The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Finding the sacred in everyday life
Day 16: Signs of hope — from near and far
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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By simplyfaithful
March 2, 2013 11:10 a.m.

Today, Lawrence Jones shares his thoughts on signs of hope. He says he happily lives in Rochester with his wife and two children.  Along with being a follower of Jesus, he works to develop housing for low income families and seniors.  And he is a member of New Life Presbyterian Church. Lawrence…
Christians sometimes use the phrase “On God’s Time”, which is usually longer that we want it to be.  Yet, I feel a great source of hope when I look back and see how far we have come in the past 25 or 30 years.  I will give three examples:
After 40 years of The Cold War, with its nuclear warheads, brinksmanship, bomb shelters and espionage, along came Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning “openness”) and perestroika (meaning “restructuring”).  The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 with nary a shot being fired.  For those who lived through the Cold War, this was a miracle and gives us hope towards the possibilities of peace.
IMG_0974In the 1980s, apartheid, a system of racial segregation denoted by government policies of white supremacy, under which black residents had only limited rights was the law of the land in South Africa.  Nelson Mandela had been in jail for over 25 years.  A combination of increasing international scorn and isolation, along with F.W. de Klerk becoming President spelled the end of the worst of the oppressive treatment from the Afrikaner minority.  This happened with much less bloodshed than anyone could have guessed.  While still a country with its challenges, the distance that South Africa has come in less than a generation is miraculous and gives us hope about the capacity of people and nations to change.
Locally, if one drove down South Avenue in Rochester in the 1970s or early 1980s, they would have seen many boarded up storefronts as well as a good deal of trash and graffiti.  It was an urban neighborhood in decay.  The Rev. Judy Lee Hay and others started the South Wedge Planning Committee in 1975.  Over the next 35 years this directly led to a revitalized neighborhood. It took hundreds of people and many thousands of hours of labor, but now the South Wedge is among Rochester’s most vibrant neighborhoods.  It didn’t happen overnight, but the efforts of churches, businesses, concerned citizens and a responsive City of Rochester led to a transformation.  It gives us hope for all our neighborhoods.

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