By Kathryn Ozyurt
The address and the building turned out to be irrelevant. This is where we met and fell in love with this welcoming congregation. We felt like this was our place and you were our people, always learning, building community; giving of time, thought and energy.
When I got to the church, that day the greeters were so friendly and interested in finding out who I was and how I found you all. Seeing people I saw featured on the UUFP website, when I got to church made me more comfortable, and being invited to participate in some of the activities highlighted online made me want to know and do more.
And there are so many opportunities to get involved at UUFP! All of you make up the activities we do on Sunday morning and throughout the week. Each of you has made this a better place for all comers, be it through the Beloved Community Wednesday evenings where the potluck, reflect back, or other groups allow us to further connect and discuss the ideas introduced on Sunday, or through other groups such as the Goddess Group, Earth Rising or the Forum where we can pursue other avenues of thought and communication. Social action has facilitated so much positive contact with the greater Peninsula community, be it a march in DC, Richmond or Newport News, or helping with PORT.
I’ve been involved with the fellowship circles, where we have the chance to come together in small groups to explore ideas. Such a great way to connect and know ourselves and others better! I’ve been part of the Adult RE committee for five years. I love exploring the interests you all have and bringing up subjects we can explore further. The Fiber FUUN group really is fun, a place where we can knit or weave or just talk. Only a UU would knit a Fibonacci sweater while talking with someone who is making bracelets for fund raising.
We are always learning, always interacting, weaving a rich tapestry of wonderful people. And we are supporting our congregation, our relationship with each other by making sure we have the funds needed to keep the wheels on the bus, the bills paid, the salaries adequate, the zoom account available. We are a dynamic group, engaged in spiritual exploration, fellowship and fun…Bringing our time, talent and treasure to build and strengthen our mission. Together we can do anything.
These people, this group, make up a family, regardless of where we are. We have met in the sanctuary, in Sandy Bottom Park, and online. We have church because we came together and we built it. We are physically apart right now, but seeing each of your faces on this zoom gathering, the smiles and waves, remind me that hearts and minds are out there, ready for the time when we will be together again and making our community stronger.
by Sam Smith
This member testimonial is a part of our ongoing 2020-21
UUFP Canvass (click here to pledge)
Click here for VANCO donation site
This is a place that I can EXPLORE what it means to be human, to CELEBRATE that humanity and encourages us to learn and become who we REALLY ARE AND who we ASPIRE to be.
Each time I participate in any class, service or circle, I grow INTO my humanity and I’m enabled to celebrate the humanity of others.
In the 1970s and 80s, there was a sitcom called Mork and Mindy on ABC. It weekly showed the adventures of an alien from the plant ORK on a mission to Earth to study human behavior. I always identified with and admired Mork because he was always curious and had great empathy for others. He KNEW who he was and found OUR actions curious and even appalling at times.
A favorite scene of mine was when he and Mindy were in a restaurant and saw someone smoking, Mork asked Mindy why people smoked cigarettes. Mindy tried, as best she could to explain, and Mork asked her if it was bad for the human body. She said that it was and that the Surgeon General had even said that it could lead to death. Mork exclaimed that if that was true, smoking was like committing suicide, a little at a time. She said, “Well, I guess so”. He spotted a man at the next table lighting a cigarette and leapt into action, “talking him down” from not dying by his own hand.
The UUFP shows us how to be passionate about causes we believe in and try to “talk people down” from actions that are against humanity.
Mork was constantly “acting out” in public in an effort to help others be their best, for themselves and for those around them.
Parker Palmer said in his book, ON THE BRINK OF EVERYTHING, “We all live at the intersection of our small worlds and the big one around us”.
The UUFP assists me every day to live where I am, like Mork, and try to make it a bit better.
Now, the reason why I love this fellowship is the same reason why we are effective in “talking people down”, it is with CONNECTION! This past week has made me acutely aware of how much connection with other humans is important, especially those I love, here at UUFP, my neighbors, my relatives, my friends, and even strangers. I love speaking with and affirming others I come into contact with. It’s sort of a hobby. Everyone needs to be affirmed, recognizing their humanity and worth.
As we endure this time of, what I call “connection lite”, let’s be mindful, especially of those who rarely get affirmed, for WE are now the shut-ins, the isolated, the needy. As this necessary isolation goes on, it is becoming even MORE important to affirm others, in every way we can; texts, letters, phone calls and cards. Let’s invent NEW ways to connect and do it more often. What we are sharing is our HUMANITY with love.
Thank you for the privilege of participating with you in sharing with the world our precious Unitarian Universalist GOOD NEWS.
By Sandy Burkes-Campbell, Planning Committee Chair
and Jim Sanderson, UUFP President
Thanks also to Rev. Andrew for his inspirational messages leading up to this important decision.
The congregation has voted and directed the board to look for a new location for UUFP where we will put our vision into action more effectively.
The Board, Planning committee and Real Estate Task Force will pursue this action and report developments to the membership. We will inform members of our progress both on UUFP.org and using a bulletin boards.
