Universalist Clara Barton is best known for her work in organizing nursing services during the Civil War and, later, founding the American Red Cross. She did not start this work until she was over 40. The Clara Barton Sisterhood was created in her name as a way for local women’s groups, congregations, and individuals to honor women aged 80 and over for their contributions to their congregations and communities. Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa will be preaching.
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Religious Education for children and youth happens during worship on Sundays. Children and youth arrive in the Sanctuary for the just a little bit and welcome in Sunday with a story and song. Then, they attend their own programs in the Education building. Learn more here!
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In person services are followed by coffee hour.
This morning I want to share with you my family’s connection with the Red Cross in Chile.
The War of the Pacific, involving Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, took place between 1879 and 1884. In November of 1879, the Chilean government authorized ambulances and military hospitals for the first time to function under the emblem of the Red Cross. Medical personnel wore caps and armbands with the red cross symbol as they tended to the wounded in the battlefield. These were the women of the red cross, who remained in the battlefield for the five years that the war lasted. When the war ended, the women wanted to continue providing assistance in communities affected by natural disasters or widespread illness. But when the war ended, these “Angels of the Battlefield ” were disbanded. It would take until 1903 for the Red Cross to be officially founded, during a meeting, of you guessed it, by all men. Vittorio Cuccini, an Italian immigrant, is named as the founder of the Red Cross in Chile. In 1905 it became incorporated and in 1909 recognized internationally. And even though the women were not being recognized as founders and leaders, they continued to work and to recruit volunteers. My family is from Northern Chile, where those battles took place. Battles that were part of the history that my grandmother and her sisters grew up with. Not just the war history but the stories of the Red Cross and the brave women that for five years tended to the soldiers on the battlefield. My grandmother’s little sister, Aunty Adriana Rojas, dedicated her life to being a Red Cross nurse volunteer, a first responder during earthquakes, fires, and the measles breakout. Today her grand-daughter, my cousin Sara, is the President of the Red Cross chapter in her town, a volunteer unpaid position. My cousin attained a university level education, raised a daughter as a single parent, and survived the horrors of a dictatorship that lasted for almost two decades. She continues to serve the most vulnerable in her community, just like her grandmother did before her.
Perhaps you too have family members who were or are Red Cross volunteers, or first responders. Today we honor them and those who inspired them. They have left us a legacy of courage, compassion, and honor in stepping up and saying yes to serve, sometimes under life threatening circumstances. I like to think that through my great aunt and my cousin, the spirit of Clara Barton is present in my family history.
I feel connected to all these brave women whose passion for education and human rights inspires my ministry. I hope that you too feel connected to them by being part of the larger Unitarian Universalist movement, which centers deeds over creeds and calls us all to center love and social justice. We are part of a larger movement to heal the world, to be of service and remain in the various kinds of battlefields, struggling for justice and defending the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Beloveds, as we honor Clara Barton, the legacy that lives on in the Clara Barton Sisterhood, and in our Unitarian Universalist values, let us recommit ourselves to being first responders against hate, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and all manner of oppression. We are called to heal, to bring faith, hope, and love into this hurting world. May we honor Clara’s memory by answering yes to this call! Amen and Blessed Be.