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First Congregational

United Church of Christ

... exploring the frontiers of faith in Jesus


Why Don't they Go Back?

August 08, 2019
Written by Peter Makari

In July, the U.S. President reacted to four U.S. Congresswomen's critiques of certain administration policies, tweeting, "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" - a statement conveying a racist worldview and xenophobic attitude.

The phrase "go back" is often used to make a claim about who belongs and who doesn't, with little to no interest in the histories and realities of forced migration. Today, according to the United Nations, more than 70 million people have been forcibly displaced, the largest number in recorded history. Causes include war, violence, persecution, climate change, drought and famine, impoverishment, exploitation, and the legacies of colonialism. All people share a preference to remain safe and secure in their homes and communities, if that were an option. For victims of these circumstances, it most often is not.

Every region of the world - and many of our UCC and Disciples' global partners - faces the impact of global forced migration daily, whether by experiencing the influx of people who have been forced from their homes, responding to their needs, or advocating for policies to improve the ways that nations address the issues of migration. We must ask why people are fleeing home; how temporary is their condition as they wonder what their future will hold; and what are their real options?

Migration, displacement, and exile are permanent realities in human history. Biblical texts are replete with stories of people, families, and communities that have been forced from their place of residence, including Jesus and the Holy Family. The theologian and scholar of world Christianity, Jehu Hanciles, has said that if you remove migration stories from the Bible, there wouldn't be much left.

Walls, exclusion, and paying off other countries to contain forcibly displaced people are not viable solutions. As the Church, we have a different understanding of how we ought to care for each other as human beings, and we must make our voice heard to hold countries - including our own - accountable to higher standards of policy and practice.

This summer, the UCC General Synod and Disciples General Assembly addressed the issue of global forced migration by affirming a vision of God's family that is inclusive, accepting and welcoming; by committing to support global partners' responses to the needs of displaced people and advocating for the rights of refugees; by agreeing to counter all forms of racism, discrimination, bigotry, and xenophobia and to work on issues of economic, climate, and immigration justice; and affirming the call upon our government to implement international agreements on migration.

Responsible, comprehensive, and collective responses to global forced migration are urgent, and available. Rather than blaming and vilifying with the question, "Why don't they go back?" we are called to ask and answer, "How can we work together to welcome our neighbor?"

Peter Makari is Executive, Middle East and Europe Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Night Out!




Thanks to everyone who contributed to and participated in our local National Night Out event last week! It was a beautiful success due to Liz Thorpe's delicious cookies and Beth Lauterbach's sweet watermelon! Katie Thomas kept kids young and old busy painting rocks, and Ed Dams and Kyle Lindaman wrangled our tables and chairs for service in the park. Neighbors, church members, business people, firemen and classic cars enthusiasts enjoyed lovely weather, music and prizes. Everyone's involvement is much appreciated! More photos from the evening can be found here!

House of Hope Would Like Your Help!

HouseofHopeExciting news! House of Hope was one of 200 agencies selected (the only one in the Cedar Valley!) out of 2,000 nationwide to compete for a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant! The top 40 agencies with the most votes will each be awarded $25,000.

The voting starts August 14th and goes through the 23rd. This is so exciting for House of Hope and the Cedar Valley! Here is link you can use to vote for the House of Hope: Vote HERE. You can vote every day through August 23rd and you can apply all 10 of your votes to House of Hope.

Thanks for your help!

Cedar Valley Interfaith Council

Celebrate Diversity and Community with the Cedar Valley Interfaith Council at the KBBG Parade August 17!

Cedar Valley Interfaith Council (CVIC) is: "People and communities of faith: gathering in peace as friends to share wisdom and compassion for others; and working together for peace and justice."

The CVIC will be one of many community groups that will celebrate the contributions of Waterloo's North End Community as participants in the 2019 KBBG Parade on Saturday, August 17. Please come and march with us under the CVIC banner!

The 2nd KBBG Parade begins at 10 a.m. It'll start at the corner of East 4th Street and Donald Street, moving down East 4th Street to Sumner Street. Then it will travel up Sumner to Beech Street, take a right on Beech Street, a left on Oneida Street, and will end at Ferguson Field.

The next Cedar Valley Interfaith Council meeting will be Thursday September 5th at 9:15 am at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4000 Hudson Road, Cedar Falls, Iowa. Together, we can wade through these tricky waters. Together, we can promote unity by emphasizing the shared hope among our faith traditions. Please consider joining us!

Pastor's Schedule

Join Pastor Scott from 3-5pm
Wednesday August 14 at Cup of Joe in Cedar Falls.

