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December Forum: See details below.
December Forum: See details below.
The mission that drives us . . .
Church Women United, an ecumenical movement of Christian women impassioned by the Holy Spirit, advocates on behalf of women and children throughout the world. We find unity in diversity, and we work for a world of peace and justice.
Church Women United of Lane County supports the National programs, priorities and goals, and celebrations.
Our monthly forums reflect the concerns of participants and explore issues of concern to local and state governments and to the citizens of Lane County,
A word from our President ...
Anne O'Brien, President
I was moved by Mary Joshi’s words in Daily Bread. I see her words as relevant to peace and justice advocates of today. “Whenever humanity has exploited its power against the poor and vulnerable, there have arisen people of deep faith who risked their lives and reputation to become the voice of Christ. After all their sacrifices to promote justice and peace, I cringe to see how our faith community’s resources are spent on matters that have no bearing on our basic call to discipleship. Do we have the passion needed to pass on our faith to future gen-erations? Come, Holy Spirit, and renew our conviction of faith.”
This week CWU women have been involved with David and Anne Hall who advocate for ridding our world of nuclear weapons, with CALC and WAND and others who advocate for spending fewer dollars on the Pentagon and more to care for the less fortunate, with groups advocating for a state measure to offer paid sick leave to all, with those advocating for a more fair way to tax Lane County residents for road improvements. (The current measure is a “flat tax.” That means that the wealthiest resident pays the same amount as the least of our sisters and brothers.) I may have missed some activi-ties but this is just to illustrate that CWU is trying to be a voice of love and service and not a voice of judgment. We try to keep you apprised of the many activities in our community that do support the work of peace and justice in keeping with our nation-al organization’s purpose, goals and priori-ties. You can be involved by attending events, by contributing to organizations that are working for peace and justice, by contacting your local, state and national leg-islators about relevant issues. We are try-ing to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
"I invite each one of you to ask yourselves: 'Have I learned how to weep, how to cry when I see a hungry child, a child on the street who uses drugs, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child that society uses as a slave?”
These were the words of Pope Francis speaking to 30,000 young people in the Philippines this past January. I am reminded of the many peo-ple in our community who have answered the cries of the poor in numerous ways: feeding the hungry, housing the unhoused, clothing the un-derclothed especially in winter, healing the sick, visiting the incarcerated.
I dare not mention names, and you know who you are, because there are so many out there I’m sure to miss some of the most earnest. Proudly, many of the kindest and most active are from our own Church Women United.
Serving the poor may be the right thing to do but we are also told that we’ll be rewarded in the end. Proverbs 19:17 tells us that if we are gracious to the poor, we will be repaid for our good deeds. So what’s not to like here? Seems to me, many of you have already figured this out but in fact, most of you would say and believe that the reward you get is your own joy in giv-ing. So, thank you and keep it up. I believe you shall overcome….someday.
I am using the President’s Column this month to
acknowledge that my own Roman Catholic Church has
a long history of working for social justice. Some have called it our “best kept secret.” There are actually seven themes of Catholic social teaching:
Life and dignity of human person
Call to family, community and participation
Rights and responsibilities
Option for the poor and vulnerable
Dignity of work and the rights of workers
Care for God’s creation
These actually fit well with our Quadrennial
Health: Promote the health and well-being of all.
Environmental Care: Promote personal, communal and governmental decisions that express care for all.
Justice: Promote shalom through understanding, education, confession, forgiveness, reconciliation and
Economic Justice: Promote the dignity, safety, and
economic opportunities for all people.
I believe we can all benefit from learning more about
these sorts of statements and themes which hopefully
lead us to living a life that is uplifting to all, including
ourselves. It seems to me that our Church Women United group is promoting education along these lines to our groups and maybe more important, we are attempting to attach ACTIONS to each of our educational presentations. We hope that you will
find something in those suggested actions each month that inspires you to pursue some area of peace and social justice. That may mean prayer if you are not able to get out and demonstrate or lobby. Do the best you can do and that is just fine. I’m proud of the activities that many of our CWU folks are involved
in and I am thankful for the prayers that you are able to offer in support of social justice teaching.
I’d love to know what your church is doing and what
you have been doing or have done or plan to do to
support our social justice agenda. Please contact me
if you’d like to share that. THANK YOU.
When I see all that we in CWU are attempting to accomplish as Christian activists I am reminded of the
Social Gospel movement in the Protestant church of
the early 20th century. That movement applied Christian ethics to social problems. Prominent problems in those times were economic inequality, poverty, alcoholism, crime, racial tensions, slums, unclean environment, child labor, inadequate labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war. Hmm…would this fit with the old saying, the more things change the more they are alike? Our speaker Rev. Melanie Oomen reminded us of the message of Isaiah 58 regarding how we might live our lives for The Lord. In referring to the practice of fasting, God’s message per Isaiah says “This is how I want you to fast. Free those who are in prison falsely.
