“For all that is our life” by Rev. Andrew
January is a busy month in Richmond, thanks to the legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly. I spent three days there last month with different organizations: January 9th with Equality Virginia; January 30th with the Virginia Conservation Network; and January 22nd with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, a non-partisan coalition of more than seven hundred faith communities working for a more just society, when I was joined by UUFP members Alice and Bob Smith, Lucy and Robin van Tine, Mason Moseley, Sandra Engelhardt and Sarah Davis.
We have spent the day advocating for environmental justice, protections for the immigrant among us as well as for a living wage and dignity for all Virginians.
Our good works are not yet finished, but will continue as we return to our various homes, houses of worship and campuses where we will write letters and make phone calls to our legislators. We will encourage others to be advocates and activists for all people.
As part of bringing the day home to “encourage others to be advocates and activists for all people”, I invited our UUFP participants to write about something that made an impression on them and something that impacts our Fellowship as a faith community. I am pleased to share some of their responses here.
Sarah begins, “What made the biggest impression on me was the immense time, volunteer hours and energy that went in to organizing the lobbying day! I was further impressed by the great zeal of people from all over Virginia who came to participate! Honestly, political activism is exhausting and takes tireless, persistent, consistent effort by vast numbers of people! It was encouraging to see it all in action.”
As Mason notes, “With the federal government closed and legislative and executive branches at loggerheads, I was impressed with the activity at the Virginia General Assembly. Cramped hallways full of citizen and professional lobbyists. People turning out from all over the state to be there. Our being made more aware of the issues that mostly we’d read about in local media.”
Sandra comments, “This was my fifth lobby day and the best one yet. I finally got to meet Delegate Yancey of the 94th District. He met with seven of us from the UUFP and had comments on our concerns. My issue was the guns in churches and he agreed that this was not a good idea. We met with Senator Mason and he was very supportive of our issues, saying the governor might have to veto [the bill repealing the statutory prohibition on carrying dangerous weapons to a place of worship]. The VICPP had made the appointments for all who registered and that was wonderful.”
I was impressed by the combination of professionalism and warmth in the legislative aides with whom I met. Whether aligned or in opposition on the various issues, these individuals spend all day talking with constituents while maintaining a consistently respectful and considerate attitude. It cannot be easy talking with so many people, some of whom will be upset or even angry, but the legislative aides are always welcoming and willing to listen.
Concerning our Fellowship as a faith community living its values in the world, I realized anew how someone contacting a legislator on an issue that affects them directly can have a significant impact. In the office of Delegate Pogge’s legislative aide, a chart showing various bills she was tracking included an effort to allow ice-cream trucks to have flashing lights, and the aide explained that this was because an ice-cream truck owner had contacted Pogge about what he saw as an issue of safety. When talking with legislators, our advocacy for issues will be more effective if we can make them as personal as possible.
Sandra continues, “The workshop that I attended was regarding the minimum wage. There are organizations in Richmond and Alexandria that give publicity to those companies that provide a ‘living wage’. There are three levels of support in Richmond ranging from $9.50 an hour with health insurance to $16.00 an hour, and there is an effort underway in Williamsburg to create a similar group. The Peninsula might be included.”
Sarah observes, “One thing that impacts the UUFP as a faith community is that there were scores of UUs at the Day For All People along with Muslims, all stripes of Christians, Jews, Hindus and others. I think we saw so many UUs at the event because Unitarian Universalist Principles require participation in our government in order to fulfill their promise. I’ve come to realize that political activism is fundamental to being a UU. Our congregation is enriched by the fact that many at the UUFP take this fact to heart!”
Mason adds, “The Fellowship is gaining legislative advocacy strength. Several members have been doing this type of activity over several sessions, and several had their introductory experience this year. The task is to keep this up when the General Assembly is not in session. About three thousand bills are dealt with in the forty-five day session. More one-on-one conversations between sessions may be the more influential situation on issues important to us.”
