Youth and their families are invited to join other families to sing songs, eat s’mores and drink cider! Questions? Contact Lynne Clements, .
Archives for 2019
Gene Locke, Peace, Justice & Inclusion Division
Fifty years ago I sat in a seminary class on “The Ethics of Jesus” only to discover that there is no such thing. Jesus was focused on ethical action, not thought experiments. He sat at table with all the wrong people – an act symbolizing his gospel of radical inclusion. In the parable of the great banquet, the king commands, when too many of the right people made excuses to avoid his invitation: “Bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame. Go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in.” There is a place for every one born at God’s table.
There is plenty of room at the table – if we choose welcome, not fear. Giving a ride to her ICE appointment to a young mother who journeyed from Central America to the United States so that her two little daughters could grow up in safety. Meeting the hostility asylum-seekers faced at the border with our hospitality by offering food and water and coats and blankets as they ride the Greyhound bus from the border for their destination with family or sponsors. Supporting the Charlottesville Freedom Bail Bond Fund so that undocumented family bread winners arrested for driving without a license can be reunited with their families rather than being sent to a detention center far away. There is room at our table for migrants, those seeking asylum from violence, for refugees from war-torn countries, if we choose welcome, not fear.
Some may argue, but there’s not room for everybody at the table. Surely there are limits! Within the concrete particulars of time and place in today’s world, perhaps not at one particular table. But in God’s economy, there is room at some table at some place somewhere, if we are guided by the mercy and justice of God in figuring out how to distribute the abundant resources of the whole to assist the parts, if we choose welcome, not fear.
So how does WPC make room at its table? Not only through our benevolence giving, but literally, by building homes through Habitat, offering shelter on cold nights for the homeless through PACEM, working to sustain our planet home by the efforts of the Green Team, advocating for affordable housing and driver’s licenses for the undocumented through IMPACT, working for racial justice in Charlottesville through dialogue and education, supporting legal assistance to unaccompanied minors and parents separated from their children through LAJC, supporting Sin Barreras as it helps the immigrant community thrive, providing education and advocacy to protect our immigrant neighbors from discrimination, profiling, and arbitrary detention and deportation, through participation in the Charlottesville Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Coalition. Protecting Maria, an indigenous woman from Guatemala whose home was set on fire, with her family in it, by gangs that wanted her land, in sanctuary, and safety at Wesley UMC. At WPC, we choose welcome, not fear.
And that’s not all. WPC supports more programs that make room at the table: the annual CROP walk, Emergency Food Bank, the Gleaning program, and the Presbyterian Food Offering; global health through the Prosami program; standing with the LBGTQ community at the Pride Festival and sponsoring the conference on Caring for Transgender Persons this time last year; supporting the March for Our Lives kids and other programs to reduce gun violence; support for our local jail ministry, so that incarcerated persons might one day return to their place at the table, whole and restored.
For every one born there is a place at the table, when we choose welcome, not fear.
Ruthie Buck, Chair, Peace, Justice, & Inclusion Division
Almost 30 years ago, I was searching for a church home in Charlottesville. I had attended a few different churches, and Westminster was next on my list. I had actually never been to a Presbyterian Church before, having being born and raised a Southern Baptist. But Westminster was where I happened to find myself on one Sunday morning. What I heard from the pulpit was unlike anything I had heard before – it happened to be Bill Smith’s last sermon as pastor of Westminster – and he spoke urgently and passionately, and to be honest, he pulled no punches.
Now, given my Southern Baptist roots, it’s not that I hadn’t heard urgent, passionate, and chastising sermons before! But, rather than this sermon being about personal salvation – with heaven and hell figuring prominently – it was about our calling as Christians to work for social justice. What? I had never heard social justice preached before. It’s certainly not that I hadn’t thought about social justice issues – after all, I considered myself a liberal open-minded individual who was concerned about such things. It’s just that I had never connected social justice with the church.
“What?” you are probably thinking – how could you not associate social justice with the church?! Well, thanks to Westminster, I do now, and I knew on that Sunday that Westminster was the place for me.
