UU News

Opportunities are always there

UU World - Mon, 2014-06-23 01:00
LIFE: Thriving congregations have leaders who seize the opportunities before them rather than cling to plans that are no longer viable.
Categories: UU News

Love is the boss, witchcraft and wizardry, public theology, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-06-20 16:09
Love is the boss

A flip comment—”My calendar is the boss of me”—makes the Rev. Deanna Vandiver re-evaluate her core commitments.

I serve in the name of love. Love for the world that is and the world that can be. Love for the wonder of creation and respect of destruction. Love for a faith community that meets us where we are and doesn’t leave us there. Love for you. Love for me.

It is easy in the days of overloaded calendars and underloaded bank accounts to forget. And it absolutely matters that we remember. (Quest for Meaning, June 17)

Amid all the anxiety and posturing that goes on in a hospital, Jordinn Nelson Long looks for the places where love lives.

What if we made it our number one job each day to remember that we aren’t a role or a title or a degree, not really? And that the one across from us, with the hair the color of your sister’s, or freckles, or dimples, or a gold tooth, and a look of fear or dread or hope or resignation—that person isn’t a patient or a stroke victim or a financial concern, not really?

What if we truly remembered this, with each phone call or e-mail or data input task:

I am a human being, here to serve other human beings–in love–and this entire institution exists, whether it knows it or not, to fulfill that mission.

Here. Now. In this very moment. (Raising Faith, June 14)

The nightmare of children crowded into a warehouse in Nogales breaks the Rev. Diane Dowgiert’s heart.

Frightened children.

Lonely children.

Crying children.

This is not a dream.

A living nightmare.

When will we awaken?

Decide to create a new reality?

Realize that we are all interconnected?

Know that what we do unto the least of these we do unto ourselves? (Transforming Times, June 18)

The Rev. Erik Martinez Resley shares “Love Reaches Out,” from the Sanctuaries in DC.

Public theology

The Rev. Tom Schade explains what he means by “public theology.”

Public theology is the explanation of human society, social institutions and governments. If you a theist, it explains the existence of governments, nations and social institutions in God’s plan. Even if you are not a theist, it explains the fundamental moral foundations of social life. (The Lively Tradition, June 17)

Schade also shares four core statements of liberal public theology.

The world is unfair, but it gets better.

The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.

You can’t hate somebody after you hear their story.

Everything causes everything. (The Lively Tradition, June 19)

Truth and meaning

Liz James wonders how to learn to do ministry beyond “the shadow of the cross.”

I am not in a Christian seminary, but we learn in the shadow of the cross. Our understanding of what a Minister is comes from Priests and Pastors, not from Gurus, Shamans, or Traditional Faith Healers. We may be like Priests, or we may be different from them, but the exploration is shaped by that story. (Free Range Seminarian, May 28)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden warns us about the fantasy of finding “Truth.” (Theopoetics, June 19)

Maps, graphs, and other toys

The Rev. Dan Harper looks at geographic data about Unitarian Universalism, and shares his conclusions—that in most places in the US, UUism barely makes a dent, and that in a few places, UUs are common enough to feel like a mainstream religion. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 14)

The Rev. Scott Wells creates a bar graph to show density of UUs by region—and is surprised by the results.

I knew that New England was the “homeland” and you are more likely to find a small-town churches there; I was still shocked to see the disparity between New England states and everywhere else. I had thought earlier Universalist missions, the Fellowship movement and subsequent population drifts had smoothed out the distribution. (Boy in the Bands, June 17)

Wells is also surprised by an article that defined “micro-church” as a “gathering of 30 or so folks.”

Gott im Himmel. If an attendance of thirty makes a micro-church, what does that make Unitarian Universalists? A fellowship with a large proportion of small congregations, that’s what. (Boy in the Bands, June 16)

Witchcraft and wizardry

Patrick Murfin provides an overview of Starhawk’s life and work, including her contributions to Unitarian Universalism.

