It’s hazy, hot, and humid. We are several days into an official heat wave. Yep, it’s summer in DC. What does summer mean to you? Spending time at the beach or pool? Traveling? Attending outdoor festivals? Camping?
Whatever it is you are doing this summer, it probably involves a change in routine. And what is true for you is true for our church as well. Last Sunday, those of us at church had a chance to meet Tonetta Landis-Aina and her family. Tonetta is our July Preaching Fellow, and she will be joining us for Sunday morning services while Pastor Ellen is away on vacation. Tonetta will be preaching about the Book of Job and leading two related coffee hour conversations. I hope you will join us for what promises to be a very interesting series of sermons and discussions.
One thing that is not changing this summer is our commitment to social justice. We recently participated in the Poor People’s Campaign rally and the Families Belong Together rally. The latter event was held this past weekend.
Despite extremely hot and humid weather, tens of thousands of people participated in the DC rally and sister rallies across the country. If, like me, you were unable to attend the local rally in person, I recommend watching the replay, which is available on YouTube. If you watch, you will find that the stories shared by participants provide powerful testimony as to just how inhumane our current immigration policies are and how hurtful family separation is. You will also see the resolve on the faces of both speakers and attendees as they vow to continue working and protesting on behalf of those families who have been separated and those who continue to suffer.
By the way, UCC Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries, Rev. Traci Blackmon, gave an especially passionate and inspiring address at the rally last weekend. Her remarks begin shortly after the 44 minute mark on this replay. (And, for all of you Hamilton fans, Lin-Manuel Miranda followed her and sang an a cappella version of a lullaby from the show.) If you don’t want to watch the replay, you can read a transcript of her remarks here. (Of course this means that you will miss seeing and hearing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s emotional performance.)
Social justice is also the theme of our Summer Social Documentary Film Series. Last month we showed the first film in the series, which highlighted the impact of climate change around the world. On July 18th, we will show the second film, Returning Citizens, which deals with mass incarceration and second chances. (See details below.) I hope you will join us to watch the film and participate in a brief discussion afterwards. And, please stay tuned for future activities.
One final note: I recently read that heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in this country. If you know or see someone who is suffering from the heat this summer, please help them find the assistance they need. During periods of excessive heat, DC opens cooling centers. You can find a list of these centers at. You can also call 202-399-7093 for help.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
July Preaching Fellow—We welcome Tonetta Landis-Aina, M.Div. as our preaching fellow on Sundays 7/8 thru 8/5. She will preach a series on the Book of Job, entitled “Sassy Love, Sacred Faith,” and lead Coffee Hour Conversations on July 8 and July 22. Tonetta is a recent graduate of Wesley Seminary and has served in ministry positions at Baptist and Methodist churches and as a chaplain intern at the National Institutes of Health. In addition to her seminary degree, Tonetta has a Master of International Affairs and bachelor’s degrees in English and History. Please welcome her!
Dick Jorgensen Memorial Fund—We invite you to honor this long time member who died May 20 in Santa Barbara, California. Dick loved our church and its building and grounds, took great interest in any renovations, and helped keep them in period “arts-and-crafts” style. Donations will support renovation of the church library and can be made by check payable to Cleveland Park Congregational UCC, with “Jorgensen” in the memo line. You may also donate via our website, using Vanco or Paypal. Please include “Jorgensen” in the appropriate box when making an online donation.
Youth Mission Trip, 7/9-7/14—Six of our teens and their friends will participate with Christ Congregational UCC in a work project to assist with the ongoing clean up after Super Storm Sandy. Next summer (2019) we’re planning a trip to Puerto Rico from 6/24-29 to help with the ongoing clean up after Hurricane Maria. If you’re interested in the 2019 trip, please contact Pastor Ellen now, firstname.lastname@example.org, as we’ll begin planning this summer.
Summer Social Documentary Series, 7/18—Join us to view and discuss Returning Citizens, a 2017 documentary filmed in Southeast DC about a passionate group of individuals looking for a second chance. It offers a glimpse into a community that’s been greatly impacted by the ongoing cycle of mass incarceration and offers proof that lives can change. www.returningcitizensdocumentary.com. Admission is free, with donations going to The W.I.R.E. (Women Involved in Reentry Efforts).
Summer Social Documentary Series, 8/15 —3 AM Girls is part of the documentary television series, “Our America,” narrated by Lisa Ling. She goes undercover with a former teenage sex worker to witness the “rules of the streets” and see if they can identify young, missing girls. This film explores the shadowy, dangerous and tragic world of underage sex trafficking here in DC. www.oprah.com. Movie starts at 7 pm. Admission is free with donations going to Courtney’s House.