Lest you think “it doesn’t happen here”

A friend of mine describes the following. Yes it was local to the Albany area:

Went to buy ice at the store across the street. It is owned and operated by a very nice family of middle eastern ethnicity. The jerk in front of me in line was telling the (particularly shy and nice) man (not the owner though) running the register that, “You’ve got a nice store here, and you’ve had a good run, but there’s a new president, and it’s time for you to go back to your hut.” He continued on this vein even after he’d paid for his purchases (“keep the change, you’re gonna need it to move”). (Cashier) whom I’ve conversed with many many times, basically pretended he didn’t understand the language. The bigot was getting agitated because (cashier) wasn’t rising to the bait. I was afraid to interrupt because this guy was itching for an excuse to become violent. He finally left, and I apologized in tears to (cashier) and told him that guy was a jerk. I’m still so angry.

Return To St George’s Antiochian Orthodox

Answers this time from Father Gregory Francis DesMarais. **

1) How does the church feel about current political events and the recent election?

It’s been a challenge. There are strong feelings on the right and the left. I preach the gospel. What does it say about feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Sheltering the homeless?
I also believe it’s important to help in all the little things.

2) What is the church doing in support of any of the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee?

As a church we don’t isolate into groups. We have our own corners but we bring it together. We offer help to people who need: spiritually, financially, what have you. We have our traditions and our beliefs but we must never condemn others.
We have a ways to go in terms of social outreach. For me pastoral care is more about one-on-one than programs.
We are the smallest church in the diocese, but we are the second largest contributor in food donations. The church that gave the most was in fact the largest church in the diocese!

Disclaimer I am not a reporter. I can’t do shorthand and the answers here are not direct quotes. If something I paraphrased is too far off I apologize, and I welcome correction.

Return to Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist

This Sunday I spoke briefly with Reverend Elgin Joseph Taylor of Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. **

1) How does the church feel about current political events and the recent election?

It is what it is. We pray. We trust god no matter who is in the White House.

2) What is the church doing in support of any of the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee?

We are sticking together in fellowship across not just black churches but all churches. We are praying.

Disclaimer I am not a reporter. I can’t do shorthand and the answers here are not direct quotes. If something I paraphrased is too far off I apologize, and I welcome correction.

Return to Delmar Presbyterian

Sunday I spoke to pastor Karen Pollan at Delmar Presbyterian. Here are my two questions and the responses I got. Disclaimer below

1) How does the church feel about current political events and the recent election?

The church rarely has consensus about political matters. On average it is to the left of center, but there is diversity.

Some members were saddened by the election.
I try to keep us remembering be kind to one another.
2) What is the church doing in support of any of the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee?

Delmar Presbyterian is part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, a ministry to help homeless families. On church premises they host families at night by converting the Sunday school rooms into bedrooms. This ministry happens in partnership with B’nai Shalom.

To foster friendships across into other communities, the youth group has visited a mosque, and some church members attend gatherings at the Turkish center.

This particular church is welcoming to LGBTQ including weddings.

Disclaimer I am not a reporter. I can’t do shorthand and the answers here are not direct quotes. If something I paraphrased is too far off I apologize, and I welcome correction.

On listening to injustice and my new direction

I am going to explain to you about my new direction for the church project. Stay with me, I know this sounds off topic.

During the process to wait for a healthy infant of any ethnic background, and the process to adopt a particular child of both white and black background, I read about racially mixed families. And I learned some stuff.

I am white. I come from a really white saturated area. My husband is white. In learning about opening our family to a baby with a different background from us, most sources said it would be important to connect with communities of people that look like our baby. And I gathered that it would be important to listen. And I have been listening as best I can. It had not seemed important before to discover what it was like to be stopped by the police while black. It does now. I’m sorry I’m late.

Once I started listening, I heard from many communities of people who suffer injustice. And recent political events brought it all together sharply. My background is Christian. I call myself agnostic. But those Christian stories are still very powerful for me. In them I hear of a man who welcomed outsiders and challenged those in power. And I want to know: is any of that man still in the church today?

As presidential candidate and president-elect, Donald Trump and those around him have by their actions and inaction, caused vitriol and violence towards marginalized groups. People now feel emboldened to threaten and harm in Trump’s name. But I think there’s someone else’s name that needs to be invoked.

Donald Trump has denigrated the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee, and by extention has encouraged others in hatred. There are probably groups I left out. My new church project will ask how the church plans to instead lift them up. I will be asking two questions:

1) How does the church feel about current political events and the recent election?

2) What is the church doing in support of any of the following communities: LGBT, Muslim, Black, Disabled, Immigrant/Migrant/Refugee?

I will not be doing this in a fixed order, but will try get a mix of locations and denominations. I may revisit churches I’ve been to once and hit a few new ones. I’ll write what responses I get and hopefully have a comprehensive list of good works, protests and outreaches when I am done. If not, then Jesus help us all.

