“Love is the spirit of this church...” But love is more than a noun; it’s also a verb — an action verb! UUFP's February 25th sanctuary services were replete with love in action! Through stories, responsive readings, meditation and personal testimony, we explored what it means to answer the call of love in our own lives. And since "Love" always bears repeating, the following article is the first of several we plan to share with you.
Answering the Call of Love
Our Caring Committee has visited people in the hospital, handled childcare and driving for doctor's appointments, visited people recovering from a fall, and more than once collected gifts of furniture and household items. And loving hands have prepared too many meals to count in support of surgeries, injuries, deaths, births, & illness. Also, on more than one occasion, The Caring Committee has galvanized into action providing food, drink, serving and clean up for memorial services taking place at or away from our fellowship.
You'll probably hear some version of the following popular Unitarian Universalist (UU) saying [Blake Covenant, adapted] more than once this morning. And there's good reason for that!
"Love is the doctrine of this church,
UU minister Meredith Garman of the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation in White Plains, NY, asks if "liberal religion says love is its doctrine. What does that mean?" He goes on to point out that "Love isn’t doctrine. Doctrine is a list of beliefs, the approved interpretation, the creed, the dogma. Unitarian Universalism is creedless. We don’t have doctrine."
According to Garman: "You want to know what we believe? We believe that religion isn’t about what you believe. Religion is about how you live: the ethics and values that guide your life. Religion is about community: the people you come together with, and the rituals you share that affirm your connectedness. And it’s about – call it the sense of transcendence. Or maybe don’t. Call it awareness of interconnection. Call it awe, wonder, beauty. And a deep sense of the abundance of life at a level beyond what the intellect alone can grasp." In other words, according to Reverend Garman, "Religion is about experience – those certain kinds of experiences we call “religious experience.”
Service to others, for many of us, is a big part of our religious experience! It gives us so much more than it asks of us! To serve is to make manifest everything we believe!
I'd like to say this, by way of recruitment for our Caring Committee. You are all members of this committee by virtue of membership in our beloved community. If you would like to receive the call/email when there is a need, please make sure I have your email address and your phone number. It’s that simple. Don't cook? No worries! You can take pizza, a salad and bread from Costco, or ready-made items like hummus or chicken salad. You can even do breakfast items, or snacks! Like to send cards to folks? See me. Have a garage full of stuff, or maybe just one chair, which may benefit someone less fortunate? Willing to give someone a ride to the doctor’s office? In other words, there's a way for everyone to get in on the act of serving humankind in fellowship and answering the call to love!
The February 25th services were offered through collaboration between the Sunday Services Committee and the Music Committee, with special music provided by the ChorUUs!
Wish to read other testimonials from the worship services that day? Click the following:
Love's Table is Large, with more to follow.
By Janet Gecowets
Myth: You must have run out of goddesses to talk about by now.
Response: There are a lot of goddesses to discuss. Lots and lots and lots. Sure, we’ve talked about the goddesses you’ve heard of from your classes in Greek and Roman mythology. But Goddess Group is about much more than that. We discuss goddesses from nearly every corner of the world (sorry, we haven’t turned up any yet from Antarctica, but we’ll keep working on it). We also explore goddesses throughout the millennia as found in archaeology, anthropology, oral traditions, and more. We examine the role of goddesses in relation to the natural world, connections with other deities, and contemporary links.
We keep discovering new topics and find new information each month. Now it’s your turn to discover what Goddess Group is all about.
We meet the first Sunday of the month at 12:30 pm. in the UUFP Office building. (Fun, food, and knowledge are all included.)
By Maria Cory
This year marks the 180th anniversary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Divinity School Address." In his remarks, Emerson gave credence to a "sentiment of virtue," which he imagines to reside in all human beings, and which acts as the "essence of all religion." In this series, the Sunday Morning Forum considered whether such a universal sentiment actually exists and whether or not the status of its existence can have consequences for 21st Century Unitarian Universalists.
