By Joanne Dingus
When I first heard about the march, I held off signing up, hoping there would be something nearby. But after reaching out to local organizers and finding nothing had been scheduled, I made the decision to go to DC. Of course, closer to the date, it turned out that marches were organized in Norfolk, Williamsburg and even Newport News. I’m pleased that many of our other members and friends were able to support those events.
I had some anxiety about going to Washington. Although I was glad to have gone to the first Women’s March there, it was a really hard day physically and emotionally, and attending the Women’s March in Williamsburg this year was so much easier and less stressful. In addition to worries about overly crowded metros, being trapped in a crowd that never moved, finding a portalet when needed, staying hydrated, being able to see or hear anything, and getting back to the bus on time, there was the extra worry about whether there would be violence. After all, this was a march about gun rights. I fully expected to see counter-protesters bearing arms. But as it turned out, of the three marches I’ve mentioned, the only one where I saw someone openly carrying a gun was in Williamsburg.
When we arrived at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, my excitement revved up seeing all the buses already parked. I looked out the window and saw a group of young people heading toward a shuttle bus led by a woman my age. It was Chris Johns, the director of religious education, in Fredericksburg. Yup, I was in the right place.
My group of four decided to take the metro. We each grabbed an extra water provided by the city and prepared for long waits and crowds. But much to our surprise, we were the only people in our car except for a man from Pennsylvania who said he had come with a group of Quakers. For a moment I wondered if maybe, people had decided not to support this march. Maybe the attendance would be far lower than expected. Our group continued up to Pennsylvania Avenue and made it to 6th Street; that’s when we knew there would be plenty of support for this march. We pretty much stayed there for the entirety. Overall, it was a very comfortable location. We could see the stage in the distance, and the nearby speakers and screens made it quite easy to see and hear the whole event.
The streets were a melting pot, an undeniable visual of what democracy looks like. The signs in general, were powerful, raw and from the heart. The chants were for change: Enough is Enough, Never Again, Vote Them Out.”
My decision to attend was reaffirmed when the event began. Andra Day started singing “Rise Up,” a song I feel strongly connected to. A young girl next to me started singing along. Tears began sliding down my cheeks as we sang together. “And I'll rise up. I'll rise like the day. I'll rise up. I'll rise unafraid. I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again.” And I thought about my kids, and I thought about the kids I help to protect at my school. And I thought about the kids from my church whose signs I brought to the march. And I thought about all the kids on the march and those about to speak on the stage.
One after another, students from Parkland and students from around the country shared their stories and their messages about the effects of gun violence on their lives and the desperate need for change. Several other top singers performed and there was a special appearance by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, granddaughter who led us in a chant. There were several videos broadcast throughout, including the one where we heard the shots being fired at Parkland. Videos featuring views from various politicians and the National Rifle Association were met with roaring disapproval from the masses.
The whole event was extremely well organized and professionally executed. The student’s statements were powerful and confident. They showed their passion and their ability to lead. But there was one moment in the day, completely unplanned that may have sent the strongest message. One of the Parkland students began speaking about her experience. She went on to recite a poem she’d written, and halfway through, she suddenly threw up. You could hear other students yelling, “We love you,” as she continued to heave. A woman, perhaps one of her teachers, held her shoulder.
And then the girl rallied. She laughed and said, “Oh my God, I just threw up on national television.” And we all laughed, and smiled, and she continued. She finished her poem, and she finished her speech. She persisted. And it was the most human moment. The greatest moment of universal connection to the human condition.
Of course, she would throw up. She was a 15, maybe 16-year-old student in front of 800,000 people. She was on the same stage as Pop culture, super stars. She was public speaking! Who among us has not felt the shaky knees, the queasy stomach, the light-headedness that goes along with the courage needed to put yourself out there? But far more than stage fright, what happened to her, what happened in her school on February 14, 2018, was sickening. And 38 days later, her body spewed out in revolt; “enough is enough.” And I wondered how many students may have vomited that day as they ran passed the bodies of their murdered classmates? How many collapsed when they reached the safety of their parent’s trembling embrace?
Being sickened by the violence that is happening in this country is a human reaction. Because if knowing that our children and adults are being senselessly murdered in our schools, streets, churches, movie theaters, concerts and nightclubs isn’t enough to make you sick to your stomach, what is?
