Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

KMUCC News & Events

Photo: (c) iStock.com / SunnyGraph (image #695671848)

Photo: © iStock.com / SunnyGraph (image #695671848)

News and events information from KMUCC and the wider community.


I don’t know how it is for you, but as the days grow shorter and chillier, my inclination is to draw my attention homeward and inward.  To cook things that take a long time, to start books that are long and rich.  To clear out a little clutter and make a cold weather nest out of our home.

Photo: © iStock.com / andreusK (image #1029169532)This year in particular, as the news on the tv, radio, and above all social media is keeping my anxious attention riveted on Washington, DC, my homeward instinct seems to be especially strong.  I find myself alternating between two extremes:

  • Obsessively reading every article, listening to every podcast, and watching clips of every press briefing while refreshing my twitter feed to make sure I don’t miss anyone’s “hot takes” on all the latest developments….
  • Turning off the tv and radio, ignoring the paper, and using my phone only to access the library app so I can listen to novels, preferably ones written in the 19h century. 

Now this may be simply autobiographical - but I suspect I am not alone.  I suspect that many of us are in the same yo-yo pattern of absorption with American politics and rejection of the news altogether. 

Neither of these extremes seems to me to be an especially helpful way to navigate life. Both strategies keep our minds off the rest of the world.  And while our country is embroiled in its own political storm, meanwhile the rest of God’s world goes on, with news both distressing and hopeful.  In the midst of a climate crisis, hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe are rising up to seek a response. Terrible and frightening things are happening in Palestine and Yemen and people of every faith are working for peace.  Scientists are making breakthroughs in cancer research, artists and musicians are creating works of great beauty and meaning, historians are discovering new things about the human past.   Meanwhile, “the world offers itself to our imagination.”  

As summer gives way to fall, as the storms of politics and of our own lives entice us to turn inward, I encourage you to embrace the inwardness the season invites but then to turn outward beyond your own doors, beyond your own neighborhood, beyond our own country.  As we come to the table for worldwide communion, I invite you to join me in praying for the world: for allies and friends; for those we call our enemies, and for that day when we know we have no enemies. 


Photo: © iStock.com / marekuliasz (image #18715913)Happy Anniversary KMUCC

It hardly seems possible that this November 20 years will have passed since the members of the Kairos UCC Church from SW Portland and the Milwaukie UCC Church voted to merge.  United we have done many missions to help others and have thrived as an active congregation.

On Sunday, November 24th, during our regular service time and at a special coffee hour we will celebrate our merger and time together through reflection, special music, special food and cake.  Please plan to be here and bring friends and family.  10:00 AM to 12:00 noon.

Join us for an afternoon of wonderful music, local art, and joyous celebration!

11:30 am to 1:00 pm, November 10, 2019 at KMUCC

4790 SE Logus Road, Milwaukie, Oregon

Our Fall Music Showcase and Art Show will feature three of Portland's finest jazz musicians: guitarist Dan Balmer, song stylist Rebecca Kilgore and bassist Bill Athens.

Dan Balmer and Rebecca Kilgore

The LA Times calls Balmer, “the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be.”

Jazz Times says, “Among the strongest of [Portland’s jazz] roots is vocalist and (occasional) guitarist Rebecca Kilgore.”

Bill Athens, a member of the Portland jazz funk trio Trio Subtonic, has played with numerous area jazz groups.

Current and former KMUCC choir and music team members will join performers for several selections.

The event will also feature an in-house barista and refreshments, and art by church members and friends.

All donations collected during the Music Showcase and Art Show will support KMUCC's work in the community.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, as I’m sure many of us have been in this era of such sharply divided public opinion, about how we know what we know.

I wonder what neurological processes are involved in encoding information in our brains, what psychological processes lead us to disregard some information while accepting other information. I wonder what habits of mind, what discipline of thought helps us know how to evaluate information we receive, and remain aware that our emotional responses may occasionally lead us astray.

As I read books and listen to podcasts about theology and politics and communication, I am reminded yet again of Chimamanda Ngozi Aidichies’s brilliant TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story” (see the video link below). In that talk she pointed out how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, and how damaging it can be to have just one story of a person, place or situation. She opens with the illustration of her own happy Nigerian childhood, reading and loving American and British children’s stories. She loved them so much that she decided to write her own stories. And in her stories blue-eyed white children played in the snow and ate apples and talked about the weather. Aidichie had never encountered any of these things, but ‘til that point she had only one story of what books could contain: white people enjoying things that take place in Britain and America.