As one might expect, a topic such as this is both profound and perplexing, with attendees having described the discussions as no less than "brain-busting"! Still our UUFP contemplatives forged ahead in exploring some of life's most challenging questions:
The saying, "I guess you had to be there," really applies, as these questions barely skim the surface of the content covered during the three sessions. However, for further contemplation, our scholar and lover of wisdom has been gracious enough to make available his slide presentation.
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning! The UUFP Adult Religious Education program continues the tradition of helping us develop our faith and live out our values in a world yearning for Goodness, both within and beyond ourselves.
By Henry Chambers
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, February 18, 2018.
I was asked to give a testimonial on what the UUFP means to me, what we do and what we are about, as I see us. As I took the time to think about this, it became clear to me that this place wasn’t just about ME anymore.
The ME that was looking for a comfortable place to explore spirituality… I found that here.
The ME that needed to feel safe in expressing my own soul’s thoughts and feelings… I got that here.
The ME that had mostly done the deeds of the Heart alone but found a Home where those things are meant to be done together.
Here. Now. In this place. With YOU people. With this family. It’s no longer just about me, doing, growing, and achieving. It is about US. My UUFP.
When just recently, my close friend tragically became a quadriplegic and I began to care for her, YOU, my family, cared for Me.
When the call went out for the Moral Mondays March in Raleigh, NC, and the Women’s March in DC, We were there in numbers and in spirit. I marched with family.
We, a primarily white congregation, listen, acknowledge, and most importantly, act in the face of the racial issues that impact this house, our religion, and our nation. Here, this isn’t MY problem. It’s Ours.
When twice a year starting on a Sunday afternoon--this last one being New Year’s Eve--and ending at 6:30 on a Monday morning, the Schillings and I ask for volunteers to do meal prep, cooling, serving, kitchen clean-up, guest check-in, logistics, storing personal items, issuing and collecting bedding, and making and feeding breakfast, You show up. I couldn’t do it alone. And I’ll never have to because of YOU.
At last year’s Tidewater Cluster gathering of seven UU churches of this region, the question was asked “Who has your back?” And the contemplated answer from Me—this guy who almost never gets sick, always seems to be doing for other and seems to have way too much on his plate, was: My wife, my family, and YOU, the UUFP. Thank You!!
By Janet Gecowets
Myth: Goddess Group is just for women.
Response: With our focus on education, we’re more than happy to share information with everyone who’s interested. While some circles do aim for specific-sex attendees for various reasons, we are open to all. We have had topics that have focused on duality and definitions of sex and gender, so we aim to explore topics beyond goddess stereotypes.
In short, everyone is welcome.
(Did I mention we have fun? And that we have food?)
We meet the first Sunday of the month at 12:30 p.m. in the UUFP Office building, and we’ll save a chair for you.
By Gayle Phillips
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, February 11, 2018.
How the UUFP has made a Positive Difference in my Life
I was always a Unitarian Universalist; I just had never heard of it until 2003.
I joined a Protestant church in Newport News as a teenager and continued to visit that congregation occasionally, as my parents became members there at the same time. However I was uncomfortable repeating words that in my heart I did not believe, and I drifted away from any religious affiliation.
My husband happened to drive by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (UUFP) one Sunday morning in 2003 and stopped in to hear the service. When he came home afterwards and shared his experience, we decided to return the following Sunday.
That visit was the beginning of a wonderful journey for me. I had found the religious community that I had always wished might exist, where I was free to ask questions and express my thoughts without fear of rejection or ridicule. After a few more visits, we decided to become official members and signed the book on November 20, 2003.
How fortunate I was to find this wonderful church community. It has given me many opportunities to develop my own belief system; inspiring sermons, thought provoking forums and classes, Fellowship Circles and much, much more. The members of this congregation are warm and welcoming, and I truly feel that I belong here.
To me, it is very freeing to be in a church community where we may believe something entirely different from the person sitting next to us and that’s okay. We can celebrate each other’s truths and learn so much in the process. I am finally encouraged and supported on my spiritual path. My only wish is that I had found this place much sooner!
