Minutes of SJ meetings

Social Justice Committee Meeting MArch 12, 2019

Present:  Tom Budnik, Chuck Glatz, Fr. John Herzog, Francis Todey,

Kathy Trahanovsky, Mary Ellen Wishart

Absent excused:  Dave Dirks, Paula Friederich

Guests:  Fr. Kyle, Annette Forbes, Linda Shickell, Jean Prestemon (representing Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance {AIRA})

Feb 12 minutes were approved.

Discussion of what actions to take locally regarding church sexual abuse topic

            Mary Ellen presented a summary of what has been done in the Lexington, KY diocese and what is in place in the Dubuque Archdiocese.  While they are similar, the information in the Dubuque Archdiocese is relatively hard to locate, while the KY diocese has an excellent publication and website.  Fr. Kyle was open to suggestions from the group regarding trying to repair broken trust and also be clear about what procedures are to be followed in case of current issues.        

            Three recommendations:  ***Note.  The tasks below include several ideas (in italics) which were spoken informally after the meeting.

  1. Develop a series of bulletin announcements about various topics (which would probably be drafted by SJ and then edited and published by Fr. Kyle) Also have the small business card of the Victims Assistance Coordinator (VAC) in weekly, if possible.
  2. Publish the letters from Fr. Kyle in a very visible place on our website. (Diocese website very hard to navigate)
  3. After the series is completed, schedule a staff person from Dubuque to facilitate a discussion (possibly to include St. Cecilia’s and St. P & P) about the issues.  This might be held in church between Masses to capture the most people and not impose on the already packed building use.
  4. Should St. Thomas remain a member of AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy)?  How should membership be funded?

            Kathy T and Mary Ellen attended a leadership conference and were challenged to seek approval by the Pastoral Council for continuing membership in AMOS.  Since the budget is already determined, we will need to apply for a SJ grant to fund for this year.  Chris and Mary Ellen will work on the application.  The next step will be to present the case to Pastoral Council for having AMOS be a line item somewhere in the parish budget.  (For next meeting, need further discussion, consensus by SJ about membership, and what happens next, depending on the “vote.” Then, if “yes,” need to form a core committee.)

Bowl-o-rama benefits social justice grants

The 4:45 music group held its annual “fun-raiser” and will be contributing $5,072 to social justice grants.

Community ID

Chris reported that March 30 at St. Cecilia’s is set for the first push to assist people in getting an ID if they have none.  This is in cooperation with and supported by the sheriff, police, hospital.  The ID cannot be used to board a plane, but it will serve as verification that you are who you say you are for medical purposes or if needed in civil situations.  Those who attend will be expected to go through an orientation to what the ID means and will need to provide several pieces of identification in order to receive the ID.  Other sessions are schedule on April ___ in Ames and on May 11 in Marshalltown.

Immigration talk sponsored by UCC at Memorial Union

Several SJ members attended and felt it was very informative.

Next meeting:  April 9, 6:00 p.m., STA

Notes by Mary Ellen Wishart


Social Justice Committee Meeting:  February 12, 2019

Attendees:   Chris Rehmann, Chuck Glatz, Dave Dirks, Tom Budnik,  Kathy Trahanovsky, Mary Ellen Wishart, Mary Ann Todey, Francis Todey     

Approval of Jan 2019 meeting minutes:  approved

Mental Health First Aid – program was well attended.  Mary Ellen and Kathy attended from SJ Committee.  ERP, YSS, Friendship Ark, some students, etc… were also represented.   Total attendance was 25.  This course could be good for STA staff and LYN interviewers (at least a short course).   Comments were generally very positive.  

Housing First Program – Permanent Supportive Housing – Program will be held to begin to discuss where we are at in Ames, and where we might go.   At the Gateway Hotel, Feb 20.  Registration 9:30.  Meeting 9:30-11:30am .   This is sponsored by Amos.   Both Kathy and Mary Ellen plan to attend.   Amos is requesting some monetary help to differ expenses.   We would suggest $50 be taken from the SJ budget for this.   This was motioned and approved.   Action:  Tom will take the action to have this money transferred to Amos for the event.  

