Upcoming Events at UCRP
In the wake of the ChristChurch white supremacist terror attack, United Church of Rogers Park reaffirms our commitment both to pray for our Muslim siblings and stand and fight against the terrorism of white supremacy as stated in our baptismal and membership vows. We vow to "resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form the present themselves." God have mercy on us.
This matter especially hits home because it targeted Muslims abroad, while individuals from our local Muslim community regularly work with United Church on Community Feast and other projects. Lately, we have been using our baptismal and membership vow to "resist evil, injustice and oppression…” This is what makes us Methodist.
While this happen on the other side of globe, this time difference does not matter; peace-loving New Zealand and indeed the whole world seems to experience growing hate. As a prominent country, we need to ask what role the United States plays in these developments. This hatred is spoken by a few Congress members. As well as our President has had a direct impact on inspiring individuals to commit acts of violence. Trump has also called Mexicans rapists and suggested there were "people that were very fine people, on both sides," in Charlottesville, where white nationalists carried Nazi flags and chanted "Jews will not replace us.”
Inflammatory language around the so-dubbed caravans of immigrants heading to the southern U.S border, which he has often described as an invasion, is an example of what extremists respond to with action. In Pittsburgh, the man who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue posted on social media that Jews were bringing in an invasion of nonwhite immigrants and that he couldn't "sit by and watch my people get slaughtered."
It’s time for political leaders to hold the president accountable.
While we are just one church, UCRP will "resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form the present themselves."
Join us for UCRP's 6th Annual Chili Cook-Off!
Saturday 23 March 5pm to 7:30 pm
This is an opportunity for all the groups and ministries that use our building to come together and meet each other, share a meal, and engage in a little friendly competition. It's always an excellent time! Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children.
Chicago WBEZ radio Listeners:
Pastor Lindsey was featured on "Morning Shift" at 9:00 am Wednesday 6 March.
She talked about how United Church of Rogers Park is open to the LGBTQI community and dissenting the United Methodist denomination's recent stand at its General Conference in St. Louis.
Click here and listen to the record on WBEZ website.
Be sure to click the top red arrow and click WED 3/6 before playing “Morning Shift”.
Lenten Beatitude Study
The Beatitudes are a series of blessings found in Jesus’ sermon on the Mount that likely raised some eyebrows the first time the crowd heard them; Blessed are the meek? Blessed are the poor in spirit? Blessed are you when you mourn? These are not what we normally consider “blessings.” But perhaps our definition of blessing is too narrow. What if we understood “blessed” to mean, “those for whom Christ has come.” Blessed are those who mourn because Jesus has promised he is here for them. We often look to the halls of power for answers about how to live and what it means to be faithful, but in Luke’s gospel, Jesus warns us against that following the beatitudes saying woe to the rich, woe to those with status and power, woe to those who are content in this life, for they have received their reward. What if we took Jesus at his word and sought him among those he told us he came for: among the mourning, the peacemakers, the merciful, the poor in spirit, the meek? Among those he has called, “blessed”? What if we asked them to be our teachers?
We are taking the opportunity to listen and learn from those that Jesus has called blessed during our Lenten season. Each week we will interview someone from our city and/or congregation, asking them where they have seen God in their mourning, in their peacemaking, in their meekness, etc. We will end the series hearing from one who was persecuted for the sake of righteousness, Jesus Christ, while we listen once more to the story of his death and resurrection.
Lent is the oldest of the church seasons. It begins with Ash Wednesday and is a season of self-examination and quiet contemplation of the mysteries of God. Christians prepare for the death of their sins and worldly selves with the death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday as they follow his footsteps through Holy Week.
The color of Lent is purple, symbolizing royalty to Christians, that of Christ, and goes along with Advent. Some churches have changes the Advent color to blue to separate the two seasons. Red is technically used on Pentecost Sunday, but it is sometimes used during Holy Week.
Purple signifies great solemnity, with connotations of both penance and royal dignity.
