Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly News 03-13-15

March 15

This week’s road in the GOSPEL HIGHWAY series is The Hard Road (Matthew 7:14). Mark’s sermon will try to convince us that though the road of authentic discipleship is hard it is worth the taking because God stands at the end of it. The Handbell Choir will be playing this week, and the time with children will explore the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer.

MARCH MADNESS . . . Selection Sunday

The Mission Committee’s March Madness Food Drive begins this week with Selection Sunday. The goal this week is to collect 68 items for the Verona Area Needs Network food pantry. That is one item for every team selected for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Help us reach the 68-item goal by having every member of your family bring their favorite non-perishable food item to the church.

UNWRITTEN CHAPTERS

The March 18 midweek Lenten service will focus on the men who did not throw stones (John 8). Come hear about people Jesus inspired to change for the better. A story like this can be full of insight, especially for days like these when angry crowds quickly gather. The service begins at 7 in the fellowship hall and goes for about 45 minutes.

TENEBRAE READERS for MAUNDY THURSDAY

Four more readers are needed for the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, April 2. Please let Mark know as soon as possible if you are interested in being one of these readers.

FAITH ON THE MOVE: Mapping Our Future

The challenge goal for our 2015 stewardship drive is $295,000. Just imagine what reaching that goal could mean for the life of our church! Missing the goal will only get us as far as we have gotten so far, and that is still short of where we believe God wants us to go. Return your pledge sheet if you have not already done so, and be part of a stronger, more effective, and farther reaching Salem. 

SHOWER

Sherrol and Laura Yurs invite all the ladies of the church to attend a baby shower for Lena (Yurs) Woodis to be held on Sunday, March 15, at 2 in the afternoon in the fellowship hall. Lena and Adam are expecting Rya Isabel at the end of April – or the first week of May, if Grandpa has any say. (The Yurses wish to clarify this is a shower Rya’s grandma and aunt are hosting, not the Fellowship Committee; those showers are for church members currently active.)

DONKEY

Will you help keep an eye out for a donkey? March 29 is Palm Sunday and the donkey who has led our procession in recent years in no longer available. Can you help us find one?

MORE PALM SUNDAY

We will be walking through all of Holy Week on Palm Sunday. Following the procession in the streets, re-enacting Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, those returning to the church will find our building transformed into a series of stops along the way that tell the story of the last days of Jesus on earth. All this will take place during the Sunday School hour March 29. All are invited, both young and old. Bring your friends. No story is more important than this, and the church lives to speak it or it does not live at all.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly News 03-06-15

NEW ZEALAND

Doug and Barb Smith spent a year living, working and worshiping in New Zealand. The Smiths will tell us about their year this Sunday after a potluck supper at the church. The potluck will start at 5 PM and the presentation will start about 5:45. Bring a dish to pass and come ready to learn about life in New Zealand. Our mission committee is sponsoring this night of global awareness.

UNWRITTEN CHAPTERS

The March 11 midweek Lenten service will focus on the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). Come hear about a man filled with demons but who got his life back with the help of Jesus. A story like this can help us get our lives back when they seem taken away by a mob of duties, responsibilities, worries, challenges, and all the rest. The service begins at 7 in the fellowship hall and goes for about 45 minutes.

FAITH ON THE MOVE: Mapping Our Future

Our 2015 stewardship drive material – FAITH ON THE MOVE: Mapping Our Future – has gone out to all of our members. The challenge goal for this year’s stewardship drive is $295,000. Dr. Seuss’s birthday was last Monday (Mar. 2). Many will remember his poem “Oh! The places you’ll go!” That spirit of excitement can be alive in us as we take on the route of faithful stewardship. Won’t you return your pledge sheet, and won’t you help get behind the wheel of this promising and exciting ride? 

SHOWER

Sherrol and Laura Yurs invite all the ladies of the church to attend a baby shower for Lena (Yurs) Woodis to be held on Sunday, March 15, at 2 in the afternoon in the fellowship hall. Lena and Adam are expecting Rya Isabel at the end of April – or the first week of May, if Grandpa has any say. (The Yurses wish to clarify this is a shower Rya’s grandma and aunt are hosting, not the Fellowship Committee; those showers are for church members currently active.)

