Guest Post – “Shake Off the Dust” by Rev. Angie Wright

Today we have a guest post from Rev. Angie Wright, pastor of Beloved Community United Church of Christ in Birmingham, AL. Rev. Wright also served with the Interfaith Root Causes Delegation, a group which came into existence after conversations in our very own Pastor Jeff’s living room.

We welcome Rev. Wright to the blog and thank her for her witness.


I used to think that Jesus’ admonition to “shake the dust off your feet” was a silent, nonviolent and slightly snarky protest against those who didn’t welcome the followers of Jesus. But recently I joined faith leaders from across the country in a deep immersion in Honduras and Guatemala seeking to understand root causes of migration. Now I hear Jesus saying,

When you go into a community, go with your hands and pockets empty. Bring no gifts that leave room for empty promises, no gifts that can be used to manipulate, no gift that may insult or mislead. Come with empty hands and an open heart. If the community does not receive you, then leave, and as you leave, shake the dust off your feet. Take nothing that is not freely given, not even the dust on your feet. If the community doesn’t welcome you, leave it just as you found it.“ Matthew 10:9-14.

In the US we hear a lot about the violence in Central American countries. What we don’t hear is that the violence results from many outside forces. Transnational companies come into the region with empty promises and real threats.

They force people off of the land of their ancestors, subjecting them to grinding poverty and deathly violence. They mine gold, silver and iron; they build hydroelectric dams leaving destruction behind; they plant monoculture crops like Palm Oil solely for export, leeching the land, contaminating the water and depriving people of sustainable employment – all without recompense or regard for the beauty and wealth of the land and her people.

It’s not only the mining and energy companies. It’s developers of 5-star resorts that push native peoples off their coastal lands.

It’s also narco-traffickers and the people they use to do their dirty work – the bandias, or gangs.

They all act with impunity.

Impunity is a word you hear often from the people there. It’s a strong word. It means “exemption from punishment, penalty, loss, suffering or discomfort.” There’s a lot of that going around. So much that tens of thousands of people in Honduras and Guatemala are now holding weekly protests against government corruption and impunity.

What happens when people are pushed out of their homes, communities and land by violence, exploitation of natural resources and the dire poverty that results? They often have no choice but to flee under the very real threat of death. They become migrants. On the migrant trail, many experience unimaginable horrors. They become victims of La Bestia, the “death train” that kills and maims. They become subject to human traffickers. They die in the desert. They are prey for gangs. They face a perilous journey that often leads to death or a dead end at the border. Left behind are broken families, landless farmers and contaminated land and water.

Under the guise of aid, our country is quietly moving forward with the Plan for Prosperity for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Also called The Biden Plan, it promises to secure the region with $1 billion in aid. To people who have long experienced exploitation in the name of foreign aid, the Plan looks like the U.S. coming in again with empty promises, ulterior motives, veiled threats and more impunity. In fact, the Plan is 90% military build-up and subsidies for extractive industries. Ten percent is designated for human development; how it will be used is dubious. As a Guatemalan priest told us, “Nowhere in the world is an army a sign of peace.” Honduras has the most militarized and yet most dangerous cities in the world (outside of war zones). A billion dollars of militarization will not bring peace to the people who live there.

The aid will indeed create security, but not for the people plagued by violence. It will secure a corridor for energy and mining companies. The energy will continue to feed the insatiable appetite for energy in the U.S. which we feed with impunity.

Martin Luther King said that the U.S. was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. We have often exported violence in the name of prosperity and security. The Biden Plan threatens more of the same. It’s a tragic legacy that we should not continue. Let’s at least start asking the right questions: whose prosperity will be secured and whose security will prosper?

Who will pay the cost?

Twenty-one U.S. lawmakers this week challenged President Obama to suspend “training and support to the Honduran police and military units … until human rights abuses are adequately addressed by the Honduran government.”

The voices of people of faith are needed to join this small chorus.


Rev. Angie Wright

Interfaith Root Causes Delegation

Beloved Community United Church of Christ




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2015 Fall Getaway (Oct 23-25)


What is the fall Getaway?

The Fall Getaway at ULC is a chance to strengthen old relationships and make new ones, to grow as a community of faith, to continue to engage, and to enjoy each other’s company.

From our mission statement:

“Our life together in Christ finds expression in our love of God, each other, and our neighbors in our community.”   

What goes on at the Getaway?

Fabulous meals, fellowship, campfires, worship, singing, prayer, scavenger hunt, variety show, hiking, the beautiful outdoors, breakout sessions with interesting things to do across four areas: faith, enrichment, your active side, and your creative side. This is a chance to enjoy the redwoods, each other, and to grow as a community. Here’s a brief schedule – a more detailed schedule will be provided. Remember everything is optional!

Friday, October 23rd

  • Registration starts at 4:00 p.m.
  • Dinner at 7:00
  • Campfire, singing, S’mores, and Holden prayer to follow

Saturday, October 24th

  • 7:30 Morning prayer
  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 9:30-10:30 Breakout sessions
  • 11:00-12:00 Breakout sessions
  • 12:30 Lunch
  • 1:50 Whole community scavenger hunt
  • 4:00-5:00 Afternoon breakout sessions
  • 5:30 “dress for dinner” (St. Dorothy’s has an attic full of costumes!)
  • 6:00 Dinner
  • 7:30 Variety show! Followed by campfire and singing

Sunday, October 25th

  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 9:30-10:30 Breakout sessions
  • 11:00 Worship Service
  • 12:30 Lunch
  • Pack up to go home

That sounds amazing!!! How do I register?

Registration is open online here. There will also be paper registration forms in the service bulletin on Sunday.

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Leaders at the Chapel – Sam Tia

1. How long have you hung out at the Chapel? Why do you keep coming Back?
I first came to the chapel around 2007 and became a member in late 2009. What brings me coming back to the chapel is its warm, intergenerational worship community, the beautiful tradition of its liturgy, and its progressive positions of being rooted in faith – at work for justice in the world around us.
2. A couple of things Chapel people might be interested in knowing about you.
I am originally from sunny Gainesville, Florida – home of the Florida Gators. I have two younger brothers and an alter-ego who is skilled in the art of the hula-hoop. Oh… and I am also currently serving as vice-president on the chapel council, so please feel free to get in touch!
3. 2-3 sentences of “advice” to newcomers to the Chapel?
Join a small group if you can – our Koinonia small groups are a great way to get plugged in and make a few chapel friends outside of Sunday morning.
4. A change you would like to see happen at the Chapel during your term in office.
We need to institute a dress code – the days of wearing t-shirts to church are over! Just kidding. I think that the chapel has done a pretty good job at being a community “at work in the world” and motivating this work from our Christian perspective. However, I think we still have room for improvement in expressing the personal aspects of our faith, to ourselves and to each other. Sharing our own faith stories can be an essential part of how we connect to and support one another. I would like to find ways through which we can nurture this together.
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