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Charlottesville and Sunday Worship

This weekend's news of the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville once again brought the nation's conflicts and news cycle into our Sunday.  It is always challenging to decide which events to preach about, because the current turmoil brings us a new topic every week.  Each week I try to balance the experience of worship, the integrity of the liturgical season, and the fast-breaking reality of events that impact us.  I chose to say a few words after the sermon; and you can read my  remarks, plus the pastoral prayer; graciously shared by seminarian Lauren Grubaugh.  (She was in Charlottesville and wrote an especially powerful prayer.)  Today I have begun the process of arranging Anti-Racism training for our congregation this Fall through the Massachusetts UCC Conference. Pastor Todd   "I need to add a few words about the storm of bigotry and [...]

By | 2017-08-14T13:39:15+00:00 August 14th, 2017|News, Worship|1 Comment

Religious Leaders Decry Travel Ban

by JACK SUNTRUP @JackSuntrup NORTHAMPTON — Religious leaders across the state on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump to reconsider his executive order that freezes refugee resettlement in the United States for four months. In an open letter, the Massachusetts Council of Churches called the executive order “injurious.” “We grieve this decision to limit refugees, as it will cause further suffering, not just to our fellow Christians escaping persecution, but all refugees fleeing violence,” the letter reads. It quotes from scripture, specifically Deuteronomy 10:19: “You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” “Our savior was a migrant,” the letter continues. “We hear Jesus Christ declare in Matthew 25 that His followers will be judged if we do not welcome the stranger. We stand under that judgment today.” The letter ends with a call [...]

By | 2017-02-01T09:43:01+00:00 February 1st, 2017|News|0 Comments

600 gather for climate action in Northampton

By STEPHANIE MURRAY  @StephMurr_Jour  Printed in the Saturday, January 28, 2017 NORTHAMPTON — If there were ever a time to get involved in the fight against climate change, it appeared to be Saturday for Valley residents. Some 600 people packed First Churches on Main Street for “Climate Action in a Time of Crisis,” a panel made up of local leaders and experts to address the dangers of, and solutions to, climate change. Climate forums typically attract some 40 to 50 people in the city, but Saturday’s event drew 10 times that number. “This is the fight of our lives, folks,” said panelist Marty Nathan of Climate Action NOW. Additional panelists were state Senate President Stan Rosenberg, newly elected state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, and Smith College Professor Nat Fortune. Lilly Lombard moderated the panel. “At this moment, we are faced with [...]

By | 2017-02-08T13:27:13+00:00 January 31st, 2017|Environment, News, Peace and Justice|0 Comments

Lenten House Church Dialog Series

“The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian” By Brian McLaren Inviting all believers, questioners and questioning believers to a rich faith discussion!  First Churches will begin home reflection groups for the Lenten Season beginning on the week of Monday, February 27 and continuing for 6 weeks until Holy Week and Easter in mid-April.  Groups will meet weekly, and we hope to offer 4-5 different times and locations in the day and evening.  Sign ups will begin as soon as we set the sites and dates.  (Please contact pastor@firstchurches.org if you are willing to be a group facilitator or willing to host a group in your home.  You don't have to do both!) Books will be on sale at the church starting Sunday, February 5 at a cost of $15. Here [...]

By | 2017-01-29T18:03:00+00:00 January 29th, 2017|Adult Education, News|0 Comments

First Churches and the Heroin Crisis – NEPR Interview with Rev. Sarah Buteux

Hear Pastor Sarah talk about how we are trying to respond to the heroin crisis, and our staff training to use Narcan in case of a drug overdoes: Listen to Sarah on NEPR

By | 2017-01-19T11:41:44+00:00 January 7th, 2017|News|1 Comment

Help for Syria Urged at Northampton Rally

By JACK SUNTRUP @JackSuntrup Daily Hampshire Gazette, Sunday, December 18, 2016 NORTHAMPTON — A world away from Aleppo, Syria, Zaid AlNassar stood behind a microphone Sunday and in Arabic tried to convey an unimaginable feeling: the pain of a relentless war that has ripped apart his homeland. Wind swept in and clouds churned overhead as about 100 people huddled in front of First Churches of Northampton, endeavoring to do what they could to help put an end to Syria’s civil war. “The pain and the bloodshed is unimaginable in Syria and in Aleppo,” AlNassar said through a translator. “Every day hundreds and hundreds of people die.” AlNassar, 37, who now lives in Westfield with his wife and five children, said he and his family were resettled in Massachusetts two years ago from Daraa, Syria, a city credited with helping spark [...]

By | 2016-12-19T09:59:46+00:00 December 19th, 2016|News|0 Comments

Local churches exploring ways to serve immigrants under Trump presidency

Daily Hampshire Gazette  -  December 12, 2016 NORTHAMPTON — Leaders of local houses of worship kept an open mind Sunday about whether they would offer any sort of sanctuary to undocumented immigrants during a Donald Trump presidency. President-elect Trump pledged during the campaign to remove millions of people who were in the country illegally. The Associated Press reported this weekend that hundreds of churches nationwide would offer some type of sanctuary to undocumented immigrants if need be. Sanctuary, the outlet reported, could mean anything from spiritual and legal counseling to providing housing and financial assistance. At First Churches of Northampton, 129 Main St., the Rev. Todd Weir said his congregation would look at ways to provide legal and housing assistance to undocumented immigrants, qualifying that he would have to first discuss any moves with the wider congregation. “Frankly, we’re all [...]

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:56+00:00 December 13th, 2016|News, Peace and Justice|0 Comments

Common Ground in the News

By Heather Adams | Hadams@masslive.com  Follow on Twitter on September 26, 2016 at 10:40 AM As the sun begins to set, approximately two dozen people line picnic tables topped with fresh tomatoes, bread and fruits in the middle of Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden. Most of the food at the dinner was grown in the community garden by members of Common Ground, a farm-to-table dinner church through First Churches of Northampton. Read the full story here

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:57+00:00 September 26th, 2016|Common Ground, News|0 Comments

Green Party Presidential Candidate Speaks at First Churches

“The mythology is hold your nose and vote for the lesser evil and things will get better. “Lesser evil” politicians have been speaking for us and they are bought and paid for by their corporate influences consisting of “predatory banks, the fossil fuel giants, the war profiteers and the health insurance industry.” — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaking during a campaign appearance at First Churches in Northampton Sept. 18, 2016 Photo by Kevin Gutting- The Valley Advocate   Photo Credit, Kevin Gutting for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, September 19, 2016 The Daily Hampshire Gazette: Monday, September 19, 2016 Story by Luis Feldman for The Gazette NORTHAMPTON — Green-Rainbow Party nominee for president Jill Stein spoke at the First Churches in Northampton on Sunday night with a message: Vote for the greater good, not the lesser evil. [...]

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:57+00:00 September 20th, 2016|News|0 Comments