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Note:  We are appreciative to UM board member Rev. Dr. Wanda Lundy for sharing this poem with us from Sojourners.




OCT 9, 2023



“They will not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain...” —Isaiah 11:9

God of Comfort,
send your Spirit to encompass all those whose lives
are torn apart by violence and death in Israel and Palestine.
You are the Advocate of the oppressed
and the One whose eye is on the sparrow.
Let arms reach out in healing, rather than aggression.
Let hearts mourn rather than militarize.

God of Justice,
give strength to those whose long work for a just peace
might seem fruitless now. Strengthen their resolve.
Do not let them feel alone. Show us how to support their work
and bolster their courage. Guide religious leaders to model
unity and reconciliation across lines of division.
Guide political leaders to listen with their hearts as they seek peace and pursue it.
Help all people choose the rigorous path of just peace and disavow violence.

God of Love,
we lift up Palestine and Israel — its people, its land, its creatures.
War is a monster that consumes everything in its path.
Peace is a gift shared at meals of memory with Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
Let us burn incense, not children. Let us break bread, not bodies.
Let us plant olive groves, not cemeteries.
We beg for love and compassion to prevail
on all your holy mountains.

God of Hope,
we lift up the cities of the region: Gaza City and Tel Aviv,
Ramallah and Ashkelon, Deir El Balah and Sderot,
so long divided, yet so filled with life and creativity.
Come again to breathe peace on your peoples
that all may recognize you.

God of Mercy,
even now work on the hearts of combatants
to choose life over death, reconciliation over retaliation,
restoration over destruction. Help us resist antisemitism in all its forms,
especially in our own churches. All people, Israelis and Palestinians,
deserve to live in peace and unafraid, with a right to determine
their future together.

God of the Nations,
let not one more child or elder be sacrificed on altars of political expediency.
Keep safe all people from unjust leaders who would exploit
vulnerability for their own distorted ends.
Give wise discernment to those making decisions to pursue peace.
Provide them insight into fostering well-being, freedom, and thriving for all.
Teach all of us to resolve injustices with righteousness, not rockets.
Guard our hearts against retaliation, and give us hearts for love alone.

Strengthen our faith in you, O God of All Flesh,
even when we don’t have clear answers,
so that we may still offer ourselves nonviolently
for the cause of peace.



Rose Marie Berger

Rose Marie Berger, author of Bending the Arch: Poems, is a senior editor of Sojourners 


November is Native American Heritage Month! This annual month-long celebration is an opportunity to come together to honor and celebrate the culture, traditions, history, and contributions of American Indians and Alaskan Natives. 

Though Native Americans make up about 2.5% of the total U.S. population, their history and contributions are of critical importance to the nation’s history. Unfortunately, much of it has been forgotten or overlooked.

As a result, misconceptions and ignorance surrounding Native peoples and Native culture can lead to the perpetuation of harmful, misinformed “celebrations” especially surrounding the Heritage Month and Thanksgiving holidays. November is an opportunity to grow our understanding of Native culture, and traditions, and how historical traumas like colonization and genocide have impacted Native peoples throughout history and still do today.

This month, it’s important for each of us to remember the entirety of our nation’s history including and especially the history of Native Americans, the systemic issues they still face today, and take supportive, uplifting action to right historic injustices.

Below, you’ll find resources and ways to uplift the Native American community nationwide and in your own community!

Native American Heritage Month History & Facts:

  • Native American Heritage Month got its start as a one-day “American Indian Day” celebration in New York in May 1916, after a member of the Blackfeet Nation, Red Fox James, literally rode on horseback from state to state to ask for a day to honor Native Americans. 

  • In 1975, President Gerald Ford turned it into a week-long “Native American Awareness Week” in October. 

  • While the dates shifted from year to year, in 1990 Congress officially passed a joint resolution which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush declaring the entire month of November “National Native American Indian Heritage Month.” The name has since changed to National Native American Heritage Month. 

  • The 1990 resolution officially recognized Native citizens both as the country’s original inhabitants and for their essential contributions, specifically to farming and harvesting. Despite its Eurocentric perspective, the resolution was also intended to recognize the Native peoples for the ways they helped the first European visitors.

  • Congress chose November to celebrate Native American Heritage Month for its cultural significance as the month when Native Americans conclude their traditional harvest season.

  • As of 2021, there are 574 federally recognized Tribes in the U.S. and while many Native Americans reside on reservations, about 71 percent do not. 

How To Celebrate Native American Heritage Month:


Learn what native land you’re on.

One Simple Idea To Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Long before you lived on it, the land you’re on was occupied, managed, and maintained by Indigenous people and tribes. Land is sacred and important to all of us whether we know it or not and it’s important to learn about the history of the land you’re on. Not only does it honor the people it was taken from, but it also helps us honor and steward the land better.

The Canadian nonprofit Native Land has done extensive research and worked with Native tribes to create an interactive map of tribal boundaries around the world you can even enter your exact address!

Enjoy Indigenous art.

The Denver Art Museum was one of the first art museums in the U.S. to start collecting Indigenous art, and as a result, their collection is both extensive and enlightening. The artists each have a beautiful, unique way of helping us all understand the histories and lived experiences — both heartbreaking and uplifting of Native Americans.

Google Arts & Culture created a unique, digital experience to guide you through some of the Denver Art Museum’s more than 18,000 pieces by artists from more than 250 Indigenous nations.