So, what will I bring home from the March For Our Lives? A renewed sense of conviction to speak up, to show up, to persist. And I will bring back the reminder that we are all human, and our universal experiences give us the power to connect beyond any differences. We can rise up! And we must rise up unafraid and even when we are afraid, because there is hope and we have each other. And with that we can end gun violence!
“For all that is our life” by Rev. Andrew
From its chartering in 1958 until the turn of the century, the Unitarian (then Unitarian Universalist) Fellowship of the Peninsula was served by a series of part-time ministers. (Some of you may remember the song that Joanne wrote, setting to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” all the names of this ministers!)
Many of these ministers were “shared” with the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, such as the Rev. Peter Lee Scott who in the 1980s was called to Norfolk — where his wife, Faith, served as Director of Religious Education — and also provided quarter-time support here in Newport News. It was during Peter’s time serving the Fellowship that his father, Universalist minister Clinton Lee Scott, died: the Japanese maple outside the Sanctuary’s front door was planted in memory of the elder Scott.
After his time here in Virginia, Peter went on to serve other congregations. Faith was also ordained and the couple served as co-ministers before they both retired in 1999. At the age of eighty, Peter was elected Minister Emeritus by the congregations where he continued to preach occasionally. Recently, we learned that he died in December. As Faith noted, “Peter much disliked the closing in of increasing darkness and shortening days between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. He died on December 20th, the day marking the return of the light.” You can read Peter’s obituary in full here.
As the Fellowship approaches the sixtieth anniversary of its charter on May 14th 1958, this news offers one opportunity of many over the coming weeks to look back at our history as a congregation. It also gives me a reason to share Peter’s list of times to contact the minister, which came to me recently via another colleague. “When to Call the Minister” has been re-printed and re-posted many times over the years, first in church mailings and nowadays electronically. Sometimes it appeared without attribution, or with mis-attribution, but it was written by Peter Lee Scott, as a young minister serving his first congregation, the First Universalist Society of New Haven, CT in 1957. “He reports being amazed and amused to see it appear in so many other newsletters.”
When to Call the Minister?
Of course, there are other times to call the minister, and these days there are other ways to reach me, too. (Though if you don’t have my cell number, just ask!) So, let me know what you think!
By Mason Moseley
ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE
In theory, each person would have one equal vote. But depending on how those votes are grouped in the redistricting process that occurs every 10 years after the census, one vote per person may not be so straightforward. To make matters worse, the establishment of the political boundaries that occur in redistricting has, over the years, resulted in an unscrupulous process known as "gerrymandering"—with Virginia being ranked as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country!
To shed light on this matter, the UUFP* Adult Forum welcomed guest speakers on March 11, 2018, to educate listeners on gerrymandering and the current efforts underway to promote fair, non-partisan redistricting. Brian Cannon, executive director of OneVirginia2021, was unable to facilitate the discussion as originally planned; however, he provided presenters of note: his mentor, Rebecca Green, professor of law at the William and Mary Law School, and Janice Bayer, an avid volunteer at OneVirginia2021.
Professor Green began the presentation with a powerful illustration, demonstrating the challenges of fair redistricting. While drawing straight lines on a map seemed to be the most "fair" approach, Professor Green showed that cities and communities could easily be divided in a way where citizens would not receive adequate representation (such as when redistricting lines are drawn through the center of a major city). Also, the United States Constitution has two criteria for districting that must be met: equal population, and racial and ethnic fairness. Today’s sophisticated demographic data makes it possible to restrict ethnic diversity and group like-minded voters in districts, thus ensuring the balance of power remains with the party in charge at the time the lines are drawn.
Beyond the U.S. Constitutional districting requirements, the Virginia Constitution demands that congressional and state legislative districts be contiguous (touching) and compact. To circumvent these requirements, two principal gerrymandering tactics are used: "cracking" and "packing." "Cracking" dilutes the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts. "Packing" concentrates the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts.
Although a legislature drawing its own district lines presents a conflict of interest, there has been no agreement on a standard redistricting process. Different states have different laws for redistricting, allowing gerrymandering to flourish. Applying legislation such as the Voting Rights Act and the First Amendment, court cases challenging gerrymandering have been percolating all over the country.
