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President's Message - February 2024

Thank you all for your attendance yesterday at our Annual Meeting! We had forty-six in attendance and passed the budget and our 2024 strategic goals.

On January 21st we welcomed four new members: Michael Beers, Glynn Carter, Betty Davis and Kevin McMahon. Unlike other churches, we are growing and that is a wonder at a time in our nation when so many are retreating from action into apathy and disillusionment. Our connections to each other and dedication to our collective capacity for creating more justice in our community are the warp and weft of the legacy we are continuing to weave into the 21st century. In his 1963 Letter From A Birmingham Jail, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called it “a network of mutuality:”

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be...This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

In addition to being connected to our peers, we are connected to our foremothers and forefathers who stood fast to a vision of justice for our nation. One of the first projects I undertook when I joined Park was in 2014 when we hosted a birthday celebration for Thomas K. Beecher with a lecture by his biographer and Elmira College professor emeritus, Myra Glenn. This month we will celebrate his 200th birthday (February 9th) by adding decorations to the Wisner Park sculpture of him -- given by a grateful community upon his death in 1900.

One of my goals for 2024 is to train a group of church tour guides and bring back our fourth grade local history tours for the students at TK Beecher Elementary School -- named for him because of his service as Chemung County School District Superintendent. These tours were one product of that 2014 celebration and were offered for a few years, but when Mary Jane Eckel and Peg Kutchukian both moved, I lost my cadre of guides and then there was the pandemic. Please let me know if you’d like to become a guide and I can email you the tour script I created. I’m glad to say that our collaboration with Elmira College and its Center for Mark Twain Studies has continued non-stop since 2014.

Thanks for your part in the continuance of our mission and for making it fit our contemporary times! Cheers to TKB (and to us!), Jenny


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