Please consider joining us and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy in these efforts during the rest of this year and into 2020’s legislative session. Every voice is important and needed in the practice of democracy, and participation is not as difficult or as daunting as it might seem.
As Lucy reflects, “I was a little nervous as we entered the sanctuary of the large, old, slightly crumbling Protestant church in downtown Richmond. It was quickly filling up with people like me, church people of all faiths from all around the state, who had come to lobby that day on behalf of progressive legislation for the state of Virginia. I didn’t really feel prepared. I was inwardly berating myself for not having gone over the white papers on the VICPP website. And furthermore, in my haste to leave the house that morning, I had rushed out without my reading glasses. The organizers at the church had handed me a sheaf of papers outlining the legislation we were going to urge our senators and delegates to support later that morning, but as I took my seat and glanced them over, the words were hardly legible — they were fuzzy on the page.
“Then the first speaker climbed the stairs to the dais and took his place behind the pulpit. He was a middle-aged man with dark hair and he spoke with an accent. As I scribbled some notes, he gave us practical reasons why he and so many others should have a provisional driver’s license. The bottom line was that, like everyone else, he, and others like him, needed to get to work in a safe and legal manner. He did not smile as he spoke. His eyes were sad as he looked out at us. After he gave his short talk, he stopped reading his notes and looked out at us. ‘The most important thing to remember when you talk to your senator and delegate today is to speak from your heart. Thank you.’ Later that morning just a few of us were in the plush, blue-carpeted office of my delegate’s legislative aide. No longer bolstered by the throng of church folk, I thought of the man who had stood before us. My fellow Virginian. My brother. I spoke without hesitation or fear.”
Sponsored by the UUFP Membership Committee
SAVE the DATE!
Scott Kasmire will facilitate the second "Spirit of Life" workshop on February 20, 2019, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., in the UUFP Sanctuary. As part of our Beloved Community Wednesdays, a potluck supper begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by this workshop and other programs.
All workshops are “stand alone” so we hope you will join us for one, several or for the remaining eight (of nine) sessions.
We warmly invite you to share this time with us to grow, connect, engage and to inspire one another.
By Steve Farthing, UUFP Canvass Chair, 2019 - 2020
Your pledge this year, and your faithful support in past years, have been essential to our success. It has made full-time ministry and professional religious education a reality. It has supported our acquisition of the Office Building and its property. It has provided a foundation for the UUFP that undergirds all of our efforts. Thank you for making the UUFP a vibrant, thriving community.
This year we are tackling two new initiatives: fully funding the position of Director of Religious Education (expanding Joanne Dingus’s position to full-time and increasing her responsibilities to more comprehensively provide religious education) and covering all our expenses via the pledge drive (eliminating past reliance on labor-intensive fundraisers). We have set a bold goal of $215,000 in pledges.
You will receive a letter and pledge card in the mail over the next few days. Please read the letter, fill in and sign the pledge card, and return it over the next three weeks. Pledge cards may be returned to the Fellowship and placed in the pledge box (a clearly-marked box will be on a table behind the entryway podium starting next week), mailed to the UUFP, placed in the offering basket, or returned to the office. The Finance Committee will track all pledges and provide weekly progress updates.
Pledge cards are due by February 24, 2019. Please return them early if you can!
If you have questions, members of the Canvass team will attend all services over the next few weeks and may be contacted via email or phone. Pat Yaros and I (firstname.lastname@example.org) are primary contacts; David Walsh and Judy Remsberg are also available (please check the latest version of the UUFP Directory).
Canvass activities are not limited to service. Expect to see additional information in emails, on Facebook, and in The eFlame. On March 24, we will mark the conclusion of the Canvass with a celebratory meal, a Chili Cook-off with bread, desserts, and beverages. Don’t miss the fun!
Grow in Wonder, Connect in Love, Engage in Service, Inspire Generosity.
