WE BELIEVE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER Get Involved

1963-2023
What Has Changed?
Why Has It Changed?
What is the same?  
 What Must/Can We Do?   

November 28, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

On December 3, via zoom, from 10:30 am to noon, we will gather to discuss the above questions. To request the zoom link to join the conversation email racialequitybuddies@fhcpresb.org. Our hosts and leaders for this event are Chiquita Montgomery and ivy tillman.

Maya Angelou’s inspirational poem Still I Rise reminds us that despite the difficult past, and the present difficult times we still rise. Join us on this equity journey and help us rise.

Following are a few pictures that capture the human rights struggle of the 1960s to the present. Collectively, they raise the question of how much this nation has changed; which begs the last question above “what can/must we do”.

After the pictures are excerpts from 1) a speech by Governor George Wallace of Alabama; 2) the Kerner Report; 3) Dr. King’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail”, and 4) a speech by Malcolm X entitled “The Ballot or The Bullet”. 

African American Woman Being Carried to Police Patrol Wagon During Demonstration, Brooklyn, New York, USA, Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram & Sun, 1963.

Birmingham, AL: Demonstrating students wave a Confederate flag as they chant and jeer outside West End High School. Three Birmingham schools were...

Leeds United Kingdom Jun 2020 Photos Black Lives Matter Protest Stock Image

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Demonstrators hold up signs as they participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington DC, August 28, 1963. Among the visible...

Photograph of Carolyn House, Brenda Officer, Paul Anderson, and other people at an African American Civil Rights sit-in segregation protest at John A...

Free Protesters Holding Signs Stock Photo

1963 Governor George  Wallace: “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever” In his 1963 Inaugural Address  Alabama Governor George Wallace made the above infamous declaration.“ Here is a one-minute YOUTUBE clip of Wallace speaking those hateful words. His remarks are chilling.

George Wallace’s “Segregation Forever” Speech – YouTube

1968 Kerner Report 

“Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.

What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget–is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.

It is time now to turn with all the purpose at our command to the major unfinished business of this nation. It is time to adopt strategies for action that will produce quick and visible progress. It is time to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizens-urban and rural, white and black, Spanish-surname, American Indian, and every minority group.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter From A Birmingham Jail    We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

1963 El Hajj Malik Shabazz, aka, Malcolm X “The Ballot or The Bullet”

“America is the only country in history in a position to bring about a revolution without violence and bloodshed. But America is not morally equipped to do so.

Why is America in a position to bring about a bloodless revolution? Because the Negro in this country holds the balance of power, and if the Negro in this country were given what the Constitution says he is supposed to have, the added power of the Negro in this country would sweep all of the racists and the segregationists out of office. It would change the entire political structure of the country. It would wipe out the Southern segregationism that now controls America’s foreign policy, as well as America’s domestic policy.

And the only way without bloodshed that this can be brought about is that the black man has to be given full use of the ballot in every one of the fifty states. Both the book club and Racial Equity Buddies Program are co-sponsored by The First Congregational Church of Hudson (UCC) and The Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth (Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian).  Other groups, organizations, and institutions are invited to co-sponsor these events. To do so, please respond to this email: racialequitybuddies@fhcpresb.org.                                                               

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First Week of Advent: Hope

November 28, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Hope knows where it needs to go

By Jean Reinhold

Maybe you’ll fly to Orlando

to have the best dinner conversation

of your life. Maybe you’ll drive

to Erie just to say happy birthday,

noticing the blazing trees, wishing

they could be the gift you give.

Maybe you’ll answer the phone

in the middle of the night because

someone needs you, then get out

of bed to really listen. Curl yourself

onto the floor, the phone beading

her words into your bones.

God is revealed in details. Today,

it hit you, all of the movement,

the way God made them walk to the

holy land. Mary, Joseph, the wise men.

We must leave ourselves, slither

out of routine.  We must venture

outside of the known to know.

God is saying to us – find and follow

your star, there is a distance to travel

and it will not be easy. Life is mapped

out by your veins, hope knows where

it needs to go.  Walk your way to the edge,

knowing you’re sure to come home

a different way.

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From the Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth:

November 28, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Advent is a time of waiting, anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ in a physical body just like ours. Christians everywhere and throughout time have used Advent to reflect, to deepen their experience of God coming to us in the flesh.

For Advent this year, the members of the Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth have decided to try something different. In the past, we have offered special Sunday morning Advent classes as a way for people could enhance their spiritual growth. However, many people find attending Sunday morning classes difficult or not appealing. We know that such classes reach only a small portion of our worshiping community.

