A hundred children crowded around tables at First Congregational United Church of Christ, bagging up stuff to give away. Except for the national TV cameras, it was just another busy summer weekday at the church in downtown Elyria, Ohio – a small city facing rural as well as rust-belt challenges and blessed by multiple gifts.Read more
For the sake of children, the World Council of Churches wants to redouble its efforts to fight climate breakdown. Empowering young people as activists will be part of that strategy, aided by a $25,000 environmental prize the WCC has won and by educational materials co-developed by the United Church of Christ.Read more
Neighbors in Need supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. In the St. Louis area, a Neighbors in Need grant helped make a special learning opportunity possible for dozens of children from kindergarten to second grade. The 2018 offering will be taken in early October, and the grant application process is available online until September 30.Read more
Like many congregations around the UCC, Niles Discovery Church in Fremont, Calif., collected school supplies for children in August. It's an annual ministry which embodies the UCC 3 Great Loves initiative. A tangible expression of love of children, it also makes going back to class a lot easier for a lot of kids in their community.Read more
Children in foster care in Claremont, N.C. have a couple of strong allies in a local UCC affiliated retirement community, who want to make sure the young ones have what they need when they are facing change.Read more
Monday through Friday, a community of people from all walks of life in Asheville, N.C. gather for a midday meal at the 12 Baskets Café. The Café recreates the model of the traditional soup kitchen, serving high-quality prepared but untouched food donated daily by more than a dozen local restaurants.Read more
A 'small but mighty' Pennsylvania congregation is showing love to its neighbors young and old, through a pet therapy program that helps fill gaps in its community.Read more
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.