For such a time as this -- families being separated at the border
I have been struggling to find words beyond my outrage, shock and anger as I have watched the events of the last several months, and especially in the last two weeks, at our nation's borders and in our nation's Capital. Children, literally being wrenched from their parent's arms. Heartbreaking pictures of toddlers who are terrified as they are being taken away and put into custody as if they are criminals. Toddlers who are the same age as my grandchildren. Reports of minors of all ages being warehoused in army bases, detention centers and even an abandoned Walmart. Concerns that children now separated from their parent or parents may never be able to be re-united, and that adequate records are not being kept to track these families as they are being moved to separate facilities.
Many of us are not only struggling to find words, but also wondering what actions we might take while this monstrous evil is happening. Some are participating in protests and demonstrations, others are involved in letter-writing or making phone calls to Congressional Members and the White House. Government reports indicate 27% of those who are currently seeking asylum or a new life by crossing the border are from El Salvador, where one of our Companion Synods is located. Many are fleeing gang violence after family members have been murdered.
I recently heard from Bp. Medardo Gomez, who expressed his appreciation for what he saw and heard during his visit at our Synod Assembly regarding the work of AAMPARO. He was moved by the number of congregations which have declared themselves to be Welcoming Congregations for Unaccompanied Minors and many who have made public statements about being a Sanctuary Congregation as well as our being a Sanctuary Synod. The invitation to become a Welcoming Congregation is available if your congregation wishes to take this action. You can also access our AAMPARO website - www.spsammparo.org.
Other places where you might find your voice or discover actions you and others can take:
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service website - www.lirs.org. There is a specific appeal being made to help support the 148 removed children LIRS is currently sheltering.
Helpful information the Office of ELCA Advocacy explaining policies that separate children and families at the border:
Explaining Separation Polices
A statement from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and other faith leaders regarding the policy of separating families:
Bp. Eaton and Faith Leaders Statement
An encouragement from the Office of ELCA Advocacy to affirm our faith values in the federal budget by contacting your lawmakers:
ELCA Advocacy Call to Action
Statement from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on Executive Order
Please join me as together we find our voice and act individually and corporately to finally and fully end this monstrously evil policy of separating families. I encourage you to pray, preach, teach and talk about these issues - as we continue in our hope to be communities of moral deliberation, prayer and advocacy. Use the links above to provide information in the coming weeks for the people of our congregations and ministries to share with others. The events of the past few days clearly demonstrate that our voices and our advocacy do matter, so let us prayerfully and boldly speak and act.
By Bob Charves, CGS council member
In a recent time of reflection and meditation I was struck with some new thoughts. With June being the month the LGBTQIA community celebrates our Pride in who we are, many of us have spent years in the closet afraid of being rejected and mistreated. Many of us prayed that God would take away what makes us different, so we could be normal and accepted. Many of us were kicked out of church and put our seeking God on the back burner not knowing what to do with this longing to be in relationship with God.
During my preparation for Gay Pride I was troubled by the especially tough times suffered by the Trans community in the current climate of our country and world. It occurred to me that possibly the Trans community may better reflect who our God is than the rest of us. We worship a triune God. How can that be 3 in one? As we honor people who identify as trans we our encouraged to ask “what is your preferred pronoun: He she or they?” I have in the past struggled with getting used to referring to an individual as they. I did not object, it was just a new way of addressing someone that I was not used to. Now as I reflect on the Trinity I think maybe our pronoun should be they rather than he or she. Due to our male dominated language we often refer to God as “He”. This so limits our understanding of who God is. Maybe our God is more fully understood as “They”. Our Trans friends may better reflect the mystery of our God being more complex than the gender of the body they were born with.
Happy Pride month. May God bless you with a fuller understanding of who they are!!!
By Rey Lambatin, CGS Choir Director
As Summer season comes, our choirs take our break from the usual schedule of rehearsals and singing in our weekly worship service. For nine straight months, from September to May, our CGS Mixed choir rehearsed every week, while Keynote Vocal Group met to practice every other week. They alternatively lent their voices in singing anthems and musical offerings in our worship services, and sometimes joining their voices together in sharing music in special church occasions. This shows the deep passion for music and serious commitment to the ministry by our choir members, and how involved are our singing voices to fulfill our weekly commitments to the ministry. That’s why in the months of Summer, it is essential for our choirs to take a break.
