UU News

Exploring racial justice in America, and other UUs in the Media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-02-07 16:48

Looking back on the history of American race relations

The Rev. Barbara Fast of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury, Conn., shares the powerful experience she had earlier this year when she joined the Living Legacy Pilgrimage through the Deep South visiting historic sites and meeting with veterans of the Civil Rights Movement. (newstimes.com – 1.31.14)

To honor the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Community Unitarian Universalists in Brighton, Mich., will hold a Freedom Riders exhibit of films and speakers detailing the struggles of civil rights workers who traveled south to fight racial segregation. (Daily Press & Argus - 1.30.14)

The Unitarian Church of Staten Island, N.Y., will hold a Sunday service in connection with African American History Month that highlights the important role that abolitionists played in founding their church and as an antislavery voice in the region during the 19th century. (Staten Island Advance2.1.14)

Connecting with the community through jazz, and more

First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City celebrates 25 years of their Jazz Vespers music series, which has transformed the congregation’s role in the city into a local institution offering a diverse range of musical styles from the works of Stevie Wonder to Led Zeppelin. (The Salt Lake Tribune - 2.1.14)

The Rev. Andrew Clive Millard of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Va., writes that he will join with other progressive people of faith calling for marriage equality in Virginia because all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, have equal claim to the same benefits, rights, and privileges. (Daily Press - 2.2.14)

The Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, N.C., reports that over 200 people from Western North Carolina will join the Forward Together Moral Movement protest at the state capitol on February 8th. (Black Mountain News2.3.14)

Bennett Rushkoff explained in an interview with local press that a major reason why he is running for state office in Maryland stems from his experience as lay minister for social justice at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, Md., where he and his congregation lobbied for marriage equality, offshore wind power, and repeal of the death penalty. (The Sentinel2.6.14)

As Purdue University considers building gender-neutral restrooms on their campus, the nearby Unitarian Universalist Church in West Lafayette, Ind., offers an example of using gender neutral facilities to welcome all people, regardless of gender identity. (The Exponent – 2.5.14)

The Rev. Galen Guengerich of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City writes on how the growing “selfie” culture keeps individuals from appreciating those who have had a long presence around us and the things we deeply value for their long use. (The Washington Post1.31.14)

Among many who weighed in on the death penalty decision in the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, the Rev. Megan Foley of Sugarloaf Congregation of Unitarian Universalists in Germantown, Md., wrote that putting her father’s killer to death brought their family no sense of justice or closure. (The Boston Globe - 2.1.14)

Categories: UU News

Hot buttons, apocalypse, saints and sinners, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-02-07 14:12
Hot buttons

UU World‘s news coverage of the UUA Board of Trustees meeting in San Diego sparked a social media hubbub; UUA staff quoted in the article seemed to be inviting a shift in identity from “an association of congregations” to “a religious movement focused on cultural transformation.” (UU World, February 3)

Much of the blogging conversation took place in comments on the Rev. Tom Schade’s blog, beginning with his post about the role of congregations in cultural transformation.

Transformative cultural energy will not arise easily out of our present congregations, most of which are consumed in the work of institutional maintenance. . . .

This is where UUA Staff, the leadership of larger successful congregations, young adults, and extra-congregational UU activists can be taking the lead, helping people connect to the energy out there. (The Lively Tradition, February 4)

The Rev. Scott Wells writes, “I’ll believe the tales of new, grand design once you can show me you are able to fix the foundation.”

Institution building is hard, often unglamourous work. It’s what we need the UUA for, if anything, but if the leadership decides to follow its own bliss and upend the power relationship of the UUA, the member congregations have a moral right to ignore, substitute and defund it. (Boy in the Bands, February 5)

Much of the online conversation took place on Facebook, most of which is unavailable if you have not joined the site. However, UU World editor Christopher L. Walton’s post about the news story is public and gives a taste of the conversation.

Apocalypse never

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden explores the attraction of apocalyptic thinking.

Why is apocalypse so interesting to so many?

Because long-term solutions are not interesting.

