Bedford Observes Juneteenth

At the behest of First Parishioner Dorothy Africa, a small group gathered on Bedford Common to observe Juneteenth, on Friday morning, June 19 marking the 155th anniversary of the announcement of the end of slavery to the citizens of Galveston, TX.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 but the word took that long to reach Texas, to the benefit of local slaveholders. First Parish’s bell tolled 13 times at 10 am, to honor the 13th Amendment, along with the enslaved and freed Black Bedfordians interred at Bedford’s Old Burying Ground on Springs Road.

The group walked in silence from Bedford’s historic meeting house to Springs Road where they left a ribbon on the Black Slaves’ monument to commemorate Juneteenth.

Earth Day ~ Celebrating 50 Years on Sunday, April 19, 2020

With thanks to three of Bedford’s environmentally active organizations, including links to a pair of Sunday morning church services to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

The first Earth Day 50 years ago was a revolutionary event in which 20 million people participated. This year it will be celebrated with the country doing shelter in place.  It can still be revolutionary. This is a moment when we can reflect on the kind of world we want to build.  We now see first-hand how interconnected we are. Just as a strong, united effort has been needed to address the coronavirus, so a united effort is needed to address climate change and create a healthier planet for everyone.  That is what Earth Day is about. 

Community Voices @ The Bedford Citizen ~ Hard to Think and Talk About … But So Very Important to Do.

In between doing activities to fill our days of isolation– jigsaw puzzles, games of Scrabble, reading, favorite TV shows/movies, neighborhood walks, talking with friends and family — my husband and I did something we’ve been putting off for a long time. 

We sat together and talked about our concerns and wishes for end-of-life; specifically, we started preparing our individual advanced directives for health care and other end of life decisions.

The Covid-19 pandemic is certainly highlighting for me the reality of my vulnerabilities and mortality in ways I was able to dismiss or ignore previously.  This is not easy…in fact, it is darn hard and terrifying at times.  But I have found that possessing good information, getting in touch with what I value most, and concretely talking about my wishes with my loved ones has given me a semblance of control in this unpredictable and scary time.

Bedford Embraces Diversity Responds to Recent Episodes of Hateful Graffiti

The Board of Directors of Bedford Embraces Diversity this week issued a statement of response to recent episodes of hateful graffiti on the sides of a couple of local buildings. The grass-roots organization, which sponsors the annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration and multicultural festival, originated seven years ago in response to incidents of antisemitism.

Here is their statement:

The challenges presented by the worldwide pandemic are bringing out the best in people, and Bedford is no exception. Ordinary residents are stepping up, navigating the limits imposed by the virus, and finding creative ways to help those in need – health care professionals and support staff, neighbors who are isolated, anxious or elderly, and local first-responders. 

In that context, it is especially infuriating to learn of hateful graffiti discovered last week on two buildings on the eastern side of the town and at Shawsheen Cemetary. Let’s be clear: the swastikas and Hitler references not only symbolize hate, they represent the methodical destruction of millions of human beings and entire cultures less than two generations ago. They represent beliefs and policies that spit in the face of all the inspiring efforts to do good that we see around us. 

Passover 5780 – Differently Different

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Passover snuck up on me this year. After a March that came in like a lion and went out with a quarantine, and seemingly went on forever, I lost track of time. (After all, didn’t you hear- we are down to only three days a week: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.) But here it is, and here we are.

One of the most cherished traditions at the Passover Seder is the recitation of The Four Questions, when the youngest child present asks a series of questions to the group about Passover and its rituals- eating matzah, eating bitter herbs, dipping vegetables, and eating while reclining. The beginning line of The Four Questions, which is perhaps the most famous, is traditionally translated as “How is this night different from all other nights?”, from the Hebrew “Mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh mikol halaylot?”

ZOOM BOOM: The Path to Heaven May Be Paved with Free Video Conferencing Software

The headline is tongue in cheek, but on a practical basis at least it isn’t far from the truth.  Numerous local churches and temples were contacted by The Bedford Citizen for a two-part article querying leaders about what is being done in their organizations in response to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.

