SOMESVILLE UNION MEETING HOUSE, UCC

An Open & Affirming, Just Peace Church on Mt. Desert Island, Maine


SOMESVILLE UNION MEETING HOUSE IS A JUST PEACE CHURCH

JUST PEACE RESOURCES AT SUMH


 Just Peace News in Maine...

See the Maine Peace, Justice and Environmental Network calendar of events for activities in our area and statewide. The MPJEN website also includes petitions, forums, blogs, multimedia resources, and more.

The Maine Nonviolent Communication Network is dedicated to bringing the values 
of compassion and empathy to families, schools, businesses, communities and our state.


...and the World

Witness for Justice (WFJ) is a weekly editorial opinion column on urgent justice issues. Its theologically-based perspective is founded on the UCC's historic commitment to justice and peace.

Churches For Middle East Peace (CMEP) works to encourage U.S. policies that promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all the people of the region. 

To learn more about our world today—graphically depicted in real time—see The World Clock and The Cost of War.


Bayard Rustin

Rev. Victor Stanley's January 19, 2014 sermon introduced many of us to
Bayard Rustin, a forgotten mentor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Transformative Justice

Victor's December 1, 2013 sermon referred to Ruth Rittenhouse Morris. Read more about this advocate of transformative justice at Quakers in the World.



A Colossal Calling

Victor's July 3, 2011 sermon, "A Colossal Calling," is a challenging reflection on Matthew 11:28-30 and Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus."



September 11 Reflections

We thank all who took part in our worship service and community events on September 11, 2012. You may view the bulletin and order of worship.

We invite you to reflect upon the September 11 Litany, Prayer of Repentance, and Vision for the Future from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

Jai Higgins' poem, Heal, is powerful and insightful. We thank Jai, a firefighter with the Bar Harbor Fire Department, for his kind permission to include his poem here. 

Our service included the reading of the names of those who perished in the September 11 attacks:




On January 27, 2008, SUMH became a Just Peace Church. We invested two years in a process that prepared us to cast an informed vote. The United Church of Christ has asked us to help develop a workbook for other churches to follow so they can join the Just Peace Movement.

There is information about Just Peace and Mission Outreach on the bulletin boards in the Parish House. Our library in the Parish House has a growing number of Peace With Justice resources, including Just Peace books for adults and children, DVD’s, audio and video tapes, UCC resolutions, articles, booklets, and brochures. Except for the reference material on the top shelf, everything is available to be checked out. Lists of materials and the check-out sheet are on clipboards in the Just Peace section.

The Just Peace section includes Open and Affirming (ONA) books, which address issues of homosexuality, gay rights, equal marriage rights, and sexual orientation. If you wish to check out any ONA book or movie, you do not need to put your name on the check-out list. Simply put the date and the name of the item you are checking out.

The Just Peace section also includes books, articles, pamphlets, and movies about ecological justice. A green notebook contains the material we are gathering about becoming a Green Church—what we are currently doing, plans for future efforts to be “green” and lessening our carbon footprint, "green" policies, and educational materials.

If you are interested in helping us as we continue to develop a Just Peace Church, or if you have any suggestions, we welcome your input!

Peace With Justice Task Group: Molly Lyman, Margaret Burnett, David Stillman, Kelly Bellis and Rev. Victor Stanley.


RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE SOMESVILLE UNION MEETING HOUSE, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST AS A JUST PEACE CHURCH

WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ has a long history of advocacy in social justice movements, and

WHEREAS, the General Synod has adopted numerous social justice oriented identity Resolutions and Pronouncements such as Calling Upon the United Church of Christ to Become Open and Affirming (1), Calling Upon the United Church of Christ to Become a Multiracial and Multicultural Church (2), Pronouncement on Being a Just Peace Church (3), Calling Upon the United Church of Christ to Be Accessible to All (4), Calling Upon the United Church of Christ to Become an Anti-racist Church (5), and Calling Upon the United Church of Christ to Support a Denomination-wide Peace with Justice Movement (6), and

WHEREAS, General Synod 24 affirmed the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence (7) and encouraged our churches to become involved in the Decade, and WHEREAS, we affirm the reality that peace cannot be possible if injustice of any kind exists, and