Long-term solutions are difficult. And boring. And require committees and task forces and lots and lots of charts and graphs and talking, talking, talking. (Quest for Meaning, February 6)

The Rev. Meredith Garmon suggests “the Ecospiritual Challenge” as a third way to respond to climate change: “not denying the reality we face, and nor retreating into everyone-for-herself survivalism.”

It is the path of open-eyed and open-eared awareness, and also the path of connection to both nature and neighbor—not afraid to face reality, not avoiding needed knowledge because it’s “depressing” and you’d rather not think about it. And at the same time not bunkering protectively. (The Liberal Pulpit, January 30)

Saints and sinners

The Rev. Gary Kowalski reacts to a recent ranking of U.S. states from most to least religious.

Here are some interesting facts about the “most religious” state. Close behind Louisiana, which is number one, Mississippi boasts the second highest murder rate in the United States. Vermont, the “least religious” state, is number forty-nine in homicides per 100,000 population. Only nearby New Hampshire has fewer murders. If Gallup is right, religion can be dangerous to your health. (Revolutionary Spirits, February 5)

The Rev. Theresa Novak longs for the day when we no longer sort ourselves into sinners and saints.

Pray for the saints
Pray for the sinners
Pray for the day that will come
When we’ll all live our lives
In the best way we can
We won’t cast aspersions
On ourselves or each other (Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musings, February 6)

A visit to Third Unitarian in Chicago leads Claire to think about UU saints.

Who are our saints? I was at Third Unitarian of Chicago last Sunday, whose building houses a series of tile murals depicting a selection of “saints”—or “wise people that we admire” as their literature puts it. Love the art; it is very fitting for this intensely humanist (and wonderfully friendly) congregation. At the same time I wonder what it means to name them saints who are no less human than those of us walking the simple ground today. (The Sand Hill Diary, January 31)

A transformative faith

For Thomas Earthman, Unitarian Universalism has been a truly transformative faith.

My faith has transformed me to be a better person. I firmly believe that. It has made me more accepting. It has made me more patient. It has helped me learn to let go of my frustrations, and to see that all of us humans are just trying to get by, trying to cope with our own desire to be vital in a universe where we are so small. I make my vitality by trying to live up to my faith. (A Material Sojourn, February 2)

The Rev. Sarah Stewart wishes more of her fellow Unitarian Universalists recognized how high the stakes are.

People join congregations because they are trying to orient their lives toward the good and the just. And then, at least in Unitarian Universalism, they also want to debate what the good and the just are, and have a say in determining what action will get them there, often without having to put much of anything on the line. . . .

[It] wouldn’t hurt us, from time to time, to imagine we are charting those paths in the face of existential threat, as though our lives and our salvation depended on making the right choices. (Stereoscope, February 6)

Another plane

The Rev. James Ford reflects on “the god that is love.”

Today, by most conventions I’m an atheist. That is I do not believe in a human-like consciousness that directs things. . . .

And…within my experience there is something. The best word I can call it is love. I suspect I know the grubby roots of that love, how it arises within my mammalian consciousness. But, it seems to have a larger existence, as well. (Monkey Mind, February 5)

The Rev. Tamara Lebak reads Be Love Now, by Ram Das, on an airplane to Houston.

There are things one can do to prepare to meet the kind of Love that is pervasive in the world and ever-present. Ram Das likens it to the way in which lovers prepare for a first date: pay special attention—be clean and presentable to The Beloved, shower, shave, powder, and perfume. Putting on my collar sometimes feels like preparing myself for a date with The Beloved, reminding me to meet God in the presence of others. (Under the Collar, February 5)

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg finishes a three-part review of Anne Lamott’s book about prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow.

