Welcome the Stranger

Feed the Hungry, Speak for the Silent Ones

by Jeanine Elliott

With halting words, she said she wanted to learn English. To say anything more about herself would take more words than she had. I had none of the words that would make her feel at home. What I could say was, “Yes, we can help you learn English.” Did she understand me? She is brave and courageous, moving into a community where it may take several years before she can tell her story to her new neighbors, the English-speaking folk. There is a sparkle in her eye, and I suspect a wicked wit will eventually show itself in her new language.

The seven-year-old girl stands in front of the Food Cupboard and chooses a pudding mix because “my brother would like this.” Probably she would like it, too, but she has already learned not to ask too much for herself. Her mother, a bit embarrassed, says, “This is my first time here. What do I do?” She, too, looks as if she has a hard time asking for herself.

A young man with backpack and bike and no address stops by to report that he won’t be picking up his Care to Share food supply on this day. He is riding to Hillsboro and doesn’t want to carry the load. He accepts some granola bars, juice boxes and apples. He offers to help a couple on foot who are loaded down with cloth shopping bags filled with groceries from the Food Cupboard. He says he will return to pick up his own share.

A BROKEN SYSTEM

The State of Georgia executed Troy Davis on September 21, 2011, even though seven of the nine witnesses who testified that he committed murder have recanted their testimony, and one of the two remaining witnesses has been implicated as the actual killer. The original judge in his case said his ruling was “not ironclad” and the original prosecutor has said that he has reservations about Davis’s guilt.

Troy Davis said this prior to his execution: “The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.”

The United States imprisons more of its own people than any other country in the world. For every 100,000 U.S. residents, more than 700 are in prison. In contrast, the incarceration rate per 100,000 residents in the U.K. is 125; in Canada, 110; and in the Netherlands, France and Italy it is 90. In Japan, the incarceration rate is 40 per 100,000. Of all the prisoners in the world, one out of every four is incarcerated in the United States.

MISSION:1 THAT THEY MAY ALL BE 1

ONE UNITED CHURCH on a shared mission for 11 powerful days to feed the hungry and confront food-related injustice.

This wonderful, visionary United Church of Christ project has a terrific website to help you and your church participate in the national endeavor: www.ucc.org/mission1

First Congregational Church – UCC in Eugene is already engaged in the project in a myriad of ways. We will launch MISSION: 1 from the pulpit on September 11 with a spiritual message about building, giving, creating, and healing. All MISSION: 1 projects thereafter will hinge upon the theme offered on September 11.

The MISSION: 1 goal is 11,111 letters to Congress about food justice, food scarcity, and foreign aid. On October 30 at 11 am, we will have letters from the MISSION: 1 packet ready to send to our Congressman and Senators. We will hold the letters, bless them in worship on November 6, and send them. MISSION: 1 also encourages people to contact their Senators and Congressperson by web mail to work for food justice in foreign aid.

The MISSION: 1 goal is to gather 1 million nonperishable food items. The FCC Sunday School classes will collect items, particularly Latino foods, for local Food for Lane County. They will collect 11 of 11 items for 11 food boxes.