Hancock Church Launches New Year With Climate Sunday and Celebration

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond at MIT

Hancock Church
Sunday, September 9th
Climate Justice Service
10 AM
Climate Justice Conversation 11 AM
1912 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, MA

All are welcome!

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond serves as the Minister for Ecological Justice at Bethel AME Church in Boston and as a fellow with the Green Justice Coalition, a partnership of environmental justice groups. Recently, she served as master of ceremonies for the Boston Women’s March, which was attended by over 175,000 people.

Rev. Mariama is an inspiring speaker who is active in the fight against climate change.

She asks the questions “What kind of people are we? What kind of people do we want to be?”

And affirms what is possible, “We are so much better than who we are being right now.”

She asks us to consider how our addiction to fossil fuels might be affecting the health of our society, in the same way an addict might deny they have a problem, while destroying everything of value in their lives. She has suggested that perhaps we need to approach this problem as we would in helping someone with an addiction… and that both faith and healing are required.

Rev. Mariama works to help people of color and white folks get to know each other so they can begin working together on the intersecting issues of climate and environmental justice.

Recent studies have found that communities of color in Massachusetts averaged 7.5 times as many hazardous waste sites and 10 times the toxic chemical exposure as white communities. That pollution hurts Black and Hispanic children in Boston who are suffering 4 to 6 times higher rates of hospitalization for asthma than white children.

“People are hungry for spiritual homes that reflect what they are feeling in this moment,” Rev. Mariama says. If you are hungry, if you are feeling it is time to begin working together on both climate and justice, please come to Hancock Church on September 9th at 10AM.



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Rev. Liz Walker to Moderate Panel on Raising Anti-Racist Children

Liz Walker, broadcast journalist, member of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, former anchor of WBZ-TV evening newscasts for almost 20 years.


How does one talk to children about racism? What kinds of conversation benefit children at what ages? Do you avoid the topic because you worry about getting it wrong? What are the consequences of not talking about racism?

Coaches, teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents, guardians—really, everyone—play a role in shaping children’s understanding. The Rev. Liz Walker will moderate a panel discussion, “Raising Anti-Racist Children: Strategies for Success,” to shed light on these questions and more, on Sunday, October 21, from 2 to 4 pm. The full complement of panel members and the location are yet to be determined at press time.

Liz Walker is a minister, communications specialist, and activist who has traveled the world to promote cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue. She has been the pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church since 2014, following studies at the Harvard Divinity School. Prior to that, she was the first Black woman to co-anchor an evening newscast in Boston, at WBZ-TV.

The “Follen Responds to Racism” team from Follen Church (Unitarian Universalist) in Lexington is planning the event in collaboration with other community groups. Interested in being involved? Contact Nancy Alloway at frr@follen.org.

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‘The Opiate Crisis in Massachusetts: Causes and Solutions’ at Temple Isaiah

Giles is a consultant with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services and the Center for Social Innovation. She teaches at Lesley University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and has clinical background working with adolescents and young adults.

Giles is a consultant with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services and the Center for Social Innovation. She teaches at Lesley University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and has clinical background working with adolescents and young adults.

Temple Isaiah will host a community conversation on the opiate crisis, titled “The Opiate Crisis in Massachusetts: Causes and Solutions,” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at 55 Lincoln St., Lexington.

Sponsored by the Temple Isaiah Mental Health Team, the event will feature speaker Maggie Giles, who will explore the opiate trends in society as well as steps already taken to combat the problem.
Giles is a consultant with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services and the Center for Social Innovation. She teaches at Lesley University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and has clinical background working with adolescents and young adults.

Refreshments will be served 7 p.m., and a Q&A and group discussion will follow the presentation. Temple Isaiah is handicapped-accessible.

For information: generalinfo@templeisaiah.net.

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Healing after Homicide

By Jane Whitehead



On Sunday, October 23, 1:30-3:30 p.m., the Gun Violence Prevention Group of the Follen Church Social Justice Action Team will host a presentation by the Dorchester-based Louis D. Brown Peace Institute (LDBPI) on their transformative approach to supporting families on both sides of murder. Featuring Peace Institute Founder & President, Chaplain Clementina Chéry and staff, the event is free and open to the public, at Follen Church, 755 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington.

