February 14, 2024

Lenten Reflections

The reflections written by our parishioners invite us to spend time in prayer, study & worship these 40 days of Lent

February 14: Luke 18:13

February 15: John 17:4

February 16: Matthew 9:12

February 17: John 17:20-21

February 18: Genesis 9:12-13

February 19: Mark 1:18

February 20: Mark 1:18

February 21: Mark 1:34

February 22: Mark 2:5

February 23: Mark 2:15

February 24: John 15:7

February 25: Genesis 17: 2

February 26: 1 Corinthians 4: 8

February 27: 1 Corinthians 5: 7

February 28: Mark 4: 8

February 29: Mark 4:21-24

March 1: Mark 4:36-37

March 2: Genesis 43:16

March 3: John 2:21

March 4: Mark 5:29

March 5: Genesis 45:4-5

March 6: 1 Corinthians 8:1

March 7: Mark 6:32-33

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May 16, 2023

It’s not just you – by Martha Evans Morris, LCSW

As a therapist, I see clients who struggle with a variety of life stressors — many
exacerbated by feelings of social isolation, lack of meaningful connection or loneliness…

As a therapist, I see clients who struggle with a variety of life stressors — many
exacerbated by feelings of social isolation, lack of meaningful connection or loneliness.
In my own life, I have recently entered the stage in which our children no longer live at
home most of the year. Without the buzz of teenagers’ schedules and energy in the
house – it can feel a little, well, lonely.

At the beginning of this month, the U.S. Surgeon General released an 85-page report
entitled Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation. In it we learn the scary news that,
like smoking, loneliness can take years off our life, and more people are reporting
feeling socially isolated and lonely than ever before. The tone of the report is somewhat
dire and calls this an “urgent public health issue”.

So you can imagine – after reading the report, not only was I feeling lonely and
concerned about the lack of connection and isolation of many of my clients — I was
now worried about the years being taken off our lives as well! It was like pouring salt in
a wound.

If we’re already isolated, how are we supposed to change the feeling of being isolated?
Many of us rarely see our neighbors and we can’t even see inside car windows
anymore – is anyone in there? Our strong values of individualism and privacy,
combined with the greater number of folks now working from home, means we are
entrenched in our separateness.

The recommendations for individuals on page 66 of the report are a start—but they
weren’t concrete enough to make me feel better. So after I took a deep breath, I came
up with some doable things that can improve our own feelings of isolation and
loneliness in our lives as they are today:

  • You may not feel like it. Do it anyway.
  • Channel your inner Victorian aristocrat: “keep up with correspondences”
  • Set “get-together goals”
  • It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. Look for “micro-connections”
  • Let the Spirit move you: connect to something bigger than yourself
  • Do it anyway.
    The reality is—the more you feel isolated, the more you feel like isolating. We can all
    remember that feeling we had as the pandemic eased and we started going to the
    grocery store more often or having meetings or school functions or get-togethers, and
    even the gregarious among us felt an awkwardness that wasn’t there before. “Ugh –
    small talk? Do I have to? Why don’t I know how to do this…?” Well this is true—the
    more you’re alone, the harder it can be to reach out and connect.
    We need to take this on like it’s our job. Here, the Surgeon General’s tough ta
    equating loneliness to smoking can be helpful. No ex-smoker ever quit smoking
    because they felt like it. They went through the uncomfortable process because they
    wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and spend time with their unborn grandchildren.
    We must get serious about our social life – even if it’s out of our comfort zone.
    Just like that exercise you don’t want to do – you’ll feel better after you do it.
  • Channel your inner Victorian aristocrat: “keep up with correspondences”.
    A paradoxical side effect of all the advances in communication technology is that we
    take communication for granted. Since we know we “could” be in touch with someone
    at any moment of any day, it feels less critical to do it regularly. Before the telephone –
    the one with the cord and a separate hand piece – all there was was letter writing. If
    you were to stay in touch with people who weren’t in walking distance, snail mail was
    the only option. Period. Keeping up with correspondences was very important if you
    weren’t planning on being a hermit.
    The good news is that – thanks to the above-mentioned advances in communication –
    you don’t have to write the letter, you can make it a quick text!
    Make it a point to text or call a different person each day. This doesn’t have to be
    long – just a check-in goes a long way. Connection begets connection and this will start
    to change things! You will slowly develop stronger ties to these people if you keep it
    up, which will feel good! The critical point here is: make this a daily priority. Not
    because you feel like it – but because it’s important self-care.
  • Get-together goals: Set them and keep them
    The reality check of this new report will hopefully lead us to view our connections to
    others differently. This is such an important part of our health that we should be setting
    goals as we do for other important parts of our health – yearly checkups, exercise
    routines, etc.
    Set a goal for your get-togethers. Extending ourselves to others is an energy that
    is contagious
    . You can set these goals with yourself or partner with friends and do it
    together. Goals thrive with others for accountability. Perhaps you commit to having
    coffee with someone once a month, or you aim to have a conversation with siblings on
    a weekly basis instead of just birthdays and holidays.
    Use some things in your life as triggers for this:
  • If you have a schedule for cleaning your house, make it a habit to invite people
    over every time the house is clean!
  • The next time you hear yourself say, “We really need to get together…” let that
    be a trigger to pull out your calendar and add, “Let’s set something up now!”
  • The next time you think of a friend you haven’t seen in a while – have that be a
    trigger to reach out and send that text or schedule that coffee.
  • Micro Connections – It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it
    When you get yourself out the door and into the world – look for ways to “microconnect” with anyone you can. You’re already going to the food store and the dry
    cleaner – why not leverage some connecting time while you’re at it?
    I don’t mean following strangers around in the aisles of the supermarket, but — when
    you get to the cash register, make a point of looking the cashier in the eye and smiling.
    Maybe make some positive comment about the weather. Look at the bagger in the eye,
    smile and thank them for bagging. Look at and smile at people you pass on the street.
    Wave “thank you” when someone let’s you go first in traffic.
    Our nervous system’s job is to keep us safe. In any given moment – even when we are
    not aware of it – our bodies and brains are continuously scanning our environment for
    signs of safety or danger. Just as a baby looks to their parents for signs of safety, we
    look to our fellow humans to sense that all is well. In psych terms we are “coregulating” our nervous systems. Studies also show that when we smile, even a fake
    smile, our body releases feel-good hormones into our system – dopamine, endorphins,
    and serotonin. No prescription necessary!
    This report made me feel that this was a big task for us to solve, but if we make a
    concerted effort to look for tiny “micro-connections” throughout our day, week, and
    year — we will not only be spreading the love, but we may be extending our life
    expectancy as well.
  • Let the spirit move you.
    Spirituality and religion can play a constructive role in soothing feelings of loneliness.
    Some reasons for this are obvious and practical and others are more nebulous.
    On the practical side – places of worship offer a ready-made community of welcoming
    people. Getting involved in a local church is one of the best ways to meet people
    who are open and happy to see you. There are services to attend and events and
    groups to join. Values of love, relationship, and community are widely held as extremely
    important by all the major religions — values that are a perfect antidote to loneliness –
    and many have an online option for attending services as well.
    Also, things we do alone can oddly help us feel more connected. Several studies in
    recent years have shown that a regular practice of meditation or silent prayer
    lowers feelings of loneliness in participants.
    How this happens is not clear – but the
    studies show it seems to help.
    Loneliness is defined as a discrepancy between individuals’ desired and achieved
    levels of social relations. There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely.
    In all of the world’s traditions, there is an understanding that we are part of a bigger
    and benevolent whole. That there is a spark of the divine life-force within us and
    beyond. In the Hindu tradition this is Atman, in Christianity it is Christ Conscious, in
    Buddhism it is Buddha Nature, in Judaism – the Holy Spirit. Taking time daily to sit
    silently and focus on our breath or a centering word can inexplicably help us feel
    connected to that more significant and benevolent whole we live in.
    Different apps and websites have guided meditations – some specifically for loneliness:
    headspace.com, calm.com, insighttimer.com – to name a few.
    I have put all these practices to work in my life and they help. The reality is we have
    more that connects us than we think – even if one of those things is a common feeling
    of loneliness. Good things happen when people connect – to themselves, friends and
    family, and to something bigger than themselves.
  • Martha Evans Morris, LCSW 
  • Lifework Psychotherapy, PLLC
  • 37 Danbury Road
  • Suite 201, office 2
  • Ridgefield, CT 06877
  • 203.247.4918
  • marthaevansmorris.com Pronouns: she/her
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December 20, 2022

Encouraging Justice Gatherings

How do we sustain hope and remain engaged in the necessary work of social justice and building God’s kingdom here on earth?

