Archive for social justice

Sign Up for Compassion Week Projects, Oct. 3–9

Compassion Week 2015 child painterYou are invited to put our fall “Love Does” theme into action by participating in one or more service and social justice opportunities throughout the Peninsula or on our church campus during our annual Compassion Week, scheduled for October 3–9. Please invite your friends and family to join us! Our goal is to get 2,000 participants from Los Altos United Methodist Church and the community engaged in acts of compassion.

There will be no regular Sunday worship services on October 9. Throughout Compassion Week, our worship will be through our service!

Love serves: hands-on opportunities
Visit the registration site to browse the listings and sign up. Activities appropriate for all age groups have been planned. Space is limited for many of these projects—sign up soon! If you need assistance, contact We look forward to serving with you.


Compassion Week 2015 blanket makingProjects to do at home or with your small group
Several flexible projects can be done any time you’re free—at home, with friends, or at your regular small-group meeting! These projects are noted on the registration website with “Pick Your Date” in the title. Contact the listed project leader for instructions to pick up supplies for making cards, fleece blankets, knitted hats and scarves, or letters for social justice.

Design your own service opportunity
If you want to get creative, arrange your own service project with family and friends! Please email the Compassion Week team to let us know what you’re planning so we can add your experience to our final tally.

Save the date: Compassion Week Celebration
Sunday, October 16, 12:00–2:00pm, Creekside Center
To share the successes and stories of our service week, Los Altos UMC is holding a lunch celebration the week after Compassion Week. Meet the organizations we served, share stories about your service experiences, celebrate with worship, and watch a slideshow of photos from various projects. We will also have a Nothing But Nets Basketball Shoot-Out Tournament! Watch for details coming soon.

Register Now for Poverty Simulation, Aug. 28

Poverty Simulation Step Up Silicon Valley

Thousands of men, women, and children live in poverty in Silicon Valley, and with skyrocketing housing costs, trying to make ends meet is more stressful and elusive than ever. To gain greater insight into and compassion for the challenges they endure, sign up for the Poverty Simulation, a unique role-playing event that allows you to take a deep dive into life with a shortage of money. In this fast-paced activity, you will experience four weeks of poverty in one afternoon, role-playing as a member of a low-income family struggling to provide food, shelter, and other basic necessities while navigating through community resources. You will also meet people who have lived in poverty and discuss opportunities to create a truly thriving community. The experience will touch you on intellectual, emotional, and spiritual levels.

The Poverty Simulation will be held on Sunday, August 28, 12:00–3:00pm in Creekside and is open to adults and high school students. Space is limited! Visit the registration page for more information and to register. Contact Nancy Peterson with questions or to volunteer at the event if you participated in the simulation last year.

The event is sponsored by the LAUMC Bold Service and Social Justice Committee in a multi-faith partnership with Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Palo Alto First United Methodist Church, Bay Area Cultural Connections, Congregation Beth Am, and Saint Simon Parish. Step Up Silicon Valley, a movement to reduce poverty initiated by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, will conduct the simulation.


Therefore Go: Resurrected Hearts Lead to Action

Following up on our April worship theme of Resurrected Hearts, we have several opportunities over the next few weeks to listen to and participate in some possible “next steps” of having Resurrected Hearts. Read more below about a letter-writing opportunity and a short series called “Therefore Go” (based on Matthew 28:16-20) at our Creekside Crossings evening worship services.

Bread for the World Letter-Writing
Sundays, April 24 and May 1, 9:00am–12:30pm, Redwood Room
Sundays, May 1 and May 8, 6:00pm, Creekside
Come write letters to Congress advocating for policies that help end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. Sample letters and addresses are provided. Learn more about this national campaign on Bread for the World’s website. The letters will be blessed during communion at the May 1 morning services and May 8 evening service.

Therefore Go: Mexico
Creekside Crossings, April 24, 5:00pm
The returning team members of our recent Mexico House-Building Trip will lead the way as we transition from the Resurrected Hearts: Testimony theme of the morning services to our new Creekside Crossings worship series. They will share testimonies about their experiences of going to Mexico to build not just a house but community. After the service, enjoy a Mexican feast and learn about opportunities to serve in our local community from our Bold Service and Social Justice Committee.

