Human Devaluation

Like many people, I am deeply disturbed by recent events. Time after time police officers shoot at or get into confrontations with unarmed black men and grand juries fail to indict them. The response from many is “Black Lives Matter.” And I am as angry as many others that our justice system is failing time after time to produce what its title implies. I do not blame or impugn anyone who is protesting, no matter what form that protest is taking, although I believe that nonviolence will go farther to achieve the goal of correcting what is wrong with our system.

But there is a broader story here, one that indicates that there is even more happening than police brutality and racism and corrupt prosecutors.

Human devaluation. Some people are worth more than others.

The news media report far too often about children with autism being murdered by their own parents, of people tying them up and putting them in closets or basements, sometimes not feeding them or allowing them outside. Sometimes teachers and assistants have placed these children in cages. And there have been incidents where police officers have reacted inappropriately due to inadequate training when people with disabilities are involved—not prepared for someone who is deaf or has Down Syndrome or autism or mental illness. Some of these people have died at the hands of the police. Public sympathy is often not on the side of the victims.

Human devaluation. Some people are worth more than others.

Even the increase in news stories about hit-and-run accidents adds to this. People in cars are hitting pedestrians and bicyclists and not stopping to help or call the paramedics. Sometimes the drivers continue on with the victim embedded in the windshield or desperately holding on to the hood. Crosswalks and bike lanes are no protection.

Human devaluation. Some people are worth more than others.

Racism. Ableism. And what’s the third one? Transportism? People who are driving are worth more than people who walk or bike? I am not sure. But it’s clear that some people are not worth stopping to help.:

Some people are not worth treating with dignity and respect. Some people are not worth working for justice for or spending more time to arrest them uninjured than to just shoot them.

I am just thinking—–

And I am greatly disturbed, actually more and more disturbed.

Because if some people are not worth as much as others, where are we going with this?

Where will it stop? What classification will be safe?

Not poor people. Not black, brown or any other people of color. Not people with any type of disability. Not women. Not people with sexual orientations other than cis-gender. Not unemployed people. Not sick people. Not elderly.

Not anyone.

God weeps.  

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Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund Reflects on the 10th General Assembly in Busan

Women are busy doing the work of the church and seeing to the ministry of Christ in the world.  We thought you might enjoy this video of Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund reflecting on the 10th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea. Rev. Dr. Lund is the Associate Conference Minister for the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ.

T-6 Days

Hello Friends!

Well its hard to believe that in less than a week I will be flying off to the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea. The theme of this Assembly is Justice and Peace. I still have things to do before I go. I am preaching while I am there. I will also be serving as a delegate to the General Assembly from the United Church of Christ and of the Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network! Please keep me and all the delegates in your prayers as we prepare for this Assembly, as we travel, and as we deliberate and engage in intra-faith dialogue. (And I hoping to make friends with some Eastern Orthodox priests!)

Thanks, Rev. Kelli

Widening the Welcome Press Release

UCC Disabilities Ministries and UCC Mental Illness Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Coordinator: Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas, UCCDM Secretary
email: kelli@womenwhospeakinchurch.com

Widening the Welcome: Inclusion for All Pre-Synod Event,  To Be Held June 27, 2013

Movement for Inclusion Hopes to Welcome Synod Attendees

The United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM) and the United Church of Christ Mental Illness Network (MIN) will offer a fourth Widening the Welcome (WtW) experience. The Fourth Widening the Welcome Conference will be held as a one-day Pre-Synod Event on Thursday, June 27th, 2013. This event is scheduled to be held in Long Beach, exact location TBD.

The theme for Widening the Welcome 2013 is “God’s Vision: The Great Dinner is Open to All” (Luke 14:15 ff). Two keynote speakers are expected. The Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroder, Founder Mental Health Ministries, will speak on “Mental Health as a Spiritual Journey” and offer a workshop on “Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond.”  The Rev. Kathy Reeves, Coordinator for the Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network-North America, a program of the World Council of Churches will also offer a keynote address/workshop. Both keynote speakers have self-identified as persons with disability and/or a persons in recovery.

