Archive for May, 2010

Local School Superintendents speak at Sojourners

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Dr. Rosa Atkins, Superintendent of the Charlottesville Public Schools and Dr. Pamela Moran, Superintendent of Albemarle County School Division spoke to an enthusiastic group after the morning worship service on Sunday, May 16th, sponsored by the Racial Justice Social Action Group. This was a return engagement for both superintendents, a practice that has been in existence for a number of years. At least once each year, they have come to update Sojourners on what is happening in each school system.

They each talked about the impact of the budget cuts on their systems. It seems that Albemarle will be “hit harder” than the city of Charlottesville resulting in lost of some teachers and some programs. Classroom sizes will increase by one child in grades above 4th in the county.

Both Drs. Atkins and Moran spoke about the impact of technology on the world of education today. We must be able to expose students to the rapidly changing pace of technology and prepare them to explore and advance in “out of the box” thinking. Advances have been made in narrowing the much talked about achievement gap between black and white students. The importance of early childhood education, starting with classes for three years olds was felt to be the most important step that can be taken to change achievement gap statistics.

To the question about what can we, as citizens and Sojourners, do to support the school systems, the need for a strong consistent and constant education advocacy group was promulgated. The importance of public education needs to be frequently at the forefront of discussions in the community and regular support at times other than budget hearings or teacher cut-backs. The Education Action Group resulting from the Dialogue on Race was mentioned as a possible beginning of an advocacy group.

We thank Drs Atkins and Moran for their willingness to come to us on a Sunday morning and look forward to hearing from them again next year or before.

Two Eco-Justice Celebrations

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

On the morning of Sunday, May 2, the Eco-Justice Outreach Group led a joyful Sojourners worship service, beginning with the Invocation of the Four Directions through prayer and traditional Cherokee dance. Songs, scripture, the Time with Children, spoken meditation (and communion prayer all wove together to celebrate relationships within the Earth community and to invite reflection on our human place as members of God’s Creation.

In the afternoon, Sojourners Eco-Justice Group and the Interfaith Cooperation Circle of Central Virginia (ICCCV) hosted approximately forty-five people, from throughout the Charlottesville area, at Sojourners for a public showing of Renewal, an inspiring documentary about how people of varied faith communities are contributing to an environmentally sustainable future. Following the video – and after a pause for delicious refreshments – facilitated listening circles provided an opportunity for folks to share their thoughts and feelings on the issues raised. Participation was enthusiastic, with many expressing a renewed sense of energy and hope. You can read the spoken meditation at: http://www.sojourners-ucc.org/programs/sermons/05-02-10.html; learn more about ICCCV at: http://interfaithcooperation.org/ and check out Renewal at: http://www.renewalproject.net.

Social Justice Sunday

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

The next regularly scheduled meeting of Sojourners Social Justice Groups is June 6 after worship. These groups are open to anyone who would like to participate. If you’re new to the church or just haven’t picked a group yet, feel free to drop in on one or more of the meetings to find out what’s happening. You can check out details on this blog or on the Sojourners News bulletin board at church. Beginning June 6, on Social Justice Sundays, we’re inviting directors of various local agencies or organizations which we fund through our Service & Missions grants to join us for worship and to briefly address the congregation. We look forward to welcoming our first speaker, Cindy Stratton, a member of the Steering committee for the City’s Dialogue on Race, June 6. All speakers will be asked to stay for fellowship and the meetings after worship so that we can share more information about our respective social justice work.