New Podcast Focuses on Anti-Racism As Christian Discipleship (GCORR)

“Expanding the Table,” a new video podcast series from the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), will debut on Tues., June 1, 2021. Series guests will focus on how individual Christians and church-based entities can and should engage the work of racial justice-making and anti-racism.

Guests for the first podcast—titled “Racism, Police Reform and Faith”—are the Rev. Kirk Lyons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Rev. Jeremy Wicks of Traverse City, Michigan. Both United Methodist pastors are leading community-wide conversations and demonstrations that call attention to implicit and explicit racial bias experienced by Black and Brown people at the hands of police officers. Both are bringing together church, community, and law-enforcement members to seek solutions.

Lyons and Wicks will talk about their work as an outgrowth of their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and offer ideas for how Christian communities may learn more and get involved in local police reform and anti-racism efforts.

Read the Full Story

Response to the Derek Chauvin Verdict

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. – Amos 5:24

Like most of you, I have been following the Derek Chauvin trial with deep concern and sadness. It seemed very apparent to me that George Floyd did not have to die, and Derek Chauvin needed to be held accountable. The fact that a jury of his peers reached that conclusion gives me a glimmer of hope that we can make the necessary changes so this doesn’t happen again and again. However, this one verdict does not make this the norm, and we have to continue to press the case that Black Lives Matter, period. It is up to all of us to keep pressing our law enforcement, political and justice systems to make the reforms necessary that Black and Brown people are not singled out and subject to violence and death.

We have to remember that this verdict represents the basement and not the ceiling of what needs to take place in our nation. It is the start of justice, but only the start. All of us need to be held accountable. All of us need to feel the complicity of racial violence and unnecessary deaths. All of us need to repent!

There is no true victory in today’s verdict. The only victory would have been that George Floyd didn’t die, and since we cannot change that reality, a victory would be that there will be no more unnecessary George Floyd’s deaths for others.

Nor does this change the reality of fear for Black and Brown people in our society. We have to name that fear, and do everything we can to alleviate such fear in the future. The fact that many of us do not have to have “that conversation” with our children about how to deal with the police in order not to be hurt or killed, speaks volumes of how we are so insulated from this fear. Yet our Black and Brown siblings face this fear every single day.

We need to continue to pray for George Floyd’s family and also for Derek Chauvin. We can hate the crime that he committed, but we are taught never to demonize the person. We need to pray for his soul and for the confession and reform that is possible. Justice has been served, but we have to wait for final sentencing. We are far from over this.

The trial of Derek Chauvin is over, but our work for justice and righteousness has just begun.

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop

The SoCal Gas compressor station in Ventura is a known methane super-emitter. Now, they want to DOUBLE the size of this facility that sits right in the middle of homes, schools, and after-school clubs. You can read everything you need to know about Natural Gas Compressor Stations – and why they’re so dangerous to people and the environment – down below.

Before SoCal Gas can move forward with expanding, they have to clean up the over 100 years of toxic contamination on the site. There’s arsenic, lead, petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A building slated to be torn down may also contain asbest

While we are 100% for cleaning up this mess, it must be done in a way that does not harm Ventura’s residents.

The best way to have your voice be heard?

Send an email to the Department of Toxics Substance Control (DTSC) using this simple form from Food & Water Watch. 

Right now, the clean-up plan submitted to California’s Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) has no plan to prevent lead-laden dust from blowing over to the elementary school that is literally across the street.

There also is no plan for testing the air, soil, or children for lead poisoning – so if this site does contaminate our land or our children’s bodies, there will be no way to prove it.

None of this is acceptable. Ventura’s Westside residents deserve to be heard.

Even though 12 community organizations, including CFROG, sent a request to DTSC asking for a bilingual community meeting to discuss concerns – DTSC denied the request. They cited a lack of public interest, even though they failed to properly inform the community.

Here’s everything you need to know about natural gas compressor stations –

What are compressor stations? 

Compressor stations take natural gas from individual wells and pressurize that gas to bring it to market. They operate at high pressures and temperatures that mean that industrial accidents can bring devastating explosions. Compressor stations also pose a a host of health risks and dangers. Communities of color and low income neighborhoods like The Avenue have long been targeted for dangerous infrastructure projects and polluting facilities – including gas pipelines and compressor stations – that cause health problems for the people who live, work, and go to school nearby. Specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by compressor stations have been associated with serious health problems, including cancers, respiratory problems, cardiovascular illness, and birth defects. Consistently, residents who live near these facilities experience health effects.

