We Can Make a Difference...

May 3, 2013 @ 10:31 am by Jacqui Lewis

I am amazed at the ways people of faith can make a difference in the world. I traveled to Pakistan with my colleagues Bob Chase, Hussein Rashid, and Michael Livingston. We were part of an interreligious delegation to Pakistan arranged by Intersections International. When we met with Pakistani leaders—Muslim leaders—it was the commitment we share to a healed world, and the love we share for God who calls us all by name, that inspired our courageous conversation. We are committed to doing something that heals the breaches of misunderstanding and suspicion.

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Blogging for The Huffington Post

March 27, 2013 @ 12:00 pm by Jacqui Lewis

For Holy Week, I wrote a poem about Jesus and then I reflected on how during his time and now there is a clash of values. You can read "Jesus, This Ain’t No Ordinary King" in The Huffington Post.

Our Small But Mighty Team

March 13, 2013 @ 11:15 am by Jacqui Lewis

On Saturday, February 23, 2013, volunteers from Middle Collegiate Church traveled to the Rockaways to work with Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck to provide relief to those affected by Sandy. Rachel Hippert, one of our Ministry Coordinators, wrote this guest blog about that experience.

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We Must All Work to End Gun Violence Now

January 29, 2013 @ 04:52 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Thank you to Sojourners! They published my piece "What's Going On: Mobilizing Against Gun Violence" in their God's Politics Blog.

Praying A Deep Sigh

December 19, 2012 @ 11:30 am by Jacqui Lewis

Hello everyone. We are all reading more about the shootings in CT. We are learning more about the lovely people who died, about acts of heroism, about the shooter’s life. And we are so sad. We are also hearing more and more opinions about why this happened, what we should do about it, and where God is in it. I am sure that God is NOT ever willing acts of violence. I am grieving, I am shocked, I am sad, and I am clear that we have GOT to do something about gun control in this country. I have more to say, and I am sure you do, too. We will have these conversations, and say the words we need to say. For now, I offer this blog at Huffington Post, along with my tears.

Ways to Contribute to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort in New York

November 1, 2012 @ 03:15 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Here are ways you can contribute to Hurricane Sandy's relief effort:

  • You are invited to assemble and distribute brown bags of prepared food in the East Village on Sunday, November 4. We will pack food items at 9 am and 10 am and distribute after worship at 122 Second Avenue. Email Minister Tricia Sheffield at tsheffield@middlechurch.org, to be a part this.
  • Our partners at the Interfaith Assembly for Homelessness and Housing have organized door-knocking downtown at 200 Madison Street (cross-street is Rutgers Street) on Saturday morning. They''ll be checking on residents and helping distribute aid and identify at-risk residents that need help. For more information, including directions, click here

Here are organizations who are assisting with the relief:

WNYC also offers a list of how you can volunteer in the region:
http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2012/oct/30/how-help-hurricane-sandy/

For questions about access to power, food and other frequently asked questions after the storm, see this resource: http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2012/nov/01/your-post-sandy-questions-answered/

Huffington Post's "Hurricane Sandy: How To Help & What You Need To Know" is also helpful: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/30/hurricane-sandy-how-to-help_n_2045622.html 

The Interfaith Assembly for Homelessness and Housing is also compiling a list of volunteer opportunities to aid with hurricane relief. That can be found here

If you know of something that we have missed, please feel free to leave it in the comments. 
Restor(y)ing My Soul

July 2, 2012 @ 05:00 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Dear Middle Church family,

I was awarded a grant from the Louisville Institute for a three-month sabbatical I proposed titled “Restor(y)ing My Soul,” a journey in which I would trace my theological roots. I proposed to interview my relatives, including my Great Uncle Ed, who is the last surviving sibling of my maternal grandmother’s generation. Uncle Ed is a Baptist preacher, and will turn 90 this July. His sister, my Ma’ Dear was the “knee baby” (second youngest), and he is the youngest of 13 siblings. He has some stories to tell and I can’t wait to hear them. I also proposed to go to Greece and Italy and do some of Paul’s missionary journey. Since I was awarded the grant, I received an invitation to be in a study group at the Hartmann Institute in Jerusalem, so I will travel to the places where Jesus did his ministry as well. Oh how wonderful!