Wednesday August 21 at Sidecar on Ridgeway in Waterloo.

Music Practice Begins

Wednesday, August 21st.

Bells (5:30pm)
Choir (7:00pm).

Please consider joining us!


Our August Sermon Series continues through The Epistle of James. This short book (only 5 chapters!) is traditionally attributed to James the Just aka the brother of Jesus. It is a book written to a congregation trying to match their faith with actions. Come and listen to how these words still speak to us today!

August 18: James 3:1-4:3
   Two Kinds of Wisdom
August 25: James 5:7-10, 13-20
   The Power of Community

Wednesday Activity Nights!

Beginning Wednesday, September 11th, we will be bustling with activities Wednesday evenings. Join us for the following:

Bell Choir Practice: 5:30pm
New Book Study with Potluck: 6:00pm
(Krazy Kinfolk: Exploring Dysfunctional Families of the Bible)
Youth Group: 7:00pm (Middle and Senior High)
Chancel Choir Practice: 7:00pm

Welcome to Our New Organist!

Hudson Lourenço will be joining us Sunday, August 18th as our new organist.

HudsonHudson is a Brazilian native from São Paulo. His first contact with church music was through many relatives, most of them being church musicians as well, still during his childhood. In 2016, he graduated from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, with a bachelor's degree in Music with an emphasis in Organ Performance.

Last May, Hudson graduated from the master's program in Organ Performance at the University of Iowa. In Iowa City, he served as the organist for St Mark's United Methodist Church and the First United Methodist Church. Some of Hudson's hobbies include cooking, listening to music, and biking.

The Fine Arts Board is hosting a reception in his honor following worship this Sunday, August 18. Please join us in welcoming him to our church family!

The Canterbury Forum

In its fourteen years of presenting programs about religion, society and culture and how they interact with and relate to one anther, the Canterbury Forum has explored aspects of Islam, Judaism, Eastern traditions, Catholicism, and Fundamentalism, but as a number of people have pointed out, it has overlooked the mainline Protestant denominations to which a large percentage of American Christians belong. Mainline Protestants may know a great deal about their own denominations, but how much do they know about the beliefs, practices, and histories of the other churches in town? So, in its planning session last fall the Coordinating Committee decided to schedule in programs periodically to address that oversight.

The first will be the Forum's inaugural program this fall. On Sunday, August 25th, Rev. Joe Greemore, the pastor of First American Baptist Church in Waterloo, will present "The Baptists: A Study in Diversity" exploring the Baptists, America's largest Protestant community, how they originated, what their basic beliefs and practices are, and how very diverse a tradition they have become. A well-known and dynamic figure in Waterloo's interfaith movement, Pastor Greemore is ideally qualified to guide us through the fascinating landscape that is the Baptist world.

Canterbury Forum programs are presented in Will Hall at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 2410 Melrose Drive in Cedar Falls. The programs begin at 7:00 PM and are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there.

For more information about the Forum and future (or past) programs, visit them at

Veteran's Home Project

Church Row

Nearing completion:1417 West 4th St, Waterloo; a renovated 3 bedroom home with 1 1/2 baths, central air, sun room, dining room, large patio, fenced back yard, and 2- car garage. Close to schools.

When completed this affordable home will be sold to a military veteran family. To learn more call Yolando at 319-291-2512, or email

Showings are being scheduled for this home. If you know a veteran family looking for a newly renovated affordable home, please have them call Ed at 319-231-6572 for information about down payment assistance, zero closing costs, and work credit allowances.

Summer Personal Care Drive

Thanks again for participating in our Personal Care Drive! In total your church alone donated 332 pounds of items. As you know, that adds up to a lot of items!

Agnes Kress, NorthEast IA Food Bank
319-235-0507 or

Celeste's Farewell to UNI Concert

There are some more pictures from the concert (thanks to Diane Highnam) posted at Celeste's Concert.

A note from Celeste:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! To my cherished brothers and sisters in Christ, First Congregational Church family, How I thank God for each and every one of you. I'm so grateful to have labored with you in our collective servant work for the Lord to 'do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God.'

What a wonderful time on Monday August 5th, I gave my best in song and words to lavish my heartfelt love upon you all. Praise be the Lord! We raised $700.00 in donations for KBBG 88.1 FM and $800.00 for the Children of Hope Africa. Thank you!

I left my professional duties at UNI yesterday, content and ready to experience the next pathway and journey with Jesus in retirement. However and where ever God leads, we shall continue to labor to build Christ's Kingdom on earth and Glorify His Holy Name. Until we meet again...Shalom!
~ Celeste