What’s wrong with natural gas?

Each new gas line we build is an environmental, health, and financial liability. Gas rates keep rising, and gas lines are costly to maintain. Gas lines leak methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases linked to climate change. Indoor gas use pollutes our homes and businesses, with serious health impacts including childhood asthma. The County of Ventura has banned natural gas in new construction as we start to phase out this old, dirty fuel. So why would we double our compressor capacity just as we start to phase out natural gas?

Why should Ventura oppose this sloppy clean-up and subsequent expansion? 

SoCalGas is rushing through a poorly thought out clean-up plan of their toxic compressor station. If done improperly, clean up could kick up lead-laden dust that will drift across the street to nearby EP Foster Elementary School. The Avenue in West Ventura is already home to excessive pollution burdens. Across California, the demand for natural gas is plummeting. As we move towards renewable energy solutions like solar and wind power and cities and counties ban gas in new construction, there is no need for the expansion of Ventura’s gas compressor station.

With your help, the City of Ventura will get the public hearing it deserves on this dangerous clean-up and unnecessary expansion.

Again, please send an email to DTSC and the Ventura City Council – it’s just a few clicks. Let your voice be heard!

Want to stay up to date? Visit the Westside Clean Air Coalition website and join their social media channels.

Thank you for taking action TODAY.

In solidarity,

Liz Beall, CFROG

Executive Director

Up Next (This Saturday!) on The Group Rep's Virtual Stage.


We could tell you more, but why spoil the fun, and besides, if we told you more, we’d have to kill you.    🙂  🙂  🙂
A reading of a diabolical thriller you won’t want to miss streams one time only on Saturday, April 3 at 5:00 pm (PDT).

Free Online Labor Studies Course: Nonviolence and Social Movements

How has the theory and practice of nonviolence shaped social movements in the United States and across the world? How can nonviolent movements confront the challenges facing us today?  Join the Rev. James Lawson, Jr. and UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong for a 10-week Labor Studies course offered free to the public. In a series of conversations with prominent movement leaders, Rev. Lawson explores the development of nonviolent strategy in efforts to overturn segregation in the U.S. and Apartheid in South Africa, win rights for workers and immigrants, and contest mass incarceration.

For the past 20 years, Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. has taught the undergraduate course Nonviolence and Social Movements offered jointly by the UCLA Labor Studies program, the Department of African American Studies, and the Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the course will be taught online allowing us to share elements of the UCLA course with the public.

Access the free course through the UCLA Labor Center Facebook, IRLE website, and YouTube channel. Supplementary readings are available for purchase at

(This course is available to UCLA students for credit, and listed as: Labor Studies M173, African American Studies M173, Chicana/o & Central American Studies M173)

Read More About the Course

List of Items Needed for Asylum Seekers Program at the Border

Gallon Bag

Lotion – travel size
Shampoo – travel size
3 Bar Soap – travel/hotel size
Comb 7” size
Kleenex pack- small
(Sandwich bag)

Sandwich Bag

Toothpaste – 1.5oz size
Disposable Razor
Band Aids (5)

Drop off is at El Buen Pastor UMC Santa Paula – Fridays 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Our ONE STOP shower program also needs men underwear and socks. 

2021 Lenten Devotion 4

In advance of the fourth Sunday in Lent, Allyssa McNeal shares theological and personal reflections on the correlating Lectionary texts. 

Seeking a way out Numbers 21:4-9

The Israelites were grumpy and growing impatient like many of us during this Lenten season in the midst of a global pandemic. Moses was tasked with keeping them encouraged and leading them to the promised land. Upon my initial reading of this Old Testament text it appears at first glance the Israelites, like many of us, are struggling to find the good in the midst of trying times.  We often forget about the basics God is still providing: food, shelter, clothing, health, and loved ones who care about us while we wait. During this Lenten season, I am awaiting the arrival of my first child who is due to arrive in late April. I think about the injustices I endure as an African-American woman with cerebral palsy during these pandemic times. I fight on, seeking reproductive justice as I strive to beat the disparaging statistics that say African American birthing persons are likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth if they do not have a health care provider who resembles them. In this season of waiting, I encourage each of you to advocate for yourself and others.