Follow Native Americans on social media.

The best way to celebrate Native American heritage is by listening to and learning from Native American people who generously share their perspectives and wisdom with all of us on social media. By (quietly and humbly) following Native creators, we can learn about the current triumphs and struggles Native Americans face and how we can help.

Check out a few of our favorite follows:

Kaitlin B. Curtice (@KaitlinCurtice on Twitter) is a citizen of Potawatomi Nation, and is an award-winning author, poet, and public speaker. 

Elizabeth Hidalgo Reese (@yunpovi on Twitter) is a Pueblo assistant professor of law at Harvard University and uses her platform to share about Indian law, constitutional law, race, and voting.

Jordan Daniel (@nativein_la on Instagram) is a Lakota professional athlete and founder of Rising Hearts, an Indigenous led grassroots group devoted to elevating Indigenous voices and promoting intersectional collaborative efforts across all movements with the goals of racial, social, climate, and economic justice.

Jasilyn Charger (@jasilyncharger on Instagram) is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who, after noticing the mental health crisis among teens in the Cheyenne River Reservation started the One Mind Youth Movement with her friends.

You can also explore this list of incredible Indigenous activists you should know about.

Learn about the challenges Native American communities have faced.

14-year-old walks over 2 hours to make it to 8th grade graduation:

‘I wanted to walk cross the stage’

A St. Louis teenager walked more than two hours in order to make it to his eighth-grade graduation. (Source: KMOV)


By Melanie Johnson and Emily Van de Riet, Published:

Jun. 1, 2023 at 4:44 PM EDT

ST. LOUIS (KMOV/Gray News) – A young teenager walked for more than two hours to make it to his eighth-grade graduation, and his commitment to showing up has now secured him a full-ride scholarship for his future.

Xavier Jones, a 14-year-old from St. Louis, walked six miles from his home to his graduation ceremony last week because he was determined to walk across the stage and get his diploma.

“If you want something done, you gotta go ahead and do it yourself,” Xavier said.

Xavier is a student from Yeatman Middle School, but the ceremony was being held at Harris-Stowe State University.

Xavier said his grandfather’s car was not working at the last minute, so he didn’t have a ride.

“I was going to tell an adult, but my grandpa’s car was down. So, I was just going to walk there,” he said.

Unbeknownst to his grandfather and the school staff, Xavier came up with a plan to get there without a ride.

“I looked up Harris-Stowe University on Google Maps, and then I saw the walking distance, and then I said, ‘I could probably make it,’” Xavier said.

Xavier recruited his brother and a friend to make the six-mile journey with him.

“I wanted to walk across the stage,” he said.

Fortunately, Xavier made it in time for the ceremony.

Upon learning of the lengths Xavier took to attend the graduation, Harris-Stowe State University administrators were so moved by his determination that they promised Xavier with a full-ride scholarship to the university after he finishes high school in four years.

Dr. Latonia Collins Smith, President of Harris-Stowe State University, said Xavier’s story is a reminder of the obstacles many students face.

“Many of our students come with a story, and many of our students come with environmental barriers they have overcome or that they are currently overcoming,” Collins Smith said.

The full-ride scholarship will cover Xavier’s cost of tuition, fees and all books someday.

“I just led with my heart, and I followed my heart, and my heart said, ‘This is a kid that needs a scholarship,’” Collins Smith said.

On Wednesday, Xavier received a personal tour of the university’s campus. For now, he said he hopes to be a NASCAR driver after he graduates from college.

Collins-Smith said Xavier’s determination is something we can all learn from.

“At the end of the rainbow, there’s a pot of gold. I learned a lot from Xavier that day,” Collins Smith said. “Even on your worst day, keep pressing forward.”

Copyright 2023 KMOV via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

STL teen who walked 6 miles to graduation gifted

new bike & $40,000 family vehicle

Miami Dolphins.png

Uploaded: Jun 5, 2023

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Terron Armstead gave a teenager a bike after learning he walked six miles to get to his middle school graduation.


A St. Louis teenager has received an outpouring of support after walking nearly two hours to his graduation. (Source: KMOV) (This is the link to the article below.)


By Melanie Johnson

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2023 at 7:52 AM EDT

CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (KMOV) - A North St. Louis teenager who walked miles to his 8th-grade graduation now has two new ways to get around.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” says 14-year-old Xavier Jones.

Jones was gifted a $5,000 Ryan Pritchard Electric Bike during a celebrity basketball game on Friday.

His grandpa stood by in shock as the family also received a $40,000 minivan thanks to the generosity of Bommarito Automotive.

“This means a whole lot,” Xavier’s grandfather tells News 4. “I don’t know what to say. I’m so thankful.”

He takes care of Xavier, who is diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia, and his six siblings after their mother passed away a few years ago.

After watching the story on News 4, Cahokia native and current Miami Dolphins player, Terron Armstead, arranged for the special surprises to happen during his basketball tournament at his alma mater.

“We hear a story like Xavier. It’s only right,” says hometown NFL star, Terron Armstead. “Follow Xavier’s example. He’s a leader whether he wanted to be or not. His story is inspiring. It’s motivating. That’s what leaders do.”

Xavier was also given a full-ride scholarship to Harris Stowe State University for his determination to succeed in the face of adversity.

Copyright 2023 KMOV. All rights reserved.

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