An Update on Ingrid and Family – March Share the Plate

from Jane Everham

What a bittersweet moment it was when I learned that Ingrid and family were moving, suddenly and secretly, to the Boulder Church for continued sanctuary. It had been my hope that a sanctuary would become available closer to Eliseo and Bryant, but in the months Ingrid was with us I got attached. Sometimes physically when Anibal would grab my calf and ride my foot!

The move to Boulder was a good move for this family. Then it resulted in a financial loss for the Boulder Church when the pre-school they rented space to chose to leave. Foothills stepped up, and through our March Share the Plate, donated $2,525.78 to the Boulder congregation, so they could continue their sanctuary ministry without undue hardship. That change took place in December and Ingrid is still seeking clemency from Governor Hicklooper so she can begin to pursue residency and ultimately citizenship.

Here is an update on Ingrid’s status:

Not enough has changed for Ingrid or the other three women finding in sanctuary in Colorado: Arecel, Rosa and Sandra. These sanctuary guests have unveiled a People’s Resolution – Creating a Path Forward on Immigration and they are asking people to sign it in support.

We call on the Colorado delegation, Colorado Legislature, and Governor Hickenlooper to respond to four Colorado women speaking for thousands of others. As Endorsers we call on you to use the authority of your office to provide official mercy and advocacy in all Sanctuary cases, to enact policy changes at the State and Federal level allowing all Colorado residents to participate in the well-being of our state, and to create a path to status they can start walking down.

You can read the whole resolution at www.peoplesresolution.org It has also appeared on Facebook several times. You can go to the Foothills FB page and sign, share it to your own FB page, and then share with all your friends. Please help spread the word.

Here is an update on Eliseo:

Eliseo is back at work. He was released from detention on bond, and recently his father’s application for US citizenship came through which may open new opportunities for his father to petition for Eliseo to receive a green card and get on a path to citizenship.  Ojala que si!
And Bryant:
Bryant is glad to be with his mother, he likes that he can walk to his new school, and he has new friends. He made a video asking for support to release his family from sanctuary so he and his whole family can become real Americans citizens. Bryant continues to be his normal, awesome self.

Last but never least, Anibal:

Anibal got a haircut recently and looks like a little man. He is using more words and is as rambunctious as ever.

Lastima, that this journey Ingrid and the others is on is a long one. Signing the petition, writing to the governor (mention the role the governor can play in Restorative Justice), and making donations, as feasible, to the Boulder Church are steps we all can take. There will probably be another Share the Plate for the Boulder Church in our congregation’s future. Please share thoughts and prayers and take action to end this uncivil time in our country’s history.

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An Exegesis of the Reading from James Luther Adams

