Lent’s invitation

In our sanctuary, and in front of it stand vases of sand, rocks, moss, and branches.

Suggesting wilderness space, they beckon us into the season of Lent, and to its questions.

What is there to be learned where it is barren or wild or uncomfortable?

Jesus went into the wilderness to clarify identity, purpose, and loyalty. Lent offers us that opportunity.

We make our way through this time with questions and willingness to examine ourselves. Moving, we hope, toward new life for ourselves and our communities. As the world faces the challenge of potential pandemic, priorities and identities beyond the individual will be tested. Something new may emerge!

The seedlings planted by members of the intergenerational Sunday School class in January are growing… Like these, perhaps the seeds of the wilderness journey through Lent will yield growth & fruit. A lot can change in 40 days.

Remembering rightly

Remembering rightly

It has been said that those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. God calls us to honest memory and to new life! In a climate where neighbors have been relegated to enemies, families have been separated, and many have been confined to camps, we don’t need to look beyond our own national borders for precedents. This week is a good time to remember again, and to listen for God’s call to justice.

From a Church of the Brethren denominational post:

“February 19 is a Day of Remembrance of the date in 1942 when President Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing 120,000 people into 10 internment camps across the U.S. Perhaps the best-known is Manzanar in California, now a National Historic Site commemorating the lives and experiences of the people who were held there. (See http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm)

In remembrance, we revisit a Church of the Brethren statement from October, 1991: “Resolution on Justice for Japanese-American World War II Internees.”

The statement recalls the unjust uprooting and interning of many in the Japanese-American community for more than three and a half years. It reminds us of one of the shameful national failures we would like to forget. And it invites us to repentance and renewed commitment to “another way of living” in Christ.

Maybe we can learn from our remembering.

(Read the full statement at brethren.org/about/statements/1981-ww2-internees.pdf)


On the first Sunday in November, it has become our custom to light candles. We do so in memory of those who have touched our lives and have died. They are family or congregational members we’ve lost. They are strangers who have suffered innocently. They are long-gone loved ones.

To remember is to bring to mind again, making present what seems to be distant or past.

We light a candle and speak a name, and there is a re-membering — a restoring of the presence and touch of someone who has gone. The company grows. We celebrate and find strength in the cloud of witnesses.

God, in the Hebrew scriptures, often “remembers” people. That remembering typically sparks an action on their behalf. Not just a matter of sentimental recollection, it is rather a renewed commitment to the person.

As we remember those who have been part of our lives, we recognize their impact in and among us. And we renew our commitment to passing on the gifts they shared!

Compelling vision: Conversations within COB Districts

As Annual Conference began last week in Greensboro, NC, the focus was on the compelling vision process in which the church as a whole is engaged. Over the past year, many Districts held sessions to begin to ask and answer questions that will help us discern how God may be calling the church in the years ahead.

One of the ways information was captured and presented is in a word cloud– a visual representation of the frequency with which some ideas were named in the conversations. Below are the 100 words most often articulated. They may express some of our priorities as a denomination.

Annual Conference delegates continued the conversations in Greensboro. In the months ahead we’ll have further information about what emerged there.


High Tea: just for fun!

It began as a wish from a 95-year old remembering long-ago family visits to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia for high tea. “We should take a field trip there, just for fun,” Maxie suggested. As an alternative, on June 15, with the Fellowship Hall transformed into a tea room, a group gathered for our own version of high tea.

As part of the time, Maxie and Jean, another of our 90+- year-old members, were honored. Each a remarkable example of living richly and fully into later years, the two continue to inspire many!

There was a great assortment of tea services , a profusion of sandwiches, cakes, scones, cookies, and fruit, and even a few fancy hats!

Women, men, and kids joined in the fun as we recalled a tradition, laughed around the tables, and indulged in enough food to become supper (though a rich one) for most of us.

All agreed that we ate as well or better — and certainly more abundantly– than we could have anywhere else!

Mulch Sale: April 2


We’re selling and delivering shredded hardwood mulch to neighbors and friends again this year. Orders can be made by calling the church office (as long as supplies last) at 301-864-4328 or better yet stopping by the church parking lot early Saturday morning! We’ll be delivering by 8am.

Proceeds from the mulch sales go to various church projects. In recent years, these have included:

*sponsorship of Rwandan university student Venuste Gatabazi

* assistance for children attending camps and conferences

Making All Things New

Destin Sandlin is a rocket scientist but I came across him struggling to ride a bike. (You may have seen him in one of his YouTube videos as well.) Like most of us, he had learned to ride perfectly well when he was young. It’s something you don’t forget, and he was as good at it as anyone.