Watch Jennifer Franz’s video here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R9ua5beoX7-4rjkMfkZcdgAH2fg_M3oV/view?usp=sharing In the Lord’s prayer is a powerful plea for God’s will to be done on earth as it is heaven. As we look around us at the turbulent times we are living in; there is this overarching question of how do we sustain hope and remain engaged in the necessary work of social justice and building God’s kingdom here on earth? We see large-scale racism, climate change, homophobia, poverty, terrorism, pandemics, etc., while we are also are navigating personal joys and sorrows. It can be so easy to become overwhelmed into inaction, and yet the Spirit calls us to love, hope, action, and the work of healing our communities. A group of folks here at St. Stephen’s have been meeting regularly in recent months to brainstorm and pray about a way to bring us together with a focus on encouraging each other in the faithfulness of social justice work. What will this look like? The 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from 5-6:30 pm January 15, 29; February 12, 26 Dinner will be served! Dedicated on-on-one time for us to share what justice work we are doing or learning about
  • Guided meditation of another spiritual practice to center us
  • Presentation from someone on their justice work
  • Prayer
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December 14, 2022

Carols by Candlelight

Carols by Candlelight!
December 17th at 7:30 pm
Blue Christmas
December 18th at 4:00 pm
Click here for more info!

Join us for Carols by Candlelight 2022! Saturday, Dec 17 7:30pm                                             

Carols by Candlelight is an iconic element of the Ridgefield holiday season, now entering its eleventh year.  Derrick Goff, St. Stephen’s Minister of Music, conducts St. Stephen’s Festival Choir and a professional Chamber Orchestra in a Christmas concert inspired by a traditional English program of lessons & carols. Doors open at 7:00pm and admission is by a suggested donation of $20. Join us as we celebrate being together this Christmas for gorgeous music in our beautiful worship space.  Pleases consider sponsoring a musician! Forms are in the back of the church!           

Blue Christmas—December 18 at 4:00 pm

You are invited to a Candlelight Blue Christmas Service for those experiencing loss of any type, to share in a quiet, contemplative candlelight service of prayers, Scripture, and music. Bring friends, family, and neighbors! For more information  contact Libby Sassano at: caringministries@ststephens-ridgefield.org                                                                                               

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September 15, 2022

Encouraging Justice Gatherings

Jennifer Franz, a member of St. Stephen’s, shares about our upcoming Encouraging Justice evenings, a bi-monthly gathering. Whether you are a seasoned activist or brand new to the concepts of justice work, this is a space for all. Watch the video to learn more.

Watch Jennifer Franz’s video here:


In the Lord’s prayer is a powerful plea for God’s will to be done on earth as it is heaven. As we look around us at the turbulent times we are living in; there is this overarching question of how do we sustain hope and remain engaged in the necessary work of social justice and building God’s kingdom here to earth? We see large-scale racism, climate change, homophobia, poverty, terrorism, pandemics, etc., while we are also are navigating personal joys and sorrows. It can be so easy to become overwhelmed into inaction, and yet the Spirit calls us to love, hope, action, and the work of healing our communities. A group of folks here at St. Stephen’s have been meeting regularly in recent months to brainstorm and pray about a way to bring us together with a focus on encouraging each other in the faithfulness of social justice work. We are pleased to share that beginning in September, we are going to pilot twice-a-month Sunday night gatherings with the purpose of encouraging each other in the justice work we are already involved in.                                            

What will this look like?

The 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from 5-6:30 pm

September 25, October 9 & 23, November 13

Dinner will be served!

Dedicated on-on-one time for us to share what justice work we are doing or learning about

Guided meditation of another spiritual practice to center us

Presentation from someone on their justice work


Our first Encouraging Justice meeting will be on Sunday, September 25th.  During the meal of soup and bread, Bruce Lombardi will share his particular justice work in relationship with Indigenous People.  He’ll share some of his journey as well as his engagement in our Diocesan Convention 2021 Resolution 4: Fostering Right Relationship: ECCT, Indigenous Episcopalians and our Indigenous Neighbors.  Whether you are a seasoned activist or brand new to the concepts of justice work, this is a space for all.

