I was able to attend a very enlightening and yet disturbing workshop in April. You may have seen the notice for it in the April CONNECTION: “Help or Hindrance: Faith Community Response to Domestic Violence”.
Domestic violence or abuse can take many forms–physical, verbal, psychological, and sometimes economic. In any form it is devastating, hurtful and damaging not only to the abused but many times to other family members who witness the abuse. Such abuse can often result in the use of deadly force.
What is hard for many people to wrap their heads around is how pervasive domestic violence is. The statistics are staggering but they only reflect the incidents which are reported. That which goes unreported and undetected is like the portion of the iceberg that lies beneath the water. Domestic violence goes on in our communities, in our neighborhoods and yes, even among the members of our congregations. It is a matter of public health and welfare, it is a moral concern, and it is a spiritual concern. We need to be raising the issue of domestic violence and spousal abuse in our congregations.
People need to know that there are pastors and people in our churches that they can talk to about their own situation in a safe and secure environment. They need to be led to resources that can help them make good decisions for themselves and for their families. They need to know they are not alone, they are not at fault, and they should not feel ashamed. The victim of such abuse needs to be given hope, hope for a future that does not involve hurt or harm.
If you would like to find out more about the resources available in our community, you can be in touch with our office or look for resources and links to various agencies on our web site. We would certainly encourage making the issue of Domestic Violence a topic for your congregational education program and a topic of importance for all ministerial groups in our region. The more awareness we can bring to this issue, the more people caught up in such violence will be able to find help and hope.
I would encourage you to be the “HELP” and not the “hindrance” to lifting the veil, which lies over this terrible and evil thing, we call domestic violence/spousal abuse. For people of faith who follow the prince of peace it is the right thing to do.
–Vernon A. Victorson
The Easter season, the season of Resurrection, is for us a season of new growth, rebirth, renewal and life. I noticed the day before our last snowstorm, which brought us to the beginning of Spring that the tulips were already pushing up through the ground in the beds at the point where Madison and Western come together. By the time you read this I hope we will have many more botanical signs that the winter is now past.
It is always amazing, no matter how many times we experience something like the advent of Spring, how there continues to be signs and signals of hope. Despite all that we have faced as a nation, as a world and in our own personal lives, there is still hope. This hope on which our faith is based infuses us with the Spirit, with power and energy to be about that to which God has called to be about, to rise up and get to it, or as one preacher once proclaimed, “to keep on keeping on”. It is the season of the Resurrection of our Lord, the tomb is empty and with it all those other signs that tell us the Lord lives and because the Lord lives we shall live also.
One sure sign of Spring and resurrection and renewal for the CACC is the CROP Hunger Walk on the first Sunday in May. I laid down the challenge at the Rally the other night thinking of my good friend and colleague, the Rev John U. Miller of blessed memory. I don’t see why we cannot get ourselves back to raising $100,000 and beyond. So use the month of April to get those walkers recruited and start asking for those sponsorship dollars. We will enjoy a great day together on May 5 walking to support those with whom we can share the abundance God has given us. Last year we were able to give $21,787 of what we raised to local food programs. This year, by meeting the challenge, we can do even more.
Please be aware that our Overflow Shelter will be closing for the Season on April 30th. That will be the night of our Shelter Closing Dinner as well. It is certainly time to say thank you to Pam Bullock and her staff for another well run and efficient season. We also thank those who volunteer on site and those who prepare and bring meals and many others who do so much, and all the churches and individuals who are so generous with their resources. It is because of all of the above that we can provide this ministry in our community.
Have a blessed resurrection season and enjoy all the wonderful signs of Spring!
–Vernon A. Victorson
The Capital Area Council of Churches has had a busy few weeks as we began 2013. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service was a wonderful ecumenical and interfaith event for our community. The “Bowling for Beds” event sponsored by Cornerstone Campus Ministry raised over $6,500 for our Overflow Shelter and many of our member churches participated. Our Winter Assembly and Annual Meeting at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Loudonville help set the course of the ministry of the CACC for the months ahead, and we honored Pastor John Knarvik with Giles award for Pastoral service on that same evening.
