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Participating Congregations and Organizations
  • American Muslim Voice
  • Bahá'í Community of Palo Alto
  • Beyt Tikkun Synagogue
  • First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) Palo Alto
  • First Evangelical Lutheran Church Palo Alto
  • First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto
  • First United Methodist Church Palo Alto
  • Mountain View Buddhist Temple
  • Palo Alto Buddhist Temple
  • Palo Alto Friends Meeting
  • St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Palo Alto
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Palo Alto (Catholic)
  • Social Action Committee of the Redwood City Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship
  • Trinity Church in Menlo Park (Episcopal)
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos
  • West Bay Chapter, Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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Ukraine: Faith-based Resources for Prayer, Reflection, Action

As people committed to work for peace and justice, the war in Ukraine calls to our hearts, minds and lives. Our Ukrainian siblings are suffering, and need our prayers, contributions, and action. While we may not know exactly how to respond most faithfully to such suffering and violence, we cannot look away. It is a time to dig deeply into our faith traditions, and to learn from others. Below are some resources MVPJ has gathered.

ACTION:
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker-based) offers this "Six Nonviolent Ways Congress Can Help Ukraine." They note, "While it may feel as though more weapons and punishing sanctions are the only options, in fact U.S. leaders  have many nonviolent options available to save lives and advance peace. They need to understand that using diplomacy, working through multi-lateral institutions, supporting local peacebuilders, providing humanitarian aid and protecting refugees are not "weak" responses. These are our best tools for bringing about a durable solution to the crisis." Read more here.

DONATIONS:
Click here for our page of contribution suggestions.


PRAYERS AND REFLECTIONS:
PRAYER:
Rabbi Naomi Levy wrote the Prayer of Peace for the People of Ukraine. "God, Our Shelter, bring peace. Let it rain down from heaven like a mighty storm. Let it wash away all hatred and bloodshed. Please, God. Please, God. Amen."

PRAYER: The National Council of Churches offers these prayer, one focused particularly on diverse faith communities in Ukraine. 

REFLECTION: Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, part of the United Religions Initiative, has posted a reflection from the convener, Bishop William E. Swing. Click here to download

PRAYER: The Chabad Community offers a prayer for Peace in Ukraine, concluding with, "we pray for the day when “nations will beat their swords into plowshares … and not learn war anymore."

PRAYER: Pope Frances tied support for peace in Ukraine to Christian's Ash Wednesday (3/2/22), calling for prayer, fasting, and opening hearts and borders to refugees. See Religious News Service 3/2/22 article.

STATEMENT: The Islamic Group Network Statement on the Invasion of Ukraine is A Call for the Right of Self-Determination, Early and Consistent Diplomacy to End all Conflict, and Peace as our Mutual Goal to Prevent Wars.


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Global Day of Action for Peace in Ukraine

About 130 people gathered on the corners of El Camino & Embarcadero on Sunday, March 6 as part of a GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE!

At the conclusion of the vigil, MVPJ steering committee members Rev. Eileen Altman and Ellen Stromberg offered prayer.

"Comfort the children and heed their cries... Make us a people who love our children, all of our children, more than we love greed, power and control." Click here to read Eileen's full prayer.

Ellen spoke of a conversation she had that morning (3/6/22) with Ukrainian Rabbi Julia Gris who had just escaped to Poland. While Gris has very little with her now, "What she does have is her understanding that the world is also made up of good people, who are kind and caring. Her hope is in the humanity of everyone reaching out." Click here to read Ellen's words and prayer.

Click here for regularly updated actions, donations, prayers and reflections in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. 


Thanks to Jack Owicki from ProBonoPhotos.org for these wonderful pictures! We have posted just a few here.
Click here to view the full album from this event on their website.  There are some awesome ones that we can't display well here.

Click here to view a growing album of photos of Global Day of Actions from across the nation and around the world!


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Climate Action Opportunities

On January 11, 2022 MVPJ hosted Pastor Danielle Parish of Spark Church, an official UN Observer of the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. She inspired us again to do our part to support environmental justice, and particularly to connect you with faith-based local opportunities for action.

While Danielle's riveting presentation to us was not recorded, click here to to view a youtube recording of her presentation on December 15, 2021. 


