Christ Church Presbyterian was founded in 1955 and, at its inception, grappled with the idea of what a church should be doing. Our early focus turned outward as we visited prisoners, unwed mothers at the Lund Home, and operated a coffeehouse and bookstore called The Loft. For about ten years, we took the bold position of worshipping only one Sunday every month so we could minister to members of our community on the other Sundays.
CCP built on this early commitment as we became a ‘Sanctuary Church’ for a Guatemalan family and opposed Presbyterian policies by welcoming GLBTQ members. We joined with other Burlington churches by joining JUMP, the Salvation Army, and VIA. From our inception, social activism has been our way of expressing our faith.
In this photo, you can see Valerie Visconti with some of the many children who are now able to attend school, thanks to the sustained efforts of Parents and Youth for Change (PYC). Valerie is a member of CCP, a retired teacher, and one of the residents of Winooski who worked together to obtain funding and buses for students. PYC is a group which has been focusing on Burlington and Winooski school districts since “new Americans” moved to these two cities.
One of the concerns has involved those children who live ¾ to a mile away from the school, and have had to walk to school because Winooski School District has never provided transportation. Data has shown over the past 3-4 years that there has been a higher rate of absenteeism/tardiness during the colder months of the year, especially of students living in these areas of the city.
After several years of PYC requesting the need for school buses to help these students get to school safely, on time and ready to learn, the school board finally agreed to fund this pilot project. With the help of South Burlington School District, they leased 2 school buses and 2 drivers to stop at 2 locations in the city to pick up students. The buses did 2 runs at each location. Parents, community members and PYC staff volunteered as “monitors” to be on the ground and on the buses to supervise students.
The program successfully provided bus transportation from January 16th through March 30th. Over 170 students (grades K-12) made use of the buses on a daily basis! The Winooski School District will fund this program again next year.
WCAX news reported on the program in March.
Thank you to all CCP members who wrote letters to Vermont legislators in support of gun bills and to the 19 members and relatives who attended the March for our Lives. We are pleased to report that the following legislation passed both the House and Senate and is ready to be signed by Governor Scott:
· Raise minimum age to purchase a gun from 16 to 21
· Ban bump stocks
· Expand background checks
· Limit capacity of magazines that can be sold or possessed
· Remove firearms from people arrested or cited for domestic assault
· Extreme risk protection orders – do not allow a person who is a threat to themselves or others to possess a firearm
Christ Church, Presbyterian was a 1988 founding member of JUMP, the Joint Urban Ministry Project, which responds to requests for assistance from our neighbors in need. JUMP operates a drop-in center Tuesday through Friday mornings at the First Congregational Church of Burlington on Winooski Avenue. Here people find a welcoming space, as well as volunteers and staff who provide a listening ear along with some basic household and personal supplies, financial assistance through vouchers at local businesses for food, transportation, utility help, laundry, and more. JUMP also refers clients to other partners who can provide additional services.
CCP makes a monthly donation to JUMP services; we also collect toothbrushes and toothpaste for JUMP clients. Two congregational members serve on the JUMP Board, three are weekday volunteers, and others participate in special projects to support JUMP.
2018 markes the 20th anniversary of JUMP!
In 2017, JUMP assisted 2136 households, including 1138 first time visitors. $97,634 in vouchers were distributed to JUMP’s visitors, including $35,574 for transportation and $28,75 in in-kind donations including food bags, personal hygiene items, diapers, and cleaning supplies.
JUMP works because of you.
JUMP is funded from private donations. Only one third of JUMP’s budget comes from the 28 supporting faith communities. The other two-thirds of JUMP’s budget is donated by businesses, foundations, and largely from individuals.
The 2018 Spring Campaign Challenge: JUMP’s assistance to 5600 individuals in 2017 was impressive, but more than 800 families were turned away because of JUMP’s limited budget. We hope to raise $30,000 during JUMP’s Spring Campaign, empowering JUMP to help more Vermont households in 2018 and meet the needs of our neighbors.