With our new Board now in place, we are ready to forge ahead maintaining the ministries that we have been a part of historically and seeking the vision of what we may yet be about in days to come. We will be in prayer and conversation together, for ours is a cooperative ministry working to be a servant of God in our community and in our world.
One of the benefits of having me in the interim position as Executive Director is that as a retired pastor of the ELCA, I have no regular Sunday morning responsibilities. From time to time I take various preaching assignments around our Lutheran conference, but there are a great many Sundays where I am free to visit other congregations. I want to make myself available to speak at other churches on Sundays concerning the work and ministry of the CACC. I would hope that member congregations would take advantage of this possibility to better inform their people of the wider ministries they are involved in through their participation in the Council. I would also welcome invitations from non-member congregations as a way of finding out more about what membership might mean for the ministry of their church. I hope in this way to expand the understanding and the awareness of what the Capital Area Council of Churches is doing in our area in Jesus name. Please call me and invite me to be a part of your Sunday morning community.
As the liturgical calendar evolves the season of Lent is now upon us for many of our member congregations. Lent is a time for reflection on who we are as people of God, a time for renewal as followers of Jesus Christ, and a time for reaffirming our faith in the love, promise, and hope God has revealed to us in Christ. I pray, then, that our Lenten journeys will be fruitful.
–Vernon A. Victorson
“Now let us come together and pray, let us listen and let us seek the comfort of our faith.”
With these words they began a vigil in Newtown, Connecticut, the Sunday after their terrible loss — a loss which has touched everyone across the country. We are all virtually speechless in the face of such atrocity. It occurs to me that when we are in such a situation, the only language that makes any sense is the language of faith. And it was that language that we ourselves brought to bear at our own Albany vigil on the steps of First Lutheran Church the Tuesday evening after the tragedy. We named the victims and then took solace in the prayers of our various faith traditions: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu. It was a real blessing to be part of such a gathering. And, it was a good example of the Council doing what it needs to do — facilitating prayer and listening for God.
The Newtown tragedy is at the forefront in our mind’s eye, and I hope and pray it stays there for a long time and helps to guide our conversation about what is flawed in our society, our culture, and our country. And then I pray that this conversation will lead to action for positive change.
As Christians we find ourselves in the season of Epiphany, a season of light breaking through the darkness which surrounds us. We are reminded that Christ has called us to bring his light to the world, the light of God’s love and peace and presence. Praying together with our sisters and brothers of other faith traditions is one of the ways we bring that light to the world, for in those actions we enable conversation which can in turn effect change with the help of God.
As we move refreshed into the New Year we will lean heavily on our faith, empowered by God to serve Christ by serving others as God’s people in our world.
“Now let us come together and pray.”
–Vernon A. Victorson
In Remembrance of the Victims on Tuesday, December 18th at 5:30pm on the steps of First Lutheran Church, 181 Western Avenue, Albany, New York. Sponsored by the Capital Area Council of Churches and First Lutheran Church.
Over the past two months we have been in the middle of a major fundraising time for the operation of the Council. Letters have been sent to member congregations and individuals requesting their continued support of the Council’s ministry. We have had our Fall Banquet and the annual Musical Celebration, both of which were great successes. But of course, the need continues as we move toward the end of one year and into the start of another. You should know that as of this writing we have dispersed the local share of this year’s Crop Walk Funds, $21,787, to 23 food pantries and 10 soup kitchens in Albany County. The Emergency Shelter is open and running every night and will continue to the end of April.
My task as Interim Director becomes clearer as the days go along: represent the Council at various meetings and events, be part of the ongoing ministry that is the CACC, and to observe, ask questions, and make comments when appropriate. “Interim”, as we all know, means a period of transition; transition implies that something new is about to take place. May we start envisioning what that “New” may look like!
Our office staff members, Kitt Jackson and Aine Leader-Nagy, join me in wishing you a blessed Advent, Christmas, and New Year.
–Rev. Vernon A. Victorson
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace scheduled for Sunday, November 11th at 3pm has been cancelled.
