La Verne Church of the Brethren Statement on Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd

The La Verne Church of the Brethren strongly denounces the ongoing and senseless deaths of African American citizens and persons of color in our country. The deliberate hate crime committed against Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia on February 23, 2020 is the latest example of how racism and hate continue to lead to senseless death of African Americans with little or no accountability by the justice system or our society as a whole. Simultaneously, the death of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020 at the hands of Louisville police and the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers in late May shows the continued disregard by law enforcement and the judicial system in our society when serving and protecting our African-American and minoritized communities. No clearer picture of this exists than the contrasting attitudes of the New York Police Department’s disparate treatment of White persons in a park who earned compassion and civility by receiving face masks, while people of color were being beaten for not social distancing just five miles away by the same department.

The La Verne Church feels that the continued ignorance of these issues is contrary not only to the laws of our land, but to the fundamentals of a Christian faith our leaders profess our country was founded upon. As a member of one of the three historic peace churches, this congregation strongly condemns not only the actions above, but society’s willing acceptance of these acts. 

The La Verne Church of the Brethren calls upon the churches of the Brethren denomination to stand with us to jointly condemn these acts and call out racial injustice in their communities. The La Verne Church calls upon our Brethren colleagues to continue to be guided by the 1991 Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans (Hayes, et al., 1991) that calls out “racism as a sin – a sin again God and against our neighbors – and mount a concerted effort to combat it” (p.3). The report then sets out 14 recommendations for the Church of the Brethren denomination to address racism and injustice by the Board and Congregations, in particular:

“We recommend that congregations stand in solidarity with black Americans and other victims of racial hate by speaking out against overt expressions of racially motived violence and offering assistance to its victims.” (p.5) 

The La Verne Church of the Brethren strongly condemns racially motivated hate crimes and the continued systemic racial injustices in our system that promote these and related acts against our African-American and other marginalized communities.

As a congregation, we are committed to the work of anti-racism and are in this work for the long haul, even when acts of racial injustice are not in the headlines.  We are committed to continual education of ourselves and others.  We are committed to participate in and stand in solidarity with racial justice coalitions locally and nationally.  We are committed to dismantling racism through our actions, words, relationships, and practices.

Reference

William A. Hayes, Chair Robert Allen, Jr. Sue Wagner Fields Kreston R. Lipscomb Marian Thornton Duane H. Ramsey (1991) Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans.  1991 Annual Conference Report. Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Official Documents. The report from the Annual Conference study committee on BRETHREN AND BLACK AMERICANS was presented by William A. Hayes, chair. The report was adopted with one (1) amendment by the delegate body, which has been incorporated in the Report. 

La Verne Church of the Brethren Statement on Systemic Racism Effectuated through Voter Disenfranchisement

The La Verne Church of the Brethren denounces the actions taken by several jurisdictions to disenfranchise voters in the United States. The deliberate actions taken by some federal, state, and local governments to remove the votes of citizens in the national general election on November 3, 2020 have disproportionally disenfranchised citizens who are Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color, and are an example of systemic racism in our country.

The La Verne Church asks that the United States Congress passes legislation, such as the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (HR4), which updates and revitalizes the 1968 Voting Rights Act.  

In making this statement, the La Verne Church is guided by the Denominational 1991 Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans (Hayes, et al., 1991) that calls out “racism as a sin – a sin against God and against our neighbors – and mount a concerted effort to combat it” (p.3). The report then sets out 14 recommendations for the Church of the Brethren denomination to address racism and injustice by the Board and Congregations, in particular:

“We recommend that congregations stand in solidarity with black Americans and other victims of racial hate by speaking out against overt expressions of racially motived violence and offering assistance to its victims.” (p.5) 

As a congregation, we are committed to the work of anti-racism and are in this work for the long haul, even when acts of racial injustice are not in the headlines.  We are committed to continual education of ourselves and others.  We are committed to participate in and stand in solidarity with racial justice coalitions locally and nationally.  We are committed to dismantling racism through our actions, words, relationships, and practices.

References

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-10-24/voter-suppression-clouds-2020-vote

William A. Hayes, Chair Robert Allen, Jr. Sue Wagner Fields Kreston R. Lipscomb Marian Thornton Duane H. Ramsey (1991) Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans.  1991 Annual Conference Report. Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Official Documents. The report from the Annual Conference study committee on BRETHREN AND BLACK AMERICANS was presented by William A. Hayes, chair. The report was adopted with one (1) amendment by the delegate body, which has been incorporated in the Report. 

A Hate Crime Story

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Once our church facility opens up again and you return to campus you will discover that during this time when we have moved our ministry to a virtual format, we have added security cameras to our physical plant.  In the past year we have had a couple incidents that precipitated this decision.  As members of this church family you have a right to know what has happened.