Refreshed through Christ Ephesians 2:1-10

In this time of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, so many of us just want to be loved. Paul’s writing shows us that God sent his son not to condemn us for the choices we make that are outside of God’s will but to redeem and restore us. Ephesians verses 4-6 remind us that God is full of mercy and brings us to life through Christ. Despite the many lives lost due to Covid 19 we are to remain hopeful because the scripture in Ephesians reminds us that we are redeemed and refreshed through Christ.

Truth, Light, and Love John 3:14-21

Often with the text noted above, we focus on verse 16, ”For God so loved the world…” While true, God loves all of us and gave his son’s life for each of us, what comes after that is particularly meaningful in these challenging times. Jesus reminds us he came not to judge the world but rather that the world would be saved through Christ. We are also reminded throughout this text that whoever does the truth comes to light, and that light is evident through their actions and is done in God. So with that in mind, Jesus shows us that as we strive to fight for justice we are able to do these things in God. As a woman with Cerebral Palsy, this particular text speaks to me because it gives me the courage to keep going in this time of waiting because what is done in truth will come to light. It helps me to remember Christ is not here to judge me and others but rather to encourage each of us to speak boldly sharing the light of Christ, spreading Christ’s light.  In this time of waiting, I encourage each of you to share Christ’s light as we are often the only light some people may encounter. Walk boldly as we seek to live in truth.

You make our collective work possible by your witness for justice every day in your church, community, and Annual Conference. MFSA does not receive any financial support from the United Methodist Church’s giving channels. 100% of our budget is funded through your membership dues and your generosity in giving.

Make a Gift to MFSA Today

Briefing on COVID-19

As we emerge from the deep thaw of our COVID-19 crisis, I am encouraged by the availability of the new vaccines. We have not arrived yet for a just distribution schedule, and I especially lament the inequality of distribution for our poorer and racially segregated populations. However, government officials are trying to do their best, and with a greater percentage of our population receiving vaccines, I am hopeful that we can emerge from our deep isolation.

As we set the stage for our own Cal-Pac Annual Conference response, one of our prime objectives is to emerge out of our COVID-19 crisis as safely as possible. Once again, we are not there yet, and we have to be diligent in our safety protocols to ensure that our churches do not transmit the virus.

One of our present realities as a large and diverse annual conference that covers thousands of miles and a whole ocean is the fact that “one size does not fit all.” We have multiple colored tiers of COVID safety, and even different state regulations we have to consider. It sometimes comes down to a case-by-case basis for us to approve various ministry plans. This is the reason why we have multiple sources of approval for reopening plans that includes the local church appointed pastor, church Administrative Council and District Superintendent.

Even this multiple approval system is not perfect, as some pastors can feel pressured to open up to in-person worship by congregation members when they have deep reservations. With this in mind, if you are in a red or purple tier, and if your pastor has not been vaccinated (twice), I believe it is unsafe to reopen to in-person worship. It is too great a risk to your beloved pastor, and because of the place of leadership she or he serves in the community at large, it is in the best interest of everyone to wait until your pastor is vaccinated completely. Our entire appointed Cabinet is in agreement about this policy, and our District Superintendents will enforce this policy.

With the vaccination schedule accelerating, it is only a matter of time before your pastor and a large percentage of your congregation will receive the vaccines. As a people of faith, we understand what patience means, and a few months can mean all the difference in the world to protect as many people as possible.

I am deeply grateful that so many of you have been patient, and have prioritized safety over convenience. We have been rewarded by low transmission rates overall for our clergy and laity, and if we can hold on a little bit longer, we will reap that which we sow: the health and safety of each and every member of our annual conference!

Let me close today with the words in Romans 8: 24-25:

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

House Farm Workers!

Dear friend,

We wanted to share the news with you all! On February 2, the Board of Supervisors approved the Somis Ranch Farmworker Housing Project on a 5-0 vote. Years of advocacy for more farmworker housing have paid off! The Somis Ranch Farmworker Housing project will be the largest farmworker housing project built in Ventura County.

The Somis Ranch Farmworker Housing Project is a good step forward towards meeting the needs of our local farmworkers and their families.
House Farm Workers! will continue to advocate for safe, decent, secure and affordable housing for farm workers and their families. To get involved in your community, contact

About the Somis Ranch Farm Worker Housing Project

The Somis Ranch farmworker housing project is a 360-unit farmworker housing complex with 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units. This development would include two 3,000 square foot community centers, tot lots/playgrounds, play fields and basketball courts.
Learn more about the project here:
Thank you for your support!

