OGDEN -- "We are not seeking pie in the sky, or salvation after we die, but a better world, a caring and compassionate world, a world where the powerless are treated with dignity and respect and where the human spirit can flourish and be whole."
Those were the thoughts Rev. Theresa Novak expressed in her Sunday sermon in support of the Occupy movement.
Novak is the pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden. Members of her church have found numerous ways to support the Occupy Ogden movement, including offering the church as temporary housing for an ongoing camp-out effort to make a statement.
"Everything that I have read, everything I have experienced, tells me that this new occupy movement is completely in sync with Unitarian Universalism and our seven principles," Novak said.
Those seven principles are:
* The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
* Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
* Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
* A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
* The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
* The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all, and
* Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
"America has been losing its way," Novak said. "We have forgotten compassion. I remember when there were very few homeless people on our streets. I remember when public housing was an option for the poor, when families were not thrown out into the street, when the banks didn't own so many empty houses."
Novak said all people who were listening to her have been affected in one way or another.
"We are all part of the 99 percent," she said. "Frankly, I don't think anyone who lives in Ogden has seen their income or standard of living skyrocket in the last few years."
Novak said America is "starting to walk the freedom highway again, taking to the streets in numbers we have not seen in a very long time."
"The Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy everywhere movement, is different than much of what we have seen before," she said. "Inspired by the Arab Spring, by events in Tunisia and Egypt in particular, it is an inclusive, grassroots reaction to the reality that major corporations now run our government."
She complained about the country being run by how much money is donated to political campaigns at a time when 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line.
"We are appalled that the nation's poverty rate today is higher than when Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Poor People's March back in 1968," she said. "Dr. King inspired people of all races and classes to walk for Jobs and Justice."
The national Occupy movement asserts the same goals. These protests are occurring for a reason.
She invited her congregation to grab onto hope.
"It is not time for despair," she said. "These mass demonstrations, not just in New York, not just in Washington, D.C., but all around the country and the world, in large towns and it small, are having an impact already."
She said major banks have cancelled their plans to charge fees for debit card use because the Credit Union National Association reports that 650,000 Americans have joined credit unions just since Sept. 29.
She said it's time to demand what Americans need.
"I want clean air and water and healthy food and protection for our precious planet," she said. "I don't want our Mother Earth to be used and abused for someone's short-term profit."
She also listed fair amount of taxes for everyone and an elimination of all taxes on food and other essentials, plus living wages for all who can work.
"I want caps on interest rates that payday lenders can charge," she said. "I want a world where no matter who you are, you have an opportunity to further your education, to love who you love and to be able to care for your family, no matter its composition."
Novak said she was for more government regulations designed to protect people, land and freedom.
"I want a world where all seven of our Unitarian Universalist principles are a part of every conversation."