Life update late 2016

I thought it might be time to get a proper update posted. A long while ago I wrote a post in which I said “God is all my friends” because God is supposed to be there for you when you need him. I saw that in the many friends who comforted me. At the time my husband and I had been working with an adoption agency trying adopt a baby. It is a long emotionally fraught process to adopt a healthy infant domestically. There are certainly other emotionally fraught adoption processes, but we had not experienced any of those. After filling in a ridiculous amount of paperwork, we had a match and expected to adopt a baby girl. This however fell through. The day we learned it wasn’t going to happen after all I was quite devastated. My friends were supportive and I was and continue to be thankful for them and their kindness.

Fast forward several years and we were still with the same agency, but still hadn’t gotten a second match. We decided to sever ties with the agency. I realized kids were not in our future and tried to figure out how to live my life under this assumption.

In late 2015 I was working to convert the spare bedroom into a project area. We got an urgent message from a friend of ours “possible adoption opportunity 5-year old”. I was hesitant. I didn’t know how to raise a half-grown kid. What if it fell through? Now fast forward to today. We have adopted our 6-year old and our family is doing well. Another drawn-out and emotionally fraught process had to be undertaken in the interim. Things are busy now and happy and difficult and rewarding and emotionally fraught. My life has changed a lot. I pay attention to different things. My child is of biracial heritage, and I worry about the challenges my family and my child will face. I don’t know what the future will be like. In my next post I will talk about hopefully restarting the church project anew and how it relates to the changes in my life.

I need to ask you not to call me brainless

Let me start by saying I’m not a very confrontational person. I’m not good at thinking on my feet, and don’t defend myself well verbally. If I do find myself in a position where I need to force an issue, I am extremely uncomfortable. So it makes me nervous to engage others in face to face political banter unless I know the person very well. Because I can’t get upset at work (I have a job to do) I tend to ignore the political talk I hear there.
I am not a supporter of Trump, but I work with a very vocal supporter of Trump. It is difficult to listen to at times, because I find myself wanting so badly to insert my thoughts. Usually I don’t, because the backlash from my coworker is so swift and at such a fevered pitch that a second response from me or even a clarification, is often impossible. Occasionally something so fully incorrect or insensitive is said that I feel I must say something. And tonight I felt I couldn’t let it lie. Speaking to another coworker about the election, my coworker who I’ll call Marc, said, “At this point, anyone who votes for Hilary has to be completely and utterly brainless.” Here is the conversation that followed five minutes later in the adjacent room.

“I need to ask you to not call me brainless.” I say.
“What- did I call you brainless?” He says.
“What you said to James? About people voting for Hillary.”
“I didn’t mean you!”
I give him a look.
“You shouldn’t take it personal. (Continues with me, walking into the room I’m also walking into) You should hear the stuff the other side says though.”
“I don’t say those things.” I say quietly.
“Ok, well. I apologize.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that.”
And a few minutes later.
“You know about before, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I just get so passionate about this stuff.”
“I know. Rhetoric seems to be getting out of hand everywhere.” I say.
“It’s the election. It’ll be over soon though, alright?”
This guy and I disagree pretty fundamentally on a very lot of things. But otherwise we get along. I don’t find him to be a person that knowingly harms people. I called him out on a personal insult and he stepped back and apologized. I feel angry enough sometimes at Trump voters to call names, but I don’t. I’d like to think that if I fell to personally denigrating others, I’d back off when someone called me out. It’s going to be really important this year to remember that the US is populated by other human beings. We are going to vote as human beings and accept the results as human beings and live together the next four years as human beings. I implore you to remember to treat others as human beings in your words and actions. By all means rail against injustice, despicable policies, or the words of the opposite candidate that you find thoroughly distasteful. Do not call the human beings in your life brainless, asshole, deplorables simply for the way they are voting. We are better than that.

Just a little update

Time for another update! A couple things happened simultaneously. First, I haven’t actually been to new church since the Quakers. Second my blog application quit working from my computer. So I would normally be keeping up with some other thoughtful posts on religion and Christianity, but I haven’t been able to easily. At the very least I plan a long book review soon. Hopefully I can get that posted up in the next week or so.

Request for a buddy

I am putting it out there that I’d like someone to accompany me to churches on a Sunday morning. My new church visit speed has hit a new low and I’d like to find a way of not stopping together. If anyone would like to come along to any church I haven’t yet visited please let me know and we will plan it. I am discarding the rule of ten miles as well as the need for any particular order. I am ok with a one time partner or longer term. I just find myself wanting some new motivation. I also decided some time ago to accept invites to someone’s home church. I prefer to drop in unannounced but I can be ok with a more solid plan. I’m just looking for idea to keep the project interesting.