Here is the itinerary: July 1 was my last day at work. First, my husband John and I will travel to New Orleans, where I will speak at the Essence Music Festival, then to Chicago to be with my family at Mom’s family reunion. We will return to New York and leave the same day for Israel, and stay there for 10 days. From there, we travel to Athens and Rome. I will be thinking about theology from the spaces where the early church took root – I am thrilled about that! Since we are so close, we will visit Paris as well. Then we will be home – resting, writing a book, working out, enjoying some down time and real Sabbath. I will be back at Middle Church on October 1.

I am expecting to return rested, refreshed, restored, and restor(i)ed. I leave you with prayers for a blessed summer, and for you to also find some Sabbath time. I also leave you with hope – that whatever your heart is yearning for, whatever are the prayers you are praying, they are answered and that you have peace.

Love,
Jacqui 

Jacqui will be sharing "Postcards" from her sabbatical on her Facebook page.

Help Grace Community Church

May 23, 2012 @ 04:14 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Last week, just before preaching a sermon in Atlanta, I heard about this congregation in Minneapolis whose members stopped coming when their pastor voted to affirm marriage equality. The Sunday after the vote in 2005 (I fact checked) The Grace Community United Church of Christ lost 25% of its mostly African American members; now they are down to 45 or 50. Rev. White simply decided to believe out loud and vote with his denomination to fully include the LGBTI communities in the sacred and human right of marriage.

Living our faith in public can cost us friends, comfort, votes. AND it also is exactly what is needed to bring about God's Reign. I believe the universe responds with tears of joy when we do the right thing. We can change things; there can be miracles when we believe.

There is a large church in Dallas called Cathedral of Hope UCC. They rescued this little church by raising $15,000 in one Sunday. Two leaders delivered the love in person.

Sadly Grace Community Church still needs our help. That gift will only last until June. Another $200,000 has to be raised right now or they will have to close their doors.

The consistory, staff and I are sending $1.00 for each of our members--799, to the struggling St.Paul congregation. We are doing that right now because it is urgent and they need our love for standing up. You can give a dollar in the offering bag this Sunday along with your own giving to Middle's justice works. You can also send more to support them through Believe Out Loud.

I want to thank you for all of the ways you believe out loud and are generous for justice.

Wear a Hoodie to Church

March 22, 2012 @ 01:01 pm by Jacqui Lewis


On Wednesday night, hundreds of people — women, men, and children — took to the streets and marched from Union Square in reaction to the senseless killing of an unarmed Black teenager, Trayvon Martin. In their hoodies, with their children hoisted on their shoulders, they marched and chanted, full of lament: race clearly still matters in these United States of America. Black teenagers scare some people, therefore, walking while Black is a dangerous thing to do in some places, some times.

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Lent: Lengthening of Days

March 15, 2012 @ 04:08 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Read Jacqui's latest blog for the Huffington Post, "Lent: Lengthening of Days."

Is There Really a Church Like That?

March 6, 2012 @ 04:31 pm by Jacqui Lewis

When I was a little girl in Chicago, we used to watch the PTL Club, and sing along as people on television "praised the Lord." I was too young to know if their theology matched mine (what was theology?). I knew the music was different than that in my Baptist church on Sunday morning, but I liked it anyway. The people seemed joyful, and it was something, along with Ed Sullivan, that my parents let us watch.

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We Have All Come Over a Way that with Tears Has Been Watered: Reflections at the end of Black History Month

February 24, 2012 @ 12:51 pm by Jacqui Lewis

On this rainy Friday, it is my sabbath. I am not good at sabbath, but am trying to get comfortable having a day to just be, with God, with John, with me. A day to just let thoughts drift in and out of my mind, feelings in and out of my heart, in a mindful kind of way. I am trying to get comfortable resting, not doing, just being.

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Jacqui on HuffPost

January 28, 2012 @ 04:47 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Over the foregoing nine months, I have written a number of pieces for the Huffington Post. You can find them compiled below, or a the Huffington Post. To subscribe to my HuffPost RSS feed, click here.


Click for list.

