Dear First United Family,  

Travel home from my ailing father in South Dakota yesterday delayed this note but allows me an opportunity to reflect on the gifts I experienced on this annual occasion to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, his legacy, and the ongoing work of dismantling racism. For years the motto of this day has been “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” I always regard it as a day to engage in and reflect on service opportunities. As First United opens up, I encourage you to consider ways you might take on service that supports and grows fellowship in this beloved community of ours.          
 Your Member Relations Committee (MeRC) is working hard to support coffee hour fellowship each week after worship, and I encourage you to give it a try, with our support. You can sign up here. You WILL NOT find a more appreciative reception for any service action than dispensing cookies!          
You can also contact me about helping with our “Fifth Sunday Potluck” on January 25th (with Valentine-making!) after worship, or sign up to send Valentines in our popular annual effort to send Valentines to everyone in our First United family here or pick up a February Kindness Calendar for simple daily generosities suggestions.
Finally, as co-chair of this year’s Nominating Committee, I will be part of a team who will be inviting you into conversation about continuing, rethinking (you may need a break and someone else may need an opportunity), and jump-starting your service at First United. 
During my flights home, I took the opportunity to reread Dr. King’s eloquent “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and some contextual notes (and to read Ibram X Kendi’s piece, among others) in a special Atlantic issue here.
It is a succinct, searing, and compelling call to direct action. I listened to Ezra Klein’s podcast interview with political theorist Brandon Terry here. This discussion brought me a deeper understanding of Dr. King’s teachings and actions, especially his unique philosophical contributions, in a fascinating hour of listening.    I tried (twice) to tune into a UCCNY MLK Day Service of Celebration while I moved through airports, but was only able to catch a few joyful minutes with this community I have become a part of through a remarkable UCC-based organization, Nurturing Justice. In the last ten years, I have participated in a number of groups and classes working toward racial justice, understanding, and healing, and this community offers the most transformative, positive, loving experience I have yet found.
A new study group is starting in February. I encourage you to read their brochure here, talk to me about this opportunity, and consider whether you might be called to this work.   We Are the Church!  Mary Peckham 812-361-5047   NJ Sacred Brochure – 2021.4.9 RicoDesigns (