Clementina (Tina) Chéry did not set out to be a peace activist or violence prevention leader. In the early 1990s her focus was on making a warm, secure environment for her three children in their Dorchester home. On December 20, 1993 their family life was torn apart when her eldest son, Louis David Brown, 15, was shot and killed blocks from home, caught in the crossfire in a shootout between rival drug dealers. He was on the way to a Christmas party for Teens Against Gang Violence.

From Pain and Anger to Power and Action

“When I was told that Louis was brain dead, I felt like a bomb exploded inside of me – my mind, my heart, and my soul,” Chéry told the congregation at Follen Church in a short, powerful talk on March 13, 2016. “When Louis was killed,” said Chéry, “I needed to find a way of channeling my pain and anger into power and action.” In 1994, she and her family founded the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute as a lasting memorial to her son, and a way of carrying forward his commitment to preventing violence in their community.

Clementina (Tina) Chéry

Clementina (Tina) Chéry

“When Louis was killed, I needed to find a way of channeling my pain and anger into power and action.”

Clementina (Tina) Chéry

Chéry told how in 2000, she reached out to Doris Bogues, the mother of Charles Bogues, the young man accused of killing Louis. “When we met at a local bar,” she said, “there were silent tears and a warm embrace, woman to woman, mother to mother, heart to heart.” In 2010, she met Charles Bogues face to face for the first time, and in 2012 worked with his mother, his support team and community leaders to plan his re-entry into society, as he prepared for his parole hearing. (Now on parole, Bogues works in construction and spoke at the Peace Rally after this year’s Mothers’ Day Walk for Peace, the Peace Institute’s signature annual fund-raiser.)


Forgiveness and Accountability

Recently, Chéry and the Bogues, mother and son, took part in a restorative justice panel as part of the Peace Institute’s new Intergenerational Justice Program. The program, Chéry told the Follen congregation, supports families on both sides of murder in their journeys to healing, accountability, forgiveness and reconciliation. “I know that extending my hand in forgiveness has saved Mr. Bogues and his family,” said Chéry. “It has also saved my family, and I have been an example to my children.”

In a recent email exchange, Chéry wrote that even in the middle of her grief immediately following the murder, and the pressure on her to step into the public eye, she was determined to focus “on who Louis was, what he believed in, how we raised him, and the values that were instilled in him,” rather than join in heated debates about “guns, gangs, drugs, prison and the death penalty.”

The first public event after Louis’s death was a celebration of his life, on what would have been his sixteenth birthday. The Chéry family asked guests to nominate a young person for the good she or he was doing in the community. “We asked people to focus on the assets of our young people and not on the deficits,” she said, and this continues to be central to the mission of the Peace Institute.

Healing, Teaching, Learning

Twenty-two years later, the LDBPI is a center of healing, teaching and learning for families impacted by murder, committed to helping not only families of victims, but also families of people imprisoned for murder. “Our purpose is to transform society’s response to homicide so that all families are treated with dignity and compassion, regardless of the circumstances,” said Mallory Hanora, LDBPI Communications and Policy Coordinator.

At the core of the Peace Institute’s programs are Survivor Outreach Services (SOS), offering immediate help and guidance to the families of homicide victims, from coordinating family support networks and assisting with funeral planning, to navigating the criminal justice system. According to the LDBPI website, the Institute serves close to 1000 people annually. The Louis D. Brown Peace Curriculum for students K-12 was recognized in 1996 by then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno for its contribution to reducing juvenile crime.

The Traveling Memorial Button Project features memorial buttons created by victims' families. COURTESY PHOTO.

The Traveling Memorial Button Project features memorial buttons created by victims’ families. COURTESY PHOTO.

The Traveling Memorial Button Project, which literally puts a face to murder victims by commemorating them in two-and-a-quarter-inch buttons, given out to family and friends and displayed all together on a large banner that travels across the country to conferences and community events, was recently named fifth on a WBUR list of 50 Best Public Artworks in Boston.

“It takes courage to turn a personal tragedy into a public service for good,” said James J. Kelly, the then-president of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in the 2011 citation of Tina Chéry as the organization’s Public Citizen of the Year. “Clementina Chéry is a tireless advocate for peace in struggling neighborhoods, and an inspiration to us all,” he said. Chéry’s other awards include Lady in the Order of St. Gregory the Great, bestowed by Pope John Paul II, the Search for Common Ground 2001 International Service Award, and the American Red Cross 1998 Clara Barton Humanitarian Award.