Two local faith-based climate action organizations you should know about are:


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Roman Catholic Archbishop Wester Pastoral Letter Calls for Nuclear Disarmament

Roman Catholic Archbishop John C. Wester from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, issued a pastoral letter, "Living in the Light of Christ's Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament," on January 11, 2022.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a special role to play in advocating for nuclear disarmament given the presence of two nuclear weapons laboratories and the United States of America’s largest repository of warheads located within its boundaries.  Archbishop Wester states, “The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a special responsibility not only to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but also to encourage its active implementation.” He goes on to “…invite us to have a conversation together about what it means to follow the risen, nonviolent Jesus who calls us to be peacemakers, put down the sword, and love everyone, even the enemies of our nation.”

Click here to see a one-page summary of the letter.


Celebrate the first anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons locally with street vigil in front of the Livermore Nuclear Lab on Friday, January 21. Click here for more information from our web calendar. Sponsored by Tri-Valley CARES.


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A Guided Meditation on Being Whole

At our December 11, 2021 Peaceful Presence, Eric Sabelman of the Palo Alto Friends Meeting (Quarker) and MVPJ Steering Committee, offered the attached "Guided Meditation on Being Whole."

Simple -- and profound -- we offer it to you for whenever you need it.

"When you are done, what is left will be you, and only you.
You have the strength to hold what is needeful in your life, and discard what is not."

(end of meditation)


Maryam Mostaghimi from the Palo Alto Baha'i Community and also the MVPJ Steering Committee, offered this  Báhá’i Prayer for Humanity, beginning, "Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household."


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Human Rights for All: A Multifaith Call to Action

On the Eve of World Human Rights Day:
Human Rights for All: A Multifaith Call to Action
Thursday, December 9, 7pm
First United Methodist Church
625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto
The gathering was in-person with COVID safety requirements* and also streamed via youtube.

We came together from diverse faith and spiritual traditions to stand in solidarity for the human rights of all people, locally and globally.

Missed it? Want to hear it again? Watch the event on youtube anytime!

Click here to view the wonderful pictures by ProBono Photo. Thank you ProBono!!

 Click here to see ABC7 News coverage and interviews.

In light of multiple hate messages and incidents in our local community, including some personally threatening individuals and community leaders, we gathered on the Eve of World Human Rights Day to say NO to hate and YES to the dignity and worth of every human being.

Confirmed Speakers:
Rev. Dr. Debra Murray, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church & MVPJ Steering Committee Member
Click here to link to Rev. Murray's bio
Caryn Cranston, SEEDS (helping homeless & street youth) Outreach Coordinator
Click here to download Caryn Cranston's bio
Imam Shaykh El Bakri - Khateeb at Saratoga Masjid (West Valley Muslim Association Mosque)
Click here to link to Imam El-Bakri's bio
Lydia Kou, Palo Alto City Council Member
Rabbi Sheldon Lewis - Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Kol Emeth & former MVPJ Steering Committee Member
Click here for link to Rabbi Lewis' bio
Rev. Gerardo Garcia Palacios, Chaplain/Spiritual Care Provider and PCUSA Minister
Click here to download Gerardo Garcia's bio; Click here to download Rev. Garcia's speech
Rev. Dr. Sakena Young-Scaggs, Senior Associate Dean for Religious & Spiritual Life at Stanford, and Pastor of Memorial Church
Click here to link to Rev. Young-Scagg's bio

 "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?
In small places, close to home --
so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. ...
Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.
Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home,
we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
- Eleanor Roosevelt 

Click here to use our Facebook page to invite others!


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Solidarity Vigil Photos

Sunday, August 29, 2021, people gathered to "Surround the City with Light and Love" in response to a series of hateful and racist incidents in our community, escalating in racist and threatening signs targeting the Rev. Dr. Debra Murray, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto. We came together to pray - with our words and feet, our hearts and our lives - that we can be a community devoted to respect, dignity and safety for all people. You can download the inclusive prayer handout here.

Organized by Palo Alto faith leaders, people of many diverse traditions participated. While there is still much work to be done to foster a truly anti-racist, welcoming and liberating community, there is no doubt that, in Pastor Debra's words, "we set some powerful love and energy loose in the world" that afternoon!

The J-Weekly (Jewish News of Northern California) covered the event with this article.

