The Unity Board Responds to President Trump’s Derogatory Comments

The Unity Board of the Worldwide Moravian Church

Lindegade 26, DK-6070
Christiansfeld, Denmark.
Tel. +45 40361420.

Rev. Dr. Cortroy Jarvis
President of the Unity Board

Rev. Dr. Jørgen Bøytler (PHD)
Unity Board Administrator

Statement on Derogatory Statements Made by President Trump

Christiansfeld, January 15th, 2018

We greet you in the name of Jesus the Christ, our Chief Elder.

The Moravian Church has followed with dismay, the derogatory statements made by President Trump about the 54 African countries, El Salvador, and Haiti. We condemn in the strongest terms those statements and lift up the people in these areas as honorable, decent and respectable persons who were created in the image and likeness of God like we have all been.

We are not certain what motivated President Trump to have uttered those statements, but he belittled people of color everywhere. As a church, we stand in solidarity with our churches on the African Continent, Central America, Haiti, and the people in general. The Moravian Church worldwide abhors the way our brothers and sisters have been relegated to nothingness.

The Moravian Church consisted from the beginning of people of many ethnical backgrounds, and is known for respecting and embracing ethnic and cultural diversity. In the very core of Moravian understanding of humanity, the God-given equality of all people is fundamental. We can therefore not remain quiet, when derogatory utterances on any ethnic group or any country are made, no matter who makes such statements.

The Unity Board of the Worldwide Moravian Church - January 15 2018 statement (graphic)

As the second country in the Western Hemisphere after the United States to have gained independence in 1804, we believe that Haiti has a lot to teach us all. They have been a resilient and strong people who continue to defy the odds. They have been a people who have always been fighting to maintain their sanity and equilibrium. In like manner, the people of Africa and Central America have been a strong and resilient people. We bless you Haiti. We bless you Africa. We bless you Central America. You will rise, for the God, who has begun a good thing in you, will see it to completion.

Today, 50 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, we are reminded of the dream of Dr. King that all men be brothers. This dream can only come true, when all human beings are respected as what we are, humans, created in the image of God. May God make the dream come true.

Rev. Dr. Cortroy Jarvis President of the Unity Board

Rev. Dr. Jørgen Bøytler (PHD) Unity Board Administrator

Lindegade 26, DK-6070 Christiansfeld, Denmark. Tel. +45 40361420. boytler@ebu.de

Access this statement in PDF form:
Statement on Derogatory Statements Made by President Trump
The Unity Board of the Worldwide Moravian Church

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In Review: RYC Year Halfway Over

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BY HANNA JACKSON |

RYC opening cookout photo

A group photo from the RYC Opening Cookout. Photo by Hanna Jackson/Moravian BCM

As the end of 2017 has come and gone and the beginning of 2018 is here, I think about the past few months of Regional Youth Council (RYC) and what we have in store for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. This past fall we had some amazing events, both for RYC and the greater province youth.

To help knock out Senior High Camp planning, we had a great lock-in at Macedonia Moravian Church. This was a wonderful event for many reasons: 1) We were able to bond with each other early in the school year, 2) we got the majority of Senior High topics picked out and ready for Laurel Ridge to use for camp, and 3) we were able to attend a different Moravian church to see how they worship on Sunday.

Youth Fall Rally pictures

Photos from the Youth Fall Rally. Photos by Hanna Jackson/Moravian BCM

Next on the schedule was the Youth Fall Rally that was held at Friedland. Thanks to many parents of RYC members we had lots of pumpkins to carve, a DIY caramel apple station, and then we closed the night with s’mores and campfire.