In the past few years, another of my most common spiritual practices has been taking photographs with my iPhone using the Instagram app of those moments in life when I come across sights that leave me transfixed in radical amazement. I’ve found that rather than distracting me, photography when done slowly and with intention brings me even more deeply into the present moment, often causing me to notice details, angles, and beauty I likely otherwise would have missed. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, January 31)

Categories: UU News

Harmony, the 'un-church'

UU World - Mon, 2014-02-03 01:00
LIFE: Innovative lay-led congregation has unusually high ratio of children to adults.
Categories: UU News

Board approves sale of three UUA properties

UU World - Mon, 2014-02-03 01:00
NEWS: Also votes for $100 General Assembly discount for congregational presidents.
Categories: UU News

Breaking on through

UU World - Mon, 2014-02-03 01:00
SPIRIT: Language helps us make meaning of what is happening to us, when it isn’t a barrier.
Categories: UU News

$100 Rebate for Congregational Presidents for GA 2014

UUA Top Stories - Mon, 2014-02-03 01:00
On behalf of the UUA Board of Trustees, UUA Moderator Jim Key has written a letter to congregational leaders regarding a $100 registration rebate for congregational presidents who attend General Assembly 2014 in Providence, RI. He writes, “…The major impetus for this special invitation is the Board's desire to have a conversation at this GA about how we can transform the work of the delegates at future GAs such that it will have real impact on the future of our faith and our Association...'
Categories: UU News

Remembering Pete Seeger, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-01-31 16:30

Pete Seeger memorials connect his UU faith to his music and activism

A researcher exploring Pete Seeger’s Springfield, Mass., roots highlights his family’s deep connections to Unitarianism and progressive activism. Seeger’s great-grandfather, Dr. Edwin Seeger, was an abolitionist and Unitarian in the 1800s. (The Republican - 1.28.14)

Columnist Andy Ray writes that he saw many similarities between himself, a United Methodist, and Seeger, a Unitarian Universalist. With Seeger’s passing, Ray felt that we lost a true American hero. (Current in Carmel – 1.29.14)

In a 2005 interview reprinted in the Dallas Morning News, Seeger was asked if he considered himself a Unitarian. He responded that although he rarely went to church, he considered himself a Unitarian in the deepest sense of the word. (Dallas Morning News – 1.28.14)

The Rev. Richard R. Davis of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, Ore., remembered Seeger as a man who stood for his principles. Davis planned to share his music in a Sunday service honoring the singer. (Statesman Journal – 1.30.14)

Other stories remembering Pete Seeger include:

“The spiritual side of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger” (Deseret News1.29.14)

“Pete Seeger’s time comes” (Religion News Service1.28.14)

UU churches prepare for marriage equality in Va. and Okla., and more

As the debate over marriage equality heats up across their state, Unitarian Universalists in Harrisonburg, Va., voice their hope to ring their church’s bells at weddings for same-sex couples very soon. (WHSV News 3 – 1.24.14)

All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., will hold an engagement party at their church for same-sex couples who are awaiting a final ruling on the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. (NewsOn6.com – 1.23.14)

After being legally married to her partner of 39 years in California, the Rev. Theresa Novak of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, Utah, has decided to leave the congregation and the state in order to live in California, where her marriage will be legally recognized. (Standard-Examiner – 1.25.14)

Speaking in support of asylum-seekers and immigrants at the Portland City Hall in Portland, Me., the Rev. Mykel Johnson of Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland connected their plight with Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech on the story of the Good Samaritan. (Portland Press Herald – 1.30.14)

A local art student, assigned the task of completing an interior drawing for a class midterm, chose to recreate the beautiful glass mosaic in First Unitarian Church in New Bedford, Mass., called “The Wanderer.” He hopes to raise awareness of the work as a part of New Beford’s history. (South Coast Today – 1.26.14)

Categories: UU News

Remembering Pete Seeger, Boomers in the pews, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:54
Remembering Pete Seeger

For the Rev. Dan Harper, who serves as a minister of religious education, “Pete Seeger’s greatest strength was his ability to sing for children and young people.”

When he sang, he taught about big concepts like justice and human rights and racism and social inequality—he taught all these big concepts in a way that a six year old could understand them. His infectious songs and style of singing ensured that the children and young people who heard him sing would remember the lessons he taught for a long, long time. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, January 29)

The Rev. Lynn Ungar points to Seeger’s whole-hearted living.

He was extraordinary, but here’s what strikes me. Anybody who really wanted to could do what he did. . . . What was so incredible about Pete Seeger was not any singular gift or talent. What we celebrate, what we remember, was not a man who could do things no other person could, but rather a man who spent his whole very long life walking with a whole heart toward what he believed in. (Quest for Meaning, January 29)

The Rev. Dan Schatz, whose musical mentors were “the children of Pete,” had the privilege of working with Seeger.

