theme: Stronger Together
Rev. Andrew Clive Millard will return from sabbatical next month (November) and will resume regular Sunday preaching in December.
October 1st: “Water Communion”
An indigenous social activist from Guatemala, Rigoberta Menchú says, “I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark, and I leave my mark in many people's hearts.” We will celebrate the power of water and our own powers to create and to destroy. Bring water from your home to be shared.
Cynthia Snavely, lives in Hayes, VA with her son-in-law, who is currently stationed at Fort Eustis, her daughter, and her four grandsons. She serves the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on New Bern, North Carolina part time spending eight days a month on site and working remotely at other times in the month. She is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College and Drew Theological School.
October 8th: “Creation Care”
Understanding God's love and care for creation grounds us in our response to be stewards of all creation. Climate change in effecting all creation and requires us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Huntington Mennonite Church has enacted a Creation Care Energy plan to help care for creation and our future families.
Russell DeYoung, was a senior research scientist in the Science Directorate of NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1970 and a Ph. D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois 1975. He is a member of Huntington Mennonite Church, Newport News where he helps lead the church on creation care.
October 15th: “Loving the Other”
We live in a society where we have problems with the “Other”, those who don’t share our culture, language, political views, or religious beliefs. But they are our neighbors in the beloved community. Biblical scriptures ask us to “Love our Neighbors as ourselves, however at times we find it difficult to do. In these polarizing times that we live in, how can we find within ourselves to love the “other”?
Sherman Logan, Rev. Sherman Z. Logan, Jr currently serves as the Executive Minister for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia. An ordained Baptist minister, he joined the staff of First UU in 2008, as the Business Manager. While serving as Business Manager, Sherman started the process of becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister and was granted preliminary ministerial fellowship (plural standing) in 2014. He is married to his” soul-mate” Franka, and they are proud parents of five children, five grandchildren, and two dogs.
October 22nd: “The Dred Scott Case and White Supremacy in Abraham Lincoln's America”
In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared in the infamous Dred Scott decision that African Americans were not citizens and did not possess any rights that white people were bound to respect. This Supreme Court case ignited a political firestorm in the United States, just as the nation was on the verge of civil war. This teach-in will examine Abraham Lincoln's strong rejoinder to Taney and the Dred Scott decision in which Lincoln expounded a view that all Americans, regardless of color, possessed certain rights and privileges as citizens.
Jonathan White, an associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University and is the author of several books, was a finalist for both the Lincoln Prize and Jefferson Davis Prize, a “best book” in Civil War Monitor, and the winner of the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. He has published more than seventy-five articles, essays and reviews, and is the winner of the 2005 John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article in Civil War History, the 2010 Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize, and the 2012 Thomas Jefferson Prize for his Guide to Research in Federal Judicial History (2010). He is president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Board of Advisors of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, and the Ford’s Theatre Advisory Council.
October 29th: “Reformation 500th anniversary”
Five Hundred years ago on October 31st (All Hallow’s Eve) a scholarly monk is said to have nailed 95 theses to the doors of Wittenberg Cathedral. His name was Martin Luder (later changed to Luther) and some believe the Protestant Reformation began with his hammer stroke. Our faith has been called the far-left wing of the Reformation, but what is our debt to Luther and his movement?
Jim Sanderson, UUFP President Jim Sanderson is a long-time Unitarian Universalist. He has served as chair of the Sunday Services Committee, as UUFP Vice President, and as a Fellowship Circle facilitator. Before joining the Fellowship, Jim served as the locally ordained minister of the Jenkins UU Fellowship in Petersburg and for a decade as chair of the Religious Education Committee at First Unitarian in Richmond. A retired librarian, Jim has a strong passion for UU history, finding much in our past that can inform our present and future.
By Maria Cory
"He who knows one [religion], knows none" (German scholar Max Müller). This "Father of Religious Studies" believed that religion, like many aspects of life, could only be understood through comparison and with knowledge of its origin.
Facilitator Bob Smith's "Comparative Religion" encore in Sunday Morning Forum motivated inquisitive minds in examining a type of "science of religion." How is religion possible; what is religion and how has it evolved; how have we, individually and collectively, come to have any religion at all?
"Don't religions come about to try to outline purpose in life?" notes one class member rhetorically.
In exploring these questions and the similarities and differences in belief systems, our veteran facilitator led the class in discussion of essential, structural components shared by most faiths. These thought-provoking discussions often lead to contrasting "religion" and "spirituality" (e.g., the phrase, "spiritual but not religious").
"What religion did is put Spirit in a box instead of living in unison with the Universe. Then, we applied a set of rules to it. To be loved; to be heard; to be needed and wanted; to be safe…these are things for which every human longs. Placing the Divine in a box strips the idea of mysticism," shares a class newcomer passionately.
Supporting that connection with the mystical, another classmate colorfully described being in the midst of a culture "in the bush," which exhibited a "Oneness with Nature." "Whenever everyone around you feels and sees Spirit, you feel it. Living closer to Nature…" heightens an awareness of a palpable connectivity and the interdependent web of life.
Studies, such as this "Comparative Religion" series, are explorations that can strengthen the interpersonal understanding that underlies our daily relationships, enhances our perception of events in a diverse world, and deepens our appreciation of our own beliefs and the traditions followed by others (The Great Courses).
From chaos to quietude on the day of this Forum, as Dusk greeted me with the Beauty of an unexpected rainbow, I was then drawn to a local dock to capture the canvas of Nature's brilliant descent over peaceful waters. Sun was setting on this contemplative, dissecting mind as I transitioned from the intellectual to the experiential.
