AGAPE FOR ALL
Expand your heart and mind – with new perspectives and relationships!
Kathy Moore and Patty Ritchie
Agape for All is an invitation for us to learn how we can expand our hearts and minds – with new perspectives, information and relationships. It was officially launched at Church of the Cross in 2021, following a year of book studies, classes and courageous conversation speakers. 60 to 100 people participated in those events – many via zoom due to COVID.
Agape for All then seemed to be a natural progression to take us from “Learning to Living”, both as individuals and as a congregation. With hearts full of hope, Church of the Cross committed to an ongoing process for expanding our knowledge, broadening our experiences and increasing our sense of community.
AGAPE Love is defined as “putting the needs of others above your own”; “attending to the needs of others”. Examples of Agape Love include creating a caring community, and focusing on the similarities between people rather than differences, finding common ground.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,”
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Social Justice Section in the PCOC Library
Our church library is a treasure trove for our entire congregation. Our church library now has “Social Justice” as a vibrant component. Books for all ages, covering a variety of topics are available. Thank you to all who stopped by the book display in December and for your positive responses to these additions to our wonderful library. With our recent adult education classes and Preston Love’s presentation and North Omaha tour, we may be even more eager to read these thought provoking stories and learn about positive ways forward. Thank you Judy Arms, Jeremy Cunningham, Ann Pearson, and Jane Hawkins for your work to create this part of the library!
New books in our church library
- Alexander, Michelle; The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
- Brown, Echo; Brown Girl Unlimited: the Remarkable Story of a Teen Age Wizard (Y)
- Celano, Marianne; Collins, Marietta, Hazzard, Ann; Something Happened in our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice (Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin)
- Chatelaine, Dirk; 24th and Glory: The Intersection of Civil Rights and Omaha’s Greatest Generation of Athletes
- Cobb, Jelanie and David Remnick; The Matter of Black Lives: Collection of Writings from the New Yorker
- Craft, Jerry; New Kid (Newberry Award Winner)
- Feldman, Jay; When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder and the New Madrid Earthquakes
- French, Howard; Born in Blackness: African, Africans and the Making of the Modern World—1471-WWII
- Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.; The Black Church; This is our Story, This Is Our Song
- Gonzalez, Christiina Diaz; The Red Umbrella
- Gorman, Amanda; The Hill We Climb
- Hamilton, Virginia; Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave; Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom; The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
- Hannah-Jones, Nicole/New York Times Magazine; The 1619 Project: A New Origin Study
- Higginbottom, Anastasia; Not my Idea: A Book About Whiteness
- Hopkinson, Deborah; Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Illustrated by James Ransome)
- Irving, Debbie; Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
- Jacobs, Margaret; After One Hundred Winters: In Search of Reconciliation of America’s Stolen Lands
- Jones, Edward; The Known World
- Kendi, Ibram; Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas
- Larson, Kate Clifford; Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman—Portrait of an American Hero
- Larson, Kate Clifford; Walk With Me; A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer
- Love, Preston; Wisdom’s Foresight: From Cataracts to Pandemic Vaccines
- Love, Preston and Love, Portia (Illustrated by Regina JeanPierre); Your Bridge to History
- McCauley, Esau; Reading While Black: African American Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope
- Oluo, Ijeoma; So You Want to Talk About Race
- Payne, Tim and Tamara; The Dead Are Arising
- Reid, Kiley; Such a Fun Age
- Rhodes, Jewell Parker; Black Brother, Black Brother
- Ringgold, Faith; Tar Beach
- Ritchie, Patty; The Dunehaven Council
- Ruffin, Amber and Lamar, Lacey; You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
- Shatterly, Margot Lee; Hidden Figures
- Stevenson, Bryan; Just Mercy—A Story of Justice and Redemption
- Stone, Nic; Dear Justyce; Dear Martin; Clean Getaway
- TuTu, Desmond and Dalai Lama: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
- Wilkerson, Isabel; The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration; Caste: The Origins of our Discontents
- Willies, Egberto; How to Talk to your Right-Wing Relatives, Friends, and Neighbors
- Winters, Mary-Frances; Black Fatigue
- Woodson, Jacqueline; Coming on Home (Illustrated by E.B. Lewis); Brown Girl Dreaming
- Zoboi, Ibi (Editor); Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America
Other Books In the Library Prior to starting the Social Justice Library
- Abrahams, Roger; African Folktales (Pantheon Fairytale and Folklore Library)
- Haskins, James and Benson, Kathleen; African Beginnings (Ilustrated by Floyd Cooper)
- King, Martin Luther; I Have a Dream: Writing and Speeches that Changed the World
- Martinson, Paul; Islam—An Introduction for Christians
- McKissack, Patricia; A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, A Slave Girl on Belmont Plantation, Virginia 1859
- Phillips, Rachel; Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist and Reformer
- Powell, Colin; My American Journey
- Rampersand, Arnold; Jackie Robinson
- Rauf, Abdul Feisal; What’s Right With Islam Is What’s Right With America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West
- Reese, Della; Angels Along the Way: My Life with Help from Above
- Thomas, David Hurst and Pendleton, LoriAnn; Native Americans (The Nature Company Discovery Library)
- Time-Life Books; Voices of Triumph: Perseverence; Leadership; Creative Fire
- TuTu, Desmond; No Future Without Forgiveness
Additional Social Justice websites from our Presbyterian Denomination
- Presbyterian Peacemaking Program: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/peacemaking
- Presbyterian Justice and Peacemaking Newsletters: https://pcusa.activehosted.com/f/164
“We are Americans” Class: This 7-Week Adult Class was led by Charlene Meyer and Earlene Uhrig. PCOC members come from diverse personal backgrounds – in both locations growing up and career strengths. The class explored how our ancestral diversity, faith diversity, and geographic diversity influences our individual choices to become members of our caring PCOC community.
