On Friday night, the community filled the First Congregational Church of Boulder to hear the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III share a powerful message about how we are to live and serve in this time, seeking to “punch holes in the darkness.” It was a vivid reminder of how hungry we all are to hear messages of hope. At one point Rev. Moss told the gathered crowd that our call was to be “a nation of moral courage and of moral imagination, where we make things better for those yet to be born.” In a right now, short-term, fast food world, I give thanks that large numbers of us remain committed to the longer view. I believe that it is part of our role as people of faith to hold space for possibilities that require the love and attention of multiple generations. We keep the flame of hope burning, even when a storm threatens to extinguish the light. We plant seeds and toil for love knowing the fruits of our labors will be enjoyed by those whose names we do not yet know. As Anne Lamott writes, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” Thank you for being a part of this congregation that is devoted to punching holes in the darkness, devoted to keeping the light on, devoted to stubborn hope! It is a blessing to be your Minister and fellow traveler on this spiritual journey. In hope, Nicole
Progressive Christian Education
Why Religion? That’s the question we are asking in our middle school Sunday School right now. It’s a question I hear from lots of people, not just middle schoolers. Since this is a good question, there isn’t a good answer. And I don’t feel compelled to start justifying religion. Hopefully, religions can justify themselves.
The middle school exploration of religion’s why had a specific impetus. Last Fall, the weekend of the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the middle school group asked why have religion when it makes people do terrible things. At that moment, it felt appropriate to simply acknowledge that people do use religion as an excuse to do terrible things and let the conversation grow from there. What can be said in the face of that brutal violence? How does one connect the dots between atrocities and the why of religion?
I do believe in the why of religion. I also believe that each of us finds the why for ourselves. Our middle schoolers are beginning their search for the why by being exposed to the religions which surround us. We are discussing possible field trips to neighboring houses of worship. There will be the opportunity to examine Christianity as it relates to other religions. What a blessing to be at Community UCC, where the question is valued above an answer.
Peace and love, Heather
Rev. Elizabeth Robinson, Minister in the Community and Poet in Residence
I once worked with a woman who got a camping ticket scrawled with the handwritten comment “improper use of a blanket.” That meant that she was huddled under the blanket to keep warm. Boulder’s camping ban prohibits camping—that is, taking shelter in anything but clothing while sleeping outside. Jesus said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” In Boulder, our community of the street has nowhere to lay their heads. People sleep near building HVAC exhaust systems and sneak into apartment complex laundry rooms to steal a little warmth. They nurse an all-night cup of coffee at King Soopers. They camp quietly in the foothills. They are illegal. A person who is released from the jail late at night—sometimes the only hour at which jail staff can catch up with bond and release paperwork—is critically vulnerable. Such a person cannot go to police property to reclaim their goods because the property office is closed. Sheltering options may be off-limits or simply inaccessible on foot. But I have often seen homeless people share jackets, blankets, and tents on cold nights. Once two men told me, rolling their eyes at the absurdity of it, that one had a voucher for a thrift shop, but all he could find there was a child-size sleeping bag. In desperation, the two put on all the clothes they had and tried to climb into the sleeping bag together. It only went up to their waists. They were sleeping underneath the loading dock of the Audi dealership. CUCC has joined the sanctuary movement by helping to protect a refugee at the Unitarian Church. I like to think we are offering a softer, warmer resistance in our blanket drive. I hope you are aware that your generosity constitutes a form of civil disobedience. It made me happy today to pull into the parking lot of Harvest of Hope and wrap a man in the thick warmth of a blanket made by children at CUCC. A woman, pulling a quilt out of a bag, let out a soft “ooh” at its beauty, and then squeezed it to her chest. This is the kingdom of God: if not a place to lay one’s head, then at least the grace of people recognized as human and worthy by the pleasing pattern of a quilt and the crucial shelter of a sleeping bag or fleece blanket. Thank you. Elizabeth Robinson
Social Action News
Poverty in Boulder County is the focus for Social Action for the next 3 years. To many, Boulder is a very affluent community. Here are some statistics that point to a different story:
- 2015 POVERTY LEVEL for a family of four: $24,600 - INDIVIDUALS BELOW poverty: 13% - Families with KIDS BELOW poverty: 8% - 27.3% of households are below the Self-Sufficiency Standard. - CHILDREN BELOW poverty: 12% - Food Insecurity Rate: 12.8%, 39,800 individuals (endhungerco.org)
*Population data from Colorado State Demography Office **Boulder County All other data from the 2015 American Community Survey, 1-year data
How do we take these statistics and put a human face to them? What are the root causes? What is our response as a community of faith? These are the questions that Social Action is grappling with. Are you working or volunteering in the community to address these issues? Have you struggled to make ends meet or find affordable housing? If you have ideas, experiences or expertise that you are comfortable sharing, please consider coming to our next meeting or contact Social Action. Social Action Commission is open to all. Our next meeting is Sunday, February 10th after church.
