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FP Roots

To join a Tree House TODAY, Register online at Firstplymouthchurch.org/FPRoots

Each Tree House will receive a root starter kit with the essentials to launch your first gathering, beginning the week of August 16, 2020. Root kits include: 1 book per participant, and 1 candle, centering mat, and prayer stick per group. Books will cover topics: parenting, racism, leadership, social change and spirituality. If you’d rather not read another book, sign-up anyway, and enjoy great discussion, spiritual support and celebrating life’s joys with new friends!

FP ROOTS CALENDAR

Aug. 16-22, Tree House Blessings

Aug. 23-29, Book Discussion Launch

Aug. 30-Sept. 5, Dinner Parties

Sept. 6-12, Book Discussions

Sept. 13-19, Action Week 

Sept. 20-26, Book Discussions 

Sept. 27-Oct. 3, Author Events (TBD)

A Course on Grief

Pastoral Care Message
by Rev. Dr. Anthony Scott

In previous articles, I have written about grief, its purpose, and the impact it has on an individual. Grief is sneaky. One moment, you may feel, aside from the loss you have suffered, that all is well. In the next moment, grief shows up and manifests itself in whichever ways it sees fit. Grief is an emotional process which may begin following a loss or change of any kind. The sort of change or loss commonly thought to precipitate the grieving process is the death of a relative or friend. However, any and every change in life’s journey IS a loss of a sort. If by nothing else, the grief process can be brought on by our illusions of what was. David Whyte, 21st century author and poet mused about grief as a well. While it is true that the well is filled with life giving water, the grief process can be akin to falling into the well and finding oneself overwhelmed,
overcome, drowning.

In the span of two months we have experienced a number of reasons to grieve. Just to name a few things that may have a grief impact, Covid-19, the manifestation of racism and white supremacy in the death of George Floyd and so many others, employment loss, and loss of a sense of normalcy. Grief is a well. Grief is a sea. Grief can be life giving. But, like a deep well, grief’s waters are best accessed with adequate tools. Like a sea, grief is vast and deep, sometimes deceptively so. It is best navigated on a ship equipped with provisions, companions and life preservation tools.

For six weeks, beginning Sunday, July 19 at 11:15 AM, I will be facilitating a course on grief. Using “Good Grief” by Granger Westburg as a guide we will journey through universal components of the grief process. All are welcome to join the course via Zoom. The only materials you need to participate in this course are yourself, willingness to participate, and the book “Good Grief”. The book is available for purchase via Amazon or a bookseller near you. Please email me at pastoralcare@firstplymouthchurch.org to register or for more information.

 

FP Pride Parade!

In case you missed the First Plymouth Pride Parade during the Denver Pride 2020, here it is!

An Update on Maribel’s Journey

(This update is provided by Beth Irtz)

Over a year ago now Cathy Benn and I introduced Maribel to our congregation. Maribel immigrated from Mexico and her journey took her to the GEO Aurora Detention Center. We learned about Maribel’s story and need for a sponsor when Freedom for Immigrants was in touch with us.

My husband, Chris, and I had agreed to sponsor Maribel and we visited her in detention and took others to translate. Laura Eley was very helpful during this very difficult and confusing time. Eventually on May 31, 2019 Maribel was released from detention and came to live with us. Many of you met her or saw her with us at First Plymouth. We learned Maribel had left four children and her mother in Monticellos, Mexico, a pueblo about two hours northeast of Acapulco. Maribel had lived in the pueblo for her entire life, as her mother has.

The day following Maribel’s release she reached her children by video on her cell phone. You could hear their cries and screams through our entire home, and what seemed like our entire neighborhood! She had not seen her children or spoken with them since she left them some nine months before. Maribel started the daily ritual of speaking with them many times every day.

We also learned Maribel’s five brothers were also here in the US, two in Glenwood Springs. A couple weeks later we went to Glenwood Springs to meet them. Maribel reconnected with them and their families. During one of our trips to the Glenwood Springs area, we attended a christening celebration where most of the people were undocumented. Since then Maribel has made the trip to Glenwood Springs with us or via the Greyhound several times. She is now living in Glenwood Springs with, Luis, a familiar face from her pueblo, who she was friends with since childhood.

In July and August 2019 Maribel established herself with a physician and other healthcare providers here locally. Amazingly they all accepted her as a patient with very little or zero co-pays. Obviously, we were delighted about this since she was not eligible to apply for Medicaid or a work permit. Maribel applied for a Mexican passport and ID card at the Mexican consulate and was approved. Another gift, Leonora, an angel in our church from Columbia, went and helped Maribel through the process, most of a day. She began taking English lessons with Tricia Springer and her English improved. Additionally, Maribel was digitally fingerprinted by Homeland Security and eventually released from ICE check-ins. In August 2019 Maribel went to court with her new attorney and met with the judge to schedule her final asylum hearing. The date was set for October 26, 2021. Over 2 years later.

In September, Maribel and her attorney applied for a work permit. In January 2020 Homeland Security notified Maribel her work permit was denied. She appealed and was denied again. Maribel’s attorney has told her she has no chance of getting a work permit before her asylum hearing in 2021. Therefore, she has no legal work options for over 2 years.