The Follen Connection

Members of the Follen Church community first met Peace Institute staff in 2010, following the murder of Jaewon Martin, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at the James P. Timilty School in Roxbury, who was shot dead on a Roxbury basketball court. Counselors from the Peace Institute were offering support and counseling to Martin’s schoolmates, who were in a tutoring program run by the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry at the nearby Roxbury Meeting house, in which Follen Church members participated.

“Over the years, we got to know Tina Chéry and her staff, and I and others were in awe of the work of the Institute, founded and staffed entirely by survivors of victims of gun violence,” said Anne Grady, chair of Follen’s Gun Violence Prevention Group, founded in the fall of 2013, who initiated the invitation to Chéry to speak at Follen. “We started sending people to the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace – last year 85 members of our congregation of 300 people walked,” said Grady, noting that for the past two years Follen donations to the Peace Institute through the Walk have been the largest from any faith community.

This year’s Walk, on May 8 2016, marked the event’s 20th anniversary and drew more than 15,000 people from communities throughout the Greater Boston area, starting at Field’s Corner in Dorchester and ending with a Peace Rally at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. PHOTO BY CHRIS LOVETT

This year’s Walk, on May 8 2016, marked the event’s 20th anniversary and drew more than 15,000 people from communities throughout the Greater Boston area, starting at Field’s Corner in Dorchester and ending with a Peace Rally at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. PHOTO BY CHRIS LOVETT

This year’s Walk, on May 8 2016, marked the event’s 20th anniversary and drew more than 15,000 people from communities throughout the Greater Boston area, starting at Field’s Corner in Dorchester and ending with a Peace Rally at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Among the walkers for the first time this year – the first time she’s found a substitute to take the Sunday service – was Follen Minister Claire Feingold Thoryn, who took part with her husband and daughters, then aged three and six. “To join that moving river of humanity walking through Boston was really incredible, and shows the support that so many people have for making Boston and all of our communities in the surrounding areas safer and more peaceful, ” said Feingold Thoryn.

Recognizing Strength as Well as Struggle

Feingold Thoryn hopes the October 23 event will raise awareness and promote engagement in the wider Lexington community, and deepen Follen’s existing partnerships with the Peace Institute and Urban Ministry. Given that “some of our communities are really devastated by gun violence and others are living in a world of privilege,” it’s particularly important to be “a partner and an ally and not try to create something new when there are already people out there doing really good work,” she said. Grady hopes people will be inspired and empowered by Chéry and her team. “I hope that people in Lexington will understand that there are things you can do to work for peace and help students at risk,” she said. Chéry welcomes the Follen community’s willingness “to bear witness, to listen, to learn, and to participate.” She added: “It’s very important to me that people outside of Boston see the beauty in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan and truly recognize our strengths, not just our struggles.”

Find out more about the work of the Peace Institute at the website: www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org

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First Parish to host weeklong forum on end of life issues


Front row:Marianne DiBlasi, Rev. Peter Boullata, Parish Minister, and Jane Eckert
Back row: Dorothea Bowen, Jane Beswick, Bill McKenney, Chair of the First Parish Board, and Marilyn Campbell

By Laurie Atwater  |

Question 2, the Death with Dignity initiative has been the most hotly debated of the ballot questions that Massachusetts voters will decide this fall. Because of its deep implications for one of the most profound human experiences, and its moral, religious, legal and ethical dimensions DWDA presents Massachusetts voters with complicated questions about a subject that most people would rather ignore.

Jane Eckert read an article on this question by Scott Helman in the April 2012 Boston Globe Magazine, and she was so moved by the story that she decided to bring an idea to her minister at First Parish in Lexington, Reverend Peter Boullata. “This is something that we never talk about,” Jane says, “that we don’t know how to talk about, and I thought, ‘wouldn’t is be great if we could do something on end of life issues at the parish?’”

They in turn presented the concept to the parish board. The result: an upcoming program called Choices at the End of Life: The Death with Dignity Initiative: A week-long exploration of personal, ethical and practical issues.

“I think that as a religious community,” says Reverend Boullata, “we are uniquely poised to have this conversation. Human mortality—that’s what religion does well.” And, he says, since First Parish is historically the “town church” it felt right to host this conversation with the town.

The forum is open. All are welcome according to Bill McKenney, Chairman of the parish board. “This is a natural fit for our mission.” he explains. “As Unitarian Universalists, we address complex issues with an open mind to seek information and learning. Our congregation really doesn’t have a position on this—if you talked to ten people here you’d probably come up with eight different opinions.” McKenney stresses the importance of “providing a safe and open environment” where he hopes people can disagree and disagree in a way that is respectful. “We want this to be a forum that is informative and supportive for discussing something as difficult as end of life.”

