Justice & Mercy

Better Health, Better Lives: Health Justice Speaker Series

Presented by Saint Paul UMC Health Justice Team
Advocating, educating and promoting a healthful life for all God’s people!

Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.

Bone Health and Fracture Prevention

October 12
Dr. Alesha Scott, D.O., Medical Director of Orthopedic Trauma, Bryan Health

Dr. Alesha Scott attended medical school at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine prior to completing an orthopedic surgical residency at Michigan State University. She concluded her training with an orthopedic trauma fellowship at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Scott joined Bryan Trauma in the fall of 2017 and currently serves as Orthopedic Trauma Medical Director.

Building Health Equity in Lincoln

October 19
Emily Gratopp, M.S., ACSM-CPT(ACSM-Certified Personal Trainer)

Emily Gratopp is an associate Extension educator for the University of Nebraska Extension. She primarily works with Nebraska’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program, striving to co-learn with limited-resource audiences and increase nutrition security. Emily also coordinates Well Connected Communities in her community through training volunteers, gathering a health equity coalition, amplifying community voices, and sparking community action to build health equitably for all.

Emily received her Bachelor of Science in nutrition and health sciences and her Master of Science in leadership education and community nutrition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a graduate certificate as a Youth Development Specialist. Emily’s interests include engaging diverse audiences, learning about new cultures and exploring innovative ways to engage communities toward health.

Balanced Activity for Kids

October 26
Gayle Resh, CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist)

Gayle Resh is a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist. She is currently employed full-time at Southlake Village Rehabilitation & Care Center as the Life Enrichment Coordinator ensuring quality of life through purposeful and meaningful pursuits.

Gayle received her Bachelor of Science in education from University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1983, and her Master of Arts in therapeutic recreation from University of Nebraska–Omaha in 1990. She has served on various foundations and boards in the Lincoln community, including serving as past president of both the Nebraska Therapeutic Recreation Association and the Nebraska Recreation & Park Association.

Keeping Hearts Happy

November 2
Dr. Ross Pacini, M.D., Invasive Cardiologist

Dr. Ross Pacini is a cardiologist with Bryan Heart. As an invasive cardiologist, Dr. Pacini specializes in a variety of testing and treatments to help individuals with any sort of heart disease and/or heart condition.

Dr. Pacini is a native of Grand Junction, Colorado. He earned his medical degree from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Pacini completed his internal medicine residency at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He then continued his training with a cardiovascular disease fellowship at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.

Prior to joining Bryan Heart, Dr. Pacini was in private practice in the Grand Junction area for over 9 years. Dr. Pacini, his wife, Milly, and their three daughters relocated to Lincoln at the start of the school year.

Many of us take our excellent health care system in Lincoln for granted. But why is there a 20-year life-expectancy difference between citizens who live in downtown Lincoln vs. citizens who live in southeast Lincoln?

That question is best answered by understanding the concepts of Equity and Equality. Equality means each person gets the same thing, whereas Equity means each person gets what they need. Think of it this way: if bicycles were assigned to citizens under a model of equality, each bicycle would be the same size, type, and shape. Under an equitable system, this one-size-fits-all approach is modified to meet the needs of the individual. Some might need a bigger bicycle, some a smaller bicycle, and some might need a bicycle with training wheels. An equitable system can bend to meet the needs of the individual, whereas an equal system asks the individual to do the bending.

The health care needs of Lincoln’s downtown residents are simply not being met. Those shortfalls may be related to lack of access to health care, preventive medicine, substance abuse treatment, mental health care treatment, nutrition, prenatal care, or a number of other areas within the healthcare system.

This spring we have been listening to the fabulous sermon series of Pastor Jed Linder, who has been teaching us about the book of Acts and the Disciples’ idea of “radical generosity.” “Radical Generosity” can be explained as choosing Equity over Equality. We learned that a true Christian community gives to others according to their needs, not according to their value. In an ideal Christian community, equity, not equality is both the goal and the result.

Interested in learning more about the concepts of Equity vs. Equality?
Here’s a great article by UNL extension educator Emily Gratopp, MS.

So what can we do now to ease the healthcare gap that exists in Lincoln? Here’s a list of referral resources that currently exist for all individuals:

a) The 211 helpline is a free service that refers callers to non-emergency health & human services in Nebraska, including housing assistance, clothing, food pantries/meal sites, shelters, counseling, health clinics, employment, financial assistance, and transportation.
DIAL: 2-1-1
TEXT: 898211

b) MyLink is an app (and website) which provides a comprehensive list of resources available in the Lincoln community, including food, housing, health, disability, children and family, senior services, LGBTQ, refugee, and immigrant, legal, prison re-entry, financial, education, military and veteran, recreation and cultural centers and transportation. MyLink is available in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese. mylink.app

c) Clinic with a Heart clinicwithaheart.org — is a faith-inspired organization that serves people who are uninsured and underinsured through a ministry of healthcare. Volunteers provide free healthcare services, including medical, dental, chiropractic, physical therapy, mental health, vision, hearing, dermatology, and spiritual services. Saint Paul UMC is a sponsor of Clinic with a Heart, donating both financially and in volunteer time and commitment to the organization.

Dust off those sneakers for fun and fitness! Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. It’s low impact, requires no gym membership or equipment, and can be done at your own pace and schedule. You can walk with a friend, spouse, or dog, with some good music, or in solitary meditation, contemplation, or prayer. Walking is an underrated form of exercise.
Click here to read “6 Common Walking Myths, Busted:”

Walking in nature has added benefits to improve your mood and reduce stress. Visit a nearby park or explore some of the 134 miles of trails in our city. Click here for an interactive map of Lincoln trails.

