By Mason Moseley
Preparing a testimonial is a bit intimidating if you think about the ones you have already heard; but that is what makes this Beloved Community special, those who come here. It is what makes this unusual time tough. Screen portraits, even with sound, are just not the same thing as being together in person. And yet we are sharing this feeling with the country and the world.
In the 80's I was a newbie, but pitched right in, serving on the Board. In the 90's I was on track to be the President of the UUA with attending Leadership School, being elected President of the District Board, attending most of the UU General Assemblies of that decade, and working to bring a minister to a predominately Humanist organization. Thank you Andrew for being here for a decade. Patricia and I took the opportunity to travel for 5 years to start the new century. We returned to renew our commitment to the Fellowship. The the last decade there was our work on planning for the Fellowship's future and auctioneering. I am so proud of the current Planning Committee and the UUFP for the commitment we have made.
How has being "here" transformed me? I have stepped up to do my part and in doing so have discovered resources from within. My world was strictly straight white male. I have come to learn words and the concepts they represent like "LGBTQ ally." My faith has encouraged better understanding of needed anti-racist work and my part in a racist history and culture. I describe Unitarian Universalism as a group of anti-institutionalists trying to form an institution.
My time at this Fellowship is my legacy. I am a better person for my relationships here. Many have influenced me. The ideas and points of view around core principles can be divergent in detail and application. I envision UU as a large tent trying to see how many can be included. We are most interesting at the outer edge, where some ideas are accepted and others more intensely examined.
It is a strange time for me here now. I remember those senior members whose work had made it possible for me to have a religious home to come to. And now I am a long-time member myself.
Ed, Wendell, Lou, Bernie, David Dick, Richard, Ken, Jack, Susie, Lissa, Nan, and John. I followed their example, when asked "to do" I rarely refused.
How have I been transformed ? I have been guided and challenged. I have been loved. I have been exposed to trans formative ideas and many shared experiences. I have been given hope. Personally, I believe you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Well, I have a Beloved Unitarian Universalist Community that keeps me, and that is you. Thanks. I love you and I am glad I get to share that. Thank you !
I treasure the work we do as a congregation to put our mission statement into practice--”Grow in wonder, connect in love, engage in service, inspire generosity.” I wanted to share with you all some of the experiences I’ve had as a member of the UUFP that have enriched my life.
The enriching experience I wanted to tell you about was the first community meal at our new site, Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Newport News. This happened just a week ago, on the last Saturday in March. We were not sure that it was going to happen at all, at least not anytime soon. But Donna Sprock, together with the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, the Rev. Burton Mack, worked out a way to keep the volunteers and the guests safe. A small group would prepare the food in the church’s huge kitchen while keeping a safe distance from another. Then we would set the food out on a table, packaged in disposable containers. The guests could pick up their meals without having to come into contact with anyone.
It was exhilarating to be together with some of the members of our community again, even for a couple of hours. We connected in love, sharing news of people we hadn’t seen at our online services, while we engaged in service; working together, separately, to assemble the meal. We set up a table outside for the food, and it was a beautiful warm spring day. While we waited for the guests to show up, some of us went up to the sanctuary, one or two at a time, to admire the church’s Tiffany stained-glass windows shimmering in the late afternoon sunlight. It was a first-class opportunity to experience wonder.
When the guests came to get the meals, they spoke to us about their fears. Some of them had only recently become homeless. All of them were concerned about hygiene. They shared their small bottles of hand sanitizer with each other. Just about all of them thanked us for coming out, especially now. I was grateful for the opportunity to be there and for the generosity that made it all possible.
I wanted to tell you all about this to let you know that even in the time of social distancing it’s possible to make a difference in the world. When the blessed day comes that social distancing is no longer required, we hope to fill the kitchen at Trinity with volunteers and sit down at the table with the guests. It’s your generosity, dear fellow congregants, that makes this possible. It inspires me and gives me hope. Thank you.
“Soul Matters” theme: Liberation
Unless otherwise noted, services include sermons preached by the Rev. Andrew Clive Millard and take place on Sundays at 11am via Zoom.
April 5th: “Liberation”
In this sermon, Jan Briedé will draw on his personal experience from working at a Leprosy Center in Uganda, Africa in 1978 and 1979 to discuss liberation theology, social and economic justice and lay a connection to our UU faith.
Jan Briedé has been a member of the UUFP since 2000. Originally from Holland, he became a US citizen in 1994 and has been married to Donna for forty-two years. Jan has a PhD in Range Science from New Mexico State University and works for the Department of Environmental Quality. As a state employee of a certain age, he is currently in mandatory self-isolation. Early in his career, Jan worked in international development in Uganda, Nepal and Yemen.
April 12th: “Rolling Back the Stone”
This year’s Easter Sunday will feature empty churches as worshippers keep themselves at home to help “flatten the curve”. How will the good news of Easter be celebrated when people can’t gather in person to sing and rejoice? What might we find in the story of Easter to give us hope and courage in these difficult times?
April 19th: “Inside the Sacred Chrysalis of Transformation!”
April 26th: “Freedom: From, For or With?”
We hear “freedom” and “liberty” used a lot, from patriotic anthems to political speeches, as well as in our Seven Principles. If freedom stands against what would otherwise restrain us, then society makes that different for different people. If liberty refers to our ability to act, then, again, not everyone is given equal agency. Perhaps what we need to consider is liberation?