In the ebb and flow of our lives, this confluence of the academic with the empirical equips us to have a meaningful impact on the canvas of our world. Let us not be knowers of one, but of many!
So may it be.
By Maria Cory
"Spirituality is that aspect of human existence that explores the subtle forces of energy in and around us and reveals to us profound interconnectedness. The deeper the exploration goes, the more we encounter a fresh transparency of connectedness…" (Charlene Spretnak in Diarmuid O'Murchu's "God in the Midst of Change," 2012).
Sunday Morning Forum Facilitator Bob Smith's photo stance conveys the vastness of the class topic presented this week! Tackling Part I of "Comparative Religions," Bob presented a snapshot of "The Great Courses" DVD series covering the conceptualization of divinity and four belief systems (Polytheism, Dualism, Monism/Pantheism, Monotheism) into which various theories can be categorized.
"What Do We Mean When We Say God?" (Deidre Sullivan's titled compilation of God-definitions, 1990). As humankind ponders the Divine, nearly all religions strive to address this enigmatic question. From traditions that define the Divine as a singular Supreme Being (some with 99 Names/Attributes), to spiritual perspectives that include multiple gods, or no god, the search often leads one back to the mysterious and inexplicable.
"Trying to conceptualize the ineffable is 'Like Catching Water in a Net'"(2007), reiterates one class participant as he quotes author and Methodist theologian Val Webb. Whether one's sense of the Divine is mystical or anthropomorphic in nature, many would agree that religion, science and spirituality are converging on this multilayered subject.
"When I was a child, God meant an old guy with a long white beard. When I grew intelligent, he meant nothing. Now as I grow old, God means perfect love" (Mary Jane Monroe in Sullivan's previously cited digest).
While copious descriptions exist for God and the Divine, perhaps an Energy that transcends all conceptualization points to a message beyond itself. As faithful UUs, we recognize and strive to respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. In doing so, as we make this cosmic journey, if the search for truth and meaning leads us to living in love and care for all of Creation and in Building the Beloved Community, then our quest has been and is worthwhile!
What would religion…divinity…God…the Ineffable…look like if we had no (oral or written) language to define or debate these things? A wise friend says humbly, "Just Be Love." From concept to action, may we embody this way of being to the fullest extent possible! So may it be.
Grow in Wonder; Connect in Love; Engage in Service; Inspire Generosity!
By Maria Cory
Owls—rarely vocalizing in the presence of humans; able to come and go without detection; able to do things at night most creatures cannot; large, observing eyes. While owls are excellent hunters, and mythology and some cultures have long featured this creature as mysterious and wise, they aren't necessarily more intelligent than a lot of other birds.
However, the "OWL" of another species measures up to the title's idiom! We are grateful for facilitators Jeff Hinkley and Lehni Lebert for bringing to Sunday Morning Forum a preview of "Our Whole Lives" (OWL)—a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
Many present-day seniors give account of their upbringing where any family conversation about sexuality was non-existent or repressed. Today's parents long for another method of teaching their children about this sensitive subject. Suitably, the silent owl and "Mum's the Word" demeanors are being replaced by holistic, wisdom-filled attitudes and instruction.
OWL affirms that well-informed youth and young adults make healthier, more responsible decisions about sexual health and behavior than those without complete information. Based upon four core values—self worth; sexual health; responsibility; and justice and inclusivity—the integrated approach strives to dismantle stereotypes and assumptions, build self-acceptance and self-esteem and foster healthy relationships. Recognizing and respecting human diversity regarding sexuality, this UUA/UCC*-sponsored program is inclusive in its carefully chosen workshops and language.
UUFP is fortunate to have a number of teachers trained to lead this developmentally age-appropriate curriculum, recently offered to our middle and high school students. "The course is providing the tools so that they become a reference for their peers," comments OWL-trained facilitator Jeff Hinkley.
The Adult Religious Education Committee is also pleased that a four-part, evening course geared for adults is planned for this October (dates TBA). Should you have a topical question for the facilitators to consider addressing during the evening series, please email: email@example.com.
OWL, and honest, comprehensive and respectful approaches to sexuality, certainly align with our UU values. In UU-form, bringing our whole selves, our full identities, our questioning minds, and our expansive hearts to the table, facing these challenging questions together has the potential to transform and save lives. What better pursuit during our whole lives?
*Unitarian Universalist Association & United Church of Christ
three kilometer walk commencing at 2:00 p.m. The three kilometers (nearly two miles) represents the distance that many people in the world have to walk for water.
CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by religious groups, businesses, schools and others to raise funds to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. This mission supports our local food bank, U.S.-based hunger-fighting organizations and international efforts in providing clean drinking water and tools and training to help families grow the food they need.
We at the UUFP need walkers, donations and cookies. Our cookies are greatly appreciated as an end-of-the-walk treat for the walkers. It’s often the first question we are asked at our Sunday morning Social Justice info/registration table: “Will we be donating cookies this year?”
New and used shoes (ALL sizes and types) are also being collected to donate to THRIVE Peninsula, an organization that teams with many others in turning our donated shoes into jobs in developing nations, funds to help Peninsula families and an environmental effort to reduce waste in our area (and nation’s) landfills! A shoe collection box for this “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” mission is located in the UUFP sanctuary near the entrance/rest rooms.
On October 1, the children of the RE classes will bake cookies for the walk. Because the aroma of baking cookies is so enticing, they will be offered to the congregation for a donation towards the CROP Walk.
To sign up to support this worthy outreach, go to Newport News/Peninsula CROP Hunger Walk, or see Carey Hall-Warner at the Social Justice table between services. If you have questions, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So let's get our coins, our cookies and our walkin' shoes ready to be a part of "ending hunger, one step at a time"!