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Redlands United Church of Christ Joins Anti-bullying Scarf Project

by Laurie Williams, Correspondent

(Reprinted from The Redlands Daily Facts, 5/6/13 – used with permission)

Scarf Project Some 50 members of the United Church of Christ’s clergy gathered in Redlands on Saturday to dedicate a colorful contribution to the denomination’s upcoming General Synod – festoons of rainbow-hued scarves meant to call attention to the battle against bullying.

Ministers at the service at Redlands UCC made a procession to the altar with scarves created by members of their congregations, or even by themselves. The Rev. Sharon Graff, pastor of the church, knitted throughout the meeting.

Graff told the group from the Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC that instructions for making the scarves called for horizontal stripes in alternating colors.

She indicated the finished products, which varied widely in style and pattern.

“It occurred to us that we’re in the UCC,” she said. “When has there ever been a pattern? ”

The Rev. Marja Coons-Torn, a UCC pastor in Pennsylvania, created the Scarf Project with a goal of crafting some 3,000 scarves for the denomination’s General Synod in July in Long Beach.

Volunteers across the nation are knitting, crocheting and weaving scarves 4 to 6 inches wide and 60 inches long – “a bright and visible symbol of the commitment we’re asking of people,” she is quoted as saying in an article on the UCC website.

The scarves will be distributed to Synod attendees who promise to act against bullying, perhaps by volunteering with programs that serve people who have been victimized, or by writing to legislators in support of anti-bullying measures, or by speaking at a school.

People who receive the first scarves at the gathering will pass them on to others who make the same pledge – and each will then go get another scarf. In her homily during the service, the Rev. Kathryn Obenour of Mary Magdalene Friends UCC in Las Vegas said she has been shocked at the hatefulness children sometimes direct at other children.

“How did they become so obnoxious, so mean, so evil?” she asked. The answer became clear, she said, as she watched parents make rude remarks about other shoppers in a clothing store, or yell at their children in restaurants, or say things like, “You are so stupid – you never use your head. ”

Children learn first from how they are treated, she said, and then from observing the people around them.

“Whether we are attempting to raise compassionate children, or to create an army of warriors against bullying, we would do well to look at our own behavior,” Obenour said.

The Scarf Project will continue through July.

Knitters, crocheters and weavers can send scarves to The Scarf Project, c/o UCC Southern California Nevada Conference, 2401 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 91001-2418

More information about the project is available on the denomination’s website,  http://www.ucc.org/news/ucc-scarf-project-for-general.html

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