Or if you’re looking to challenge yourself with a walking goal, check this out.

However you chose to walk, it’s good for your body, mind, and spirit.

Health Equity within our state is largely determined by legislative and financial matters. One member of the Health Justice committee, Steve Dunbar, is actively monitoring the Nebraska Unicameral and keeping us informed on their actions as it relates to health care. We must remain informed and involved to seek justice in our community! Watch for more updates.

Racial Justice Speaker Series

America has awakened to issues surrounding racial and social justice not experienced since the civil rights movement. As a country, a state, a city and a church, we are questioning how to promote racial justice. Is progress being made toward acting in ways that promote equity among all people?

These four seminars will examine the history of race and racism in America, the experiences of racial minorities in the United Methodist Church and the City of Lincoln, and the ways parents deal with race in raising their children. This series will highlight how people might expand the dialogue about race relations now and in the future.

Climate Justice

CLIMATE CHANGE: Why We Must Care and What We Can Say

Thursday, October 28 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is well known for her ability to connect action on climate change to values, whether those values are love of God’s creation, love for children and grandchildren, or something else. As a highly regarded climate scientist, she has also learned the best ways to have respectful, persuasive conversations about climate change. She will highlight key points of her new book, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” released on September 21.

Zoom Live Stream: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84411113968


Thursday, November 4 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Dr. Don Wilhite, UNL Professor Emeritus and internationally known climate scientist, will review basics and discuss what climate scientists have learned in the last year. Record high temperatures and heat domes, record low temperatures and stalled Arctic jet streams, floods and droughts — all are evidence of a changing climate. Learn what we know about our future based on the past year, and brush up on the basics of climate change science.

Zoom Live Stream: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81544716916

Climate Change Information

1.In early August the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released its latest assessment of that issue.  While the full report is over 3000 pages in length, a 41 page “Summary for Policymakers” provides extensive information about the current status of global warming and its causes, a number of scenarios about how quickly or slowly we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and what impacts on numerous aspects of our lives can be expected under each of those scenarios.  The report has excellent charts and graphs that depict those potential consequences.  It can be found at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf.

2.The team decided that it was time to highlight some of the energy and resource conservation measures that were on the 2021 Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar.  The following suggestions are especially relevant to the upcoming fall and winter seasons.

  1. When the heating season begins, turn down the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower.
  2. Check for air gaps around your doors and windows and seal them if possible.
  3. Learn about and consider subscribing to LES’s Virtual-Net Metering and/or Sunshares programs.

3. Check out the following educational sources found on the EPA’s website.

  1. For information on the sources and proportions of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere, take a look at: https://www.epa.gov/ghemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases. 
  2. To calculate your own carbon footprint and see which of your activities are causing the most emissions, do the fun activity found at: https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator. 
  3. To learn about emissions globally, by type of gas being emitted, by economic sector and by country, see: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data. 

4.Arguments are still being made about whether electric vehicles result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions when their manufacture and disposal are also considered.  For an excellent article about how much lower emissions are with an EV, read: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/07/electric-cars-have-much-lower-life-cycle-emissions-new-study-confirms/

5.A blog about plastic bags and the damage they cause can be seen at: https://blog.padi.com/2017/03/27/7-facts-plastic-bags-will-change-way-use/. 

6. An article about divestment in fossil fuels in the New Yorker magazine can be found at: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-powerful-new-financial-argument-for-fossil-fuel-divestment. 

7.Composting of food waste and other organic materials is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The City of Lincoln’s website has several items of interest about composting including how to do it ourselves and what is available commercially in that regard.  It can be easily accessed by going to: https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/home and by searching for “compost.”  The UNL Extension Service also has made a lot of helpful information about composting available at: https://extension.unl.edu and by searching for “compost” there as well.  

  • Decoding the Weather Machine – A documentary outlining what is happening scientifically to our planet because of the addition of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and what options exist for reducing the increases in global warming.
  • “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – A poem recited by National Youth Poet Laureate. 

Mission and Ministry: Mercy


This year, the community of Saint Paul has come together to form the Justice and Mercy team (JaM), which heads up our community activism and service outreach.As we begin our justice work, we have currently formed three teams focusing on important areas of concern for Saint Paul, and the Methodist church as a whole: Climate Justice, Health Justice, and Racial Justice.

These teams will reach out to our surrounding community, fundraise, hold events, educate, and amplify the voices of those who are marginalized. We have also begun to merge the amazing work of our previous Missions Ministry into our JaM team, as we continue to donate our time, talents, and resources to help those in need.

If you have any questions or would like to join as part of this effort, contact Mackenzie Marrow at [email protected]

If you are interested in racial justice resources visit greatplainsumc.org/racial-justice.

Food Ministries

Saint Paul UMC is part of the Lincoln Food Bank backpack feeding program. Food is distributed weekly to an elementary school.
Twice-weekly free lunch distributed through our partnership with Lulu’s
Monthly food preparation for Matt Talbot
Food bags given from our pantry to Cornerstone and to those in need as available
Participation in Crop Walk and Heifer International annually


Saint Paul supports the Interfaith Housing Coalition and the residents of the President and Ambassador Apartments. Our support of this mission effort will provide a Christmas treat for all residents.

Songs of Mercy and Justice Hymn Festival

Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ

  • Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
  • Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
  • Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
  • Preaching justice
  • SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
  • We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.

We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church.  Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology.  They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.

  • Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group.  One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice.  We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
  • We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
  • Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
  • Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).

Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus:  racial justice, ecological justice, and health care.  Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.