I am also very grateful for opportunities I have had to be of service to our UUFP community. My experience with our Fellowship Circle groups has deepened my connections to our church, as has being a part of a Hospitality Team and the Policy Board.
I am so grateful to be a member of a congregation that serves the greater community with our time, talent and treasure. There is much work that needs to be done, and I am honored to be able to help us achieve the dreams and vision we are creating together.
I love this community; it is where I belong.
A Message from Steve Farthing and the Canvass Team
Visioning a Beloved World Community
At the Fellowship, we're fortunate to be a part of a faith community in mission for Wonder…Love…Service…Generosity—in the hope of creating a Beloved World Community. Our dynamic sanctuary services, educational programs, social justice movements and other ministries build relationship and make positive change both inside and outside our church home. The UUFP is grateful for its dedicated volunteers and financial contributors!
Our pledges make all these actions possible. Here are some of our members' heartfelt expressions:
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Although we are speaking of a Love far greater than that of the romantic kind, how appropriate a Canvass Kick-off during the week of Valentine's Day.
Where our heart is, so may our resources be given!
Let us give generously and love greatly!
By Janet Gecowets
Myth: Goddess Group is a pagan circle, and I’m not into rituals.
Response: Goddess Group is a discussion group with a primarily educational focus. The beliefs of our group members are as broad as you’d expect at UUFP. One or more of us will research a topic related to goddesses and their role in cultures throughout many locations and times. Sometimes the topic is a specific goddess. At other times it may be an area of the world, or an aspect of nature, or a characteristic common to many deities. Whatever the topic, we discuss goddess stories and how they relate to our world history as well as to our lives today. Sound a bit dry? Believe me, it’s not. We share, discuss, debate (politely, of course), and laugh. We walk away from each group learning something new, and we think you will as well.
So fear not, friends. You are always welcome at Goddess Group. We meet the first Sunday of the month at 12:30 p.m. in the UUFP Office building, and we’ll save a chair for you.
Services include sermons preached by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard unless otherwise noted.
February 4th: “The Promise and the Practice of Our Faith”
What would it mean to center worship entirely around the voices and experiences of black Unitarian Universalists? What truths might we hear, however difficult? What might we learn? How might black UU religious professionals teach us to be better allies, better siblings in faith, and even better citizens in our community? Our hope for a truly inclusive faith promises a new way of being together and asks us to practice the work of dismantling white supremacy.
February 11th: “Gathered to Celebrate”
This February 13th is Shrove Tuesday, a holiday barely celebrated in most of the United States, but in New Orleans it is the culmination of over a month of parties and parades. Mardi Gras is not just a day, or a weekend, but a state of mind, celebrated by people of all religions and races. It is the antidote to seriousness. Let the good times roll.
Rev. Charlie Dieterich joined the Unitarian Church of Norfolk as Developmental Minister in 2015, having worked with congregations in New Jersey and Louisiana. A former engineer, he received an M.Div. from the Starr King School for the Ministry in 2010 and has a special interest in disability issues and LGBT advocacy. We welcome Rev. Charlie back to the Fellowship in this pulpit swap with Rev. Andrew!
February 18th: “Our Great Covenant”
One of the most common affirmations in Unitarian Universalist services is the Blake covenant: “Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.” This is a great ideal, but how do we put such promises to practical use? How do they help us address contentious issues?
February 25th: “Answering the Call of Love”
“Love is the spirit of this church...” But love is more than a noun; it’s also a verb — an action verb! Through stories, responsive readings, meditation and personal testimony, we’ll explore what it means to answer the call of love in our own lives. We’ll sing the Rev. Jason Shelton’s hymn with its new words, and we’ll hear music from our beloved ChorUUs.
This service is offered through collaboration between the Sunday Services Committee and the Music Committee, with special music provided by the ChorUUs!
Happy Birthday to all our members born in February!