One attempt to create a standard measurement of partisan gerrymandering is the “Efficiency Gap,” which measures each party's "wasted" votes—votes that don't contribute to a candidate's win beyond the 51 percent majority needed for victory. In an ideal, two-party world, the votes within a district should split roughly 50/50. In gerrymandering, however, one party seeks to minimize its wasted votes while maximizing the wasted votes of the opposing party. By measuring how many "wasted" votes are cast in an election, the Efficiency Gap test can help determine if gerrymandering has occurred.
However, the Supreme Court has been wary of setting a standard of fairness beyond race and ethnicity, which would require lines be redrawn. Professor Green pointed out how Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has left an “open door” regarding the establishment of a redistricting standard based on a First Amendment challenge from Maryland. Precedent from the Constitution's Framers is elusive, as there were no political parties at the time. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S 186 (1962) was the case setting up federal court review of redistricting cases.
Janice Bayer then spoke on specific efforts by OneVirginia2021 to prepare for the redistricting that will occur after the 2020 census. OneVirginia2021's goal is to amend the State Constitution to have an independent commission conduct the state's redistricting. As Bayer showed, amending the Constitution is difficult; however, redistricting has become a bipartisan issue, as the party who wrote the last plan will want “fairness” if they find themselves in the minority after any future census. Also, the makeup of the State legislature determines many matters in people’s lives and should represent the views of all citizens.
*Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula
OneVirginia2021 is currently seeking voters to sign petitions and contact legislators in its 10-month push to address gerrymandering in the next legislative session. Want your one vote back in your hands? You can sign the petition here: Participate - Sign Petition.
By Kathryn Ozyurt
Christine Woods, who has been a long time favorite Sunday Morning Forum moderator, helped forum participants (via the Socratic method) choose their own subject for discussion on March 18.
This topic brought forth some interesting thoughts. When people’s needs are not met, it leads to unrest. Those who can, leave. The original idea of democracy was to enable all voices to be heard. Unfortunately, more and more, the emphasis on individual rights leads some to resort to violence when they can’t obtain what they feel they need.
Historically, a threat from outside, such as a World War, a natural disaster or fear of Communism, will cause people to band together. However, the hurricane devastation of Puerto Rico, for example, did not bring America together. So many disparate sources of information about a disaster or a horrible situation muddy the issues. Sometimes we have too much information about too many events. At the same time, distinguishing between propaganda and facts remains a tremendous challenge. A New York Times article summarized this by saying that if we can’t agree on what is true, we can’t arrive at compromise. Without compromise, we cannot work together.
There was also discussion about the media using individuals as focus points for various issues that affect the community, the nation or the world. Unfortunately there is so much outrage and fear that our society is beginning to fall into collective exhaustion and is losing the ability to react to new events. There was a Unitarian Universalist article several years ago that addressed this, saying that we should not let fear be our motivator. One of our science fiction fans reminded us that in the novel “Dune,” The Bene Gesserit taught that “fear is the mind killer.”
Despite the divisiveness and fear in our society that lead us to focus on the individual to the detriment of the community, forum participants came to the conclusion that we could be a force of positive change. We need to focus less on the myriad issues surrounding us and go small and personal through networking with others. We can meet our own and our community’s needs by building the beloved community, both within our fellowship and in our surrounding neighborhoods. The beloved community is the place where the individual is willing to compromise needs by conceding something to the greater community. The beloved community accepts and supports the individual. The beloved community builds bridges.
For those who would like to explore additional interesting topics, Christine also leads Socrates Café on the first Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at the Charles H. Taylor Arts Center in Hampton, Virginia.
By Scott Kasmire
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, March 11, 2018.
Unitarian Universalism is my faith — a powerful faith, a transformative faith, a saving faith. And for the fifteen years I was living overseas, it was a lonely faith — of emails and newsletters, and mostly just me trying to do my best, on my own.
And then 2014 happened: A crisis year for me and my family. And in late August of that year I found myself, unexpectedly, relocating to Virginia, and walking into this Fellowship on a Sunday morning, thinking that if I had to live in Virginia, in America, I might as well at least occasionally attend Sunday Services at some UU venue or another. In the event, I was... unprepared.