Love Knows No Borders - this coming Sunday, make Valentines after church to be delivered to ICE detention center detainees and day laborers. We will have supplies at a table after church, but feel free to bring your own. They will be delivered at a vigil at the detention center on Monday Feb 4, at 6-7pm. If you would like to go to the vigil, contact Laura T. or Julie L. https://www.facebook.com/events/279636776011409/?ti=icl
Archway Housing: Turning Buildings Into Ministry Submitted by Robb L, President – Archway Housing and Services, Inc.
Archway Housing and Services, Inc., a Mission Affiliate of the Rocky Mountain Conference UCC and 501(c)(3) non-profit, was started in 1997 as a mission of the Conference. Since then, we’ve created communities for marginalized and underserved people across Colorado. As of January 2019, Archway has developed affordable housing units in Arvada, Lakewood, Golden, Arapahoe County, Aurora, Denver, and Fountain.
We are currently constructing our 11th project, The Flats at Two Creeks—a 78-unit apartment building located at 14th Avenue and Gray Street in Lakewood, Colorado. The Flats are expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Once completed, Archway will have an astounding total of 642 low-income housing units throughout the Front Range.
Our residents often face multiple challenges in their struggle to find housing, including chronic homelessness, mental and physical disabilities, unemployment/underemployment, illness… the list goes on. Many of our residents are military veterans; we also serve a large population of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Most of our residents are single-parent families with children.
One of the many aspects that makes Archway so unique is our Social Service programming. Housing is vital, but it isn’t enough on its own—families must be empowered and equipped to succeed. To this end, we offer English classes, employment counseling, after-school tutoring, and activity programs for children whose parents are often at work. We also provide summer youth trips and activities for children in Archway affordable housing, and each of our properties features a weekly food bank to ensure that families and children have enough to eat.
Finding funds for these family services is always a challenge. The support we receive from our RMC churches helps greatly in our joint effort to serve those people who are trying to stabilize their lives. This is very rewarding church work! It is an expression of the emerging truth that, as Christians, our most relevant work often happens outside our church doors. In other words, we must go out into the world in order to change it.
We now have a cadre of Champions: That is to say, folks from several RMC churches who are advocating for Archway within their congregations. This network of people united in ministry is evidence that we, the people of the Rocky Mountain Conference, are RADICALLY CONNECTED!
Congregations Alive! Rev. Nicole Lamarche and CUCC would like to have as many folks as possible attend Congregations Alive!4 from February 7-9, 2019 at First Plymouth Congregational Church in Englewood, CO. This is a three-day event filled with powerful sermons, discussion, fellowship, and workshops led by local and national faith and justice leaders. It is planned and facilitated by a group of dedicated educators, pastors, and lay-leaders from around the Rocky Mountain Conference. The word most used to describe Congregations Alive! is "inspiring." “Through our generative work, you will leave feeling re-energized by new ideas on how we can Be the Church!” This year, special guests include Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries—United Church of Christ; Rev. Amanda Henderson, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance; and Rev. Dr. Ivy Beckwith, Team Leader of Faith Formation Ministries—United Church of Christ. In addition, our own Rev. Chris Gilmore, Lead Pastor of Sixth Avenue UCC in Denver and Faith Nurture Associate for the Conference, will lead worship. For further information, please go to https://rmcucc.org/home/camps-events/congregations-alive/ Contact Janet (firstname.lastname@example.org) or John W. if you can attend!
Prayer Ministry If you have a prayer request, please fill out a blue card on Sunday. Prayer requests are confidential and are prayed for actively and intentionally every day by the prayer ministry team. If your request is for Rev. Nicole’s eyes only, there is a box to check on the blue card. The blank blue cards are in the red attendance pads, and also in a basket at the back of the church. Give your completed card to Nicole or to one of the prayer ministry team, or put it in the collection plate. You may also phone CUCC and leave a message for Nicole. Currently there are nine prayer partners on the team. If you wish to become a prayer partner, please contact Nicole at the church or Deborah (email@example.com). Everyone is welcome to participate.
Minister: Rev. Nicole Lamarche / firstname.lastname@example.org Christian Education Director: Heather Bowler / PCE@cuccboulder.org Minister in the Community and Poet in Residence: Rev. Elizabeth Robinson Office Administrator: Ally Woods / email@example.com Choir Director: Kamilla Macar Pianist: Kathy Rinehart Webmaster: Erika Webb
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