As Way Opens
We have come to February the shortest and often most dismal month of the entire year. A month where we celebrate Presidents’ birthdays, our love for one another, and a rodent who predicts the weather. Interestingly enough, many will miss a celebration that seems even more important this year in light of the continued racial tensions in our country – Black History Month.
It is easier to celebrate Hallmark holidays, while passing up the more difficult opportunity to educate about and promote our black sisters and brothers. Instead of being so quick to call Black History Month merely an attempt at being “politically correct,” I believe we need to use it to benefit and educate our faith communities, our neighborhoods, and our society.
Throughout the Bible we read how people were to recall the events that symbolized God’s presence and work in their history. The feasts that were established in Israel helped the people remember and celebrate their past. I see Black History Month as a modern feast – an opportunity to learn and remember God’s work in the history, contributions, and spirituality of African Americans.
It may come as a surprise, but it was historian Carter G. Woodson who created "Black History Week" back in 1929. Known as the "father of black history," Woodson sought to spread the word about the accomplishments of African Americans. This was a brave and bold move given his times. The early 1900s were a turbulent period in American history. The lynchings of Blacks were commonplace, and the mere suggestion of anything interracial was viewed as a threatening and subversive act. Woodson hoped that "if people understood our contributions and accomplishments, they would respect African Americans."
America has made some progress, yet we still have a long way to go. Some people argue that a month-long emphasis on one race is not helpful or necessary in 2019. I disagree. It is a place to start. As Quakers, we know that equality is promoted when we bear one another's burdens in times of sorrow, as well as joining together in times of happiness. To commit to promoting this equality unites humanity and helps us obtain a higher ethic of love and respect for one another. My hope is that we will find ways to learn, collaborate, remember and celebrate during Black History Month.
Here are some book suggestions that I would recommend during this month:
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas (or watch the movie)
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin Diangelo
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” And Other Conversations about Race – by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice – by Brenda Salter McNeil
Grace and peace,
Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities
Missing Something? ~ This coming Sunday in Fellowship Hall we will display all the items we currently have in our lost and found in a final hope to reunite personal items with their owners. After worship we hope everyone will take a few minutes to browse the lost and found and claim anything that might be theirs. We will leave these items out for a few weeks. Any remaining unclaimed items will be donated.
After a year and a half study of We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren, this Sunday at 9am we begin a new study in our Seeking Friends class. Since we found the format of McLaren’s book to be helpful at looking at scripture from various perspectives, we have chosen a similar format to continue our rich conversations. The book we will use as a guide and discussion starter is Theology from Exile (Vol. 1) The Year of Luke by Sea Raven, D.Min. As is stated in the introduction the underlying framework for this study is a series of queries. 1) What is the nature of God? Violent or non-violent? 2) What is the nature of Jesus’s Message? Inclusive or exclusive? 3) What is faith? Literal belief, or trust in God’s realm of distributive justice-compassion? 4. What is deliverance? Salvation from hell or liberation from injustice? These queries should make stimulating conversations and scriptural exploration. Join us this Sunday at 9am as Pastor Bob facilitates our conversation. Books will be available to purchase or utilize during the class.
Mid-North Food Pantry ~ Did you know First Friends assists at a food pantry twice a month? On the first and third Wednesday of each month, volunteers head to Mid-North Food Pantry (located at 3333 North Meridian St) as early as 9:40 am and stay as late as 2pm, when the pantry closes. Anyone is welcome to show up and assist for however much time they are able. There are a variety of tasks, from organizing food to helping people shop. If you’d like to help, feel free to come—you can park in back or in the Trinity Church parking lot, go down the stairs and enter through the back door (this is the only entry open before 10am). Thank you for supporting those in need during this cold winter!
Rise-Up Sing Along! The next Sing Along will be on its usual third Friday of the month, February 15. Under the leadership of our talented Jim K, join in singing a variety of mostly well-known songs chosen from Rise Up Singing and Rise Again. Song sets will be provided. This joyful event takes place in the parlor at First Friends Meeting (3030 East Kessler Blvd) at 7:00 PM. Notice the photo of Jim. See how happy he is!