For the event after the fall rally, we headed up the mountain to have our fall retreat at Laurel Ridge! During our time on the mountain, the Rev. Carol Foltz led us in learning about some of the amazing Moravian leaders in our past. We also helped Laurel Ridge by painting some of the cabins, and ended the weekend with a beautiful snow fall!

group photo of RYC

The RYC poses for a quick group photo before their fall retreat at Laurel Ridge. Photo by Andrew David Cox/Moravian BCM

 

Photo of the RYC working at Laurel Ridge

Members of the RYC participate in painting a cabin at Laurel Ridge. Photo by Hanna Jackson/Moravian BCM

We had an amazing first half of the year with the RYC, and look forward to a just as great a second half! Coming up we have a mission trip, a youth lovefeast, and a suicide awareness and prevention seminar.

In March, we are planning on offering the suicide awareness and prevention talk shop. It’ll be offered to the RYC representatives and their parents. During talk shop, the parents and youth will split up to discuss this important, but often unspoken topic, with Ruth Cole Burcaw and Rev. Kelly Moore leading. Hopefully this event will shed some light on suicide prevention and open up an important line of communication.

In April, the RYC will be hosting a provincial spring event at Hopewell Moravian Church. The details of this event are still in the works, but it will be an exciting time of fellowship and spiritual growth. Not to mention, there’s going to be a lovefeast!

The RYC also wanted to help the many families that were victims of the devastating hurricanes that affected Texas and Florida this past summer and early fall. In June, we are planning to take a group to Texas to help with some of the recovery work that is still happening. This will be a wonderful time of bonding, growth, and mission for all that are involved. This is an exciting trip to be able to take as a group and we look forward to lending a hand to those in need.

While we have many events planned for the next few months, we will still have plenty of time to do our favorite RYC activities such as singing, fellowship, and spiritual and leadership growth. These next few months are sure to be filled with exciting events for the group and I can’t wait to see all that is planned pan out. I wouldn’t be able to do any of these exciting events if it wasn’t for my wonderful adult advisors, parents, and RYC reps that make planning and organizing these events so much fun!


Questions? Comments? Contact Hanna at Hanna@MoravianBCM.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 403

Hanna Jackson

Hanna Jackson is the RYC Coordinator for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). She attends Calvary Moravian Church in Winston Salem. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, baking, and crafting.


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Total Commitment

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BY JUSTIN RABBACH |

The Church as a Community of Service: Jesus Christ came not to be served but to serve. From this, His Church receives its mission and its power for its service, to which each of its members is called. We believe that the Lord has called us particularly to mission service among the peoples of the world. In this, and in all other forms of service both at home and abroad, to which the Lord commits us, He expects us to confess Him and witness to His love in unselfish service. (The Ground of the Unity)

“If you want things done right, do it yourself.” That is a common phrase, and I admit describes how, at times, I have a hard time completely handing off projects. This is true when I have a particular vision and a particular way I think something should be done. Still, in my experience, this phrase usually is a reflection of not allotting ample time to adequately prepare the people I am asking to help me. And not a reflection of their ability to complete a task to my satisfaction. In these instances then, this phrase becomes an excuse. I have to do it all, if I want it done in time. Or, maybe I just don’t want to invest the time to help prepare someone with less experience, as in the short term that would be more work.

Do you ever experience this feeling? Or, do you ever witness this attitude in the church? Has someone taken on a role in the church, and then held onto it forever? Does that help the next person in line? More importantly, does that fit into the value of discipleship held strongly within the church?

As I begin work in a new role in the church (Executive Director of Board of World Mission), I find myself reflecting on those who have come before me, and how grateful I am for the ways they have helped prepare me. There actions remind me that we aren’t expected to take part in the great co-mission (note the “co” part of that) without God, and without one another!

In college, I led my first international mission team to Nicaragua. I had called up a bunch of camp friends to see if they would join me in doing some hurricane relief work, and when they all said yes, I was on the hook to actually make it happen! Well, we did, and it was a great trip, and I was invited to speak about it in several different Moravian Congregations. One of those congregations was Lake Auburn Moravian Church in Minnesota. As I got ready to give my message, I must admit that it was going to be one of “Look at the new thing that is happening! Look at the example these young adults are setting, and collectively you, as the church, should come get on board with this whole mission work thing!”