I was unprepared on that Sunday morning for the overwhelming relief that washed over me as I sat in the back row, near the double doors, listening to the choir sing Rainbow Connection; and later myself attempting to choke out a rendition of Spirit of Life without sobbing, trying to remember the words. It wasn't just a sense of coming home after being away for far too long, though it was that. It was the relief that comes from knowing that I didn't have to do it alone anymore: That I was again among people who understood my faith — our faith — and were committed to it living it with me.
Since that day, as the crisis in my life has turned into a slow motion nightmare, I have clung to this place with a desperation that comes from knowing I would fall apart otherwise. More than just calling me to my better self, UUFP has given me the very space to BE a self, to remember I'm a human among humans, and not a mere mechanism that can fall apart.
And to my continued astonishment, I seem even to have grown stronger here, in this grounding environment which we create together.
A transformative, saving faith.
So that is why I support UUFP. And I'm deeply grateful that you do as well.
There are also a lot of UU things that happen beyond Young’s Mill Lane that you and your family might want to know about.
I recently met with Religious Educators from Williamsburg and Norfolk. They are both interested in doing some combined activities for our youth. We are looking into doing a high school canoe trip to Dismal Swamp, a middle school lock-in and a high school CON. If you are in high school now and want to help in the planning of the CON, let me know. In case you don’t know, a CON is a weekend long event created and led by youth with workshops, worship, and lots of fun and fellowship. More details on joint events will be coming in the following weeks.
If you would like to spend a week with youth from around the country, there are two great options. General Assembly has a wonderful program for high school youth. Check out this link about Youth Caucus. They also provide child care for young kids and a special program for middle school youth. This year General Assembly is in Kansas City.
SUUSI is a family camp for UUs of all ages. As Director for the young kids, ages 0 – 10, I organize the staff and programming for the week. Kids come in the mornings for age-group activities, art, music, and tie-dye. This year there will be a portable planetarium coming to campus. In the afternoons, children ages 6 – 10 have a variety of workshops to choose from. Younger kids have more age appropriate activities and water fun. There are also many family friendly Nature trips to explore. There is a community time each day after classes where kids slide down the giant slip and slide, make crafts, cool off in the fountain and meet new friends. Middle school kids and teens have their own special activities throughout the week. There is a family movie night and dance nights for different ages. SUUSI is also known for their nightly music events and worship services. And SUUSI is not just for kids, so check out the website to see all that SUUSI has to offer. SUUSI is held at Western Carolina University from July 15 – 21.
The Mountain is a favorite place for UU kids to enjoy a week of camp as well. It’s only a few miles from SUUSI in the beautiful Smokey Mountains. Check out their various offerings on their website.
Of course, if you do decide to stick around Young’s Mill Lane this summer, you may want to enroll your kids in the Awesome Arts and Sciences Camps in June and August. Info on our Time-traveler Camp and Sci-fi Camp will be out soon!
I’m currently working on a summer curriculum based on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” so the children and youth will explore new ways to go beyond Young’s Mill Lane each Sunday. And they may even find the answer to the ultimate question.
See you in the RE!
As you'd expect, a covenant to support one's church with time, talent and financial resources is vital to its health! Our thanks to Steve Farthing, who is serving as UUFP's 2018 Canvass Chair. We are grateful for Steve and a number of fellow members who have been sharing their testimonials about "What UUFP Means to Me."
By Steve Farthing
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, March 4, 2018.
We needed to be able to speak freely with friends who shared our values and goals. Our region has many challenges; we needed to do our part to make it better.
We attended a Christian church early in our marriage, but we were not Christians. We found that a moral foundation could not be built on religious hypocrisy, no matter how well-intentioned. A newspaper article written by UU of Williamsburg’s minister introduced us to Unitarian Universalism. The article seemed to be written for us just when we needed it.
We joined the UUFP in 2005 and sent our son, Ethan, to The Mountain, a UU camp in the mountains of North Carolina. We had to get him away from computers, where he insisted on spending most of his summer playing games. There are no gaming computers, no TVs, and almost no phone service at The Mountain. He was there for two weeks; we were expecting a call to pick him up at any time. Instead, we arrived at the end of those two weeks to see him happily hugging new friends and telling us how much fun he had.