The Next Step Weekend with Mark Ewert (consultant from Stewardship for Us) has been postponed and will be re-scheduled when it is safe for us to gather together. This will be just the first visit with Mark when he will gather information and get to know us as a congregation. He will meet with the leadership and members of the congregation. Following his visit Mark will share lessons learned, best practices from other congregations and examine our strengths, challenges, risks and opportunities. Other congregations have reported that after the Next Step Weekend they saw an immediate impact on giving, as well as long lasting strengthening of stewardship and generosity.
There is no doubt that we can, and will, bring the good news of Unitarian Universalism to more families on the Peninsula as we work together and bring our vision to life. Again thanks to all of you for your participation these past three months.
Looking forward to our future,
Sandy Burkes-Campbell UUFP Planning Chair
Jim Sanderson UUFP President.
by Rachel Bevins
when I can, chairing some fund raisers, speaking in a Sunday service or adult forum, helping a yard cleanup or yard sale, and bringing bellydancers and homeschoolers through our doors.
My husband, Brian, and I have a daughter, Gabrielle, who is now 12 and in 7th grade, and a son, Jason, who is 6 and in 1st grade. They both have a string of diagnoses which basically mean that they have strong personalities and special needs, which can be very challenging to manage sometimes. Other places have turned us away, telling me they couldn't handle us. This place, however, has opened its arms and asked, "What can we do to help?"... and then, actually done just that!
It is impossible to please everyone all of the time; we are all only human and often burdened with our own challenges. But the underlying feeling I have always gotten from the people here is that we are truly welcome. That makes me WANT to help when I can, and when I help this community, I nourish my own spirit.
As a neurodiverse family we often feel awkward out in the world. Here, however, we may be quirky, but we feel normal and accepted, too. Being around like minded people is confidence building for my kids. When our oldest received her first sensory spectrum diagnosis our pediatrician was concerned about how she would develop socially, lacking confidence and having issues that come along with feeling like an outsider and not belonging. I love how happy our pediatrician is now, to see what a strong, confident young lady Gabbie is. We believe that has a LOT to do with this community, one of our tribes.
When I say that you all are like minded, I certainly don't mean that we all think alike on every point. That would be boring! However, holding an open mind and an inherent respect for all people tends to be the natural state of being here. I have faith that when we have different opinions, we will do the hard work necessary to listen to one another, find compassion and ultimately compromise. This is what communities, what families, do. This is what we all role model for our kids. This is how we make kindness and respect NORMAL for future generations.
We are absolutely grateful to have this second home. It is NOT the building, it is the people who make us comfortable to be where we can not be perfect, where we can be outside the box, and where the shape of the box, with its extra corners and textures, is a pleasant place to be. We know that you all help teach our children when to stand our ground and work for change, and when to roll with the punches. Thank you for being here for our community, and for us. Whatever happens as the future unfolds, we are glad to be doing it with you.
by Rebecca Wheeler
This is the second of our series of member testimonials as a part of our 2020 UUFP Canvass.
When I returned to UUFP June 2018, after many years’ absence, I wondered whether people would hold it against me that I had evaporated and yet then returned. No. Judy Remsberg greeted me at the door, with a smile, welcome and fine conversation. Indeed, I hear that from numerous folks, that we, here at UUFP welcome.We see and are seen. In our good times and bad.
I look forward to Sunday mornings, with perhaps Robin and familiar tunes made different with his inimitable flare. I look for Sam’s blue eyed, inquiring smile. One morning this past year, as I was going through some deep life changes, Sam asked during the greeting part of the service - “How are you?” I mumbled something -- not my usual mode. He stopped short, moved into my line of vision, “No, REALLY, how are you,” he asked. And truly seen, I shared what was happening. That moment was deeply important to me...
Or again, upon first coming now nearly 2 years ago, Gary asked me some probing question during coffee hour, letting me know I was on thoughtful, authentic ground. Here, I thrive.
I look forward to Sandra’s cooking, to Henry’s hugs, to Judy’s gorgeous jackets. To Joanne’s stories, always relevant to all of us, to witnessing Joyce’s journey, to this, her new home. With each person I relish their spark.
And our minister? Wow, just wow. Yes, our Reverend Andrew, an understated British dude, brings a font of insight and vision! No, that’s not an overstatement. Personally, I’m jazzed that he holds a PhD in Theoretical Physics (from Princeton no less). This guy groks the cosmos and from that foundation, he brings a literary, cultural, spiritual depth. He is whimsical, diverse, personal and articulate. Love our minister.
In closing, this piece has been hard to write because UUFP means so very much to me. It is a place where I find my people, where I experience trust —where I can sing the songs and not be ambushed, where I can relax in the service and know that I won’t have some dogma pushed on us, where I feel like I can be the real atheist UUthat I am. UU is my place. You are my people. You guys are life savers for me and life celebrants with me. Thank you. Thank you, Namaste.
