Dear Church Community,
Did you know that Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls are three different, though related, celebrations? Halloween, or “All Hallows Eve,” is October 31, the day before All Saints (or Hallows) Day. November 2, is All Souls Day.
Each year, our congregation celebrates All Souls with a service to uplift and remember those we have loved and lost. We honor other losses as well. This Sunday, November 5, we’ll light candles for our loved ones, participate in communal lament, and support each other as we move through a global time of grief.
We all need safe spaces to feel and express emotions, and I want to make sure our church is one of them. Last month, the FaithLife group discussed an article entitled, Catharsis at Church, which looks at the importance of church being a place that can handle big emotions. If you have ideas for how we can improve in this area, I invite you to share them with me. I want everyone to know: however you are feeling, your feelings are welcome here!
I encourage you to bring a photo or other memento of a loved one to put on our All Souls Altar this Sunday.
Do you ever wake up on Sunday and ask why you’re rising, getting dressed, and walking or driving to church when you could just sleep in or go to Starbucks?
It’s a reasonable question! And I’m glad so many of us have meaningful answers. From music to contemplation to inspiration to human connection, we come to this little church and receive nourishment each week.
However, an increasing number of Americans are not going to church, Sunday morning or otherwise. What underlies this Great Dechurching? You’re invited to join Maggie Micklo for a Coffee Hour Conversation this Sunday about the “largest and fastest religious shift” of people away from church and religion in American history. If you’d like, read these two articles beforehand: I Used to be a Christian. Now I Miss Church and The Largest and Fastest Religious Shift in America is Well Underway.
P.S. If you haven’t been coming to church, we’d love to hear your perspective. What would make church more meaningful for you?
Many of you heard Emily Parker, our Mission & Social Action Chair, speak last Sunday about her recent experience with civil disobedience. In her words:
This week, I participated in civil disobedience at the Capitol with If Not Now as an ally to call for an immediate ceasefire, the safe return of hostages, and an end to the siege on Gaza. I was with a group at Rep. Katherine Clark’s office, and we recited the Mourner’s Kaddish, read out loud the names of Israelis and Palestinians killed in this month’s violence, and sang. Some of us shared why we were there, some of us wept. Michael, the youth teacher at his Synagogue, blew the Shofar. Later, when Rep. Clark refused to meet with us, we moved to the hallway just outside her office. Michael blew the Shofar again. We sang and chanted calling for a ceasefire. We were arrested.
For me the experience was deeply meaningful and transformative. Participating required all my being and to be in deep connection and in sync with the individuals in my group. When one person reading the names of the fallen needed to pass it on to another, it only took a glance for that individual to carry on the reading. We had to trust each other and the lead for our group. Being arrested was intense (I’ve never been) but the singing and hearing the voices of the individuals in my group kept me grounded and focused. I feel like I experienced the deep communal mourning we discussed recently in our Faithlife group. I witnessed, and participated in, fierce love in action.
You can Take Action by:
Contacting your members of Congress and the White House:
- The UCC has created this one-step action alert to urge our legislators to support a ceasefire and take steps toward lasting peace.
- You can send the same message to the White House.
- Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has created a similar action alert here.
If you live in DC:
- Call andemail Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (202) 225-8050) and ask her to sign the HR 786 Ceasefire Now Resolution.. Delegate Norton can sign resolutions.
- Demand the DC Council attend a briefing held by local constituents on the horrific violence happening in Gaza and the ways it affects city residents.
- Ask the DC Council to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire now.
- Call or email Hakeem Jeffries, House Minority Leader (202-225-5936) and Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader (202-224-6542). As leaders of their party, they’ll be interested in voters’ opinions generally, especially Democratic voters.
During this time of conflict, the annual IFC Interfaith Concert is a wonderful opportunity to experience different faith traditions coming together in music and dance. The event will take place this Sunday, November 5th from 5-7:30pm at Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC). This year, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Aruna Miller, will be the keynote speaker and journalist Bill Scanlan of C-SPAN will emcee. Click here to see the full list of performers. You can purchase tickets here.
Rob Keithan, Minister of Social Justice at All Souls Unitarian, recently wrote:
“Earlier this year, the DC Council passed emergency measures aimed at stemming what many are calling a crime crisis in our city. Unfortunately, this legislative package failed to address the systemic issues underlying the rising tide of harm in our communities, and now members of the Council are poised to make permanent changes to the law in the areas of policing and incarceration that are likely to create more, not less, harm.”
In response, All Souls will host an online discussion next Thursday, November 9th at 7 pm with Zach Norris, author of Defund Fear. In his book, Zach (a lawyer and community organizer) lays out a radical path for shifting the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems. He writes: We can hold people accountable while still holding them in community.
Rev. Keithan concludes, “As the District’s political leadership considers how to respond to a year in which far too many individuals, families, and communities have experienced unacceptable loss and trauma, we hope you will join us for this online conversation with Zach Norris. The dialogue will help us to imagine a path beyond the binaries of tough versus soft on crime and us versus them.”
As we move deeper into autumn, I pray for the peace and safety of all beings, everywhere.
With gratitude and love,