Pete was a Unitarian Universalist, and I’m sure he is one of the reasons I went into the UU ministry. It wasn’t anything he ever said to me—instead it was the lessons I learned listening to those records and singing his songs. I learned to care about ordinary people, to value freedom and justice, to work for what is right no matter how daunting it seems, to bring people together, to listen and value the voices of others. (The Song and the Sigh, January 28)

For the Rev. Kit Ketcham, Seeger’s songs gave voice to her changing theology as a young adult.

Pete changed my life. His songs were meaningful without being religious, at least according to my Baptist upbringing, and when I found him, I was looking (mostly subconsciously) for meaning, not doctrine. . . .

His songs were about basics:  love of natural things, love of humankind, respect for creation, healing of wounds, peace across the earth, and, most of all, how singing together can create this vision of one world. (Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show, January 28)

The Rev. Peter Boullata points to Seeger as an important vocational influence.

For me, his was the voice that activated something in my soul, something that longed to connect with others in solidarity and community in the struggles for freedom. That called me deeper into a life of activism. And that helped me find my voice. (Held in the Light, January 28)

Seeger’s were the first songs the Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford heard as a child, and they carried her through difficult times in adulthood.

I was a grown-up, a mother of 4, and still Rev. Pete provided pastoral care to me. . . . Ultimately, I believed that Love was lord of heaven and earth. No matter what happened, no matter disease, no matter death, no matter the Big Muddy, no matter the hate that swirls around us … ultimately, there is a Greater Hope. (Boots and Blessings, January 29)

Not just Boomers in the pews

Seeger’s death prompted a social media discussion among UUs about “generational mourning,” and the hashtag #NotJustBoomersInPews.

Though she will include remembrances of Seeger in this Sunday’s service in her congregation, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum challenges our assumptions.

What I think we should be careful of, however, is assuming that everybody likes Pete Seeger, that everybody knows who he was and why he’s important to us politically and culturally, and that everybody is mourning his death. (Rev. Cyn, January 30)

For the Rev. Tom Schade, the generational “civil war” about Seeger’s importance reflects UU shame about the failures of progressive activism.

Some of us are adoring Pete Seeger this weekend; some are impatient, and even revulsed, by the nostalgia for the 60′s, folk music and all that foolishness. . . .

The best way to honor Pete Seeger is not by a sentimental tributes, but by a clear-eyed look to the history of the radical, reform and religiously liberal movements of last 50 years. Once in a while, we make history, but most of the time, history makes us. (The Lively Tradition, January 30)

Shawna Foster reminds us that for many in our congregations, Boomers are not parents who spark rebellion, but rather cool, fun-to-be-with grandparents—and even great-grandparents.

I think it surprises people to learn that they could be (and some are) great-grandparents, tearing up over Seeger and wondering what the kids running around now really know what it means to be Waist Deep in the Big Muddy. I didn’t—until I spent some time with my rad, rad, rad, grandparents.  People are living longer, and I think my generation should be—and is—taking advantage of it. (Vessel, January 30)

Be horrified

Andrew Mackay reminds us that the horrors of the Syrian civil war have not gone away.

It makes sense to become acclimated, to see this as just more torture, more murder, more war. But that is an injustice to those that suffer and die. Be horrified, be disgusted. It’s how things get changed. (Unspoken Politics, January 28)

The Rev. Meredith Garman, as part of a series on “the Eco-Spiritual Challenge,” paints a sobering picture of a radically changed planet.

Environmental writer Bill McKibben argues that the planet we knew, that our great-grandparents and their great-grandparents knew, is gone. Old Earth was great, but it is gone. Yes, the old Earth had occasional disasters, too. It’s the pace of them now that is the fact of life on our new planet. (The Liberal Pulpit, January 29)

Entrusted with the work of love

The Rev. Dr. Michael Tino and the Rev. Meg Riley shared the pulpit at the ordination of the Rev. Lara Campbell.  Their sermons focused on the words of Olympia Brown, who wrote, “Do not demand immediate results but rejoice that we are worthy to be entrusted with this great message.”

