The Social Concerns Committee's purpose is to research, educate, and advocate on issues of social concern in the community, state, nation, and world. Social Concerns meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM. For any questions about the committee or the content of this page, please send us an email.
UCC Midland Stands With Its Muslim Neighbors: A New Banner Is Installed
With support from Social Concerns Committee, Church Council, and Board of Trustees, the new banner was put up in early June in front of the church. Let's celebrate diversity and continue interfaith dialog in our communities.
Upcoming Social Concerns Events
Dr. Ranna Akbar Memorial Lecture Series
The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw
and Saginaw Valley State University
Invite you to a Unity Productions Foundation Film Premiere:
The Sultan and the Saint
Thursday September 28, 2017
In the year 1219, Francis of Assisi risked his life by walking across enemy lines to meet the Sultan of Egypt, the Muslim ruler and scholar Sultan Malik al-Kamil. This remarkable encounter between Christian preacher and Muslim ruler effectively smashed the strategy of dehumanizing the enemy in the Crusades and forged new hope for peace.
Social Concerns Committee Projects and Programs
On the second Saturday of each month we sort donations of clothing and household items at the Shelterhouse Resale Store in the Kmart Plaza from 2-6 P.M. The proceeds of this store directly fund services of the local Shelterhouse, which provides shelter, legal advocacy, and counseling for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. We invite adults and youth 10 years and older to volunteer for this effort.
Through our Interfaith Initiatives we reach out to our community — building friendships through Interfaith Friends potlucks, projects, and informal Coffee Chats (see details in Ways to Engage below); collecting needed items for anticipated Syrian refugees; sponsoring educational opportunities in coordination with the Islamic Center of Midland; and actively looking for opportunities to interact with and advocate for people of different faiths.
UCC Midland is part of the Interfaith Friends group which has been meeting for a little over a year. This organization includes members from various faith communities around Midland, including members from the Islamic Center, the Jewish faith, the Bahai tradition, Blessed Sacrament Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Holy Family Episcopal Church, among others. The major project of this group to date is establishing the Foster Care Closet where children going into foster care can get essential clothing, bedding, and other items when they are removed from their homes.
New Hope Village provides assistance to homeless persons in a number of counties through providing temporary shelter for those in need. In addition, New Hope also provides training programs for residents with the goal of securing employment. With help from a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Hope purchased a vacant elementary school from Meridian Public Schools that once renovated will be able to accommodate 22 families. UCC Midland plans to support New Hope Village by assisting in the renovation process.
UCC Midland Oral History Project
We are launching a new oral history project, gathering the stories of members of the congregation. The main point is to educate our young people (and also ourselves) about what "being socially active" -- or sometimes, what being discriminated against -- looks like in real life. Our hope is that knowing more about what has happened in the past will help us more easily move forward together. If you have a story you'd like to share, we very much want to hear it! Please contact any member of the Social Concerns Committee. And in any case, keep your eyes on this spot — some fascinating stories will be posted here!
The first interviewee in our oral history project is Fran Hamburg. Fran, a long-time member of UCC Midland, was born in New England and moved to Midland in 1967. In her interview, Fran discussed her history of activism. Looking back on her past, she noted that she didn't think of herself as a natural born agitator. "It took personal experience to get me aroused and I can think of many lost opportunities. All of us know that after the marching and the sign waving we have to figure out how to 'be the change we wish to see.' That's when the real work begins."
Read the full transcript of Fran's interview here to learn more about her fascinating experiences in engaging in social justice.
Ways to Engage
Political advocacy for current issues facing our nation: http://5calls.org
The United Church of Christ national website launched an initiative called, Building Bridges: Linking Our Muslim and Christian Communities, to connect people with resources to learn about Islam; inform people on becoming advocates for Muslims in their communities; provide tools to assist people in engaging with their Muslim neighbors; and suggestions on ways to display your solidarity for our Muslim communities.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization, is an advocacy organization that seeks protections for American Muslims though challenging anti-Muslim discrimination across the country. CAIR is based in Washington D.C. and provides an, "Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public." The focus of CAIR is to ensure that the rights guaranteed to all Americans are enforced. You can learn more about CAIR at cair.com. CAIR also provides a resource on ways to show your support and be an ally to Muslims.
On Saturday, June 3, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Midland, members will be gathering to package 10,000 meals for Kids Coalition Against Hunger. A representative from KCAH will be present with everything needed for packaging. You can help in two ways. First, each meal costs 28 cents, so to donate 10,000 meals, we need to collect $2800. Please make checks payable to ICM and write Kids Coalition Against Hunger on the memo line. We need these funds by April 25. You may leave them in the church office or mail them to:
United Church of Christ
Attn: Barb McGregor
4100 Chestnut Hill Dr.
Midland, MI 48642
The other way you can help is to package the meals on June 3. We will be working from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Islamic Center. Many hands make light work, so your assistance will be very welcome. If you can help package, please e-mail Umbareen Jamil to volunteer.
Interfaith coffee chats, hosted by the Coffee Chat Collective group, are held the first and last Tuesdays of the month in Midland, always at Loch Coffee Company. On second Wednesdays they will be in Bay City at Brewtopia. And on third Thursdays they will be in Saginaw at Common Grind.
Food For Thought
A recent UCC conversation on race included these suggestions for being an ally in anti-racism work (from Rev. Traci Blackmon, Ferguson, Missouri):
- Learn before you Leap. It is impossible to act in solidarity with those we are not willing to hear. Do not assume you understand another's pain. The manifestations of oppression differ and each must be acknowledged in its own right.
- Do your own work for your own sake. Understand the cost of white privilege, the toll of racism, and why dismantling racism is necessary for your own liberation.
- Be a servant, not a Savior. Liberation must be led by those being oppressed. Their pain and their power must be at the center of the work.
- In anti-racism work, "ally" is a verb, not a noun. It is only relevant when describing one's current act(s) of solidarity. Those you stand with determine whether or not you are an ally.
- Commit to doing white people's work, establishing solidarity with other white folk who are committed. Establish 'whiteness accountability cohorts'.
- Continue to show up. Even when your presence is misunderstood. Define your lane and commit to riding in it. Don't over promise and try not to under-deliver.
- Use your privilege to make space for others to tell their own story: not you telling it.
- Do not appropriate the pain of others. Defer to those being targeted.
- Read. Watch. Listen.
- Give yourself space for Grace.