Stop making those who work for you into slaves. Deal
with them fairly. And pay what is due to them. Share
your food with those who are hungry. Give shelter to
poor people who have no homes. If you see someone
without clothing, give him some clothes. And do not refuse to help your own relatives.” Sounds a lot like our Christian activists of the Social Gospel and a lot like the messages of the Civil Rights movement, Bread for the World, and many movements working against poverty. It sounds like what we are trying to do here in Lane County with CWU and our many past and future partners/ donation recipients: Families Forward (Paid Sick Leave), LCHAY (health active kids), League of Women Voters, HCAO (single payer health care), Beyond Toxics, WAND, Food for Lane County, OFRA (Faith Round Table on Hunger), InStove, Occupy Medical, all of our Summer Fun Fund recipients, Sponsors, Shelter Care, Vets for Peace, Brattain House. And that is just a sampling. What others can you think of that we have supported, heard from? Please let us know of any others you would like us to partner with. I am very proud of what we as CWU of Lane County have accomplished for over 100 years and I’m looking forward to more good works.
Thanks for all you do. One body, many parts. Happy
New Year and blessings to you and your “causes..”
I’d like to recommend that if you ever go online you go to the national Church Women United website. www.churchwomenunited.org
The organization has some wonderful articles regarding their many activities working for
justice and peace. I was especially moved by the words of Heidi Thorsen, program and media assistant at CWU in NYC. Ms. Thorsen was voicing her concern about the issues around the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. She asks us as CWU “to respond, React, not to let this historic moment pass by without
having something to say.“ She tells us “It should feel difficult to respond to these events. It should also feel difficult not to respond to these events.. Your voice matters.”
Elections are over. Now we go forward as we enter Ad-vent, the season of hope, the season of light. Let’s try to take action to make our world a better place. We are hoping that our programs inspire you to practice your charity and love as you strive for that better place. We pray for peace and as we know “if you want peace, work for justice“ (Pope Paul VI said that in the late 60’s). Your action might be to go out and demonstrate or to donate to a favorite charity, write a letter to the edi-tor, visit, call or write to a lonely person, read a book or an article that increases your peace and justice knowledge, say a prayer, show your love for another be-ing. They will know we are Christians by our love, right? A Happy and Holy Christmas to you all.
I have a brief and important message this month. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE. It couldn’t be easier in Oregon with the vote by mail system and yet less than 36% of registered Oregon voters voted in the last election. Thanks to our speakers and handouts at our October gatherings we should have a more enlightened attitude in choosing how to vote. So return those ballots you should have by now and remind your friends, relatives and neighbors to do that. One of our members serves pizza and gets her young relatives over for an evening of orientation to the ballot. We must be crea-tive. Here’s what the Bible has to say: Deuteronomy 1:13English Standard Version (ESV) Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men (I add women), and I will appoint them as your heads.
I have often described myself as a news junkie. I’ve listened to public ra-dio whenever I have I can- in the car, in the kitchen, in the yard. But lately I’ve found myself avoiding the news. It’s just too sad to hear of all the vio-lence in the world. World Beyond War has quoted one leader as saying that this is the most dangerous time we have been in since prior to WWII. So, in keeping with our CWU Quadrennial priority to keep Shalom/Salaam, I want to share the prayer I said at our Sep-tember gatherings, one said by Pope Francis in June.
“Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. ... How much blood has been shed ... our efforts have been in vain.
Now, Lord, come to our aid! ... Give us the courage to say: "Never again war!" ... Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace. ...
Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be "brother," and our way of life will al-ways be that of: Shalom, Peace, Sa-laam!
And to that, let the people of God say, ‘Amen!’” continue..
And I add (hoping not to get too Cath-olic on us) let us remember the words of the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton: “The God of peace is never glorified by human violence”
Peace to you all and to all the world.
Our May celebration allowed us to hear from two people representing two wonderful non profits in our community. I started thinking about how fortunate we are to have so many organizations supported by many wonderful, giving people in this area. Yes, we have our share of problems but isn’t it reassuring that for just about every problem there is a group or groups that are working to alleviate the problem by helping individuals in our community. I am not sure there are many other communities that have re-sponded with such generosity of mind, spirit and wallet. We love the beauty of this area and we can also love that we have been blessed with an environment that encour-ages activism and caring. I was pleased to note at our cel-ebration that lately we have been contacted by no less than 6 organizations that want to collaborate with Church Women United and specifically ask for our endorsement and support. We can be proud that the word is getting out that CWU of Lane County cares and acts. Thank you all for all that you do. We are following the Bible’s admoni-tion: Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
We still read the newspaper every day. How old fashioned. But we feel remiss if we don’t know what’s going on out there. On the other hand, many days, I look at the articles and one after another speaks of disaster, war, devastation, dishonesty etc. You know what I mean. It can be downright depressing. So I thought about what John Newton who wrote: Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
When he wrote this promise, he was speaking from personal experience. His greatest test came the day he buried his wife, Mary. He’d loved her dearly and prayed his death would precede hers. But that prayer was not an-swered.