Tino’s sermon focused on the work of religious community during a time of increased reliance on social media.

Our modern-day hyper-connectivity requires of us the same bold rethinking of church that the isolation of the Plains inspired in the Iowa Sisterhood.  And interestingly, I think that the answers to both problems are similar.

Just as the Iowa sisterhood responded to their physical isolation by creating space for the depth of connection, we can respond to the shallowness of modern connection by creating communities in which people come to know real relationship. (UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester, January 27)

Riley called the congregation to imagine the possibilities of “a Spiritual Union . . . [and] spiritual collective bargaining.”

I love Unitarian Universalism, and I love the way that our congregations are self-determining and unique, but I believe in those old songs that I was raised on, about how “The Union makes us strong.” I take to heart those words in our hymnal from Dr. Martin Luther King, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” And I say, when do we realize that we are that garment, instead of behaving as if our purpose on the planet is to pull apart the threads?

What might we do if we embodied a place of spiritual union with one another? (Quest for Meaning, January 26)

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford urges us to “love the hell out of the world.”

The hell is all around, and we work, in great passionate swoops and in slow, plodding routines, to put that extravagant love into action and remove all the bits of it from the world. Misery, ill health, disease, viciousness of greed in the face of want, voices that shout hate or whisper meanness, soul-eating addiction, humiliation, despair, injustice that curls up nastily, poisoning the spirit of giver and receiver . . . we do not flee.

Bone-chillingly afraid we may be, but we step forward. We are the only form love will take and the work is ours to do. (Boots and Blessings, January 27)

Tim Atkins, responding to Riley’s sermon and Crawford’s blog post, celebrates UU prophetic leaders, but also reminds us that UUism needs faithful followers, living discipleship in their daily lives.

How are we teaching what it means to be a faithful follower? We want to teach our children (and adults) to be leaders, but when leadership also means the first follower—how do we teach essential discipleship? (Tim Atkins, January 27)

Believing what we must

Adrian Hilliard takes on the myths that UUs don’t believe anything, or that we can believe whatever we want.

Being a Unitarian Universalist is a tough job. We have to figure out what we must believe, many of us by learning from what others believe and sifting out the things that don’t evoke in our spirits a sense of the Divine, while retaining those things that do.. (UUXMNR, January 25)

“Buddhagan,” appreciates Hilliard’s comment that “Unitarian Universalists believe what we must.”

Sometimes I think for a millisecond of trying to be a Jehovah’s Witness again. But I can’t. I’ve eaten from the tree of knowledge. I cannot unlearn what I’ve learn. I believe what I must. If my current beliefs have flaws, then I will change them. (Buddhagan, January 27)

Categories: UU News

Introducing our new media blogger

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-01-31 11:13

It’s my pleasure to announce that beginning today, UUs in the Media will be written by Rachel Walden.

Rachel has worked for the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2009. During her time here, she has given tours for groups of all ages, helped UUs and newcomers learn about the UUA and its programs, and created social media content for the UUA. Her current work in the UUA’s Office of Information and Public Witness includes monitoring the media for references to Unitarian Universalists. Prior to working for the UUA, she served as church administrator for the UU Church of the Brazos Valley in College Station, Tex.

Categories: UU News

Singing for humanity: The Pete Seeger saga

UU World - Tue, 2014-01-28 01:00
LIFE: Speaking truth to power, with banjos and boats: Pete Seeger's struggle for justice.
Categories: UU News

Project cultivates Latino leaders for city's nonprofits

UU World - Mon, 2014-01-27 01:00
NEWS: Jericho Road Lawrence's new project helps match Latino professionals with boards of city's nonprofits.
Categories: UU News

UU leaders urge attendance at N.C. 'moral rally'

UU World - Mon, 2014-01-27 01:00
NEWS: Feb. 8 protest will focus on voter laws and other conservative legislation.
Categories: UU News

Religious community is not enough

UU World - Mon, 2014-01-27 01:00
IDEAS: Unitarian Universalism's purpose is much bigger than gathering with like-minded people for mutual support.
Categories: UU News

Calling for justice on MLK Day, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-01-24 17:42

