802 12th St

Marion, IA 52302

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First Press Weekly – February 27, 2020

March Calendar – Page 4

 

February 27, 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

               Ray Blue will join us in worship Sunday, March 8, and then give a concert in the sanctuary at 3 p.m. He has a new CD titled Work. I don’t know how long Ray’s been coming to First, but at his concert in the fall he was clearly received as a dear friend.

               I’ve received a couple of inquiries about Clayton Christensen, the late Professor at Harvard Business School. You can find his books anywhere books are sold on the internet. Perhaps his most well-known book is The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.  Here is a link from Harvard Business School describing his work and paying tribute to him:

https://www.hbs.edu/news/releases/Pages/clayton-christensen-obituary.aspx?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=harvard_alumni_gazette&utm_content=haa_ade_all_alumni_2020-02-18

JUST MERCY

               Many have commented on the movie Just Mercy. I, too, found it compelling and disturbing. Harvard Law Professor Carol Steiker spoke about the film at a forum: “We remain today the only developed Western democracy that continues to retain the death penalty,” 

               Here is a link to the abovementioned forum discussing the film in News From Harvard published by the Harvard Alumni Association. Byran Stevenson is a graduate from Harvard Law School, class of

  1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/a-discussion-of-just-mercy-in-criminal-justice-system/

HEALTH CARE DEBT

               I recently described how UCC congregations were purchasing medical debt in order to free people from a kind of economic captivity. Although it’s long, here’s a column on the subject written by a colleague, the Rev. Dee Ledger, in Bethesda, MD. I thought you might find it interesting.

With gratitude, Terry

From Pain to Promises: Medical Debt

from the Pastor

Medical Debt in the United States is a crisis. It is something that people of different socio-economic circumstances are either frustrated by or deeply fear. It is something that I am also deeply passionate about, given past experiences with the health care system. When my son, Obie, was born, we were confronted with an excruciating choice—to quit my work and to rely on one income (my husband’s clergy salary) until Obie’s condition resolved or stabilized (but it never did), or to muddle along and meet the emotional and financial challenges day by day, while we staggered our time at work and at the hospital in the morning and night. We applied our resources as best we could. It felt like putting a proverbial finger in a dam, only to have another leak which would force us to recalibrate.

Insurance calls came to us daily via phone during Obie’s 10 week NICU stay. Only upon autopsy did we learn that Obie had a non-reversible brain stem injury that would never improve; the only thing that we knew when he was born and in the subsequent weeks was that his survival was uncertain and he needed round the clock pediatric nursing and resources that far exceeded our meager incomes. I nearly fainted when the nurse manager/social worker presented me with 30+ pages of paperwork to fill out for financial aid for Obie and told me that he may/may not be approved by the powers that be, and even if he were, the assistance might not cover all the co-payments, follow-up, medical care, NICU, etc. This, while I was recovering from a cesarean, pumping milk, managing a return to work, and trying to offer Obie as much tummy-time as the nurses would allow on a ventilator. We had good insurance through a MA company, unrelated to the UCC or the church, but insurance that we thought would be more than sufficient. Even so, it was very scary at a time when we could barely get through the days and nights at the hospital, much less figure out how to pay for everything that our son needed and that doctors ordered.

Again, when my husband became terminally ill and unable to work (he was on disability for a while), the nursing home costs far exceeded our capacity to pay. Because my house was secured by a special MA law (Homesteader’s Act) protecting homeowners from creditors/nursing homes seizing private homes as an asset, we knew that we wouldn’t lose our home. But my husband ultimately declared bankruptcy due to medical bills that were beyond our imagination and capacity to pay, despite our frugality and despite my continuing to work thru the crisis at hand. Only two years previous, we had had Obie. The twins were about 6 months old and I was in a church search. I was devastated when a colleague suggested that I apply for SNAP. It felt shameful.

As a leading cause of bankruptcy, medical debt contributes more than 60% of all bankruptcies. Forty-three million Americans owe about $75 billion in past-due medical debt. 75% of all individuals in medical bankruptcy had health insurance coverage. My husband and I were considered “privileged” by most definitions of the term, and I shudder to consider the millions of families who live in poverty who find themselves in tragic circumstances due to chronic or acute illness of family members which leads to a downward spiral on their mental health, their capacity to work, and their finances. Families who live in poverty must make difficult choices that those with more resources and support might be able to overcome for a time.

Medical debt devastates families—the poor, in particular. But BUCC has a rare opportunity to help directly.

Congregations in the D.C. area are joining together to erase crushing medical debt for people living below the poverty level. Medical debt will be forgiven for some of the poorest people in our country who are facing insolvency, and for whom medical debt is 5% or more of annual income.

During March and April, participating DMV congregations will raise funds to abolish medical debt for those living in the communities served by our churches. We will join in a nation-wide effort of the United Church of Christ to have debt-buy in each of its 35 conferences. Our DMV effort is an ecumenical and interfaith partnership.

The goal for all the participating churches together collectively is $25,000. This will erase over $2 million in medical debt. The funds we collect will go to RIP Medical Debt. This is a New York-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that identifies and purchases medical debt for pennies on the dollar.

