I can not believe that we are already in September. While at times 2020 seems to be dragging on with no end in sight for systemic racism and COVID, here we are in the month of September. My prayers and love are with all of you. I especially want to lift up those who have been in the multiple layers of storms. Prayers for those affected by the fires in California, those affected by the storms in Iowa, those affected by the most recent hurricane, parents, teachers, and students that are navigating going back to school, protestors continuing to demand justice and systemic change, workers (farmworkers, healthcare, grocery, food industry), those who have lost loved ones, and all of you seeking to care for each other by seeking justice. I see you and your amazing strength and perseverance.
While you are working to take care of all that needs care, don't forget to add yourself to that important list. Everyone, yes including me and including you, needs to be ever mindful to not forget to take care not only with your own physical health but also our own mental and emotional health. There is so much suffering, hardship, anger, and pain. I sometimes feel like I am swimming in it and it can be very overwhelming. For me, taking a break from the news and social media, doing things with my hands like cleaning and cooking, a conversation with a friend, spending time with my wife, being creative, taking the time to acknowledge how I'm feeling instead of ignoring my feelings, and also just sitting and doing nothing are some of the things that help me to stay grounded, stay connected, feel refreshed, and recharge. What are those activities for you? How are you incorporating some of these every day?
This issue of MFSAVoices is jam-packed with resources and information. So much so that it won't all fit in your email message so be sure to click view entire message at the bottom of this email to view the entire issue. Our newsletters are jam-packed and designed not to be read or accomplished in one sitting. They are designed to be used all month long. So take a quick glance and take note of important dates to add to your calendar but also come back in the following weeks to work your way through the action items.
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We continue to see the urgency of our work to make broad systemic change.Change that honors the dignity and worth of all people, puts people over money, and honors the earth and all her inhabitants. COVID-19 continues to highlight the inequities in our society that has literal life or death consequences. Since 1907, MFSA has been shining a light on injustice and organizing to change it.
You make our collective work possible by your witness for justice every day in your church, community, and Annual Conference. MFSA does not receive any financial support from the United Methodist Church's giving channels. 100% of our budget is funded through your membership dues and your generosity in giving.
We're excited to share that MFSA has become partners with the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM). Originally founded in 1920, National Farm Worker Ministry is a "faith-based organization committed to justice for and empowerment of farmworkers." The National Farm Worker Ministry became the organized effort by the religious community to take action, "from charity to justice," in the Farm Worker Movement.
Dedicated to the rights of farmworkers, the NFWM continues to educate, equip, and mobilize organizations and faith communities and individuals to "support farm worker-led efforts to improve their living and working conditions" even in midst of the pandemic. Most recently, the NFWM joined the United Farm Workers' (UFW) petition to support PRIMEX workers who spoke up about unsafe working conditions and were consequently fired.
As Labor Day approaches, we invite you to join MFSA and NFWM in the Harvest of Justice. Falling between Labor Day and World Food Day, this year's Harvest of Justice focuses on Farm Workers and the Environment. Take this Harvest of Justice season to educate yourself and your community on farm worker's rights and the impact of climate change and to take action to make impactful change. "We urge people of faith and conscience to hear the call and stand with farmworkers to challenge oppressive systems in order to bring healing to individuals, communities, and the earth."
Webinar: Is it Antisemitic to Critique the State of Israel?
While antisemitism is a real and persistent evil that needs to be eradicated the charge of antisemitism can also be a highly potent weapon against the movement for Palestinian rights. Today that weapon is being used throughout the US and in many other countries to destroy personal reputations, bring legal charges against certain individuals and rob others of valuable opportunities, intimidate private and governmental institutions, and shut down free speech on campuses. Join our speakers, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference and Mark Braverman, Program Director of Kairos USA and author of "Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land," on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 10am PT/ 1pm ET/ 5pm GMT/ 8pm Palestine as they take a close look at this controversial question as it impacts the church and discuss how we can appropriately respond.
The Justice Leaders Collaborative's 4-week intensive titled "White People Working for Racial Justice!" is a space where white people can learn together, ask questions, make mistakes, work through defensiveness and guilt, and examine fears, without burdening People of Color. At this time in our nation, we are witnessing an alarming resurgence of white supremacy and state sanctioned violence. It is imperative that white people do the deep work required to claim and embody an anti-racist identity, understand the privilege they carry, and interrupt racism where they live, work, study, and volunteer.
In June 2020, faced with the new realities of life during a pandemic, the California-Pacific Annual Conference held an entirely digital legislative session, which turned out to be a remarkably successful adventure in holy conferencing.
In the same resourceful spirit, Cal-Pac MFSA reinvented their keystone yearly event, the Mildred Hutchinson Award Luncheon (or Dinner), which they have held during annual conference sessions for several decades. The luncheon went digital on Friday, June 19th.