Starhawk was an early and influentially active member of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).  Her combinations contributed heavily to the adoption of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Seventh Principle, “Respect for the Interdependent Web of All Existence of Which We Are a Part” in 1983, a move led by the faith’s growing eco-feminist movement. That inclusion has in many ways profoundly changed traditional Unitarian Universalism broadening its roots form radical Christianity and modern Humanism, influencing the way the faith act in the world, and being a major catalyst for a revival of spirituality in the liberal faith. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, June 17)

The Rev. Dan Harper asks three interesting questions about the Harry Potter novels. Be sure to read the comments, and share your own answers if you’d like.

Which characters did you picture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning, and why?

If Harry had to marry one of the minor characters, which one would he marry, and why?

If you could be any character or creature in the Harry Potter universe, which one would you be? (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, June 13)

Categories: UU News

Service Committee leader urges transparency for Haiti aid, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-06-20 14:27

UUSC’s Schulz says Haitians continue to face challenges

President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, has joined with 22 other organizations to strongly urge passage of the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, requiring the State Department to show how U.S. aid to Haiti is being spent. (Huffington Post – 6.13.14)

UU ministers speak out on global justice issues

Given the urgency of global climate change and the need for religious people to care for this world and its people, the Rev. Ann Schranz of Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, Calif., hopes that our shared religious values will help us collaborate on these sorts of important issues. (Daily Bulletin – 6.13.14)

The Rev. Mark Kiyimba of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala, Uganda, is traveling around the United States to share the story of crisis in his country around the oppression of gay people. Because American evangelicals are partly responsible for creating this crisis, Kiyimba hopes to convince Americans that they have a role to play in finding a solution. (Bennington Banner – 6.14.14)

News from the congregations

Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Md., will hold an interfaith event to honor the memory of three murdered civil rights workers fifty years ago in Mississippi. They hope to use this occasion as a call to action for attendees to urge Congress to move forward on the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. (Gazette.net – 6.20.14)

The Rev. Arthur Vaeni, known for his role in helping his congregation, Olympia UU Congregation in Washington, create the innovative Quixote Village homeless community, led one of his final services on Sunday. (The Bellingham Herald – 6.15.14)

Members of Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire in Housatonic, Mass., celebrated worship service in their new home in the former Housatonic Congregational Church. A capital campaign raised enough funds to help purchase the building and have additional funds set aside for repairs and upgrades as needed. (The Berkshire Eagle – 6.17.14)

Looking back at the 60-year history of the Unitarian Church of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, the congregation celebrates the creation of a religious community in a region that previously lacked a strong liberal religious identity, and the early support they received from their headquarters in Boston. (Edmonton Journal – 6.13.14)

UUs continue push for marriage equality

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, N.C., Carol Taylor and Betty Mack are lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. They argue that the state’s current laws violate their religious freedom because it denies them the right to a religious marriage ceremony. (Asheville Citizen-Times - 6.13.14)

The Rev. Kelly Crocker of First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisc., performed one of the first legal same-sex marriages in the state when she married Christine Pasinski and Nancy Smiegowski, who have been a couple for 29 years. Crocker hopes weddings for many other same-sex couples will follow. (nbc15.com – 6.10.14)

Categories: UU News

Team plans creative, nourishing arc of worship

UU World - Mon, 2014-06-16 01:00
NEWS: Worship Arts Team, new this year, supports worship leaders at General Assembly.
Categories: UU News

T-shirt evangelism

UU World - Mon, 2014-06-16 01:00
SPIRIT: Wearing my Standing on the Side of Love shirt tells the world, including me, what I stand for.
Categories: UU News

The cause of justice, why go to church, Lego chalices, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-06-13 16:07
The cause of justice

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum reviews the first two of the Shadow Children novels for young readers, whose main character, Luke, “doesn’t take up the fight.”

The world relies on the Jens to get out there and make a stand and lead the rally, but the world is full of Lukes, who hang back out of fear, and protect themselves. And that’s okay, especially for children, and especially for those for whom it is most dangerous to speak out. . . .