Reverend Boullata agrees, “It’s part of our calling as a faith community to be a venue for people asking questions which are spiritual issues as well as moral issues.”

Jane Eckert is particularly thrilled that they have been able to put together such a well-rounded week of informative sessions with an impressive list of speakers. “We’re hoping to have a diversity of perspectives represented—to see both the differences and the similarities. “Having lived through the past few years where there has been such rancor,” Eckert reflects, “We really want to nurture respect for differences and viewpoints here.”

Dr. Marcia Angell

The week will kick-off on Sunday October 21st with a panel discussion on the ballot question moderated by NPR health reporter Dick Knox. Dr. Marcia Angell who has been actively advocating for the ballot initiative will serve on the panel. Dr. Angell, who is a physician and served as the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, is currently a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Angell was the first of the original 14 petitioners to put the Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act on the ballot in November and is a member of the Massachusetts Death with Dignity Coalition (www.dignity2012.org). Also serving on the panel is John Kelly, a disability rights advocate and Director of Second Thoughts an organized opposition group (www.secondthoughts.org). John has been making the rounds of radio talk shows and forums (he spoke at Jay Kaufman’s last Open House) to add his special perspective to the opposition. Another opponent of the initiative, Mark Rollo, a physician in Fitchburg, Massachusetts will also serve on the panel.

The remainder of the week’s programming will focus on hospice and palliative care, legal issues around end-of-life, the Five Wishes program, talking with children and teens about death and finally the different religious views around death and dying. “We have been very fortunate with our panels,” Eckert says. We wanted to have a mix of professionals and real folk involved—not just people with a professional stake.”

BALLOT QUESTION 2 On Sunday October 21st the initial panel discussion at First Parish will take on the many issues surrounding the Massachusetts Ballot Question 2, Prescribing Medicine to End Life, or the Death with Dignity Act. The law would allow willing doctors to provide a patient with a prescription for drugs that when self-administered will end their life. Many patients have a DNR (do not resuscitate) directive or MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) orders in place. Both of these documents can direct hospitals, EMS personnel and other healthcare to withhold CPR, or intubation in cases of a life threatening event. Question 2 goes beyond both these instruments by allowing terminal patients to end their own life willfully and lawfully with a lethal dose of medication when and where they choose.

To qualify to receive the life-ending prescription, the patient must have a medical prognosis of six months or less to live. They must be informed by the doctor of all treatment alternatives. The patient must be determined to be competent, the doctor must be willing to participate (doctors can refuse to participate) and the patient must make the request three times including once in writing witnessed by two people (one who is not a relative by blood or adoption). The patient must be capable of ingesting the medicine without assistance. The patient must be an adult and can change their mind at any time. There is a waiting period imposed between requesting the prescription in writing and receiving the script from the doctor. A similar law passed in Oregon in 1997 and Washington State in 2009. The language of the Massachusetts act is virtually identical to the Oregon law. Massachusetts would be the first state on the East coast to approve the measure if it passes which means all eyes are on Massachusetts as a test case for advancing the law to other states.

John Kelly

The Massachusetts Medical Association (MMA) is opposed to Question 2. They argue that the proposed safeguards against abuse of the law are inadequate. On their website (www.massmed.org) the MMA outlines their opposing position saying, “Enforcement provisions, investigation authority, oversight, or data verification are not included in the act.” The MMA position paper ends with a quote from past president Dr. Lynda Young who states that “physician assisted suicide is incompatible with the physician’s role as a healer.”

Proponents of the measure like Dr. Marcia Angell disagree with the MMA position. In response to an email inquiry Dr. Angell wrote, “I think nearly everyone knows someone who has died a lingering, difficult death, despite state-of-the-art palliative care. Some of these patients would like the choice of ending their lives sooner and more peacefully. The Death with Dignity Act, which will be Question #2 on the November ballot, would give Massachusetts the same law that has worked well in Oregon for the past 14 years, and is now supported overwhelmingly by the public in that state.”

Dr Angell stresses the matter of personal choice, “It would permit dying patients in Massachusetts, with no more than six months to live, to ask their doctor for a prescription for medication that would allow them to die more peacefully, if — and only if — they choose, and if their doctor agrees. This would be an option, not a requirement, for both dying patients and their doctors. Most patients with terminal illness, of course, will not need this law, but some will, and I see no reason to require suffering patients to continue an agonizing, inexorably downhill course against their wishes.”