Save the Date – First Friends’ Experiment with Light Retreat! Please mark your calendars for Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00am – 4:30pm where First Friends will host this mindful and introspective retreat. The Experiment with Light Retreat draws upon early Quaker practices and contemporary meditation to help people move past intellectual and emotional blocks and encounter the Divine. This retreat will help you have a personal encounter with the Divine that lights the path of your life and animates your life in community. All are welcome to join. Breakfast and Lunch will be included. Keep an eye out in coming months for more information. We hope you will be there!
Men’s Threshing Together ~ If you are interested in gathering with other men who mull over current issues or topics, where all points of view are heard, no decisions are made, and all in a non-threatening atmosphere over a meal, then Threshing Together is for you! Join us for our next meeting on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00pm. See locations here: https://goo.gl/QhkXTo.
Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading February's pick is 2018’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel ~ Less by Andrew Sean Greer! The discussion will be led by Kristyn G on Tuesday February 26th at 7 pm in the Parlor. New York Times review: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/books/review/less-andrew-sean-greer.html Contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to receive email updates for Oak Leaf.
Join First Friends for a night with the Pacers! Please join us for a family outing to the Pacers vs Nets game on Sunday April 7th. Tipoff is at 5:00pm, doors open at 4:00pm. Tickets will be provided by the Meeting. Each person will receive a Pacers hat and a free meal (hot dog, chips and a soda). Please RSVP by Friday, March 1st with the office at email@example.com if you would like to attend!
AFSC Presents: “Revolutionary Visions & Radical Imaginations: Celebrating Solidarity & Courage” ~ Join American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for an evening to celebrate and be in community with social justice leaders in Indianapolis. It will be Friday, March 1 at 6:00pm at Sanctuary on Penn, 701 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204. The evening will include a social hour, dinner, keynote speaker Elle Roberts, and a showcase of local musicians and spoken word artists. There are also sponsorship opportunities if you’d like to support the event. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://secure.everyaction.com/p7tPzxfZFEScnjy-KV0W5g2.
Samantha R invites you to Financial Peace University ~ Are you ready to take 2019 by storm?! If you're interested in making big changes in your financial life that will lead to empowerment and peace of mind then this is the class for you. When I first took Financial Peace University (FPU) I was 22 and fresh out of college. I owed Valparaiso University $40,000 in student loans and was new to life as a young person with a steady pay check. I am SO grateful for everything I learned in that class. FPU TAUGHT ME TO HATE DEBT! As a result I paid off my student loan debt in 6 years on a social worker's salary, my partner and I bought a home, renovated it paying cash, got married paying cash, and went on a honeymoon of a life time paying cash. The only debt we have is our mortgage and we hate debt so much we plan to have it paid off in 7 years. We couldn't have made all of this possible without FPU! Ready for change?
We're hosting Financial Peace University starting Tuesday, March 5th from 6-8 at Hamilton Exhibits at 9150 East 33rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46235. The class is $110 for a lifetime membership. The 2-hour 9-week class has the amazing potential to CHANGE YOUR LIFE! It changed mine. Click here to sign up. You can contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Right Sharing Fundraiser in memory of Ann P ~ Please mark your calendars for a fundraiser here at First Friends Meeting in honor of our dearly beloved Ann P. It will be on Sunday, March 24th. We will have a simple meal as well as auction off a quilt in Ann’s memory made by the sewing group Ann was a part of. All proceeds will go to Right Sharing of World Resources, which supports and funds small business run by women in underprivileged countries. If you’d like to support RSWR, contributions can be sent to the Meeting office at 3030 Kessler Blvd E Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46220 with the notation “RSWR.” You can also drop off your contribution in the offering plate on Sundays. Thank you for supporting this important ministry!