In addition to this important work of paying off immediate medical debt, participating UCC congregations will focus on long term justice and advocacy issues of changing our healthcare system and making medical care more affordable and accessible to all. Several of our close, neighboring churches are planning to participate: Westmoreland UCC, Seneca Valley UCC, Cleveland Park, UCC, as well as other area churches.

In many religious traditions there is a profound call for the chains that keep the oppressed captive be broken. In the current state of our world, many are chained to debt because they simply were ill.

Sisters and brothers, this is one small way that Bethesda UCC can make a tremendous impact on our poorer neighbors. It is one small way that you, with others like me, can address the devastation of our health care system on families, children, and individuals who are suffering. For myself, it is one way to channel my rising anger at the injustice of the medical/health-care system as I have experienced it. More information regarding how you may give financially to this effort will be forthcoming in our worship bulletins, but please know that you may direct any individual contributions to BUCC. Please mark your checks with “RIP Medical Debt” in the memo line.

In addition to our collective impact on helping to alleviate medical debt, Lent will be a time where we talk about restoration from shattered lives and brokenness. It will be a time when we look at our mental health system in an all-church book read (see article in this month’s Outlook). And it will be a time when we explore “pain” as a spiritual issue in our Lenten Study. In all these ways, we hope to restore hope and help to those who are hurting, to our members, friends, and neighbors, and – quite possibly—to you.

I hope you will join this effort to heal this small portion of our broken world.

“Now let’s give up all our claims to repayment. Cancel all the debts they owe you – money or grain or wine or olive oil.” Nehemiah 5:10-11

Much love, Rev Dee

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­March 2020

 

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1st Sunday in Lent        1 2 3 4 5 6 7
9:00 Worship

10:15 Sunday School

10:15 Adult Forum

 

 

 

6:00 H.S. Movie Night

 

 

8:15 Meditation

         In Lounge

 

 

 

 

6:30 Chancel Bells

 

10:00 Lectionary

            Study Group

 

 

 

 

6:00 Youth/Child C.E.

7:00 Building & Grounds

 

Refuel (k-5th)

   5:30 Snacks

  5:30 Confirmation

  5:45 Music/Worship 

  6:00 Activities/Study

  7:00 Family Meal

 

7:00 Chancel Choir 7:30 H.S. Bible Study

9:00 Sewing Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8:00 A.A. & Al-Anon

 

 

 

1:00 H.S. & M.S.

  Waterloo Food

      Bank

2nd Sunday in Lent         8 9 10 11 12 13 14
9:00 Worship

10:15 Sunday School

10:15 Adult Forum

 

10:15 Jazz Workshop

  by Ray Blue

3:00 Ray Blue in

    Concert

 

8:15 Meditation

         In Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:30 Chancel Bells

 

 

10:00 Lectionary

           Study Group

 

 

5:30 Membership &

          Adult Experience

6:30 Personnel

7:00 Mission

 

 

 

 

Refuel (k-5th)

   5:30 Snacks

  5:30 Confirmation

  5:45 Music/Worship 

  6:00 Activities/Study

  7:00 Family Meal

 

7:00 Chancel Choir 7:30 H.S. Bible Study

 

9:00 Sewing Group

 

 

1:00 Book Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8:00 A.A. & Al-Anon

 

 

 

3rd Sunday in Lent  15 16 17 18 19 20 21
 

Gifts of Women Sunday

 

9:00 Worship

10:15 Sunday School

10:15 Adult Forum

 

 

 

8:15 Meditation

         In Lounge

 

 

 

6:30 Chancel Bells

 

 

10:00 Lectionary

             Study Group

 

 

6:00 Worship

           Committee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7:00 Chancel Choir

9:00 Sewing Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8:00 A.A. & Al-Anon

 
4th Sunday in Lent   22 23 24 25 26 27 28
  9:00 Worship

10:15 Sunday School

10:15 Adult Forum

 

 

8:15 Meditation

         In Lounge

 

First Press

Deadline

 

 

 

6:30 Chancel Bells

 

10:00 Lectionary

             Study Group

 

 

 

6:00 Finance

6:30 Deacons

7:00 Session

 

Refuel (k-5th)

   5:30 Snacks

  5:30 Confirmation

  5:45 Music/Worship 

  6:00 Activities/Study

  7:00 Family Meal

 

7:00 Chancel Choir 7:30 H.S. Bible Study

9:00 Sewing Group  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8:00 A.A. & Al-Anon

 
5th Sunday in Lent   29 30 31
We Care members celebrating March birthdays are:

Joan Gerber on March 8 and John Schneiter on March 9.

 

Note:  Gifts of Women Sunday is March 15.

 

Operation Christmas Child hopes to fill 350 boxes this year.  See list of suggested items at the Social Hall display.

 

Churches of Marion Food Pantry

requests contributions of canned pastas in March.

 

  9:00 Worship

10:15 Sunday School

10:15 Adult Forum

 

 

 

6:00 M.S. Movie

            Night

 

8:15 Meditation

         In Lounge

 

 

 

6:30 Chancel Bells

 

 

10:00 Lectionary

             Study Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

Tue 27

Session

October 27 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Wed 28

High School Bible Study via Zoom

October 28 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Wed 28

8th Grade Confirmation via Zoom

October 28 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Nov 01

Worship – Streaming Live on Facebook

November 1 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Nov 01

K-5 & 6-8 Sunday School Via Zoom

November 1 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am