It may have been a bit cold but the sun was shining and the fire was roaring, and that was enough to give the Youth Group time for a little fresh air and a glimpse of spring. Lent feels especially long this year, after so many months of pandemic living. So it’s good to come together and be reminded of the gifts of nature, laughter, and friendship as we prepare for Easter – a new beginning full of hope and possibility.
Posted in Fellowship
The youth group took advantage of the sunshine and snow last weekend with a gathering for some outdoor fun. We enjoyed some sledding (and a few friendly snowball fights) and then warmed up by the fire with hot cocoa and s’mores. We might have to make this an annual tradition!
Thank you to everyone who donated items to Share the Love, a game and craft drive, by West Concord Union Church to benefit Minute Man Arc! We asked and you delivered! Enjoy these awesome photos of the process and the smiles they have producing.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the WCUC staff lined up in front of our church to wave and bless a steady stream of cars as we kick off our fall season together. It was wonderful to see so many smiling (we could tell under the masks!) faces. Enjoy the pictures of our reverse parade!
Thank you for your presence, prayers, and labor to bring this service and fellowship together! It was a wonderful day!
Meet Jennifer Keelan, the second grader from Phoenix who, along 60 other activists with disabilities, left behind her wheelchair and crawled 83 steps in 90 degree weather to reach the door of the Capitol building. This demonstration, now known as the “Capitol Crawl,” is credited with finally convincing Congress to pass the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). It was the brainchild of Rev. Wade Blank, founder ADAPT, the political arm of the Atlantis community, a community where young people with disabilities could live independently without having to forgo all support. It was Wade Blank who encouraged Jennifer to crawl that day.
While many Americans are aware of the ADA, comparatively few have ever heard of the Capitol Crawl or the 504 Sit-in led by Judith Heumann, despite the fact that it continues holds the record for the longest running occupation of a federal building in history (The 1977 Disability Rights Protest that Broke Records and Changed Laws). The video below gives an introductory glance to the movement in less than 2 minutes.
If we wouldn’t want our children to grow up ignorant of women’s suffrage, civil rights or any other historic fight for justice, then disability rights should be no different. People of all ages and abilities at West Concord Union Church are now learning about the heroes of disability rights. We call them “disability saints” and we’re making art in the style of religious icons to honor them. Take a look below. You just might see a disability saint you recognize.
The youth kicked off the new year with their annual game night complete with pizza, board games, ice cream sundaes, ping-pong, and of course, flashlight sardines. *A huge thank you to Jane Epstein for the ping pong table and to David Sedlock for helping to transport it to the church!
More night time fun was shared at the Davis Farmland Mega Maze where we played a variety of lawn games, jumped on inflatables, pet and fed farm animals, braved the corn maze with flashlights, and enjoyed food and company around the campfires.
Faith exploration has also begun again. Our traditional “Sink a Worry, Float a Hope” ritual helps to set the stage for a year of self-reflection in light of God’s promise to walk with us always. And the beautiful weather has allowed us to experiment with different kinds of centering prayer, including a walk through the labyrinth in our Welcome Garden.
Thanks be to God for the lives of these amazing teenagers, for the adults who walk with them every day, and for the world which is blessed by their voices and visions.
On an absolutely gorgeous first Sunday of Pentecost, we celebrated our graduating seniors, thanked our talented teaching staff and Children’s Ministries members moving onto different roles, welcomed the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal as our guest preacher calling us to action on climate change, had a ridiculously fun time playing games in Sunday school, and enjoyed the sunshine outside with watermelon and ice cream. Such a perfect way to end our programming year at WCUC. Enjoy the pics!
- Playing Up Cup Down Cup!
This is the second of two blog posts about my recent professional development trip.
The photos below are from my visit with “Parables”, a ministry for people of all abilities at Wayzata Community Church in Wayzata, MN. Rev. Leslie Neugent created Parables six years ago after a child with a disability started singing “Jesus Loves Me” during the sermon and was taken out of worship. As the parent of a child with a disability, Leslie wanted there to be a place where people of all abilities felt free to be themselves during worship. Today, Parables is fondly known as a “no-shushing zone” and “a place for the little red fish in all of us.”