At our most recent meeting, we considered ways to reach out to the entire church community during Advent. We decided to have an Advent Email each week on Monday morning, with a reflection about the theme of the week and its application to everyday life. We know that our fellow church member, Jean Reinhold, has written wonderfully poetic Advent reflections. So we asked, and Jean has generously agreed that we can use her writings for our Advent emails this year.

Each week during Advent, you will receive an emailed reflection by Jean on the theme of the week from the Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth. You will find the first Advent email, on the theme of Hope, on the next page. We hope that you will read and re-read this reflection throughout the week as a way of deepening your experience of this time of waiting.

from Ann Williams and the entire Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth

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Fall Festival

August 30, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Mark your calendars for Sunday, SEPTEMBER 18th.

We will have a picnic lunch ready for you after church.

Yummy food, games for the kids, and a wonderful time with members. 

If you and your family would like to join, please RSVP using this link: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/40ce9179.

~Kitty McWilliams

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Minutes of May 17, 2022 FHC Immigration Task Force Meeting

May 25, 2022 Julie Lustic

Attending: Gary and Julie Lustic, Steve Sedam, Sharon Shumaker, Quentin Smith, Nonie Stack, Virginia Weiss

Anne and Jeff Smith were unable to attend this evening. To help keep the task force informed, Jeff sent a couple of emails in advance of the meeting. They are summarized here:

The church continues to receive monthly donations of $100 from a person who lives in Twinsburg. She has faithfully been donating to the Sanctuary Fund in support of Leonor for a few years. Another person donated $500 to the Sanctuary Fund at the end of March. With funds available, Jeff is able to send Leonor Garcia financial support monthly. He believes the balance in the Sanctuary Fund remains at $1,209.

Emmanuel has been working a fair amount so he has money for his personal living expenses. Jeff asked for ideas on how Emmanuel’s iPhone can be inexpensively upgraded to at least an iPhone 7, either through a purchase or donation. 

The task force met on Zoom for an hour. Here is a summary of their deliberations.

The Task Force supports the purchase or donation of a new iPhone for Emmanuel. 

Sharon spoke to Leonor Garcia recently. Things seem to be going well in general. The application for Jose is proceeding. Eric is graduating from high school soon. Leonor wants to do another party like what was done for her wedding last fall but have this party be for Eric and Aidan; Eric in honor of his high school graduation and in celebration of Aidan’s birthday this summer. Details forthcoming.

Task Force members were asked for their evaluation of Bringing the Border Home. Their reaction was uniformly positive. Steve and Sharon presented a list of possible follow-up activities for the task force to consider as follow-up to Bringing the Border Home. There was consensus for:

Task Force will discuss in more depth later:

The next meeting of the Immigration Task Force is July 23 at 7 p.m.

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Youth Group Reaches New Heights!

October 26, 2021 Amy Wheatley

Forest Hill Youth Group members (and three brave adults) had fun climbing at Shaker Rocks on Sunday Oct 24!

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Burkina Faso 3 Updates

August 13, 2021 Julie Lustic

Issoufou, Idrissa, and Emmanuel have found many interests to keep them busy this summer.

They have had numerous landscaping jobs with both members and friends of members of Forest Hill Church. With each new job they are gaining confidence in their use of the English language, at least in the area of gardening. They now know about weeds, roots, edging, rototilling, shoveling yards of leaf mulch and soil, turning over beds, trimming bushes and planting. They have tidied up many a garden.

They have also been working hard at learning English. With both morning and afternoon ESL lessons with our dedicated volunteers several times a week, they are able to communicate quite well.

They have also been playing pickup soccer and riding their bikes around town. Here are a few pictures of them hard at work.

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Allied Organizations

July 16, 2021 Julie Lustic

InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF)

irtfcleveland.org

The InterReligious Task Force on Central America brings together people from various faith and secular communities to act in solidarity with oppressed peoples in southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia through consciousness-raising and direct consumer and political advocacy to build long-term structural change.

HOLA Ohio

holatoday.org

HOLA Ohio is based in Painesville with a mission to improve quality-of-life opportunities and empower the Latino community through outreach, education, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and skills development.

American Making Immigrants Safe (AMIS)

amisohio.org

The mission of AMIS is to inspire hope and contribute to the well-being of immigrants and families as they seek legal status in the United States by assisting with resources for legal services, education, basic living expenses, and self-sufficiency.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

acluohio.org

The ACLU of Ohio is an affiliate of the national ACLU. Founded in 1920, the national ACLU includes more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, making it our country’s foremost advocate of individual rights.

Cleveland Jobs with Justice

clevelandjwj.org

Cleveland Jobs with Justice is a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations working together to promote workers’ rights in the Cleveland area through collective action.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

https://mcc.org/learn/what/categories/immigration

Mennonite Central Committee in the U.S. helps to educate about immigration issues, advocates for sensible humane immigration laws, works to build peace in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and provides documentation services to help immigrants navigate the complex immigration system.

