Minutes for MPJC Meeting of September 16, 2019

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Glenda Rae, Rey, Lois, Wanda.

Old business

    1.  Approval of Minutes for July 15: The minutes were approved as corrected.

    2. Progress Reports:

        a. Topic of the Month: Lois mentioned that the Union of Concerned Scientists' nuclear clock is still at 2 minutes to midnight. We are concerned that Trump may start a war with Iran with his rhetoric about U.S. response to the drone strike on the Saudi oil refinery. Can he be trusted with the nuclear trigger?

        b. Book of the Month report: Wanda has been reading "The Far Away Brothers," by Lauren Markham. This is a story of twin brothers from a family of 9 children from El Salvador. A civil war was going on in rural El Salvador when the twins were forced to flee from the brutal gangs. With the help of a coyote they made their way across the Rio Grande and Texas. They were able to get to their older brother and they were soon trying to learn a new language. By working low-income jobs they were trying to pay down the coyote debt. Their lives were extremely difficult.

Lois mentioned that the Sunday school class at Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren is studying "God and the Gay Christian," by Michael Vines, about a preacher who changed his mind about LGBT individuals when his son came out as gay. This illustrates an ongoing conflict in the Church of the Brethren. The conservative members believe that the bible must be taken word for word in spite of the message of love that Jesus brought. Vines gives alternative scriptures supportive of gays. Lois mentioned a hymn, "Til truth shall make love's message clear." At the 2012 conference, there was a death threat put under the door of the room of a conference attendee. The district conference is supportive of the Prince of Peace pastor who will preside at the weddings of gays and lesbians.

Glenda Rae cited a ND speaker who claimed that, starting at birth, children absorb the prejudices of parents and others and by the age of 3 they know how to treat people different from them. Rey noted that the current toxic atmosphere, which has solidified in the age of Trump and the U.S. Senate, is a spiritual problem not a political one. Jim Wallis, who is executive director of the Sojourners community and a progressive christian, and Ben Howe, a conservative christian, both end up in the same place that restoring America's political health means returning to the values and teachings of Jesus, not giving them up for the sake of power. Both make the point that America's socio-political health must be anchored in spiritual values, not political ones. In his book, “Christ in Crisis,” Wallis may appear to exclude the valuable contributions of other faiths to American politics, but a reading of the book shows this not to be true.

Wanda had talked about the book, Daughters of Malachi," which talked about the terrible treatment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during the 2nd World War.

       c. Immigration Coalition Report: The coalition has adopted a mission statement. Joe is still trying to pass off leadership to someone younger since he is now focused on their grandchildren in Kalamazoo. The coalition wants to convince the Senate to pass legislation such as the DACA program like it has passed in the House. Wanda had heard of a guest worker program to bring workers from south of the border into the U.S. for up to 5 years. Glenda Rae thought they had to commit to one farmer for those years.

       d. Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance: Lois, Diana Mendelsohn, and Carol Smith created a banner reading,"Come let us reason together for our Children, for our Climate, for our City, for our Country, for our Creator." She brought the banner to the Friday at the Fountain event on August 2, and also to the vigil across from the Federal Building on Monday, August 5. We had 6 vigilers on the 5th. There were several signs linking climate change to nuclear weapons.

3. Treasurer's Report: $133.50 with $10 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We incorporated this topic into other discussion

    2. Topic of the Month: We did not choose a new topic.

    3. International Day of Prayer for Peace: The URC has nothing planned. John Pinter was going to bring it up at a board meeting and contact Lois, but she has received no contact from him. She noted that 21 faiths have the golden rule as one of their tenets.

    4. Climate Change Rally: There will be a gathering at Jon Hunt Plaza on Friday, September 20 at 11:00am, in conjunction with rallies all over the world.

    5. Other Topics and Issues: There is a lecture at River Park library at 6pm, Thursday, September 19, on "How values are communicated in Scandinavian Countries."

We need to plan for November 11 vigil at our next meeting.

Faith in St Joe County is planning an October 6 4-6 meeting at Pentacostal Cathedral on Western Ave with the political leaders in the area. They are hoping to get 800 people to attend and hold the leaders to account for reducing violence in the community and deescalating police response.

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    6. Next meeting: Monday, October 21, at 2:30pm at Lois' facility. We will send the directions in the meeting announcement.