Murray Church Notes

May 28, 2020

Volume 8,  Issue 41

In this Issue:


Breonna Taylor’s life mattered.
Ahmaud Arbery’s life mattered.
George Floyd’s life mattered.
Black.  Lives.  Matter.

Rev. Gretchen Weis

Black.  Lives.  Matter.  Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Emergency Medical Technical in Louisville, Kentucky.  One evening in March, three police officers barged into her apartment unannounced, with a warrant, looking for a drug dealer.  They shot Breonna eight times.  She had no relationship to the person they were looking for.  In fact, the person they were seeking had already been arrested.

Black. Lives. Matter.  Ahmaud Arbery was out jogging in Brunswick, Georgia.  Two white men – a father and son -- began to follow him in their truck.  They jumped out, chased him, wrestled with him and shot him in broad daylight.  When the local police arrived, the father and son were found at the crime scene with guns, but no arrests were made.  It wasn’t until a video of the incident surfaced nearly two months later that finally three men – the father and son, as well as the man who shot the video – were arrested and charged in Arbery’s death.  

Black.  Lives.  Matter.  On Monday evening in Minneapolis, a shop owner called police suspecting someone had just used a counterfeit $20 bill in his store.  Police arrived and arrested 46-year-old George Floyd.  Floyd was compliant and cooperative, yet he was handcuffed and thrown roughly, face down on the ground.  By-standers were filming what was happening.  A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes and refused to let up, even as Floyd gasped for air, continuing to cry out, “I can’t breathe.”  The scene was reminiscent of the police murder of Eric Gardner on Staten Island in 2014.  Horrified by-standers came forward demanding the police officer stop his kneeling choke-hold on Floyd.  The videos show the protesting crowd being beaten back by a police officer wielding a baton.  Floyd’s body became limp and unresponsive.  He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  The four officers were immediately fired, and the mayor has asked that murder charges be brought against the officer who kneeled on his neck. So far, charges have not been filed.

Black.  Lives. Matter.  Let’s name the truth of white supremacy -- we live in a system of prejudice that views black men as dangerous and violent – assumed to be up to no good, presumed to be guilty, believed to be criminal.  No arrest, no charges, no judge, no jury, no due process needed.  For many black Americans, fear of the police is real, and warranted.  Black Americans are more often targeted and disproportionately criminalized.  A simple traffic stop has the potential to turn deadly at any moment, and too often does.  

In Ijeoma Oluo’s book, “So You Want to Talk About Race?” she recounts the origins of policing in America.  Policing in this nation grew out of Night Patrols, whose principal task was to look for and capture runaway slaves and return them to the slave masters for rewards.  Historically, she notes, early American police forces were created to serve and protect white people, while charged with keeping a close eye on and controlling black, brown and Native American populations.

Amy Cooper certainly counted on systemic prejudice to criminalize an innocent black man she became irritated with on Memorial Day.  She had her dog with her in Central Park in New York City on Monday morning.  The young black man named Christian Cooper, no relation, was also in the park, bird watching.  He requested she put her dog on a leash, as required by law.  Fortunately, he turned his cell phone video on.  Ms. Cooper, who is white, was caught on camera, telling him she plans to call the police and tell them that an African-American man is threatening her life.  She makes the call, and he gets it all on film.  The police come, view the film and, fortunately, in the face of the video evidence, no charges are filed.  As the video goes viral, Ms. Cooper’s employer, Franklin Templeton Investments, fires her.  But what if Mr. Cooper hadn’t had the foresight to turn his camera on?    

Author IIjeoma Oluo notes criminalization of black and brown children begins as early as grade school.  Young children of color – especially young black boys – are branded by teachers and as violent, disruptive and unpredictable future criminals.  Too often, Oluo notes in her book, the play of black and brown children is labeled by predominantly white teachers and school administrators as aggression, while white children are seen as just simply “rough-housing.” 

Black students, Oluo notes, make up 16% of America’s school population, yet one-third of all students who are suspended and 40% of those expelled are black.  Black students are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended than white students, she notes.  And 70% of all students who are arrested in school and referred to law enforcement are black.

