Midweek Message

Christian Education Update and Sunday Service

Carolyn Matthews

September 17, 2020

The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love. (Psalm 33:5, NIV)

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you (John 15:12, NASB).

These two texts are the scriptures that accompany our theme for the upcoming church year: “Uniting through Love and Justice.” The Education Ministry department has continued its work even as we shelter in place. During this time we have had an opportunity to look at the various areas of responsibility of the department and develop, along with the theme for the coming church year, a mission statement for the department.  The mission statement: “Create experiences to help people grow in relationship with Jesus and each other.”  Going forward, we will be seeking ways to make available service opportunities for our children and youth.  In the September 27 worship service we will recognize our teachers and Christian education workers.

I want to remind you of the groups that continue to meet via ZOOM.  These meetings allow us to connect, spend time in bible study and prayer, and remind us that although apart we are still a family of faith.

Monday at 7:00 PM – Youth Meet
Tuesday at 6:00 PM – No soup, but study
Wednesday at 10:30 AM – Bible Study and Prayer
Thursday at 6:00 PM – Together in Spirit, studying the book of Esther
Saturday at 10: AM – Time for Prayer
The LABC reading group meets on the last Saturday of the month at 9:00 AM (the next meeting is September 26, and the book that will be discussed, Dear Martin, by Nic Stone).


National Hispanic Heritage Month began on September 15 and runs through October 15.  Rev. Douglas Avilesbernal, our Evergreen Association Executive Minister, will preach the 10:00 AM service this Sunday (September 20).  The title of his message is: “Stir Up Love: Causing Good Trouble.” The scripture text is Hebrews 10:19-25.

In recognition of the beginning of this time of honoring the contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans, the google doodle on the 15th was a picture of Felicitas Mendez.  Felicitas (Felicita Gómez) was born in 1916 in Puerto Rico. Her family moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland of the United States, where they faced, and were subject to, the discrimination which was rampant throughout the United States. When she was 12 years old, the family moved to Southern California to work the fields – where they were racialized as “Mexican.” Felicitas married Gonzalo Mendez, a naturalized citizen originally from Mexico. They opened a bar and grill in Santa Ana but later moved to Westminster with their three children (they eventually had a fourth child).

While in Westminster their children were refused enrollment at a local public school because of their skin color – and it was literally skin color and their surname. Felicitas, Gonzalo, and other parents came together demanding the school district allow their Mexican-American children entry into an all-White school. The lawsuit was Mendez vs Westminster.  A federal district court in 1946 ruled that school districts were violating Mexican American citizens’ rights, and ruled in favor of Mendez and the other parents. The ruling paved the way for the landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled against the segregation of public schools.  (More details can be found online – it is a very interesting, inspiring American story. Thurgood Marshall filed an amicus brief for the Mendez’s on behalf of the NAACP and it contained arguments that would later be used in the Brown vs. Board of Education case.)

One of the Mendez’s children, Sylvia, who was part of the lawsuit, became a civil rights activist. In 2011 Sylvia Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2018 the board of Berkeley Unified School District voted unanimously to rename Le Conte Elementary School, located at 2241 Russell Street, as Sylvia Mendez Elementary School. The school is a Spanish-English two-way immersion school. The children’s book, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, is based on the 1946 case.