Middle Project Leadership Lab

November 11, 2011 @ 11:49 am by Jacqui Lewis

Middle Project Young Adult Leadership Lab graduate Kerry Docherty shares these thoughts about relationships, learnings and being in a spiritual community.

Kerry Docherty, a lawyer, during a Middle Project Young Adult Leadership Laboratory.

Relationships 

I spent most of my spiritual life a loner. I would attend a religious service, sit in the back, and silently creep out the back door when it ended. Just when I resigned to the belief that I may never find a sangha (my spiritual community), I found Middle Church.

Soon after I attended my first service, Christina found me in the pews and provided me with a warm welcome. A couple months later, Jacqui and John posed the possibility of the The Middle Project Young Adult Leadership Lab. I was hesitant at first, reluctant to become an active member of the church community as I had been disappointed in the past. My previous exposure to youth groups focused on handholding, talks of love, and kumbayas. The Middle Project, however, proved much different. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely still a lot of warm fuzzies involved, and some singing, of course (thanks to Jacqui), but most of the time we get down and dirty, working on self-examination, honest communication, and intentional listening.

The Middle Project participants are diverse in every capacity, including race, profession, sexual orientation, and spiritual background. That being said, we all share a common denominator – a desire to integrate our spiritual faith into our everyday experiences. Many of us entered the project with practical questions: what does it mean to be a progressive Christian? How does my faith influence my community? How do I know what God has planned for me and how do I know what I should be asking for? How can I, if at all, be an effective leader (spiritual or otherwise)?

Though I hadn’t met many of the other “Middlers,” prior to the project, I felt an immediate connection as we began to openly share our stories, doubts, opinions, and struggles. Even when there were disagreements, we respected each other. We allowed each other to feel heard. And although I had a tendency to feel vulnerable during class, I often left feeling empowered, expanded, and supported in both thought and spirit.

Since then, my relationship with some of the Middlers has deepened into friendship. For the first time in my life, I feel like I belong to a spiritual community.

What We Learn

Each Leadership Lab session has three different layers: (1) personal reflection, (2) our relationship with God, and (3) leadership in the community. In any given class, Jacqui and John effortlessly weave together academic exercises, experiential learning, and discussion groups. For example, in one of the first classes, we read articles on personality dynamics, took a personality test, and then did a sociommetry exercise, where we stood in different parts of the room to measure where people categorized themselves socially. The introverts then shared what it felt like to be in a room with extroverts and vice-versa. In another class, we explored the idea of “Being Storied,” where we read some of our very own Jacqui Lewis’ book, examined how the history of the United States has affected our current cultural issues – such as racism, inequality, and greed – and then shared with each other some of our own stories, stereotypes, and desires.

I left each class with a greater insight on the interplay between reflection, God, and community, and how these three jewels play out in the ordinary routines of life. By the end of class, my heart, mind, and stomach were full.

How The Middle Project Affects Work and World

The Middle Project is not focused on the esoteric or religious philosophical debate. Rather, the classes are centered on practical solutions to everyday problems. The class exercises encourage us to unearth our own strengths, insecurities, desires, and prayers and then explore how we can utilize them to effectuate change in our communities, be it at work, in school, or in our family. We’ve learned techniques such as how to communicate with difficult people at work, how to confront stereotypes, how to view our stories and histories from a different angle, and how to harness our power. Not only are we learning practical tools, but we are doing it in an environment that is both safe and challenging.

At this stage in my life, I’m still processing what my role is in this world – how I describe my faith, how my faith affects what job I pursue, how my faith affects how my interactions, how I can find my strengths and apply them, how to be an effective leader, what stereotypes I still harbor. Middle Project provided me with a safe environment to explore these questions, articulate some of my thoughts, and learn from the people around me. I would undoubtedly recommend the Project to anyone who has a lot of questions and wants to spend some time working through the answers with diverse, yet similarly passionate, individuals.