Well, it turns out the person introducing me that day was Rev. Lorenz Adam, who had not only served as a missionary in Central America for many years, but had been the Pastor at my church since I was born, and had baptized me. My parents still had some of his old missionary barrels (basically the equivalent of moving boxes for missionaries back in the day) stored in a building on their farm! On top of that, Lorenz chose that day to present, as a gift to the congregation, a somewhat famous painting (in Moravian circles) of David Zeisberger preaching as a missionary to the Native Americans in Ohio during the 1700s.

Image of David Zeisberger

Image of David Zeisberger. Public domain image via Ohio Historical Society/Wikipedia.

Talk about being hit over the head with irony. I was going to speak about the “new thing” I was helping to start, following a presentation clearly demonstrating the long history of the thing I was about to claim to have started.

I had to change my message (and my thinking) on the fly that day, and it stays changed to this day when I speak on missions. Instead of looking for support of the new thing that is about me, I work hard to remember that it is about God’s story, and the deep honor it is to be a part of it.

Come full circle, and at an event organized by the Board of World Mission in 2016 to help engage young adults in mission, I was able to be the one making the introduction of another speaker. At this event where I was trying to live out the call to help disciple to those who come after us, I was able to introduce a very special woman who came before me: Nora Adam.

For all the ways we worked to try and make the event relevant to young adults, to incorporate technology and up-to-the-minute breakthroughs in group facilitation theory, the most powerful moment was a simple speech by the wife of the pastor Lorenz I mentioned earlier. Nora was given free reign to share whatever story was on her heart, and she choose to speak on the theme of “total commitment.”

To speak with authority on this topic, you cannot have anyone guessing if you yourself were totally committed. She spoke with authority by speaking of the way she lived her faith, shared her love, and lived a life filled with hope.

Watch her presentation yourself, and see how powerful her words are, shared from a lifetime of experience.

My prayer for you, and for me, is that as we undertake God’s mission for us, we can take it on with total commitment. That and may our commitment be a witness to others, as we invite them to join in as well!


Questions? Comments? Contact Justin at Justin@MoravianMission.org

Image of Justin Rabbach

Photo via Justin Rabbach

Justin Rabbach is the Executive Director of the Board of World Mission of the Moravian Church in North America. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife Jessie, and dog Lambeau. Justin has spent the last decade immersed in Moravian Mission work through the BWM, starting as a short -term volunteer, Antioch servant, Director of Mission Engagement, and now Executive Director. He is excited to help carry forward the work of so many who have come before him. 


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Our Invitation to the Manger

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BY AMY LINVILLE |

Idyllic winter scene

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels.com

Okay, don’t tell my husband, the Rev. Aaron Linville, but I love to sing Christmas hymns—sometimes, even during Advent. I know, I know, it’s terrible and I should respect Advent—and I do. In the past, guest writers for this blog have reflected on Advent hymns during this season, but with Christmas being tomorrow, I think it’s safe to squeeze in a reflection on a Christmas hymn. These days especially, the hope, joy, and peace offered by many Christmas hymns is irresistible. And nothing lifts my spirits, no matter the time of year, like hearing and singing my favorite Christmas hymn: Softly the Night is Sleeping (Moravian Book of Worship, 284).

Image of a boy looking hopefully up at a Christmas tree

Photo by Jeswin Thomas via Pexels.com

The slow and soft start, the sharp call to listen: “but hark!”, and belting out the refrain—it’s truly exciting to sing. It’s a roller coaster of a song telling the amazing story of Christ’s birth. It moves from a serene, almost bucolic scene with shepherds, interrupting them with a blast of beautiful bursting from the sky, bringing forth the dawn and joyous new life, and ending with an invitation to join the people and beings of all rank in glad praise.