There was a twist to his ride, though. He thought it would be easy to overcome. The bike had been adjusted so that turning the handlebars to the left actually turned the bike right (and vice versa.) Destin got on believing that he could mentally correct for that. He couldn’t do it. Not for six months.

Neither could anyone else who thought it would be possible to master quickly. Their minds just didn’t adjust. One after another, volunteers got on the bike and pushed off confidently. Each time, they began to wobble immediately, almost fall–and they had to stop. Again and again. It was striking to watch. They knew what was going on but as Destin said, knowledge did not equal understanding.

It took Destin six months of practicing, struggling, and re-learning before he was able to really integrate the new way of functioning and ride the bike.

Pentecost is a season for noticing how the Spirit sweeps in and through and beyond us in ways that often change us. We’ve taken note that the Celtic image of the Holy Spirit is of a wild goose – something that can’t be controlled or directed. A presence that pushes us into new territory.

Thinking about this, I was reminded of Destin. And of how hard it is to set aside established patterns. Our brains and muscles get deeply accustomed to familiar ways of doing things. We can scarcely grasp and often resist new ways. To carve new channels of behavior or being is no small thing. It takes a lot of wobbling and falling!

Yet we believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit with us – one who is, in the words of the book of Revelation, “making all things new!” Who can transform knowledge to true spiritual understanding. Who disrupts in order to ground more deeply, and who brings us to awareness of our connections beyond the bounds we’ve normally observed.

So, wherever we’re facing change–as individuals, in the church, in our world–maybe one key is to keep practicing new ways. The wild goose will nudge us forward. And with time, a new pattern–perhaps closer to what we were meant to be, but at least evidence of possibility–will emerge!

~Kim McDowell

Do Police Stops Define Race In America?

2015_Pulled_Over0001Join the discussion with Political Scientist Charles R. Epp, PhD, as he explains why they do. Epp will present findings from his recently published book, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citzenship. Click here for a pdf of the picture to the right.

The discussion will take place at the Hyattsville, Maryland Busboys and Poets (check the link for address & directions) on February 17, 2015 from 7-9pm (with Q & A)


Alternative Christmas Fair! This Saturday!!

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Alternative Christmas Fair
Saturday, December 6
9:30am – 3:00pm

Please join us at our annual Alternative Christmas Fair and support non-profits and artists working for justice, peace and the good of the earth. Purchase holiday gifts and much more!!

Come learn about the following organizations and support their work

SERRV…..sharing hand crafts from artisans around the world

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL……passing on the gift of food via animals & farming

NAKBA MUSEUM…Nakba Museum Project of Memory and Hope — a new museum highlighting the experience of Palestinian refugees

FISTULA FOUNDATION….dedicated to ending the suffering caused by the childbirth injury of obstetric fistula

EPIC……Empowering Youth for Peace in Iraq — one of EPIC’s core focuses is supporting local programs that empower youth—in conjunction with local partners, and with the Iraqi youth themselves

New Community Project ….supporting women’s issues & care of the earth

Koinonia Partners …fresh pecans for sale, supporting job opportunities and more in Georgia

Equal Exchange …. fair trade coffee, tea, & chocolate

Local artists’ work will be featured and available for purchase.

Our bake sale table sells individual treats for enjoyment while you are browsing the fair, and whole pies, cakes and assortments of cookies and other baked goods to compliment your holiday party or dinner.

Bring the kids for free cookie baking & craft activities and enjoy lunch at our food stand selling polish sausages & veggie burgers, fresh candied nuts, and more.

The Alternative Craft Fair is held in our church building on the corner of Route 1 and Tuckerman Street in University Park, MD (the church address for your GPS is 4413 Tuckerman St, University Park, Maryland 20782 or we are a few blocks’ walk from the PG Plaza Metro station on the Green Line)

Annual Conference Sunday – June 30, 2013

During our morning worship we joined the Annual Conference worship service via a live webcast (link below to watch recording).


There was a responsive litany (adapted from Ezekiel 36:26-27 and words from An Act of Worship video, Worship House Media)

One: Life is busy, sometimes chaotic
It’s easy to forget about God
in the middle of the distraction
But what if we could slow down
and worship God in our everyday moments

All: A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you;

One: The same God who wipes our tears
…eases our pain
…brings us joy
…guides our steps

All: and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

One: If our worship went beyond these walls
Things would change
Life wouldn’t blur our view of God
It would point directly to God

All: A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you;

One: Every breath, every action
Every movement, in every place
would be an act of worship.

* * *

To watch the recording of the Annual Conference Sunday Morning Worship service click on the following link.


To watch more of the live or recorded services and sessions just follow the link.   http://new.livestream.com/enten/AC2013

To view pictures from Annual Conference follow the link: