ONE: Out of the depths of anxiety and fear we cry to you, O God.
ALL: Lord, hear our cry.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, children, youth and adults who do not feel safe in our public schools.
ALL: Grant them courage each day to confront their fears, to comfort and strengthen one another, and to work together for change.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, those students who fear going to school each day because they are victims of bullying, harassment and hate perpetrated by their peers.
ALL: Help them to claim their right to an education free from fear, to persevere amid adversity, to endure despite damage done to their self esteem and to their emotional and physical selves.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, those students, teachers and administrators who witness violations of human dignity without intervening, those whose silence and apathy encourage acts and words of bullying, harassment and hate.
ALL: Speak to their hearts, O God. Help them to find their voices and the will to intervene immediately, even when they must, themselves, pay a price in popularity.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, all parents who entrust their children to our public schools, rightfully expecting them to receive a quality education and support for social development in a safe, secure environment.
ALL: Help them to find peace of mind through determined involvement in efforts to make schools a safer place for their children and secure, productive work environments for teachers and administrators.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, individuals, community organizations, businesses and churches working conscientiously to bring equitable financial and other resources to our public schools.
ALL: Grant them, grant us, the will to organize to confront every obstacle, to remove every barrier, including prejudice and the hostility it breeds, until our public schools are safe environments for all.
ONE: Hear our prayer, O God.
ALL: Hear our prayer. Amen.
Litany by the Rev. Bill Johnson, 1999
Written by Rev. Loey Powell
As a kid, I learned the sing-songy jingle of, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.” I sang it back to boys who taunted me and my friends, empowered by its disarming message. As an adult, I learned that names and words can cause much greater harm than physical threats; names and words can actually be cause for prosecution in hate crime cases when people of color or those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are verbally abused.
But I am still amazed and appalled that words and names which demean women and girls do not constitute verbal abuse in the same way – the “b” word and “ho” are heard on prime time television shows and family hour shows with great regularity. Other belittling names and words characterize women as stupid or obsessed only with their looks or weight or with getting a date. Such names and words fill the airwaves on the radio and even appear on public advertising bulletin boards. Video games are filled with distorted images of women who become objects of conquest for the player.
As you conscientiously avoid consuming violence in the media, pay attention as well to how women and girls are portrayed in magazines, on billboards, in the songs you love to listen to, on the TV shows you watch or movies you plan to see. Compile a list of the words used to describe women and girls. While what you watch, see or hear may not be overtly violent in a shoot-em-up kind of way, could distorted images of women possibly contribute to a culture that could lead to - or justify in some people’s minds - actual physical violence against women?
Women are the primary targets of most of that kind of violence, particularly domestic violence. How can we cultivate through our words a society that truly values women and girls as much as it does men and boys? Are you willing to challenge your friends, or boss, or co-workers, or family members who use demeaning and pejorative names and words for girls and women? Can you raise awareness in your children’s schools about words and name-calling that diminishes not just the target of those names but also the one who speaks them? Can you hold your local media accountable for the kind of programming they offer?
We are all created in the image of God, the Holy One whose name is many and whose attributes are all good and gracious. May we be so with each other.
A small United Church of Christ congregation in Virginia is showing that its size is determined more by its heart than the number of members. Through a 3 Great Loves mission project making quilts for distribution in the surrounding community, Mt. Calvary UCC is visibly demonstrating its love for children.
Ohio congregations provide safety education in a community project inspired by the Holy Spirit. Watch the video!
Emily C. Heath
It's up to the adults in children's lives to lift them up, and bless them on their path. And Advent is as good a time as any to start.
When I was a child head lice got a kid stigmatized. Today head lice are the new normal.
This, in essence, is what we whisper in the ear of anyone who comes to be baptized: "You are God's beloved." Those are the first words we hear. That is who we are.
"I will pour down rain on a thirsty land, showers on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessings on your children. They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like poplars by a flowing stream." —Isaiah 44:3-4
The promise of God's blessings for children has been affirmed down the generations of faith from the time that God first promised to Abraham and Sarah that their offspring would be as numerous as the stars. Jesus not only welcomed the child, but asked everyone to enter into the eternal realm of God's blessings as children. Children are not only invited, but show us the way.
Children have the right to develop spiritually, intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally, and to live in conditions of freedom and dignity. Because children are powerless and often live with adults who are poor and have little voice, there is a tendency not to see or hear them. Too often, their basic needs go unfulfilled.
The United Church of Christ has a long tradition of affirming public policies that generate and distribute resources in ways that provide all people, including children, with the potential to live healthy and productive lives. The covenant of God is with all children of our nation and the world, not just with the children who share our church life.
Homegrown Faith and Justice: Conversations on Faith Formation at Home
What is the unique role parents and guardians play in the faith formation of their families? What are the joys and challenges parents encounter as they try to raise children with faith, empathy, a sense of fairness and the courage to act justly? How is the church supporting them, and how might we further support their efforts? Join us for this conversation with a panel of colleagues on the intersections of faith formation, justice advocacy, and the unique role of parents as the primary faith teachers of children in day-to-day life. Learn about Homegrown Faith and Justice, a use-at-home resource for families that's been published thanks to a sponsorship from the United Church of Christ Minnesota Ashley Endowment Fund.
Bullying and What We Can Do to Stop It
Bullying is a form of abuse of power, when one young person or a peer group abuses a vulnerable young person over a period of time. Bullying happens among young women and young men, among boys and girls. It can be physical or emotional.
There is evidence that a community or a school or a church can take steps to create a culture of respect that reduces bullying significantly. As people of faith we are called to help our communities reduce bullying. Learn more.
Tracking Child Poverty
Our 2012 Message on Public Education explores, in depth, how poverty impacts children's performance at school.
Additional UCC Web Pages that Address Justice for Children
All creatures great and small, our loving God made us all!
NEW - Resources -- weekly activity sheets
S A F E F U N G A M E S
Coloring Game - Simply move the mouse over the screen to "paint" images. Try to make a butterfly or anything else your imagination sees.
Sparkle Stars - Move your mouse over the screen to see "stars" follow your cursor.
Random Designs - Practice clicking your mouse buttons to change the colors of the designs.
When you are finished with any of the games below, simply use the back left arrow (Alt + Left) to return to the previous page.
Drawing Pad - Simply use the pencil to sketch anything that you can imagine.
Matching Fruit - Match the fruit in this memory game, once they are all pair up, try again!
Marble Puzzle - This one is a little harder, hop one marble over another until only one marble is left on the board.