UU ministers see need to continue King’s equality work

The Rev. William Sinkford of First Unitarian Church of Portland, Ore., reminded attendees at an interfaith service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not to forget their state’s early history of racial exclusion as they work to realize King’s dream of equality. (The Oregonian – 1.19.14)

The Rev. Dr. Dan Sears of Auburn Unitarian Universalist Society in Auburn, Ala., encourages people to use their time off on the King holiday to reflect on racism in our society, as well as within our individual lives. (The Citizen – 1.20.14)

The Rev. Ellen Cooper-Davis urged readers to not just venerate King as a prophet, but to heed his actual prophecy and continue the work that must be done to finally realize his dream. (The Houston Chronicle – 1.20.14)

The Rev. Jeff Liebmann of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Mich., writes that if King was alive today, he would remind us that peacemaking does not begin with nations or national legislation but in each of our hearts. (Midland Daily News – 1.20.14)

Other MLK Day articles include:

Local church revisits history of civil rights movement (Aiken Standard - 1.20.14)
Reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr.’s unfulfilled dream (Gazettenet.com – 1.20.14)
Remembering King’s dream (Wyoming Tribune Eagle – 1.20.14)

The importance of sex ed, Moral Mondays activism, and more

Describing her positive experiences in two Our Whole Lives sexuality education classes at Unitarian Universalist congregations, a 16-year-old writes that all young people should receive accurate and complete information about sexuality and relationships. (The Atlantic – 1.21.14)

Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Durham, N.C., joined with Durham Friends Meeting to host a performance of “Go, Granny D” about an activist for campaign finance reform, Doris ‘Granny D’ Haddock. The performance is part of Eno River’s participation in the 30 Days of Love campaign and proceeds will go to support Moral Mondays activism in the state. (The Herald-Sun – 1.22.14)

Columnist Albert B. Southwick considers Unitarian Universalist beliefs as expressed by Kimberly French in a recent UU World article in his column about the difficulties of eating ethically today. (Telegram.com – 1.16.14)

Categories: UU News

Thirty days of love, reasons for blogging, squash plants, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-01-24 17:02
Thirty Days of Love

Many UU bloggers are responding to the Standing on the Side of Love “Thirty Days of Love” campaign.

Alex Kapitan answers the campaign’s first question, “Why are we trying to be multicultural?”

Because I want to be in authentic, deep relationship with the world, with myself, and with the people around me. These glasses I was given put up a barrier, teaching that black and white is simpler and more ordered and thus more safe than the brilliant, chaotic colors of reality. Until I can fully cast these glasses aside, I can’t be truly present. I can’t be truly connected. And I need that connection. I need to be awake to the real, vivid colors in the world or a piece of me will die. (Roots Grow the Tree, January 18)

The blogger who writes at My Thankful Boy explores the Thirty Days of Love with her son.

B and I read a blog about rewriting history to reflect the experiences of all people. The author, Dayna Edwards, reflected on being a white woman, with all of her white privilege, married to an Afro-Caribbean man, raising their two daughters to be black women. This struck home for B, because one of his favorite cousins has a white mother and a black father, and his skin is dark enough that he is more likely to be identified by others as black, no matter how he self-identifies. It gave us the opportunity to talk about white privilege in the “simple” terms of not having your intentions questioned when you’re white and having them regularly questioned when you’re black. (My Thankful Boy, January 21)

Kimberley Debus reads a classic passage from the Christian scriptures with an eye for connections between love and the work of justice.

No matter what else is going on, it’s all about love. Love is where we begin—whether it is with each other, with the Divine (however we define it), with our families, our communities, or our world. Without love, anything we do is half a loaf. It’s ineffective. It’s uninspiring. It can cause bitterness. (Notes from the Far Fringe, January 18)

Debus also hosts a Thirty Days of Love blog-a-thon.

Sometimes love is complicated

Theresa Ines Soto writes that “love means it’s time to kill your darlings.”

Unitarian Universalism has a darling in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign name. . . .  Standing on the Side of Love is great, unless you don’t stand, unless you use a wheelchair, or a scooter or other varying mobility device as a way of getting around and being in the world.