Please give generously. JUMP needs your support!
Members of CCP and Ohavi Zedek will bring a pilot program of Restaurant Roundup to market. Leunig’s has generously offered to be our pilot and you should see signs, literally, in the next couple of weeks.
To refresh your memory, Restaurant Roundup is a program that is based on City Market’s Rally for Change. When you pay your bill, you are asked to round up to the nearest dollar and the money is donated to food charities.
Our own Mary Beth Barritt appeared with Debbie Ingram and Earl Kooperkamp, pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd in Montpelier, and Debbie Ingram, Director of VIA on Channel 17’s “Live at 5:25” to talk about the activities of CCP’s Gleaners group. Here’s the episode if you missed the broadcast. (2015)
Mercy Connections' Mentoring Program matches women who are exiting the correctional system with volunteers who provide friendship, support and practical help during the year after their release. Sometimes longlasting bonds are formed between mentors and mentees.
Mentors receive training from the Department of Corrections and Mercy Connections and are supported through monthly meetings led by experienced Mercy Connections staff. Mentoring provides an intimate look into criminal justice in Vermont. The program has a marked effect in reducing recidivism.
Mercy Connections was founded in 2001 by the Sisters of Mercy after the closing of Trinity College, where the program originated. Trinity was deeply involved in issues of social and criminal justice: In 2003, Sister Janice Ryan, a president of Trinity College, was appointed Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of Corrections.
Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL) seeks to educate faith communities and individuals about the threat that climate change presents to Creation and Earth. CCP’s Ron McGarvey is on the board, and several other CCP congregants are members through their donations. You can read more at their website: http://www.vtipl.org/
VTIPL is part of a national organization called the Regeneration Project whose purpose is to mobilize a religious response to global warming in 39 states, http://theregenerationproject.org/.
CCP has a long-standing strong commitment to More Light, the Presbyterian Church, USA's open and affirming appreciation for inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters. We demonstrate this commitment in a number of ways, including walking each year in the Burlington Pride Parade, with a CCP banner that reads:" All are welcome at God's table". This year, CCP marchers included: Ron and Joy McGarvey, Amity Baker, Sue and Al Brooks, Tom and Mary Beth Barritt. And, waving from the St. Paul's convertible, was our own Joanne Granai.
On May 21, 2017 Miquette Denis Mahon, founder of TeacHaiti, joined CCP for a Sunday service and spoke about the ministry. CCP has supported children's education in Haiti through this organization for many years.
To read Ann Naumann's account of her mission work in Haiti, download her story below.
At CCP we are all well aware of Barbara Jordan’s many gifts. Now the whole city of Burlington knows that she is an award-winning athlete, a senior fitness expert and a unique individual. Barbara was an honoree at the 2018 International Women’s Day Celebration held at Burlington High School on March 7. Her husband Paul, grandson Zaiah, and son Gregg were on hand to support her along with son Glenn who travelled from Portland, Maine as a surprise guest. When Barbara accepted the award, she asked current and former members of her exercise classes to stand. Fully half the audience stood up. Among them was an alumnus of Barbara’s very first senior fitness class in 1985. He is now 103 and still does Barbara’s exercises every day.
Barbara was nominated as one of the three local women honored at this year’s celebration by Ellen Sklar. Ellen is a member of both the Event Committee and Barbara’s Senior Fitness class at the Miller Center. Following is an excerpt from Ellen’s introductory remarks:
Today we honor Barbara Jordan who has contributed so much as an exercise trainer and wellness counselor for older adults. For more than 35 years, she has worked with seniors, focusing on holistic approaches to wellness. Currently, she teaches classes at UVM and at the Miller Center in Burlington. Until recently, she also taught at the Winooski Senior Center and Wake Robin Retirement Community. In addition, she is a National Senior Olympics Medalist and has won numerous national championships in Masters Track and Field.