However, Lent reveals Jesus’ royal nature in a different way than Advent. During Lent, we prepare our hearts and lives to follow Jesus on the royal way of the cross. The cross reveals how God became Sovereign again. Crowned with thorns, mocked with a purple robe and a reed for his scepter, Jesus climbs the royal way of the cross to Calvary to defeat the power of sin and death.
This year UCRP service will observe Lenten Candles. Many are familiar with Advent candles being lit as Christmas comes closer. Advent Candles lighting formerly comes from the Lenten Candles.
Originally, the 7 Lenten Candles are placed in a circle - 4 purple, 1 pink, 1 red, and 1 white candle in the middle of the ring.
On the first Sunday of Lent or Ash Wednesday, all the candles are lit, and on that first Sunday, one candle is extinguished. Each Sunday a candles is extinguished until the only candle remaining lit is the white center candle.
The weekly extinguishing of each candle one by one, enhances that long, soon-to-be dark journey. When the last candle is extinguished and the darkness seems to be all-consuming, worshipers will feel the darkness of the soul at the time of Christ’s crucifixion.
UCRP will be doing it a little differently. We will lit a candle to our cross design each Sunday in Lent symbolizing Christ actions and teachings enriching God’s people. At the end of Palm Sunday and Good Friday, all the flames will be extinguished bringing the darkness of Christ’s crucifixion.
The purple candles symbol the weeks of Lent.
The pink candle is the midpoint of Lent - Laetare Sunday. Laetare means "Rejoice" in Latin. This is where the Church lightens the mood a little, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The change in color provides worshippers with encouragement to continue their spiritual journey - especially prayer and fasting. Quite simply, the church recognized that people needed a break from sorrow. The fourth Sunday was considered a day of relaxation from the normal rigors of Lent. It was a day of hope with Easter within sight. Traditionally, weddings, which were otherwise banned during Lent, could be performed on this day.
The red candle is for Palm Sunday. It is not uncommon for the minister to wear red stole on Pentecost and Palm Sunday. The color symbolizes martyr’s blood for Palm Sunday [also fire, for Pentecost]. Many churches that use blue for Advent, now usually use red on Good Friday, instead of the traditional black.
Such like what Advent Candles bring to our worship, the beauty and symbolism of these Lenten Candles will add meaning and dimension to your Lenten worship as the congregation is reminded each Sunday of being one step closer in the journey to the cross.
United Church Of Rogers Park Devastated By Anti-LGBTQ Ruling From Methodist Conference — But They’re Not Backing Down
The small church, along with other progressive churches, is fighting their denomination after a conference of United Methodists voted to exclude LGBTQ people from marriage and ordination.
ROGERS PARK — In a David vs. Goliath battle for a small church in Rogers Park, a new banner hangs outside the church that reads: “We support the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ and ALWAYS WILL.”
After a conference of United Methodist churches decided to tighten their laws to exclude LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination, the leaders of the United Church of Rogers Park are refusing to back down.
It’s not a new battle, pastor Lindsey Long Joyce said — United Methodist churches have been fighting over the inclusion of LGBTQ members for decades. But last week the issue came to a head at a special conference in St. Louis meant to address the issue once and for all.
Within the church there are two factions, known as the traditionalists and the progressives, Joyce said. Two plans were presented at the conference in St. Louis which hosted United Methodist leaders from around the globe.
The first, called the One Church Plan, would have allowed individual churches to dictate how to handle sexuality within the church, specifically regarding marriage and ordination. The plan was narrowly defeated on Monday.
Instead, the church voted to pass The Traditional Plan in a vote of 438 to 384 — despite several high-ranking members urging the church to reconsider.
Joyce said in her eyes the plan should have been called a “hetero purity plan.”
“Our denomination failed to protect the marginalized people in our churches,” she said. “This plan denies the fullness of who [people are].”
Joyce’s church held a special rally on Wednesday that was attended by other members of several United Methodist churches on the North Side. They allowed visitors to share their feelings and fears following the new decree.
One man shared his experience growing up as a gay black man within the church. He said he had attempted suicide on three separate occasions during his teenage years, but had since found acceptance and community at the United Church of Rogers Park.