As explained by Albert Van Leeuwen, an Australian music author,
“The voice is an instrument that utilizes specific parts of the body. These parts become stronger as the voice is more practiced, but, like with any part of the body, over use can happen and then the parts don’t function so well anymore.
Summer break does not only rest our voices, but also in part, our spirits. This gives us time to recover physically, and renew and rekindle our passion for our ministry, so that when weekly rehearsals and worship commitment resume in September, we’ll be prepared and excited to sing again!
By Pr. Manda
You might be asking yourself, “Why Game Night?”. You might have heard that I’m spending a strange amount of time and energy making plans for CGS people (and whatever friends they bring) to play games every Thursday night this week. And you’re right. I was struck by the though not too long ago that while studying scripture and honing my theories of process theology, I didn’t anticipate that I would be trying to teach you those things through Wheel of Fortune games.
But this is why I’m spending so much time on games. How many of you would choose to come to CGS on Thursday nights for Bible study? How many of you would feel like you were welcome – either because of your family situation or your own knowledge and experience? My experience and my conversations at CGS tell me less than 10% of you would ever show. Maybe the same is true for CGS Game Night, but bear with me for a moment and listen to why I think you should come.
You wonder if this faith has any value for your life but you need to learn more in order to make a decision. Or, at least that’s what I see in your lives. I hear you wondering how to explain to people why you believe in a God and still value scientific, rational thought. I hear you wanting help to teach your children the value of the Christian way of life. I know that you’re looking for a way to make meaning out of the many parts of your life. But I also know that it’s difficult for you to find or dedicate the time to sit down and wrestle with these things – even if you feel comfortable doing it with the other people at CGS.
You love the CGS community but you’re not really close to a lot of people here. You think that other people at CGS are closer or know more people than you do. And that’s true about 10% of the time. But the greater reality is that you know just as many people as everyone else. The difference in having close relationships – the kind where you can call someone from church when you’re falling apart – is spending all that time together before crisis comes. It’s the bunches of coffee hour conversations and shared charity work and that one time your kid did that embarrassing thing and other people laughed with you. It’s about investing the not-so-important time with one another so that there is a basis of relationship for the times when we REALLY need to lean on each other.
For these two reasons and a couple more (that I don’t have space for) I hope you’ll give this weird idea of CGS Game Night a shot – at least once. We’re doing it every week so that you’ll have a chance to be there on the week that you don’t have vacation, or work, or other plans. There will be food and drinks (sometimes alcoholic) provided by others at CGS. There will be different games for all ages and abilities. There will be games we can all play together, some that we can watch others play, and for at least one week I’ll ask you to bring your own games to share.
Over the past years and months, we have been trying to find a way to keep all of the historical and current CGS information in one easily accessible and usable place. Not just because our partnership with the ELCA requires it, but so that we can understand our community as it grows and changes. We're excited to announce that we've found a helpful tool in Breeze.
Right now, the most fun part is that this system gives you (yes, you) a CGS picture directory on your computer or smart phone which you can access from anywhere that you have an internet connection.
Did you forget the name of that person sitting in the same pew as you? Pull up the picture directory on your smart phone and scroll through the pictures until you find their name.
Do you want to send a birthday card to the four people who stood up in worship on birthday Sunday? Pull up the directory at home and there you have their face, their name, their birthday, and their address.
There is so much more to this new tool that will help our community to stay connected to one another as our busy lives take us in a million directions. But the foundation of this working for us (and not against us) is having you input and update your information. Michael Flanagin has volunteered to set up and administer this database for us and he would like to help you gain access.
If you are interested in using Breeze along with us, you can meet with Michael during coffee hour on June 10th and 24th. He can answer your questions about privacy, login, and options (including putting yourself on the "do not text" list) and get you all set up. If you are unable to be with him on either of those days, you can email Michael and he will meet with you one on one to get set up.
If you are not interested in engaging with this new tool, but would like to take this opportunity to make sure that all your information is up to date, please email Michael at the address above or call the church office (408-266-8022) where Laura can also update your information for you.