As Barbara was growing up in New Jersey, there were very limited sports for girls as Title IX had not yet been introduced. … Physical Education was always her favorite class….. She went on to Springfield College in MA where she got a degree in Physical Education and Health, played a lot of intramural sports, was part of the gymnastics club, and was President of the Physical Education Majors Club.
Barbara moved to Vermont in 1969 when her husband, Paul Jordan, accepted a job as physical education teacher and football coach at South Burlington High School. Soon after, she was recruited to coach the newly formed South Burlington High School gymnastics team. Barbara coached the team to two state championships.
In 1985, a classmate from Springfield College, who was the track and field coach at UVM, was working with a UVM physician on a research project, “The Effect of Training on the Insulin Resistance of Aging.” Barbara was asked to take over as the trainer/coordinator of the study. At the end of the study, the participants didn’t want to stop their exercise programs and that was the start of Barbara’s “Fitness and Aging” class at UVM. Two of those students entered the first Vermont Senior Games and that introduced Barbara to a program that has been so important to her personally and professionally. She thought, “When I get old, I want to join them.” ….In 1987, she started training and has been with the Vermont Senior Games since then and is currently, Vice President of Vermont Senior Games Association and Chairman of the Games Committee.
In 1993 at Louisiana State University she competed in her first National Senior Games, winning gold in the high jump. She was hooked. She is a Senior Olympics Medalist and has won numerous National Championships in Masters Track and Field. Since she was 65, she has held World Records in the 300m Hurdles, Indoor Pentathalon, 4x100 Relay, and 4x400 Relay. She holds US Records in the 60m and 80m Hurdles and the 60m and 200m Dashes. When she turned 80 in 2015 Barbara won the 50m and 100m Dashes and was on the 4x100 Relay Team that broke the Women’s ‘80-84 World Record at the national Senior Games in Minneapolis. Barbara has been inducted into six Athletic Halls of Fame including USATF Masters, Springfield College, Fair Lawn NJ High School and South Burlington High School.
These are obviously remarkable accomplishments and worthy of recognition, but what has also drawn us to nominate and award Barbara is what she has added to the lives of those who have been fortunate to be her students in the Senior Fitness classes. Barbara’s commitment to her students and their health is never ending. She continually models the correct way to exercise so that her students will get as much from their physical activity as possible. She is always on the lookout for a better way to do an exercise and will alter a method she has used for a long time if she feels that it will improve her students’ performance. Recently, for example, we have begun to shake and wiggle as a way to include our lymph system, adding this to the list of organs and body parts that we activate. She assumes that all her students will participate to the best of their ability and she thinks creatively about how they can get the most out of an exercise whether it means using a chair rather than standing, using a pillow to alleviate neck problems, or needing help to utilize an exercise tool. She incorporates all kinds of exercise into the class – stretching, pilates, yoga, tai chi - to introduce as many approaches as possible to help students find a method that is comfortable for them to participate.
At all times, Barbara reminds us that our spirit, our mind, and our bodies are connected. … This emphasis on the importance of spirit and attitude became most evident in 2013 when Barbara had two surgeries close together for breast and lung cancers. She maintained her exercise routine and inspired her students with her positive attitude about her health, her treatment, and her refusal to be discouraged by her new role as a cancer patient.
Barbara is always interested in the lives of her students and is supportive of those who are new to the class. She notes events happening in her students’ lives and acknowledges their birthdays…and worries if a student is absent from class for more than a day or so. ...
For those who have been involved in athletics during other times of their lives, they are in class led by a super-athlete. For the rest of us, we have found a place where we are respected just for showing up and are encouraged to stretch ourselves to be as healthy as we can.
Recently, in our class at the Miller Center, Barbara … quoted an unknown source as saying “If you have passion, you have purpose.” Barbara’s passion has led her to encourage so many seniors, primarily women, to be stronger, healthier, and confident.
Click here for a calendar of CCP events.