Moderator’s Message: November 15, 2016

jr-finneyWhile the presidential election made many happy, unfortunately, the message of the winning side has made many of the people we serve in UCC not to be among them.  The despair, angry and fear of many is very visible and all too noticeable.  I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that as a gay African American male, I’m among them. It was hard to watch the results of this first nation election that took take place since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. It alarming to think of the possibility of 20 million plus people now facing the danger of losing health insurance. And it downright frightening to consider the threat to civil liberties on the horizon for the communities I serve.
Yet I’m reminded of the famous words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first Inaugural Address in 1933: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself -nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Regardless of one’s partisanship, these words still ring true today. The UCC, having stood on the right side of every social justice issue, is now needed more than ever before to help convert the retreat of fear that many of our people now face, into an advancement of hope.
The work, mission and message of our National Church and Southeast Conference is more imperative than ever as a lifeline of hope. But it requires the efforts of our individual members supporting their local congregation’s ministries with their time, talents, and gifts. It also includes local congregations having a global outlook supporting the ministries of the Conference and wider church through the 5 for 5ministries, especially the “Our Church’s Wider Mission (OWCM).
With many facing discernable fear, it’s vital that our message of being part of God’s continuing testament, embracing all kinds of communities is heard, “Because God is still speaking!”  Likewise, it’s also vital that the UCC, SEC and our local churches have the support needed to continue our extravagant welcome extending hospitality as a sign of God’s inclusive love.  In the face of fear, people need to hear the message that “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here … ‘Because God is still speaking!‘”
Finally, it’s essential we all support the UCC, SEC and our local congregations in helping those among us to “never (allow their fear to) place a period where God has placed a comma.” As people of faith, we still believe in the hope that’s found in being part of God’s continuing testament. Let’s convert the retreat of fear into an advancement of hope, trusting in God’s love, mercy and grace. But it takes all of us, supporting the efforts to ensure that “God is still speaking,” is heard.