Justice & Mercy

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

  1. One of our team members, Nancy Flader, continues to take care of the garden areas around the church.  Plants not only beautify our wonderful building but also help to sequester carbon.  Nancy and several volunteers recently put in new native plants on the Northeast corner of the church.  The July newsletter provides details about and pictures of those plantings.  Be sure to check them out.  Better yet, plan to take a walk around the East, South and West sides of the church to see all the landscaping that Nancy is responsible for.

     

  2. Lent is behind us for this year, but the team decided that it would be good to remind ourselves of some of the energy and resource conservation measures that were on the Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar and to list other suggestions that are especially relevant to the summer season.

    To reduce water consumption, make sure that you are not overwatering your lawn.  For most lawns a thorough watering once per week is adequate;

    Reduce your energy consumption by turning up your thermostat to at least 78 degrees and plan to use fans to make the rooms feel cooler;

    Learn where your food comes from and commit to buying as much from local sources such as food markets and/or through local crop share agreements as possible;

    Make sure your vehicle is properly serviced and that the tires are properly inflated for maximum fuel efficiency; and Calculate your carbon footprint and take note of the activities that are the most carbon-intensive by using a fun tool found at https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator.

     

  3. One of the greatest contributions we can make toward reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases is to switch from gasoline-fueled vehicles to electric ones.  If you are curious about how such a vehicle might meet your needs or would just like to drive one, LES is providing the opportunity to do just that on July 24.  Check out the details at https://education.les.com/ride-drive/.

     

  4. The EPA is once again providing Americans with information about climate change.  Its new website: https://www.epa.gov/climate-change and the links found on it provide a huge amount of information about nearly all aspects of this issue.

     

  5. Bill Gates has written a book entitled “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”  We recommend reading it.  What is particularly informative about the book is that it not only describes the extent of the problem and some of the measures that we can take to address it, but also lays out clearly the current technological gaps necessary to deal with some of the most significant contributors to climate change.  As with most anything addressing this subject, it proposes actions that are controversial.  We had originally thought about arranging a book study on the book this summer, and that is still under consideration, but options are to have the book as one for the church’s non-fiction book group or perhaps have a study of it by the Paine Parlor class.  If you have thoughts about that contact Jim Cook.

     

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

     

  7. 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.

     

  8. 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.”

     

  9. Climate change has already affected the average annual number of days when the temperature hits 90 degrees or more at most locations around the globe.  If you are curious about the extent to which that has happened in Lincoln or in your hometown since the year you were born, check out this easy-to-use tool: https://nyti.ms/2Vije8b.  That article will also tell you how many greater than 90 degree days are projected for the future in that same location and at other places in the world.  
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  • 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

Opportunities

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

Housing

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.

Health Justice

Advocating, Educating and Promoting a Healthy Life for all God’s people

Equity vs. Equality in Health Care

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.

Healthcare Referral Resources

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
ne211.org


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.

Time to take a walk!

Now that it’s Spring, 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.

Watching the Nebraska Unicameral

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.

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.