Written by Connie Larkman
How will you March Forth?
The United Church of Christ is calling you to join a one-day initiative next month, to "March Forth on March 4th" with simple acts of justice work.
"As we March Forth, as one church, in a one-day effort, we hope that together we can raise awareness of justice issues around the world with simple acts of advocacy," said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of UCC Justice and Witness Ministries. "We are called to see the big picture in which people are struggling to live with dignity. Our faith challenges us to understand our lives are interconnected with theirs."
Members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Unitarian Universalist Association are joining with the UCC in the March Forth effort.
"Disciples of Christ are passionate about justice and for opportunities to do meaningful work," said the Rev. Robert Welsh, president of the Council on Christian Unity of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "An emphasis like March 4th is a natural outgrowth of our longstanding Ecumenical Partnership with the UCC which for over the past 25 years has engaged in mission together in addressing global issues of justice. To move to doing domestic justice work is a logical next step in our collaborative work."
"I am delighted at the growing cooperation between the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ on issues that both groups feel deeply about," said the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. "I want to thank the UCC for extending an invitation to the UUA to join with them in the one-day March Forth initiative, an initiative that shares goals with our Standing on the Side of Love campaign. We will alert UUs to the March Forth initiative and encourage them to participate enthusiastically."
It’s one day – your way. Participants choose how to advocate to improve the lives of people in their communities, the nation or the world. Throw yourself into a project you are already passionate about: Commit to buying fair trade products for your home or congregation; cut back on your electrical use; write letters to your representatives calling for immigration reform; recycle; commit to prayer and study on justice issues in your community.
"On March 4, I plan to remember all of the precious lives lost to gun violence," said the Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior pastor at Congregational United Church of Christ in Newtown, Conn. "Since John F. Kennedy was shot, more U.S. citizens have died in our homes, in our schools and on our streets than have died in all of our wars – the Revolutionary War through Afghanistan/Iraq – combined. I am going to find out the position of my U.S. Representatives in my state to the proposed Universal Background Check Bill and on March 4, I will thank them for their vote/support, or tell them to support this common sense solution to reducing gun violence."
The Rev. Obadiah "Oby" Ballinger, senior pastor at Community UCC in St. Paul Park, Minn. will try to build community. "To 'March Forth’ on March 4, my husband and I are planning to host a Community Night at the transitional housing center down the street," said Ballinger. "The formerly-homeless young people who live there for up to two months at a time have a difficult time feeling connected to our neighborhood. This Community Night will be a chance to introduce ourselves, play games and get to know the people who live there. We'll invite other homeowners in our neighborhood as well, strengthening the ties of friendship that bind us together as one community."
The Rev. Randy Mayer, pastor of The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Ariz. will be spending the day on the U.S./Mexico border, looking for migrants who are struggling with the journey from Mexico to the United States. "The Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans is a project at Good Shepherd UCC, with more than 200 humanitarian volunteers who work in the desert searching for lost migrants to give them food, water and medical care and offer prayers and spiritual support as they either continue their journey or decide to turn themselves in. It is a witness of accompaniment that goes to the heart of our faith tradition that says, 'You shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Lev.19:34)."
"On March 4, I intend to think about my connections to creation, and especially to fossil fuels," said the Rev. Meighan Pritchard, UCC minister for environmental justice and interim minister of Prospect Congregational UCC in Seattle. "It will be the day when I write to President Obama, urging him to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, as it reflects a decades-long commitment to fossil fuel extraction at a time when our planet is dying from this very practice."
The Rev. Sarah Lund, regional conference minister for the Florida Conference of the UCC, will continue the campaign for marriage equality in her state. "On March 4, I will write to my representatives to encourage Florida to join this movement for marriage equality," Lund said. "On March 4, I’m not just going to act locally, I’m also going to act globally to reach out and send a Facebook message and pray for my Christian friends in Korea, to encourage them in their ongoing struggle to pass anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual minorities. It is the little things that we each can do that create the small steps on the march towards justice. This is how we become the feet of Christ in the world."
It’s ONE DAY … YOUR WAY! How will you March Forth?