By now most of you know that the Rev. George Brennan has resigned from his position as Executive Director of Capital Area Council of Churches CACC and that I have been appointed Interim Director. As many of you may not know me all that well, let me give a little introduction. I am an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and served my last full time call at First Lutheran Church in Albany until my retirement in July of 2011. During my ministry in Albany I served on the Board of Directors of the CACC, including three years as the Board’s president. I have been involved with the Emergency Homeless Shelter from its inception and have had a close working relationship with many of the Council’s leaders over the years. This is not unfamiliar territory for me and I look forward to working with you as we continue the good work of the Council in the months to come.
We now hit the ground running as we open the Shelter for the season on November 1st. I hope we can all pay particular attention to this ministry and keep Pam Bullock and her staff, as well as the Oversight Committee, in your prayers as we open for yet another year. We look for the day when the powers that be say to us “you are not needed any more”, but nobody is telling us that yet. In fact it is the opposite –they look forward to the day we open each year. I ask that each of us and our congregations look to the needs of the Shelter as we consider our year-end mission giving.
The underlying superstructure of all the ministries and work of the CACC is that of the funds made available for the operation of the Council itself. To that end I remind you of two things happening this month. One is our annual Musical Celebration, which is set for Sunday, November 4th at 3 PM, at First Lutheran Church in Albany. What a great time to bring your friends and introduce them to the work of the Council of Churches!
The second is a letter which will ask for your financial commitment to the work of the CACC. When you receive this letter I hope that you will give it prayerful thought. The Council needs the support of its member congregations and of individuals who value the importance of the ministry that we are called to carry out together in the name of Christ.
I have taken the time this month to highlight the Shelter ministry, which is current and urgent, but the Council also enriches us spiritually with occasions for worship, prayer, and fellowship. Through events like the Interfaith Prayer Service on November 11th, we find mutual support for our work.
My hope is that next month I will be able to be clear with you as to what I see as my task as Interim Director for the next few months.
–Rev. Vernon A. Victorson
Open House at the Emergency Overflow Shelter
Thursday, Nov. 1 5:00-6:30pm 646 State Street, Albany, NY 12203
The seasonal Emergency Overflow Homeless Shelter, sponsored by the Capital Area Council of Churches and housed at First Lutheran Church in Albany, will open on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. All are invited to an open house to see the newly redecorated shelter from 5:00-6:30pm on that day. Call (518) 462-5450 for precise directions.
34th Annual Ecumenical Musical Celebration
Sunday, Nov. 4 3:00pm 181 Western Avenue, Albany, NY 12203
Join us for our annual ecumenical musical celebration at First Lutheran Church in Albany, NY.
Everyone is welcome! There will be a free-will offering to benefit the ministries of the Capital Area Council of Churches. Refreshments will be served after the program.
This year’s musical is directed by Dorothy Johnson and features guest organist Dr. Joseph Eppink as well as these local musical groups:
- The Calvary Ringers Bell Choir from Calvary United Methodist Church in Latham
- The College of Saint Rose Women’s Chorale
- The Lutheran Cluster Churches Choir
- Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir
- The Choir of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
- The St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church Chorale
- Guided Footsteps Dancers from Emmaus United Methodist Church
Questions? Please contact the Capital Area Council of Churches by calling (518) 462-5450 or by E-mail. Also find us on Facebook.
Responding To Racial Violence
Recently vandals spray-painted graffiti on the wall of one of our member churches, Macedonia Baptist Church. Because the content of the graffiti was racial in nature, the incident is even more significant. When I discussed the incident with Pastor Leonard Comithier, I promised that I would share my concerns with our other member churches. Before I could write these words, another incident of racial tragedy affected members of one of our neighbor Sikh communities. A gunman killed six members of a Sikh community in Wisconsin; and, three of those who died had relatives in the Sikh community in East Greenbush. Both of these incidents are tragic and prompt all of us to think about the problem of racism, which is much greater than we usually acknowledge.
I believe that it is incumbent on us as communities of faith to not only offer our sympathy but to also make a pro active effort to educate about racism. This would require a collaborative effort and would be a major contribution of churches toward eliminating all forms of racism in the future. Do any of our members share my interest in creating an anti-racism project here in the Capital District? If you do, please contact me.