Photo: (c) iStock.com / fcscafeine (image #511580382)As many of you know my husband, David, is spending this summer on a wilderness adventure in Alaska, supported by a Lily Endowment Grant for Clergy Renewal that he and his congregation received. His itinerary included travel from Portland to Anchorage, alone, on a motorcycle. For the first 2000 miles all went according to plan. He was exhausted at the end of each day, and exhilarated, his imagination saturated by the beauty of the landscape and the close encounters with bear, deer, and moose along the way.

And then on the tenth day of his ride, deep in rural Yukon Territory, things went a bit sideways.

His rented motorcycle, so graceful and solid at high speeds, was unwieldy at low speeds. And on that tenth day David sprained his knee and tore a tendon in his arm trying to maneuver the bike’s weight in a gravel parking lot. He was at a back-country lodge, forty minutes from the next town and 500 miles from his final destination with no cell service, no Wi-Fi and no landline. Needless to say, he went to bed that night feeling pretty low.

And then a beautiful thing happened. Well, one beautiful thing right after another, actually.

One person after another went out of their way to make sure David had what he needed: a place to stay; transportation to a medical clinic; a 500 mile! ride to the retreat center; access to the retreat center pick-up during his stay; his rented motorcycle retrieved. At every step: kindness and generosity. Which fills me with gratitude and almost restores my faith in humanity.

David was alone and hurt in a different country, with no immediate way of getting in touch with family.

Just like the families who are arriving at our southern border.

But unlike them he had documents, and a credit card. And fair, white skin.

I wonder which of these things really made the difference?

I wonder how we human beings can be so good at being kind - and so good at being heartless.

I invite you all, as you set out on your own summer adventures, or welcome visiting family, or simply continue the daily round, to join me in praying:

With gratitude for all the helpers - the ones who are kind to individuals they happen upon, and the ones who go out of their way to give relief to detained people, and the ones who work tirelessly for a more just immigration system;

With devotion for the children separated from their parents, and the parents whose hearts cry out for their children, families who were seeking safety and instead found separation and cruelty;

With longing for our government, charged with keeping us safe, that they may no longer treat simple refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers as dangerous criminals.

And for ourselves, that we may give and receive compassion and kindness with joyful hearts, trusting that God sees the good in humanity and wills that we thrive, together.


Change The World...American Cultural Exchange Service seeking local host families

You can make an impact on the life of a Palestinian student as well as influence the opinions of hundreds of students, teachers and parents in a Portland area school! I am looking for families to host two high school students from the West Bank for the 2019-2020 school year. With the uncertainty in the US international relations, we have had difficulty placing the students from Palestine.

Dalya is a 15-year-old girl who is a violinist and an active volunteer in social programs. Omar is a 15-year-old boy who is an accomplished artist who is interested in animation and film. They will arrive in August just before the school year begins and leave in June just after the end of the school year.

Families come in all configurations: families with teens, families with young children, couples without children at home, singles with children or not. You get the idea; all types of family groups are excellent hosts!

Are you willing to stretch beyond your comfort zone of your regular routines to change the life of a teen from Palestine, to grow with them and fill your heart with love and to change the world by this gracious act of hospitality?

Contact Ann Muir, Local Coordinator, American Cultural Exchange Service by emailing ann.muir [at] gmail.com

PineRidgeSignLater this month eight members of Kairos-Milwaukie will head east on our long-anticipated trip to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota to volunteer with Re-Member.

We’ll have the great good fortune to be out on the prairie at the edge of the badlands, under the vast bowl of the highland sky. We’ll move across that ancient landscape to learn and serve. We’ll visit the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and have lunch at the home/restaurant of Bette a descendent of Black Elk, just up the hill from the site where he narrated “Black Elk Speaks.” We’ll begin each morning with the “wisdom of the elders” and end each day learning from Lakota speakers, singers and artisans.

During the day we’ll put our hands to work, building bunk beds, putting skirting on house trailers (it can make the difference between being able to heat a house for the whole winter or spending your whole fuel bill before January arrives), building wheel chair ramps, and fixing, sanding or painting whatever we are asked to fix, sand, or paint.

Why Pine Ridge? Why Re-Member?

Because Pine Ridge is the home of the great Oglala, Lakota people. Because Oglala Lakota County is the poorest county in the whole of the United States, and the tribe has an 89% unemployment rate. Because right in the middle of the richest country in the world, some of our first peoples endure grinding poverty. Because it is a joy and an honor to be welcomed to someone else’s home, to enter their land and landscape and to encounter their history. Because Re-member doesn’t just give wealthier people an opportunity to feel better about themselves by helping the “less fortunate,” Re-Member invites volunteers into relationship with the resilient, proud, financially impoverished, culturally rich, complicated human beings whose lives are lived in the crucible caused by the failure of the US government to honor its treaties. We go to give and to receive. To abide together and be reminded that we belong to the same family of humanity.