We have always had many people visit our church.  It is a beautiful building with lovely grounds.  However, this winter we saw an uptick of people coming to our campus who appeared to be scoping out the facility.  One man in particular took photos of all entrances into the sanctuary and when engaged in conversation shared his opinion that our church is part of the “Illuminati.”  We also had a rage-filled voicemail that was deemed a “hate crime” by the police.  The caller was angry about our church’s inclusion of all sexual orientations.  Then, after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, the California Council of Churches encouraged progressive churches who display support for racial justice on their building to have staff work remotely during the week of the presidential inauguration. We were told that this suggestion was based on credible threats.

These incidents led us to feel that cameras should be added for the safety of our congregation, staff and HeadStart children.  We thank the Property Commission for responding so quickly to make this possible.  A Security Task Team was formed and meets regularly to address safety, with a desire to not sacrifice welcome or hospitality.

Regarding the Hate Crime, we made the decision to ask that the case not be turned over to the District Attorney, but instead to ask the police to warn the caller.  The caller admitted to the Detective that he made the call.  The caller identified himself as a Christian man who was disgusted by our church’s message of welcome.  He felt it was his First Amendment Right to leave us that message.  The Detective informed him that it was actually classified as a Hate Crime.  The law enforcement officer told the man that the leadership of the La Verne Church of the Brethren had lived out our faith by warning him rather than asking for him to be prosecuted. In other words we were the ones who had continued the work and love of Jesus. The caller asked the Detective to pass on his gratitude to the La Verne Church of the Brethren for that decision.

When the Detective told me that story, I was so moved by the Detective’s understanding that we had lived out our conviction to follow Jesus.  In this time of polarization and hateful rhetoric, we want to keep our community safe from those who might mean us harm.  At the same time, we want the La Verne Church of the Brethren to be a place of faithfulness, welcome, belonging and transformation. 

CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING/ OCTOBER 18, 2020/ 10:00 A.M.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86265095982

Or Telephone: 1 669 900 6833

Please plan to join us on Zoom for our first-ever online Church Council meeting.

The packet of materials for the Council meeting will be emailed to you in advance.

If you are unfamiliar with how to navigate Zoom, click HERE for a tutorial.

If you do not have internet access or are not comfortable in that environment, let the church office know and we will send you a hard copy of the Council packet through the mail, along with information on how to phone into the meeting.

We have two items of business: a first-read of the 2021 budget that the Board has approved and a vote on the leadership slate for 2021. You will have an opportunity to ask questions, make comments, and vote through the features on zoom. Those joining by phone will also have an opportunity to ask questions and vote.

But Council meeting will not be “all business” — we will also hear from the staff, celebrate together, connect with one another, and enjoy some musical and visual reminders of our life together. Please plan to join us!

–Laurie Schreiner, Board Chair

On August 5, 2020, Randy Cockrell, of La Verne, CA, passed away suddenly, though surrounded by his family, at the age of 67 years old. The oldest of three brothers, Randy was born to the late Betty May Knoke and Dr. Beverly Randolph Cockrell Jr. on May 14, 1953 in Kyushu, Japan. He and his parents returned to the states when he was 6 weeks old following the completion of his father’s military commitment there. Initially living in Altadena, his family moved to Arcadia where he spent most of his growing up years. His father was an orthopedic surgeon whose practice was in Pasadena across from St. Luke’s Hospital. He and his brothers loved to share stories about spending time together with family and friends, enjoying their unique childhood homes and the surrounding areas with lots of mischief along the way. 

The family’s Laguna Beach get away was also a source of fond memories. Trips to Tuolumne Meadows, camping with the YMCA, and a special family road trip for a destination cruise in Alaska formed a lifelong appreciation for spending time in nature.  Randy graduated from Arcadia High School in 1971, attending college at San Diego State University where he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in both Nursing and Zoology. While pursuing his career as an intensive care nurse at Huntington Memorial Hospital, Randy continued his education, earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude at Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1985. He went on to complete postgraduate training as a Chiropractic Orthopedist. His work was primarily in the field of treating those who had been injured on the job.

While pursuing his chiropractic education Randy met his wife Carolyn, as a regular patron at the natural food store she was working in at the time. Soon after, Randy met Mariah, Carolyn’s daughter, while visiting the store for his staples. Mariah was 4 years old, and as he liked to tell it, she was wearing a pink leotard and tap shoes when he met her. Living in and loving the town of Sierra Madre, Randy and Carolyn married in Sierra Madre Canyon in 1984. Their daughter, Tasha, was born in 1986, also in Sierra Madre. In 1989, leaving their beloved town of Sierra Madre, they moved to La Verne’s old town area upon buying their first home. There the strong sense of community they enjoyed, the old town charm and love of historic houses prompted them to stay in the area when they bought their second and present home in 1999. 

Randy thrived on routine. He started the day with 2 cups of coffee, cottage cheese and apple sauce, reading, meditation, and he ended it with a bowl of almonds, two bananas, the news, dinner, followed by bedtime. He was an early riser and early to bed guy who also enjoyed his naps.

