News & Events Highlights

Here you will find information on some of the exciting things going on at FCC. Visit this page often to review featured events, ongoing opportunities, and various updates from the congregation.

Katie’s Musings: Bullying

Cassie Williams
December 14 2017

Let’s talk about bullying, shall we?

It’s been in the news this week.  You can Google #standwithkeaton if you’re curious, but here’s the nutshell version:  a young boy is bullied in school, his mom posts a video of him talking about it, and it immediately goes viral.  Celebrities reach out, he’s on Good Morning America, it starts a national conversation on bullying, etc.

Of course this is the year 2017 and we can’t seem to have nice things, so of course it comes out that his mom MIGHT be a confederate flag waving racist and the boys who were bullying him MIGHT have been retaliating because he called them a derogatory term, and it MIGHT have all been exploitative ….

But BULLYING.  I want to talk about bullying.  Because we need to, because kids are dying, and because I think the aftermath of the Keaton incident maybe illustrates the point I initially wanted to make anyway.

See, I have it on good authority that kids do feel like bullying has gotten worse over the past few years.  And I don’t think that’s an accident.  The accepted scapegoat in this instance is usually SOCIAL MEDIA.  Kids are depressed and suffering and dying because the Internet has made bullying so easy and so commonplace.  The accepted narrative is that kids can be mean and they’ve always been mean, but the internet makes it easier to be mean.  And ok, sure, this is probably partly true.  Bullying also has to do with other factors – bullying kids have often been bullied themselves, or when kids are going through difficult things they can lash out at others to take the attention off themselves, etc, and each case is different.  But I must admit to thinking it is too easy.  Focuses on the aspects of society we’ve weaponized and not so much why they’ve been weaponized in the first place.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the weaponization that we as a society do over the past few weeks.  (Braving the Wilderness.  Brené Brown.  Read it!) I had a conversation with some Starbucks workers about the holiday cups that caused such a tizzy last year.  Those kind baristas – baristresses? –  were regularly verbally assaulted because of those coffee cups.  COFFEE CUPS.  Because those cups were supposed to be CHRISTMAS cups, not HOLIDAY cups, and there’s a war on Christmas, gosh darn it.  Coffee cups were weaponized to assert authority.  Christmas has been weaponized to assert authority.

And we wonder why bullying is on the rise?   When weaponization of group belonging is how we spend our days?  When we dehumanize those we don’t agree with and do what we can to invalidate their experience?  When we decide the labels of “liberal” and “conservative” or whatever are the only thing we need to know about a person to determine their worth?

And moreover… what do we expect from our children when this weaponized belonging is what they are seeing in the world and at home and on the internet every single day?  The side doesn’t matter.  The impetus does.

I firmly believe that if we are serious about combating bullying, it has to start with us.  Adults.  Those who interact with children, but also just in general.  You see, most of the time, kids behave in ways that are modeled for them.  It comes back to the concept of intended message vs. received message.  Example:  a child is with a trusted adult.  The adult goes on at length about the idiocy of another individual or public figure.  The intended message is, “I really want you to be a good person and to understand right from wrong, so I’m going to impart my knowledge and perspective to you to make that happen.”

But the received message is, “It is perfectly fine and acceptable to belittle a person based on a very few aspects of their being.”  We find ourselves in a very divided nation at present, and while kids might not understand all the complexities of our political and social system, they certainly understand the basic perceptions that all the divisions are rooted in, and as they are learning who and what they’re supposed to be, they will latch onto whatever we give them.

Put another way, how do we teach kids not to bully when they’re seeing a lot bullying behavior from the adults they’re supposed to model?  How do talk to them about that, and more importantly, what unintended messages and behaviors might we be showing to them without even realizing it?

“Kids can be mean and the internet is BAD” might be sort of true, but it is also way too easy an answer.

Instead we should ask a question.  “How have we addressed or modeled weaponized belonging behavior for our kids?”  And go on from there.


First Forum: Renewal in the Wilderness

Cassie Williams
December 14 2017

This week on December 17th Aram Mitchell, Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness, will join us via Skype to talk about the work his organization … More

Love Our Neighbor Christmas Drive

Cassie Williams
December 14 2017

This Christmas season the UCC is partaking in its 3 Great Loves initiative, which strives for us to Love Our Neighbor. First Central is participating … More

Caroling Party

Cassie Williams
December 14 2017

Join us for Christmas Caroling and a progressive party this year on Wednesday, December 20th. We’ll gather in two or more groups in different locations around … More

Katie’s Musings: Hiking Roulette

Cassie Williams
December 8 2017

In the 10 years after I graduated college, I moved a lot.  Probably I was restless, looking for new ideas and new … More

Love Our Neighbor Christmas Drive

Cassie Williams
December 8 2017

This Christmas season the UCC is partaking in its 3 Great Loves initiative, which strives for us to Love Our Neighbor. First … More

First Forum December

Cassie Williams
November 30 2017

December 3rd: Thomas Aquinas on God  This Sunday, First Central member, Kent Kirwan, and Rev. Scott Jones will lead the program and the discussion!

KIRSTKids: Hero in the Wilderness

Cassie Williams
November 30 2017

December 17th, 2017 10:30 am (during worship) This Advent will see the FIRSTKids rehearsing for their December 17th Christmas Program: Hero in the Wilderness, … More

Christmas Flowers

Cassie Williams
November 30 2017

As we prepare for the season, we are again decorating the Sanctuary with greenery and flowers. If you would like to donate a Memorial … More

World AIDS Day Service

Cassie Williams
November 30 2017

Omaha’s annual interfaith service commemorating World AIDS Day will be at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Friday, December 1st at 7pm. Special musical … More

Advent: Voices in the Wilderness

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
December 1 2017

“There’s a voice in the wilderness crying.” The wild places can be both frightening and comforting. They are places of danger and … More

Flower and Decoration Donations for 2018

Cassie Williams
November 16 2017

The Chancel Team plans the flowers and decorations for the Chancel throughout the year, under the direction of Rev. Scott Jones and the Worship Ministry. … More

Scott’s Column: Two Scotts

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
November 14 2017

Two Scotts One spring evening in 1979 there was a tornado near our home in Grove, Oklahoma, and my father did what … More

Neighbors in Need

Cassie Williams
November 9 2017

Neighbors in Need: special offering this month. Please use the offering envelopes in the pews, or note on your check memo line … More

Katie’s Musings: #MeToo

Cassie Williams
November 3 2017

#MeToo It’s taken me awhile to figure out how to put my complicated thoughts on this into print, and I know that … More

The Prairie Citizen

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
November 2 2017

In an effort to find common ground in these divisive times, we at First Central have launched a new weekly podcast entitled … More

TAGG for First Central

Cassie Williams
August 17 2017

TAGG for First Central TAGG – Together A Greater Good – is a small, local enterprise based here in Omaha.  Conceptualized by two … More

Heroes & Songs

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
June 22 2017

Need some encouragement?  Need some confidence?  Need to be empowered?  From some of the great stories of the Hebrew Bible we are … More