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Investing in a Just Future – Update Letter February 2021

Feb. 12, 2021

“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

Dear members and friends of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church,

I had a lot of plans for March 15, 2020. Some of them were normal plans for a Sunday: wake up early, head to church, lead worship for the Third Sunday in Lent. We had a theme – Wilderness – and the sanctuary was set for the next phase in building toward Easter. After church I had some silly plans. My dog, Valkyrie, and I were going to meet her siblings to celebrate their first birthday with a good run at the dog park and a “pup crawl” for refreshments at a nearby dog-friendly establishment. 

Instead, on Sunday morning we found ourselves hastily adapting worship to Zoom and Facebook Live, preaching and playing music to a computer perched on a music stand instead of a congregation of living bodies. Most of the dogs’ owners pulled out of park time as it sunk in that this virus was serious. Val and I grabbed some takeout just before all the restaurants and bars closed on the governor’s orders. Our fast-moving society suddenly ground to a halt, and we’ve been in slow motion ever since. Most things are happening in half-measures – online, in abbreviated versions, in hurried encounters outdoors – or not at all.

The church has been operating so differently than usual that it would be easy to assume that we, too, have just stopped during this time. We haven’t met in the building for almost a year. We haven’t passed the peace – the signature MAPC move! – in almost a year. And yet, the church has not stopped being the church. Every time I get discouraged or begin to think that we’ve lost momentum this year, all I have to do is look at how much we have accomplished in our Investing in a Just Future initiative alone. 

Just when you might have expected progress to grind to a halt, exactly the opposite has happened:

  • We invested in justice within our congregation and the wider Church by completing our search for a Pastoral Resident, and hired Rebekah Nolt in October. This is an incredibly difficult time to begin a new ministry position, and Rebekah hasn’t even met most of the congregation except over a screen, but they are adjusting phenomenally and have rapidly become an important addition to the pastoral team and the church as a whole. 
  • We invested in justice in our community through our partnership with Cincinnati Scholar House, which opened and began to house parents and children during a time when it could not have been more needed. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, MAPC members have found ways to contribute resources, time, and skills to the residents of Cincinnati Scholar House, and we’ve begun to build the foundation of a long and lively partnership.
  • We invested in justice for creation by making sustainable improvements to our building, taking advantage of the emptier facility to install highly efficient windows and a heat pump in our education and office wing, to accompany the solar panels that were installed previously as a separate effort. 

While plans of all kinds went awry, while businesses closed and reopened and closed again, while church events have been limited to online, while all of us have struggled in a variety of ways with our new realities, we have still continued to invest our energy, our time, and our money in pursuing justice. We’ve been able to do this because all of you have participated in the Investing in a Just Future initiative with your contributions of energy, time, and money. In a wearying time, you have not grown weary of doing what is right. 

It would have been so easy to allow ourselves to grind to a halt this year, to wait and pick up the work of justice when we can see each other again and encourage each other with enthusiastic hugs of peace. But even while that has not been possible, we have not given up. We have continued to sow the seeds and tend the fields of justice. It has been a hard time, but I think we will look back and think upon this as an exciting time as well, a time when something was growing while the world paused. I am so delighted and proud to be your pastor during this season, and I cannot wait to see the harvest that will be reaped from the work that has occurred during this time.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Rev. Stacey Midge

 

100 Days of School

100 Days of School

Submitted by Deb Carle, one of our members who volunteers regularly at Taft School in our partnership with Emma Quillin’s second grade class. Thanks to all of our volunteers and those who donate supplies to support Ms. Quillin and her students!

Last Wednesday was the “100 days of school” day in Emma Quillin’s second grade at Taft Elementary. Elementary school classes all over the country were celebrating this yearly milestone. The kids were excited esp. because they get a snack of a 100 things!

As they rotated around the room during reading groups, all their work revolved around 100. Write 100 words – they groaned.
With me, they worked on a worksheet.
If You had a $100, what would you do? Buy a hoverboard was a common answer. Save, it a few said. Buy Miss Quillin a puppy, one said. Buy a Lamborghini – how do you spell that?
I wish I had a 100 . . . . video games.
I could eat a 100 Big Macs, pieces of popcorn, sweets, donuts, barbecue chicken . . .
It was fun to engage with them as they did this fun activity. And yet underneath I know many of them struggle with such serious problems like homelessness, abandonment, hunger and neglect to name a few. These are issues that mostly sit right below the surface but break through sometimes. I observe the seven year old boy who last week was friendly and interested but this week sits with his head in his arms on the table the whole time being very silent. And I watch the little guy whose anger bubbles forth and keeps him from getting what he needs at school everyday. And others, of course.
I praise this celebration of a 100 days of school that provided them with fun and learning and everyday normalcy! Thank goodness for their teacher, Miss Quillin!
Toward a Sustainable World: A Role for Churches

Toward a Sustainable World: A Role for Churches

Guest post by John Tallmadge

In our time, human activity has subjected the social and ecological systems of planet Earth to unprecedented stress. Global climate change, habitat loss, extinctions, overpopulation, and pollution degrade the biosphere while epidemics, poverty, resource depletion, inequality, war, and violence degrade the human world. Present habits and trends cannot be sustained without serious and perhaps fatal damage to the Earth and its community of life.

In a sustainable world humanity and nature would flourish in mutually enhancing ways. Human communities would care for one another, using resources modestly and equitably, without impairing the ability of future generations or other life communities to meet their own needs.  

How can the world’s churches help us pursue such a worthy, and indeed such a vital goal?

It may help to realize that sustainability is not something we achieve and then we’re done; it’s something that has to go on forever, requiring a deliberate transformation of our way of living. It’s not a simple problem, like baking a cake, or a complicated problem, like putting a man on the moon; rather it’s a complex problem, like raising a child or making peace in the Middle East. Complex problems have many possible solutions, none given or foreseen; they can arise only through learning and change from within, on the part of all components within the system. If you are part of the problem, you have to be part of the solution.

Gazing down this strenuous, uncertain path, we can take some light and comfort from our religious life. Faith can provide direction and purpose in the midst of uncertainty. Hope can help us cleave to more promising visions of the good life and human flourishing. Sacrifice can help us embrace the challenge to do more with less for the sake of the greater good and a deeper sense of fulfillment. And community can encourage and support us as we disentangle ourselves from the webs of privilege, entitlement, and wasteful consumption spun by industrial capitalism.  

Because social change happens one person at a time, we believe that congregations can become seedbeds of transformation. A deliberate program of green faith, green learning, green living, and green outreach can foster right thinking and right action in our individual lives as well as our lives in church, neighborhood, city, and bioregion. With each other’s help and encouragement, we can become the change we wish to see in the world.

 

Investing in a Just Future – Newsletter 2

Investing in a Just Future – Newsletter 2

February 24 is our Commitment Sunday! We invite all of you to bring your commitment cards if you haven’t already mailed them in, as we join together in Investing in a Just Future. As of last Sunday, we already have 24 early pledges turned in for a total of $412,160 – that’s over halfway to our full goal of $750,000! Our church leadership has really gotten excited about a future in which we expand our justice seeking capacity in church, community, and creation. How will you support this important initiative?

Read more about how we’re Investing in a Just Future in our second newsletter: IJF Newsletter 2