“When I look at these numbers,” Oluo says, “there are two possible explanations.  I can assume that our black and brown children are violent, disruptive, unpredictable future criminals who are not deserving of the same access to education as white children.  I can assume that there is something fundamentally wrong with black and brown people, something fundamentally broken that is sending our kids out of school and into prison.  Or, I can assume that the school system is marginalizing, criminalizing and otherwise failing our black and brown kids in large numbers. “

When white kids get into trouble, she observes, people don’t tend to launch into long litanies of “what’s wrong with white kids.”   There isn’t an underlying assumption that white kids always misbehave and always will.  Instead, Oluo notes, we ask things like, “What does this kid need?  What is keeping this young person from thriving?”  Too few of us ask the same questions when we see defiant or antisocial behavior coming from black and brown youth, she observes.  

Oluo laments: children of color spend eight hours a day in a system that is looking for reasons to label them as trouble, punish them, remove them,  and criminalize them.  “Our kids don’t get to be kids,” she says. “ Our kids do not get to be rambunctious, they do not get to be exuberant, they do not get to be rebellious, they do not get to be defiant.  Our kids do not get to mess up the way other kids get to.”

Black.  Lives.  Matter.  The criminalization of young men of color – particularly black men – is deeply embedded into the fabric of American life.  It can begin as early as school age, and is reflected in people’s unconscious biases, and shows up with alarming frequency in policing practices.  

The events of these past few weeks have left me alternatively heartbroken and angry.  The assumed criminalization of black men and their deaths at the hands of police must come to an end.  It begins by joining in the conversation.  By building awareness.  By speaking up at our local school board, questioning detention and expulsion statistics, speaking up for better anti-racism training.  Asking what children of color need to thrive in our schools.

It continues by questioning police arrest statistics, and speaking up for the use of body cameras and other policy changes, including encouraging other officers to speak up and disrupt abusive behavior they are witnessing from another officer.  

It involves speaking up and out against the kind of brutality and blatant racism we’ve been witnessing over the past month or so, throughout America.  These are examples of brutality we happen to know about because someone caught them on video. But this is also our job to speak up and out about the kind of brutality and blatant racism that people of color experience everywhere throughout our nation, every day.  Just because no one happens to film it, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening everywhere around us. 

Black  Lives Matter:  Please join in this all-important conversation, and help be part of the work of dismantling white supremacy.  All are invited to read chapters 9, 10 and 11, pp. 134-161 in Oluo’s book, “So You Want to Talk about Race?” and join in our next Social Concerns book discussion over Zoom on Thursday evening, June 11th at 7:00 p.m.  Be watching for the Zoom link in an upcoming issue of the church newsletter.

Please plan to join us for online worship this Sunday, where several of our congregants share their personal stories about the importance of living our values.  

As the greater Attleboro area begins to reopen back up, please continue to practice safe distancing, wear a mask out in public and, depending on your risk factors, consider that, even now, many of us remain safer at home, then back out in public.

Be well, stay safe, stay well,

Rev. Gretchen
"Living our Values" 
As Unitarian Universalists, we have values that we hold dear: social justice, treating people with dignity, and compassion in human relations, just to name a few.  But how do we react when our government or society is pushing us to act in contrast to those values?  How to do we stand up for what we believe in?  In this service led by the  Religious Services Committee, members of the Murray Church family discuss what “Living our Values” means to them. 
“We’re All in this Together, Right?” 
“We’re all in this together.”  How often have we heard that emotional sentiment over the past few months?  Yet, are we all in this, together?  As the COVID-19 drama continues to unfold, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we are not all experiencing the same danger, the same threat.  It really depends on your age, your gender, your race, your socio-economic situation, where you live, your overall health, whether you are in a profession that allows you to work from home or requires you to work out in public, including on the front lines.  This pandemic is revealing life-threatening fissures, cracks and fault lines among us, including outright denial of the dangers, precisely because we are not all in the same boat, together.

Online Worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

We will be using Zoom. Click here  by 9:45 a.m. Sunday mornings to give us all plenty of time to learn and adjust to the new technology.  