We greatly appreciate Jack Owicki, ProBonoPhoto.org for the wonderful photographs documenting the event, including the one to the left, and those below in this article. Click here for the full photo gallery on the Pro Bono Photo website.



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"White nationalism is the greatest threat to peace"

"White nationalism is the greatest threat to peace," Fr. Bryan Massingale, S.J., stated in accepting the Pax Christi USA 2021 Teacher of Peace Award.

Fr. Bryan Massingale, a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, theologian, scholar, activist and professor, insisted that, "the greatest threat to peace in our time, both nationally and even internationally, is the rise of white nationalism." He explained this is so because white nationalism, "is intersectional, threatening social stability and human flourishing on multiple levels and fronts."

Massingale challenged Pax Christi -- and challenges all of us -- that we must not only be anti-war and pro-nonviolence. "You must also make explicit linkage between peacemaking, racism, consumerism, and ecological justice. And you have to be LGBTQ inclusive."

Referring to a quote from Albert Einstein, Massingale concludes his speech, "No problem can be solved from the level of consciousness that created it. We need new ways of thinking, living, loving. New ways of praying and being. This is the deepest call of our faith. We need to be contemplative witnesses of the possibilities of human transformation. ... For that to happen we need to be grounded in the Truly Real, in that Infinite Radical Love Who is deeper and bigger than we are." Finally, he invites us to recommit ourselves to what Martin Luther King, Jr. called, "the long and bitter - but beautiful - struggle for a new world."


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Responses to Situation in Afghanistan

Many of us are watching the news about the people of Afghanistan with horror and broken hearts. As people of faith committed to peace and justice, we want to reach out to help, knowing we are one global family.

Below is a brief list of links for possible responses compiled by members of the MVPJ steering committee, a useful article from the New York Times with ways to help refugees, as well as one faith-based response to the U.S. recent drone attacks.

Islamic Relief USA - This page from their website has a very thorough and detailed list of Afghan charities and NGOs offering everything from medical service to legal aid, all of which have a proven, positive track record working in Afghanistan. As explained on the website, Islamic Relief itself is coordinating efforts with other on-the-ground organizations for emergency food, shelter, water, and hygiene.

HIAS - A Jewish organization that supports with refugees, is working to advocate for resettlement rights for Afghans, and working directly with newly arrived Afghan families in the United States.

The International Rescue Committee's website provides good background on the crisis, and offers direct support to displaced Afghans.


Locally, the City of Fremont is raising money to directly support Afghan refugees arriving in the area. Fremont is home to one of the largest Afghan communities in the country.

This New York Time article lists charities, organizations and funds to help Afghans resettle.

Women for Afghan Women is the largest women's organization in the country. Its ultimate goal is to transform the norms of violence and oppression into those of peace and equality. Donations help keep clients and staff safe and provide emergency support for others.

Pax Christi USA (Roman Catholic) has a Pray-Study-Act page with good resources, and also issued this statement condemning the U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, which only furthers the cycle of violence.

Read below for some local, bay area efforts that you can support.


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Statements and Actions on Israel/Palestine Violence

Once again, our hearts break at the eruption of violence afflicting Israel/Palestine and Gaza.  At the heart of the conflict is Jerusalem, a city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  Injustice on the level of home confiscation and restriction of assembly and worship for Palestinians have given rise to the latest round of violence, with missiles killing large numbers in Gaza, killing smaller numbers in Israel but nonetheless spreading terror and trauma.  Extremist elements among Jewish and Arab Israelis are engaging in rioting and personal combat that could tragically set back the goal of shared society for a very long time.

As people of faith, we know that violence begets more violence and hatred begets more hatred.  We pray that the power of love and justice will somehow prevail over the precious Holy Land, healing the long-standing wounds of injustice, hatred, and war.

We call for an immediate halt to hostilities—on the part of individuals, nationalistic groups, and governments.  More combat will only engender more trauma and hatred in populations long battered by war and injustice.

Our prayers are with all those in the region, and all of our neighbors, family, and friends who are deeply connected to Israel and Palestine.  May God’s peace and justice soon conquer the forces of violence and oppression.

Recommended Actions:
1. Sign this "Urgent US Leadership is Needed on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" statement from J Street
2. Call or write your members of Congress, demanding U.S. action to pressure both sides to adopt a halt to hostilities.

For fuller statements from a variety of multifaith organizations and partners, click "read more" below.


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