Randy’s hobbies included music, reading, photography and hiking. While on his weekly hikes, he enjoyed talking with those he met along the way. He also enjoyed spending time with family. Over the years there were many wonderful memories created by gatherings with immediate and extended family and friends. Treasured moments included family reunions, vacations, camping and trips to spend special time with family in Julian, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Laguna Beach, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. 

Randy had a talent for detail and could fix and repair most of what was needed to maintain the household, as well as helping family members with such tasks. He was an audiophile with an ear for detail that drove him to find the best technical way he could to hear the richness of the music he was listening to. He could often be heard singing with abandon while doing so. He found in music the ability to reset. 

While living in Sierra Madre and Arcadia, Randy mountain biked and hiked the mountains in the area. The Mt. Wilson Trail, Henninger Flats, Eaton Canyon, Mt. Lowe, Santa Anita Canyon, Monrovia Canyon, Millard Canyon, amongst many other locations. He climbed Mt. Whitney twice with his friend Roy Oshita and some of their colleagues from Huntington Memorial. Their first attempt was in September 1985, when they make it almost to the top but had to turn back due a fast approaching storm. They successfully reached the summit upon their return a year later.

After moving to La Verne, Randy resumed hiking at the rate of once a week in 2002 until just recently when he stepped back from patient care at the end of May and was doing record review 2 days a week. He then began to hike 3 mornings a week. His regular hike was the Potato Mountain trail in Claremont, and when he had a little more time on his hands, he also enjoyed the trail from Ice House Canyon off Mt. Baldy Rd. to Cedar Glen. Randy had hiked many of the hikes in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, including Mt. Baldy, San Jacinto. Cucamonga Peak, Mt Wilson, Big Horn, Ontario, Thunder, Timber, Telegraph, and San Gorgonio Peaks to name a few. Many of those hikes were special experiences hiked with family, friends and colleagues who were important to him. Those of you who had those experiences with him hold your own memories of those times spent together, likely including a whole lot of picture taking, as he loved to record places, people and experiences in that way. Earning the nickname “Paparazzi” with his children and the grandkids.

Holidays hold some treasured memories that were unique to him: 

After viewing the annual 4th of July parade in the morning. For the last 20 years from our porch with friends and family, he would perform his annual cartwheel for the family while waiting for the fireworks to start that evening. 

For Halloween, each family member carves a pumpkin. Randy’s was always the largest and a tradition developed, originating with the word “HI” carved for the mouth of the pumpkin. Over the years the original “Hi” was replaced with “BOO.”

A Christmas memory was the way he strung the lights on the tree to Amy Grant’s Christmas Album. He hung the outside lights so that they hung perfectly straight. That is going to be a hard act to follow. He broke his ankle one year while taking them down and jumping back from a ledge while living in Sierra Madre.

For many years Easter was spent at the Cabin Flat area in Monrovia Canyon Park with the entire family hunting and tossing eggs in a big BBQ picnic in the woods.

Randy had the ability to put words together for important prayers when we were all together around the table for holidays that were thoughtful, meaningful and memorable moments. He also delivered a very thoughtful and meaningful toast at Mariah and Eric’s rehearsal dinner when they married in 2002 that was beautiful and memorable. We have been told that this same ability was seen in his attention to detail when he wrote reports for the patients that he and his colleagues cared and advocated for as they worked to get their injuries resolved so that they could resume their work and make a living.

When Randy became a Grandpa, “Papa” as the grandkids call him. He reveled in silly playfulness with his grandchildren, Amelia and Soren, who brought much joy to his life. He was affectionately sometimes referred to as “Papasite” for his often quirky ways of doing things the opposite way. Like wearing sandals, shorts or going barefoot in the winter and wearing his flannel jammy bottoms in the summer.

He is predeceased by his parents, Betty May Knoke Cockrell and Dr. Beverly Cockrell Jr. as well as his brother, Christopher Lance Cockrell Sr., and niece Maryrose Cockrell.

Randy is survived by his wife, Carolyn, his daughters, Tasha (Ebaa Khamas) and Mariah Odegaard (Eric), and his grandchildren, Amelia and Soren. He also leaves behind his brother James Vardeman Cockrell Sr., and his wife Karen along with nieces and nephews, Bianca, James Jr., Sophia and Giavanna, as well as his nieces and nephews, Terral, Tyler, and Christopher of his late brother Chris. He is also survived by his, recently reunited with through Tasha and Ancestry.com, only cousin Gary Knoke (Helen). Mother-in-laws, Kathleen and Patricia Fuller, Brothers-in-law, Glenn and Rich Fuller, as well as the Andersen/Jackson side of the family, Steve (Melinda) and nieces Ellery and Avery, Jess (Lisa), David (Ron), Doug (Marie), and Rick. Randy leaves behind a host of additional family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors whom he loved and cared for and who loved and cared about him right back.

If you wish to make a donation in his name, the Sierra Club would be a deserving organization that was close to his heart, being the hiker that he was.