ERP Homeless Outreach.  – Tom was going to put something in the bulletin relative to collecting items for “care packages”.   Tom did not receive a response from Carrie.   He will continue reaching out to her and put it in the bulletin if we get the proper information. 

Poverty Simulation –   There is a group that has the materials available to do this.   SJ needs to understand if we would want to do this.   Action:  Chuck will gather more information and come back. 

Refugees – Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance.   Jean Prestemon has volunteered to represent STA.   We have asked Jean to give the SJ committee periodic updates.   Chris has added Jean P. to our SJ e-mail list. 

UCC Theologian in Residence Program – Chuck believes that the Library will be showing the Postville documentary film on Tuesday Feb 19, 6:30pm.    Tom got approval for use of our parking lot for their Friday Dialog event with Attorney General Tom Miller at the Union (Friday March 1, 7-9pm). 

AMOS Civic Academy – This will be an AMOS event to educate people on immigration.   Chris will give more details in future meetings.  The event would be after Easter. 

Abuse in the Church – Mary Ellen sent out a link to a paper from the Diocese of Lexington.  This Diocese has taken some innovative actions.   This is a good potential reference for other diocese’s.     As a committee we are waiting to develop actions until the Bishops meeting is finished (it starts next week).   Father Kyle is taken some actions at STA.  Action:  Chris will invite Fr Kyle to attend our next meeting on March 12 to get his view on Bishops meeting and actions for STA

Budget – Tom working on SJ budget with the budget committee.   LYN, Honduras, and SJ grants will be moved out of the SJ budget and moved into the charitable giving budget.   The percentages are not expected to change, just the category in the budget that these items fall under.   AMOS has been funded by grants the last few years.   Mary Ellen would like to see our membership dues put back in as a line item in the budget (we think this is $3000).    We can put it in as budget line item for SJ but it may not get approved.  Action:  Tom will add a line item for AMOS at $3000.    Action:  Mary Ellen will investigate what is requested by AMOS to remain a voting member, etc…  Tom has put in for slightly more SJ funding (office expenses 1770à 2000, workshops 200à400, lay leadership 300à500). 


LYN fund – It is in good financial shape.  About 30,000$.   Strong donations in December and January. 

SJ Grants – We currently have ~$16,000 built up.  

Next Meeting – Tuesday March 12



Social Justice Committee Meeting:  January 15, 2019

Attendees:  Fr. Herzog, Chris, Chuck, Dave, Tom, Paula, Kathy, Mary Ellen, Felicity,  

Approval of Dec 2018 meeting minutes:  approved

Charles Kniker from UCC –“Immigration Matters Journeying Together, Responding to Crisis”

·        Rev Dr. David Vasquez-Levy (President of Pacific School of Religion, and Theologian in Residence at UCC) will do a dialog with Attorney General Tom Miller on Friday March 1, 2019; 7-9pm at the Pioneer Room ISU Memorial Union.  The title is “Love and Story:  Reframing the National Conversation about Immigration”

·        Saturday March 2, 2019; 9:15am – 3:30pm at the Ames United Church of Christ there is a program called “Immigration Matters:  Joined Together, Finding Solutions”.  David Vasquez-Levy, Luis Argueta, Sonia Parras Konrad, Erica Johnson, and Violetta Aleman will be presenters.  This is free and open to the public. 

·        The UCC group would like to help other congregations get more involved in immigration issues. 

·        They would appreciate using our parking lot the evening of the Friday dialog at the union.   They would also like us to publicize the programs in our bulletin.  Action:  Tom will check with Bobby about using the parking lot and including a note in the bulletin.    

·        Info is also on the UCC website.   www.AmesUCC.org/TIR

Refugee Presentation on January 8.   Attendance was fairly small, about 25 people (probably 10 students and 15 parents).  But the presentation was very impactful.   Also the presentation was videotaped.   The second presentation will be at STC March 13th.  Planned to start at 7:30pm.  Chuck is coordinating for the social justice committee.  Chuck is also communicating this to the STC social justice committee and to the Amos Interface Refugee Alliance.  