For Such a Time as This

October 27, 2011 @ 03:56 pm by Jacqui Lewis

It is getting cold outside, and sadly, tempers are getting hot in Atlanta and Oakland as occupiers are dispersed. In our own city, even in the midst of tensions, I keep hearing stories of the love and care being displayed among those in the park, and from so many who take care and Spirit down to Wall Street. I hear stories of consensus-building, even as boundaries are created to keep people safe. When people talk too long, a sign goes up to tell them time is up! Occupy Wall Street, however we feel about it, is organized to care for the community. There are committees and teams and assignments for leaders, all ready and set-up with intention to feed folk, keep them warm, wash their clothes, and keep the space clean. I know that some have a critique of this movement, but we have to critique this as well: there is a wide gap between God’s vision for a just society and the way our economy works. Unemployment and underemployment, increasing poverty among our children and older citizens, rising debt for students and working class families–the numbers do not add up in God’s Economy.

This is where their work IS our work. How do we as a people get to a better place? How do we dismantle current systems that do not care for most of us, and create systems that do? How do we listen to folk who are different than we are, listen for consensus in our stories and visions, and then create a new reality in which all of the people, especially the poor, are invited to sit at the welcome table (Luke 14:12-24)? How do we create a just society in which 100% of us are pulling together to heal our nation?

This Sunday following worship, my congregation, Middle Collegiate Church will host a Town Hall discussion so we can share stories and vision from many perspectives. Listening deeply with compassion in a safe space can lead to consensus and a new way to be human.

As we prepare for this conversation I would like you to think about these three questions.
• Question #1: What would a vision of economic justice look like to you?
• Questions #2: What do our visions have in common?
• Question #3: How do we collaborate across age, race, gender, economic status, faith tradition, political viewpoints and personal goals to achieve economic justice or God’s Economy?

This discussion will be streamed live and you can participate by asking questions via our FB Event page, or by tweeting @middlechurch using the hashtag #MCCEcon.

Later in the afternoon, there will be an Interfaith Worship at the park at 4:30pm led by Occupy Faith NYC.

Friends, our congregation is already very busy doing God’s work, providing food assistance to approximately 1,500 people per month and clothing for about 200 people a month for those in back-to-work transition or in need. We want to do more.

I am so proud of Middle Church. I personally LOVE the spirit of what is happening in the Occupy Wall Street movement, yet I know we do not all feel the same about it. Our diversity and respect for it is part of the magic of Middle Church. In the midst of our diversity, we all share a vision of God’s Economy–in which all have food enough to eat, clothes on our backs, safe and warm places to lay our heads, make a living wage so we can support our families, affordable health care so we can stay well, and jobs when we graduate from college so we don’t start our adult lives with a huge burden of debt. Economic Justice is a goal we all share.

How do you feel about economic justice? Your story matters to us as we think about God’s Economy. We hope you will join the conversation as we seek to build God’s Reign and God’s Economy on earth. I hope to see you Sunday, October 30th at 11:15 am for an artistic worship celebration in which the congregation participates in the sermon through movement and conversation. Please stay for our Town Hall Meeting and then lunch and talk at tables. I hope you will come on Sunday, November 6, at 6:00pm for a musically rich worship celebration featuring 30 Rock and Broadway’s Tituss Burgess, and more conversation afterward. And I hope you will add your voice to this important discussion as you follow us on line, on Facebook and on Twitter.

I believe we have all been called together for such a time as this. Good people of courage, with faithful hearts and open minds can and will change the world.

Occupy New York

October 7, 2011 @ 02:55 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Friends,

One of the reasons I am passionate about Middle Church is that we have been addressing economic justice for more than 50 years. Olga Downey was an older woman who helped start the clothing closet. She got her clothes from that closet, saved her money, and left us an endowment that funds our children's ministry to this day. Lucille Bodden followed Olga in running the closet for a long time, and on a fixed income, was always faithful and generous in giving money to fund the ministries she loves. And now, due to some wonderful volunteers, our closet is getting boutiqued in a larger space so that our clients can feel clothed also with care. We feed close to 1,500 people each month with lunches in the park, bags of food to take home, and warm meals on Sundays. We also partner with New Alternatives and Momentum to feed homeless LGBTI youth and people living with HIV/AIDS. Generous people: people of means, people who struggle, people who give time, and people who give funds make ministry happen at Middle Church.

It is also true that our investments--Olga's fund and Collegiate investments--fund more than 75% of our ministry. That means Wall Street is a partner in our ministry.

