Ministers Column January 2011

Dear Ones:

Happy New Year! I wish for you much joy and happiness in 2011. I wish for you the support of caring family and friends in those times when you face difficulty and challenge. I wish for you inward time for reflection, self-care and growth. And I wish for you outward time for creativity, exploration and passion. May it be a great year!

I want to mention three social justice initiatives that I am currently involved in and that I will be speaking about from time to time—especially when there are opportunities for you to get involved. First, a coalition called “Connecticut Equality” is once again bringing a transgender anti-discrimination bill to the state legislature. This bill seeks to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the state’s nondiscrimination statutes. I have been involved in organizing workshops for clergy to learn more about transgender concerns and how they and their congregations can support this legislation. Our January 9th worship service is called “Transgender Lives.” We will have guests from Connecticut Equality joining us that day.

Second, as a member of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Healthcare, I will be working hard on another bill to implement Sustinet, Connecticut’s public healthcare option. Sustinet was became law in 2009. This year it needs to be formally implemented. Those of us involved in this effort believe Sustinet will save Connecticut hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare costs, as well as bring hundreds of millions of federal healthcare dollars to the state. More importantly, Sustinet will bring us very close to the goal of accessible, affordable, quality healthcare for every Connecticut resident.

Finally, I am very hopeful that a partnership between Manchester Community College, the Manchester and East Hartford faith communities, and a variety of elected officials can organize a series of community conversations on the race-based educational achievement gap. Connecticut’s achievement gap is among the most atrocious in the nation. I am convinced that while schools and school officials have the primary responsibility to erase the gap, they cannot do it alone. We need the entire community to be engaged, and that’s what these community conversations are all about.

There’s more. There’s always more. But these are three areas to which I will be dedicating a significant amount of my public ministry over the next six months. I hope you’ll be inspired to get involved in some way as opportunities arise. Please contact me if you have further questions.

With love,

Rev. Josh