Ethan has attended and worked as a counselor at The Mountain for eight years. He has gained an appreciation of nature and the importance of preserving our few remaining wild places. He has embraced our UU values. This summer he plans to hike the Appalachian Trail for a few months, but he will take an all-important detour to The Mountain to visit friends.
For Jeanne and me, the UUFP has given us a chance to experience something beyond making money and accumulating things. Sunday services are insightful and inspiring. The friends we have gained are accomplished, interesting, and kind. The time we spend helping the church is acknowledged and appreciated (FICOM meetings, however, could be a little shorter).
We give to charities and our alma maters, sometimes with mixed feelings. Is our money being used wisely? How much of what we give is rolled back into asking for even more? Giving to the Fellowship is an immediate return on our money and an investment in our future. There is nothing nebulous about what we do at the UUFP. If you need proof, please join us in feeding the homeless tonight at PORT (People Offering Resources Together).
I have recently become much more interested in our Social Justice work. “Why?” you might ask, if you have been stranded on a deserted island in the Pacific for the last fifteen months? UUs have a proud tradition of holding our government accountable; we must do our part. I will be marching with the UUFP in support of “March for Our Lives” on March 24th in Washington. Please join us physically or in spirit.
Why am I leading the Canvass? Because it needs to be done. We have seen the UUFP make great strides during the time we have been members. The Fellowship has doubled its footprint, adding the office/multi-use building and extending our property to Warwick Boulevard. We now have a full-time minister dedicated to the Fellowship and comprehensive child and adult RE programs. We have grown in numbers and in outreach to the community. I believe that we are just getting started and that we should, can and will do even more. The Canvass is the financial foundation that supports us all.
By Rosalee Pfister
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, February 25, 2018.
A few Sundays ago, Rev. Charles Dieterich was here from the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, when he spoke on celebrations. During the service, he had us all do a responsive reading out of the gray hymnal. At some point, the word "workshop" was read. I remember having to take a second look at that word. Was it really "workshop," or was it "worship"? I had to giggle to myself; only in a UU hymnal would you find the word "workshop." You see in the past, I have been known to mix up the two words, and it’s been a long running joke in our family.
When we arrived, we quickly noticed the parking lot was empty. On the door was a sign. I read it out loud, “Closed for Workshops.” Or at least that is what I thought it said, and my husband Michael responded with a smirk and a little chuckle, "I think it says, 'Closed for Worship.'" I had to laugh at myself, as this unchurched California girl had visualized them all taking a class, when indeed the store was closed for Sunday services. Hence, our family's running joke.
I soon learned that I had in fact moved to the Bible Belt of America, where there was a lot of WORSHIPING going on! I also realized that if you wanted community, you needed a church family. Thankfully we found a local UU church, which fit the needs for both my husband and me. Thus, began my journey as a UU. So, you might say, that a few Sundays ago, as I smirked while reading the word "workshop" out loudly, that I had a bit of a "full circle moment," like I so often do here at the UUFP. Here on a Sunday morning we do both—worship and workshops!
Once in Virginia, I found myself again searching for a community that our family could call home. I had visited the UUFP before, but the timing seemed just right when we saw that the fellowship had hired Andrew as the fulltime minister, and the OWL (Owl Whole Lives) and Coming of Age programs were starting that fall of 2011, which our oldest son agreed to participate in. It was a good time to return, and we committed to coming to church every Sunday. Before I knew it, I was making vegetarian tofu and broccoli for the Luau fundraiser, telling stories around the campfire at the retreat, and being asked to join the membership committee (thank you, Judy Remsberg). These opportunities to serve, to share my talents and to welcome others who walk through our doors, hasn’t stopped.
In thinking about this testimonial, and what the UUFP means to me, many things come to mind. One of the biggest opportunities I have been presented is to be a Leader in this church. Unlike leadership in the workforce, I have learned that in our UU congregations, leading is done with covenants on how we will be together, and spiritual growth as a leader is a big part of the process. I have been given much guidance along the way from my committee team members, Rev. Andrew, the check-in meetings and classes held by Leadership Development Committee, my own research, and especially from my experience at Leadership school (otherwise known as SUULE - Southern UU Leadership Experience) that Kathryn Ozyurt and I both attended in the summer of 2016 at the College of William & Mary.