On the day Mary Newton died, John found the strength to preach a Sunday sermon. The next day he visited church members, and later he officiated at his wife’s funeral. He grieved but in his grief he was able to turn to God. . He lat-er wrote, “The Bank of England is too poor to compensate for such a loss as mine. But the Lord, the all-sufficient God speaks, and it is done. Let those who know Him, and trust Him, be of good courage.”
So if of disaster, war, devastation, dishonesty, not to mention disease, calamity, and trouble populate your world we don’t have to let them control it. You can let Grace do that. I even love the word, “grace.” It is comforting.
We can count on grace to help us in times of sadness and we can also go out and do some-thing to make things better. I’m amazed at all the good thinks our Church Women United folks do. Thanks and keep it up…
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my pow-er is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Anesthesia of the Heart
This month our speakers from Neigh-borhood Economic Development Corpora-tion (NEDCO) and from Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Children will be shar-ing thoughts about people who are not able to be adequately nourished because of their economic situations and or be-cause of their lack of access to afforda-ble, healthful, nutritious food. There are actually “food deserts” in Lane County where residents don’t have this access. They are generally areas where the less affluent live. I wonder if we hear less about this problem because it affects the poor so not as many people are con-cerned.
Recently Pope Francis begged God for forgiveness for the indifference that the world often shows the poor: “O Lord, in this Liturgy, a Liturgy of re-pentance, we ask forgiveness for the indifference towards so many brothers and sisters, we ask forgiveness for those who are pleased with themselves, who are closed in on their own well-being in a way that leads to the anesthesia of the heart, we ask you, Father, for for-giveness for those who with their deci-sions at the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!”
CWU is earnestly searching for an anti-dote to this “anesthesia of the heart.” Though, in fact, Church Women United folks are among the most “feeling,” we hope that our programs will be effective in unfreezing any hearts that may still be slightly anesthetized or, even more likely, that they will help us to figure out how to help unfreeze the hearts of those we may encounter.
Dave and I just returned from a trip to Vietnam where we had the opportunity to meet with several men who had fought either with the
U.S. or against the U.S.
in what they call "the Anti-American War."
I was struck by the seeming lack of any animosity toward us and our country, and thought about how forgiving they must be.
But as we listened to them, they were telling us that this was not about forgiveness, this was about moving on. To paraphrase: "We don't dwell on the past. That was yesterday. This is today. It is time to move on and continue to improve our country.
It was also inspiring to see how far Vietnam has come since 1975. After Americans left they then fought against the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, who wanted to take over their country.
So, this country that has been fighting for centuries, including almost 100 years of French colonialism, has been at peace for almost 40 years, and busy building up its economy. ...
For the rest of Anne's inspiring message, see the November Vine.
Faith-based Partnership with DHS Child Welfare Program
For information on local, state, and national foster care and child welfare programs, see the June 2013 Vine.
If you know of a CWU woman or family member who needs a card or a contact because of sickness or other need, call Jane Heidegger at 541.485.6229541.485.6229.
By Judy Romans
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soil and water across the globe. It is readily absorbed by many plants into leave,s fruit, and grain.
Recent news articles have publicized the amount of arsenic found in rice, and in apple and grape juice. There is controversy about these studies because there is no government regulation about a safe level of arsenic in food, and experts differ on their opinions of the health effects of long-term exposure. ...
For the rest of Judy's article, please see The November Vine.
Dissent is Patriotic
The right to free speech and the right to assemble are part of our heritage. Yet we read about public areas being taken away and different treatment given different populations, especially our unhoused neighbors.
We are being called to question police and county actions. Follow reports in the press. Be prepared to speak before our City Council and County Commissioners.
Why We're Active in Church Women United
We have been taking a look at current members' comments on why they are active in CWU Lane County. Here are some more, and you may find them inspiring!
One member noted that "the meetings are worthwhile--forums are excellent, celebrations also."
"The people are so interesting, a circle of friends from many churches. And I love the hugs!
Another says, "I appreciate the work for peace and justice. I enjoy meeting women from other churches, and being in a variety of worship settings."
A longtime member adds: "I've been involved in various CWU groups throughout my adult life. I love meeting and knowing other church women who are involved in peace and social justice work."
More insights coming soon!