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Showing posts from January, 2017

Epiphany 4: Jan. 29, 2017 ~ #theworldwewant

Sunday, January 29, 2017 Epiphany 4: Matthew 5:1-12 Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas


In this Epiphany season we have been journeying alongside Jesus as his ministry begins on Earth; birthed by the Spirt of whom God says, “She will descend upon and remain with Jesus”. Witness to this holy baptism, this christening with light into a world where domination and political corruption were codependent, we are entreated by this Rabbi, to Come and see, to follow, to sit with a while, to taste the freshness of transformational life. Not unlike these early followers, Once we ourselves are caught by the net of incriminating love we not only keep coming back for more; hook in mouth, we look for ways to keep fishing, to widen our cast, to continually re-define what it means to catch or be caught…to live in this rogue fisherman’s world, to keep telling the story. This morning, as we bear witness to this mountaintop experience of a Holy Teacher with his students crowded around, it would be easy to…


Dear CUCC community, 
These last few weeks have been rough.  I am listening to a podcast even now as I write about the pending Supreme Court Justice appointment that will be announced this evening in prime time, 8:00pm. Whether or not we agree with Roe vs. Wade or are pro-life or pro-choice, it is imperative that we, as people of faith, take a deep breath and understand what is quickly happening within the white-walled edifice that stands in Washington DC. This nation was not born today, and will not die tomorrow, but has been gifted unto a people with whom God has given a “choice”. The choice to either receive or reject love. 
Many people are unfamiliar with the relationship extended in love from Creator to her created, and are, therefore, incapable of seeing it as anything besides a limited commodity with which to manipulate and destroy anything that lives and breathes life, spirit, light. 
Drawing on the words of our own Dr. William Barber, as people of faith it is important that we re…

Justice comes in many flavors

Since the election many of us have been in a funk. What's happened to the notion expressed by MLK that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice"? We all have our own concepts regarding what constitutes "justice", and to many of us the general mood since November is that the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Not so fast. Nicholas Kristof poses this little test ...

On any given day, the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty:
Rises by 5,000, because of climate change, food shortages and endemic corruption.Stays about the same.Drops by 250,000.Polls show that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same. But in fact, the correct answer is #3. Every day, an average of about a quarter-million people worldwide graduate from extreme poverty, according to World Bank figures.
Or if you need more of a blast of good news, consider this: Just since 1990, more than 100 million children’s…


I have acquired a simple little book called, LOST IN TRANSLATION: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from AROUND the WORLD.
It includes words like KARELU, a TULU word from Southwestern India, meaning "The mark left on the skin by wearing something tight"; and the Arabic word, GURFA, a noun meaning "The amount of water than can be held in one hand"
The word that has most reached out to me these past weeks is HIRAETH, from the Welsh, meaning "A homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were." 
As much as I don't want to acknowledge it, or maybe just don't know how to, I feel that this word is calling me to some kind of confessional, inviting me to really see what “is”. It encapsulates a feeling that is hovering over us as a nation as of late, a kind of grief and longing for something that never was really, but what many of us thought existed. I think…

Stewards of Children/Safe Church Training

As you know we are ever-mindful about the changing needs and hopes of families with young and growing children in our midst. One way that we have committed to increase our capacity for ministry, continuing to offer dynamic programming for the youngest among us, is through expanding our childcare services on Sunday mornings to include care during the 9:00am Taize service, for programming offered from 9:30-10:30, and during our 10:30 worship service. Each Sunday, beginning Jan. 29 childcare will be offered from 9:00am-12:00pm for children through 4 years of age.

In addition to expanding the ministry through additional childcare we will be hosting a Safe Church Training sponsored by the Religious Education Committee on Sunday, Feb. 5, 12:00pm - 2:00pm.  The Stewards of Children Training will be facilitated by our community partner, YMCA of the Triangle. This training is nationally recognized and has been used by organizations all over the state including non-profits, the education system,…

Walk with CUCC's HKonJ delegation - Feb. 11

The Social Justice Ministry invites all of us - all ages - to this annual march hosted by the Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ) People’s Assembly Coalition, which was formed under the leadership of the NC NAACP.  CUCC will have a delegation walking with our banner.

CUCC-specific details  Want to carpool?  Meet at the Dixie Trail parking lot; we'll leave at 8:15 sharp.  Gary Smith and Sue Cottle will there to take passengers.  Want to meet there?  Call Jane Smith's cell phone (ask Jane for her phone number).