Although it would not have occurred to anyone before the coronavirus disrupted our lives, holding a virtual meal on Zoom can provide previously unimagined access across a conference that spans the southern part of California, the state of Hawaii, Saipan, Guam, and Pacific islands.
Justice-Seeking Community Highlight: Welcome Allendale UMC!
We are excited to welcome and introduce the newest Justice-Seeking Community: Allendale United Methodist Church. Allendale UMC affirms the "sacred worth of all people and strive to practice christ's example of unconditional love without exclusion." Committed to seeking justice within its local and state context of Saint Petersburg, Florida, members of Allendale have continued to stand and rise in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Additionally, Allendale has most recently been working towards educating individuals and communities on voting rights and the importance of voting. Allendale UMC is a place and community that is a sanctuary for all without barriers: "No matter who you are, you are welcome here."
If your church, small group, ministry group, or community is interested in becoming a Justice-Seeking Community, please click the link and check out the JSC Covenant: https://bit.ly/2HUTgA1
MFSA in the News
Members of our newest Justice Seeking Community Allendale UMC, Tori Edwards (Director of Engagement and Children) and Khyre Edwards (Co-Lay Leader) reflect upon and share moments spanning from their childhood to 2020 on what it looks like to live while Black in the US. Tori and Khyre’s memories feature blatant racist violence, microaggressions, and the overwhelming power of systemic racism.
As followers of Christ, we are required to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. When our siblings, our neighbors, our community is systematically targeted, brutalized, and traumatized, we must demand change. We must demand justice.
Poor People's Campaign: Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Americans
"How would the political landscape change if the needs and demands of poor and low-income voters were better represented in the electoral process?" The Poor People's Campaign's latest report by Professor Robert Paul Hartley of Columbia University provides evidence of the political power that the 140 million poor and of low-income possess. The report's findings highlight the impact the poor and low-income non-voters could have made in the 2016 election: "If low-income voters participated at similar rates as higher income voters, and voted against the winning party, there are 15 states where new low-income voters could flip the results from the 2016 presidential elections. This includes key battleground states and states in the south."
As we approach the 2020 Election, this report only bolsters the importance of voting and the difference and impact one vote can make. As we approach November, follow MFSA on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay informed on voting rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded our attention to re-evaluate the norms of society and culture including mental health. As we endure and live through this historic trauma, please take advantage of the mental health resources already out there and take action to change the policies in place because true healthcare must include mental health.
The death of George Floyd shifted the nation's attention to police brutality and violence, and his death amplified the need for societal and political change to reflect the truth that Black Lives Matter. In the midst of seeking justice for Black lives and the lives of people of color, the narrative unfortunately too often leaves invisible the stories and names of women and girls. Created and prompted by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), the #SayHerName hashtag and movement demands "that the names, voices, and stories of Black women and girls be amplified for they too, are victims of police brutality." All Black lives, cis and trans Black women and girls, matter.
George Roland Holcombe was a fellow Justice Seeker and beloved member of Rio Texas MFSA. We remember and honor his life and ministry and join his loved ones in prayer. Let us give thanks and celebrate the life and witness of George Holcombe.
Now is the time to continue to push for broad systemic change. Here are a few ways you can seek justice in these uncertain and difficult times:
Join GCORR this September for 30 days of anti-racism. Each day has a new activity that helps us to become more anti-racist in the ways we think and act. Share your progress with a picture or a reflection using #30DaysAntiRacism.
Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by police officers as he walked towards his car where his children sat. Please refrain from circulating the video of the shooting on social media as it traumatizing. Instead, contact local and state officials to demand that the officers who shot Jacob Blake be held accountable.
In July, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law, a law that gives Duterte and his government access and legal grounds to suppress democracy and activists. Duterte's government is currently targeting and trying to silence the voices of the Philippine people and activists by trolling them on social media by finding them with the hashtag criticizing the unjust law: #JunkTerrorBill. Take action and stand in solidarity by sharing this statement and this hashtag #JunkTerrorBill
Call your legislators (202-224-3121) and advocate for permanent federal paid sick leave, expanded unemployment benefits, SNAP increases, and a moratorium on evictions, utility shut-offs, and payments.
Complete the 2020 Census. It literally takes up 10 minutes of your time, but it will define public policies for the next 10 years.
So much of this country is in an economic free-fall in response to COVID-19 while many Americans were already at rock bottom before the virus hit. Use your voice and sign the petition calling on Congress for a moral response to COVID-19. The current legislation doesn't do enough to address the extent of the crisis (universal health care, living wages, worker protection, adequate income, and anti-poverty programs to name a few).
Get the recording of MFSA and UMKR's August webinar featuring Rev. Drs. Stephen Sizer and Munther Isaac, two recognized authorities on Christian Zionism, and learn about the flawed theology of Christian Zionism and why it is an inaccurate interpretation of Scripture that harms Palestinian Christians and the entire Middle East peace process.