It’s for Love that we can kill our darling, to give space for something new to arise. For example, Living on the Side of Love is alliterative and would allow for a plant or vine to be added to the current logo. (Inexplicable Beauty, January 20)

For the Rev. Sean Dennison, recent discord made the UUA feel like an unwelcoming place.

During the Thirty Days of Love, we’re studying up on multiculturalism, but is our beloved community truly welcoming to all? And if it is not, are we willing to change? Next time someone asks us to look at our words and consider that they might not be as loving as we thought, how will we respond? Will we accuse them of being the problem and dismiss them as silly? Will we tell them we’re too busy doing the real work of justice to be bothered?

Is that what we mean by Love? (Ministrare, January 20)

The Rev. James Ford writes a love song for the complexity of human nature, when a friend reports from India about fending off a pickpocket in the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Here we are, human beings, hairless apes with a penchant for the violent and astonishingly self-serving. And, at the same time, just a little space from the angels, our own dreaming of human possibility. So, here we are, smelly, noisy, grasping, and sweet, and kind, and generous even unto death.

For me, as I read Tom’s words, I felt my heart swell with the song of humanity, the low and the high, and within it the great reconciliation. All one. (Monkey Mind, January 22)

Why blog?

The Rev. Scott Wells has decided that blogging is the best way for him to have an impact on and for Unitarian Universalism.

It’s far more effective to blog your little bit, and hope that it’s effective in some small way, then to be lost in bureaucratic committees. I read the agenda and minutes of the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees with a mixture of sadness and pity. So much work, so much responsibility, so much process, so little return.

Blogging, and by extension, shared or distributed, self-initiated online work seem to be better use of my little time. (Boy in the Bands, January 20)

For Adrian Hilliard, blogging is an opportunity to explore what he thinks, and to engage in conversation with other Unitarian Universalists.

When it comes to expressing my thoughts on profound, complex topics, I find that it is usually easier to get to the crux of things if I take the time to write it out. . . .

I really miss the community of Unitarian Universalists that existed on Beliefnet ten or fifteen years ago. . . . I’ve learned that one of the ways I might in some small part re-create that era today is for me to follow other people’s blogs and engage with them there. (UUXMNR, January 20)

Jacqueline Wolven celebrates eight years of blogging by sharing the reasons why she blogs—and by hosting a series of posts by guest bloggers about their blogging process. (Jacqueline Wolven, January 16 and 21)

Surviving and thriving in seminary

Jordinn Nelson Long and a few of her fellow seminarians had fun writing a flippant advice column to would-be seminarians; now they have written a follow-up post with more serious advice.

Take care of your primary relationships. Your partner (and other family members) are in for a wild ride in the formation process—one they didn’t ask for and may not even fully understand or support. Further, seminary, and the changes you will experience as a result, will affect the dynamics of even the healthiest relationships.

When you’ve had all the New Testament you can take, or you have to pay your tuition bill, or miss another weekend at home, or find a shoulder to cry on, you’re going to want the support of those closest to you. Feed those relationships now, particularly if you have some work to do around healthy communication patterns. (Raising Faith, January 18)

Claire, a Meadville Lombard seminarian, sums up her experience of this year’s January intensive: “Lots of joy, lots of work, a fair amount of meltdown.” (Sand Hill Diary, January 16)

Squash plants, pledge drives, and hidden UUs

The Rev. Tom Schade reviews the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum’s recent guest sermon, delivered at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, entitled, “Spread Like the Squash Plant.”

Our churches and congregations cannot hope to grow like maples, but have to learn to grow like squash plants. It will be hard because our investment has been in buildings and stand-alone staffs, which are the thick woody trunks of trees, not the creeping tendrils of a squash plant. (The Lively Tradition, January 20)

Kari Kopnick, after a year of sleeping in on Sunday mornings, returns to church with renewed energy—even for leading the pledge drive.