You may want to walk from the beginning (Memorial Auditorium) or, if walking is problematic, gather at the end (at the state capitol).

Plan to eat your lunch at Jersey Mike's, 2712 Hillsborough Street. CUCC's Youth Group receives a share of sales for their mission and BYC trips.  Be sure to tell the cashier you are from CUCC so they get credit.  If you can't come to the march, join the folks at Jersey Mike's to hear what happened and what follow-up action…
CUCC's Prism ministry based in Wake Forest hosts a Theology on Tap gathering every last Friday, 6PM.  The location changes each month, so check the calendar on the Prism website.  Join them for conversation and a libation of your choice (on your dime).  The event is co-hosted by Joy Alford and Amy Burki.

Please pass the word on.  Tell new folks that we will meet on street (look for Prism shirts or the Cross shirt).

Your next step on racial inequality in the criminal justice system?

In December we heard presentations from Dennis Gaddy (Ex. Dir. Community Success Initiative) and from men who had been released from incarceration and were rebuilding their lives.  Mr. Gaddy invites us to attend the film "13th - from Slave to Criminal in One Amendment" as a next step in our learning about incarceration.  Here is the information:

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial equality  in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.                              

Showing of the film followed by a facilitated discussion will allow the community to explore the situation together.  This event is being sponsored by the Wake County Public Defender's Office, NC Advocates for Justice, and the NC Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.  The Jan. 25 showing is sponsored by SERA, INC (Southeast Raleigh Assembly) .

Jan. 25th, from 6PM to 8:30PM,
Cooperative Extension of Wake County Audit…

Sacred Space

There are those places along our journeys, the kinds that knew us before we did, the kinds that hollow out room for the passers by, the comers and goers, and those that linger or loiter. I am never quite sure when a space will entranse me to its calm, invite me to remain, endeavor to call me to something, someone, or send me on my way with just the right concoction of steamed milk, the raw roast of molten beans…and a taste of the human condition. This morning as I have done the last several mornings I squeezed into the old desk row seats along the heavy bricked wall at Cup-A-Joe on Hillsborough Rd. You know it better than I do…

“Its better than church,” said Julia, the whimsical woman with dark-rimmed glasses and just the amount of pizzaz in her hair that messy meant beautiful. Pointing to the corner table she said, “When we were here 30 years ago, with our toddlers climbing the benches and hiding under the tables, we were told 'that’s the grown-up table'. There are a cast of c…

Invitations to do justice from our friends

Adrienne Little, the Social Justice Ministry's representative on the Congregations for Social Justice (CSJ) coalition, passes along these opportunities for your consideration.

1 - Accepting Reservations - CSJ Annual Dinner Meeting from Al Reberg           Monday, February 6, 2017 – 6:00 PM
          Highland United Methodist Church - Bradley Hall
          1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh 27607
Our Guest Speaker will be David Guice, Commissioner of NC Department of Corrections
CORRECTION: Deadline for RSVPs is Monday, January 30  😉
      Email RSVP's to

2 -  Building the Beloved Community - The relevance of MLK and Gandhi today from Joe Burton
               Tuesday, January 17, 7 p.m.
               Highland United Methodist Church
               1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh 27609

3 -  Save the Date for Cary Town Council Hearing - Feb 23 at 6:30pm - from Rachel Zeitler
Habitat Wake is planning to purchase some land from Bethel Baptist Church in Cary off of W Chatham Street. Our hope is to build …

Social Justice Ministry Opportunities to “show up”

CUCC's Social Justice Ministry is co-sponsoring these events.  By "showing up," you can take a step for justice in God's world.

February 7 at 7 PM our sanctuary: showing of Zach Galifianakis’ film Democracy For Sale
Plan to arrive early - first come, first serve seating.

350 Triangle and the CUCC Social Justice Ministry will co-host the Raleigh showing of Democracy For Sale.

“North Carolina — perhaps more than any other state in the Union — has been transformed by the new and growing tidal wave of political spending. Democracy for Sale travels with Zach Galifianakis, the comic star of the Hangover movies, back to his home state to investigate how North Carolina has become a bellwether for how the money of a few has come to dominate our democracy. Galifianakis investigates allegations that the current state government was put in power by moneyed interests and has thus carried out a program that only benefits its backers: cuts to education, healthcare spending and environm…

Adult weekend repairing homes

Our friends Bill and Rosemary Pate (co-leaders of our Appalachia Service Project youth teams for several years) are taking a group of adults to Rainelle, WV the weekend of April 6-9, 2017.  Rainelle was hit by the horrible floods of 2016.