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June 23, 2022

Pride in the Park

I’m grateful St. Stephen’s joined other local organizations at Pride in the Park…

As a gay man I’ve always felt welcome at St. Stephen’s and I think it is important to share that welcome with our community. I’m grateful St. Stephen’s joined other local organizations at Pride in the Park on a beautiful June afternoon.  

A number of folks at Pride in the Park thanked us for being present, I think for showing that God’s love extends to all.  Many LGBTQ+ people have been hurt by their denomination’s beliefs which drives them away from the church. Showing our support creates an opportunity to heal that divide. 

We are all people of God, sharing in God’s love and in our responsibility to love one another. I’m glad we were able to extend God’s love to the community. Our St. Stephen’s group also included Jennifer and Matt Franz, Rich and Anne Stein, Bruce Lombardi. Cee Moreyn and Michael Altopp. 

Mike Taylor 

Posted in: Uncategorized
April 19, 2022

Climate Care – One area of focus at a time – by Leah Pariso

When one person is passionate about a particular cause, then they can move mountains.

“As a population we face many challenges.  Woven throughout the many challenges we face is that of climate change.  The problems that stem from climate change seem insurmountable: erratic weather, forest fires, rising sea level, melting of ice caps, prevalence of invasive species, loss of rainforests, increasing air pollution, loss of valuable habitats for endangered species, and loss of potable freshwater sources are just a few.  As an environmental educator, my students often come to me overwhelmed.  The avalanche of issues underneath the overarching umbrella of climate change can be paralyzing.  Many turn to me asking how one person can make a difference with so many issues bubbling to the surface?  My response to this concern is always the same – did being one person stop Dr. Martin Luther King Junior?  Did being one person hold back Jane Goodall, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or more recently young Greta Thunberg?  The answer is no.  When one person is passionate about a particular cause, then they can move mountains.

The same can be said for environmentalism.  Can one person tackle every climate change issue?  Truthfully, probably not.  Nevertheless, one person can make change in a particular area.  If your passion is the preservation of coastal habitats, then pour your energy into that.  If you would rather spend your time on the protection of the rainforests of the world, then work to help protect these carbon sinks.  Perhaps you want to reduce electronic waste, or push for more renewable energy?  If we all choose one area to focus on, then the massive mound of climate change issues can be chipped away at.

Is climate change a frightening topic?  Yes.  Can we do something about it if we all focus our energy and intention on changing one area?  Yes.  As a species, we have had to adapt and overcome in the past.  We altered our intentions and habits when we went through the agricultural, industrial, and then technological revolutions.  Perhaps we could do the same for the environmental revolution?  In the end, we all have to have hope and faith that we will emerge from this new movement all the better – living lighter on the Earth with more respect for all living creatures, not just our own best interests.”

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April 11, 2022

Climate Care and our Samaritan Garden

Climate Care and our Samaritan Garden
Read our latest blog post here!

By Eileen Burton

Our Samaritan Garden here at St. Stephen’s provides a large amount of fresh produce to Meals on Wheels each growing season. We follow organic principles in everything we do. The fertilizers we use are naturally produced and do not require the use of climate-affecting fossil fuels to be made as do chemical non-organic fertilizers. We do not use any herbicides or weedkillers. Weeds are dealt with the old- fashioned way by pulling or hoeing and then put in our compost bins to break down naturally into compost which is used to improve the garden soil. With MOW less than 5 minutes away, we are “a garden to table” operation. Our delivery of produce to them 3 times a week requires far less use of fossil fuels compared to produce coming from much farther away.

We are part of the Pollinator Pathway program whose goal is “to create a corridor of contiguous pollinator-friendly properties” in Connecticut. We also attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators into our garden by growing flowers with lots of nectar and pollen which they need to survive during these times of climate change which can be a challenge for their very survival so that in return they will pollinate our crops.

At present we are waiting for good weather and the completion of an irrigation project before we start planting in the ground but once we get started all are welcome to stop by and visit the garden.

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February 7, 2022

28 Days of Black Americans

Black Americans have contributed to all dimensions of our common life. Let’s take this month to remember and learn.
Read the entries here.

28 Days of Black Americans is our way of highlighting significant individuals known for their illumination of the Black experience, shaping the American story.


Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931)

-A pioneering cardiologist; one of the first physicians to successfully complete pericardial (open-heart) surgery on a patient. 