John Kelly sees the downhill course differently. I spoke by phone with John who is a passionate opponent of the measure. As a disabled person (a quadriplegic due to an accident early in life) and a disability advocate, John worries that independence, autonomy are equated with worthwhile quality of life in this argument. “We see this as a direct threat when the characteristics of our own lives are justification for state-supported suicide.”

Since disabled people are to varying degrees dependant on other people for their care, Kelly also believes that this characterization would send a dangerous message to the disabled. “This bill does not solve that problem. The real problem is that some people don’t get the care that they deserve or the social support that is necessary,” he says.

Critics of the bill worry about everything from incorrect diagnoses, callous profit-driven insurance companies, and cash-strapped families exerting pressure on sick family members because they can’t afford care or greedy heirs that may want to hasten their inheritance.

As part of their law, the Oregon Heath Authority has been required to do surveillance and to issue yearly reports. So far, Oregon’s data has not shown cause for alarm. The median age for those ingesting the medication was 71 in 2011. Most were white well-educated cancer patients; some had A.L.S. Only 1 person of the 71 was referred for a psychiatric evaluation. Doctors’ reports from Oregon indicate that people were most concerned with their quality of life, specifically the inability to participate in enjoyable life experiences (90.1 %), loss of autonomy (88.7%) and loss of dignity (74.6). Fear of pain does not seem to be a driving concern for those seeking the life-ending prescription. The data shows that remarkably few people actually take advantage of the law. In 2011, 114 individuals requested a life-ending prescription and 71 of those individuals actually died from the self-administered dose. However, use of the option has increased since its inception. In 1998 only 16 people died from the prescription they had requested. [Source:http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/year14.pdf]

PALLIATIVE CARE & HOSPICE CARE For many in the medical community, the answer is palliative care and hospice not physician-assisted suicide. Palliative care and hospice provide for comfort and give the patient the ability to die at home. Most agree that there has been a tremendous amount of progress around the practice of palliative care which provides pain management, anxiety relief, psychological support and panoply of alternative treatments. All of these alternatives are designed to help the dying patient make the most of their last days with the least amount of suffering. This will be the topic of the Tuesday forum: Hospice and Palliative Care-What are they? The program runs from 7-9PM.

Advocates of the Death with Dignity Act feel that palliative care and hospice can exist in harmony with the proposed law. Dr. Angell, who has been articulating the proponent argument around the state over the past few months often, turns the opposition argument on its head. When asked by local NPR host Callie Crossley why she supported the initiative, Dr. Angell said, “Why would anyone—the state, organized medicine—anyone be against it? You should let the patient decide when palliative care and hospice are over.”

Some experts feel that adopting the DWDA in Oregon has created better palliative care in the state because doctors want to make sure that a life ending prescription is truly a last resort for the patient.

A COMPLEX QUESTION A recent Suffolk University poll (http://www.suffolk.edu) of likely Massachusetts voters indicates that 64% of Bay Staters are in favor of the Prescribing Medication to End Life law, or Question 2. Western New England University Polling Institute conducted a poll in May showing 60% in favor.

Anyone who has been following this issue knows that it is a big topic with many overlapping themes, emotional hot buttons, religious implications and medical and legal repercussions. What makes good social policy? Good law? If it doesn’t affect your personal choice, should it matter if others have the ability to choose differently? And what about mistakes? What is the proper role of religion in this discussion? Can well meaning laws have unintended social consequences? Is it ever morally acceptable to hasten death?

These are some of the questions that will be explored at the Sunday forum and it is your chance to ask questions and think deeply about this difficult issue right here in Lexington among friends and neighbors.

“One of the things we Unitarians do well is that we talk. We don’t always agree, but we talk,” says Jane Eckert. “Even if you don’t come to the first night, there’s so much going on during the week including a night on how to talk about death with children.” Bill McKenney says, “Our hope is that people will come out and join us so we can all learn together.”

“We need to puncture those bubbles—that taboo.” adds Reverend Boullata, “I am hoping that people will begin to have some sense of what it means to die well, to begin thinking ‘How do I want to spend the last weeks and days and hours of my life and what will it mean to be well cared for in that circumstance?’ Maybe in a small way this week of programming will help with that.”




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