Trip to the UNO “Undesign the Red Line” Exhibit: Our Agape for All trip to UNO’s “Undesign the Red Line” Exhibit was powerful. We learned about the practice of red lining (real estate exclusion of members of our society from certain neighborhoods) and a wide variety of shameful policies, practices, and laws that have contributed to decades, even centuries, of discrimination.
Intertribal Powwow at Fort Omaha: Our group made its first trip to this celebration of Native American cultures on the MCC Fort Omaha campus. The powwow honors the traditional dance, music, artistry, oral history and foods of various tribes across Nebraska and the surrounding region including Omaha, Ponca, Santee Sioux and Winnebago.
United We Walk: This is an annual event held at the Tri-faith Campus.
Historical Marker for Vivian Strong: The Nebraska State Historical Society will place a historical marker at 24th & Patrick in honor of Vivian Strong. Immediately following, a second marker from the family will be unveiled at 24th & Grant Streets (about two blocks north).
Trouble the Waters: Over 35 members participated in the “Trouble the Waters” Adult Education classes. The videos were provided by the Presbyterian Church USA, and our discussions were rich. If you missed out on this learning opportunity, visit the PCUSA website to sign up to view these videos on your own.
East – West Courageous Conversations: For the last two years, Agape for All has participated in planning and have attended several meetings to broaden our knowledge of city-wide and state-wide issues which often disproportionately affect certain segments of our community, such as people in North Omaha and people of color. Most were held on the UNO campus in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center. Topics covered have included:
- Your Vote, Your Power – ballot issues in the upcoming election
- Legislative Update of action taken during 2023
- Conditions faced by vulnerable communities and resources available
Sunday Worship with “Churches of Color“: Our group worshipped with/at Church of the Resurrection, Mt. Moriah Mission Baptist Church, and Salem Baptist
Malcolm X Museum: This national historic landmark located at 3448 Evans St. is the birthplace of Malcolm Little, who later became known as Malcolm X, one of the most pivotal civil rights leaders of our time.
“Sweet Potato Pie” – A Meal and Message with Preston Love: Our group enjoyed a delicious lunch (and pie!), catered by Big Mama’s Kitchen. We will got further acquainted with Preston Love, learned more about his Youth Civil Rights Tour and the organization he has started, 4urban.org.
Get acquainted with North Omaha – Past & Present: Brother Love provided a historical tour of North Omaha, with perspectives on the economic, cultural, and civil rights background of this integral part of our city. The tour included the following:
- an interactive video tour of North Omaha from Preston’s Office space;
- a motorcade to 3 North Omaha locations in our own cars;
- a 45-minute visit to the Great Plains Black History Museum;
- we will conclude at the Revive Center for lunch and further conversation with Preston and Willie Barney who will talk about the current work of the Empowerment Network.
Black Votes Matter Summer Tour: During the summer of 2022, three members of our congregation participated in this remarkable journey to several southern states and learned firsthand about the Civil Rights movement, deepened their understanding of current events, and pondered future steps we all can take toward social justice. Watch the video below to see and hear about what they experienced.
What’s Cookin’: Informal conversations have occurred among interested members at Cornerstone tables and some house meetings.
Poetry Night: This was a very memorable evening of insight and sharing. Making time to listen to a variety of perspectives and conversing with sincerity and openness helped all of us stretch our minds and souls.
Exploring Matthew 25: Our presbytery has congregations that are part of a Matthew 25 initiative based on the scripture that reads in part:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)
Watch for more news about discussions. We are grateful to be in a church that is actively caring for others.
There are many additional activities that spring out of Agape for All, such as participation in the Scared Ground Curriculum, developed by the Episcopal Church, and shared in zoom sessions across denominations. Several of us spent the spring of 2022 studying and discussing social issues and finding the experience rich and challenging.
In the Omaha metro area, there are many groups forming to address social justice issues, tackling a wide variety of topics, communicating with integrity and vision. As we learn about events and opportunities in our community, we share those with our Agape for All list, post them on the Agape for All bulletin board, and occasionally publicize them in the Cross Currents, Friday email, and Sunday bulletin. As we learn more, we can respond with more efficacy.