-in 1891, Williams opened Provident Hospital, the first medical facility to have an interracial staff. 

-He also worked with the Equal Rights League, a Black civil rights organization active during the Reconstruction era.



Arthur Mitchell (1934-2018)

-First African-American principal dancer in a major dance company, New York City Ballet (1956-1968)

-George Balanchine choreographed “Argon” for him and Diana Adams in 1957, challenging “the essence and purity of Caucasian dance.”

– In 1969 he and Karel Shook founded Dance Theatre of Harlem, an integrated school, whose associated company made its debut in 1971 in New York City. 


Harriet Jacobs  (1813 or 1815- 1897)

– writer, whose autobiographyIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, is now considered an “American classic”.

-after hiding in a tiny attic crawl space for seven years, she finally managed to escape to the free North, where she was reunited with her children Joseph and Louisa Matilda and her brother John S. Jacobs

-Circa 1849, she operated an antislavery reading room in the Talman Block, the same building in Rochester where Frederick Douglass had his newspaper office. Even here her freedom was in danger until her employer was able to pay off her legal owner.

– During and immediately after the Civil War, she went to the Union-occupied parts of the South together with her daughter, organizing help and founding two schools for fugitive and freed slaves.



Ralph Abernathy (1926 – 1990)

– an American civil rights activist and Baptist minister

– co-founded and was an executive board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He became president of the SCLC following the assassination of King in 1968, where he led the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C.

-He collaborated with King and E. D. Nixon to create the Montgomery Improvement Association, which organized the Montgomery bus boycott.



Richard Allen (1760–1831)

– Minister, educator and writer Allen was born into slavery presumably in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 14, 1760.

– allowed Allen to purchase his freedom for $2,000 in 1783. The paper detailing Allen’s freedom would in fact become the first manumission document to be held as a public file, having been donated to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

– In 1799, Allen became the first African American to be ordained in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Then, in 1816, with support from representatives from other Black Methodist churches, Allen founded the first national Black church in the United States, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Today, the AME Church boasts more than 2.5 million members.


Day 6

bell hooks (1952 – 2021)

– born Gloria Jean Watkins, she was an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. The name “bell hooks” is borrowed from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.

The focus of hooks’s writing (over 30 books) was to explore the intersectionality of race, capitalism, gender, and what she described as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination.

-“I believe wholeheartedly that the only way out of domination is love and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_hooks; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/books/bell-hooks-dead.html


Medgar Evers (1925 – 1963)

-Evers became active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. Following the 1954 ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Evers challenged the segregation of the state-supported public University of Mississippi, applying to law school there.

-Evers was murdered in 1963 at his home in Jackson, Mississippi (now the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument) by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council in Jackson.  In 1994, Beckwith was convicted of Evers’ murder.

-As a decorated U.S. Army combat veteran who had served in World War II, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.



Ella Baker (1903 – 1986)

-She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades. In New York City and the South, she worked alongside some of the most noted civil rights leaders of the 20th century.

-Baker criticized professionalized, charismatic leadership; she promoted grassroots organizing, radical democracy, and the ability of the oppressed to understand their worlds and advocate for themselves.

-Biographer Barbara Ransby calls Baker “one of the most important American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement”. She is known for her critiques of both racism in American culture and sexism in the civil rights movement.


Day 9

Langston Hughes (1901 – 1967)

– He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he ,oved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband, before the family eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Lincoln that Hughes began writing poetry.

– Hughes tried to depict the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. He criticized the divisions and prejudices within the black community based on skin color.

– Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture., including their love of music, laughter, and language itself alongside their suffering.

Day 10

Julius Lester (1939-2018)

– Award-winning author, educator, activist, and musician Julius Lester, known for a body of work focused on African-American culture, history, and folklore, as well as for his fierce advocacy for books for black children by black creators.

-He began writing in earnest in 1965, inspired by his work with the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. In all, he has more than 40 published titles to his credit.  He partnered frequently with illustrator, Jerry Pinkney.

– You can learn more about him through a 2014 documentary, “The Folk Singer,” airing as part of the American Experience series on PBS.


Day 11

Jerry Pinkney (1939 – 2021)

-An American illustrator and writer of children’s literature, illustrating over 100 books since 1964.

-He received many awards, including five Coretta Scott King Awards for illustration and the Caldecott Medal in 2010 for his book The Lion & the Mouse.

– Pinkney has partnered with the United States Postal Service, National Park Service, and National Geographic for his illustration work.


Day 12

Barbara C. Harris (1930-2020)

– Harris was long active in civil rights issues, participating in freedom rides and marches in the 1960s, including the Selma to Montgomery marches led by Martin Luther King Jr.

– Harris was elected bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, on September 24, 1988, at a special convention of diocesan delegates. Her election was controversial, in part because she was divorced and had not attended seminary. She was also the first woman to be elected to the position of bishop not only in the Episcopal Church, but in all of the Anglican Communion.

–  Speaking of her work as bishop, Harris said, “I certainly don’t want to be one of the boys. I want to offer my peculiar gifts as a black woman … a sensitivity and an awareness that comes out of more than a passing acquaintance with oppression.”


Day 13

Mae Jemison (born 1956)

– Jemison graduated from Stanford University with degrees in chemical engineering as well as African and African-American studies. She then earned her medical degree from Cornell University. Jemison was a doctor for the Peace Corps in Liberia and Sierra Leone from 1983 until 1985 and worked as a general practitioner. In pursuit of becoming an astronaut, she applied to NASA.

– Jemison became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

– Jemison left NASA in 1993 and founded a technology research company. She later formed a non-profit educational foundation and through the foundation is the principal of the 100 Year Starship project funded by DARPA.


Day 14

Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)

– A leader in social movements for civil rights, nonviolence, and gay rights.

-worked with A. Philip Randolph on the March on Washington Movement, in 1941, to press for an end to racial discrimination in employment. Rustin later organized Freedom Rides, and helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and later served as an organizer for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

-he helped organize a group, called “In Friendship,” amongst Baker, George Lawrence, Stanley Levison of the American Jewish Congress, and some other labor leaders. “In Friendship” provided material and legal assistance to those being evicted from their tenant farms and households in Clarendon County, Yazoo, and other places.

-Rustin was a gay man and, due to criticism over his sexuality, he usually acted as an influential adviser behind the scenes to civil-rights leaders. In the 1980s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay causes, speaking at events as an activist and supporter of human rights.

-On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Day 15

CT Vivian (1924-2020)

-Mr. Vivian was a Baptist minister and a member of Dr. King’s inner circle of advisers, alongside the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and other civil rights luminaries.

-Like his followers, Mr. Vivian was arrested often, jailed and beaten. In 1961, at the end of a violence-plagued interracial Freedom Ride to Jackson, he was dispatched to the Hinds County Prison Farm, where he was beaten by guards.  He survived violence in Selma, AL and near death in St. Augustine, FL.

-After leaving Dr. King’s staff, Mr. Vivian founded educational and civil rights organizations, lectured widely, promoted jobs for Black Chicagoans and wrote “Black Power and the American Myth” (1970), an early assessment of the civil rights movement.

-He and John Lewis died on the same day.

Day 16

Desmond Tutu (1931-2021)

– For much of his life, Archbishop Tutu was a spellbinding preacher, his voice by turns sonorous and high-pitched. He often descended from the pulpit to embrace his parishioners. Occasionally he would break into a pixielike dance in the aisles, punctuating his message with the wit and the chuckling that became his hallmark, inviting his audience into a jubilant bond of fellowship. While assuring his parishioners of God’s love, he exhorted them to follow the path of nonviolence in their struggle.

– As leader of the South African Council of Churches and later as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Archbishop Tutu led the church to the forefront of Black South Africans’ decades-long struggle for freedom. His voice was a powerful force for nonviolence in the anti-apartheid movement, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

– Archbishop Tutu preached that the policy of apartheid was as dehumanizing to the oppressors as it was to the oppressed. At home, he stood against looming violence and sought to bridge the chasm between Black and white; abroad, he urged economic sanctions against the South African government to force a change of policy.

Day 17

W.E.B Du Bois (1818-1895)

– American sociologist, historian, author, editor, and activist who was the most important Black protest leader in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.

– In 1903, in his famous book The Souls of Black Folk, Dubois charged that Washington’s strategy, rather than freeing the Black man from oppression, would serve only to perpetuate it. This attack crystallized the opposition to Booker T. Washington among many Black intellectuals, polarizing the leaders of the Black community into two wings—the “conservative” supporters of Washington and his “radical” critics.

– Dubois played a prominent part in the creation of the NAACP and became the association’s director of research and editor of its magazine, The Crisis. In this role he wielded an unequaled influence among middle-class Blacks and progressive whites as the propagandist for the Black protest from 1910 until 1934.


Day 18

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

– On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks rejected bus driver James F. Blake‘s order to vacate a row of four seats in the “colored” section in favor of a white passenger, once the “white” section was filled. She helped inspire the black community to boycott the Montgomery buses for over a year.

-The case became bogged down in the state courts, but the federal Montgomery bus lawsuit Browder v. Gayle resulted in a November 1956 decision that bus segregation is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

– From 1965 to 1988, she served as secretary and receptionist to John Conyers, an African-American US Representative. She was also active in the Black Power movement and the support of political prisoners in the US.

– After retirement, Parks wrote her autobiography and continued to insist that there was more work to be done in the struggle for justice.


Day 19

Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1870-1940)

– With industrialization underway in the United States, Abbot studied the printing trade at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), a historically black college in Virginia from 1892 to 1896.

-in 1905 Abbott founded The Chicago Defender newspaper with an initial investment of ¢25 (equivalent to $7 in 2020). He started printing in a room at his boardinghouse; his landlady encouraged him, and he later bought her an 8-room house.

– The Defender told stories of earlier migrants to the North, giving hope to disenfranchised and oppressed people in the South of other ways to live. Abbott, through his writings in the Chicago Defender, expressed those stories and encouraged people to leave the South for the North.

– The Chicago Defender not only encouraged people to migrate north for a better life, but to fight for their rights once they got there. The slogan of the paper and the first goal was “American race prejudice must be destroyed.”


Day 20

Jane Bolin (1908-2007)

– In 1931, Bolin became the first African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School.

– She became the first African-American woman to be the assistant corporate counsel for New York City.

– In 1939, Bolin became the first African-American woman in the US to be sworn in as a judge.

– For the next four decades, Bolin worked in the Family Court and became an advocate for children and families.


Day 21

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)

– Since no American flight schools would welcome women, Bessie Coleman taught herself French and studied at the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in France in 1922.

– In just seven months, Coleman became the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license. That same year, she performed a public fight, becoming the first Black woman to do so.

– Coleman continued flying, becoming an expert in stunt flying and aerial tricks.

– She was popularly known as Queen Bess and Brave Bessie, and hoped to start a school for African-American fliers. Coleman died in a plane crash in 1926. Her pioneering role was an inspiration to early pilots and to the African-American and Native American communities.


Day 22

Victor H. Green (1892-1960)

– Green was a postal employee who, after moving to Harlem, New York, in the 1930s, started compiling information on New York City establishments that safely served Black travelers.

– In the introduction of the first 1936 edition, Green wrote, “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal rights and privileges in the United States.”

– The 2018 film “Green Book” follows a biracial friendship and the journeys it brings them on. “The Green Book,” later named “The Negro Motorist Green-Book,”is used in the movie as a prop; however, the film doesn’t give much attention or credit to its creator, Victor H. Green.


Day 23

Charles Hamilton Houston (1895-1950)

– In 1919, Houston entered Harvard Law School. He was the first black student elected to the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review and graduated cum laude. He earned a bachelor’s of law in 1922 and a JD from Harvard in 1923.

– When several black lawyers were refused admission to the American Bar Association in 1925, they founded the National Bar Association. Houston was a founding member of the affiliated Washington Bar Association. He developed Howard University, beginning its years as a major national center for training black lawyers.

– Houston left Howard in 1935 to serve as the first special counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving in this role until 1940. In this capacity he created litigation strategies to attack racial housing covenants and segregated schools, arguing several important civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

– For all his work helping to dismantle segregation and the “separate but equal” provision, Houston was nicknamed “The Man Who Killed Jim Crowe.”


Day 24

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020)

– Johnson was a math prodigy who was 14 years old when she graduated from high school, 18 years old when she earned a double degree in math and French from West Virginia State College. And she helped to integrate the graduate school at West Virginia University — where she was one of three black students

– She was a physicist and mathematician who helped launch the first use of digital electronic computers at NASA, the independent federal government agency that handles aerospace research, aeronautics and the civilian space program. Her wisdom with numbers and accuracy was so highly regarded that her sign-off was paramount for NASA to modernize itself with digital computers.