WHEREAS, every effort to transform unjust conditions and social inequities contributes to the creation of non-violence and peace, and

WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ is a recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) of the United Nations and participates as such to address global issues and advocates for initiatives to bring peace and justice in the world, and

WHEREAS, the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ became a Just Peace Conference (8), and

WHEREAS, the Somesville Union Meeting House, United Church of Christ is committed to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Biblical mandates for justice and peace, and

WHEREAS, the Somesville Union Meeting House, United Church of Christ has a long history of support of justice and peace issues, including support for relief organizations and aid programs, becoming an Open and Affirming Congregation (9), consistently supporting the five special mission offerings of the United Church of Christ, making our facilities accessible to all, and affirming the Marriage Equality Resolution of General Synod 25(10), and

WHEREAS, the Somesville Union Meeting House, United Church of Christ has been engaged in a year long process of prayer, education, and study to discern whether or not to become a Just Peace Church. Because we profess a faith that is the product of a loving God, we understand God’s call as being a universal call to peace and justice. As we adopt the designation, Just Peace Church, we take our place at the table of God where people of faith commit themselves to work out the details of God’s desire to bring justice and peace to our world. The possibilities of this God-envisioned community are endless and always unfolding. We pledge our lives and resources to the following ways that this community will flourish:
  • Promoting respect for and affirming the sanctity of all human life
  • Creating ways to meet the basic human needs of all people
  • Seeking an immediate end to the institution of war
  • Calling for an immediate end to violence in all of its forms
  • Advocating for civil rights of equality, safety, and freedom from oppression
  • Working toward economic justice and a reduction in materialism
  • Protecting the ecological integrity of the Earth
As a congregation, we will make these changes through our
  • Spiritual awareness, worship, prayer, and daily devotion to God.
  • Commitment to nonviolent language and interaction.
  • Theological education, Biblical study, and children’s ministries that accurately interpret our belief in a God of love, peace, and justice. Our readings, textbooks, liturgy and hymns must be nonviolent in content.
  • Stewardship that supports our local ministries and mission as well as the peace and justice work of the United Church of Christ and others, both religious and secular. Living witness in our community and wherever the light of God’s presence is needed and can be exhibited through word and action
Alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we take our stand at the mountaintop looking into the Promised Land. It will take years, perhaps generations, to get there, but we share the dream and join the effort that will lead us to the world God wants for all people.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Somesville Union Meeting House, United Church of Christ, already identified as an Opening and Affirming Church, be further identified as a Just Peace Church.

The foregoing Resolution was passed by congregational vote by members of the Somesville Union Meeting House, United Church of Christ at the church’s Annual Meeting on January 27, 2008.

NOTES:

1-6. Available in the Just Peace section of the church library.
7. Available in the Just Peace section of the library and at Overcoming Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace.
8. Available in the Just Peace section of the church library..
9. The Open and Affirming Statement may be found inside the front cover of the church hymnal, in the back of the sanctuary, and in the Parish House.


BACKGROUND

AFFIRMING THE SOMESVILLE UNION MEETING HOUSE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
AS A JUST PEACE CHURCH

“ ‘Courage in the struggle for justice and peace’ is one of the most powerful affirmations in the United Church of Christ (UCC) Statement of Faith. It is central to the identity of our church. It is one of our most ardent prayers and richest blessings. To be part of the United Church of Christ is to be part of the struggle for justice and peace.” (11)

“The Thirteenth General Synod called upon the United Church of Christ to become a Peace Church and the Fourteenth General Synod asked a Peace Theology Development Team to recommend to the Fifteenth General Synod theology, policy, and structure for enabling the United Church of Christ to be a peacemaking church. This pronouncement is based on insights from all three of the historic approaches of Christians to the issues of war and peace—pacifism, just war, and crusade—but attempts to move eyond these traditions to an understanding rooted in the vision of shalom, linking peace, and justice. Since Just War criteria itself now rules out war under modern conditions, it is imperative to move beyond Just War thinking to the theology of a Just Peace.” (12)