The cause of justice has a lot of room for a lot of different levels of action. (Rev. Cyn, June 10)

Karen Johnston makes a spontaneous decision to tell her daughter about having been sexually assaulted.

This disclosure to my teenaged daughter was a fierce Mama-Bear moment, sensing how dangerous it is for anyone—for her—to believe that there are some women who plan not to get raped, and somehow, by implication, some who do.

I could not let her go off into the world with such a hazardous delusion—for her own safety, as well as for the safety and sanity of the young women she will meet, befriend, and console. Not only do I not want my daughter to be the target of sexual violence, I don’t want her to perpetuate victim-blaming or take part in slut-shaming. (irrevspeckay, June 6)

The Rev. Lynn Ungar parodies the casual disregard for human life shown by gun rights activists.

You know what isn’t cool? The government getting up in your business. You know what is cool? People carrying guns in public. Did you see that picture of the guy carrying an AK-47 around the pharmacy aisle in Target? That’s a bad ass. Nobody is going to mess with anyone while that guy is around. Little children can feel safe when they see that guy with an assault rifle is in the store. (Quest for Meaning, June 10)

Why does anyone go to church?

Andrew Hidas asks, “Why does anyone go to church?” and shares his reasons for going.

Sunday church has to inform and underlie our Monday through Saturday. The ways we aspire to be in church have to become so woven into the warp and woof of the days and minutes of our lives—living in that spirit of veneration, gratitude, expressiveness and generosity—that the distinction between a church and non-church day, the essence of them, disappears, even as we still draw sustenance from the quality of our Sunday encounter and the relationships that we renew there. (Traversing, June 10)

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden is sometimes asked how humanists can have church without God.

The apparatuses of worship change with time, as do the words and the concepts. It is the human mind and human needs for purpose and meaning that remain that same and come to the temple, the stadium, or the storefront church. These are what remain the same. For humanists, that’s as holy as it gets. (Way of Oneness, June 12)

Peggy Richards writes about her UU congregation as “a haven in our midst.”

I attend when I am joyful, knowing my joy will be shared and that I may bring comfort to someone who feels less joyful that day. I attend when I feel low, knowing I will receive unobtrusive support and will likely hear something that will lighten my load. I volunteer when I can. I decline when I can’t. I feel good about either decision. It has grounded me. It has given me a base from which to do all the idealistic things I always meant to do but did not know where to start. It has supported me when I had nothing to give. It requests much but expects nothing. (I Am UU, June 12)

As part of the new “Loved for Who You Are” project, Tim Atkins writes that it is up to us “to counteract messages of hate with love.” (Loved for Who You Are, May 31)

Go big or go home

Katy Schmidt Carpman points to a number we need to be reminded of, again and again: 164,000, the number of UUs in the United States.

Did you know that the Hawaiian Islands have more Catholics on them (not including tourists!) than we have Unitarian Universalists across the United States?

164,000 people could fit into two of our large NFL stadiums. (Remembering Attention, June 11)

Andrew Mackay asks, “How does Unitarian Universalism ‘go big or go home’ in a world that increasingly mirrors our values?”

One thing I floated, and some congregations may already do this, is the concept of exit interviews. . . . UUism has low social pressure—members don’t try to shame others into attending. That openness should allow us to ask departing members frankly about why the faith wasn’t working for them anymore. Only though data can we understand the problem of retention. If you’re an active UU member and absolutely love it, it’s hard to understand why others don’t. (Unspoken Politics, June 12)

Survey says

The UUA presidential search committee is looking for feedback on a draft job description. (UUA Presidential Search, May 22)

The Rev. Tom Schade is gathering stories of how people became Unitarian Universalists. (The Lively Tradition, June 11)

And a bit of fun

Barb Greve shares his plans for a variety of Lego chalices. (Barb’s Bantering, June 10)

“Bliss Failure” receives a ransom note for her happiness from “The Suffering Resistance Front, Central Virginia Chapter.”