There was a version of the sermon on Sunday that included a full exegesis of James Luther Adams’ reading…but as you heard – or you’ll hear in the podcast – that version wasn’t the version that made it to the service. Too much else I wanted to say….
But, I know JLA is dense, and especially since the reading comes at the end of a long essay filled with all sorts of other ideas that culminate in this section….some might find it helpful to have a little more commentary….So, for those of you who fall into that category…my JLA exegesis on this reading on conversion.
First, the context for this reading – it is an essay he calls, the “Root Ideas of Human Freedom: The Changing Reputation of Human Nature.” In it he is exploring the relationship between rationality/rational order, human freedom, choice and the nature of the human being, in a theological sense.  It was first presented at a meeting of the American Unitarian Association in May 1941.  You can find the essay in the collection of his essays entitled On Being Human Religiously (check out esp pg 40 – 54; this quote is from pages 53-54).
Throughout this essay, his motivating question – as I talked about on Sunday – is: what would create a liberal religion that would be able to effectively resist Fascism if it came to the United States?  That is, a religion that would motivate and organize people for real impact in history.
He diagnoses the problem as being liberal religion’s optimistic orientation towards human nature, as well as its over-emphasis on the individual, rather than the corrective of the “association,” which is his term for the group you associate with.
Right before the section of our reading, he’s talking about our struggle to engage with the destructive portions of life and human nature, and instead an over-reliance on restraint, and reason, as if those could save us all.  Here he starts to build towards one of the main points – reason alone can’t save us.  Lots of people know how to reason – but that doesn’t mean they actually have the motivation, or the orientation, to direct their energy towards collective liberation and healing.  For this, it requires the “affections” of the heart.
As the reading says, “It is not reason alone, but reason inspired by ‘raised affections’
that is necessary for salvation. We become what we love.”
It is hilarious to me that he’s describing how we need to better engage the heart, and he does so with such a restrained term as “raised affections,” but I also find it endearing.  He swims in this water too.
Also, before the reading, he describes how we need to reckon with the enormity of the evil that exists in the world – we need to get in touch with it – so that we can motivate the necessary will to actually address it.   At the same time, we need to reckon with the capacity for evil that exists within us – and the ways that our choices enable the evil in the world.  He encourages a kind of individual repentance – a seeing-clearly that connects with a desire for change –  that can foster world repentance – what he ultimately calls individual conversion (change) that leads to societal conversion.
Back to the reading – he wants to be clear that it isn’t that he thinks there is no place for the rational, or the intellectual approach in manifesting change, “Not that information and technique are dispensable. Even a St. Francis with commitment to the highest would be impotent when confronted with a case of appendicitis if he did not recognize the malady and did not know what to do.” 
St. Francis – huge heart, right? Can’t solve all problems just with that heart.  He needs information, education.
And so, JLA acknowledges: “One sector of the problems of society is its intellectual problems. Here no amount of goodwill alone can suffice. But something of the spirit of St. Francis is indispensable if the benefits of science and of society are to be in the widest commonalty spread, and for that matter, if even the intellectual problems are to be dealt with adequately.” 
I really think that climate change is the best example right now of this insight – we need the science, we need the scientific options for where to go next – but we cannot solve climate change – we won’t have the will, and we won’t actually find the right solutions if we don’t also engage the heart, what he’s calling, “the spirit of St. Francis.”
He goes on, “The desire to diagnose injustice as an intellectual problem as well as the power of action to achieve a new form of justice requires ‘raised affections,’ a vitality that can break through old forms of behavior and create new patterns of community.”
This is a really complicated sentence – I take from it his sense that you can’t get people to even hear the “intellect,” (the climate science), let alone take the action required to fix an issue, without first touching their hearts.  Because you have to change people’s behavior, and create new relationships, and new commitments.  It’s really hard.  Information alone, analysis alone, rationalism alone – cannot do it.
I left out a sentence in the reading, but in the text, he also adds this line at this point: “But the raising of the affections is a much harder thing to accomplish than even the education of the mind; it is especially difficult among those who think they have found security.”
This is the challenge of getting privileged people to care about the suffering of those who do not share their privilege.  It requires what Bryan Stevenson calls “getting proximate.”
He goes on to describe how religious liberals have often failed to stimulate this heart-opening experience, as he says, “This element of commitment, of change of heart, of decision, has been neglected by religious liberalism, and that is the prime source of its enfeeblement. We liberals are largely an uncommitted and therefore a self-frustrating people.
We focus on changing people’s minds – but we fail to engage the heart, to meet ourselves and the world in our real brokenness.
As he says, “Our first task then, is to restore to liberalism its own dynamic and its own prophetic genius.” 
One of his main projects is to help liberalism claim its power.  As one of his other essays says, “liberalism is dead. long live liberalism.”
And here he turns to conversion: “We need conversion within ourselves.” 
By this he means – change, starting with repentance – a clear-eyed look at our own brokenness, and the world’s.  Our own capacity for destruction, and society’s.  To see and more importantly, to feel the human capacity for destruction, and how, either directly or indirectly, we are all a part of this suffering.  (Remember, he wrote this in the context of Nazi Germany where he had been working along side the Confessing Church movement, attempting to overthrow the Nazis. There was a time where I wondered if or how his urgency translates to our world today. I don’t wonder this anymore.)
He does not mean to instill guilt, or shame, but only a sense of our responsibility, motivated by love.  Love for others, love for the world, love for life itself.
As he concludes: “Only by some such revolution can we be seized by a prophetic power that will enable us to proclaim both the judgment and the love of God.  Only by some such conversion can we be possessed by a love that will not let us go.”
It is the change of heart that fosters the necessary commitment to stand alone in transforming the status quo – the status quo of our individual lives, or of society.  Conversion is a transformation of heart – a revolution of the heart – that comes when we feel this deep connection with our fellow humans, and take a personal sense of responsibility, because we are bound up together in this transcendent, ultimate, and universal love.
I hope that this helps a little in making sense of the JLA – and helps us keep the conversation going about this idea of conversion! It’s one of my favorite topics, so please feel free to comment with your questions or further thoughts.

New Leadership Development Model

from Karen Harder, Leadership Develoment Team Member

It’s almost time to elect new church leaders. Where will they come from? A group here at Foothills has been busy envisioning a new way of growing our own. Instead of scrambling to find leaders to fill a nomination slate every year, a Leadership Development Ministry Team is working to foster a culture where potential leaders are continually mentored by seasoned leaders and where emerging and experienced leaders learn, grow, and discern together where they are next called to serve.

