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Forum, Feb. 22: At United Methodist Church, finding ways to work together

Published: 2/21/2019 10:00:16 PM
Modified: 2/21/2019 10:00:27 PM
At United Methodist Church, finding ways to work together

We are pastors of the United Methodist Churches in Lebanon and White River Junction, and we want to thank you for publishing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article about the deliberations in our denomination (“United Methodists face pivotal vote on LGBTQ issues,” Feb. 8). As that article pointed out, United Methodists around the globe have widely differing perspectives on sexuality. Worries of division threaten the church in many places, but our local experience is quite different.

The United Methodist Church has always been a mainline, working-class movement with a strong orientation toward community. In New England, and the Upper Valley, that means we are a diverse group , united by a commitment to faith, service and justice. Individual United Methodists in the Upper Valley have varying theological beliefs about marriage and LGBTQ people serving as clergy — as we do about the death penalty, abortion, war and more.

In those differences you will find our strength: We talk about the truth of our lives, our loves and our beliefs. We struggle together, we aren’t afraid of hard things, and we listen deeply to how political and personal concerns affect one another. In a sound-bite, meme-seeking world, we live with nuance, empathy and an eye toward maintaining deep, long-term relationships.

We live together amid differences, and agree there is more that we have in common than would drive us to division. In fact, we think this is a gift we in New England have to offer: In a world that sees irreconcilable differences, we find ways to work together.

Both of us will be present later this month for this meeting of our denomination, which may set a new policy. But we are confident that no matter what is decided on a global level, in New England, we are and will remain a people who can lead the way in love and service, and live together in our differences. We give thanks for the Upper Valley community, and that we are a place where differences are celebrated rather than feared.



Kenyon shows his disrespect for the job of law enforcement

My initial reaction upon reading Jim Kenyon’s recent column about Eric Daley was one of shock and disgust (“Turning the tables,” Feb. 13).

I understand that Kenyon may have his own feelings about law enforcement officers and how they do their job, and I agree that he has the right to have his own opinion. My passionate opinion is that to allow Kenyon to openly try to undermine and disrespect the job that these law enforcement officers do is disgraceful.

I can’t imagine how Trooper Michael Johnson’s family must feel reading or being exposed to Kenyon asking if “state police actions and policies also figure into the tragedy,” and ultimately Johnson’s death.

If Kenyon’s purpose as a columnist is solely to stir up controversy without regard for right and wrong, then I have to say he did his job well. I hope he understands that there are still many citizens who deeply understand and respect what law enforcement officers do. Let’s all stand up and be accountable for ourselves and teach our children to do the same.


Bath, N.H.

More on the story of the Westboro Rail Yard

As a fellow New Hampshire taxpayer, I agree with Frederick G. Bailey’s Opinion piece on the Westboro Rail Yard (“A success story that isn’t being told,” Feb. 10). The whole story hasn’t been told.

What, for instance, is the “international railroad conglomerate” Genesee & Wyoming Industries paying to lease the property that our tax dollars paid for? Market rate or a dollar a year? Has the administrator of the property — the New Hampshire Department of Transportation — had the property appraised recently in advance of the next leasing go-round?

On the rhetorical side, there’s the suggestion that industrial development in some way excludes all other uses there, such as mixed use, recreation and parks.

Then there’s the question of who is qualified to comment on the disposition of this public property. We all own Westboro, and we have elected officials and publicly motivated citizens in Lebanon to thank for pursuing shared use.



The writer is chair of Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, Grafton County.

Come to a rally against another U.S. imperialist war

So many of us are frustrated and angry about the U.S.-supported illegal coup and the military aggression our country is threatening against Venezuela. Many of us believe that the Venezuelan people deserve nonintervention, self-determination, the decision to be socialist and the ability to keep their legally elected president. They also have the right to be free of unjustified sanctions that make the people suffer, to be free of threats of military intervention and to own and control their own oil and resources.

We do not want yet another illegal and destructive American imperialist war for oil.

If you agree with us, please join us and be part of the worldwide day of Venezuelan peace demonstrations. We will meet at the intersection by the Dartmouth Green on Saturday, from 2-4 p.m. We will have some signs there. Anyone who wants to bring their own signs, songs, music and friends is welcome.



The real national emergency

Does the situation at the border warrant a national emergency? I guess that it depends on one’s perspective. Are we being invaded? That also depends on one’s perspective.

The real national emergency is what is going on with our elected representatives and senators in Washington, D.C. To paraphrase a line from the movie Cool Hand Luke (for those of us old enough to remember), “What they have in Washington is a failure to communicate.”

What we see, hear and read about our Congress is nothing more than a grade-school game of “gotcha” by a group of alleged adults being paid with our tax dollars. Maybe it is time to really consider term limits.



Vermont’s ‘labor shortage’ is an artificial construct

Reports of Vermont’s labor shortage, as reflected in a 2.8 percent unemployment rate, and by inference, a strong economy, are premature and greatly exaggerated. This statistic is an artificial construct. Month to month comparisons may tell us something. But pat conclusions based on absolute numbers are unwarranted.

“Discouraged workers” not actively seeking work are not counted among the unemployed. Neither are those who die of despair or move out of state in search of work or are forced in to retirement. In the long run, labor supply must adjust to demand. An “unemployed workforce” is a at best a temporary phenomenon. At worst, it is an oxymoron, as impossible to sustain as a herd of unicorns.

Vermont’s aging demographic informs us that young people, upon completion of high school, are leaving the state in search of opportunity, that few are coming here with the intent to take jobs that will allow them to raise a family, and that those who choose to remain, or have no choice but to remain, are having fewer children. Hence a smaller workforce and hence less unemployment, as befits a state with a small economy offering little opportunity for gainful employment.

Also not counted are the underemployed and those working for less than a livable wage, of which there are enough also to make up a considerable fraction of the workforce. High wages call out more job seekers. Thus Vermont’s “labor shortage” is a reflection of a low wage scale in the areas and categories where it is found to exist.

For those employers affected by this shortage, my recommendation would be this: Try offering better pay.



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