*Whew*–I never knew a Christmas song could be exhausting, but this one really packs in a lot. There is so much descriptive language and emphatic punctuation—look at the number of exclamation points in that song! I am envious of each verse. I long for peaceful hills and music falling from the sky, crimson mornings and smiling infants, gladsome visitors and a heart of sunshine.

Despite it being Christmas, our hearts might not feel like they are made of sunshine or growing three sizes. Babies cry, mornings are cold and gray, and the noises of the busy world can drown out all the music falling from the sky. And it often seems like the earth has not seen peace since that still and silent night thousands of years ago.

Personal pain and the pain of the world can feel sharper when we are reminded of this wondrous night each year. And though for me, this song is a joyous one, I know that the dreams presented in this song and many other ones can seem out of reach. Peaceful hills and clear mornings can be infrequent and unheard of for so many today, and we can find ourselves feeling defeated when our lives don’t seem to resemble the beautiful scenes in Christmas songs.

Image of manger

Photo by Greyson Joralemon via Unsplash.com

But, as my husband always reminds me, because Jesus is born like this: of a woman and in a stable, and grew up as a human person, every aspect of our lives is blessed. When we are poor and lowly, we can still come to God, for Jesus was once poor and lowly. And that’s what I love about the last verse of this song, that we are invited into this beautiful scene. No matter who or where we are in life, whether we are fearful shepherds, confused wise men, stressed computer technicians, patient caretakers, or indecisive students, we are all invited to come to our God. We don’t have to bring a side dish or gift for Dirty Santa. We don’t have to make small talk or clean the house. We are invited to simply come to our God, and there find our own soft, sleeping night like that night so long ago.


Questions? Comments? Contact Amy Linville at Amy@MoravianBCM.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 404

Amy Linville

Amy Linville is the College Ministry Coordinator for the Moravian BCM. She spends her time outside of work taking classes to become a librarian, serving Rural Hall Moravian with her husband the Rev. Aaron Linville, and snuggling her puppy and two cats.


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The Path to Purpose

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BY ZACH ROUTH |

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.”1

Sixteen months ago, I boarded a plane to an unfamiliar place for a weekend of what I anticipated would be fun and fellowship with Moravian friends from across America. My destination was Wisconsin and the Board of World Mission’s 2016 FIT Event at Mt. Morris. In the weeks prior, I had just begun a new graduate program at NC State University pursuing a PhD in Sociology.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime, with a full scholarship, an office, and the chance to do meaningful research at a great school. FIT² was only a blip on my radar. Little did I know, the weekend would provide a nudge that would eventually send my neatly-planned life into a whirlwind of chaos.

Image of 2016 FIT First attendees around a campfire

2016 FIT First attendees congregate around a campfire. | Photo by Mike Riess, IBOC

It started with a conversation around a campfire. Some friends asked me about my plans and my goals. My answers were vague and brief. I was going to do research in education because that was a cause I believed in and where I could make a difference. Some asked if I was going to go into the ministry like my dad and I scoffed at those possibilities.

Conversations continued through the weekend. Presentations, focus groups, and fellowship distracted me from responsibilities back in North Carolina, and poked holes in what I thought I knew about myself.

Photo of FIT First event

Attendees participate in an activity led by Bishop Sam Gray at the 2016 FIT First event. | Photo by Mike Riess, IBOC

By Sunday afternoon, discomfort grew within my gut. As my peers made awesome plans to go out and serve the world, I wondered silently, “What in the world am I doing?” Up until this point my answer was easy: five or so years of graduate school and then I will go on to help others using my research. This answer was no longer sufficient.

“May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace.”1

Before I came to college, I knew I wanted a career that would allow me to help others. I first considered being a history teacher, and eventually settled on sociology professor. My research looked into school segregation, spatial stratification, and teacher job satisfaction, among other topics. It was my way of bringing about peace and justice to the world.

As the semester progressed, my discomfort grew. The pressures of school and life as a young adult mounted into a hill of anxiety. The goals I had worked so hard to achieve now seemed like a pipe dream, not because I was struggling, but because my motivation was gone.