The Advocacy Program of the Latin American and Caribbean (LACA) region of MCC facilities

https://www.mcclaca.org/latin-america-thecaribbean-laca-region/

MCC LACA facilitates contextual analysis, strategic planning for advocacy, organizational strengthening, and strategic connections between partners.  It supports local and national advocacy action with partners and churches in the region, and with churches and constituency in Canada and the United States to address the structural causes of poverty, violence, and injustice.

Heights Friends of Immigrants (HFOI)

Heights Friends of Immigrants supports migrants and refugees locally in NE Ohio.  It provides education and takes action on various initiatives in defense and support of our immigrant sisters and brothers. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of each month in rotation at St. Dominic Church, Forest Hill Church Presbyterian, and St. Paschal Baylon Church.

Catholic Charities Cleveland

ccdocle.org

Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland administers over 165 individual programs spanning a wide range of services available to persons from all walks of life across the Diocese of Cleveland.

PCUSA Office of Immigration Issues   

https://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/immigration/

The Office of Immigration Issues was established by action of the 216th General Assembly (2004) in order to provide legal advice and counsel to mid-councils and congregations regarding immigration issues.  The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has continued to expand the work of the Office by directing the Office to coordinate advocacy and education efforts and create worship materials.

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How We Became A Sanctuary Church

July 13, 2021 Julie Lustic

During the first half of 2017, members of Forest Hill engaged Session and the Trustees around welcoming refugees and supporting non-citizen immigrants who live in our communities.  A dinner was held with US Together, an organization helping refugees.  A meeting was also held with representatives from HOLA Ohio, an organization based in Painesville that helps immigrants facing deportation.  Both Session and the Trustees supported these conversations. 

After these meetings, a two-to-three-month process for the leadership of Forest Hill Church to decide to become a Sanctuary Church and possibly hosting one or more individuals who are facing deportation was proposed.  This was to be part of the August 28 Session meeting agenda.  However, Rev. Lentz received a phone call on August 5 from HOLA relating an immediate need to provide sanctuary for an individual facing deportation.  This required this process to be fast-tracked.  A special Session meeting was called for August 6.

The individual facing deportation was from the Akron area, had been in the U.S. for over 20 years, worked, and paid taxes.  She was a homeowner.  She had no criminal record.  She had four US citizen children, ranging in age from 4 to 20.  Her oldest daughter was studying at Kent State University.  Years before, she had been given an order of deportation after a fraudulent attorney submitted a poorly done application for a green card, the process to begin a path to citizenship.  She was given a stay of removal in 2011, which allowed her to stay and work in this country.  This stay has been renewed annually at her check-ins with immigration.  When she went for her 2017 annual check-in, immigration officials, without warning, put a GPS ankle monitor on her, telling her she needed to leave the country by September.  This news devastated her family and many in the community.  

At the August 6 meeting, Session reviewed what Sanctuary from a biblical, historical, and Presbyterian perspective is.  Sanctuary is an ancient practice of providing refuge in sacred spaces from secular legal action.  There are many scriptural references to provide sanctuary, including Leviticus: “The alien living among you must be treated as one of your native-born” and Matthew: “I was a stranger, and you invited me in.”  In 2016, the PC(USA) General Assembly reaffirmed support for the ministry of sanctuary and the ethical obligations of congregations to defend a family’s integrity when faced with deportation.  The General Assembly called on congregations to provide sanctuary in appropriate circumstances to express the scriptural call to love our neighbor.  

During the Session discussion, the logistics for providing suitable living space and amenities and legal issues were reviewed.  It wasn’t known if the woman threatened with deportation would be staying at the church alone or with all or some of her children.   It was noted if we were to go forward that a good communications plan was needed for the congregation and the groups using the church and the community.  The trustees reported that they had already investigated the location and cost to install a shower.  Since the church has a full kitchen in the wing where the living quarters might be located, the woman could cook for herself, provided groceries were brought to her.  It was discussed that someone would most likely need to stay with the woman at night, as we did for our Family Promise guests.  

Following the lengthy discussion, it was moved that Forest Hill church provide Sanctuary for whatever length of time was needed to work out the woman’s legal status.  The motion was seconded.

Since this was such a significant decision, Reverend Lentz asked for other references that would help us make this momentous decision. Some of those cited included: “Lord prepare me to be a Sanctuary,” “Give me your tired and your poor,” “Let the children come to me.”

After leading all in prayer, Reverend Lentz asked the Elders to vote either “Yes, I believe this is the will of God for FHC to take this action at this time” or “No, this is not part of God’s will for FHC at this time.”

The motion was unanimously approved.

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