As you can see, there are similarities and differences between Parables and Sunday Fellowship. Both are known for holy moments as well as moments of holy chaos! Both provide leadership opportunities for adults with disabilities. But there are some important differences. Parables primarily serves school-aged children and their families whereas Sunday Fellowship has always focused on adults. Sunday Fellowship has never incorporated therapy dogs into worship the way Parables does. Another difference between Parables and Sunday Fellowship is the role communion plays. Parables celebrates communion at every worship service whereas Sunday Fellowship does not.
What’s clear is that the deep faith, the joy and the strong sense of community people experience at Parables and Sunday Fellowship is very much the same. Communities like Parables and Sunday Fellowship are supremely gifted at embodying God’s unconditional love and they are on the rise. See below for links to multiple churches that are now using the Parables model as well as communities that have developed their own way of doing things. Be sure to check out Benjamin’s Hope which houses a church, a farm, a therapeutic riding program, day/employment programs and intentional communities.
Whatever our ages or abilities at this moment in time, let our prayer be that the little red fish in each of us can always find a place where it feels free to swim in the direction God is leading it.
http://www.benjaminshope.net/http://www.chelseafcc.com/parables.htmlhttps://www.westernsem.edu/welcome-friendship-house/ https://wayzatacommunitychurch.org/ministries/parables-worship/parables-inspiring-love-through-our-vision/ http://www.chelseafcc.com/parables.html
Thirty one women from our congregation traveled to the Craigville Retreat Center on Cape Cod for a weekend of rest, play, worship, prayer, and friendship. Our theme this year was Women’s Wisdom: Inspiring Stories of the Sacred, Secular, and Self. Enlightened by the strength, resiliency, gifts, and courage of women in the Bible, writers, poets, artists and activists, as well as some legendary women from WCUC, we then moved on to consider our own journey’s to wisdom as we shared our stories, our struggles, and our celebrations with one another.
“This weekend has provided space and time for thought about the specific contributions of women, both present and past.”
“I feel like I have been raised up by the wisdom of women of the Bible, secular world, and most importantly the women gathered here. I am leaving with so much to reflect upon.”
“This weekend has given me peace, gratitude, and faith in the power of other women and myself.”
“I have been raised up this weekend by my sisters, my tribe. I am renewed by the wisdom, compassion, love and humor of these amazing women of God.”
A Weekend for…
“I realized that I felt crippled by my burdens. This weekend I was reminded of my strength and power and that if I pause and listen to God speaking, I can tap into that and move forward.”
“I am rejuvenated and refreshed by sunshine, moonshine, inspirational women, and retreat from regular life.”
“I proved to myself that I have grown mentally by being able to learn to knit much more easily than it was in high school.”
“I gained insight from the reading “My Journey to Wisdom” that ‘clouds of insecurity’ are natural and sometimes protective.”
“I was given the gift of solace and reflection.”
“I have been encouraged to listen carefully to the Spirit and then step out with boldness and courage.”
“I have been enveloped in a blanket of warmth and caring.”
“I learned it’s ok to not conform to the conventional picture of femininity, so you can enjoy being a woman.”
“I was reminded to focus and be grateful for my strengths, when I only see weakness.”
“This is my new life. I can be who I am.”
Finding Strength in Community:
“Being a part of this community made me feel stronger and welcome. I learned from every woman I met.”
“Seeing the ways in which the generations are sensitive to each other has been a high point for me this weekend. I really appreciated the acceptance of the younger women here with us.”
“I was empowered by a conversation with another woman whom I did not know well. We discovered we have a common history that is not easy to talk about with many people.”
“The company of women with such a diversity of experiences has given me renewed hope for the power of the ‘Holy’ in our broken world.”
“Sharing stories with others has helped me to appreciate everyone better.”
“Many people have shared their struggles and uncertainties about coming. I have been inspired by everyone here and this weekend turned out to be a blessing.”
“I felt raised up by a conversation I had in which I shared something that I haven’t before.”
“Enjoying a conversation I had with someone I don’t know well and feeling more comfortable with her now.”
And Feeling the Power of Nature and Laughter:
“I enjoyed walking to the ocean…seeking an expanse beyond indoor enclosures.”
“I loved the beach walk and I laughed a lot with the women.”
“The inspiration of nature and the changing views of the beach: stormy and windy; calm and soothing in the sun; water view at night below the moon and stars.”
“It felt good to integrate nature with our daily lives.”
“An objective measure of trust in a space or group of people is the count of the number of belly laughs a person has had. The count for me this weekend is near