The Messenger June 2017
A few weeks ago, I attended a “Conversation” at the Coos History Museum on “Power, Privilege and Racial Diversity in Oregon.” It’s a new series at the Museum, sponsored by the Oregon Humanities: Conversation Project. Several months ago, Susan Tissot, the new Executive Director of the Museum had asked if I would attend to help support the series. I have to admit I really had no idea what to expect, but it’s a subject that interests me and I was happy to support Susan and the Museum. There were ten of us there in addition to Amy Pollicino, the Museum Educator and the presenter, Emily Drew. Emily did an excellent job engaging the group in conversation while also providing information. It was an hour and a half well spent and offered much to ponder.
I find it good to be involved in conversations like this as it lets me listen to other people’s thoughts and feelings about a complex subject. Then I take that experience inward to reflect on it, challenge some of my beliefs and stereotypes and perhaps open my heart a bit allowing myself to be transformed in the process. Then with new insights, thoughts or wonderings, I re-engage the world. Parker Palmer uses the metaphor of a Mobius strip to define that process.
As Parker writes in A Hidden Wholeness, “All of the great spiritual traditions want to awaken us to the fact that we co-create the reality in which we live. And all of them ask two questions intended to help keep us awake:
What are we sending from within ourselves out into the world, and what impact is it having ‘out there’?
What is the world sending back at us, and what impact is it having ‘in here’?
We are continually engaged in the evolution of self and world — and we have the power to choose, moment by moment, between that which gives life and that which deals death.
We can survive, and even thrive, amid the complexities of adulthood by deepening our awareness of the endless inner-outer exchanges that shape us and our world and of the power we have to make choices about them. If we are to do so, we need spaces within us and between us that welcome the wisdom of the true self — which knows how to negotiate life on the Möbius strip with agility and grace.”
There were two key thoughts from the evening I brought “from the world, back at me” for reflection. One was about the complexity of racism. Emily used the example of adding salt to cookie dough. When you mix it all together it gets baked into the cookie in such a way you don’t even notice it. In a similar way, racism gets “baked into” our institutions and systems in such a way we don’t even notice it anymore, and it is much harder to know how to best proactively work to end it in our communities.
The other thought concerned what I learned about sundown towns that evening. “Sundown towns were all- white municipalities or neighborhoods in the West that practiced a form of segregation by enforcing restrictions excluding people of other races via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, and violence.” In other words, people of other races were not allowed to be out after sundown. There’s a website that tells the history of sundown towns in our country, and Emily told us Coos Bay and North Bend historically were sundown towns and research about people’s experience suggests they probably still are. The methods of exclusion for Coos Bay are listed as “threats of violence and private bad behavior.” I find it staggering in 2017 our community is still known as a place where it isn’t safe for people of color to be out past dark!
I honestly don’t know what to do about these two ideas, but I have currently taken those thoughts inward and am letting them work on me. We have people of color who are members of our congregation and in part, because I care about them, I’m struggling with how I can help make Coos Bay and North Bend a safe place for everyone. I don’t have any answers at this point because it all feels pretty daunting. At the same time, I’m currently very aware the language we use day in and day out matters greatly. Sometimes the words we use are hurtful to others and sometimes they are welcoming. Take for example: “suicide pill” or “death with dignity,” “illegal immigrant” or “undocumented worker,” “homeless person” or “houseless person.” These are just a few examples I have thought of and I’m sure there are many, many more. What are some you’re aware of?
Now my work is to take those insights back into the world and notice what impact it has on my relationships. To some it may seem unrelated to racism, but I see it as a beginning step to help increase my awareness of those around me in hopes of offering a spirit of hospitality to all I meet along the way. And just think…all of this started by attending a simple community conversation brought to us by the “Oregon Humanities Conversation Project: bringing Oregonians together to talk—across differences, beliefs and backgrounds— about important issues and ideas.”
Sound interesting? Join me on June 3rd, 5:30 PM-7:00 PM for the next conversation in this series, “What are You? Mixed Race and Inter-racial Families in Oregon’s Past and Future.” I hope to see you there! Blessings to you and yours! Christy
Looking for Graduates of any Age
In our July newsletter, we will be focusing on those in our congregation who are graduating and moving on to a new challenge…can be from preschool, from high school, college or something else. Please contact Kerri or Christy with the specifics so we can celebrate them in July!
Sunday, June 4 – THE DAY OF THE PENTECOST
“The Pentecost event was the fulfillment of a promise which Jesus gave concerning the return of the Holy Spirit. The speaking in tongues, which was a major effect of having received the Spirit, is interpreted by some to symbolize the church’s worldwide preaching. In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is now the seventh
Sunday after Easter. It emphasizes that the church is understood as the body of Christ which is drawn
together and given life by the Holy Spirit.” (provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY, from
“An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors)
If you speak a foreign language and would like to help during either of the services by reading the lesson in your language of choice, please sign up in the church entryway.
Pray for those who serve in our Armed Forces
The daily service given by those in our armed forces is something we want to recognize. As a church, we will focus our prayers on a special upcoming Sunday for those on our military list. If you have any information on those listed below, please contact Kerri or Christy with details so we can include them in a special prayer service: Bobbie, Jeremiah, Travis, Shawn, Aaron, Derek, Stephen, John, Doug, Josh, Laura, Shane, Zachary, and Kalvin.
Confirmations and Baptisms
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places . . . He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
~ Paul the Apostle
Vestry Visibility – developing an Action Plan for moving forward with boldness, vision, generosity and commitment.
In our May Vestry meeting, we discussed the following ideas, voted as to their priority, and vestry members signed up to work on developing next steps and timeframes for each item.
Items to explore for our Action Plan:
– A fulltime administrator (administrative & coordination duties) current part-time secretary duties would be included in this position)
– Capital Building Project Ask (to have the resources to meet our current needs).
– Music: How to move forward to engage the congregation to make a joyful sound to the Lord and
enhance our liturgy.
– Godly Play Training and classroom ready to go by Sept. 2017
– Stewardship Education: Continue to model & increase stewardship within the congregation
– Outreach: Food Cupboard, receptions, gardens, etc.
– Data Gathering from people in their 20s and 30s that are in some way connected to Emmanuel; listen
to their feedback & suggestions, needs, hopes for their spiritual journey and their children; then
partner with them to make it happen.
– Consider a two-year trial of system to enhance coffee hour, hospitality and the connections with each other.
The 4th bullet, about Godly play, is something we have done (and enjoyed!) at Emmanuel before. This item came up from discussions about how to expand/extend the connections we currently have with our Preschool families and members of our community. The bigger vision is to have a plan for “0-5” for our Preschool. We are looking at how to best develop and implement a plan. We have several possible ways to proceed, which we are currently exploring.
Our Preschool just completed classes for this year, with the Preschool Graduation event on 5/24/17 having about 87 people in attendance. It was a good finish for our Preschool for this school year. Summer Camp is set for early August. Registration has already begun for September classes. We look forward to building on our many successes, and having an even better 2017-2018 Preschool year.
Nancylee Stewart, Vestry Member & Chair, Preschool Board
Help needed Providing Lunch for the South Coast Convocation!
On June 10th the South Coast Convocation Meeting will be at Emmanuel. We need help providing a lunch for about 20-30 people. Please sign up with how you will be able to volunteer in the church entryway.
Newsletter Deadline, June 26 – Please have your newsletter articles and submissions to Kerri for July’s Messenger by Monday, June 26. We would love to share your pictures of church events, news, and community involvement! You can always email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!