February - March 2009
Hope found in courageous stories
The Rev. Bob Molsberry is indeed a courageous person! I read his book "Blindsided by Grace" with great interest and empathy. I know there are many unsung heroes struggling to make a life from a less-than-desirable situation.
One such person is our daughter, Jennifer Solomon of Madison, Wis. At age 45, she was stricken with a rare, aggressive strep infection that resulted in a life-threatening situation. After spending three months in the University of Wisconsin Hospital, she came home as a bilateral amputee with very crippled hands.
Nearly four years and 15 surgeries later she is now teaching special education in the Madison School District, driving with hand controls and a single parent of two teenage daughters.
Throughout this long journey her small but faithful church family, Plymouth UCC of Madison, along with a host of neighbors, friends and family have helped her over mountains and out of valleys.
Praise be to God!
Delores and the Rev. Bob Hedeman (retired)
Veterans Day remembrances urged
On the nearest Sunday to Veterans Day, veterans were encouraged to wear a semblance of their service to our country at church. The hymns selected were appropriate for the occasion.
This is an important holiday that I feel has been totally ignored by the UCC ruling body for the last 20 years. Our troops in harm's way defending our nation, to my knowledge, also have never been recognized.
Your total focus seems to be on what is the latest politically right situation that you can promote. I respectfully suggest you should spend some effort on rebuilding our falling members among the baby boomers and the Sunday School age.
First Congregational UCC
Editor's Note: Please see the December 2008/January 2009 issue for an article on "Holy Joe's Café" – a UCC supported ministry to chaplains serving U.S. troops in the Middle East. A search on "military chaplain" at <UCC.org> will return many other articles and resources regarding spiritual care of military members provided by the UCC.
Obama speech evokes memories
Watching President-elect Barak Obama deliver his acceptance speech in Grant Park brought back a flood of memories from 1947 and 1948. I was a member of the Greater Chicago-area Congregational-Christian Churches (a UCC predecessor body) High School Pilgrim Fellowship Social Action Committee.
One of our major goals was to work for racial equality and justice. We sponsored exchange meetings between African American and white Pilgrim Fellowship groups. They would gather on an alternative schedule in each other's churches. On Sundays, they would go to restaurants in downtown Chicago that were known to refuse service to African Americans. On those occasions, however, the interracial groups were served. (We had it much easier than the Lunch Counter Sitters in the 1960s.)
Before we left for colleges in different parts of the country, we had our final show of solidarity event by taking our mothers to a summer concert in Grant Park. The watching of and listening to President-elect Obama accept his election to the presidency in Grant Park brought a deep satisfaction to my heart and tears of joy to my eyes as well as to my friends from 1947 and 1948 whom I called when the speech concluded.
A dream that we held with our mothers, in 1948, in Grant Park, for the transcending of racial barriers in our nation took another giant step forward.
I am grateful and indebted to the ministers and adult leaders in the Congregational-Christian Churches of the Chicago-area who planted the dream of racial equality and justice in our hearts, and who supported us in our efforts to act on our dream, and to continue to in our work for justice throughout our adult lives.
Rev. Nicholas Piediscalzi (retired)
First Congregational UCC
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Letters from Keeping You e-Posted
A selection of responses from the Christmas edition of our weekly newsletter
I would like to register my unhappiness about the electronic Christmas card you sent out. I would have expected recognition of what the day signifies. That card could have been sent by any commercial company.
Have you been so engulfed with the Marcus Borg/John Spong theology that you see Christmas as nothing more than an economic stimulus?
Sorry guys and gals, but I'll be going to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus, while acknowledging that it probably wasn't in December.
Merry Christmas to all of you! I just love your Greetings - what a wonderful way to reach out to our faith family!
Thank you John [H. Thomas] for being our faithful leader and to the most dedicated Collegium, we wish you all a blessed and triumphant Christmas Season.
The Rev. Norma DeSaegher
Pioneer Ocean View UCC
San Diego, Calif.
I am so bothered by a Christmas greeting from the national office of my denomination that features Santa Claus. Really, what are you thinking?
The Rev. Rosemary Rocha
Morningside Community UCC