As many of you probably know, leadership can come with its challenges, especially because it often involves bringing forth change. One of the changes that is currently happening at the fellowship is identifying what we represent as a congregation, by redefining our mission statement.
Grow in Wonder -Connect in Love -Engage in Service - Inspire Generosity
I personally like the simplicity of this for it is easy for me to remember and apply in my everyday life.
So I asked myself, how have I: Grown in Wonder, Connected in Love, Engaged in Service, and Inspired Generosity these past seven years?
Growing in Wonder: To me this means that we honor the awe, the divine, the light in each of us. With these moments of wonder, we find ourselves growing spiritually and transcending on our journeys.
Connect in Love: When we reach out to one another, we make connections and we feel the love. I feel it with every smile, greeting, and hug that I get on a Sunday morning. I feel it when I sit in fellowship circle surrounded by friends whom I can trust. It does my heart good to check in with folks, to hear how they are doing, to listen to joys and concerns, and to share our stories and encouragement. Even more tangible is the connection we get when we all hold hands at the end of service, and we can feel the pulse of energy in each other’s hands. To me this is an extra bonus we get when we are present on Sundays.
Engage in Service: When I engage in service here at the UUFP, whether it be sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen, making a pot of soup, creating a schedule for our hospitality team to make Sundays run smoothly, having a productive membership team meeting, or coordinating one of our Membership Orientations, it is through this kind of service that I feel good that I am giving of myself and sharing my talents. This gives me much peace and contentment.
Often at our Pathways to Membership classes we ponder what it means to be a member. For me, being a member is a commitment that I make with the promise that I will share of myself, my time, my talents and my treasure so that I can assure that the UUFP continues to be a beacon of liberal faith in our community. This place, the UUFP, is the place that allows us the diversity to choose if we want to go to a Workshop or if we want to Worship on Sundays, and if we want a little of both! As Unitarian Universalists, we can enjoy many types of Workshops and Worship. Our UUFP holds workshops on a variety of topics and speakers who present every Sunday during Adult Forum, as well as at Goddess Group, and other special classes. As for Worship, well we do that too! We worship on Sundays in this sanctuary; we worship under the stars during Earth Rising Rituals, and during Woman’s drumming circle. Here you can search and find what is most comfortable for you.
As I close, I wonder what your thoughts would be to these questions. What does the UUFP mean to you? And in what ways have you: Grown in Wonder, Connected in Love, Engaged in Service and Inspired Generosity? I know that by being a part of this fellowship, surrounded by all of you, I have grown in my UU faith and will continue to grow. This is why I support the UUFP, so that we all have a place to gather in community as we live out our UU faith of seeking and being in the moment.
By Maria Cory
In customary fashion, Kathryn presented yet another stimulating topic for discussion, this time based on award-winning novelist Elif Shafak’s TEDGlobal presentation: “The Revolutionary Power of Diverse Thought.” In this passionate, personal talk via vivid and sensory application, Shafak defines the “taste” of her motherland, Turkey, as “a mixture of sweet and bitter.” She believes a growing number of people around the world have similarly mixed emotions—feeling great attachment to their beloved native countries, but also experiencing increasing frustration, despair and anger due to political polarizations.
Shafak states: “They [demagogues and illiberal politicians] want to divide us into tribes, but we are connected across borders. They preach certainty, but we know that life has plenty of magic and plenty of ambiguity. And they like to incite dualities, but we are far more nuanced than that.”
Each of us has multiple attachments, which means multiple stories. Summing up the criticality of defending diversity, Shafak shares one word or “taste” of significant meaning. It is "yurt," which in Turkish means motherland or homeland. Interestingly, “yurt” also means a tent used by nomadic tribes. This global activist relates these definitions in that homelands do not need to be rooted in one place; they can be portable and taken with us everywhere. “I think for writers, for storytellers, at the end of the day, there is one main homeland, and it is called ‘Storyland.’ And the taste of that word is the taste of FREEDOM!”
Freedom—a word that resonates with Unitarian Universalists, as we value diversity, inclusivity, and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
Finally, what was deeply personal to our Sunday Morning Forum facilitator in her selection of this topic is the etymology of her surname, “Ozyurt.” With “yurt” meaning home or tent; and “oz” translating as self, essence, core, true; Kathryn takes pride in her name (by marriage) speaking light as “the true home.”