Ames Interface Refugee Alliance:  We would like to have a volunteer to be our representative to the Amos Interface Refugee Alliance.   Action:  Chris and Tom will send the list of e-mail addresses from Time and Talent and our Ministry Spotlight to Chuck.  Chris will send out the request to this list of names

Mental Health First Aid:  Currently we have 8 people signed up.   We believe 3 more will come from ERP.   We need 10 minimum and it will appear in the bulletin again this week, plus some staff may still sign up.  It’s also posted in the lounge.    Tom says we have money to pay for lunch.   Room is ready and will work well (Prophets and Martyrs).  

Clergy Abuse Crisis:   Action: Chris will send out a list of actions being taken by a very proactive diocese in Lexington, KY.     The Bishops meeting is Feb 21 – 24thin Rome. 

ERP Homeless Outreach Program:   ERP is collecting donation items for “care packages” for a homeless outreach program.   STA is being asked to donate hygiene items and some specific food items.   We’ll try to put it in the next bulletin and set a donation for the Feb 2/3 weekend.  Dave volunteered to drop donations at ERP once collected.    Action:  Tom will get this put in the bulletin and verify with Carrie that our dates still match with her deadline.  

Next Meeting:   February 12, 2019  6pm


SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE  Minutes, 12/18, 2018

Present: Chris Rehman (Chair)  Tom Budnik (Staff) Fr. John Hertzog, Kathy Trahanovsky, Mary Ellen Wishart, Francis Todey, Chuck Glatz,  Dave Dirks, Paula Friederich

Prayer: Led by Chris.

Dear God, help us to hope when it makes no sense. Give us imagination to see what a peaceful and reconciled world could look like and the strength to do the daily hopeful work that leads to your restored kingdom. Amen  

Minutes of November, 2018:  Approved.


Pastoral Council, presentation:  Chris and Dave reported to the PC at its December 11, 2018 meeting.  Information about Love Your Neighbor and the upcoming events being planned by SJC was provided to the council. The PC seemed positive and supportive of the SJC.

Refugee presentation, January 9, 2019:

Chuck and Chris have been coordinating this presentation with Joe Weyers.  The decision was made to limit the audience to STA middle schoolers and their parents. Members of staff/ SJC may also attend.  Joe will give an introduction, and a program has been planned which will include 2-3 speakers, and or video about the subject.

Mental Health First Aid Education,  presentation: February 9, 2019

The agreed time is 8am-4:30 pm with a 30 minute catered lunch break (pizza was suggested.)   

Mary Ellen and Tom will try to get commitments  from interested members of the Stephen’s Ministry and the STA staff.

AMOS/ Community ID Drive:

Chris reported that AMOS is actively promoting this program and it is heavily encouraged by local law enforcement, health-care and service organizations. AMOS  is planning educational meetings in March of 2019.

Ministry Spotlight:

There was some discussion and disagreement about whether  (and  how)  best STA should continue  with the spotlight announcements in order to inform our congregants of the  various activities of the committees present at STA, and of their work.

Tom will continue to discuss this with the staff.  Additionally, Tom is working on streamlining the SJC page on the STA website.

Next Meeting:   January 15, 2019

Respectfully submitted by Paula Friederich


Social Justice Committee Meeting:  Nov 6, 2018

Attendees:  Fr. Herzog, Chris, Dave, Tom, Paula, Kathy, Mary Ellen,  Felicity, Franny Nielson,

Approval of October 2018 meeting minutes:  approved

·        Social Justice Grants – Action:  Tom will take the verbiage out of the guidelines that says:  “90% will be spent and 10% will be saved”.   Normally we give out all of the funds during the once per year application process.   So we would like the guidelines to reflect this. 

·        Web page for SJC – this could use an update.   Tom recently removed many of the past minutes stored on the site.   Mary Ellen has reviewed it and says it has far too much stuff.   Action:  Tom will review and make changes and report back.   We will endeavor to leave 6 months of past minutes on the website. 

·        December 11 pastoral council meeting – Action: Chris will report out for SJ activities and Action:  Dave will report out for LYN activities.   Meeting is at 7pm. 

·        Sex Abuse Crisis:  Action:  Dave to share his most recent letter to the Archbishop and his response to the committee.   Action:   Fr Herzog will send a list of suggested agenda items for the November Bishops conference on sex abuse.   We are still planning to organize  some sort of group discussion on this after we see the response of the Bishops in their meeting in November 12-15. 

