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The Rev. James Ford and First Unitarian Church of Providence, R.I., are hot! A local news source named them to the “Who’s Hot” in Rhode Island politics for their efforts in leading a boycott of a local hotel that they say is not providing its workers an adequate wage or other compensation. (Golocalprov – 12.13.13)
More news of politically active UUs:
Shari Pollesch, a member of Community Unitarian Universalists in Brighton, Michigan, announced she will run as a Democrat for state senate. (Hartland Patch – 12.17.13)
Many UUs were among religious leaders in all 50 U.S. states who published op-eds in recent months calling for a government report on torture to be released. Click here to read the pieces published in Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and a national blog. (Anchorage Daily News – 11.12.13, Daily Camera – 11.4.13, Delaware online – 11.7.13, Honolulu Star Advertiser – 9.25.13, Rockford Register Star – 10.4.13, Kansas City Star – 12.15.13, Nevada Reno Gazette-Journal – 12.4.13, Bismarck Tribune – 11.23.13, Utah Deseret News – 10.16.13, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 11.10.13, The Hill – 5.23.13)
The Rev. Aaron Payson, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, Mass., spoke out to a government committee against the practice of shackling incarcerated women while they are giving birth. (Worcester News Telegram – 12.14.13)
Aetna is being sued over claims that it misled shareholders in an attempt to get resolutions, one of them brought by the Unitarian Universalist Association as part of shareholder advocacy, that it be more transparent about its political contributions. (Courthouse News Service – 12.10.13)Winter snow shoveling, and UU connections to Christmas
Sam Griffith, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s operations staff, was photographed shoveling snow from in front of the UUA’s Boston headquarters. (Boston Globe – 12.16.13)
A piece highlighted Harvard University’s historical connections to popular Christmas songs, many of them also connections to Unitarianism. Harvard Divinity School was once the primary training ground for Unitarian ministers. The Rev. Andrew Millard of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia, also highlighted Unitarian and Universalist connections to Christmas. (Harvard Gazette – 12.17.13, Daily Press – 12.15.13)Thoughts on Hermione Granger, and more
UU Chris Crass wrote about the importance of Hermione Granger, a lead character in the Harry Potter movies and books, as an example of feminist leadership. (Rabble.ca – 12.17.13)
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton, N.Y., opens its kitchen and social hall to a program called “Campus Kitchens,” in which college students provide a meal for those in need. (North Country Public Radio – 12.16.13)Holiday break
Season’s greetings from UU World. Our offices will be closed for the holidays December 24 to January 1. UUs in the Media will return on January 3. See you next year!
The Rev. James Ford remembers the Rev. Gordon McKeeman, who died this week.
Gordon taught that everything was a miracle.
He pointed to the holy.
A Universalism ancient of days, and as bright and new as our most recent breath.
And Gordon told us just exactly where we could find it.
Right here. (Monkey Mind, December 19)
The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern writes that McKeeman was “a kind of spiritual grandfather to me: a mentor and teacher to many of my mentors and teachers.”
My conviction that ministry (from the Latin for “service”) is not the private domain of a small number of professionals, but something we all do together, clergy and laity, arose from my own experience, but it was McKeeman who gave it words. (Sermons in Stones, December 19)Winter Celebrations
Christine Organ wanted to write a lovely post about the beauties of this season—but instead wrote how she really feels: she hates winter!
[Maybe] Grace isn’t found in pretending the dark and cold times aren’t exactly what they are – hard and difficult. Maybe Grace comes from a simple acknowledgement that “THIS SUCKS,” followed by a deep breath and the inherent understanding that, for better or worse, this too shall pass. (Christine Organ, December 19)
The Rev. Fred Hammond objects to a proposed state law in Alabama that would educate students about “traditional” winter celebrations.
Focusing on the “traditional” elevates the esteem of those who follow the “traditional” faith and it demeans those who do not follow that faith simply by the absence of teaching about them. If on the other hand, all of these winter celebrations were to be taught and not just the Christian celebrations, then this act could be seen as an attempt at teaching multi-cultural appreciation which would strengthen Alabama’s acceptance of people whose cultural and religious backgrounds are different than the “traditional.” But I suspect this is not the case. (A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South, December 18)
Robin Bartlett writes that Unitarian Universalists should celebrate the incarnational theology of Christmas.
[Christmas] is a Unitarian Universalist holiday because whether or not we believe in a supernatural God, a Godly Jesus, or that God’s banner over us is love, we Unitarian Universalists are humanists, and Jesus was the ultimate humanist. Jesus believed in the human capacity to love the hell out of this world. And if we truly believe that we are alone down here, then we better get at it, ’cause no big man in the sky’s gonna do it for us. (RE at UUAC Sherborn, December 19)
Kristen Coyne tells a charming story about her daughter’s faith in Santa being restored by the gift of a “Christmas Menorah.” (TallahasseeUU, December 16)
Doug Stowe suggests a few Christmas gifts for increasing children’s capacity for creativity. (Wisdom of the Hands, December 15)
On the anniversary of the Newtown shootings, the Rev. Jeff Liebmann urges us to honor the Christ-child by protecting children from gun violence.
So when you go to your church to honor the babe, pray silently for the 20 lost children, who will never know another Christmas with their families. But come home and scream, “Why?” Go forth and demand that America put down the sword and pass sensible gun legislation. Shout until your voice cracks and your throat grows hoarse so that no family must endure this pain again. (uujeff’s muse kennel and pizzatorium, December 14)Conversations
The first generation of UU bloggers often engaged in conversation with each other through their blog posts; while the current UU blogosphere is less interconnected, such conversations do still occur.