Therefore Go: Nepal
Creekside Crossings, May 1, 5:00pm
Katherine Parker, a global missionary of The United Methodist Church, will speak about her experiences as a health and community transformation advisor with the ecumenical United Mission to Nepal. Katherine has a unique perspective on transforming Nepali society into the healthy, dignified, and hope-filled communities God intended. Since 2013, she has worked on issues surrounding water, sanitation, and hygiene in remote areas of Nepal. This work was especially critical after the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Prior to her tenure in that country, Katherine was posted with the emerging Methodist Church in Cambodia, where she helped communities with food security, livelihood projects, and access to clean drinking water. (Note: Communion will not be served at this service.)

Therefore Go: Nicaragua
Creekside Crossings, May 8, 5:00pm
For Mother’s Day, we will lift up Casa Materna in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, an organization striving to decrease maternal and infant mortality in rural Nicaragua that LAUMC has long partnered with. Jana Powell will share a reflection about her recent immersion experience there. The Bread for the World letters will be presented as an offering to God as we celebrate Holy Communion.

Issues Facing The United Methodist Church, April 27

Update: If you missed the presentation or want to review what was covered, you can view Emily’s slides online.

Every four years, The United Methodist Church holds a worldwide General Conference to update the denomination’s policies and its positions on current social issues. The next General Conference is this May in Portland, Oregon, and LAUMC’s director of communications, Emily Allen, is one of the voting delegates from our California-Nevada Annual Conference.

On Wednesday, April 27, at 7:00pm in Creekside, come hear Emily speak about the hot-button issues coming before General Conference, from LGBT equality to divestment from fossil fuels to ending guaranteed appointments for clergy, and many more. She will discuss the potential impacts on the denomination as a whole and on our local church.

Whether you’ve been following these issues in the UMC or have never heard of General Conference, come learn more and give your feedback on how you think the Church should move forward in May. Light refreshments will be served.

If you’re interested but can’t attend on April 27, Emily will also give a presentation at Palo Alto First United Methodist Church (625 Hamilton Ave.) on Sunday, April 24, at 12:30pm.

Invitation to All-Church Family Dinner, April 24

Our monthly All-Church Family Dinners on Sunday evenings have been a huge success! The meals are delicious, and Creekside has come alive with fellowship and celebration. Next up is dinner on April 24 at 6:15pm, when Chef Fred Mayo will prepare a Mexican feast to celebrate the completion of LAUMC’s most recent Mexico house-building trip and to highlight all the areas of service supported by our Bold Service & Social Justice Committee (BSSJ).

The Mexican menu will include favorites such as: carnitas, frijoles, salsas, hibiscus punch, and a dessert of churros and ice cream. BSSJ committee members will be on hand to share stories of LAUMC mission projects, social justice efforts, and agency outreach connections. They will be available to help YOU connect to opportunities for service with our local and global communities!

Church Council Supports Raising the Minimum Wage

raise-the-wage-logo-3-450x21-300x166As we enjoy the Labor Day holiday and pause to consider its meaning, this is a good time to consider whether a change to the minimum wage is appropriate. Local efforts to raise the minimum wage in nearby cities and on a more regional basis have been in the news recently, including efforts in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto.

The California minimum wage is currently $9.00 per hour and will increase to $10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016. San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View have adopted a $10.30 minimum wage with annual adjustments for inflation. Palo Alto recently adopted an $11.00 minimum wage, effective in January 2016. There is a regional effort to raise the local minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

The Church Council of LAUMC adopted a resolution supporting an increase in the minimum wage at its July 19 meeting. This was following a Raise the Wage community forum held on May 4 at LAUMC, sponsored by the Bold Service and Social Justice Committee and the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. The resolution notes that workers should be treated with respect, dignity and fairness and that exploitation or underpayment of workers is incompatible with Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor. The Church Council considered the issue at two meetings and reviewed summaries of various studies showing that:

  • The current minimum wage does not provide the income necessary to be self-sufficient in Santa Clara County.
  • The percentage of households in Santa Clara County living in poverty and below self-sufficiency standards was 29.5% in 2012.
  • A higher minimum wage encourages self-sufficiency and reduces the need for reliance on government and nonprofit subsidies and services.
  • A higher minimum wage supports the local economy and keeps our City competitive with surrounding cities in attracting and retaining workers.

The resolution also notes that The United Methodist Church “supports efforts in the US Congress to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and index it to inflation.” Click here for a full copy of the resolution adopted by the LAUMC Church Council. You can visit the Silicon Valley Rising webpage to learn more about efforts to ensure that all workers share in Silicon Valley’s prosperity.