·        Trafficking – 9th of January we will do a presentation on human trafficking for middle schoolers and their families here at STA.    We believe Chuck has all the materials. 

·        Mental Health First Aid – Lisa Turner (Catholic Charities).  Lisa has offered several dates for providing the training.  We would plan to open this up to all STA.  We will preference a Saturday in February from 9 – 4:45pm.   Action:  Chris will communicate our preference back to Lisa.   Jo Myers is offering a special art fundraiser activity that funds will then support the Siouxland Restoration Center which supports female victims of trafficking.   Feb 2nd is clear for the lower lounge.  Feb 9th could also work, but another activity at 7pm.   The other 2 Saturdays are booked. 

·        Ministry Spot Light Follow up

o   Social Justice volunteers – Chris has contacted all signees.  Action:  Chris will offer to meet with these signees in person as a second follow up. 

o   Emergency Residence Project:  Action:  Felicity will reach out to the people who signed up.    

o   Amos, Habitat Store, Food at First:  Action:  Mary Ellen will reach out to the people who signed up

o   LYN:  Action:  Kathy will reach out to the people who signed up

Dec 4th 6pm -  next SJC meeting  


Minutes, September 18, 2018

Present: Chris Rehmann (Chair), Tom Budnik, (STA Staff), Fr. John Herzog, Mary Ellen Wishart, Kathy Trahanovsky, Francis Todey, Paula Friederich

Guest: Frank Montabon

Prayer: Led by Chris

“Loving God, you are the author and sustainer of our lives. You know the anguish of the sorrowful, you are attentive to the prayers of the brokenhearted. Hear your people who cry out to you in their need; strengthen their hope in your lasting goodness.

We pray today for those who have died because of violence. Draw them to yourself; let your face shine upon them. May they be greeted with choirs of angels and experience your eternal peace and joy.

Be near to all those who have been touched by violence, those who have been hurt, lost their loved ones, or lost their sense of security. Be for them a steady comfort and safe resting place.

Soften the hearts and steady the minds of those who would do violence to others. May hate be replaced with love, violence with peace, and darkness with Your Light.”


Minutes of August 21 Meeting:  Correction: The STA staff did not receive the full program of “Mental Health First Aid” training, as was stated in the minutes.  Rather, the STA staff was introduced to the program outline, which they encourage SJC to pursue. The minutes will be corrected to reflect this change. With this exception, the minutes were approved.


SJC is continuing to consider sponsorship of an educational program; “Mental Health First Aid.” Lisa Turner has agreed to assist us in either teaching or coordinating this effort. Tom will ask Lisa to forward materials about the program to the SJC for their review, prior to the next meeting.

Lisa had earlier stated that a minimum number of 10 participants would be needed in order to plan and schedule the workshop, which would be given in one 8 hour session or two 4 hour sessions. It was discussed that at least some of the STA staff would be likely to participate, as well as would some members of SJC. In addition, members of the “mental health task force,” a subset of AMOS, may be interested in attending. SJC is confident the minimum number of 10 can be met easily, and still plans to open the registration to the all the STA parish and possibly others. SJC will review the forthcoming materials and proceed with planning at our next meeting.

Trafficking Presentation: SJC will sponsor a presentation for Middle School aged children and their parents, if such a presentation is desired and can be coordinated with STA Faith Formation staff. Further inquiries will be made and discussed at the next SJC meeting. If SJC proceeds, such an event would likely be offered in the spring of 2019.  

Candidate Forum:  Chris informed SJC that AMOS will host a forum, expected to be attended by candidates for the State Legislature, on Thursday, October 18, at the First Christian Church in Ames. Registration is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 pm prior to the 7:30 pm start. Chris has asked that at least 10 STA parishioners participate in this event. Chris will write announcements for the Bulletin and the parish email. In addition, a planning meeting for the forum is also scheduled for Thursday, September 27, at 6:30 pm also at the First Christian Church in Ames.

