I am anticipating my own Fourth of July activities as I write this Moderator’s Memo and I am reflecting on the rich conversation we had Sunday during coffee hour with DC clients of the Asylum Seeker Assistance Project (ASAP). Since the discussion was so close to July 4th, we focused on holidays, in particular Independence Day. We learned about independence day traditions in countries as disparate as Syria, where it is called Evacuation Day (Google it to get the significance of the term); Uganda; Ethiopia; and Eritrea, to name a few.
We were reminded that gaining independence is usually a hard-fought process, with significant loss of life. And it is sometimes transitory.
We also shared our own Fourth of July traditions, whether fireworks on the National Mall (or in New York City), small town parades (our own Palisades and Takoma Park parades are local favorites), neighborhood picnics, and more. For many of us, the Fourth is a day of relaxation, celebration, family, and community.
David, the historian in our midst, provided some context for our own Declaration of Independence, and it’s worth repeating the words that express our founding ideals: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We noted that especially today, in these challenging and unsettling times, we can’t take these ideals for granted. And we were reminded of the central role immigrants have played and continue to play in the life of our country.
Lest you think Sunday’s conversation was all serious, Lisa had assembled several pieces of trivia about the Fourth and I can’t get one image out of my head: On July 4th, apparently we eat a lot of hot dogs. In fact, Lisa reported that if you put all the hot dogs we eat that one day end-to-end, they would stretch between Los Angeles and Washington, DC, more than five times!
So, with visions of “healthy” eating, and with special appreciation to our ASAP friends, here’s wishing you a Happy Fourth.
Peace and Joy,
Reminder: We are planning to host quarterly ASAP coffee hour conversations with a different theme each time. Stay tuned for the September date.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
July Preaching Fellow, 7/7-8/4—Kerwin Webb, a recent graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, will preach a series on Legacies, with the goal of helping us unpack them— spiritually, congregationally, and communally. Kerwin will also lead two Coffee Hour Conversations, 7/21 and 8/4. Welcome, Kerwin!
Pastor’s Vacation—Pastor Ellen will be away through August 4. For general questions or concerns, please contact our Church Administrator, Meg House, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Moderator, Carol L. Rogers, at email@example.com. In case of a pastoral emergency, you may contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-404-0893.
Appreciative Inquiry Session, 7/10—As part of our preparation for the UCC Pilot Project, we’re participating in a congregational assessment that includes an appreciative inquiry session (i.e. what do we love about our church and what would make it even better) led by Hope Partnership, an ecumenical ministry that works with faith communities on leadership development and congregational vitality. If you’d like to participate from 7-9 pm on July 10, email Lisa Jenkins, our pilot project team leader: email@example.com.
Youth Mission Trip, 7/6-7/13—Teens, parents, and teen leaders will fly to Puerto Rico with other UCC youth to help local communities rebuild after Hurricane Maria. We look forward to the August worship service when they’ll tell us about their adventures!
Poetry Group, 7/21—Join us from 4-5 pm and bring one or two poems on any theme (with 8 copies to share). Friends are welcome. Questions? Email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“DC: Tales of Two Cities,” 7/24— This summer’s Social Documentary & Discussion Series will continue with the film, Fly By Light. It examines what happens when a group of DC teens go to West Virginia for a peace education program and their lives are dramatically changed. After the documentary, there will be a panel discussion with the film’s director, cinematographer, and the executive director of One Common Unity, an organization that trains youth to create positive social change in their communities. Join us from 7-9 pm. Questions? Email Emily at Parkerec@gmail.com.