Since October 2020 Maribel traveled back-and-forth from our home to Glenwood Springs to see her family, friends, and Luis. Most of these months seemed hopeful for Maribel, she continued to look forward to working to support her children still in Mexico. She seemed indecisive about staying in Denver or staying in Glenwood Springs. She continues today to have moments of indecisiveness. She is sad it is taking so long, and she can’t work or see her children. She lives to send money to Mexico every week. So many of you have contributed to her needs and those of her children. Maribel is so grateful. Even today the Church has provided some support for her.

COVID-19 changed Maribel and Luis life like an earthquake. In a moment’s time they had nothing: no place to live and no way to buy food. Our church heard their call and responded. She lives in the way many poor and low-income people of color in our country. She and Luis have a small apartment now, with a few possessions and food. She is here legally, and we can hope and pray she will be granted asylum in October 2021.

In writing this I hope you’ll see the hopefulness in coming to America and the barriers and problems people of color and different ethnicity confront and how we as a church have helped and can do more. I often wonder what her future holds. I have learned her vision and goals are not ours, but hers. My lack of understanding for Maribel’s way of life and culture was a barrier itself in helping and supporting her.

My initial introduction on the other side of the glass at the detention center was a moment I’ll never forget. I was locked behind two air locks and couldn’t get out. I had briefly lost my freedom and had never before understood this feeling. My freedom in that moment was more important than any right I had. Maribel lived this way for over nine months in our country and now she is free.

Thank you, each of you, for all you have done in greeting Maribel, driving her to appointments, supporting her financially and emotionally. Your generosity of heart will never be forgotten.

Declaring Racism a Sin: Call to Confession, Education, Prayer and Action

Pastoral Letter to First Plymouth Congregational Church
“Declaring Racism a Sin:
Call to Confession, Education, Prayer and Action”

We are a faith community that seeks to live out the gospel message, following Jesus to work for justice, pray with our faith and our feet, that all might know abundant life.

We condemn the sin of racism and reject all forms of racial violence against our black and brown brothers and sisters.

We declare openly and wholeheartedly that Black Lives Matter. 

We commit to working for the healing, justice, and freedom of black and brown people. 

We call upon the First Plymouth community to confess our white privilege and complicity in perpetuating structures and practices of “whiteness” that aids white supremacy in this country.

We call upon the First Plymouth community to join us in working for justice and equity through confession, education, prayer, and action.

We must do better.

Forward Together,

First Plymouth Ministerial Staff:

Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas, Sr. Pastor
Rev. Dr. Eric Smith, Teaching Pastor
Rev. Dr. Anthony Scott, Pastoral Associate for Congregational Care
Alix Wright, Director of Children and Family Ministry
Joel Rinsema, Director of Music

 


 

I. CONFESSION:
Confession is a central part of the Christian life. As believers in the way of love, we are called to self-examine daily, through prayer, lamenting our sins, confessing and finally seeking forgiveness from our God and our neighbors for the harm we have caused. The work to end racism begins with white people acknowledging our complicity in perpetuating white supremacy, benefiting from the oppression of black and brown people, and for the pain and suffering our black and brown brothers and sisters have endured these last 400 years. We must confess our sins and declare white supremacy the ultimate lie of the church and the state.

The United Church of Christ invites the church to declare racism a sin. Please join with the Church universal in confession:

The resource entitled, “Transformative Justice: Being Church and Overcoming Racism”, acknowledges racism as a sin and states the following:

Churches have declared that racism is a sin.

Racism is a sin because it:

  • denies the very source of humanity, the image of God in humankind;
  • destroys God’s likeness in every person and thus repudiates creation and its goodness;
  • assumes that human beings are not equal before God and are not part of God’s family;
  • is contrary to biblical teaching;
  • denies basic justice and human dignity;
  • is a blatant denial of the Christian faith;
  • is incompatible with the Gospel;
  • is a flagrant violation of human rights;
  • separates us from God and from other human beings;
  • makes us blind to the reality of people’s suffering and
  • perpetuates racist attitudes, practices and institutional racism.

We have confessed that racism is a sin, not only as individual Christians, but also as churches. To affirm that racism is a sin has a radical implication for the churches: the radical commitment to overcome it.

Transformative Justice: Being Church and Overcoming Racism, Resource Guide, World Council of Churches 2004

 

This is our Prayer:

Dear God, Creator of the universe and all that inhabit it, we come as your Church, and as individuals, in humble submission to Your Word and Your Way. God, you who are Alpha and Omega, The Almighty Judge and The Forgiver of All Sins, we come with bowed heads and contrite hearts on behalf of generations past, present and those yet unborn. We now ask that you forgive us and create in us a new spirit. Bind our hearts and send forth the healing power that You and You alone can give to us and this sin-sick world. Bring us into reconciliation with one another and restore us to thy path. Amen.

Adaptation of Alter Prayer, Acknowledging The Breach, from Reparations: A Process for Repairing The Breach: A Study and Discussion Guide for Local Congregations, Associations and Conferences of the United Church of Christ.