By Kadri Ozyurt
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, February 3, 2019.
“Grow in Wonder, Connect in Love, Engage in Service, Inspire Generosity.”
This four-line mission is a very good reflection of what the UUFP is, and what it stands for. This mission also resonates with me. The way I see it, the UUFP, as a spiritual home, provides these four pillars as values and fills every cubic inch of this sanctuary. This, in turn, enables the people, who come through these doors, to grow in wonder, connect in love, engage in service, and inspire generosity. From this, an ever-growing, two-way relationship stems, from which both sides benefit.
Grow in Wonder:
Who would have thought that a Muslim guy like me would grow to be on the UUFP Policy Board, and further, the Treasurer of this institution, which grew out of its Judeo-Christian roots? And yet, to my wonder, I have succeeded at this highest level personal achievement of my life, thanks to the accepting and nurturing congregation. This is a good example of the UUFP growing its people in wonder.
Connect in Love:
When Andrew asked me to give a testimonial, I was relunctant because of the fact that I had stage fright. I am here this morning because a member and a friend in this congragetion told me: “Kadri, you square yourself; own this testimonial. You know Kadri; speak Kadri.” This was a powerful encouragement, which catapulted me to this pulpit, and a great example of connecting in love.
Engage in Service:
The UUFP creates opportunities to engage in service in many ways. I participated in PORT (People Offering Resources Together) and helped those who needed food and shelter. Recently, I participated in the Women’s March event. On a personal level, I distribute “Meals on Wheels” for the Peninsula Center for Aging. Also, my wife and I participated in building homes for Habitat for Humanity.
I support the UUFP with my resources to help further the community outreach, social justice, environment, and other initiatives that aim to better human lives. I am amazed with the level of willingness to help a fellow UU, when in need. I was putting a pergola in the backyard, a honey-do list item. I didn’t have the experience and knowledge for how to lay a concrete base, so I asked for help. Four of my UU friends came to help; one did despite he was under the weather, and one still has stuck with me so far.
In conclusion, the mission of the UUFP, Grow in Wonder, Connect in Love, Engage in Service, and Inspire Generosity, will continue to shape the culture of this congregation, in particular, and the world, in general, and I will continue to grow with it.
Unless otherwise noted, services include sermons preached by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard and take place at 9:30am and 11:15am on Sundays.
February 3rd: “Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience”
We experience the world around us — including each other — through our senses, interacting with the tangible universe by means of our bodies. We are not isolated minds of pure reason nor spirits of lofty virtue, but rather we are integral to the physical world, immersed in it, enjoying it, suffering with it, witnessing to it and helping to transform it thanks to our embodiment.
February 10th: “The Garden Grows the Community”
For two decades, religious education programs have been noticing what some are calling the “Death of Sunday School”. The Sunday school model of religious education that worked so successfully a half century ago may not be what present-day families need. Many programs are looking for alternative ways to support faith formation through family ministry.
Joanne Dingus is in her nineteenth year as Director of Religious Education at the Fellowship. Raised as a Unitarian Universalist from the age of twelve, she brings her UU faith to all aspects of her life. Joanne is a very proud and happy mother of two amazing young adults and is looking forward to their graduation ceremonies this May.
February 17th: “Bridges, Not Walls”
There has been a lot of talk about walls of late, when it is clear that what we need are bridges. Rather than building walls that serve no purpose except that of an imaginary crisis, we should be repairing the bridges that allow our society to function. Rather than building walls around our hearts, we should be reaching out to one another with kind words and helpful hands.
February 24th: “Embodying the Interconnected Web”
Let’s celebrate our place in the interdependent web of all existence with the help of the four elements: air, water, earth and fire. Let’s give thanks for the simple gifts that sustain our daily lives: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat, and the light of the Sun that makes them all possible. Let’s sing and share in community with one another and the Earth together!
Special music will be provided by the UUFP’s ChorUUs!
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