I want to change the conversation, Middle family. I am bored with political rhetoric about class war fare. I want us to talk about class collaboration. I grew up in the Black Church, where the milkman and the accountant sat together on Sunday, taught their children to lead on Wednesday, marched for justice on Saturday, and gave what they had in time, talent, and treasure to make the church run. Once enslaved Africans were free, there was always an economic gap. But folk did not forget from whence they came, and they reached back and pulled someone up and helped someone out. The early church was like that, learning from its Jewish leaders, including Jesus himself, that in God's Economy, the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, the sick, and the lame were the responsibility of the community.

Class collaboration means that a faithful coalition of people realize that they can have a greater impact toward a more just society when they pool resources, enact strategies, build bridges, challenge the status quo, and speak truth to power. The early church learned that some have gifts for prophetic speaking and others have gifts for making sure people got fed. I think we need to resurrect these ideas and ideals and not waste time on us-versus-them tactics.

People of faith know that God's Economy does not have to be a dream; it can be a reality in this time and place. This is, to my mind, what it means to be faithful. How do I care for my family, save for our future, and help others care for their family and future as well? How do I share of myself and my resources for the greater good of humanity? On several occasions, Middle members have made donations directly to Middle Church to benefit someone else. "Give this to someone who really needs it..." This is the kind of partnership I want the Church to explore. Can we adopt a family or a classroom or create a scholarship fund or mentor children so they are ready for college?

I must admit, I am outraged at the state of our economy. It is not acceptable for a nation with this much wealth to have people living on cardboard outdoors, to have children who only get one meal a day at their school and that one meal threatened with tax cuts. It is outrageous to have older people have to choose between medication or food. Even still, I am less concerned about how we got here, whose fault it is, and whether someone else could have done it better than I am with what can we do now and how will we pull together to do it!

I want Middle Church to keep on feeding and clothing those who need our help. And I want us to change the story and the conversation as we work for a more just society in which food, clothing, clean water, shelter, and health care are guaranteed for everyone in this nation, everyone on our globe. This means coordinating work with other partners. This means marching and writing and blogging and talking about solutions to these systemic issues. This means asking the hard questions, holding leaders accountable, and being willing to be part of the solution. I don't think any one person can fix this thing, but I know by God's Grace and Spirit, WE can fix it together!

Several of our Middle family have been connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement since it began on September 17. Some have been organizing on line, some have been at the scene downtown. On Wednesday, some of our staff and lay leaders participated in the march on Wall Street. As we were standing and waiting, singing and strategizing, there was a great brass band rocking tunes that reminded me of a cake walk in Louisiana. There were union guys in purple shirts, dreadlocked children with their parents, and cameras everywhere ready to capture the moment. In my head, Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution will not be televised" was playing, because in fact this is a revolution and it is being televised and You Tubed and blogged and tweeted.

A crowd of thousands in business suits and bandanas, sweat pants and saris, clergy attire and mohawks moved and pulsed like one body. This is what America looks like, we chanted, claiming our 99% status and in our great diversity of person and perspective collaborated on at least one message: This ain't working so well and we have to change it. I heard another song in my head, a spiritual: Hush, hush, somebody's calling my name... Oh my Lord, oh my Lord, what shall I do?

God is calling us to God's way of thinking, to God's Economy. You may wonder what that looks like. Jesus tells a story in the gospels (you heard it in September in worship) in Matthew 20:1-16. Workers who are hired early in the morning to work in the vineyard get the same pay as those who came at the end of the day. There is something about the way God loves us that is about ALL of us having what we need! Enough food, warm clothing, safe places to live, a living wage, affordable healthcare, access to education for our children. These are not luxuries, people of God. And there are enough resources in these United States to take care of all of us and then share with the world.

People of faith: wealthy people, middle class people, working class people, and poor people--we need to UNITE in our common call to be the people God created us to be. We are responsible to and for one another, we have to do this better; it is our watch and we must take care of business!! We must partner with one another, reach across the aisle as necessary, find partners, and build bridges so we can heal this land.

