Jim's Blog September 2017

Jim's Reflection
When reflecting on the last month - or when looking ahead - where should a person of faith start when writing a newsletter? Justice issues, political unrest, misuse of political power, environmental issues, misguided clergy and religious leaders, and sadly so much more.
Reversal of DACA, white supremacy, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, North Korea, Joe Arpaio, and the Nashville Statement are just a few of the recent news items. So how are we, as Christians and as a church, to respond?

We start by showing up. On Sunday mornings, where we can be community, supporting one another, encouraging each other, and listening to what God might be calling us to. Or throughout our week, where we are the hands and feet of our God, caring for those close to us, and those around our world. We work to be models and voices of God's love, mercy,
and justice. When a group of religious leaders write a statement that condemns those who are homosexual or transgendered, we are people and a church that models inclusion. When political leaders speak of deportation, we work to accompany and support. When a warming
climate leads to destruction, we respond with generosity and concern, and we work to care for our environment.

One way we do this is through our Justice and Mercy Ministry. Over the next couple months, we will be introducing the different agencies we have chosen to work with this year, and determining as a church how much we should distribute to which agencies. [The agencies are IM4Human Integrity, Friendly Manor, Stand, Shelter Inc., Water 1st International, Common Hope,
BAYC Youth, and Habitat for Humanity] Our Endowment Board has elected to tithe a portion of our spendable income to Justice and Mercy programs, so we have a total of $7,500 to distribute in 2017.

Just this week, on behalf of the church, Justice and Mercy has put $1,000 of our money toward Hurricane Harvey has put $1,000 of our money toward Hurricane Harvey Relief - $500 to the Houston Food Bank, and $500 to UCC Disaster Relief. And we as a congregation contributed another $850 to the UCC through personal donations.

Looking ahead
I am excited about the many things that are ahead of us as a church this year. Our fall is packed with fun events, meaningful programs, and new initiatives. And part of this will be monthly opportunities to live out our faith through service activities, sponsored by Justice & Mercy and Children & Youth.

Be sure to save time after church on Sundays, as we have a great assortment of programs for our 2nd Hour Forums
- What is the UCC?, Sports and Religion, Conversation with our Muslim Neighbors (Oct. 15) - not to mention a Guatemala Luncheon and our Annual Auction (Nov.5).

The Neighbor points to the many other events that are starting back up this September, and there are even more on the horizon.

And lastly, this fall will offer our chance to discuss what is next for us as a congregation.
I look forward to the year that is ahead of us, and the chance to be the church with you.