Here are directions for virtual Sunday Service. This will take you to a slide show with all the directions for setting up Zoom on your computer or other mobile device in time for the service.

Link to updated Annual Report

A few updates have been made to the 2019-2020 Annual Report.  To view the updated version, click here.

Urgent: We Need a New Treasurer!

We are still in search of a new Treasurer for the next church program year July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021. 

This is a vital position on the Executive Board, and it must be filled so that we can start training with our outgoing Treasurer right away. Full training and support will be provided to make sure you are successful. 

Please consider serving.

Thank you, 

Jim Richardi, Sheila Jacobs, Gregg LaFlamme.
May 30:

Journaling for Adults     Journalling

Are you trying to find balance and inspiration during the stresses of COVID-19? Express yourself in writing using writing prompts and writing exercises. Join Heidi Ferreira and Monica Staaf for an Adult Journaling workshop from 10 am - 11:30 am on Saturday, May 30th.  Beginners and writers of all levels of experience are welcome. 

Click here to join the Zoom Meeting
Religious Education Update for Week of May 31, 2020

RE Zoom Gatherings

Youth Group Planning
Time: May 31, 2020 1:00 PM
Click here to join in.

Youth Group Gathering
Time: June 3, 2020 4:00 PM
Click here to join in.

Parents Chat and Chai
Time: June 1, 2020 8:00 PM
Click here to join in.

June 5:
New Monthly Social Hour

The Membership and Welcoming Committee invites all Murray UU's to attend a monthly social hour on the first Friday of each month. Join our Zoom meeting with the beverage of your choice to chat with fellow congregants. To join our first meeting on June 5th at 5:30 PM, follow this link.

Emotional Support During COVID Times

From the threat of contracting coronavirus, to job loss, to having to assume responsibilities we may be unprepared for, to losing family members and friends to the virus, the past two months have drained spirits and required more inner strength and determination than we may have known we had. Because of personal life circumstances, some of us have faced many more exacting challenges than others, and some of us have had to do this alone. 

At a recent online worship service, Rev. Gretchen mentioned the possibility of forming a COVID-19 online support group for folks who could benefit from additional support. It appears there is sufficient interest to start meeting online using Zoom. We just need to identify a time that is, hopefully, convenient for all who would like to unburden some of the stress with others in a mutually supportive online environment. Please contact Rev. Gretchen or Barbara Clark so we can begin meeting soon.

Wine Auction

Do you always drink the same brands of wine?  It’s time to shake up your routine and experiment.  Don’t miss this chance to try a bottle you may not have had before!

The auction that was planned for this spring was set to include a fixed-price mystery wine offering.  As you know, the auction was postponed, so there are currently 24 bottles of wine (12 red and 12 white) waiting to be enjoyed.  You can become the proud owner of one or more of these by emailing Shelly Freddo.  Simply tell her how many bottles you want and whether you want red or white.  Make your payment of $20 per bottle to Murray Church via PayPal . Shelly and Bill will then deliver your wine to your home.

Update: As of May 26th there are still 7 reds and 7 whites available.  Get yours before they’re gone!

From Green Sanctuary

This is a great time of year to visit our Nature Trail for quiet contemplation, nature’s inspiration,  and for the Lady Slippers!.
Photo provided by Judy DePue

Continue to Help Us Fill the Virtual Offering Plate

Now that we are no longer able to gather in Sunday worship, we are no longer able to “pass the plate” each week.  Please continue your generous ongoing support of the church, whether you send your pledge checks in by snail mail, or arrange to have a regular check sent through your online banking activities, or you sign up for online eGiving through the REALM Connect App or by using this link:  REALM Link 

For more about eGiving, contact Rick Millard.

Some Help for Financial Distress

This current situation is going to be impacting all of us financially in the days weeks and months ahead. There are a lot of unknowns.  The government is moving forward to be able to offer various kinds of financial assistance to people, depending on their circumstances.  In addition, Rev. Gretchen has some limited funds available in the Minister’s Discretionary Fund that might be able to help out.  Please contact her for more information.

Our Food Pantry Needs More Volunteers 

We are once again in need of volunteers to help at our drive-through food pantry on a weekly, every other week or substitute basis.