Jordinn Nelson Long accepts the season’s invitation to rest and quiet.
For a brief time, I will rest my mind and my feet. For this quiet interval, I will leave those sleeping dragons where they lie.
For a short season, let me be still. (Raising Faith, December 19)
Mandie McGlynn echoes her friend’s words about the season.
Friends, the winter holidays are the season of joy and peace and love! But as Jordinn finally remembered, it’s also the season of darkness and quiet. . . . So when weariness crashes through you, when you are overwhelmed by all there is to do, give yourself permission and space to experience those feelings for which we are so often shamed by the social contract at this time of year. Rather than pushing through or pushing away your sorrow, let it be a reminder to stop a moment and rest. To breathe.
The dawn is breaking soon, I promise you, but it will come in its own time. When that new and glorious morning finally arrives, it will be clear and bright, and you will recognize its beauty all the more because you’ve held your darkness close. (Mandie McGlynn, December 19)
Last week’s post by the Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford prompts the Rev. Kent Hemmen-Saleska to think about his own practices of wearing clerical robes and collars.
There *is* a local coffee shop I go to every Thursday for my “writing and study” day…but I’ve never worn my collar or stole *just* for *those* mundane days. For the past seven years I’ve served this church I’ve worn a robe when I preach – which is something I never thought I’d do – maybe I’ll start wearing a collar to the coffee shop on “mundane” days too? (Moving in Faith, December 13)
The Red Pill Brethren (of which Crawford is a member) had a stimulating conversation about clerical collars. (The Red Pill Brethren, December 19)
Andy Coate writes about another coffeeshop where religion and welcome go hand-in-hand.
[Tonight] I walked in and snagged a table, asking somebody quickly if they’d keep an eye on my stuff while I ordered. I walked to the counter and the barista said “Hey, Andrew. How’s Jesus-school?” and we chatted for a second or two. I sat down, untied the boots I’d been wearing all day, and opened my computer. There was a Queer Polyamorous Womens Meetup happening next to me and the conversation was hilarious and so, so fitting for where I was. (thoughts ON, December 12)
Tim Atkins replies to last week’s post by Christine Slocum. “Yes,” he writes, “the wolf has inherent worth and dignity.”
If a wolf appears in a congregation . . . and the wolf has begun to threaten the safety of the entire community, then we hold them to covenant or respectfully ask them to leave the community, as they can no longer uphold the covenant. . . .
You can acknowledge their inherent worth and dignity while letting go of further interaction. It’s not a contradiction of faith – it’s living up to our covenantal faith. (Spirituality and Sunflowers, December 13)Where do we belong?
The Rev. Dan Harper no longer sees the benefit of membership in the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association—and his congregation’s leadership agrees.
[B]efore taking this step, of course I consulted with the Committee on Ministry and the Board of Trustees of the congregation I serve, as well as my ministerial colleague in the congregation. The Committee on Ministry’s response was instructive: one member of the committee said something to the effect of, why would you want to belong to a professional organization that doesn’t meet your professional needs? The Committee didn’t seem to think the choice was as tough as I did. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, December 18)
The Rev. Dan Schatz has figured out a key difference between the Sunday Assemblies and Unitarian Universalism.
In the Sunday Assemblies . . . diversity of viewpoints is something that might exist but isn’t talked about, assumptions go unchallenged, and everything is kept very, very safe. . . . But I need a community that will help me make meaning through the tough times of life, that will challenge me to think as well as feel, and that will help me grow as a person. That’s why I’m a Unitarian Universalist. (The Song and the Sigh, December 18)See you next year
The offices of the UUA (including UU World) are closed from Tuesday December 24 through Wednesday, January 1. There will be no Interdependent Web post next Friday. See you on Friday, January 4!
The Rev. Josh Pawelek, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society East in Manchester, Conn., appeared on NPR’s “On Point” to talk about the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. (WBUR – 12.12.13)
Historic quilt discovered, dead honored
A 115-year-old quilt was found in the archives of First Unitarian Church of Omaha, Nebr., when members were looking for items to include in a fundraising auction. The quilt will be going to a local museum. (SFGate – 12.7.13, Journal Star – 12.7.13)
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura, Calif., and its Lift Up Your Voice advocacy ministry held a ceremony to honor homeless people who have died. (Ventura Breeze – 12.9.13)
Christine Keith, who had been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, Mich., was killed along with her son by her husband, whom she had recently filed for divorce from, police said. (Times Herald – 12.6.13)
Church property destroyed, and more
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, Fla., is looking for a driver who destroyed the church’s sign. A surveillance video shows the driver examining his car for damage and then driving off. (CBS 12 – 12.6.13)
A rainbow flag at the Foxborough, Mass., Universalist Church was vandalized. (Sun Chronicle – 12.11.13)
The Rev. Tim Barger, who works as religion editor of his local newspaper, wrote his weekly column about his ordination to the ministry, which was last weekend. (Toledo Blade – 12.7.13)
The band Mumford used the Unitarian Univeraslist Fellowship of Ames, Iowa, to record its album because “it is acoustically a really beautiful space, and they have a really nice piano in there.” (Iowa State Daily – 12.5.13)
Bennett Rushkoff, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, Md., is running for state office. (Gazette – 12.9.13)