step for justice in God's world.

February 7 at 7 PM our sanctuary: showing of Zach Galifianakis’ film Democracy For Sale
Plan to arrive early - first come, first serve seating.

350 Triangle and the CUCC Social Justice Ministry will co-host the Raleigh showing of Democracy For Sale.

“North Carolina — perhaps more than any other state in the Union — has been transformed by the new and growing tidal wave of political spending. Democracy for Sale travels with Zach Galifianakis, the comic star of the Hangover movies, back to his home state to investigate how North Carolina has become a bellwether for how the money of a few has come to dominate our democracy. Galifianakis investigates allegations that the current state government was put in power by moneyed interests and has thus carried out a program that only benefits its backers: cuts to education, healthcare spending and environmental protection; lowering of taxes for the wealthy and corporations; and the passage of laws designed to roll back access to the ballot.”  This movie is a terrific investigation of money in important Social Justice issues in our state including gerrymandering, voter suppression, education, the environment and health care.

Other ways to help:  Serve as a greeter.  With 76 folks from the community signed up already, we want to make sure everyone feels welcome.  Contact Jane Smith if you will be a greeter.

February 11:  HKonJ
Gather at 8:30 on South St. in downtown Raleigh.  Opening Rally at 9:00 a.m.  March at 10:00 a.m.
Carpool from the Dixie Trail parking lot; departure at 8:15 promptly.  If you want to meet the group there, call Jane Smith's cell phone (ask Jane for the number).

Join us for the 11th annual Moral March on Raleigh and HKonJ People's Assembly. This annual mass mobilization of the HKonJ Coalition brings together justice loving people from across the state and nation to stand against the legislative attacks on the people of North Carolina and to continue to fight for our moral agenda.

This is a child-friendly event (generally positive, inclusive and friendly atmosphere, colorful banners, drummers & chants), though there is a long period standing still listening to speeches at the beginning of the march and when we arrive at the terminus.

Other ways to help:  Afterwards, join the youth at Jersey Mike's, 2712 Hillsborough Street for lunch.  20% of all sales come back to CUCC Youth!  Get refueled for more social action and support our youth at the same time.

Adult weekend repairing homes

Our friends Bill and Rosemary Pate (co-leaders of our Appalachia Service Project youth teams for several years) are taking a group of adults to Rainelle, WV the weekend of April 6-9, 2017.  Rainelle was hit by the horrible floods of 2016.

First Sunday for Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas as Senior Pastor

Videos from the worship service of January 15 are now available in the CUCC Archive where they will reside permanently. Included there are both the sermon and the children's sermon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Economic Justice Task Force Forum - Jan. 22

Please plan to join us for Forum on Sunday, January 22, from 9:30am to 10:15am, in the Vaughan Fellowship Hall. The Economic Justice Task Force has been reading a number of books on justice issues that impact the economy. We would like to share the perspectives and insights which the books provide with everyone at CUCC who can join us.

The readings include:
*Saving Capitalism for the Many, Not the Few, by Robert Reich;
*One Nation Under God, by Kevin Kruse;
*The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander;
*Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice, by Les Leopold; and
*Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It, by Robert Lupton.

You do not need to have read the books to participate in the discussion. For questions, contact Don or Shirley Birt.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Exploring White Privilege Curriculum

Some folks at CUCC have expressed an interest in participating in a study using the UCC's new White Privilege:  Let's Talk curriculum.  A small exploratory group will be meeting to consider how/whether to offer a fuller study to the congregation.  If you would like to be part of that exploratory group, contact Śānti Matthews as soon as possible.  education.cucc@gmail.com

From Śānti:  We will meet on Tuesday evenings in the Hoffmann Room from 6:30-7:30 p.m. for six weeks, beginning January 17. At the conclusion of this group, we will discuss whether and how to bring this curriculum to the larger church.

Here is the plan until or unless we decide to change it...
Week 1: Part One
Week 2: Part Two
Week 3: Part Three
[Skip Feb. 7]
Week 4: Part Four
Week 5: Where do we go from here?
Week 6: Preparing next steps.

Update from Śānti:  We will meet again tomorrow evening in the Hoffmann Room.  This is week 2, so tomorrow we will focus on the five chapters in Part 2 of White Privilege: Let's Talk.

We will skip our meeting on February 7 due to the screening of Democracy For Sale in our sanctuary.

Each week we are exploring and sharing our responses to one of the Parts of the curriculum. On our final and sixth session together on February 28, we will discuss whether and how to bring this curriculum to the larger church.

Join our social justice ministry at a rally supporting affordable healthcare

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has enabled millions of people to have health care who could not afford it before.  However, there is now a strong effort in the US Congress to remove the ACA, and this will force many people to lose their health care again.  Please let your Senators and Congress Representatives know that you do not support this!

A rally in support of the ACA will be held from 3 to 5 PM Sunday Jan 15 at the North Carolina Association of Educators (700 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601).

Members of the Social Justice Ministry will be there at 3 PM.  We ask you to join us.
For more information and show your interest, see this Facebook page

Call Gary Smith if you are interested in carpooling.

- submitted by the Social Justice Ministry

Who are the 2016 new babies in your family?

Because of the snow, our Epiphany/Babies We Love celebration was postponed to January 15. That means you have until January 11 to submit information about the new baby (born in 2016) in your family.

Every Epiphany we celebrate the babies born in our families in the previous year.  Whether you are a proud grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, parent or sibling, did a special person arrive in your family in 2016?

Please send the following to Cathy Marshall in the church office (office.cucc@gmail.com) by January 11:
Full name of baby
Relationship to you
Date of birth
Hometown of baby
Photo of baby!!!

Then mark your calendar for Epiphany Sunday, January 15.  At fellowship after worship we will celebrate the Babies We Love from 2016.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Describing the division

Anyone who didn't sleep through the past year knows that America is a seriously divided country. Some folks talk in terms of "red state" America vs. "blue state" America. A recent article by Robert Leonard (a resident of Iowa) argues that a more accurate view is provided by thinking in terms of "red county" America vs. "blue county" America.

In my experience, the urban-rural divide isn’t really so much a red state versus blue state issue, it’s red county versus blue county. Rural Iowans have more in common with the rural residents of Washington State and New Mexico — places I’ve also lived — than with the residents of Des Moines, Seattle and Albuquerque.

Robert Leonard's article rings true for me more so than any piece I've read which purports to portray how rural people think, i.e. what the cultural divide looks like from "the other side." I recommend the article as a way of furthering understanding on the nature of the divide.

Why Rural America Voted for Trump

Monday, January 2, 2017

Pastor Jenny's office hours (initially)

On January 15 (Sunday), Pastor Jenny will join us for worship, bringing the message at the 10:30AM service.  The next day, January 16, her office hours begin.  This is her initial schedule which may change after she has settled into her work among us.

Mondays 9:00-2:00pm
Tuesdays 9:00-2:00pm
Wednesdays - by appointment only (Pastor Jenny will work from home as she prepares the sermon.)
Thursdays 9:00-2:00pm

Fridays and Saturdays are her regularly-scheduled days off.