Zoom (www.zoom.us),  the free video-conferencing and messaging application that simplifies virtual meetings across any device, is being used by nearly all of the congregations (and many other local organizations) in Bedford to take the place of in-person services, programs, and even counseling sessions.  Creative videos and YouTube also figure prominently in the ways in which leaders and members are exploring how to stay in touch and be supportive of one another during this period.

Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network responds to Public Health Emergency

The Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network has been informed that the local public health department has issued an emergency order requiring houses of worship to suspend all public gatherings, services, or other activities in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  We appreciate the hard work of our public health leaders in this time, and support this decision wholeheartedly.  We encourage everyone in our community to follow all recommendations and directives from our public health and other governmental officials to help us stem the tide of this pandemic, including important social distancing practices.  

Black History and First Parish on Bedford Common ~ Nanne’s Life Matters

In a Sunday morning service on February 2, at the start of Black History Month,  First Parish on Bedford Common dedicated a small new plaque. It remembers a woman named Nanne and is installed beneath a memorial to Bedford’s first minister, Nicholas Bowes, her owner.

MLK Jr. Community Day Draws Bedford Together for Learning, Celebration, and Service

On a cold morning of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a large group gathered for the MLK Jr. Community Day at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Bedford Center. The fourth annual event, co-sponsored by Bedford Embraces Diversity (BED) and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network (BICN), kicked off with a light breakfast and a warm welcome from Cantor Ben Silver of Temple Shalom Emeth, who led the group in a joyous opening song.  Reminding “everybody [to] get together, come and love one another,” the speakers all echoed this sentiment throughout the morning.

Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King ~ “Who is My Neighbor?”

Bedford Embraces Diversity and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network are partnering to plan an expanded community day of learning and service in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, 2020. For the first time, the commemoration will include a community service component, with a choice of activities that reflect Dr. King’s message. The theme for the day is, “Who’s My Neighbor?”

The program will begin at 9:30 a.m. (doors open at 9) at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, with a light breakfast, followed by inspirational remarks by the Rev. Vernon K. Walker. The speaker is affiliated with Berachah Church in Dorchester and is a leader in social justice and climate action. Participants will then have the option of joining one of the community service projects, some of which will be offsite.

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. at Breakfast and for a Day of Service on Monday ~ You’re Invited!

Have you made your reservations yet???

Community service projects are among the highlights of Bedford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Day, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, January 20, at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, 25 The Great Road.

Bedford Embraces Diversity and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network are partnering to sponsor this fourth annual observance.

The celebration will begin with a light breakfast and keynote remarks by the Rev. Vernon K. Walker of Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Cambridge, speaking on “Who’s My Neighbor?” Rev. Walker received his master’s degree in theological studies from Boston University School of Theology.  He is the program manager for the Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW), which fosters climate change resilience.  His resume also includes service in racial and economic justice.

Admission will be $5, covering the breakfast, plus a suggested donation of paper goods or toiletries for the food pantry at Middlesex Community College. This community service project will help students’ and teachers’ families in need. Appropriate items include paper towels, tissues, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream and razors, and personal hygiene products, as well as dish and laundry detergent, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, plastic storage bags and cleaning supplies. Donations will be delivered to the Springs Road campus later in the week.

Community service projects include:

Service of Reflection in Memory of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The public is warmly invited to join the annual Martin Luther King Jr. service at the First Baptist Church, 155 Concord Road, on Sunday, Jan. 12, beginning at 4 p.m.

The church has marked Dr. King’s birthday for more than three decades with a service of reflection, a celebration in Gospel music, consecrated poetry and prayer. A reception will follow. And on January 20, 2020 ~ Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King ~ “Who is My Neighbor?” Bedford Embraces Diversity and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network are partnering to plan an expanded community day of learning and service in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, 2020.

MLK Jr. Service at First Baptist Church on Sunday, January 12

A special church service honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will take place at 4 pm on Sunday, January 12 will take place at Bedford’s First Baptist Chuch, 151 Concord Road. Everyone is cordially invited to attend.

Letter to the Editor: Thank You from the Bedford Community Table/Pantry

I wish to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to Chuck Connell for taking on the task of organizing and running this year’s Turkey Trot.  Also to Callahan’s Karate and WT Phelan Insurance for sponsoring the event, and to long-time contributor Bedford Florist for donating the floral arrangements for winners in particular areas.