By Thanksgiving, I reached a wall. I talked with friends, reflected, and prayed. “What in the world am I doing?” turned into, “Who in the world am I serving?”

I had spent the entire semester learning about the joys and tribulations that define the lives of school teachers. One day it finally hit me. Everything I wanted to achieve could be done as a teacher. There, my work would not be stored in a library or buried in an academic journal. My work would be preparing youth for their future.

Before Christmas, I resigned from my position and transferred into the College of Education to become a high school social studies teacher. Gone was the scholarship, gone was the prestige, but gone was the aimlessness.

Image of man looking down road

Photo by Danka and Peter via Unsplash.com

“May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”1

“Why do you want to be a teacher?” is the new question I ask myself, and a question I am asked almost weekly. My short answer succinctly describes my belief in public education. The full answer is rooted in my faith as a Christian and a Moravian.

In 2018, I will enter the workforce not only as a teacher, but as a servant of God. My mission field is in the classroom where I hope to share the type of compassion and love that our Lord has shown to me.

Some are called to serve from the pulpit, or in foreign locations, but neither of those options are in my wheelhouse. I imagine I am not the only one who has this sentiment.

Our creator has equipped each of his children to serve one another. Discovering where these gifts are to be used can be a tedious process. It may take some nudging, and you will probably feel uncomfortable, but in the end, you will be led exactly where you need to be.

I am thankful for the discomfort I experienced a year ago. I look forward to living out my purpose for years to come. God has blessed me to be foolish enough to think that I can make a difference in the world, and I am grateful.


1A Franciscan Blessing
Claiborne, Shane, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Common Prayer: a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Zondervan, 2012.

²Information about FIT 2015


Photo of Zach Routh

Photo courtesy of Zach Routh

Zach Routh is a member of Grace Moravian Church in Mt. Airy, North Carolina and also attends Raleigh Moravian Church. He is a student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching: Secondary Social Studies. Zach will graduate in May of 2018 and plans to begin teaching in the fall.

Contact Zach at ZDRouth@NCSU.edu


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Wait! It’s Not Christmas Yet

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BY THE REV. CHAZ SNIDER |

Photo by Andrew David Cox

Often this time of year is associated with waiting, whether it is waiting in line at the mall to get that special present or waiting in traffic on the highway just to get to mall.

Maybe it is waiting in line to take your kids to go see Santa or waiting for Foothills to release its seasonal beer, the People’s Moravian Porter (something I know I have been waiting on).

It seems like we have been waiting for Christmas to come since October. I remember this year seeing Halloween and Christmas decorations next to each other at the store.

So when Thanksgiving has ended and we finished up all the leftovers it feels like Christmas has begun. Our Christmas trees go up, our sanctuaries get decorated, and the Moravian stars get hung up all over town. Christmas is here… right?

The answer (according to our liturgical calendar) is, well, no! We have to have Advent first and, then we get to Christmas.

Photo by Andrew David Cox

Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas. We may be used to seeing Advent wreaths or Advent calendars, but often times we don’t fully celebrate this time of year. (The Moravian star is also known as the Advent star). 

Advent is a time of preparing and getting ready. If we rush onto Christmas, we fail to get everything we can out of this special season in the church calendar.

I remember when I was kid I would examine the presents under the tree after my mom wrapped them. I would shake them, pick them up to see how much they weighed, each day trying to figure what was in them.

When I was allowed to open the first gift, I would base my choice on my in-depth research. All of that waiting, examining, and trying to figure it out would build up to the one choice of which gift would be opened first.

I rarely guessed right by the way. I still had no idea what was coming (except for Legos–they have a very distinct noise when shaken). 

Despite all my trying to figure it out, my excitement of opening that first gift was not diminished. And even though I still didn’t know what was coming, every year I kept examining the gifts under the tree anyways.