It is too simplistic to demonize all of the people who make more money than we do. Good people with wealth share it every day. Look at Steve Jobs and the legacy he leaves with us, rest his soul. The problem is a system that allows lobbyists to protect corporations from the appropriate tax; the problem is a tax code with loopholes that poor people will never find or fit through; the problem is that people of faith often don't dare even whisper, "I wonder if we can take this on, demand something different, build a bridge over which the poor can walk toward a better life?"

Middle is going to stay connected to this movement, just in case this is the revolution we have been waiting for. I am not looking for us to throw verbal bombs or to participate in vitriol and hatred. And I know that we who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes. Let's turn our restlessness into revolution, our anger into action, our despair into demonstration. And let's never forget the Power at work within us that is able to do more than we can ask or imagine--that Power is Love.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right."

On Sunday, after we have worshipped our God, after you have had some brunch and talked a bit with your neighbor about the economy, after our volunteer training, Trish and John will lead a coalition downtown. They are taking sandwiches and Spirit with them; they will sing and offer hope and prayers...

Because it is right. And we've got the Power!

Love and Light, Jacqui

For a list of Occupy Wall Street solidarity events and Facebook pages, click here.

Being God's Love

July 26, 2011 @ 11:24 am by Jacqui Lewis

by Jacqui Lewis

Before I heard our intern, Arin Fisher's amazing sermon on Sunday at church, I was at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau as couples were lining barricades on the first day same-sex couples could legally wed in New York State. It was absolutely amazing, moving, fabulous, and so, so powerful! People were dressed in their tuxedos, bright white shirts, wedding gowns and sporting large smiles and big hopes. Hundreds of couples and their friends beamed. I posted some of their photos on my Facebook page. There was applause from those in line when the first lesbian couple got married. There was community and camaraderie; it was kind of like Middle Church!

I was also moved by the portraits of the New York Times and watching the stories of couples in the NYT Video, "I Now Pronounce You..." made me cry the next day. The footage illustrated the love and commitment of these couples who for so long were denied rights. What's so powerful about these stories is that they focus on the personal narratives that have driven our hope for this day for so long. I was surprised and humbled to see that the Times also included words I said about our Christian faith, "God is love, and wherever love is, God is."

Brothers and sisters, thank you for being God's love to one another. We have witnessed with horror this week what can happen when God's love drops out of the Christian equation. As we pray for the families of those who were murdered in Norway, I can't help but send you and God great thanksgiving that we are a community where people can experience God's fierce love in and outside of our doors. Change doesn't come quickly, but it does come. And each of you as you love are leading the way to creating more of the world we hope for.

I know many of you have worked so hard for this civil right. And you have hopes of how our world will continue to change. On Sunday, during our morning worship celebration, we will honor this amazing change as we marry Kele & Renee and Alex & Jeremy. You won't want to miss the celebration, and I won't want to miss you this Sunday, as I prepare to go on vacation in August. As summer moves over us like a warm blanket, I hope you can still your life and experience the joy and gratitude of what has been accomplished.

What's Wrong with This Picture?

July 19, 2011 @ 09:29 am by Jacqui Lewis

The Reverend John Janka, The Middle Project

We have now turned on our own children. Predatory lending lead to foreclosures of homes largely occupied by middle class families. These foreclosures have allowed banks that participated in these predatory lending practices to now hold title to millions of properties that stand vacant while the middle class families who once lived in them swim against the tide of personal financial collapse. These families are drowning and, with them, their children are caught in the undertow of "too big to fail." It is our children's lives and futures that are at stake. It is past time to say "enough!"

Across the country, schools are cutting funding for programs; teachers are under siege for low test scores, are threatened with loss of job security, and are being held responsible for a broken system. This pattern of hand-me-down blame from public leaders to regional school administrators to local superintendents and principals and finally to teachers and even parents is shameful and grossly irresponsible. We are allowing a fracture in the middle class, separating public employees from the rest of the herd as sacrificial lambs in this blame game. But it is the children who are paying in the end. Larger class size, fewer teachers, cancelled programs, and an across the board demoralization of the troops on the ground. Something we would never tolerate in our military.

While homeless shelters are at capacity and non-profits struggle to provide emergency services, our government toys with a shutdown. While states and municipalities fend off insolvency, our government refuses to discuss tax increases on the wealthiest among us, perpetrating the lie that this would further harm the economy. Among the wealthiest among us are the politicians who refuse to even discuss raising taxes.

