May 2017 Newsletter


May 2017 Newsletter

Notes From West Mountain                                                The Reverend Mark E. Diters


Advocacy in faith…a prayer…dire days, hopeful days…

“We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

This past week I spent four days with approximately one thousand “people of faith” examining and discussing the wide array of challenges before our country. And at the same time, how best to extend a faithful political stance which furthers the causes of those most disadvantaged in our country and our world. We did so striving to not engage in “pie in the sky” rhetoric or worse, simple wishful thinking. Endeavors such as this test even the most intelligent and most faithful among us.

The theme of this year’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days drew from a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. from 1967 in which he named the “giant triplets” that belabored and endangered our county. The speech was in opposition to the Vietnam War. Those triplets were: racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. With much regret, it is so very clear how prophetic his words were.

Following the days of discernment, prayer, worship and fellowship, those that were able went to Capitol Hill and visited the offices of the Senate and Congress to put forward our concerns and to advocate for those who on their own could not. Over five hundred people took part on Monday and nearly every Senator and Congress person’s office was visited.

While researching around some facets of the presentations I came upon the prayer on the front page, which seemed to share the sense and passion of the weekend. This prayer was the conclusion of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s last presidential speech. Earlier in that speech he warned our nation regarding living only for today, for the balance needed between the benefits of freedom and freedom’s duties, and for great caution in the face of the growing and vast industrial, military complex.

To think, two disparate voices, President Eisenhower and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke then words that may perhaps be even more cogent and true today than they were then.



When I was twelve years old I attended the Friendship Conference for those entering 7th grade. I slept in a musty screened cabin with seven other boys, bunk beds in each corner, and a counselor’s bed centered between us. The conference was made up of about 120 boys and girls and I remember barely a thing. What I do remember is that we sang songs that one could not likely sing in church and I had a crush on a girl named Missy. The first lines of one of the songs…

“Five foot two, eyes of blue, walks upon your swimming pool, has anybody seen my guy.  Five foot two he’s a Jew, but he loves us Christians too, has anybody seen my guuuuuy!”

Whatever did happen there it was the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith from an alternative stance. It was the first seed planted that engaged me in seeing God in all things; our creation, relationships, and in particular all other human beings. Experiencing spirituality and faith in the great outdoors, with a wide array of people young and old, provides contours and context for our religious lives that go beyond the boundaries usually felt. Since that summer, I could not possibly say how many times I have returned, as camper, staff member, volunteer counselor, parent of a camper, dean…my ministry and much of my spiritual life is owed primarily to that experience and by extension to Silver Lake.

This month’s Second Mile Offering is dedicated to the Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, Connecticut. Gifts to Silver Lake this May will be forwarded to the camp for camper scholarships for underprivileged and disadvantaged youth. Through these gifts, children and teens are afforded a chance of a lifetime and I pray that as many as possible might receive this assistance. Please give generously, often, and from the heart.



The Flagg Road UCC Knitting Group encourages any and all knitters to join them at Ruth Rankin’s HMV Cottage M on May 9th and May 23rd at 1:30 pm. Scarves are still needed for the ongoing Chase-The-Chill project.



May has become one of the busiest months of the year. Schools, sports, arts, all the programs that operate on a school centered calendar amp up their efforts summing up their year’s activities, finishing competitions, and holding concerts, shows and recitals. Not wanting to add to the myriad of events but having timely opportunities to engage together we have some wonderful events scheduled.

For Mother’s Day, at 4:00 pm May 14th, we will welcome The Rev. Van Parker for a reading from his latest Poetry collection, Letting in The Light.  We will begin with a wine and cheese reception in the lounge and then move to the sanctuary for the reading. His past readings have been delightful, sharing his insight, spirit and wit. We are so grateful that he includes us in his readings. Van will have copies of his poetry collections for sale and signings as well.

Reza Mansoor, author of Stigmatized, From 9/11 to Trump and Beyond, will come on May 21st for a Pot Luck early dinner and discussion. His book expresses his and other’s experiences as a Muslim here in this country and describes the efforts he has been involved in to lessen the gap between peoples of different faiths and nationalities. It is a thought provoking, powerful read. We have copies available in the office for loan if you have not read it. There is a sign-up sheet in the lounge for the event. One note, we ask that the food shared should be Halal, (lawful in Arabic). Most of us are more familiar with Kosher guidelines which are nearly identical. There are many on line informational sources if you have questions.

Lastly, on May 28th the newly approved for ministerial ordination, Elly Mendez-Angulo will be here to offer our Sunday’s sermon. She is a powerful presenter with a rich background of experiences. She is a member of the Manatial de Gracia, worshipping at First Church in West Hartford. She is the living expression of what is new and emerging in our United Church of Christ. We are most pleased that she will be with us and help us hear of her faith journey. Her passion and her joys flow!



Everyone is invited to the church’s Spring Fling on Sunday, May 14th! The children will be partaking in the morning service and the teachers and graduates will be recognized. Then the Youth Group will be setting up some lawn games for after church! Please plan to join us in celebrating our youths and the greater church community.



The Youth Group will be helping to celebrate the Spring Fling on Sunday, May 14th. Youth Group members, please let Liz or Linda know if you are available to come early (9:30) to set up or stay after church to run the games.

June’s event will be our much-awaited hike up the Heublein Tower! Please save the date, June 11th. We will leave after church, hike, and enjoy lunch at the top of the Heublein. Liz and Linda will drive the Youths home (approximately 2:30). Please wear sturdy, comfortable shoes, and bring a sandwich (Liz and Linda will provide the rest). Friends are welcome! Please let Liz and Linda know if you can come!



2017 Spring Action at Silver Lake

May 5 – 7

Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon

From chopping wood to repairing buildings, moving picnic tables to raking leaves, there’s a project for everyone, high schoolers through adult.

Environmental Justice For All! Retreat

May 19 – 21

Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon

Environmental justice and leadership training for youth in grades 9-12 who care about the health of their communities.

Silver Lake Open House

Silver Lake Conference Center’s Open House is Sunday, May 21, 2-4 pm. Silver Lake staff, counselors, and deans are ready to introduce you to camp! A visit to Silver Lake before camp is the best way for a first-time conferee to know what to expect. We’ll provide the cookies, you bring your questions. See you there! RSVP for Open House to

Youth Synod

June 30 – July 5

Baltimore, MD

This event is for young leaders ages 13 to 18 who want to experience the vibrant diversity of the wider church.   Participation is limited to 18 from the Connecticut Conference. Registration is now open.



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