Two September Worship Series About Social Justice

Our morning worship series for the month of September is “Standing on the Holy Ground of Social Justice.” The evening Creekside Crossings worship services will have their own series, called “Together With.”

Morning Worship Series: Standing on the Holy Ground of Social Justice

September 6: Comforting the Afflicted, Afflicting the Comfortable This is also Labor in the Pulpit Sunday, and Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon will preach at the morning services. The scripture is from Exodus 3:4-10, with the theme “You are standing on Holy Ground.” Holy Communion will be served at all services. September 13 (Welcome Home Sunday): Just Hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference You are welcomed onto Holy Ground. Choirs, Sunday schools, and other ministries are back on their fall schedule. Our new district superintendent, the Rev. Staci Current, will preach at all three morning services from John 4:7-10. September 13 is also our Welcome Home Sunday, welcoming everyone to participate in our Sunday school programs, choirs, GroupLife small groups, and many other opportunities. There will be a special All-Church Family Dinner that evening at 6:00pm, and all are invited to come. September 20: Oppression Into Opportunity You are blessed for Holy Ground. Pastor Mariellen will give the message, using the scripture text Genesis 32:22-28. September 27: Answering God’s Calling You are created to be Holy Ground. Pastor Mariellen will give the message. The scripture is 1 Kings 19:11-13.

Creekside Crossings Worship Series: Together With

The Bible is absolutely clear that as people of God we are called to live out an intentional and tangible spirit of compassion with and for others. At the heart of compassion, which literally means “to suffer with,” is the decision to be “together with” others in whatever it is they are going through. September 6: Together With: Those Who Labor Pastor Sam will give the message. September 13: Together With: Those Without Homes Our guest preacher will be Pastor Paul Bains, of Project WeHOPE. September 20: Together With: Those Who Hunger Our guest preacher will be Del Seymour. September 27: Together With: Those Who Are Outcast Our guest preacher will be Angela Brown, an associate pastor at Glide Memorial UMC. October 4: Together With: Those We Do Not Know Pastor Dirk will give the message.  

Community Forum: Raise the Wage Los Altos, May 4

raise-the-wage-logo-3-450x21-300x166Several local cities have established a local minimum wage higher than the current California minimum wage of $9. Just six months ago, the city councils in Mountain View and Sunnyvale voted to lift their minimums. San Jose voters raised their city’s minimum wage in 2012. In February, Palo Alto’s city council voted unanimously to pursue an increase there. And as recently as March 31, the Mountain View City Council directed its staff to work with neighboring cities to develop a more regional approach to raising the minimum wage, with a goal of a $15 minimum wage in 2018.

Should Los Altos raise its local minimum wage? “Yes!” say the local organizations, churches, and economic equality activists who make up the Raise the Wage Coalition of the Peninsula and South Bay. The Coalition’s grassroots efforts led directly to the Mountain View raise and Palo Alto’s current process to do the same. Now, the Coalition is working to ask the Los Altos City Council to join its neighbors.

In each of the towns mentioned above, proponents of raising the minimum wage were understandably faced with a lot of questions about the effects of raising the local minimum wage. They also found that a lot of people — residents and business owners alike — have mistaken assumptions about raising the wage.

Doesn’t raising the minimum wage hurt employment? Won’t an increase drive prices sky-high? And aren’t most minimum wage workers just part-time teenagers anyway? Los Altos United Methodist Church is hosting a community forum designed to explore and answer those questions and more. What are your questions? The answers might surprise you

Come hear a panel of speakers on the topic, including:

  • Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon, Minister of Discipleship, Los Altos United Methodist Church
  • Scott Myers-Lipton, Professor of Sociology, San Jose State University
  • Margaret Abe-Koga, former Mountain View City Council Member
  • Tom Myers, Executive Director, Community Services Agency
  • Minimum wage earners

The community forum will be held on Monday, May 4, 7:30–9:00pm, in the Creekside Center at Los Altos United Methodist Church (655 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos). All are welcome.

Click here to learn more about raising the minimum wage, including common myths, facts, and supporting studies.

The community forum is cosponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and the LAUMC Bold Service and Social Justice Committee. If you already support the idea of increasing the minimum wage in Los Altos, please take a moment to sign the petition to Los Altos City Council.