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.
Ann Owen responded to a call for clothing help from Northern Lights, a transitional home for selected women released from the Chittenden County Correctional Facility. Northern Lights, located on Cherry Street a block from CCP, provides support in the areas of work, life skills and treatment during a 9-month residential stay. The house has space for up to 11 women; recently they held a graduation ceremony for 7 of their residents.
Since many of the women arrive with only the clothing they are wearing, the House Manager was looking for ways to provide for this unmet need. We divided the program into two parts: (1) Identification of thrift stores in the downtown area that would be easy for the women to access, and (2) Personal items to be purchased new (underwear, socks, pajamas, leggings).
Ann was able to identify several thrift stores that were willing to provide clothing free of charge, and submitted a proposal to Session requesting financial support for the purchase of the personal clothing items. Those who wish to support this important ministry to help women seeking to get their lives back on track may contribute with a check to CCP with Northern Lights in the Memo line. Thank you!
Although Gun Legislation has not been foremost in the news during the past couple of months, our Republican governor, Phil Scott, is very concerned about this issue and wrote a strong letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham. You can read Governor Scott’s excellent letter here, https://governor.vermont.gov/content/mcconnell-graham-letter-9-9-19
CCP advocated for Vermont gun legislation last year, so congregant Sue Brooks wrote to thank Governor Scott. In response, he thanked her for her letter and “for being active in the political process -- specifically regarding gun safety reforms. Public participation and engagement is critical to a strong democracy”.
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
To read Ann Naumann's account of her mission work in Haiti, download her story below.
CCP has a longstanding commitment to supporting immigrants in our community and throughout the United States.
What You Can Do Now
Ann Naumann created this flyer to let members of CCP and her community what they can do to help immigrants in Vermont and other parts of the USA.
To read more about Rev. Marjorie MacNeill's work at the southern border and CCP's involvement in advocating for immigration policy change, visit our immigration support page.
We also support the efforts of our national Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), which is active on the border and offers these volunteer opportunities:
Members of our congregation participated in an Immigration Mission Call and received this information:
Members of CCP and Ohavi Zedek brought a pilot program of Restaurant Roundup to market in 2018 when Leunig's generously offered to be our pilot. Now we have our first signed contract for our first official participants, The Spot and The Spot on the Dock. Please read the attached report to find out what we've learned, what we've accomplished, and where we are headed next.
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.
Local churches enlisted the help of health professionals, podiatrists, and the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf to celebrate Maundy Thursday in a new way – we provided screening, foot washing, and toenail trimming. We reached out to homeless neighbors and provided a gift bag that contained new socks, towels, hygiene kits, blankets, and even toothbrushes and toothpaste. The event was held in JUMP space, so regular members of the JUMP population could come to JUMP, have their feet lovingly screened and washed, enjoy a free lunch, and leave with supplies.
At CCP, we continued our tradition of community service by supplying funds for latex-free gloves, paper face masks, and Band-Aids. We also volunteered to help with the many tasks that supported this event. It was heartwarming to see people leaving with contented smiles on their faces, but I think this wonderful comment from Dan Dougherty of Mallets Bay UCC expresses our feelings best, “I was so choked up with Gratitude at Maundy Thursday’s Foot Care for All event it was hard for me to fathom the impact we had! In the neighborhood of 70 people were served God’s Love and Compassion!”
VTIPL is a non-profit whose mission is to support Vermont faith communities as they address climate change. CCP is one of approximately 80 Vermont faith communities that are members of VTIPL and several members of CCP are also individual members of VTIPL. VTIPL is thankful for everyone's support..
To support faith communities' efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change, VTIPL:
Each Fall, VTIPL has an annual conference at which there is a keynote speaker and workshops relating to climate change issues. Some of the recent conference topics and workshops have been on divestment from fossil fuels, advocacy for legislation and policies, e.g. Carbon Pollution Tax, impacts of changes in EPA regulations. advances in wood heating, climate change and health impacts in Vermont.
If you would like to receive VTIPL's monthly E-Newsletter, review any of the resource films or have questions, contact Betsy Hardy, VTIPL Coordinator at info(at)vtipl(dot)org.
Also feel free to contact CCP's Ron McGarvey, RMCGAR864(at)aol(dot)com
VIA was founded in 2004 by a group of clergy looking for a way to address social justice issues systemically and not just put a band-aid on immediate needs. Since then, VIA has grown into a vibrant coalition of 53 member and affiliated congregations throughout the state who employ a grassroots, faith -based community organizing model to select issues and effect change around those issues. Individual congregations – Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, UU, Buddhist, or Muslim – form their own local organizing committees or send representatives to organizing committees that focus on a particular issue.
Individuals from CCP have participated in Restaurant Roundup and Affordable Housing teams, as well as being part of the VIA Board.
At VIA’s Statewide Convention, several CCP members were in attendance, and the 60 people present used a democratic process to choose VIA’s statewide focus for the next 12 months: economic justice, specifically concentrated on livable wages and working conditions for Vermonters. VIA looks forward to continuing to work with all people of faith to advance social justice.
Debbie Ingram, VIA Executive Director
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.
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.
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". See below for our most recent pictures!
Click here for a calendar of CCP events.