DONKEY

Will you help keep an eye out for a donkey? March 29 is Palm Sunday and the donkey who has led our procession in recent years in no longer available. Can you help us find one?

SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING

The Annual Meeting of the Southwest Wisconsin Association of the United Church of Christ will be held Saturday, April 11, at First Congregational Church in Madison, starting with registration at 8:15 AM.  The day begins with worship led by the Reverend Franz Rigert, our new Wisconsin Conference minister.  Following worship, we have a day full of presentations by representatives of SW Association congregations.  Come hear about McFarland’s “Messy Church”; Paoli Zwingli’s experience with Appreciative Inquiry; Dodgeville Plymouth’s Multicultural Outreach Program; and Platteville/Zion’s work with homeless families in rural southwest Wisconsin.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Laura's Border Blog, (Cont)

Tuesday, February 22, 2015

Our day began with conversation with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer, Frank.  Frank is a first generation Mexican American who has worked for the Border Patrol, spent many years as an undercover officer, and now is a supervisor in the Tucson and Nogales, Arizona ICE offices.  Throughout the course of our morning together, several clear themes emerged.  First, was the overall complexity of immigration law and enforcement, which seems to be always changing in its interpretation, subject to funding and political winds.  Second were the very real concerns about the influence and power of the Mexican drug cartels,  and their encroachment in the US:  the drug trade, human trafficking, kidnapping, and weapon smuggling.   Photos demonstrated cartel ingenuity, and extreme cruelty.  Frank feels that the biggest factor empowering the cartels is US demand for drugs, and that the only way to effectively disrupt their influence is to reduce consumption.

This afternoon, we journeyed to the US Federal Courthouse in Tucson, a beautiful new building that was to hold a jarring experience for many of us.  Fellow group members  posted the following apt description on the ORUCC facebook page:

Today the group witnessed a Tucson Federal Court proceeding where 68 men and 2 women (Mexican and Guatemalan citizens) were "processed" as part of Operation Streamline. This effort is intended to deter "illegal immigration" by increasing criminal convictions and prison time.
These young men and women, shackled at their ankles and wrists, were brought in front of the Federal judge in groups of 8. Through a translator, each person was charged with felony illegal re-entry and misdemeanor illegal entry. Each person pled guilty to a plea-bargained charge of misdemeanor illegal entry and was sentenced to between 30-180 days in prison, depending on undisclosed circumstances. Each group of 8 was then removed from the courtroom and then next group brought forward.
This experience has had a profound effect on the group, generating a lot of discussion about the disparity of power in the courtroom, the problems of language and lack of education on the part of the defendants, the dehumanizing effect of the process, and the efficacy of this strategy.
We have only been here two days and we are already deep into the issue, gathering information and experiences that, again and again, remind us of the complexity of immigration in the U.S.

Wednesday, February 23
A fascinating morning with Lupe, a historian who gave us a history lesson of the borderlands from the wider perspective of native indigenous people, sharing the rich and layered history of the region.  It has been only recently that the Border between Mexico and the US has become so tightly controlled:  where once families moved back and forth across both sides, and adjoining communities celebrated festivals from both countries, now there is a wall and a strong, militarized US presence.

This afternoon we crossed the Border, 60 miles south of Tucson at Nogales. 
Crossing into Mexico, we descend into a man-made canyon by a road that twists and turns below high red earth walls, peppered with speed bumps and barriers.  To enter Mexico, requires no passports or custom checks. 
We emerged on the other side to be met by Ceci, our Mexican guide.  Taking the wheel of the van she drove us through steep streets to the  colonia (neighborhood) where we were to stay the night.  Our hosts were warm and welcoming, and we enjoyed time together, with the assistance of our capable translators – getting to know one another over appetizers of cactus salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips.
The conversation continued well into the evening at the home of Rosa and Juan where three of us were staying.  Over a lovely dinner of rice, beans, chicken and vegetables we exchanged stories of family and community from both sides of the border.