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President's Message - September 2023

And September takes off.....

Isn’t it always the way -- that everything starts off with a bang in September? And it’s no different this year – and it’s all good – lots of new initiatives and things that we look forward to restarting every year. So sharpen your pencils and get out your planners!

On a personal note – I’ll see you on Sunday, September 3rd after visiting Mary Jane Eckel in her new digs and visiting the Hartford Mark Twain House to see the archival objects we loaned them for their exhibition For Business or Pleasure? Twain’s Summer Sojourns. I have also booked a guided tour of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center for Social Justice, located at the Stowe house right there in Nook Farm, just over the hill from the Clemens’ house.

The Housing Justice group has been busy with planning three October Tenants: Know Your Rights! These forums will be held throughout the community. To get up to speed with the team’s inspiration, be sure to read Wendy Ligouri’s piece in this edition of Cross Currents.

The premiere fall concert from the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes will be held in our sanctuary on Saturday, October 14th at 7 PM. OSFL is also partnering with our Meaningful Movie series by bringing Chevalier to the Beecher Hall screen on Thursday, October 12th at 7 PM. (Note the date as we usually hold movies on Wednesdays.)

I’m looking for a helper to open and host a Wisner Park clothing giveaway on Thursday, September 7th from 11 to 1:30. Then our last giveaway event will be on Thursday, September 21st.

Two events are planned for Sunday September 10th !

  • At 3 PM at the United Church of Painted Post, our UCCNY Conference Racial Justice Director, Rev. Gary T. Smith will keynote the Southern Tier Interfaith Coalition’s Annual Meeting with his presentation “Anti-Racism Challenges for the Interfaith Community.”

  • And then at 7 PM in Beecher Hall Kathy Gill presents From St. Louis with Love ♥ featuring her friend Sergei Mali of the Bolshoi Ballet, Mark Twain the Musical, and the St. Louis Ballet. Mali will offer a dance program he choreographed for our pleasure. And there will be some vocal music selections from his friends. Since Mali’s arrival in the US in 1987 his journey has resulted in US citizenship and successful ballet studios in St. Louis and other ventures. Let’s welcome him back to Elmira where it all began with this free performance.

Common Time Vocal group starts back their weekly Monday evening rehearsals in Beecher Hall on September 11th.

Meaningful Movies series kicks off early this year on Wednesday, September 13th at 7 PM with the film Loren & Rose brought to Elmira by its producer, Linda Miller, a friend of Brent Stermer. This Meaningful Movie is co-sponsored with Community Arts of Elmira. The film has won multiple awards at regional film festivals for best screenplay and for its star, Jacqueline Bisset. It is an authentic and intoxicating film that follows the friendship between Loren, a promising young filmmaker and Rose, a storied actress looking to reinvigorate her career.

On Saturday, September 16th, a bunch of Park Churchers are putting together a table at the John W. Jones Museum Gala Jazz Fundraiser to be held at the Federated Building. Send in your RSVP card with “The Park Church” so we can sit together. For more info, go to

After worship on September 17th, Bill Knapp has planned the first of our church meals for “Welcome Back Sunday.” It will be a dish-to-pass, free to all event. Yum yum!

There will probably be more -- so watch your Wednesday Weeklies. The last September event I have is that delegates are sought to attend the annual meeting of the Susquehanna Association meeting on Saturday, September 30th in Homer from 10 AM to noon. This is the regional association of UCC churches we belong to that includes 28 congregations located from Corning east to Roscoe and north to Norwich, Homer and Ithaca. You can car pool with Mimi Gridley who will be presiding as its new moderator, and Rev. Gary, its new vice-moderator.

In all your free time this month, the Racial Justice Team recommends you read (or listen to) these four books by these two authors. We found them a most interesting way to get started on identifying our white privilege and learning about systemic racism.

Author Robyn DiAngelo has written White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism and Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm. And author Isabel Wilkerson has written The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

You can find copies to borrow on the Racial Justice bookshelf in Beecher Hall. All four are also available at our local library. Do you know about Libby? It’s a free reading book service offered by the Southern Tier Library System. Go to and click on the Libby app. You can search by title or author and “borrow” either books or audio books on your phone! Hurrah for our local library system!

Happy fall from your church lady, Jenny 😊


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