Image of young child in front of Christmas tree

Photo by Andrew Neel, via Unsplash.com

There are different kinds of waiting. There is a passive kind of waiting, where we do nothing until whatever we are waiting on arrives. Like waiting in traffic.

And there is also an active waiting–maybe “anticipation” is a good word for it. With that kind of waiting we prepare, we get things ready, we examine and reflect. We shake the box. What is it? What does it mean to us? 

That is what the season of Advent is about. It is about actively anticipating God coming into this world.

It is about reflecting on the areas of our life where God is already dwelling and examining the places where we hope God will enter into.

Christmas is about the entrance of God into the world in order to reconcile and heal all the fractured places.

Advent is about preparing ourselves for that coming. In Advent, we reflect on where reconciliation is needed and we hope for God to come with healing love.

That is even more important this Advent because our world, our country, and our society seem more broken, fractured, and divided than ever.

So remember it is not Christmas yet. Take time with the remaining weeks of Advent to stop, to reflect, to anticipate, to shake the box and prepare for the bursting forth of God in our world.

 


Photo of Chaz Snider

Rev. Chaz Snider is the pastor at Ardmore Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC


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Stress in Faith

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BY LILLY BRENDLE |

Image of young man stressed out

Photo by Tim Gouw, via Pexels.com

Life is full of trials and tribulations. No matter where you are in life, speed bumps that can sometimes feel like walls show up to slow you down. These moments can bring one down to a point where it feels like there is no one or nothing to help you.

Some of my friends are struggling in their identity and life as a teenager. Relationships, school work, what to wear to school, how to fit in. You name it, and a teen is stressing out over it. So many situations stress us out and you have a choice whether to let it slow you down or make your wheels turn a little harder.

I know that thinking about the future stresses me out. College in the fall, my career choices, and even a big test I have tomorrow worries me. Not knowing my purpose or where my decisions will lead me causes me to question myself and my faith. I know that I am not supposed to worry and stress over things that are out of my control, but I do it anyway.  

God says “Cast your cares on the Lord  and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken,” Psalm 55:22. I go to the Lord with my struggles and worries, but sometimes I feel like I am not asking the Lord. Instead, I feel like I am asking myself to fix my own problems.

Photo of forking forest path

Photo by Jens Lelie, via Unsplash.com

As a child, I was taught to trust in the Lord with all my heart and I will be given strength. This message has been said time and time again, and I think we as humans hyper focus on those words and end up stressing ourselves out to make sure that we are following this guidance out of a sense of obligation. We as Christians should instead let go of our tight grip on the things in life and give ourselves the freedom to trust in the Lord. Not only will this help to mellow our stress, but we might find that we become better stewards and examples for others.

Helping others and sharing experiences has always been a passion of mine and helps me to feel more grounded. Not only can you see your words changing others’ behavior, but you get the chance to mean something to someone.

Recently, these situations have been presented to me by some of my close friends. Some people think that it is a sign of weakness to ask for help, because they say “there is nothing wrong with me, I don’t need help” or “I can handle my own problems.” But there is nothing wrong in seeking guidance, because to seek guidance in others of faith is to seek guidance in the Lord. “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you”(Isaiah 35:4).

Photo of person praising God next to a cross

Photo via Pexels.com

As youth in the church, we should make more of an effort to reach out to our friends and neighbors in need. Even if you aren’t a youth, everyone who helps the least of these will indeed be helping the gracious Lord himself. Through all the stress and anxiety of the world, the Lord is your backbone. Sometimes you forget he is there, but he is the only way you move through the day, despite the stress.

The future will come as it does and whatever God put on your path, he has an intention for it and you. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34. Chose to be stopped by the speed bump or go over it with confidence.

 


About the Author

 

Photo of Lilly Brendle

Photo via Lilly Brendle

Lilly Brendle is a senior at North Forsyth High School. She attends Fairview Moravian Church. Lilly loves to sing and play hand bells in church, as well as participate in youth led events for the younger children.


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