Volunteers have the option of working in the stockroom preparing food bags for distribution and
filling requests for needed items or working outdoors at the front of the church signing in clients, registering first time visitors, or distributing food and non-food items. 

Please contact Barbara Clark with questions or to schedule an orientation.

Food Pantry Donation Suggestions

The food pantry can use canned vegetables, 16 oz peanut butter and feminine hygiene supplies.

Thanks from the the Food Pantry Team

Coffee Hour Coordinator Needed!

Do you love coffee and meeting new people?  Please consider becoming our new Coffee 
Hour Coordinator.  The Coffee Hour Coordinator is supported by the Membership and 
Welcoming Committee.  They provide a wealth of knowledge, support, and ideas 
throughout the year.  The Coffee Hour Coordinator ensures that we have volunteers 
signed up on a weekly basis.  If you have any questions or would like to volunteer for this 
role, please reach out to Monica Weil or Sandy Stuart.

Summer Services: One Date Left Open

Do you have a message or something meaningful you would like to share with Murray members and friends? The Religious Services Committee is planning for the summer, either in person or via ZOOM. We have one date open: July 12th.

Contact David Calusdian, Monica Staaf or Sheila Jacobs to discuss and save your date.  We will handle the logistics. Thank you!

June 24 - 28:
General Assembly Goes Virtual!    

The UUA General Assembly, which was to be held in Providence, RI from June 24 - 28th, has now been re-imagined as a virtual conference.  Registration has been reduced significantly to $150 per person.  If you have never attended a General Assembly before, we encourage you to take advantage of all of the workshops, lectures, and assemblies, including wonderful worship services using online technology.

Virtual Registrants will be able to watch and ask questions in live sessions including workshops and business sessions (mini-assemblies, hearings, etc).  Murray Church’s four voting delegates will be able to propose amendments in the live business sessions, participate in debates, and vote in general sessions.

Virtual registration for General Assembly is $150 per person.

Register Now!

Events Streamed to Virtual GA Registrants
June 24-28, 2020

Major Events

Welcoming Celebration
GA officially begins with a joyful, worshipful opening celebration with inspirational music and speakers. The opening celebration sets the tone for the days ahead. The Opening Celebration will include a procession of banners from hundreds of UU congregations and organizations.

Ware Lecture
The UUA President, in consultation with the General Assembly Planning Committee, invites a distinguished guest each year to address the General Assembly as the Ware Lecture.

Closing Celebration

General Sessions (registration not required)
Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Co-Moderators Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams preside over the general sessions in which the business of the Association is conducted.

Business Mini-Assemblies
All business of the General Assembly is conducted during General Sessions. Mini-Assemblies offer opportunities in small sessions for delegates to speak on issues, find out more about individual business items before voting, and propose amendments to the business item.

Synergy Bridging Worship (registration not required)
This is a transformative multigenerational worship. Come be inspired and illuminated at a celebration of treasured worship elements, rites of passage and brilliant contemporary musical performances.

Service of the Living Tradition (registration not required)
Led by the Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group, this service honors fellowshipped and credentialed religious leaders; remembering those who have died, recognizing those who have completed active service, and welcoming those who have received fellowship or credentialed status in the past year. The service includes a collection to benefit the Living Tradition Fund. Members of the public are welcome. 

Sunday Morning Worship (registration not required)
Join us for the largest annual gathering of UUs joining in worship. The worship service will include a collection for the Tomaquag Museum, an indigenous museum featuring an extensive collection and archive of Southern New England tribal communities. Members of the public are welcome. 

A variety of workshops and special events will provide registrants with tools to live into our mission and continue the work of our faith—both within UU congregations and in the greater world. GA Youth and YA@GA (Young Adults at GA) programming and events will be held virtually.

Our full schedule of virtual programming is in development. Please check back soon at for finalized information.

Newsletter Weekly Schedule

Please e-mail all newsletter submissions by Tuesday end of day for inclusion in the following Thursday's Murray Notes.  The next deadline is June 2nd. 

Please include 'NEWSLETTER' in the subject line.  

What's going on at Murray? Click the calendar!

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