June - July 2008
'Ageist and erroneous'
I work with a national group, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, established in 1989. Our priority has been the issue of pervasive ageism in our culture. We proudly claim that "old" is not a four letter word.
My comment is prompted by the article in the February-March issue, "Deceased mother of shuttle astronaut was UCC."
You write, "Despite her advanced years, she remained an active volunteer..." I would ask what the message is behind "despite her advanced years." Is the implication that old people do not volunteer? Or are incompetent volunteers? Have you been to a church lately?
Old people have lives in common with everyone else - some healthy, some not; some volunteer, some do not; some sharp as a tack, some not. Let us honor the lives of old people and refrain from using words like "still" or "despite." The implication is that old people are over the hill, out of it, sitting at home doing nothing. This assumption is ageist and erroneous.
Ageism is subtle and probably a legacy of the fact that folks died much earlier 50 years ago. But if we are serious about valuing old people, who often make up the majority of our congregations, we need to stop the ageist jokes. We need to reach out to lonely old people and not only be obsessed about finding "young families" or young pastors who can bring in the youth. We need to have discussion groups openly talking about the joys of being old and also the challenges. And even options for choosing the time of our death. We need to get active in changing the "medical industry," a term I prefer rather than "health care" which we really do not have.
We need not collude in pretending we are all young, want to be young, act young, think young, look young. Personally I've been there and done that and am now proud to be age 65.
The Rev. Jan Griesinger
Watch your language
I think those UCC folk writing in the April/May United Church News and on the UCC webpage are missing the point. What outrages me, as well as the general public, is the inflammatory language the Rev Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. used. You can challenge America, speak truth to power (as did Jesus) and raise issues people don't want raised but you don't use that sort of language.
It is very difficult for me to imagine Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama and others who have taken unpopular stands and challenged the status quo, speaking like this.
United Church of Tallahassee (Fla.)
'Mainstream media never covers'
One of the many things I like about United Church News is that it tells of people doing wonderful things that are never covered in the mainstream media. The most recent example is the account of Tim Rose, our missionary in Paris, and his work in helping resettle refugees whose lives would be in danger in their own countries. We do indeed live in a "global village."
Pilgrim Congregational UCC, Cleveland, Ohio and Naples (Fla.) UCC
Don't repeat 'futile attempts'
What is the mission of Christ's church? To feed the hungry; love the unloved; to expend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the media in a futile attempts to explain to a disinterested population "who we are" as the United Church of Christ? I am so appalled and ashamed of this latest attempt of the UCC to solve their so-called identity crisis.
As a semi-retired minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have spent over 50 years of my life in an attempt to fulfill our Lord's commission to "feed my sheep." Nowhere in this gospel have I read there the Lord suggests that his followers should use their God-given dedication and talents in such selfish and wasteful pursuits. I pray that our denomination will not repeat such endeavors.
The Rev. James E. Kennedy