As we come to the end of my seventh church year with you here at the Fellowship, I’m struck by a paradox. On the one hand, it seems like the time has passed in little more than the blink of an eye! On the other hand, I can look back and see all that we have accomplished, all of the challenges we have overcome, all of the dreams that we have realized! It has truly been a privilege to work with you all in serving the mission of this congregation during these seven years.
Having reached this milestone, I’ll be going on sabbatical this Fall. Traditionally, a sabbatical is a whole year every seven years, something that is obviously not practical in this day and age! So, as previously described, the Board created a task force to help plan how this would work for us, something that is new both for the Fellowship and for me!
You’ll hear in due course about plans for guest preachers at Sunday morning services and the availability of professional pastoral care during my sabbatical, so in this article I’ll describe my own plans. Actually, it’s the first in a series in which I’ll do that. The short version, though, is that I’ll be away from the congregation during September and October, engaged in various activities for personal and professional rest and renewal. I’ll be back in November, but not preaching; rather, I’ll attend services and also take advantage of opportunities to participate in children’s RE, youth RE and the Forum. I’ll resume my full schedule of preaching in December.
One more point I’ll mention here is that the Sunday before I go on sabbatical, namely August 27th, I’ll devote my sermon to answering your questions, beginning with “What will you do on your sabbatical?” So look for information this time next month about how you can submit your questions for me to answer in that sermon!
Yours, in faith and service,
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
For UUFP, these should be familiar questions. Whether discussed in small group, posed within a sermon, or sung in hymn, those questions continue to challenge us as we look outward from the Fellowship.
On Saturday June 10th, we need your help to apply them inward as well.
But first, a bit of background.
Our web site lists formal statements of purpose, mission, and vision. But we’ve been through a lot, as both a congregation and a nation, since those words were drafted and approved.
Our three questions equate to three key concepts for UUFP. In reverse order:
Where are we going? (Vision and Goals)
What are we? (Mission)
Where do we come from? (Core Values)
We have many resources to draw on…physical, intellectual, financial…and how we apply those resources needs to be anchored at the heart of UUFP, our core values. While we all associate many values with Unitarian Universalism, and the Fellowship specifically, we’re talking about the small number of values that really capture where we come from…we, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula, Newport News, Virginia, United States of America…
Starting at 9:00am, we’ll conduct an open workshop for the entire congregation to identify and refine the Fellowship’s unique core values. After lunch, Kathy will facilitate a second workshop for leadership, using those values as the basis for a revised mission statement. This is our enduring “call to action,” a way to focus on what we are about and who we want to be. We plan for the second workshop to wrap up around 4:00pm.
…but the process doesn’t end there. Over the next few months, we’ll describe how our mission lives within our community…our vision statements…putting our values into practice here and now.
So please join us on June 10, 2017 at 9 am at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula Sanctuary Building as we pause briefly and begin to answer the questions “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”
For more information contact Sandy Burkes-Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org
"I think I may have sat begrudgingly and broodingly through much of the time," is how Michael Roy, son of Jeffrey Hinkley and Barbara Linde, looks back on his RE experience, here at UUFP. RE Director Joanne Dingus puts it more succinctly. "If he didn't want to do something," she recalls, "he let you know."
Lightning, however, did not strike Michael dead for these transgressions, because he went on to study Economics, Humanities, and Italian Language and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He also spent a summer and a semester studying in Italy, then moved to Korea in 2006 to teach English at a small private academy.
After two years of teaching, Michel says, he went backpacking around Southeast Asia, by himself, for four months. Spending time with villagers and with his own thoughts on the road, he felt himself called "to live a less destructive life. I went vegetarian and decided not to buy anything in a plastic bottle."
Four more months in India, at Sadhana Forest, a reforestation/water conservation/conscious-living project "changed me a lot," he adds. "It gave me a lot of power and motivation to 'green' my life even further."
In 2010, Michael returned to Korea, where he, intensified his 'green' way of life and "pursued various avenues of activism," including posting a talk entitled "My Path to Green Living" on the Internet. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gosQDsnwlTM)
Signing up to host travelers in his apartment, Michael says he met a lot of very interesting people, passing through, and experienced some thought-provoking cultural exchanges. And when a friend sold him a used bicycle, something he would not have been able to afford to buy new, Michael decided to try bicycle touring, himself.
Bicycling around Korea, he was introduced to a young man named Mingyu, who had been planning and saving for a bicycle trip from Korea to Europe. The two young adventurers pooled their travel plans and their funds, then set out on a two-and-a-half-year, twenty-thousand-miles trip from South Korea back to Sadhana Forest.
Michael is still at Sadhana Forest, (www.sadhanaforest.org) in India, though now in the role of Project Director, managing the agency's day to day operations. He supervises five permanent residents and, sometimes as many as a hundred volunteers from all parts of India and other countries, who come to learn about subjects such as planting trees, water conservation, human waste composting, vegan cooking, low-impact architecture, and conscious living.
Every two years or so he comes back to visit his parents "and eat peaches and blueberries."
To follow him on his journey, visit his blog ThreeRuleRide.com.
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ROOTS AND WINGS
There are two gifts
we should give our children;
one is roots,
the other is wings.
Wings to show you what you can become,
Roots to remind you where you're from.
"I was always impressed with UU's rejection of dogma and embrace of skepticism and individual inquiry," writes RE alum, Tristan McDowell van Tine, son of Robin and Lucy. Some remember him for his long hair, long black coat, and his involvement with the Earthrising movement. "It's not easy to keep oneself from falling into dogmatic patterns of thought, whether on the Right or Left,” he adds. “Self-criticism is painful, but crucial....Justice does not exist independently in the world: we must create it through collective action."
Tristan has always loved music. (What a surprise?) "As a teenager,” he says, “I imagined I would become a composer or, at least, a music theory professor." In high school and college, he studied music theory, composition, and voice. As an undergraduate at UVA he even got to sing opera at the Universty's Operafestival di Roma in Italy and was president of the School's Glee Club.
With these two interests, Tristan double-majored in music and philosophy at UVA, graduating in 2004. Going on to graduate school at William and Mary Law School, however, he put his music aside to concentrate on earning his Juris Doctor degree, which he received in 2009. Hired by a law firm in Louisville, Kentucky, he practiced business law for two years before returning to academia, this time to teach. Today, through the magic of the Internet, Professor van Tine manages to teach business law and criminal justice courses, in person or on line, at Saint Leo University, Southern New Hampshire University, Bryant & Stratton College, and ECPI University. He has also just been hired to teach at the local Thomas Community College.
But the music hasn’t been forgotten. “A couple of years ago, I got back into composing,” Tristan says. And he has sung, “on and off” with the Virginia Choral Society, when work schedule permits.
He did, though, find time to meet and marry his wife, “Shalon,” who also teaches college. In the fall, she will begin her doctoral studies in history at Ohio University. They will be moving there shortly. While she does not sing or play an instrument, Shalon does share his love of music, and they attend concerts together. As to children, Tristan and Shalon are not planning on any, but they are looking forward to a couple of dogs, once they get settled in Ohio.