This new way of growing leaders is inextricably tied to Foothills’ faith formation vision. That vision is the product of a year-long effort by a team of staff and lay leaders to articulate what it means to grow in faith as Unitarian Universalists. The work likens faith formation as a journey, with steps along the way in five areas: growing in self, grounding in Unitarian Universalism, building beloved community, experiencing mystery and awe, and practicing church.

Folks participating in one of Foothills’ new Gather Groups already will be familiar with these components. They are the same five catalysts for deepening faith that Gather Groups explore sometime between their second and third meetings, when members are invited to reflect on their engagement and consider what it might mean to grow in each area.

Core to the new leadership development strategy will be the convening of Leader Gather Groups this fall. Leader Gather Groups will consist of potential and seasoned leaders invited to meet together for at least eight weeks to focus on relationship building, mentoring and mutual learning. They will use the Gather Group curriculum augmented with opportunities to focus on shared learning around leadership-related content. The goal is to harness the power and potential of all in service to the Foothills mission to unleash courageous love.

As the Leader Gather Groups discern together who might be called to serve and how, lay leaders will work closely with the Senior Minister in communicating to the Nominating Committee candidates to consider and place in nomination. Several times a year, emerging leaders as well as any interested congregants also will be offered workshops on specific skills and knowledge needed to serve on the Board of Trustees and other senior leadership roles.

“I’m excited about the new model,” said Jennifer Powell, past president of the Board of Trustees and member of the new Leadership Development Ministry Team. “It has been clear to many of us in leadership at Foothills, that we have needed to mature and expand our training and education for new, current, and potential leaders of the church for some time. The care, thoughtfulness, and connection to our faith that is present in this new model has impressed me. I know you will be, too. Providing this resource, as well as a more comprehensive leadership development program will strengthen our congregation and the good important work we do.”

Other Leadership Development team members are Sue Ferguson, Karen Harder, Jenn Powell, and Tim Weinmann, along with Senior Minister Gretchen Haley.

If you would like more information about the Leadership Development team, you can read the team charter here. If you are interested in church leadership, please contact Rev. Gretchen.

Following Up on #MeToo

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since our #MeToo worship service, and the conversation is just beginning.  A few of our Senior Sisterhood groups have been taking up brave and tender conversations around #MeToo – sharing their own experiences and reflections with one another.  The small group conversations for women to reflect on problematic sexual experiences started tonight, with another on Saturday.  And, the conversations for Men and #MeToo are set to begin next Wednesday.  This last one has drawn the attention of NPR’s All Things Considered, who is doing a story on men and the #MeToo movement – they reached out to hear about our intent for these conversations, and how men are responding.

Another part of this continued conversation is also just beginning to take shape – the Restoring Wholeness Task Force announced by the Board as a part of the #MeToo service.  Over the past few weeks, the Board has been drafting the charter for this Task Force, and thinking carefully about the desired ends.

The Board has been clear that we are called to be a church that deals directly with sexual misconduct and harassment, and that we want to be a part of shifting the culture towards one of greater respect, equality, understanding, and mutual liberation.  To do this, we know we need to start by taking a good look at our past – for, as the Rev. Jan Christian says, “going back can change the way we go forward.”

Part of the work of the Task Force will be in collecting stories about our congregation’s past – including relationships between congregants and religious professionals, and the ways our congregation’s culture, as a system, may have contributed to a lack of clarity or other factors that may have allowed misconduct or harassment to occur.  The goal is to learn, to change, to grow, and to do better.

If you are someone who is wanting to share about an experience that you are thinking through from the past that may connect to this conversation, please email metoo@foothillsuu.org, which for now (until our Task Force is fully up to speed) will be responded to by me, or by Rev. Sean directly.  You can trust that your confidentiality will be protected, as together we continue to understand and learn from our own past – so that we can create an even stronger future.

This is brave, and sometimes challenging work.  I am proud to serve a congregation whose leadership has been willing to do the difficult and yet faithful thing at each step, with a commitment towards being that church that we know we are called to be.  And, I am grateful that we can create spaces and opportunities for this brave learning to happen together, so that we can all grow, and learn, and change, for the better.

Meet Cartoonist Ward Sutton, Recently Honored Foothills Member

Interviewed by Jane Everham

(Supplemental information from The Herb Block Foundation)

WardSuttonSMWard Sutton has been named the winner of the 2018 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning. The Herblock Prize is awarded annually by The Herb Block Foundation for “distinguished examples of editorial cartooning that exemplify the courageous independent standard set by Herblock.” Ward Sutton will receive the Prize on May 9th in a ceremony held at the Library of Congress. Scott Simon, Peabody Award-winning correspondent and host of Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR, will deliver the annual Herblock Lecture at the awards ceremony.