Over the last four years, we witnessed some of the most horrific policies ever against immigrants by the Trump Administration, including the extreme cruelty shown in the images of children crying in cages after being forcefully separated from their parents.

Unaccompanied minors need your voice. Sign here today.

Additionally, there are hundreds of minors still locked up throughout the country even though they are not flight risks or a danger to themselves or anyone else.

But after these dark four years there is now an opening to advocate with the new incoming administration to reverse the policies of the past.

CLUE is excited to collaborate with Peter Schey, the Founder and President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, who has drafted a letter with demands that will be addressed to the incoming administration.

The Center serves as lead counsel in the Flores v. Barr case which sets the national standards for the conditions of detention and prompt release of all detained minors.

We need as many signatories as possible to hold the Biden Administration accountable and ensure they hear our demands.

Please sign on here, and include your name, title, affiliation, and city.

Lastly, in addition to the letter another way faith communities could get help securing the freedom of children is by agreeing to sponsor housing in congregations or homes as an alternative to detention centers.  Please contact Guillermo Torres if you are interested and able to help at

Last week, Hurricane Eta made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm, leaving incredible destruction in its wake in communities already burdened by the overwhelming impact of COVID-19. While the hurricane’s devastation is still being evaluated, it is estimated that 2.5+ million people across Central America will be affected by this crisis.

In emergency situations, Rise Against Hunger works quickly alongside in-country partners to provide families with critical assistance. Hurricane Eta is no different: We are responding with partners in Nicaragua and in Honduras to meet the immediate needs of those in Eta’s wake, and we need your help to continue our emergency response efforts.

In Nicaragua, our partner Global Links distributes Rise Against Hunger meals to mothers and their young children in maternal homes. We are preparing a shipment of 285,000+ emergency meals to support relief efforts in the maternal homes impacted by the hurricane.

donate now

In Honduras, partner Central American Relief Efforts distributed emergency food baskets funded by Rise Against Hunger to 400 households one day prior to Hurricane Eta’s landfall. The area faced heavy floods, and the monthly food distribution came just in time to provide families with healthy food as they weather the storm.

The days, weeks and months ahead will be extremely difficult, as the region faces 11.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases along with the daunting challenge of rebuilding. Rise Against Hunger continues to communicate with our partners in Central America to provide support wherever possible. Donate to our Global Emergency Relief Fund now to ensure that we can stand with those we serve during the most difficult of times

Thank you for your unwavering support.
Edna Ogwangi
Chief Impact Officer

Dear CEC Community,

I want to talk about our future. But first, a story.

Last Monday – Labor Day – I had just sat down to make a few notes before transitioning out of vacation mode. I was still damp from the Calapooia river and was sitting on the deck of our family home in Oregon, the last person remaining after our annual gathering, held mostly outdoors for obvious reasons. As I sat there, the trees began to sway chaotically from a strong, directionless wind. There was a faint whiff of smoke in the air. And then suddenly, more smoke. And then much much more. My journal notes end abruptly, with a trail of ink from an unfinished sentence.

The next set of scenes involve the rapid packing of tents, coolers, book bags. A bruised wall of purple orange smoke enveloping me like a tangible force. Me on the highway, in a ponytail and respirator, as towns in all directions scramble for an exit. A 3-day drive through Oregon and California that snaked through or past more than a dozen fires that had exploded when hit by hurricane-force winds. One that looked like an atom bomb, with a thundercloud structure that shot straight up. One that blew up on I-5 moments before I arrived, forcing me to make a long, wide day-long detour along the coast. Several that lurked unseen, darkening the mid-day sky to a reddish black, leading to road closures soon after I’d slipped past.

Anyone who lives in the West has known their share of hot days and wildfires. But what we have been through in the last month is worth noting, in part because the indices surpass our current measurement tools. Meteorologists are having to find new ways to color-map extreme heat – often using purple, brown and white when temperatures exceed the far edges of dark red. The Air Quality Index (AQI) struggles to convey threat levels, as parts of California and Oregon go so far beyond ‘hazardous’ that no one knows what it means for health. “If a particulate level of 301 is hazardous,” asked one media outlet, “what is 807?”