Workshops focusing on how congregations can become Accessible to All (A2A), how congregations can develop mental health ministries will be available. Workshops such as “Prison Ministry and Mental Health as a Justice Issue,” “Cherish the Parents, Care for the Child: Supporting the Emotional Well Being of Families from Birth to Young Adulthood,” “Pastoral Care with People with Disabilities & Brain Disorders of Aging”, and topics not previously presented at WtW conferences are planned for this conference.

“Widening the Welcome” was termed “a movement within the movement” of the UCC by General Minister Geoffrey Black. WtW continues with its vision/mission:

  • to educate about mental illnesses/brain disorders and disabilities;
  • to teach how to develop Mental Health Ministries and A2A (Accessible to All) Covenants in your congregation;
  • to share best practices by telling stories, learning from each other, and networking;
  • to equip pastoral leaders to understand and provide quality pastoral care to men and women addressing these concerns;  and
  • to offer spiritual support group experiences and worship together.###

Praising with a Piano

Some women don’t just speak in church. They play. They minister. They love. They be.

One of our friends, Delores Fisher, Minister of Music, is one such woman. Delores holds at least one Master’s degree and is a lecturer with the Africana Studies Department at San Diego State University and is also a Dance Studio Ballet piano Faculty/accompanist. In the spirit of Psalm 150:3-6

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

We share with you her latest YouTube production.

Great Day, Great News

Word has come to us that The Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church has voted and approved by 79%  vote the ordination of women! Congratulations to the Pacific Union Conference and to all our colleagues in the Seventh Day Adventist Tradition!

Those Who Live by Violence

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’ John 18:10-11

Sometimes it seems as if we in America are truly a violent people. Not too long ago I saw a headline that read “Four Dead in Ohio” and I immediately thought of the Kent State shootings–stuff of legend in my family –but that was not the reference intended by the headline. No there had been another tragedy.  The community was in shock that something so brutal could happen in their community. Lord Hear My Prayer.

Last weekend a man went on a shooting rampage in a movie theater in Auroa, Co–surely you have seen the headlines. It did not take long for some to find artistic portrayals of similar violent acts in comic book art. And this move theater tragedy has reminded many of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado some years ago. The community is in shock, and many are talking about the need for tighter gun regulations as the media reports on the astounding number of munition round the theater shooter was able to legally purchase and possess. All the while, gun sales have been at a record high in Colorado since this shooting. Lord Hear My Prayers.

Last weekend Manuel Diaz (unarmed) and another Latino man were shot and killed, in separate incidents, in Anaheim, CA by police. The headlines have been few. The community is at the end of day four of protests by a community outraged by this violence and the community’s feeling that there have been tensions between the Latino community and the police for sometime that have not been addressed by those in power. Some news outlets have reported these protests as rioting. Lord Hear My Prayers.

At the very lest the juxtaposition of these incidents and the responses to them raise questions. Questions related to gun possession in light of the Second Amendment; who is legally able to wield weapons and what responsibility they have as a result; and how we as a society may, or want, need to monitor and limit ammunitions possessed by private individuals. At the very least these events bring our entire society into a time of mourning and ethical reflections and we ponder how to stop such tragedies from occuring in the future. Lord, hear our confusion and help us to pray through it.

These events raise many questions. Legal questions, questions about bullying, questions about whether or not mental health issues were involved. (Note, although many have speculated, I have heard no confirmed reports yet that the theater gunman has a mental health diagnosis. Let us not equate illness with violence when 1) there is not a link between mental illness and violence and 2) it is unknown if the person in question has a mental health diagnosis.) Lord hear our confusion and our questions and help us pray through them.

At the end of the day I am a clergy woman, bound by ordination vows to preach and teach the gospel. And as I look at these events I see two things. I see a society in which no matter where you look you see some form of violence–be it real or a fictional/artistic portrayal of violence. Perhaps this is not a new thing in the history of humanity. But, I also see a scriptural teaching of Jesus. A teaching in which even Jesus would not condone violence to save himself from arrest and death, not even to continue his teaching among us. And I wonder when we, individually, let alone as a society, will not only take up the task of doing what seems so contrary to our natures but will also be willing to sacrifice our own betrothal to violence, to follow the teachings of Jesus. Lord Hear My Prayer.