 

 

The judges said:ward cartoon

“We were greatly impressed by the quality and breadth of submissions, with so much outstanding work being done in all types of political cartooning. But we felt that Ward Sutton’s combination of strong artwork and sharp satirical writing stood out. Ward’s art style has an appealing comic book look that includes a mastery of caricature within that context. He juxtaposes these attractive drawings with strong, urgent writing, setting up creative premises and wringing out of them cutting humor and provocative commentary that rise to the historical importance of today’s issues.”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ward Sutton about his career path and what brought him to Fort Collins and Foothills Unitarian Church.

Ward, where is your home of origin?

I grew up mainly in Edina, Minnesota – a suburb of Minneapolis. I also stayed in Minnesota to attend St. Olaf College, which is where my wife and I first met. 

Sutton got his start cartooning for the Edina Sun community newspaper when he was in middle school. He continued at Edina High School’s Zephyrus and St. Olaf College  Manitou Messenger before launching his first professional political strip, “Ward’s Cleaver,” in the Minneapolis alt-weekly, The Twin Cities Reader. Since then, he has lived in Seattle, New York City, and Costa Rica before finding his current home with his family in Fort Collins, Colorado.

What brought you to Fort Collins?

My wife Sue and I had been living in New York City for nearly 20 years when we decided we needed a change. So, we found an amazing bilingual school and moved our family to Costa Rica for 2 years. After that we were ready to move back to the US but did not want to return to NYC. By chance we met a lot of people from Colorado in Costa Rica, and that inspired us to visit the front range. After what my wife calls “speed dating” the different towns in the area we all agreed that Fort Collins was our favorite.

We have a daughter named Yineth (15, attends Rocky Mountain High School) and a son Tavio (11, attends Lesher Middle School).

Sue’s parents recently bought a small house in town and are using it as a second home. They spend a good amount of time in FoCo and have been enjoying Foothills as well.

We also have two dogs, Bisbee and Lobo, whom we rescued in Costa Rica and brought to FoCo. They are definitely part of the family, too!

How did you find Foothills UU Church?

We had been part of a UCC church in NYC, and when we arrived in Fort Collins we really wanted to find a progressive church community. We’ve always been interested in learning more about UU; Sue and I both took part in some of the “beginner” programs that were offered during our first year in town and we were sold: we became members of Foothills after about 3 and a half months.

How did you become an editorial cartoonist?

I won an art contest in 1st grade and never looked back. I had my first cartoons published in a community paper when I was in grade school and Junior High, then I worked for my school papers in high school and college. I began my professional career working for “Alt Weeklies” – the weekly urban newspapers that were so common in the 1990s. I began in Minneapolis, then moved to Seattle, then finally arrived in NYC in 1995. In 1998, The Village Voice picked up my weekly strip. In 2008, I began creating cartoons for the Boston Globe.

Ward Sutton has been creating biting editorial cartoons for The Boston Globe since 2008. He experiments with size and format, often producing multi-panel cartoons that can read like a graphic novel. In 2010, his full-page “Tea Party Comics” won a gold medal from the Society of Publication Designers.

Alarmed by the incoming Trump administration, Sutton drew a “RESIST” poster image and distributed it for free online in 2017. It was downloaded, printed, carried in marches all over the world, and later chosen by American Illustration in its annual competition.

Stephen Colbert has said: “Ward Sutton’s satire doesn’t just bite, it maims. He’s the perfect cartoonist for our discordant times.’’

Are you still creating cartoons? For whom?

My main client for editorial cartooning is the Boston Globe, and the Herblock Award I recently won is for my Globe cartoons from 2017. But I am a freelancer and create cartoons for other places such as The New Yorker, The Nation, The Nib (website) and In These Times magazine. I also work as an illustrator, creating drawings that accompany articles in publications such as GQ, Entertainment Weekly and MAD Magazine.

In addition to cartooning, Sutton has created posters for Broadway, the Sundance Film Festival, and musicians such as Beck, Radiohead, Phish, and Pearl Jam. He has designed, directed and/or produced animation for HBO, Noggin and Comedy Central. His work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, The Society of Publication Designers, The Society for News Design, The Minnesota Page One Awards and The Art Directors Club.

What else keeps you out of trouble?