And yet as I navigate my way home to Santa Barbara, I’m aware that this is about more than data and satellite images. The smoke imbuing my hair and clothes contains the particulates of redwood trees and oak savannas and native grasslands, as well as the creatures that lived in them. Perhaps I’m inhaling now the coyote that woke me in my tent in the small hours of the night. Or the doe and her two fawns that tiptoed into the blackberry-ringed field each morning. Or the bald eagle that flew over the river at treetop height as I swam backstroke – us mirroring each other, belly to belly.

Talking with many of you, I have a sense now of a collective emotional rupture, as we careen from crisis to crisis. Our frameworks are shifting; familiar points of reference sink into a haze and we literally cannot see what’s ahead. The starkness of our landscape is both reflecting our condition and shaping our reality.

In the age of the anthropocene, writes David Farrier, we are conjuring ourselves as ghosts that will haunt the very deep future. We grapple with the knowledge that we have the power to blot out the sun.

Flocks of birds careen wildly through the air as I make my way south. I drive in silence – no music, no audiobook, only the sound of an occasional confused cricket chirping in the darkened noon. I want to give this my full attention, as part of what’s being called from us is to bear witness to the world around us.

But there is something more. What is also being called from us, in the words of poet David Whyte, is to become an ancestor of our future happiness.

Ah, deep breath there. The ancestor of our future happiness. That feels so much better than trending fears of the #Apocalypse, screenshots of eerie orange urban landscapes alongside scenes from Blade Runner.

So how do we channel our future ancestors, when our eyes are stinging from very real and present dangers? For me this means staying present, practicing extreme care, for myself and others. It means storytelling, peering through the haze for a new horizon, even if sometimes feeling our way along blindly. On one positive note, the public narrative has shifted this week, with more and more news outlets overtly naming these extreme heat events and increased wildfires as patterns attributed to the climate crisis.

Living life in a way that honors future ancestors also means grounding in the language and images of a healthy, natural world – of which we are a part. I imagine us, collectively absorbing the feeling of loss and the power of forces brought on by a changing climate, and then working to pull up systemic problems by their roots. Advocating for change at all levels of government, and sinking our time and energy into our local communities.

I imagine us combining forces, like a great wind, like a rising tide, like a school of fish, like a flock of birds.

Sigrid Wright, CEO/Executive Director
Community Environmental Council

I continue to hold all of you in prayer as we continue to work for justice in the midst of COVID-19. Tomorrow is election day and to be completely honest I am so anxious. I’ve already cast my vote weeks ago but the closer we have moved towards election day the more anxious I get. I hope that you have your plans in place to vote (if you haven’t done so yet). I know many of you have volunteered to encourage voters in your community and across the country. You are writing letters, sending texts, making phone calls, and volunteering as poll workers or poll monitors. The staff at MFSA are making our election day self-care plans and we anticipate that we might not know the results of the election until later than usual. Here are some resources I will be using.

  • Leadership Resources As leaders we all need resources and support to help us lead through anxiety.
  • Podcast on anxiety What is actually going on in your brain when we are anxious and what we can do to help manage our anxiety.
  • Meditation I have not done intentional meditation work on a regular basis but I do hear that it is a very helpful tool. This app has created a series called Politics without Panic just for this election.
  • Cooking through the election. When I’m anxious I usually tend to reach for the ready-made or easy meal options. Knowing this, I will be prepping food for election week this weekend to make things easier on myself. I often get meal ideas from websites and I love this one because of their flexibility.

This issue of MFSAVoices is jam-packed with resources and information. So much so that it won’t all fit in your email message so be sure to click view entire message at the bottom of this email to view the entire issue. Our newsletters are designed to be used all month long. So take a quick glance and take note of important dates to add to your calendar but also come back in the following weeks to work your way through the action items.

Gmail users—move us to your primary inbox

  • On your phone? Click the 3 dots at the top right corner, click “Move to” then “Primary”
  • On your desktop? Back out of this email then drag and drop this email into the “Primary” tab near the top left of your screen

We continue to see the urgency of our work to make broad systemic change. Change that honors the dignity and worth of all people, puts people over money, and honors the earth and all her inhabitants. COVID-19 continues to highlight the inequities in our society that has literal life or death consequences. Since 1907, MFSA has been shining a light on injustice and organizing to change it.

You make our collective work possible by your witness for justice every day in your church, community, and Annual Conference. MFSA does not receive any financial support from the United Methodist Church’s giving channels. 100% of our budget is funded through your membership dues and your generosity in giving.

Peace and Justice,

Make a donation to our Racial Audit Today