Tasajera Islanders with FCC Eugene friends

MISSION MEANS MORE

By Brenda Kame’enui, First Congregational UCC, Eugene, Oregon

Tasajera Islanders with FCC Eugene friends

Tasajera Islanders with FCC Eugene friends

Some of us in the United Church of Christ (UCC) flock tend to shrink from God/Jesus/religion talk in public. Mission is a word we’ve steered clear of since James Michener’s novel Hawaii. Webster defines mission as a “specific task or duty; calling in life; delegation; being sent on some service.” I like the American Heritage Dictionary definition: “a body of persons sent to conduct negotiations or establish relations with a foreign country.”

First Congregational Church UCC Eugene was not intent upon negotiating with a foreign country when members first went to Tasajera Island,  El Salvador in 2006. This tiny island, about an hour’s boat ride from the mainland of El Salvador, is home to a small, poor fishing village. That first group from Eugene looked forward to meaningful health care work with Salvadorans on the island, surely a “foreign” place to the North Americans.

Who knew this visit by a few doctors would blossom into a continuing relationship that flourishes on both sides of the border? Since that first trip, FCC-UCC Eugene has sent another half-dozen delegations, from 3-year-olds to 65-year-olds, who live and eat with islanders and work together on a variety of projects.

environmental justice

Environmental Justice

by Carol Stirling, Boise First Congregational United Church of Christ, Boise, Idaho

In early May, the most important CO2 observatory in the nation measured 400 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere, for the first time ever. The increase in carbon in the air is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise and is causing dramatic climate changes that are harming people and other life forms on Earth. The side effects of burning fossil fuels have proven to be more harmful than we expected, because the burning process releases chemicals into the air we breathe. The CO2 released into the upper atmosphere serve as a blanket over the earth that prevents the heat from escaping normally. Our goal should be to decrease the use of fossil fuels and encourage and invest in alternative energies such as solar and wind.

Idaho’s abundant renewable energy resources can fill a critical role in creating and maintaining a clean energy for Idaho. Idaho has available supplies of almost all known renewable energy resources to meet future needs. Idaho has lots of sun, lots of wind and geothermal heat that can meet our energy needs if we commit to developing these resources.

Deep Travel

Will Fuller, Kairos-Milwaukie UC

Every summer for the past four years, my wife and I have traveled by car to a small city in Quebec, Canada to visit our son’s family.  This year, as we traveled I was reading a book by Tony Hiss, In Motion.  This book explores

making use of an ancient, innate, ground-shifting variant of ordinary waking consciousness that we can … call Deep Travel. … It can, among many effects, give…the sense that even a long-familiar route…exists within such a fullness of brand-new or at least new-to-me information and questions that I wonder how I ever had the capacity to exclude them from consideration (p. 9)

In short, the very act of travel can bring a deep appreciation of the transcendent splendor that surrounds us.  We see our old world with fresh, new eyes.  In that transcendence, we may gain a glimpse of the One in whose Name we call for peace and justice

in the rimrock land of eastern Oregon

 

in the prairie preserves of Illinois

 

in the rushing rivers of Quebec’s Laurentian Shield

 

in a friendly Canadian public pool

 

in the Nevada desert, where Latino workers walk from a shantytown across the tracks to work in the luxury casino resorts on the other side

 

in Montana’s mountains, where tough Harley bikers kneel before chipmunks

 

in Yellowstone National Park, where pilgrims from all over the world, speaking a Babel of languages, stand in awe before the old, faithful grandeur of Creation

 

and in all the places we travel on life’s journey.