Ministry Spotlight: SJC is scheduled to present at 4 masses on the weekend of October 27 and 28. Presentations are recommended to be limited to approximately 90 seconds in length. The purpose is to give a general overview of the SJC. Chris will write the announcement to be read.

Mary Ellen and Fr. John will compose a descriptive flyer to be made available at the information table. A sign-up contact sheet will also be available at the information table for those who are interested in learning more about the activities of SJC and who may wish to participate.

Social Justice Grant Applications:  The SJC received copies of the existing policy and proposed changes to its wording. It is necessary for SJC to define more specifically who is eligible to apply for these grants. SJC discussed whether it should require that applicants be officially and currently registered at STA. Concerns were expressed that there are active parishioners who may not submit registration forms but may wish to apply for these grants.

Also discussed was the concern whether grants should be allowed only to an organization and not to any individual. This concern was generally not thought to be a problem since the majority of applicants are for identified organizations.

SJC members are asked to review the language changes in the grant applications which will be further addressed at our next meeting.

Sexual Abuse Discussion/Action: Due to several of our members’ obligations to other meetings, SJC needed to be adjourned prior to this agenda item. This discussion will be set as a priority on the agenda for our next meeting.

Adjourn: 7:10 pm   

Next Meeting: Tuesday, October 16, 6pm

Note: It was brought to SJC’s attention that our meetings are overlapping with other STA committee meetings in which our members are involved. SJC may consider and discuss moving our time or dates of scheduled meetings in order to better accommodate our members. 

Respectfully submitted by Paula Friederich


Minutes:  Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Present: Chris Rehman, Tom Budnik, Fr. John Herzog, Dave Dirks, Francis Todey, Kathy Trahanovsky, Chuck Glatz,  Paula Friederich

Prayer: Led by Chris

Minutes of June 12 meeting: Approved


Review of actions on mental health education:

Mary Ellen has spoken with Lisa Turner about SJC potentially sponsoring an 8 hour workshop entitled “Mental Health First Aid.”  Lisa and two others are able to provide instruction and participants would receive a 3 year certification. The purpose of this training is to help people identify certain mental health issues which may require immediate assistance and/or referral.  Tom said this workshop was given to STA staff in June which was helpful and well received. He also said the program is popular throughout the Archdiocese. Since 10-30 participants are required, It was decided that Tom will ask Lisa if there are materials which can be forwarded to SJC for review.  If SJC still wishes to sponsor this event, we could survey parishioners to see if we can get the minimum number of 10 people interested, and if they would prefer two 4 hour sessions or one 8 hour session.  Depending on the level of interest, we may then also open registration to other parishes.If SJC proceeds in sponsoring this event, we will cover the cost of materials ($20 per person) for STA student and resident parishioners.

It was also noted that AMOS is compiling a list of mental health resources in Story County to make available for referral purposes.

Review of actions on the subjects of refugees and trafficking:

Chuck and Kathy said that Diane Birt of the Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance is available to offer presentations and/or source materials on refugee issues.

Also, he and Tom will contact Anna and Joe W. to see if they are interested in SJC sponsoring a trafficking presentation for STA middle school students.  SJC may consider this, or sponsoring a presentation to a wider audience.

SJC will potentially sponsor three events in the 2018-2019 year on these subjects: Mental Health Education, Trafficking, and Refugee issues.  It was a agreed that 3 events per year is appropriate for SJC sponsorship.

Review of Communications/Ways in which SJC can improve:

Tom has been updating the website with the minutes and also new information about LYN and the Social Justice Grants.  This information is also published periodically in the Bulletin. 

It was agreed that a few changes and additions should be added to the Social Justice Grant Guidelines prior to their next publication.  Tom will send these to SJC for review and these will be discussed at our next meeting.

It was also suggested that SJC get on the Calender  for a Ministry Spotlight. He will schedule SJC for a weekend, likely  in October or November.

We will have handouts available at the information table with information about the various programs and activities of SJC, as well as contact information cards to be filled out by those who are interested in learning more about SJC.


Other Business:

Tom brought two requests for SJC to consider:

STA was contacted by Geneveve Loraditch who is requesting our participation in “40 days For Life “ campaign which she will lead in Ames. She is looking for a team of participants to conduct “12 hours of prayer on the sidewalk everyday for 40 days.”   This was  referred to SJC from Fr. Kyle who suggested that we consider this as an SJC project.