And Westminster has a long history of social justice activism that continues to this day: activism around racial inequality, homelessness, harsh immigration policies, the environment, hunger, the inequities inherent in our criminal justice system, gender discrimination, including that associated with sexual orientation and gender identity, gun violence – we have 13 different committees in the Peace, Justice, and Inclusion Division that focus on the above– and more. Westminster’s commitment to social justice has recently been reaffirmed with our call to Dorothy Piatt, our new Associate Pastor for University Mission and Social Justice.
But, it has taken me awhile to really understand that our work in social justice has deep theological roots and is an important part of the work of the PCUSA. A statement issued by the PCUSA – a statement I became aware of through attending our recent Sunday School series on dismantling racism – made me think on a deeper level about the theological basis of social justice activism.
It states in part:
“White supremacy and racism stand in stark, irreconcilable contradiction to God’s intention for humanity. They reject part of the human family and are utterly contrary to God’s Word made incarnate in Jesus. They are idolatries that elevate human-created hierarchies over God’s freely given grace and love.”
“They are idolatries that elevate human-created hierarchies over God’s freely given grace and love.”
Although this statement was specifically directed toward racism, it surely extends to all kinds of injustice that so many in our society face.
The list of those too often excluded from having a place at the table is indeed a long one. As Christians, we are called to work to ensure everyone has a place at the table, that everyone feels included. We are called to address issues of injustice, inequity, exclusion, in whatever forms they are made manifest.
“For everyone born, a place at the table” – this is what your involvement and your pledges make possible!
To see our Stewardship video, click here.
“For Everyone Born,” a hymn in our newly dedicated hymnal, provides inspiration for this year’s stewardship theme – A Place at the Table. Consider how the opening words of the hymn, words we’ll hear throughout our stewardship season, reflect our presence and purpose to serve Christ, share God’s love, and work for justice in our world:
For everyone born, a place at the table,
for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for everyone born, a star overhead.
This theme speaks to all we do at Westminster. In a world where the journey for some to find a place at God’s table is difficult, your faithful generosity provides space for all, welcoming everyone to a large and bountiful table filled with love, grace and acceptance.
Your practice of stewardship in 2020 will continue to help us meet the challenge that everyone born, both in our community and beyond, will receive God’s hospitality. Through worship, music, our Christian education programs for children, youth and adults, sharing God’s love with students and faculty at the University, supporting our immigrant neighbors, promoting racial justice, sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, serving as allies to our LGBTQIA community, our home and hospital visits, and much, much more, your financial support helps us provide a place at the table for everyone.
This week you will be receiving your annual packet of materials for the 2020 stewardship campaign. Over the coming weeks, you will hear more about the many Westminster ministries and programs that reflect our love of God and our neighbors, including at a congregational stewardship lunch in Fellowship Hall on November 3. As we move toward Pledge Dedication Sunday on November 10, the stewardship committee asks that you prayerfully discern how you will practice stewardship this year.
If you have not pledged previously, we ask that you faithfully consider whether you will be able to make a pledge for 2020. If you regularly pledge –thank you! – and we ask that you faithfully consider whether you could increase your pledge to an amount that reflects the many blessings that God has bestowed upon you.
The refrain of the hymn, “For Everyone Born,” includes the following declaration:
“God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion, and peace!”
Through our faithful practice of stewardship, we can continue our shared journey of creating justice, joy, compassion, and peace. That journey will include challenges. Let us meet and overcome those together. For everyone born, a place at the table.
Jim Cauthen, on behalf of the Stewardship Committee
As a group of Westminster folks met with, fed, and played with the children of Habitat families over the last year, we realized we wanted to know more about Habitat’s work in Charlottesville. So, on Saturday, September 28, we are going on a Habi-tour. We’ll meet at the church parking lot at 10 a.m., pile into a Habitat van to tour and hear about Habitat’s history and work. The last stop is Southwood where we will get to see the space with all it’s maps and charts in which residents are designing their new neighborhood. We’ll be back at the church by noon. To join this group, contact Carolyn Brown or Lucy Burnette.