I love church. I cry during joys and sorrows and I take notes so I can send cards to people who need a nice note in the mail. And I volunteered to teach the middle school sexuality class, because my family owed the universe a turn teaching and I love that so much except when it makes me want to cry, but I still love it, it’s just hard but then the hard things are the ones worth doing, of course. And I have a part of the church that is mine to keep clean which involves lugging a vacuum cleaner up stairs, and I do a shift cleaning up after coffee every other month. My favorite place in the whole church is the kitchen, so that’s a happy thing. Well and the congregation turned 50, so I wanted to be a part of making that year-long party happen, of course–that’s not even work, that’s just fun. There ya go, meaning, connections, fun. All good.

But then the president asked me to lead the pledge drive. (Chalice Spark, January 23)

Rebecca Brinson writes a corrective to the problem of UU reticence, sharing an overview of UU history and this summary of UU belief:

When I was a kid and people would ask me what Unitarian Universalists believed, I just took to saying that, to me, it felt more like a club than a religion. You can be UU and also identify as Buddhist, Wiccan, Christian, whatever. Play on, player. The church isn’t creed-based and doesn’t dictate what you can believe about God, the afterlife, whether pigs are unclean, etc., as long as you are actively working to not be a dick and you generally adhere to seven basic principles. (The Toast, January 21)

Categories: UU News

2014 Unitarian Universalist Association Elections

UUA Top Stories - Thu, 2014-01-23 01:00
This year, at General Assembly in Providence, RI, there will be elections for the Financial Advisor and four Trustees-at-Large. The Nominating Committee has nominated five people for these elective offices. Our elections of people to s erve the members and congregations of the Association are at the heart of the fifth principle of our faith and our trust in the democratic process. Please take this opportunity to learn more about the positions, who is nominated, and the process for running by petition. Those interested in running by petition have until Feb. 1 to submit a completed petition.
Categories: UU News

UU World: Volunteers Sought for Ongoing Sandy Recovery

UUA Top Stories - Thu, 2014-01-23 01:00
UU World reports that more than a year after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, volunteers are still needed. 'We're not getting media coverage of the continuing needs for survivors of Sandy and so many people think that the recovery is complete,' said the Rev. Susan Karlson. 'But it will
take years to restore these areas.' There are lots of opportunities for
groups of UU volunteers to help with the recovery.
Categories: UU News

One simple, transformative practice

UU World - Mon, 2014-01-20 01:00
SPIRIT: A search for connection is at the heart of all spiritual traditions and practices.
Categories: UU News

Volunteers sought for ongoing Sandy recovery

UU World - Mon, 2014-01-20 01:00
NEWS: More than a year after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, volunteers are still needed.
Categories: UU News

The economic impact of marriage equality, and more UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-01-17 17:02
UU church part of California’s booming same-sex marriage business

Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church of Pasadena, Calif., was featured in a piece about the economic impact legalizing same-sex marriage in that state is likely to have. One economist said that over the next three years more than 50,000 same-sex couples will get married, injecting about $64 million in revenue into the state’s economy. (Daily Breeze – 1.12.14)

The Muncie, Ind., city council unanimously passed a resolution opposing a ban on same-sex marriages in that state. Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Muncie, including president Bill Frederick, had spoken out in support of the resolution. (Star Press – 1.14.14) Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne, and at least eight other area congregations, held a joint worship service to pray that state legislators would not pass a ban on same-sex marriage. (Journal Gazette – 1.13.14)

Raising the minimum wage, sex-ed controversy, and more

In a story about different ideas around raising the minimum wage, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, Mo., is quoted about her church’s support for such a raise. (Columbia Daily Tribune – 1.11.14)

A Phoenix-area school district is considering a proposal by Planned Parenthood to offer sex-education curricula, based in part on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s “Our Whole Lives” program, and is meeting with some controversy. (Ahwatukee Foothills News – 1.10.14)

The Rev. Mel Hoover and the Rev. Rose Edington are retiring as co-ministers of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Charleston, W.Va., after a decades-long career that has taken them through several denominations and states. (West Virginia Gazette – 1.10.14)

The Cache Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Logan, Utah, is hosting a youth resource center for those struggling with homelessness or suicidal thoughts. (Cache Valley Daily – 1.10.14)

The Rev. Nancy Pelligrini, a former CIA analyst, was featured for her story as she took a new job as chaplain at a hospital in Charleston, S.C. (Post and Courier – 1.11.14)

Categories: UU News
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