Rev. Andrew offered this homily on May 13th 2018 as part of a weekend celebrating the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula’s sixty years as a chartered congregation.
Over the last eight years, I have asked a number of UUFP members to give Sunday morning testimonials about this special place and what it means to them to be a part of it. Well, this morning, as we celebrate the Fellowship’s sixtieth anniversary, it’s my turn to offer such a testimonial, reflecting on what it means for me to be here and offering my answer to the question, “What are we?”
It was a little over eight years ago that Allison and I first met the congregation. Oh, thanks to the extensive information sharing of the ministerial search process, I already knew quite a bit about the Fellowship and the highlights of its history, and I’d spent a weekend with the six members of the search committee, too. But that Saturday at the end of April was the first time we met the congregation as a gathered body, when we dedicated the Fellowship’s new office building. And as part of that, of course, I heard the story of how the UUFP bought that building: negotiating with banks in disarray following the mortgage crisis; ultimately finding a private individual willing to offer a loan; undertaking extensive renovation of the building itself; and successfully applying for a chalice-lighter grant to pay for that renovation. What that told me is that this congregation is resourceful.
Then, a little less than six years ago, our daughter was born. I requested paternity leave, which was granted, but it’s not like we were forgotten during those weeks. Rather, from the baby shower that had taken place in this very room to the gentle inquiries during my leave as to whether we needed meals brought to us or any other help, we felt cared for and supported. What that showed us is that this congregation is loving and caring.
It was four years ago that the call came for Unitarian Universalists to go to Raleigh NC for the Mass Moral March, protesting various anti-democracy measures taken by the state as a test case for restricting civil rights, particularly those of people of color and women, in other states. Many of you joined me for that march, and for others that year in support of marriage equality, and for demonstrations and marches since then, particularly in the last year and a half. What that told me is that this congregation shows up.
It was three years ago when we had a really cold spell and were worried about getting the ice off the parking lot so that we could hold that Sunday’s services. Well, I suggested to then-President Alan Sheeler that, in preparation for people coming to help with the ice, he might turn the heat on in this building. What we didn’t know was that a pipe under the kitchen sink had frozen and cracked; as the building warmed up, the pipe thawed and started gushing water into the kitchen, spreading from there over the social area and into this Sanctuary. Now, rather than asking people to help with the parking lot, we asked them to help with the water, and you responded! You came with shop-vacs and fans, removing as much water as you could that very day. Then, when it became clear that, in spite of our rapid response, we had to do remediation work, ultimately needing new kitchen cabinets and flooring, we held Sunday morning services and RE programs at Sandy Bottom, taking in stride everything we had to do to set up and clean up everything we needed for nine Sundays in a row. What that proved to me is that this congregation is responsive and resilient.
That was during Christina Hockman’s first year of her internship with us, and last year, Walter Clark was with us for his internship. During those three years in all, you not only accepted but also embraced these aspiring ministers, welcoming them into congregational life and teaching them some very practical lessons about parish ministry. What that told me is that this congregation is willing to serve our larger faith, not merely for what the Fellowship needs but for what Unitarian Universalism needs.
I am so proud to be your minister, to have seen first-hand over the last eight years what makes the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula the special place that it is. I have lifted up just a few ways in which I know that this congregation is resourceful, and is loving and caring, that it shows up, and is responsive and resilient, and is willing to serve, and that is all thanks to the members and friends who have made this Fellowship what it is, all thanks to you who continue to grow the Beloved Community right here. It is truly a privilege to serve our mission. Thank you for being the UUFP.
“For all that is our life” by Rev. Andrew
I am happy to announce that, after extensive efforts by Personnel Committee chair Christine Woods, UUFP President Jim Sanderson and other members of the Personnel Committee, we have brought on board Nicole Monet Peterson as our new Office Assistant!
Nicole has an AAS in Business, and is currently working on her BA in Business Administration. She has worked as a Presbyterian Church Office Administrator, a Mental Health/Intellectual Disability Clinic Office Administrator, and a Financial Aid Advisor. Nicole has over fourteen years of administrative experience and enjoys the field with great passion. Recently, she has begun the process of building a start-up company, An International Creation, LLC, which encompasses products and services in Visual and Performing Arts, as well as scholarship opportunities for single parents or their children. Nicole is also a mother and a great cook, and she loves music.
Nicole’s office hours are 9am to 2pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and she can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com. (All processes for reserving rooms, submitting announcements, requesting reimbursements, etc. continue to be the same as well, but please send Nicole an e-mail or call the office if you have any questions.) If you’re stopping by the office during those times, please do introduce yourself to Nicole and welcome her to the UUFP! We also plan to introduce her at Sunday services in the near future.
I am grateful to Christine and to Jim for the countless hours they have put into combing through resumes and conducting interviews over the last six weeks, and I am particularly grateful to Rosalind Deschane-Reed for her graceful willingness to stay on as Office Assistant and train Nicole for the position. Rosalind’s last day in the office will be May 10th, so please take the opportunity to thank her for her time with us and for helping to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Happy Birthday to all our members born in May!
Jerry Dingus, Sr.
If you are a member and have a birthday in May that we overlooked, please contact Bobbie Schilling; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Services include sermons preached by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard unless otherwise noted.
May 6th: “Where do we come from?”
Seventy years ago, a family in Colorado wrote to the American Unitarian Association, asking for help starting a local congregation, since the closest Unitarian church was too far away. From that simple request, a wave of new lay-led congregations followed, beginning with the Unitarian Fellowship of Boulder in 1948 and including the Unitarian Fellowship of the Peninsula in 1958.
May 13th: “What are we?”
Let’s celebrate our Diamond Anniversary! Our congregation was chartered by the American Unitarian Association on May 14th 1958, so we’re celebrating sixty years of sharing the light of liberal religion in Hampton Roads! (Click here for the celebration flyer.) Let’s talk about who we are, including the challenges we’ve faced and the milestones we’ve reached that are part of our collective story as the UUFP!
Special music will be provided by the UUFP Winds!
May 20th: “Where are we going?”
If history consists of the stories we tell of our past, and identity is shared by the stories we tell about our present, then vision is imagined in the stories we tell of our desired future. A year ago we named four essential core values we hold as a congregation; how do we now envision ourselves growing in wisdom, connecting in love, engaging in service and inspiring generosity?
We’ll also express our appreciation of our musicians and singers, with special music provided by the ChorUUs!
May 27th: “Living the Riddle and the Mystery”
We at the UUFP know that “building the Beloved Community” is a continual process that must be lived out with each action and interaction. But there is a mysterious element to this vision, buried in the Fourth Principle of Unitarian Universalism, an element that makes us a “religion” as well as a community. As we go forward, the “riddle and the mystery” we share can be the source of our greatest strength.
A Unitarian Universalist since the mid-1990s, and a K–12 educator since the early 2000s, Scott Kasmire serves our congregation as youth advisor, Fellowship Circle facilitator and member of the Leadership Development Committee. His interests include philosophy, world theologies, Star Trek and caffeine delivery systems. Scott lives in Norge.