Another man said he had only recently felt comfortable coming out as a gay Methodist a few years ago in his mid-fifties. He said the recent decision by the church to exclude LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination felt like a huge set-back.
“This is a place to be mad as hell,” said Pastor Britt Cox on Wednesday from the Church of the Three Crosses in Old Town.
Cox attended the conference in St. Louis and said it is not yet clear how the ruling will affect defiant churches going forward. But there will likely be sanctions on churches and clergy who do not follow the new Traditional Plan.
She said clergy will have to sign a document saying they will not ordain any person who is openly gay. The Traditional Plan also explicitly defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Cox said clergy will be expected to punish those who do perform wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ people.
“There is a big fear now looming with these increased penalties,” she said.
Joyce said her church is inclusive and representative of the neighborhood. She said LGBTQ people lead from the pulpit, serve on committees and run worship.
“The majority of our leadership team is queer,” she said.
She said her church is hopeful because their region’s bishop, Sally Dyck, supports the inclusion of LGBTQ people.
Dyck said the council of Bishops recommended the more progressive One Church Plan, but no church would have been forced to perform marriages or ordinations.
But the vote came from United Methodist churches from around the globe, many from areas of the world where it is still illegal to identify as LGBTQ.
“I am very disappointed and sad that this happened,” Dyck said. “I will do whatever I can to make sure that we can be as open and welcoming to people in our communities as possible.”
Dyck said what further saddens her is that the ruling communicates to people around the country “offensive judgement” from the United Methodist Church.
“I think it makes it hard to convince people that most of our churches are very welcoming of LGBTQ people and their families,” she said.
Dyck oversees all the United Methodist churches in Chicago and the top third of Illinois. She said she has seen many of her churches “draping everything in rainbow flags.”
One of the mottos of the church is to “do no harm, do good and stay in love with God,” a motto Dyck said she thinks is in contrast with the new regulations against LGBTQ people.
One of the biggest sponsors of the tightened regulations is Rob Renfroe. Renfroe is a pastor based in Texas. He has written books and been one of the most vocal supporters of the Traditional Plan.
Renfroe said the church has had a traditional position on sexual ethics since 1972. Despite the growing backlash, he said that policy has remained the same. But within the last decade, pastors in more progressive churches have broken that covenant.
“If we are one church, we cannot act like we are two,” he said.
Renfroe said he knows this fight is not good for the church but he expects the battle to wage on.
“This has been very hurtful to a great number of people,” he said. “Many LGBTQ people see this as a rejection of who they are, but that’s not what this legislation is about. It’s about holding Bishops accountable.”
He said that traditional United Methodist churches are welcoming to their LGBTQ members.
“We have gays in our churches and they have found us to be very accepting and loving people,” he said.
Renfroe doesn’t expect many of the progressive churches to leave the denomination. He said he expects them to fight for what they believe in.
“This is kind of like the celebrities who say if so-and-so gets elected they’ll move to Canada, but then never do,” he said.
Renfroe said he believes it is in the best interest of both sides to break apart and go their separate ways instead of plunging the church into “a real period of chaos.”
“I understand that people see us as the bad guys,” he said. “We don’t want trials, but we just can’t be part of a church that we believe is encouraging non-biblical practices. I can’t be complicit in a church that is encouraging something in my name that I think is contrary to God’s will.”
Renfroe hopes that both sides can split amicably.
“I want a solution with no winners and no losers, just good people who say I could be wrong, but God bless you, you pursue what you think.”
Joyce said that she has had to reconcile with her own faith after the events of the last week. She expects many members of her church have struggled with similar feelings.
“I have to remember that the denomination is not God,” she said.
While the future of the United Church of Rogers Park’s denomination remains in jeopardy, Joyce said her church will continue to stand their ground.
“If it comes down to the life of this denomination, or the life of our LGBTQ members, we are always going to choose our LGBTQ members,” she said.
While the doors graphics have double meaning pertaining to General Conference and our denomination open to all, UCRP received new doors for its Morse Street entrance.
