"Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?" ~Psalm 85:6     

Church, the word we hear most often these days when talking with church lay leaders and pastors may be "overwhelmed." We are overwhelmed with struggles, with hard decisions, with pandemics and seemingly intractable systems of interlocking oppressions. The Psalmist pleads to God for restoration, "Will you not revive us again?" As staff, we've prayed with Psalm 85 recently, and embracing the hopeful vision at the Psalm's end of what is possible, when those who love and fear the Lord turn to God: "steadfast love and faithfulness will meet: righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase." ~ Psalm 85:10-12. 

And so, even as we too are feeling overwhelmed by the complex legislative process for policing reform, the enormous challenges for families and educators in the return to school, the detrimental cuts to the 2020 Census process, and the struggles for good mental health resources, we are trying to make a path forward towards that divine vision where righteousness and peace will kiss, love and faithfulness will meet. We hope the tools and resources below will help you and your community take a few steps closer towards that vision. 

Read on for resources for churches on:

  • Massachusetts Policing Reform
  • 2020 Census 
  • Metal Health Resources for Pastors

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." 
Massachusetts Policing Reform

    Since Massachusetts is still one of only four states in the nation without a statewide certification and decertification process, and over-policing remains an enduring source of pain and inequality in Black and communities of color, we urgently need Policing Reform in Massachusetts. Recognizing this urgent need and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID19 pandemic, the Legislature has extended their formal session beyond their usual July 31 deadline.  
    Since both the House and the Senate have passed Policing Reform Bills, a six person Conference Committee is working on a consensus bill.  This week, clergy in the Boston-Hartford District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church sent a letter explaining their concerns and hopes for a strong bill, writing "We recognize that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have made meaningful attempts to respond to the demands for justice in light of the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We also recognize that the respective bills miss key opportunities to address decades long policing practices that have caused harm to people in communities of color, many of whom are our congregants."  Supporting our  A.M.E. member church, MCC staff also wrote to the Conference Committee, "we write to you as Christian leaders convinced that God and history will judge us by the decisions and actions of public leaders at this moment. You who write laws can bend the arc of justice with your pens."

    Keep an eye on our Mass. Council of Churches Facebook page for the latest updates on the Legislative process and calls for advocacy. To better understand the  policing reform bill, watch this 15 minute Facebook Live conversation between Rev. Laura & Rep. Andy Vargas of Haverhill, member of the MA Black & Latino Legislative Caucus, for a better understanding of the process, how you can affect change, and what's at stake. Click on the video below:
2020 Census
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. 
Mental Health Resources for Pastors
    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.

News, Resources, and Upcoming Events:

Foundations of Christian Leadership Cohort & Grant Program:  Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School is accepting applications for their 2020-2021 cohort of Foundations of Christian Leadership, with Aug 14 deadline. This program will be conducted online. Rev. Laura will be one of the Session 1 guest lecturers and participated in the Spring cohort, where the online pedagogy was excellent. For more information on applying, visit: https://leadership.divinity.duke.edu/what-we-offer/programs/foundations-of-christian-leadership/dates-and-locations/2020-21-san-antonio/

MCC Job Board: We want to remind you that there jobs posted on the Mass. Council of Churches Job Board.  Additionally, if you are looking to hire, you can post a job on our job board too. 

Spiritual Director Trainings: Two Massachusetts organizations have upcoming August 15 deadlines for their spiritual director training. St. Anthony's Shrine in Boston offers Franciscan training in the Roman Catholic tradition over two years of Saturdays with more information here.  Still Harbor's 2020-2021 cohort will be virtually gathered and more information is here

Filipov Forum: The 2020 Filipov Forum will honor Rev. June Cooper of City Mission Boston on Sunday September 20 at 4pm with a virtual forum and awards ceremony,  speaking on the topic of "Good Troublemakers Needed." Please visit alfilipov.org for more information. 

There is a Balm In Gilead: A Call to Lament Together During this complicated season of COVID 19 and escalating racial violence, this chapter by Rev. Dr. Emmett Price serves as a resource for congregations of all ethnicities are who encouraged to enter a season of lament. From our colleagues at the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience. Learn more here: https://isbce.com/resources/suggested-readings/

COVID-19 resources for Places of Worship from the City of Boston: We know that each denomination and each municipality has different recommendations, in addition to the statewide minimum safety standards.  The interfaith guidance from the City of Boston is another tool for your consideration as you and your congregation think about what it takes to safely return to buildings, given the ways COVID-19 spreads and the populations under our care. 
A Daily Examen for Living as an AntiRacist Person: The idea of an "examen" comes from the traditions of Ignatian spirituality founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It's a way of reflecting on one's practices daily.  Vernée Peacock Wilkinson, a Black Spiritual Director, Diversity Equity and Inclusion consultant, and lay leader at Reservoir Church in Cambridge and Dr. Ted Wueste, a white Spiritual Director and Pastor in Arizona  have worked together to create "A Daily Examen For Living as an AntiRacist Person" Read and use this in your daily practice here: 

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