"Thus says the Lord; Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed...
Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel. I will gather others to them besides those already gathered." ~Isaiah 56:1,8  

Church, we are bold to proclaim an expansive God, the God of Isaiah who is always gathering up those who have been cast out. The Lectionary Scripture this week holds forth this vision of Isaiah 56 of God's covenant being extended further and further. This is a season when so many are stretching to extend further and further than we've had to before. 

Thank you. We see you, Church, advocating for those in your community who have been cast out by unjust policy. We see you, feeding those who have been cast out by unjust economics. We see you, checking on the mental health of those cut off from care and community. We see you, wondering how to best care for parents, teachers, and children.

God sees you. And our Lord is glad. 

And my God, it is HARD to do the next right thing, when so much is changing, day by day! We are trying to make a path forward towards that divine vision of all gathered on God's holy mountain. We hope the tools and resources below will help you and your community take a few steps closer towards maintaining justice, doing what is the next right thing and doing the work is yours to do. 

Read on for resources for churches on:

In hope,
Revs. Laura, Meagan, Kenneth, and Carrington

PS: Selah- In the spirit of the Psalmist taking a breath "selah," we too are going to take some space to breathe and hopefully come back refreshed and prepared for the next season of ministry. The Massachusetts Council of Churches will be closed for two weeks from Sat August 23 through Labor Day Monday September 7, reopening Tuesday September 8. No one will be checking email or responding to calls during this time. In recognition of the ways staff and volunteer leaders have been working exceedingly hard during the previous 5 months and enduring much, we need time for respite and refreshment if we are to "hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to his people." 

The return to schools during the dual pandemics of COVID19 and systemic racism is raising complex practical and communal decisions for individual workers, students, families and churches, and has the possibility of increasing divisions in our already unequal educational system. How do we as the Church best support just decisions and creative responses amidst such brokenness?

To support pastors and Church leaders in making decisions right for their communities and towards God's kindom to come, the Massachusetts Council of Churches has organized a series of two web conversations about churches and schools; first, a conversation to spark our memory and prophetic imagination and then a conversation to attend to the practical and pragmatic needs of schools and students. Both conversations will be streamed live to Facebook.com/MassCouncilofChurches 

Join Rev. Dr. Almeda Wright for a conversation about the history and legacy of churches and education, especially the  "radical pedagogy" of Black Church traditions. This conversation aims to spark our prophetic imagination of what our churches might be called to now. We aim to remember the past so we can reimagine a future that is more just, more holy and with more equity for all of God's children.  Dr. Wright is an Associate Professor of Religious Education at Yale Divinity School, having also served as a classroom teacher.

Join Rev. Kenneth Young and leaders from the Boston Public School system for a statewide conversation about what pastors need to know from school administration about their challenges during this pandemic. We will hear from Monica Roberts, Chief of Family, Student, and Advancement; Cyntoria Grant, Director of Family and School Partnership; Mary Driscoll, Elementary School Superintendent. What do school administrators wish local clergy knew? What kind of help is actually helpful? What programs either in Boston or statewide can we look to as possible examples of productive partnerships? And what did we learn from the shutdown in the spring that can help shape our response this fall? 
    Are you looking for mental health resources to support your congregation or yourself?  MassSupport Network provides free community outreach and support services to residents of all ages across the state in response to the unprecedented public health crisis, COVID-19. This Crisis Counseling Program is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and managed in partnership between the MA Department of Mental Health and Riverside Trauma Center, a program of Riverside Community Care.

    MassSupport’s anonymous, confidential, and free program features:
• One-to-one, short-term, confidential support for individuals (all ages) and families.
• Psycho-educational presentations on a range of topics including: common reactions to highly stressful events, helping children manage in hard times, stress management and others upon request.
• Consultation and group support for schools, businesses, organizations and communities.

    Find out more at www.MassSupport.org!  We will add a link to these resources to our COVID-19 webpage as well. 

    Join us on Wednesday August 19 at 3pm Facebook Live session with Rev. Meagan to learn more about what Mass Support is offering, and save August 27 for a statewide town hall about children and youth mental health as our kids face the new school year.

As trusted messengers in the community, faith leaders have a unique position to encourage census participation. Faith leaders can powerfully communicate the message that responding to the 2020 Census is an act of faith that shows your love for your neighbor because an accurate count ensures access to quality schools, hospitals, roads and services that make a difference in people’s lives. They can also affirm the God-given dignity of each person. Bringing the Census into worship provides a space for reflection on the values that call us to be counted and share with your community the importance of the census.

Please, share this slide in your worship service, through your church newsletter and on your church's social media. The Census will end count on Sept 30, one month earlier than previously stated. This news raises the urgency of our collective work! 

Google Slide to include in your online worship.  
For more information, click HERE for the Faithful Census toolkit. 
Church, rejoice in some good news! This week, we opened the mail to find TWO anonymous contributions of $5,000 each to the One Church Fund!  These funds come at such a critical time because with the loss of additional federal support for unemployed individuals, families are hurting and turning to churches. Our colleagues at the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy coalition found among immigrant families, "59% of the households reported they don't have enough food to eat. Among households with at least one undocumented family member, that jumps to 78%." Churches are trusted sources of support in times of struggle, and the One Church Fund is designed to support the Black, immigrant and unhoused churches providing these essential services. 

Giving to the One Church Fund is one way that you can express your gratitude to God and share what you have so all have enough. We are thrilled and overjoyed to see that together we've raised nearly $140,000.00, FIVE times our original goal.  And we're not the only ones amazed by God's goodness and your faithfulness! See this interview that the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy did with Rev. Kenneth

There is no doubt that the intersecting crises of this year have led to organizational innovations and some remarkable changes in religious institutions. Rev. Young of the Massachusetts Council of Churches reflected on how the One Church Fund impacts the mission and practice of his own organization. He said, “We are now shifting to do work that (the Council) normally does not do.  We can build relationships with storefront churches, unhoused churches, immigrant churches; sit at the table and at least hear those stories, which is a huge shift in the ministry work we are doing.  It is a huge shift to make sure all voices are being heard.”
Let the people say, "Amen!"

masscouncilofchurches.org      |     (617) 523-2771