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Church Visit #26




By Nick Mottern


  On Sunday, May 30, 2009, the day before Memorial Day, Martha Conte, Debbie Kair and I attended Ridgeview Congregational Church in White Plains, NY, in our continuing campaign to build support for ending the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


 What we found was a pastor, the Reverend Robert A. Everett, and a congregation in support of our effort and eager to read fliers we distributed listing some of the costs of the wars and the phone number for the local Congressperson, Nita Lowey, who votes consistently to fund the conflicts.  (See below)


  We arrived a few minutes early for the 10:30 a.m. service on a sunny, warm day.  The church is a small, wood-framed building with beige, painted shingles and a sharply rising, graceful roofline.  A sign over the entrance announces that the church has been serving the community since 1901.   Inside, the light cream-colored walls and ceiling and exposed roof framing give the space a warm, welcoming feeling.


  Shortly after we took seats near the right wall of the church, Reverend Everett and his wife Kimberly came over to learn our names, where we lived and to welcome us to the church.


  By the time the service began, marking Trinity Sunday, there were about 35 in the congregation, and half were African-Americans.


  As usual, we surveyed the morning’s church bulletin, looking for an appropriate time to stand with our banner, and we choose the point, early in the service, when the congregation greets each other.


   Almost immediately after we rose to hold our banner, which read simply “Peace on Earth”, several people came over to thank us and to take our flyers.   A woman from Ossining, who with her husband was visiting the church, offered to help distribute the flyers; she said she had seen article in the local newspaper about our church visits.


  After a few minutes the service resumed, and Reverend Everett asked us if we would like to explain the purpose of our visit, and Debbie rose and did so.


  Reverend Everett then spoke briefly about Memorial Day, saying that his father had been in World War II and that “it was quite disturbing to me to know what my father had gone through.” His father entered the military in 1944 immediately after graduating from high school.


  Reverend Everett said he had been against the war in Iraq and Viet Nam, “but I’m not against the soldiers…we need to be careful not to blame the soldiers, sailors and airmen who protect us.”


  A middle-aged African-American man in military fatigues said from the congregation that “we also need to remember the women who stayed home and worked in factories” during WWII.  There were other comments from the congregation during this period, something that was obviously encouraged by the pastor and unusual compared to other services we’ve attended.


   Reverend Everett’s sermon discussed the Christian concept of the Trinity, which describes God as a combined force of Father, Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit.  This is a complex doctrine compared to the concept of God as a single character or force as in Islam and Judaism, he said, observing that it is a wonder that Christianity spread as it did on this more complicated theological basis.  He said that the idea of the Trinity is not in the Bible; Wikipedia reports that it is a concept that apparently evolved to it present form by the 4th century.


  Reverend Everett said that the complexity of the concept and the mystery of it is part of its appeal, particularly mentioning the possibility of a Godly spirit supporting us: “Do we trust and believe we are not alone?  Do we believe that Jesus Christ is with us…What could make us afraid if we are walking in the Holy Spirit?”


  He said that the Holy Spirit is how God acts through us, that God says: “Keep working because I send the Holy Spirit.  On Trinity Sunday – are we doing everything that Jesus said for us to do?”


 The service also included a portion in which those in the congregation could ask for prayers for friends and family, and prayers were offered for 14 people listed in the bulletin, which also said: “Let us keep all the servicemen and women who have died for our country in our prayers on this Memorial Day.”


  When we joined the congregation for coffee after the service, we learned that Reverend Everett has been at the church for nine years and that the church and parishioners have a history of social action, including work in support of homeless people.  Nancy Wallace, who has been a member of the church for over 50 years and had been on the White Plains City Council, told us about her work for Fair Housing in White Plains.  Two parishioners with whom we spoke said that involvement in the lives of others is one of the primary ways they live their faith.


  Reverend Everett said that he had spoken against the Iraq War from the pulpit, and it appeared from the response we got that most of the congregation agreed with him.  He also mentioned that taking the risk to speak about personal beliefs publicly is an important part of his call by God to be a minister.


  We were each greatly encouraged by this church visit, felt solidarity with the parishioners and are happy to have met this wonderful congregation.







       COST OF THE WARS  – 5/30/10


IRAQ – 1 million civilians and 4,400 US troops.


AFGHANISTAN – 33,000 civilians and 1,086 US troops.


Total cost of both wars to the US taxpayer – $1 trillion.


Cost to Federal taxpayers in New York State – $90 billion.


Cost to Federal taxpayers in Westchester County – $6.4 billion.



Please call your elected representative, Cong. Nita Lowey, and tell her no more funding for these wars.


(914) 428-1707




“But I tell you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

                                                                     Luke 6:27


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