What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)
The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith. There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work. While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith, that is of Jesus Christ, cannot be stopped because faithful practice is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.
This month, we begin with church member/friend, Judy Raymond.
How long have you been involved with the Allin Church and in what capacity?
Having been a Congregationalist all my life and moving from the South Shore to be near my daughter and new grand-daughter we joined Allin Church, UCC about 14 years ago. I’ve served as an usher, on the flower ministry, as a knitter, house ministry, acolyte coordinator, deacon ministries, mission ministries, Snowflake Fair and nursery attendant over these past years.
What faith informed work do you do outside of the church? Through what organization? Tell us about this organization.
I joined the UCC Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team of the UCC MA Conference. This small body of both lay and clergy members works to educate our church community in Massachusetts about the issues related to immigration, to provide information and materials so that churches can educate their own congregations and their communities, to look for ways to help those who are or have immigrated to this country, and to watch and affect policies that relate to immigration, refugees and asylum.
**For more information here is the website address: https://www.macucc.org/immigration
I was then guided to The Dedham Refugee Resettlement Collaborative, consisting of Allin Congregational Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Saint Susanna Catholic Parish which is composed of it’s clergy, church and community volunteers. These communities have joined together to welcome a refuge family in finding a home in Dedham and give support in their relocation and beginning their new life in a new country, as well as aiding other towns with their refugee families.
**For more details, here is the website address http://www.saintsusanna.org/refugee_family.shtml
What of your faith (scripture, practice) informs the work you do? What is the passion that makes this work important to you?
There is a Scripture phrase that has deeply felt meaning for me, “I heard a voice in the wilderness”, when I realized that the “wilderness” meant our human societies, my heart said…. act, and find a place to fight injustice, especially for children. Not to be any kind of hero but to just be helpful.
Why do I do this ? It’s simple, I believe it is exactly what Jesus calls us all to do. Finding time is the hard part. Maybe you’ve noticed, I display a bumper sticker on the rear window of my car. For me, it sums it up.
“If you want Peace, Work for Justice”
My thoughts on Judy’s faith and practice:
I remember the morning Judy told me about her call to immigration reform. The news about massive numbers of children crossing the border alone, being “arrested” by border patrol and then held in large warehouse facilities had just hit the major news networks. Thousands of children sleeping on cots stacked next to each other. Churches opening their fellowship halls because there simply was not enough room or resources for so many unattended immigrant children. Judy’s heart had been broken and, as Leonard Cohen would say, through that crack entered the light of God and God’s call.
I could not be prouder of Judy’s bold, imaginative, relentless, and faithful action for immigration reform (big picture) and in supporting struggling immigrants (small picture). And that she offers her gifts of compassion and companionship through the Allin Church so that we might jump on her Peace Train, is an example of how divine grace cannot be held and must be shared outwardly.
With deep gratitude for your humble, faithful service, thank you, Judy. God has called you to justice. May your courage and faith precede you always!
Peace, Pastor Cheryl