2013 Highlights from HC-UCC Peace & Justice Team
In 2013 a 50-day long “Mission 4/1 Earth Campaign” inspired HCUCC’s special focus on stewarding for the one Earth that so faithfully sustains us all. Together we planted trees, tracked Earth Care hours, conducted litter cleanups, held an outdoor worship service, and strengthened some lifestyle habits to minimize our ecological footprints. Our efforts from High Country UCC were among only 5 congregations recognized by the UCC at large, in a June 17, 2013 article available at the national UCC website.
In addition, some HCUCCers were among those who traveled to Washington DC for the February 2013 “Forward on Climate” demonstration. Then this summer Brendan Byers, a seminary student at Princeton Seminary, interned at High Country UCC with a Peace and Justice focus. Brendan’s presence among us was greatly appreciated, especially discussions about connections with Israel-Palestine and our Hispanic neighbors. We have also partnered with Boone UU Fellowship in hosting gatherings twice now to increase our connections with and appreciation for the local Hispanic community — the most recent Three Kings event was quite special indeed.
HCUCCers have become more visible in the local political arena than they have been since the campaign against the Amendment ending in May 2012. In May 2013, some 30 of us showed up at a County Commission Meeting to support local funding of non-profit organizations providing critical services to citizens most in need, and HCUCC’ers made persuasive public statements. Again a few weeks ago, when the future of the Watauga River seemed at risk, multiple HCUCC’ers stepped up at a Commission Hearing to voice strong calls to protect the river’s integrity. Fortunately, in that case at least the outcome was one that we favor!
In October 2013, High Country UCC accepted an invitation to participate along with other UCC congregations in holding a “Mental Health Sunday” to increase awareness and decrease stigma around mental health issues. The complete worship materials and personal testimony developed and personalized for the occasion are available online at: www.highcountryucc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2013-HCUCC-Mntl-Hlth-Sun-Full.pdf The national UCC again picked up on our congregation’s participation, and news of our faithful effort was included on the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website as an article entitled: “Coming out” on Mental Health Sunday.
Also this year High Country UCC was a co-signer among 15 Southern Conference UCC churches to a June 2013 Resolution for Justice* inspired by the NC NAACP initiated “Moral Mondays” in Raleigh. Moral Mondays grew out of moral outrage at our state legislature’s recent denial of Earned Income Tax Credits, Medicaid benefits, unemployment benefits, public school funding, racial justice and access to voting. Four of us from HCUCC this summer were among the 940+ people arrested in Raleigh in the NC General Assembly for civil disobedience while protesting a series of regressive actions of the state legislature. Many more of us attended as witnesses the Raleigh Moral Mondays.
Just this week, legendary journalist Bill Moyers hosted a documentary summarizing what has happened in NC, as “State of Conflict: North Carolina”. It is now available for online viewing. Specific concerns of some HCUCCs were included in a June 25, 2013 article in the local High Country Press and a June 26, 2013 article in the local Watauga Democrat. We were also delighted that the Rev Dr William J Barber II, the President of the NC NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday Forward Together Movement, traveled to Boone and spoke to our community about the moral importance of getting involved for the good of the whole. See the articles here and here. Many of the Rev Dr Barber’s arguments are grounded in faith, and in remembering the importance of Jesus as a moral dissenter advocating justice for all.
Such a message resonates deeply at High Country UCC, where our mission is to inspire positive change in our world as we are led by Christ’s example of love, compassion, and acceptance of all people. And so, this year’s state of conflict in North Carolina has inspired us to get involved once again, and formally reaffirm our support of justice as HCUCC. *In brief, the here is the final portion of what High Country UCC has supported – Reaffirming JUSTICE as God’s Promise and Our Calling – Let it be resolved that our congregations and our members will individually and collectively advocate for justice by:
- speaking with the silenced to amplify their voice,
- expanding “the table” to include the marginalized,
- extending the right to vote to all citizens,
- going to their elected officials for redress,
- strengthening their public schools,
- standing for racial justice,
- caring for creation,
- contributing to and participating with the needs of their neighbors,
- writing compassion and mercy into our laws, and
- partnering with all allies of justice – with other churches and faith congregations, Justice and Witness Ministries, the North Carolina and Virginia Councils of Churches, the NAACP, Interfaith Power & Light, social service agencies, prison ministries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, mental health agencies, recovery groups, domestic violence prevention programs, housing initiatives, all who are seeking to do justice.
As we move into 2014, let us remember these commitments, and continue our advocacy efforts!
One event many of us look forward to participating in, is the upcoming Saturday February 8, 2014 is the MORAL MARCH ON RALEIGH HKonJ PEOPLES ASSEMBLY from 9:30-12:30. We are collaborating with some local justice groups in hopes of chartering a bus from Boone to Raleigh.
Please let Cath Hopkins know ASAP if you would like to participate!
For additional information visit http://hkonj-naacpnc.nationbuilder.com/moral_march_on_raleigh and https://www.facebook.com/events/577895312291914/permalink/587737371307708/