Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast in late August, bringing historic flooding, submerging homes, churches, businesses and roads, stranding thousands of people.
Your gifts are urgently needed now to support the communities devastated by this historic storm and those throughout the Gulf region who are still in the path of Harvey’s torrential rains.
The Global/Regional Mission Committee of FPC has committed $15,000 to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), our denomination’s on-the-ground response program. If you would like to give, please place cash or a check into one of the special envelopes found in the pews on Sunday.
Eat@First cffers community meals following Wednesday Worship (12:30-1:30 p.m.) and evening meals (5:15 p.m.) before choir rehearsals and other evening programming. $8 cash or check for adults. In Wood Fellowship Hall.
Most of us know that African Americans are sometimes treated like potential shoplifters. To be honest, I didn’t think through how demoralizing that would be until I saw a friend’s reaction during an incident described below. This was my second aha! moment while reading Waking Up White by Debby Irving.
The FUPC/FPC Ministry Team has been reading Waking Up White this summer in preparation for a four-week Adult Formation series in October. We hope you’ll read the book, too.
From Waking Up White, page 71: “In her essay ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,’ Dr. (Peggy) McIntosh laid out the forty-six seemingly benign privileges she dislodged from her subconscious. I say ‘benign’ because they don’t seem like big deal until their opposites—the lack of privileges, the discrimination—are considered…I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”
Here’s my aha! moment:
Earlier this year, I was in the Uptown Harris Teeter and ran into an African American friend.We chatted about the store and how it carried so much of what was available at larger stores.But, Grace (not her real name) lamented that this smaller store didn’t sell the bags of French green beans that she and I both enjoy.
Walking home, I remembered I had two bags of those beans from the East Boulevard Harris Teeter in my refrigerator. At home, I placed one in a Target bag, tied a knot at the top and trotted back to Harris Teeter.Grace was still in the store.
“Look, Grace!” I exclaimed. “I had an extra bag of the green beans and I brought it to you!”
Her reaction shocked me:“You can’t give that to me here.”
In a flash I realized that I was setting up Grace to carry something out of the store that she hadn’t purchased there.Instead, she gave me her car keys and I carried the beans to her car.
The idea that Grace, a pillar of her church and community, might be viewed with suspicion is ludicrous. But even such a dignified and trustworthy African American must have had enough life experiences that she’s wary.
I thought about all the times I shopped at CVS, put the receipt in the bag and then went directly to the grocery store.True, I always tied the top and showed the bag to the clerk, saying “These are items I purchased at CVS.” But never, ever have I been challenged, nor do I expect to be.
For most white Americans, being treated with respect and trust when shopping is a given.
When I was in high school in the early ’60s my family hosted an exchange student from West Berlin, Germany—Lutz Mock. Lutz lived with us for a year, and in that time became a member of our extended family. He visited us on several occasions in the intervening years. Recently, Barbara and I had the opportunity to visit him in his home in Berlin.
A little background about Lutz. As an architect working for the city of Berlin, he was involved in the renovation of many historic buildings. After the wall came down in 1989, he was involved in revitalizing East Berlin. Lutz married and had a son, Clemens. Clemens had Down Syndrome, and Lutz was a devoted father. When Clemens needed more care than Lutz and his wife could give, Clemens went to live in a facility for people with similar challenges.
During our visit, Lutz took us to a village that I had never heard of—Lobetal, which means “Everyone praise [God].”
Lobetal was founded in 1905 by a pastor with a great German name—Friedrich von Bodelschwingh. Pastor Bodelschwingh had a special heart for those people that society pushed to the margins. He founded Lobetal as a place where all people were welcome—the unemployed, the homeless, drug and alcohol abusers, those with various mental and physical needs. All were welcomed at Lobetal.
Pastor Bodelschwingh built not dormitory-style housing, but individual rooms where each person could have a sense of belonging and a place to call his/her own. He believed in work, not alms. So he arranged for the residents of Lobetal to use whatever gifts and talents they had to create, build and contribute to the larger society.
Lobetal’s motto is “There is no one on earth that God doesn’t love.”
The reason Lutz loved Lobetal so much is that it is a sister community to the place where Clemens lived until his death at age 29.
In 1989, as it was clear that East Germany was about to collapse, Lobetal faced one of its biggest challenges. The last chancellor of East Germany was Erich Honecker. As chancellor, Mr. Honecker had been responsible for the deaths of many people carried out by the stasi (secret police). Mr. Honecker began to fear that some of the people who had been affected by his cruel regime would retaliate. He feared for his life. So he petitioned to live at Lobetal.
Many of the people living at Lobetal had family members and friends who had experienced Mr. Honecker’s cruelty. So, they had to ask themselves, “Is there really NO ONE on earth that God doesn’t love?”
This saying is easier to affirm in the abstract than when you are called to put it into practice. The people of Lobetal said, “No, God loves everyone.” And they let Mr. Honecker take up residence there.
My visit to Lobetal brought to mind two scripture passages: “God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only son” (John 3:16) and Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLE to myself” (John 12:32).
Parents helping out on the first day of the Habitat for Humanity build on Saturday, September 16, can drop off K-5 children at FPC, where the children will have a kid-friendly Habitat project. Cost is $5 per child and includes lunch. Frances Brown (P212) 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Register online.
Youth 15 and younger are invited to be part of the Habitat project from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Children are invited to bring their backpacks to worship on Sunday, August 20. During the Children’s time we will bless them all and ask for God’s guidance in our upcoming year.
We will also bless the supplies gathered for the classrooms at our partner school Westerly Hills Academy. If you are shopping for school supplies, please pick up any of the following items and drop them in the bin just beyond the Historical Lobby by Wednesday, August 16:
Training for those who work with children and youth is on Sundays, August 20 or 27, at 9 a.m. in P206. If you are a new volunteer or staff member, or if it is time for you to update your training, mark your calendars for one of these sessions.