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Mary Friedman and a group of First Church of Christ members attended the Pioneer Valley Micah Awards on February 8, 2020 where our own Rev. Marisa received an award for her tireless advocacy and action for Social Justice and Peace. Below are copies of Mary’s Call to Action and Pastor Marisa’s Award Biography.
Call to Action
First Church of Christ In Longmeadow joined the Pioneer Valley Project (PVP) last year. There is wonderful diversity in PVP’s member groups which makes it a great way for our church to form meaningful relationships with a wider range of people, and enrich all of our lives. We are surely all in this together.
PVP gives us that opportunity for engagement. Recently First Church learned about the Nguni Bantu term “ubuntu”. This concept means “I am because you are.” My well being depends on your well-being. This idea is central to the work of the Pioneer Valley Project. If one of us or a group of us suffers from injustice, we all suffer. All of our faiths teach us this.
Our country and our world are
hurting. We see daily the effects of
hatred, division, and violence. We, as
individuals, faith communities, and other concerned groups are needed to
Administrator provides a single point of contact for church members and
visitors and is responsible for the management and operation of the church
building and office, for supporting Clergy, the Music Director, and Ministries
in preparation for worship and other church activities, and for financial and
personnel recordkeeping for the church. The Administrator works closely with
the Pastors, congregation, other employees, and outside service providers to
ensure the efficient and effective operation of the church. This is an hourly
position of 32 hours per week.
The Church Administrator must:
Be familiar with progressive Christian theology and worship liturgy and committed to the mission (Click HERE to read our Mission Statement) and goals of First Church, including the Behavioral Covenant (see below).
Be able to engage with others with warmth, compassion, sensitivity, and enthusiasm, to welcome and assist all church members and visitors to the church with hospitality, to enlist and manage volunteers, to treat sensitive information with discretion and confidentiality, and to establish positive relationships with Pastors, other staff members, and lay leaders.
Be able to organize workspace and records, to prioritize and complete tasks in a timely manner, to work independently, and to multitask.
Over the years many members and friends of First Church have found it rewarding to donate alternative gifts from their family to our mission partners in Haiti at Christmas. For many years these gifts were bags with nursing supplies for the nursing students at CONASPEH (the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti). This year, instead of our usual nursing supply kits, we will be collecting medication and supplies for the clinic at CONASPEH headquarters. This clinic serves the staff and hundreds of students at College St. Andre and the other programs there in Port-au-Prince.
You may bring donations to the boxes in the office. Gift cards will be available for you to send to someone as acknowledgment of your donation. If you would prefer to make a cash donation, make your check out to “First Church of Christ” with “Haiti Supplies” in the memo line. If you have questions, ask Mary Friedman or Mark Pohlman.
Here is a list of needed items for the clinic which was sent by the clinic nurse, Miss Fanor:
One of my great joys has been leading retreats and workshops. It was an opportunity for people to spend time in community, growing spiritually, connecting to God, each other and their own knowing. Often I got to facilitate folks sharing their own stories. This coming year we are all going to be listening to each other’s stories. So, I thought I’d share s few of my favorites.
(A woman in her late 60’s had never shared this story with anyone outside her own family.)
My father was in the military. During the Vietnam War we were assigned to a military base with a hospital. I was about 14. I would go over most days and visit with the injured soldiers. I’d read to them, pray, talk and read the Bible. They were afraid and seemed to be so thankful for the company.
One day at school I had a seizure. It was frightening. My folks took me to the base doctor. As they ran tests the seizures increased. They got worse. In no time I was having them daily. I was not going to school and I was scared all the time. The doctor told my parents that they would probably get worse and there wasn’t anything they could do.…
One year ago, on August 20, 2017, I started as the Senior Pastor of First Church of Christ in Longmeadow. So much has happened in this year!
My first service was outside in the garden. The weather was nice and the Search team provided us a picnic lunch. I preached about how to build a community. My stomach was nervous but my heart was excited. I had already felt the wonder of accepting God’s call to be your new Senior Pastor. Now I was ready to fall in love with the church and all of you.
I was primed to love you. When I read the church profile and saw that you lived boldly—serving and witnessing outside your building, caring for the broken, marching for justice — I was intrigued. I believe that church cannot be church just sitting inside our own building trying to please each other. Jesus showed us how to be church by taking to the streets to heal, feed and stand up for the oppressed. Churches that focus on “pleasing” everyone in worship are usually dying churches. And besides, preaching to “please” is the opposite of preaching a prophetic word. As pastors, our job is said to be “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”…
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” — Matthew 21:16
Sometimes we long for perfection. We appreciate organized, clean, spaces. We celebrate orderly events. But
really — none of these are truly normal. Nature is not tidy. Life will spring forth unbidden. Weeds will push through concrete to blossom.
Life, like birth, is messy business. Messiness is where passion meets living. Messiness is when accidents add juice
I celebrate what I call a Theology of Messiness. A messiness theology is supported biblically:
Jesus and the disciples host a big picnic supper of fish and bread. They serve so much that they have to clean up baskets of leftovers. (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
Jesus loses his cool. He turns over tables in the temple, scattering money and animals all over the floor. (Matthew 21:12-18; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-16)
A woman breaks open an expensive jar of perfume and pours it all over Jesus’ feet. She wipes up the spill with her hair. (Matthew 26:7-10; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-39)
Peter doesn’t waste any time leaping into the water.
Louis Mitchell is a pioneering “intentional man”. He is known around the country and abroad as an elder, advocate, teacher, student, minister, parent and friend. He serves as the Co-founder and Executive Director of Transfaith™/Interfaith Working Group and as the Associate Minister of South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA.
Louis is a proud father to his daughter, Kahlo, and co-parent with her mother, Krysia L. Villon. Louis has been in recovery for over three decades and been involved in the fight for health, respect and self-determination since the early 1980s, with deep engagement in political, mental health, recovery, and church contexts.
He brings his own learned experiences, a broad range of resources, theories and studies, to offer a fresh, “on the ground”, open-hearted, holistic strategy to the work of individual and community healing, intersectional diversity planning and commitment to personal and community agency and solvency.
Gender Journeys: More than a Pronoun (2016, Luke Allen) and
More than T (2017, Silas Howard)
Received the 2017 International Jose Julio Sarria Civil Rights Award from the Imperial Court of Western Massachusetts, the 2015 Claire Skiffington Vanguard Award from the Transgender Law Center for his long time advocacy for the disenfranchised and the 2011 Haystack Award from the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC for his work in Social Justice and Social Ministry.
As a church, we welcome everyone, no matter what they believe, where they are from, who they love. “Welcoming” is key to making us a loving community that can be safe for everyone.
As Christians, in fact, we hold “welcoming everybody” as a shared value. And we hold ourselves responsible for acting on that value.
How do we know that welcoming everyone is something Jesus taught us? Look no further than Luke 19:1-9:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, because Jesus was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So Zacchaeus hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”…