(https://www.ucc.org/justice_racism_racism-declared-sin)

 

II. EDUCATION:
As followers of Jesus, and members of the United Church of Christ, we exist in a long-line of faithful activists for justice and equity who never tire of enlightening ourselves for the sake of God’s radical and inclusive love. We as a church are called to continue this pursuit of knowledge as we seek to dismantle white supremacy, and end the sin of racism across the world. Below are resources to assist you on your journey. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is one of the nation’s foremost historians and leading scholars on racism. He shares an anti-racist syllabus for those seeking to begin or continue their anti-racist journey:

Anti-racist syllabus compiled by Ibram X. Kendi
https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/list/share/204842963/1357692923

Additional Books:
“Witnessing Whiteness” by Tim Wise- witnessingwhiteness.com

 

III. PRAYER:
Please join the United Church of Christ and the Church universal in praying. Either pray the “Alter Prayer” above, or write your own prayer of lament, and confession for the sins of racism, and pray it as often as you can, knowing that our God hears us when we cry out, and is quick to guide our steps towards healing and wholeness.

Sing your prayers:

Vincent Harding speaks life through song at The While Goose Festival with his song lyrics, “We are Building Up a New World”:
Sung to the tune of “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” these lyrics will help us sing the movement into being:

We are building up a new world (3x)
Builders must be strong.

Courage sisters don’t get weary,
Courage brothers don’t get weary,
Courage people don’t get weary,
Though the road be long.

NO ENEMIES · 16 Building Up A New World 10Jan2016
http://singthemovement.com/building-up-a-new-world.html

IV. ACTION:

(From Juniper Foundation)

To help get you started, here are a few ideas for cultivating sustainable spiritual and relational anti-racism practices:

  • Learn and talk about politics, religion, and money in “polite company,” and any company. “Polite company” means socially superior people, that’s code for White Supremacy, and avoiding the topics of politics, religion, and money only serves structural and systemic white supremacy. Jesus almost exclusively preached, taught, and engaged one-to-one on the topics of politics, religion (faith), and money—follow Jesus and spread the good news!
  • Build loving, real, meaningful, trustworthy relationships.
  • Check-in with your BIPOC (black, indigenous & people of color) friends, colleagues, family, pastor, and parishioners when racism rears its evilness in our communities and world. Then check-in again when it happens two days later or the next week. Show up and be present. This goes for anyone whose identity is systemically oppressed and discriminated against too.
  • Listen to the lived experiences of BIPOC and hear their words as truth. Notice if your mind or body starts to resist, judge, or question their truth, withhold judgement, and interrogate the root of this inner resistance. If their experience doesn’t fit your narrative of how the world works, respond with trust, curiosity, and love. It is a blessing to share and receive one another’s truths, an opportunity for empathy, wisdom and expansion of the heart, mind and spirit. Make more room, not less.
  • Offer regular prayers that lift up the names and lives of those who have died from police violence and racism, and those living and dead saints who fight for racial justice. Learn how to say their names correctly and from the memory of your heart, learn about their lives so that they become real to you like family, and then pray so that God would know you are praying for God’s beloved children. Pray together as family, friends, neighbors, small groups and congregations.
  • Respond to petitions and participate in letter writing and phone calling campaigns to legislators and others in power demanding they take action to create anti-racist policies and put people before profit. Invite others to join you, there is power in relationships.
  • Read one article or watch one video a day, one book a week/month, and then share with others what you learned and make a personal recommendation to someone else who could benefit from this shared wisdom.
  • Support BIPOC-led organizations and businesses. Make your money and investments work in support of racial justice. (300 Magazine list of 200+ Black-owned businesses to support in Denver)
  • Examine all-white institutional leadership and create BIPOC-inclusive leadership. If the leadership of your church, organization, business, or social and civic groups do not include BIPOC, work to uncover and understand what internal cultural ideas, values, narratives, histories, relationships, structures, and systems are functioning to maintain white supremacy in institutional leadership. Then work to dismantle and co-create new ways of being together that include BIPOC leadership.
  • Host an anti-racist movie/documentary night or an online watch party each week with your family, church and/or community. Discuss how you felt, what you learned, what new understanding is emerging, what questions you have and what additional resources you need, and how you are motivated to action. Pay attention to how BIPOC are represented in media, and make sure to intentionally include media that centers BIPOC in their fullness, power, wisdom, culture, beauty and life. Challenge media narratives that dehumanize and/or victimize BIPOC.
  • Amplify BIPOC voices by following and sharing BIPOC leaders on social media, listen to their podcasts, read their research and theology, listen to their preaching, know them as experts, and support their ministries. Always cite BIPOC if you integrate their intellectual and spiritual wisdom into your preaching, writing, research and conversations with others.

 

Read more here for “Immediate Action” you can take, for “Advocacy and Policy” changes to work for, and more:

Black Lives Matter /Resist Racism —items for purchase:

Yard Signs

Face Masks

T-shirts, Hoodies, Hats, Masks and more