Thank you to all who help making these doors remain a sign that UCRP is open to all. Thank you to all who contributed, made suggestions, and responded to the news of our doors being broken.
PASTOR MARY RAWLINSON
JOINS UCRP LEADERSHIP TEAM
Rev. Mary Rawlinson is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, serving with Family Guidance Centers, Inc. as a counselor with people who are in Methodist Hospital for detox from alcohol or heroin use.
Dynamic collaborative leader in ministry with people and communities experiencing economic and social injustice, illness, and addiction. Experienced in substance abuse counseling, pastoral care, community outreach, preaching and teaching, and prophetic engagement with social justice issues. She loves engaging others in their own unique vocations for the transformation of society toward greater compassion and justice.
She has been in ministry with people experiencing poverty, addiction, homelessness, and those who have been incarcerated, since 2010, at Connections for the Homeless, St. Leonard's Ministries,
The Night Ministry, and Hesed House. As a clergy person whose primary appointment is outside of the church, Mary serves UCRP as her local congregation connection. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and a BA in English from the University of Chicago. Mary lives with her family in Edgewater and also spends as much time as possible caring for her parents in New Jersey.
Black History in Rogers Park
Pollard Family first blacks in Rogers Park that became fame in the United States
In 1886, John Pollard and his family moved to the small village of Rogers Park in order to escape racial tension in Missouri. In doing so, they "enjoyed the distinction of being the only [r]ace group in the entire Rogers Park community,” according to a 1937 Chicago Defender article.
As the only family of color among a sea of white neighbors, they faced significant hurdles. But the Pollards — a family of eight, with African-American, Native-American and French ancestry — distinguished themselves as leaders in sports and business who changed the course of history. They lived at 1928 W. Lunt Avenue.
He was born in Virginia in 1846 into a family of free black farmers while the slave trade thrived in the South. Eight years later, fearing that he and his sister would be kidnapped and sold, his mother sent them to Kansas in search of better educational opportunities.
In 1862, John was among the first group of black men to join the Union Army and fight in the Civil War. [John Pollark picture right]
He was determined to attend Oberlin College in Ohio and become a lawyer. However, his quest to obtain a law degree ended when he contracted smallpox. After he recovered, he learned the barber trade from a white man and moved to the town of Mexico, Missouri to apply his trade. It was there that he met his future wife, Catherine Amanda Hughes [1856-1937]. She was described as "an extraordinary strong-willed woman ... ahead of her time." She was not like most women who only stayed at home, took care of children, and performed domestic chores. She defied the concept of conventional roles society had assigned to her seeking, fulfillment outside of the home, and eventually become a successful seamstress. Not only did she command at work, she managed her priorities at home as well. She kept the family together through her tough love and high expectations.
[picture above : John and Amanda Pollard]
According to family members, Amanda never answered the door without carrying a handgun in her apron pocket. Not only did this speak to her bravery and protective behavior, but also, sadly, to the racial discrimination and prejudice of the time. Looking through family documents it is evident that Amanda played a significant role in the family’s finances. Many tax documents and checks bear her name, which demonstrates her unconventional role as a woman during the 19th Century.
The couple had three children before fleeing the state for the Village of Rogers Park in 1886 [before it was incorporated into Chicago], where they later grew their family to eight. The Chicago Defender of Sunday 9 October 1937, says on page 2: ”Highly respected, the family enjoyed the distinction of being the only Race group in the entire Rogers Park community.” John set up his barber shop at 7017 East Ravenswood Avenue, which was then in Evanston Township, and Amanda ran a successful seamstress business that included clients like Marshall Field stores.
The Pollards, an education-oriented family, found some reprieve from racial tensions when they left Missouri, but still encountered problems in their new neighborhood. Despite the family's challenges, the Pollards' achievements and presence in Rogers Park and in Chicago ultimately had a major impact on American sports and culture — though, to many, the Pollard family name has gone unsung. The Pollard children embarked upon impressive athletic careers, including Olympic and Hall of Fame-level achievements, yet they each faced discrimination and barriers at many steps along the way.
