November Church Matters

It's Okay to Not Be Okay

Rev. Elizabeth Gleich

The question, “how are you?” is occasionally a difficult one, or at least fraught one, to answer these days. Well, how much time do you have? To spare the other person, usually we simply respond with “Good, how are you?” It’s the polite thing to do. But lately, I have noticed a shift in the response: “I’m...fine.” Or “I’m...alright.” That pause in between seems to allow time to think if anyone is truly “good” at this point in time or if anyone really wants to know the answer to the question.



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Church Matters - our monthly newsletter.

November 13, 2020

Dear Church,

In the next day or two you will receive a letter in the mail that describes in detail an in-person Vespers service that we hope to offer on a bi-weekly basis beginning December 2.  That letter was crafted with careful thought and wide-ranging consultation. We hope that you will discern the care and respect for safety and health that lie at its center. 

 

As we all know, the COVID sands are ever-shifting. Since writing the letter, we have watched with concern as the numbers of new COVID cases have begun to climb in VT and in Addison County. We are also aware that Middlebury College announced yesterday that students are required to remain on campus, effective this evening.

 

We will be tuning in to the Governor’s address today at 11:00 a.m., and we will continue to monitor the unfolding situation with diligence. It may be impossible for us to begin these Vespers services, much as we had hoped to do so. We will continue to put the well-being of our church family first, and we will be in touch as we learn more in the days and weeks to come. 

 

Thank you for your understanding. 

 

Peace,

Katy Smith Abbott, Moderator

Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson

Rev. Elizabeth Gleich

June 3, 2020

Beloved Church: 


We echo so many in saying that we, your church leadership, denounce and condemn the forces of violence and systems of oppression that continually lead to the suffering and death of our Black and Brown siblings in this country. We are heartbroken and angry at the murder of George Floyd in South Minneapolis, and we say his name and remember his life ended too soon by a system designed to oppress him. George Floyd, beloved child of God. There are other names, too, of course: Breonna Taylor, beloved child of God. Ahmaud Arbery, beloved child of God. The list goes on.


These past couple of weeks have further illuminated a long-standing tradition in white America: we have not listened to the communities of color around us. We have not advocated for their flourishing. We have not interrogated our own internal biases and have not repented for the ways that we are complicit in racist systems of oppression. We know this is ongoing, never finished work, and we certainly have work to do. 


During this week in which our own sacred text has been used to justify violence in the name of law and order, we must remember that peace is not the absence of conflict or protest. Peace is active justice. Peace is a just order. As such, we are in solidarity with communities justifiably crying out for justice, and we join them in this cry. As Christians, we believe in a God who is on the side of those on the margins, and this is where we must go, too. 


And so, what can we do? 


We can give. As people who live in the whitest state in the nation, we must start by acknowledging our privilege. One of the ways we exercise our privilege is by sharing our financial resources. This week, we invite you to consider giving to these organizations:


Spectrum Youth and Family Services. Based in Burlington, Spectrum provides services to at-risk youth, including LGBTQ youth and youth of color in Vermont. They provide shelter, skills programs, and prevention and intervention around substance abuse and mental health issues.  You can donate here: https://donate.spectrumvt.org/donation.


Rutland Area NAACP. The Rutland Area branch of the NAACP is dedicated to the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminating race-based discrimination in Vermont. You can donate here: https://naacprutland.org/about/become-a-member/.


Racial Justice Program - Peace & Justice Center. Based in Burlington, the Peace and Justice Center’s Racial Justice Programs seek to spread awareness about the inequity people of color face in Vermont and to build understanding and collaborations to undo racism. There is a focus on helping those who experience white privilege meaningfully engage in racial justice work. You can donate here: https://www.pjcvt.org/become-a-member/.



We can pray. Let us pray for an end to racism and all forms of oppression in this state and country. We can ask God to surround George Floyd’s family with a peace that surpasses all understanding. We can hold up all communities of color with love and light. 


We can learn. We encourage everyone to share anti-racist resources. 

A few useful ones include these two for children and young adults: 

https://thebrownbookshelf.com/2020/06/02/kidlit-rally-for-black-lives and https://socialjusticebooks.org/booklists/

and this general list of resources for people of all ages: 

https://padlet.com/nicolethelibrarian/nbasekqoazt336co

  

Additionally, church member Tara Affolter, Professor of Education Studies at Middlebury College, and member of our Board of Missions and Social Concerns, has graciously offered to share her expertise in anti-racism work with us. Stay tuned for more information. 


We can act. We can use our voices and our bodies to create change. As a church, let us commit to living out our faith in real and tangible ways… a faith that is committed to the flourishing of all, especially those most vulnerable. 

 

Black Lives Matter. 


Grace and Peace,


Andy Nagy-Benson

Elizabeth Gleich

Katy Smith Abbot