First Sunday for Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas as Senior Pastor

Videos from the worship service of January 15 are now available in the CUCC Archive where they will reside permanently. Included there are both the sermon and the children's sermon.

Economic Justice Task Force Forum - Jan. 22

Please plan to join us for Forum on Sunday, January 22, from 9:30am to 10:15am, in the Vaughan Fellowship Hall. The Economic Justice Task Force has been reading a number of books on justice issues that impact the economy. We would like to share the perspectives and insights which the books provide with everyone at CUCC who can join us.

The readings include:
*Saving Capitalism for the Many, Not the Few, by Robert Reich;
*One Nation Under God, by Kevin Kruse;
*The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander;
*Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice, by Les Leopold; and
*Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It, by Robert Lupton.

You do not need to have read the books to participate in the discussion. For questions, contact Don or Shirley Birt.

Exploring White Privilege Curriculum

Some folks at CUCC have expressed an interest in participating in a study using the UCC's new White Privilege:  Let's Talk curriculum.  A small exploratory group will be meeting to consider how/whether to offer a fuller study to the congregation.  If you would like to be part of that exploratory group, contact Śānti Matthews as soon as possible.

From Śānti:  We will meet on Tuesday evenings in the Hoffmann Room from 6:30-7:30 p.m. for six weeks, beginning January 17. At the conclusion of this group, we will discuss whether and how to bring this curriculum to the larger church.

Here is the plan until or unless we decide to change it...
Week 1: Part One
Week 2: Part Two
Week 3: Part Three
[Skip Feb. 7]
Week 4: Part Four
Week 5: Where do we go from here?
Week 6: Preparing next steps.

Update from Śānti:  We will meet again tomorrow evening in the Hoffmann Room.  This is week 2, so tomorrow we will focus on the five chapters in Part 2 of White Privilege: Let's …

Join our social justice ministry at a rally supporting affordable healthcare

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has enabled millions of people to have health care who could not afford it before.  However, there is now a strong effort in the US Congress to remove the ACA, and this will force many people to lose their health care again.  Please let your Senators and Congress Representatives know that you do not support this!

A rally in support of the ACA will be held from 3 to 5 PM Sunday Jan 15 at the North Carolina Association of Educators (700 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601).

Members of the Social Justice Ministry will be there at 3 PM.  We ask you to join us.
For more information and show your interest, see this Facebook page

Call Gary Smith if you are interested in carpooling.

- submitted by the Social Justice Ministry

Who are the 2016 new babies in your family?

Because of the snow, our Epiphany/Babies We Love celebration was postponed to January 15. That means you have until January 11 to submit information about the new baby (born in 2016) in your family.

Every Epiphany we celebrate the babies born in our families in the previous year.  Whether you are a proud grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, parent or sibling, did a special person arrive in your family in 2016?

Please send the following to Cathy Marshall in the church office ( by January 11:
Full name of baby
Relationship to you
Date of birth
Hometown of baby
Photo of baby!!!

Then mark your calendar for Epiphany Sunday, January 15.  At fellowship after worship we will celebrate the Babies We Love from 2016.

Describing the division

Anyone who didn't sleep through the past year knows that America is a seriously divided country. Some folks talk in terms of "red state" America vs. "blue state" America. A recent article by Robert Leonard (a resident of Iowa) argues that a more accurate view is provided by thinking in terms of "red county" America vs. "blue county" America.

In my experience, the urban-rural divide isn’t really so much a red state versus blue state issue, it’s red county versus blue county. Rural Iowans have more in common with the rural residents of Washington State and New Mexico — places I’ve also lived — than with the residents of Des Moines, Seattle and Albuquerque.
Robert Leonard's article rings true for me more so than any piece I've read which purports to portray how rural people think, i.e. what the cultural divide looks like from "the other side." I recommend the article as a way of furthering understanding on the nature of the divi…

Pastor Jenny's office hours (initially)

On January 15 (Sunday), Pastor Jenny will join us for worship, bringing the message at the 10:30AM service.  The next day, January 16, her office hours begin.  This is her initial schedule which may change after she has settled into her work among us.

Mondays 9:00-2:00pm
Tuesdays 9:00-2:00pm
Wednesdays - by appointment only (Pastor Jenny will work from home as she prepares the sermon.)
Thursdays 9:00-2:00pm

Fridays and Saturdays are her regularly-scheduled days off.