We celebrate with Kathryn and her husband, Kadri, that their “true home,” their “tent,” is large enough to include our UUFP family—fellow faith sojourners who with them persevere on the trek toward peace, justice and freedom for all!
Can you taste the Vision?!
“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, we wish to share here the testimonials given that day.
Expressing Love through St. Paul's Weekend Meals Program
By Marcy Stutzman
Year round, the very small congregation at St. Paul’s works with the Community Action Network to provide services for those needing assistance in our community. At St. Paul’s, located in a historic building on 34th street amongst the shipyard parking lots, there is a food pantry; breakfasts are offered daily; and the community can access laundry facilities and substance abuse counseling.
Through this Social Justice outreach program, I have learned and grown in my understanding of and relation to those less fortunate in our community. Donna Sprock, who was pivotal in initiating this ministry, sets an example I am striving to follow in showing compassion and empathy for the guests and all their needs. She accommodates the guest who won’t eat a salad with any yellow vegetables; and gently reminded those supporting this outreach that the inebriated guest seeking a blanket should not be considered a moral failure to be rebuked, but a fellow person coping with life in the best way he was able at the time. I believe that Donna has set an excellent example of love for the community without any strings attached.
Some days we have many hands to help and find work to keep everyone busy. Some days we find that a very small group is able to provide a meal for 30 guests with remarkable efficiency. Many who are not physically present help, as well. The shared basket funding, the support of the social justice committee, and all those who form this strong UUFP community enable us to pursue outreach such as this.
After the cooking, we are able to sit down with the guests at the dinner table and share the meal and conversation with people we find are not so different from us.
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: Answering the Call of Love, with more to follow
Happy Birthday to all our members born in March!
Jerry Dingus, Jr.
If you are a member and have a birthday in March that we overlooked, please contact Bobbie Schilling; email@example.com.
March 4th: “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Another Tale of Two Ministers”
The western frontier of late nineteenth century Unitarianism was found in Iowa, where a group of ministers endured great hardship to serve new and growing churches. Questioning tradition led to the creation of a teaching ministry, the scope of which extended far beyond the pulpit to suffrage, social settlements and the peace movement. Unfortunately, and only because they were women, Eleanor Gordon, Mary Safford and their colleagues were ignored and then side-lined by the male-controlled association, and yet their legacy lives on even today!
March 11th: “A Day Without Service”
A UU student discovers one morning that there are no services. No buses, no teachers, no electricity, no Internet, no telephones: a complete service shutdown. Stores are closed, hospitals are closed, and so are the banks. Is this the end of the world? Or is it a wake-up call to be more grateful for the services we receive and more willing in the services we provide?
March 18th: “On Being Called Out, Called In and Showing Up”
Religious Educator Christina Rivera will preach about what servant leadership can look like in Unitarian Universalism and how showing up for leadership means responding in new ways to being called out and called in.
Christina Rivera serves as Director of Administration and Finance at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville. She previously served as Director of Religious Education at the UU Fellowship of Waynesboro. In 2014 Chris was elected to serve on the UUA Board of Trustees, was re-elected to a second term in 2017, and now serves as Secretary. She co-founded the #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn. Chris has the faith and support of her husband, Chris, and twin sons, Andreas and Miguel, who, along with her ancestors, form the support base for her calling to UU ministry.
March 25th: “What Would Jesus Do? (Whip Some Merchants and Flip Their Tables?)”
Palm Sunday is a popular anticipation of Easter in most Christian churches, but less well known is that, after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus went to the Temple and cast out the merchants and the money-changers who had set up shop there. In disagreement with the other gospels, John has this cleansing take place at a previous Passover, describing Jesus getting very physical in his zeal to expel those who had turned G-d’s house into a marketplace.
Special music will be provided by the ChorUUs!
5pm on Saturday March 31st: a Passover Seder
This multi-sensory liturgy dates back thousands of years and is celebrated annually by millions of Jews and people of other faiths. The modern seder allows us to bring its meaning alive in terms of contemporary themes, while continuing to revisit the ancient story of liberation and hope.
Since the seder combines worship with a potluck meal, please sign up at: http://bit.ly/UUFPS18
Older Blog Posts (2013-2017)