“Through actions of the General Synod, the United Church of Christ in all of its settings has been encouraged to adopt specific identities which reflect the growing diversity of our denomination and our deepened understanding of God’s call to an extravagant welcome. The UCC has proclaimed that we are a Multiracial, Multicultural and Multi-ethnic Church, an Open and Affirming Church, a Church Accessible to All, a Just Peace Church, and an Anti-racist Church...General Synod 23 affirmed our participation in the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence program. The history of the UCC is one of prophetic witness to the gospel and active engagement with the world in which we live, a world that presents changing realities and needs generation to generation. No true peace is possible without the presence of justice. A 21st century peace with justice movement in the UCC will provide increased connection among local churches, conferences, associations, individual members, and the national setting of the UCC to strengthen our ministries of witness and outreach as we work together to realize that other world we believe is possible.” (13)

“When Justice and Witness Ministries became one of the four Covenanted Ministries of the UCC in 2000, the opportunity to work together on social justice issues in a collaborative way led to greater understanding of the intersection of these issues. We were reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, ‘True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force – tension, confusion, or war; it is the presence of some positive force – justice, good will and brother[sister]hood.’ To work for peace, one must address racial and economic justice as well. To work for peace, one must address disparities in the public school system, a culture of consumerism, access to health care, affordable housing, job training, and ending all forms of discrimination. To work for peace with justice, one must address the systemic forms of oppression which have created inequality, rampant corporate greed, and environmental racism.” (13)

“The Decade to Overcome Violence names the truth that we live in a culture of violence. We are often attracted to violence as well as repelled by it. In order to create a culture of non-violence, a whole range of social injustices and disparities must be addressed so that the earth and all that dwell within are respected… Work to end racism in all of its insidious forms contributes to a culture of non-violence and peace. Work to end the destruction of the environment and to seek sustainable futures contributes to a culture of non-violence and peace. Work to end violence against women and to seek women’s full equality in society here and around the world contributes to a culture of non-violence and peace. Work to make all places of worship, work, home and the marketplace accessible to all contributes to a culture of non-violence and peace. Work to end the devastating effects of globalization and to seek paths of economic cooperation and equitable distribution of resources contributes to a culture of non-violence and peace. Work to end human rights violations and violence and discrimination against persons because of their sexual orientation contributes to creating a culture of von-violence and peace. Work to end poverty and to provide equal opportunities for meaningful work, safe communities, full access to medical care, and quality public education for all children contributes to a culture of nonviolence and peace.” (13)

“Why do we seek a culture of non-violence and peace? We strive for social justice because we believe … Jesus Christ calls upon us to break down the ‘dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us’ (Ephesians 2:14) which keeps us from living in harmony and peace with each other. We strive for this because we believe that another world is possible, a world where ‘they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks’ and when ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation nor shall they learn war any more.’ (Isaiah 2:4) We strive for peace with justice because of the Great Commandment which Jesus gave us: to love God with all of our hearts and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We strive for peace with justice because of the prophetic and pastoral witness of our faith over the ages which constantly calls God’s people back into right relationship with each other and with God.” (13)

“A Just Peace is grounded in covenant relationship. God calls us into covenant, God’s gift of friendship: ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.’ (Ezekiel 37:26) When God’s abiding presence is embraced, human well-being results, or Shalom, which can be translated Just Peace.” (12)

“A Just Peace is grounded in the community of reconciliation: the Just Peace Church. Jesus, who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), performed signs of forgiveness and healing and made manifest that God’s reign is for those who are in need. The church is a continuation of that servant manifestation. As a Just Peace Church, we embody a Christ fully engaged in human events. The church is thus a real countervailing power to those forces that divide, that perpetuate human enmity and injustice, and that destroy.” (12)

“Just Peace is grounded in hope. Shalom is the vision that pulls all creation toward a time when weapons are swept off the earth and all creatures lie down together without fear; where all have their own fig tree and dwell secure from want. As Christians, we offer this conviction to the world: Peace is possible.” (12)

NOTES:

11. Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (ed)., A Just Peace Church
13. Another World is Possible: A Peace with Justice Movement in the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries