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Voices United Against Hate

A Statement from the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts The news this past week has been filled with threats and violence against our neighbors and friends.  We are devastated by the reports of bomb threats to 29 Jewish Community Centers around our country last week including a threat that resulted in the evacuation of our Springfield JCC on Friday, March 3, 2017.  We are appalled at extensive desecration of Jewish cemeteries, threats and vandalism against Muslim communities and mosques, and the killing of seven transgender people since the start of 2017, most of them trans women of color.  Our Muslim friends are newly vulnerable in the wake of our President’s updated travel ban from six muslim-majority countries and full-stop denial of entry to immigrants from Syria and other war-torn countries. As members of our diverse faith communities, we are alarmed [...]

By | 2017-03-09T13:30:30+00:00 March 9th, 2017|Peace and Justice|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

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

Solidarity with Standing Rock pipeline resistance in North Dakota

  From MassLive Northampton— A Cherokee man told a downtown crowd of around 200 that the best way to support Native Americans in their fight against a crude oil pipeline in North Dakota is to "take direction and listen" and get behind the effort being led by the Standing Rock Sioux. "They are worn down," said Jon Hill. "And as indigenous people one of the things we do to show love is to not wear people out. We give each other food, rest, nourishment and encouragement." Hill said he has friends and relatives on the front lines of the Sacred Stone and Warrior camps resisting the Dakota Access pipeline. He said ancestral behavior from throughout history is being re-enacted, with a "militarized minority" pushing native people out of the way. Thousands of Native Americans and their allies have formed a [...]

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:58+00:00 September 7th, 2016|News, Peace and Justice|0 Comments

What Has Peace & Justice Been Up To?

Last month Manny Pintado attended the Jobs for Justice annual conference in Washington DC. On the school scene, he reported hedgefund managers are undermining public education by funding only charter schools. They're also donating to colleges huge sums of money with strings attached, to influence the course material. On the  work front, only 13% of US jobs are now unionized. Many workers can earn only the federal minimum wage -- $7.25/ hour --with no benefits, and an irregular schedule. On March 8 we co-sponsored an International Woman's Day celebration in Lyman Hall. The group honored several women from different parts of MA who are organizing against the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, a 30” diameter pipe running from the fracked-gas fields of PA to the coast, for export, contaminating whatever it touches, including MA protected forest land.  Also receiving an award was P&J [...]

By | 2016-04-06T13:43:01+00:00 April 6th, 2016|Mission & Outreach, Peace and Justice|0 Comments

Honoring Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres was a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader of the Lenca People. She was killed in her home on March 3, 2016. Saturday, March 26th Em Jollie and Oonagh Doherty led a peace vigil to honor the late activist. The Daily Hampshire Gazette covered the vigil. Click the link to read the article. You can learn more about Berta Cáceres here  and here. For ways to participate and follow calls for an investigation, click here. For those of you who may be interested, a Facebook page has been created, Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Group of Western Mass. The link is below. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1034867046585208/members/ I am hoping some Peace and Justice members may want to continue organization and education around the issues of human rights and environmental activists who are being killed and threatened in Latin America.  This page is a good and convenient way to plan further actions, communicate and share news, [...]

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:59+00:00 March 28th, 2016|Peace and Justice|1 Comment

FLIGHT, Holy Week Art Installation

    "Stunning." "Remarkable." "Unbelievable." "SO powerful and moving!" We heard these words again and again, as hundreds of people came to journey through the FLIGHT installation this past week. Thank you, thank you so much to artists Robin Brooks, Martha Brouwer, Harriet Diamond, Mary Frongillo, Laura Iveson, Phyllis Labanowski, Catherine Linberg, Mona Shiber, Rochelle Shicoff, Naomi Tannen, Denie Whalen, refugee women from Burundi and refugee youth from Bhutan for creating fabulous, powerful, provocative art and for all the ways they offered their time and energy to making the show happen. And to the many other behind-the-scenes folks, equally as important to making the show happen, who showed up and did the grunt work so graciously. None of this could have been possible without the wonderful support of the members, pastors and staff of First Churches, who gave over Lyman Hall during [...]

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:59+00:00 March 15th, 2016|Mission & Outreach, Peace and Justice|1 Comment

Journal Notes from a Visit to Israel Palestine

        Our dear friend and Peace & Justice committee member, David Entin, has returned from a trip to Israel and Palestine. David shares his experience with us through his journal notes. Please take the time to read his notes, and make sure to join us after church on April 3rd for a talk and slide show in the First Churches Parlor. Journal Notes from Israel and Palestine If you prefer to read David's notes in print form, please feel free to call the Church Office at 413-584-9392, or email admin@firstchurches.org and we would be happy to get you a copy.

By | 2017-01-18T20:14:59+00:00 March 14th, 2016|Mission & Outreach, Peace and Justice|0 Comments