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Pastor's Message - August 2022

It is a good thing I am not in charge of much of anything. I'd be bombing Moscow, which is probably the wrong answer, banning imports from Communist China, which probably wouldn't help anything, and locking up Rudy “Four Seasons Total Landscaping” Giuliani. Okay, I'm not taking that last one back. There are too many bozos in that particular clown car.

There are areas where our impact is limited. Putin doesn't care what we believe about his ethno-nationalist attempts to recreate Tsarist Russia. Boycotts and sanctions have limited impact, and can take years to be effective. Just ask the Palestinians. And cheaters gonna cheat and murderers gonna murder while we are sitting around debating how we can best respond.

We may be called on to directly engage the question of reproductive freedom if Pennsylvania joins the forced birth movement that treats women like livestock. But right now, we are too far from a forced birth border or major transit hub to serve as a reproductive health destination. We are limited to funding services and advocacy.

But there are areas where we can have impact. Your Church Council has agreed to begin exploring the housing challenges facing Elmira. We have questions of affordability and the legacy of the historic “red line.” We face challenges with the quality and quantity of our housing stock. And, of course, we must reverse the years of declining and aging population if we are to have any future at all.

There are local policy decisions we can make to address these problems. Taxes used as policy can make it less profitable for financial institutions to hold onto the four hundred decaying homes they own in the city. The eminent domain seizure of blight properties and a program of urban homesteading can revitalize neighborhoods and attract young families. And we have many tools we can use to increase local ownership.

Though, while my focus is on a revitalized church in a revitalized community, I don't want to give you the idea we are powerless when it comes to domestic and foreign policy. Vote your values, in the August special election, and in the general election in the fall. Speak truth in a world of disinformation and lies, even if it is hard. And most of all, believe that we can make this a better world. That is what motivated the prophets, motivated the founders of The Park Church, and continues to motivate me today.

Blessings, Gary


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