By Judy Remsberg
Another thing that caught our attention and touched our social justice sensibilities was the work that the Fellowship was involved in. There were many activities centered on issues of the ‘70s in the wake of the Vietnam War: the rise of women’s rights, and LGBT+ and African-American injustices. It was very much like the weekly adult forum we have now. I guess we are still – 50 years later – working on these same issues.
So we stayed, this was the place we needed to be.
In those early days, we were led by strong women and men who kept the Fellowship going with hours of work, leadership, and of course, financial support. (I’m going to drop a few names here – some you will recognize, and others you should hear named out loud in this sanctuary because we stand on the shoulders of people like David Cooper, who was there when the bills came in, and there was nothing in the bank; Lou Ayers and Berni Haggard, who took over the children’s Religious Education program when needed; Hale Thompson, a noted local AA lawyer who advised us and was a giant in the community in working to desegregate the Hampton libraries; the band of men, Harry Gates, Ray Baker and Robin’s father, Van van Tine,who entertained us regularly (ask us about that!); Margaret Caum (David Walsh’s mother and my mentor when I was a teenager), who saw a need to enlarge this building, pave the parking lot and add AC, and who spearheaded a drive to do it and got it done quickly, within a few months.
Dr. Will Frank, history professor at ODU, spoke here often on UU history and encouraged our political activism. His obituary is amazing, and I encourage you to google it if you are interested. Jerry Tenney stands on a corner every week in Hilton Village to protest. And, of course, our dear Richard Hudgins, who was among those very first charter members who had the foresight to start this fellowship and has stayed with us for over 60 years.
There are some broad shoulders among those people.
I have seen a lot of changes in the last 40 years — the entry of EarthRising, and all the talent and energy that came with that. Thank you, Robin and the rest of your merry band.
Since I have been here, we have grown from a small “family” model church of fewer than 50 members to what we have today. So, yes, we came for the kids, and stayed for ourselves. The UUFP is a place to find yourself, grow, and participate, and create lasting deep friendships with like-minded, accepting people.
We have had our difficulties –conflict over what to protest, FBI investigations, deliberations on hiring a full-time minister, natural disasters like the devastating fire and the destructive flood – all of biblical proportions. But we have persevered and become stronger for them.
So, Yes, we came for the kids, but I’m glad we stayed for the love of this fellowship and its people. We are on the verge of another major change with the “stay or go” vote next week. I’m confident that we will make the right decision because we are stronger than we have ever been, and I’m proud of who we are now.
This was presented by Judy Remsberg as a part of the ongoing series of member testimonials during the 2020/21 UUFP Canvass.
“Soul Matters” theme: Wisdom
Unless otherwise noted, services include sermons preached by the Rev. Andrew Clive Millard and take place at 9:30am and 11:15am on Sundays.
March 1st: “Love It or List It”
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula will be making a big decision this month, a decision that will determine our future for years and decades to come. As we prepare for that, let’s keep in mind that the UUFP is not the physical structure in which we meet for services and programs; rather, the Fellowship consists of the people who form this religious community.
March 8th: “We’ll Build a Church!”
Let’s celebrate who we are as a congregation and the promise of who we are becoming. We have an exciting vision before us of who we want to be, we have members and friends committed to sharing their time, talent and treasure, and we have the love and support of the wider Unitarian Universalist community. Whichever way the vote goes, the UUFP is building a new way!
Special music will be provided by the UUFP ChorUUs!
March 15th: “A Time for Unconventional Wisdom”
We are living in times where trust in social institutions, government and religion has eroded. Division and polarization have torn apart the fabric of our country. We need reconciliation, healing and love. Conventional wisdom alone won’t cure our social ills; times like these call for “out of the box” thinking: these times call for Unconventional Wisdom.
Rev. Sherman Z. Logan, Jr. is Executive Minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond VA and is currently serving as a member of the UUA Board of Trustees. He was ordained to the Baptist Ministry in 2006 and was granted Ministerial Fellowship by the UUA in 2014. Rev. Sherman is married to Franka and they are proud parents to four daughters, a son and two Jack Russell Terriers; they are also doting grandparents to three girls and two boys.
March 22nd: “Wisdom Is More Beautiful than the Sun”
Where do we turn when life hurts and the world seems to be against us? We’ll explore the surprisingly timely advice found in an ancient text, The Consolation of Philosophy, written by a Roman politician who fell out of favor and lost everything but the resources of his own mind and spirit.
Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig has served as minister of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists since 2017. Previously, she served with congregations in Wisconsin, Illinois, California and Northern Virginia. A graduate of our Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Rev. Laura is also a trained spiritual director. We welcome her to the Fellowship in her third pulpit swap with Rev. Andrew!
March 29th: “Long Haul People”
This month, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula has made a big decision. What wisdom may we find, in poetry, myth and history, to carry us through the work we have ahead of us and the commitment we have made to a brave future? What spiritual resources will we need to help us in our on-going efforts to offer the wider world our very special blessing?