While our elderly and about-to-be elderly of modest means can't get the medications they need because they can't afford them, some of our political leaders are ready to sell out on Medicare and Medicaid and some want to dismantle the healthcare guarantees we have now, limited though they be while they enjoy top of the line coverage. So, families are forced to choose between grandma and their own children when it comes to holding the family together and getting needs met.

Unemployment is ravaging families in this country while large corporations and banks that benefited from enormous bailouts are holding on to that money rather than investing in the country's future by creating jobs. We talk of patriotism in terms of preserving our national security, protecting our borders and sacrificing our young on the global stage. May we also speak of patriotism as the motivation to set aside political self interest in the cause of a just and equitable economic balance sheet that guarantees our children will have hope in their own future.

While those who helped precipitate this financial debacle continue to receive outrageous bonuses, and our leaders continue to court the special interests for the contributions they can make toward their next election, the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves against the one percent of the population that controls ninety-five percent of the country's wealth.

Our national budget should be a moral document, not the tortured and twisted assembly of compromises that ensure the powerful stay in power and the wealthy stay wealthy. It is time to question who really speaks for the common person in this country. Every four years we cycle through a charade of promises by politicians who want us to vote for them. Perhaps it is time to let our children vote. Children in their innocence can often see through a lie, have a keener vision of fairness, and settle their playground differences more quickly than those who make our laws. Take time to make a call today to President Obama's comment line; tell him you want what our children would want: a budget that protects the vulnerable in our country.

Towards A More Just Society

July 15, 2011 @ 11:18 am by Jacqui Lewis

Friends,

To my mind the most important thing about being a person of faith is to share God's vision for a more just society. As we say at Middle Church often, we are not saved until everyone is saved. Saved means having life and having it more abundantly. It means having income enough to put food on one's table, clothes on one's back. It is time for people of faith to address the stalemate around the federal budget. I am fed up with the politics and the posturing; aren't you? No matter our party affiliation, I am encouraging us to turn our prayers and activism to this issue today!

We heard two sermons in April; one from Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, and one from Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. during our Leading Edge Conference. They told us what we know to be true: the budget is a moral and spiritual document, and that people of faith need to stand up for a budget that yields justice for the most vulnerable in our society.

My friend Emma Jordan-Simpson directs the Children's Defense Fund in New York. She has prepared a wonderful letter (right click, and select "save link as" to download) that we can send to our senators and representatives right now, to encourage our leaders to do the right thing. Won't you join me in sending a letter today? We can also call President Obama's comment line every weekday from 9 AM to 5 PM to express our views. If you want to call our senators toll-free, call (888) 907-1485 and tell them that the most vulnerable must not bear the brunt of the budget cuts. Children's Programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have all been threatened in the debate; let's turn that around with our prayers, our phone calls and our letters, today.

In solidarity and in peace, Jacqui

Yes We Can!

June 29, 2011 @ 12:30 pm by Jacqui Lewis

Dear Friends,

It has been an historic month in New York State and at Middle Collegiate Church. Our month included the sounds of freedom. Musicians from Broadway, Indie, and reggae sang at our Marriage Equality Concert in early June. Then a group of us from the church sang songs like "We Shall Overcome" at the steps of City Hall in support of the bill. And members of our clergy, staff and I stood outside the New York Senate in Albany with other supporters of the Marriage Equality Bill last week.

I blogged twice this month in the Huffington Post. I first reflected on my interracial marriage and how it would have been illegal in this country 45 years ago. You can read that post here, Love Will Make A Way: The Intersections of Interracial and Same Sex Marriage.

And this weekend, I celebrated the passing of the marriage equality bill with the following post, A Change Has Come: A Clergy's Response to the New York Vote for Gay Marriage.

You can see how our church, the clergy staff and I have been speaking up on the issue of marriage equality, here.

Thank you for raising your voices in song, emails and tweets to our legislators. You helped make history. Same sex couples will soon live into a new freedom.

With love, Jacqui Lewis Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church Executive Director, Middle Project

About This Blog

Preparing ethical leaders for a just society. Posts by Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister.

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