I have a semi-secret alter-ego: In 2006, I created Stan Kelly, the (fake) editorial cartoonist for the (fake) newspaper, The Onion. That project is an ongoing parody of editorial cartoons, and in 2016 a book of Kelly’s cartoons was published. I’ll add some links about Kelly below:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/sarah-larson/brilliantly-terrible-the-political-cartoons-of-the-onions-stan-kelly

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2017/08/10/why-the-onions-kelly-is-the-best-bad-cartoonist-in-america/?utm_term=.15ddc1209920

What kind of involvement if any do you hope to have at Foothills?

I served on the Committee on Shared Ministry (COSM) for a while but different events going on in my life made it necessary for me to limit my commitments and step down from the Committee. My wife Sue has been leading the 5th grade RE class on Sundays, and I’m happy just to be getting to know Foothills and the community better for the time being.

Finally, I asked Ward: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A cartoonist.

Ward, it is an honored to have you among us. Congratulations on this award! So grateful that you continue to unleash your imagination!

Contact information for Ward Sutton: wardsuttonimpact@gmail.com  www.suttonimpactstudio.com @wardsutton on Instagram

http://www.facebook.com/wardsutton http://twitter.com/WardSutton

 

 

Why I’m Grateful We Won’t Be Sponsoring a Black Lives Matter Event This Weekend

It started the way that so many Unitarian Universalist actions start: with a question.

One of our members asked on a progressive social media site, why there had not been any response in Fort Collins to the most recent shooting death of a Black man by police officers – in this case, Stephon Clark in Sacramento.

Just a few days later, the event seemed to be well on its way.  Conversations were happening across various communities, speakers were being booked, permits were being pulled, objectives were being outlined.  Some of the organizing was messy – most of us didn’t know each other.  But we were figuring it out.  The Facebook event went live. It was happening.

To be honest, I have been waiting for this moment.  I knew it would come, hoped it would come. This moment when the right someone would ask the right question, at the right time, and movement would begin.  We could show up, as allies, and supporters with our presence as a predominantly white faith community to support the voices and leadership of people of color.

When it comes to race and racism – we are not well practiced at these conversations in Fort Collins, at least, not in the white community.  But in other spaces, amongst people of color, and sometimes across trusted friendships, it’s generations-long.   Before I lived in Fort Collins, I first heard about it from one of my favorite artists, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, who wrote a piece about a stay here in 2008.  He described the city as “one of the most racist places” he’d been in the U.S., and went on to describe a series of harassing anti-Mexican racist interactions he and his friend had while in town.

It’s long past time for all of us to be having this conversation, and to do the work to make change.

As the team started to discern its plans, it reached out to a core group of leaders of color in the city, hoping to invite their participation and engagement.  Instead of positive reception, however, this group expressed serious concerns and resistance.  First, at the focus on Stephon Clark and national issues.  They felt it perpetuated a myth that racism happens somewhere else, not here.  And second, that a single rally or event might help white people feel they were doing something, but wouldn’t necessarily make actual change for people of color in the community.  They asked the group to put the event on hold so that greater conversation, relationship building, and strategizing could occur.

I already said that the early stages of this process were messy.  But this was something else.  This was – painful. Confusing.  There was a plan in place, a lot of publicity.  Already a group of volunteers being recruited. No one disagreed with the need to address race and racism – and yet it matters how, and with whom.  As the Black Lives Matter organizers have said it, we need to move at the speed of trust. And these relationships, this partnership, it didn’t have the trust yet.  We realized, we needed to start there.

So the lead organizers put the event on hold.  There have been hurt feelings as a result, and some angry words – especially coming from white activists invested in the event.  It’s been even messier than those first conversations.

And yet ultimately, I’m grateful that we aren’t moving forward with the event.  Because an event is not the end we’re after.  The event was just a means towards the bigger end, which is racial justice – and a Fort Collins where all people, including people of color feel welcome, and included, seen, and heard, and valued – for who they are.  That end is going to take a lot of messy conversations and a broad coalition of partners.  And it’s going to take a willingness to put things on hold when key leaders of color in the community ask for a pause, to slow down to build that trust.  It’s going to mean listening, and re-assessing, and learning together, and privileging relationship over publicity, or facebook events – even when they have gotten many likes, and many people indicating their desire to attend.

With the event on hold this weekend, we are re-assessing our plans, and stepping back into that critical relationship-building work, and strategizing together in the way the group of leaders asked for.  We’re engaging some help from community leaders who have walked this path before, and we’re taking a breath.  We’re committed to the long-haul work, and to doing our part to build the Beloved Community.  Most of all, I am grateful to get to be a part, to listen and learn, and to be on this journey, together.