Artissmisia Pollard, the eldest of the children, became Illinois' first black registered nurse, and Naomi, the third child, was one of the first black women to graduate from Northwestern University, according to the historical society. Being the oldest and having success, Artissmisia put pressure on her siblings to also do well.
Second born, Luther Pollard [pictured right in 1819] tried to become a professional baseball player after a successful high school athletic career, but was not allowed to play as a person of color. He later started the Ebony Film Corporation, located on California Avenue near Fullerton Avenue, estimated to be worth $500,000 at the time — or about $25 million today. He eventually won an Emmy award for his work in film.
Naomi “Willie” Naomi, the third child of the eight, was one of the first black women to graduate from Northwestern University. According to family members, she was denied election to Phi Beta Kappa because of her color. Reflecting the high-value of education of her family, she became a school teacher, and then a professor at Wilberforce University in Ohio.
Leslie Pollard, who played at North Division High School [aka Lane Tech High School on Western Avenue]. He later attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH where he had a superb football career. He helped break racial barriers in college football. He also played a major role in his little brother Fritz’s successful profession football career. "He was well known in Chicago, probably better known among both races than any other athlete that ever wore a gridiron uniform on the fields of Chicago representing a high school," an obituary for Pollard reads. "His name will long live for his deeds were many."
Ruth Pollard was a star sprinter at Lake View High School before dying at an early age.
Hughes Pollard [pictured left in 1920], was an outstanding football player, but decided a career as a musician better suited him. This flamboyant gentleman joined the highly popular Chicago jazz group called the Melody Four as a drummer. He performed all over Europe and Australia with the group. Then Hugh joined the French army during WWI. Unfortunately, he died of complications due to a mustard gas attack.
Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard Sr. [pictured right] was the most known of the Pollard children. After playing at Albert Grannis Lane Manual Training High School [later the school was known as Lane Tech High School on Western Avenue], Fritz played football briefly for Northwestern, Harvard, and Dartmouth. In 1915, he received a Rockefeller scholarship to attend Brown University in Providence, R.I. At Brown, Fritz was one of two blacks enrolled in the school. He played the first African American head coach in the National Football League. Pollard along with Bobby Marshall were the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920. Football pioneer Walter Camp ranked Pollard as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." Later he became the first black man to play in the Rose Bowl. In 2005, "Fritz" Pollard became the first black head coach to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fritz Pollark also published the first black-owned newspaper in New York City, the New York Independent News, from 1935 to 1942. He also worked as a casting agent, studio manager and producer in the entertainment industry, as well as a tax consultant. Pollard died on May 11, 1986, at age 92.
In 2005, the football pioneer received a long-overdue honor with his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His name lives on through the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which was founded in 2003 to help promote the hiring of minorities in the NFL.
Frederick’s son, "Fritz" Pollard Jr. [pictured below], went on to become a track and field star at Senn High School before competing in and earning a bronze medal in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Sidenote: Track star Jesse Owens, one of the greatest Olympians of all time, won four gold medals at this Olympics. What Fritz Pollard, Jr, along with 16 other African-American Olympians did in Berlin, though, has largely been forgotten — and so too has their rough return home to racial segregation.
About the Pollard family:
"They have fought through obstacles to achieve accomplishments that are amazing even by today’s standards," the Rogers Park historical society wrote. "Rogers Park’s Pollard family exemplified excellence in every sense of the word ... Unfortunately today, these great people are hardly recognized and have all but been forgotten in time." For all their achievements, the Pollards never reached the level of fame that other influential families in the era enjoyed. Yet their ability to become pioneers in multiple arenas, challenging racial norms, helped pave the way for other athletes of color worldwide.
Picture above: Frederick’s son, "Fritz" Pollard Jr.
Picture left: Fritz speaking at a dinner with President Nixon
We need you!
Do you have a car? Would you be willing to give rides to those who need assistance getting to worship on Sundays? Would you be able to pick up before service or give rides home after? Even if you can only commit to helping every once in a while, please let Pastor Hope know.