Embracing Life Together in Togo, West Africa

Newlove is a name that has come up in our announcements and prayers. 
This is some of his story:

Newlove Atiso was born in Ghana, West Africa, the second of three sons,
who were followed by two daughters, five children in all. Newlove
received his name from his father Bob, and he later took a middle name,
Bobson, to honor his father.  His mother came from a village in the
neighboring country to the east, Togo.

When Newlove visited Togo as a tourist, he felt at home.  He decided to
move there and work for the needs of the poor.  In 2008 he learned about
People to People International, which was founded by Pres. Dwight
Eisenhower to foster personal contacts around the world.  Newlove and
his friends founded the PTPI-Togo chapter in the capital city of Lomé. 
Soon after that, Newlove asked PTPI for a sister chapter in the U.S.,
and the Los Angeles chapter answered the invitation.  (I was president
of the chapter then, and Leslie Kearney is the president now.)

Our first project together was to repair a school roof that had
literally collapsed onto children in a country village.  Half of the
money came from LA, and PTPI-Togo volunteers did all of the labor.  (The
school’s neighbors would not work without pay.)

In 2014 our members Joan and John spent a week in Togo, enjoying overflowing
hospitality.  Among many adventures, they saw the school roof, built back
better than new.  Beyond that, a Swiss official had recognized the
volunteer work and had caused the construction of a sturdy new building
with two much-improved classrooms.  Then, a Turkish foundation learned
what was going on and contributed a well and a water pump so that the
children always have clean water to drink.  All of this happened because
Newlove’s big heart had responded to children in need.

In the years since then, another member of PTPI-LA, Natalie Besse,
visited Togo and Ghana and personally underwrote a library and a water
storage unit.  Also, we heard from a PTPI member in Delaware, Ed
Tucker.  Ed visited West Africa on a cruise and, having only one day in
Lomé, sought out the PTPI chapter and became a friend and supporter of
Newlove.  The Delaware chapter raised $2,300 to buy school supplies and
pay school fees for poor children in Togo.

Newlove stays in touch by emails and short phone calls, although both
are unreliable and expensive.  He is a passionate advocate for
poor children, hoping that they can bring about a better time.

Serving Those in Need During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to look at our various ministries and adapt them to the realities of the time. We have had a longstanding relationship with The Samaritan Center in Simi Valley and have been active participants in their Community Dinner program. Gathering for meals at our church property posed a health risk, but we wanted to continue to serve the community during the current public health crisis.

Every month, the $65 we would have used to provide a Community Dinner is designated for the Center along with any new donations we receive for the Community Dinner Fund that month. A volunteer offered to be a buyer for items that The Samaritan Center need and have difficulty locating.
 
Let’s reach out with our compassion and actions.

Would You Like to Help?

Please visit our https://uccsimi.org/giving/ and select “Community Dinner” as your choice under “Designated Giving.”

Simi Valley Pride!

UCC Simi Valley was extremely blessed to be active participants in the very first Simi Valley Pride Festival on June 26, 2020. We have long been a voice for upholding the dignity and value of LGBTQ+ community, and it is amazing to see equality, love and affirmation emerge in this community.

Pride Day Prayer


Dear Holy One, we are all bonded as one. We know that you see us as one. We know that you love us as one. Help society recognize that you love all. Continue to pave these roads so that those roads traveled in the future are smoother. Ever-loving one, please guide us. Your Word says that you are love and where there is love there can only be peace. We thank you for the love that you have brought us today. We thank you for the love that you will bring us tomorrow. Amen.

Know Justice Know Peace

We cannot be silent as one more black person is murdered unjustly, and the nation erupts with both anger and deep sorrow. We are called to recognize once again systemic racism, especially in law enforcement, by evoking the names of murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.; Ahmaud Arbery in Glenn County, Ga; Breionna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.; Eric Garner in New York City; and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. … We cannot remain silent. God calls all of us to speak out. As Christians, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. God created and loves people of every color. And yet we create economic, political, and social barriers that oppress African Americans in every sector from housing and education to healthcare and criminal justice. The COVID-19 pandemic magnifies these disparities. We know that black and brown people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This moment calls us all together to speak up, stand up and show up.“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29)This is our time to show our solidarity with all who live at the margins of our country because of their identities. We are called now to build a strong anti-racist commitment in our church so that we can show that Black Lives Matter in the kingdom of God. It is time to see ourselves as God sees us.  Jesus is risen and alive in each one of us. May we use that strength to be agents of change.”   

~UCC National Board, Rev. Stacy Thomas (in bold)


Resources for Standing Against Racial Injustice

We have highlighted a few resources below. For a more complete list visit resources.uccsimi.org.

NAACP- “We Are Done Dying ” Campaign


Anti-Racism Resources Document to Share with Family and Friends

This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.


Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup

Podcast and additional resources for parents and caregivers.


26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets

This list is designed to celebrate all the ways that our communities can engage in liberation. By and for those in our communities who can’t be in the streets, we offer a list of concrete ways that we are in the movement, and that we are supporting liberation every day


NY Times Magazine “1619 Project”

According to the NY Times: “The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”


75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Corinne Shutack wrote an article on the popular platform Medium, outlining steps to “work to fix what we broke and left broken isn’t done until Black folks tell us it’s done.”