– Johnson was plucked out of a pool of women hired by NASA to work with an all-male flight research team. She helped calculate the orbit for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon. And she co-authored 26 scientific papers, which NASA still links to via its archives.


Day 25

Dorothy Height (1912-2010)

– Height has been called the matriarch of the civil rights movement and often worked behind the scenes.

– After receiving two degrees from New York University in the 1930s, Height worked for the New York City Welfare Department and then became the assistant executive director of the Harlem Y.M.C.A.

– She was involved in anti-lynching protests, brought public attention to the exploitation of African-American women working in “slave markets,” and escorted First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the National Council of Negro Women, a council she served on for more than 40 years.

– In the 1950s, she lobbied President Dwight D. Eisenhower to take an aggressive stance on school desegregation issues. Height also worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and she stood on the platform with him when he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in August 1963.


Day 26

Gordon Parks (1912-2006)

– Parks performed as a jazz pianist, composed musical scores, wrote 15 books and co-founded Essence magazine.

– He adapted his novel “The Learning Tree” into a 1969 film, becoming the first African American to direct a movie for a major studio, and later directed “Shaft,” a hit film that spawned the Blaxploitation genre.

– He reached his artistic peak as a photographer, and his intimate photos of African American life are his most enduring legacy.

– His images of life on Chicago’s South Side in the early 1940s won him a job documenting rural poverty for the federal government. A 1948 photo essay about a Harlem gang leader landed him a gig as Life magazine’s first Black staff photographer. In the decades that followed, Parks traveled the country capturing iconic images of the segregated South, the civil rights movement and such figures as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.

– Parks famously called the camera his “weapon of choice,” a tool to fight poverty, racism and other societal ills. As he once put it to an interviewer, “I pointed my camera at people mostly who needed someone to say something for them.”


Day 27

Max Robinson (1939-1988)

– Robinson got his start in 1959 when he was hired to read the news at a station in Portsmouth, Virginia. His face was hidden behind a graphic that read, “NEWS.” One day he told the cameraman to remove the slide.

– Robinson’s profile began to rise after he moved to Washington, where he worked as a TV reporter and later co-anchored the evening news at the city’s most popular station – the first Black anchor in a major US city.

– ABC News moved him to Chicago and named him one of three co-anchors on “World News Tonight,” which also featured Frank Reynolds in Washington and Peter Jennings in London.

– Later in his career, Robinson became increasingly outspoken about racism and the portrayal of African Americans in the media. He also sought to mentor young Black broadcasters and was one of the 44 founders of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Day 28

Maria P. Williams (1866-1932)

– Williams served as editor-in-chief (1891–1894) of the Kansas City weekly New Era. This spurred her to seek greater independence by founding, writing and editing her own newspaper, the Women’s Voice (1896–1900), “sponsored by the ‘colored women’s auxiliary’ of the Republican party; the paper was described as having “many pleasant things to say on a choice of timely topics.'”

– In 1916, Williams went on to publish her memoir, My Work and Public Sentiment.

– She co-managed a movie theater with her husband, which gave the couple experience in the distribution and release of films for African-American audiences. The couple went on to co-found Western Film Producing Co. and Booking Exchange.

– Williams went on to write the script for Flames of Wrath, produce a film from the script and play the role of prosecuting attorney in the five-reel film.


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November 15, 2021

Growing in Faith

Growing in our Faith in Jesus’ salvation of us is a lifelong process. Here are a couple of books that can help you visit or revisit the Salvation Story and how it relates to your life.

Growing in our Faith in Jesus’ salvation of us is a lifelong process.  It never ends.  Jesus, as part of the Godhead, is infinite and thus our faith can grow infinitely, too.  Think that you’ve learned how to love?  There’s more to learn.  Think that you’ve learned patience?  There’s more to learn.  Think that you’ve learned forgiveness?  There’s more to learn.  And God, through the Holy Spirit, promises to sustain and guide us in this all of our days.  God does not leave us comfortless.

Here are a couple of books that can help you visit or revisit the Salvation Story and how it relates to your life. 

Click on the titles for more information

Knowing Jesus in Your Life by Carol Anderson

The Path: A Journey Through the Bible

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