We are giving you plenty of time to come looking—but should we discover you have spent that time surfing the net, gossiping, Facebook stalking, watching porn, buying lottery tickets, or looking in the mirror while making disparaging comments about your appearance—we will take your happiness on a lovely hike complete with picnic and sunset marveling and never bring it back.

There is no monetary ransom because you can’t buy happiness, you dumbass. (Auspicious Jots, June 6)

Categories: UU News

Midwest UUs celebrate marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-06-13 14:22

Midwest ministers eager to perform same-sex weddings

The Rev. Suzelle Lynch of the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, Wisc., made it her mission to be there for couples waiting to be married when a U.S. District Court judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Lynch’s congregation has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality for more than a decade. (WISN 12 - 6.10.14)

The Rev. Roger Bertschausen, of Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisc., organized a gathering at the courthouse to support those who wished to wed, and he performed the county’s first legal same-sex marriage. “It’s a great day in Winnebago County,” said Bertschausen. (postcrescent.com - 6.12.14)

To celebrate marriage equality in Illinois, Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry hosted a special church service and wedding ceremony for four local lesbian couples. Minister of the congregation, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison, officiated. (Windy City Times - 6.10.14)

The Rev. Bill Freeman, who became well-known recently for his role in marrying same-sex couples while it was legal in Michigan, announced that he would be leaving Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Muskegon, Mich., to become senior minister at the United Church of Christ in Menifee, Calif. (mlive.com - 6.11.14)

Other marriage equality stories include:

“Four lesbian couples make history, marry in McHenry” (mysuburbanlife.com - 6.8.14)

“Janesville women record Rock County’s first same-sex marriage Monday” (Gazette Xtra - 6.9.14)

“They preach the same scripture, but churches have very different platforms on same-sex marriage” (fox6now.com - 6.10.14)

UUs active in interfaith justice efforts in their communities

Unitarian Universalists in Williamsburg, Va., are taking part in a public forum to support expanding Medicaid benefits in their state. Members of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists believe this is an important part of their effort to be visible in support of justice causes. (The Virginia Gazette - 6.6.14)

The Rev. Emilie Boggis, of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., is currently serving as president of the Summit Interfaith Council, which is considering creating a “Green Circle” to provide support for community-wide environmental programming. (Independent Press - 6.12.14)

The Rev. Barbara Jarrell of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Shreveport, La., added her voice to others in supporting payday loan reform legislation. She is working with Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith, which advocates for human rights and economic justice issues. (Shreveport Times - 6.6.14)

Categories: UU News

Love Has Everything To Do With It!

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-06-11 01:00
During General Assembly (GA) this month in Providence, RI, Standing on the Side of Love, the UUA's public advocacy campaign to counter oppression with love, will celebrate five successful years of standing up for justice by showing up with compassion. Connect with the campaign at GA or online to help commemorate this important anniversary.
Categories: UU News

Into The Beyond

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-06-11 01:00
Terasa Cooley, UUA program and strategy officer, talks about the urgent need to respond to changes in American demographics regarding religious behavior and what that might mean for changing the way we do church as Unitarian Universalists. Cooley considers the questions we need to ask  to get started and points to some exciting new sources to find answers.  
Categories: UU News

The Surprising Grace of Alzheimer's

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-06-11 01:00
Michael Leach reviews 'Where Two Worlds Touch: A Spiritual Journey Through Alzheimer's Disease' from UUA publisher Skinner House Books. While this was the best book Leach has ever read on the subject, he knows that any reader would benefit from its insights: 'It's one to keep on your nightstand and read for your own spiritual nourishment, just as you would a book on meditation. It's that beneficial,' writes Leach. Order your copy through the UUA Bookstore.
Categories: UU News

Oregon Ends Same-sex Marriage Ban

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-06-04 01:00
As soon as Oregan's ban on same-sex marriage was lifted, Unitarian Universalist ministers throughout the state stood ready to perform marriage ceremonies. The Rev. Kate Lore of First Unitarian Church of Portland said of the day, 'The level of euphoria was like nothing I'd ever seen, so I was deeply moved.'
Categories: UU News
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