Films For Tough Times (June)

“Juneteenth” is being honored on June 19th, based on the date which was celebrated to proclaim freedom for slaves in Texas in 1865.  The day was first recognized as a federal holidayin 2021, when Congress passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, and signed by President Biden.

Because we remain ignorant of our neighbor’s needs, especially African-American civil rights, the Mental Health Committee suggests the viewing of these two films, in order to encourage the spiritual practice of compassion-building.

Till (2022) is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmet Till.  He was brutally lynched in 1955 while visiting his cousins in Mississippi.

In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world.  The film’s release coincided with the October 2022 unveiling of a statue in Emmet Till’s memory in Greenwood, Mississippi.

However, as late as 2019, people were putting bullet holes in a sign that marked the site of Till’s lynching.  The New York Times reported, “Emmet Till Memorial Has a New Sign.  This Time, It’s Bulletproof.”

The Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 29, 2022, sixty-seven years after Emmet’s murder.

​​​​AND / OR

The Best of Enemies (2019) is based on the true story at Durham, North Carolina, in 1971, about remarkable hope, daring, and vision.  Racial confrontations were addressed with a process (called a 10-day community charrette), where enemies are transformed into friends.

“In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.  Among us, you are all equal.  That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.”​​….Galatians 3:28, The Message

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Presbytery Assembly Is Live and In-Person


I am trying to hold back my enthusiasm for our first in-person Presbytery Assembly since the pandemic! After meeting these past two years in small squares on our computer/tablet/smart phone screens, we are going to see one another face to face. I have met many of you when worshiping at your congregation or session meetings, but now will be a chance to meet and greet many more for the first time. It’s going to be great!

Hosting the Assembly on Zoom has been beneficial. It has allowed people to conveniently participate from all corners of the presbytery. Our plan is to have two of our four Assemblies inperson and two on Zoom. Of the two in-person Assemblies, one will be in the city of Chicago and one in the suburbs. The two Zoom Assemblies will be held in the winter months of November and February.

Presbyteries across the country have attempted hybrid assemblies with mixed results. We have yet to find a way for people participating at home to have the same experience as those in-person. This is especially difficult with voting and debating because of the timelapse experienced on the Zoom platform. For this reason, we have decided not to attempt hybrid meetings. Instead, the meeting will be live streamed for those who have registered but cannot attend. Unfortunately, only those who are in-person will be able to vote and debate.

The format for the Assembly is slightly different. We will begin with business and then move into worship followed by fellowship dinner. Our speaker is Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis, Co-Moderator of the PC(USA). In addition to preaching, Co-Moderator Starling-Louis will participate in a time of questions from you! This is the opportunity to ask the Co-Moderator that burning question you’ve been holding for years! She will then preside over communion as we prepare for fellowship together. Co-Moderator Starling-Louis’ biography can be found here.

It appears that the weather will be dry and warm. I can’t speak for the traffic, though. Just give yourself plenty of time to arrive at Glen Ellyn, First Presbyterian Church, 550 North Main Street

Glen Ellyn, by 4:00 pm. Registration will open at 3:30 pm. Bring your best smile and a gentle spirit as we plan to discern, have devotion, debate, and decide together!

Rev. Craig Howard

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Films for Tough Times (May)

Films for Tough Times — May 2023

The Mental Health Committee has selected the spiritual practice of viewing selected “Films for Tough Times.” The scarcity of mental health therapists and clinical psychologists, as America’s mental health needs have climbed, calls for the practice of self-care in not only personal relationships, but also with Planet Earth.

The newly-named Compassion, Peace, and Justice Mission notes that in order for there to be peace, there must be justice, and in order for there to be justice, there must be compassion.

The over-all topic of Mental Health for the month of May will be honored with the suggested viewing of two films, in order to encourage the spiritual practice of compassion-building.


                A Beautiful Mind (2001) is based on the true story of mathematical genius John Nash (1928-2015).  He became stressed over feeling isolated from his Princeton classmates, which triggered his paranoid delusions.  Director Ron Howard worked with John and his wife Alicia, to gain their approval of accuracy about their lives, in order to evoke the world as seen by John.


                Their psychiatrist diagnosed John with schizophrenia, and explained to Alicia about this mysterious and tragic disease.  After many treatments and medications, finally a new insight came to John’s mind, the cloud lifted, and clear thinking returned to him.  He, with Alicia and their son, traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to receive his Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1994.


                                                                AND / OR


                Martian Child (2007) is based on a true story (though fictionalized) about a widower and lonely science-fiction writer adopting a boy, who claims to be from Mars.  “Dennis” is an abandoned child, moved from one foster home to another.


                As a socially rejected 6-year-old, he doesn’t quite fit into his group home.  The new father with help from his friend and from his sister, discovers that being an adoptive parent means that anything is possible.  The authentic “Dennis” is interviewed at the end of the film.


                                “The Lord is gracious and righteous.  Our God is full of compassion.”

                                                                …..Psalm 116:5

Here are the qualities used for evaluating the films for compassion-building, and for the outcomes hoped for, after watching each film:

Qualities for evaluating films include:

1. Demonstrating compassion given to all of humanity and to all of creation, so that the film makes us feel good about humanity and creation;
2. Making kindness a priority;
3. Working through uncomfortable situations, especially coming to terms with one’s own personal hurt, disappointment, and/or loneliness;
4. Having a joyful ending; and
5. Being free for borrowing at local public libraries or on YouTube.

Outcomes realized after watching a film includes these hopes:

Take note of the scene(s) which built up compassion within, for both humankind, and/or for nonhumankind.
Reflect with self, or a group, on the wisdom of compassion which could be applied to another current situation.
See, hear, and then act. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going,” wrote songwriter Kurt Kaiser in 1969: “That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread God’s love to everyone, you want to pass it on.”


​“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.”

​​Matthew 5:3 (Common English Bible) 

By the Presbytery of Chicago Mental Health Committee

Rev. Jefferson Caldeira, Moderator


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Summer 2023 Chaplaincy Training Program

For More information regarding this oppoutunity, click here Summer 2023 CPE Information Sheet

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How Blood Go Celebration of Healing

The Chicago Department of Public Health is partnering with We Will Chicago to present their Celebration of Healing. The Celebration of Healing initiative collaborates with our annual productions to provide audiences with a curated space for individual and community healing.

With three upcoming webinars scheduled, you can find more information on them and register here
March 30, 2023:Faith-Based Communities Building Engagement Linkages With Researchers (Webinar)

April 13, 2023: Pregnancy And Postpartum Experience In Chicago’s Neighborhoods With Increased Adverse Maternal Outcomes (Webinar)

April 27, 2023: Community Emotional Stability Through A Faith-Based Community-Academic Partnership (Webinar)

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