The Board of Missions and Christian Social Action (BMCSA) looks to our covenants in making decisions about fund awards and advocacy efforts on behalf of First Congregational Church. While most of the programs that receive support incorporate elements that address more than one of the covenants, the work of the following community partners particularly demonstrates efforts that are called for in our congregation’s Just Peace Covenant. This week, in which we observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and participated in the peaceful transition of power, (and which came just two weeks after the brutal attack on democracy exacerbated by sharp contrasts in police response with Black Lives Matter peaceful protests), it seems like a good time to share information about the good work being done by our community partners to build a more just society.
Motus Theater – Benevolence funds were given to support “Welcoming the Stranger,” a series of virtual presentations in which UCC ministers read aloud the artfully crafted personal stories of undocumented Motus monologists over Zoom. Then the minister will discuss with the monologist the impact of reading aloud their story and reflect on the theological questions that the story and immigration raises. Live acapella music via the Gospel group, Spirit of Grace will begin and end each presentation.
Performances and discussions explore the lives of undocumented immigrants and increase understanding about their rights and sanctuary movements. This presentation is part of Motus’ efforts to provide virtual programming that amplifies the voices of undocumented immigrants – some of the most impacted by COVID-19.
The mission of Motus Theater is to create original theater to facilitate dialogue on critical issues of our time. To learn more about Motus Theater, visit their website: Motus Theater
YWCA Boulder County received Benevolence funds to support the “Reading to End Racism” program in schools in Boulder County. Reading to End Racism (RER) is an intergenerational literacy program that empowers K-8th graders to understand, discuss, and work to eliminate discrimination and bullying. RER is designed to engage students through interactive presentations led by trained volunteer readers. Resources are not only shared with the students but also with parent/family members to encourage continued discussion and action to help stop racism. Many FCC members have been involved with the project.
YWCA Boulder County is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. To learn more, visit their website: Homepage – YWCA Boulder County
Intercambio received Benevolence funds to support English classes for immigrant adults in the Boulder area.Intercambio provides English language education, resources, and training that create meaningful connections, builds cultural awareness, and inspires confidence for adult immigrants and the wider community. Their ESL (English as a second language) classes are a critical resource to many, teaching English skills and facilitating personal connections that are vital to immigrants’ emotional health and sense of well-being.
Social distancing magnified and exacerbated existing challenges for immigrants. Intercambio continues to serve through online ESL classes. 300 students were trained for online classes in the first six months of COVID-19. For 90% of them it was their first-ever online class.
The goal of Intercambio’s work is to connect people across cultural, socioeconomic, racial, and language barriers. To learn more about their services, visit their website: English/ESL Classes & Immigrant Resources in Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, and Denver (intercambio.org)
Family Learning Center (FLC) received Benevolence Funds and a portion of the 2020 Christmas offering. For nearly 40 years, FLC has been a leader in educating poor and at-risk children (pre-school through high school) and providing support services to their families—cradle to career family support services that offer a clear path to upward mobility.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, FLC is providing meals to children who normally depend on free/reduced lunches at school and are also ensuring they have access to the tools they need to learn, such as computers. For students without access to technology, they print school assignments that can be picked up from the center, which is adjacent to the low-income units where most participants reside. They also ensure every student has school supplies for home use. FLC is accredited through the Boulder Valley School District.
Their goal is to help every individual succeed, one family at a time. To learn more about Family Learning Center, visit their website: The Family Learning Center – Boulder, Colorado (flcboulder.org)
NAACP is a community partner supported through advocacy efforts by the Board of Missions and Christian Social Action and other FCC members. Actions included support of the efforts of the Boulder chapter of NAACP in addressing issues such as structural racism in schools and processes for dealing with people who are experiencing homelessness. (For example, see Darren O’Connor’s post on the church’s Facebook site on January 19.) We have participated together in community conversations and education about racism. Several FCC members serve on the executive committee. To learn more, visit their website: NAACP – Boulder County