After discussion, it was the consensus that although this is a worthwhile effort, it is not a good fit for us at this time.  Our reason is that: We are already planning 3 events in which  we will seek wide participation from the parish community,  and also because other groups which have been started at STA for the purpose of organizing efforts on behalf of the unborn have not had steady participation from the community.

Also brought to our attention was an upcoming workshop at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames , to discuss Climate Mobilization and environmental issues, on September 8, 2018, 1-4 pm. The workshop is free but RSVPs are requested to Erv Klaas, The Climate Solutions Circle, UU Fellowship of Ames,  515-451-0919.  Tom will put an announcement in the bulletin and on the STA email.  Several members of SJC expressed interest in attending.

Discussion: Current news of sexual abuse within the church

After a lengthy discussion of yet another disturbing report of widespread abuse and cover-up within the church, all of SJC present agreed that more must be done to reach to both Archbishop Jackels and to our parish to address this matter directly.

Tom informed us that Fr. Kyle had already composed a letter which had been shown to staff and which Fr. Kyle intends to publish to the STA community in the coming days, but it was not available to SJC at the time of our meeting.

Also, prayers for the victims will be included in this weekend’s Prayers for the Faithful at all masses.

Because we felt that this matter needs to be urgently addressed, it was agreed that a letter from SJC  to Archbishop Jackels be composed and, with Fr. Kyles review and approval,  hand- delivered to the Bishop after the 10:30 mass on Sunday, August 26.  The Archbishop will be at STA for Fr. Kyles Installation mass.

SJC will review the drafted letter and have it ready by Sunday. Any member of SJC not present at this meeting will also have an opportunity to review the letter and add their name to it before it is presented. Francis, who also serves as Chairman of the Pastoral Council will present the letter. Further actions  and ideas of how SJC may help STA  will be discussed as further responses develop in the coming days and weeks.

Adjourn: 7:50 pm.

Next Meeting: September 18, 2018 at 6pm.

Respectfully submitted by Paula Friederich


Minutes of Social Justice Committee    Tuesday, June 12, 2018 6:00 p.m.

Present:  Tom Budnik, Dave Dirks, Paula Friederich, Chris Rehmann, Francis Todey, Kathy Trahanovsky, Mary Ellen Wishart

The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by chair Chris.  Minutes of May 8 were approved.

Social justice grants

Tom reported that all monies have been dispersed.  He has received several thank you notes, which he will gradually insert in the Sunday bulletin, the weekly reminders, and post on the website.  Francis will provide details to Pastoral Council about the grants.  Tom will provide the information to Bobby LeBlanc, who is preparing a summary of the year’s stewardship activities.

Wine and Wisdom: racial equality

Sr. Anne Clifford’s presentation on Martin Luther King was well received by a group of about two dozen people. 

Mental health

Mary Ellen reported that the AMOS Mental Health and Affordable Housing research teams are collaborating to assess resources available in Ames and Story County. Tom reported that Lisa Turner, Catholic Charities, proposed to STA staff a training program “Mental Health First Aid.”  The purpose would be to assist staff and other parish leaders to appropriately identify and react to situations involving mental illness.  Several on the SJ committee described instances where such training would have been helpful.  Mary Ellen volunteered to contact Lisa for more information.


Diane Birt, president of the Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance, sent Chris a copy of a PowerPoint presentation on refugees. The AIRA is eager to give programs about this topic.  SJ committee is asked to review the PowerPoint and provide feedback at our next meeting.  Meanwhile Chris will let Diane know we are considering this. 

Teen programming: trafficking, DACA, refugees?

In the past year, the SJ Committee organized three events: an adult/teen program on trafficking, a DACA dinner, and the Wine and Wisdom talk on racial equality. We have planned to present trafficking information to middle schoolers, who were not included last year. Suggestions for an event for high school students and families include testimonials from DACA recipients and information on refugees. Chris will talk with Chuck about working with Anna Kaminski and Joe Weyers on topics and a schedule.  

Next meeting:  Tuesday, August 21, 2018 6 pm