October will be a busy month in Children’s RE. On October 1, the children will bake cookies as part of their RE class time. The cookies will be offered for sale at the hospitality hour to raise money for the CROP Hunger Walk.
On October 22, we hope to have a joint event with the Boys and Girls Club. I’m awaiting confirmation of the date from the Club but want to get the planning process going. The idea is to provide simple carnival games, relay races and craft tables for the kids to rotate through. Thanks to a generous donation to the Fellowship, the Board approved funds to support this event. I’m looking for several volunteers to help run the activities that afternoon. If you are interested, please let me know; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our third October event is our annual Trunk or Treat celebration. It will be held on Saturday, October 28, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the UUFP parking lot. We are going to need several volunteers to decorate the trunks of their cars for this event. We have found it especially fun for the kids to have a simple game or activity offered at each trunk. Some ideas include, ring toss, soda bottle bowling, guessing games, coloring pages, and corn hole. Let your imagination be your guide; just remember not to make anything too scary as we expect to have some very young children in attendance. Each trunk participant is also asked to provide some kind of treat (e.g., candy, colorful pencils, little party favors, etc.) to give to the kids. As always, because of the increase in childhood allergies, avoiding peanut and tree nut candies is appreciated.
In the past, we had a once-a-month group called "Got Kids?" We haven’t done this for over a year now, and I wonder if this is something families would like to start up again. The idea is to have a potluck and kid friendly craft or activity after church, one Sunday a month, to encourage families to get to know each other and give the kids a chance to have social time with their church friends. Please let me know if this is of interest, and we can reintroduce it into the schedule; email@example.com.
See you in RE class!
By Maria Cory
Pardon our asking, but "What is the 'Human Predicament'?"
Do humans have a propensity towards good or evil? Are we born innocent and pure or with a tendency to sin? What is "sin"? Do we live as flawed characters who need forgiveness and "saving" throughout life's journey? And can we and how do we (or how does some Other Source) reconcile our transgressions?
Although Judaism, Christianity and Islam share many roots, the three Abrahamic traditions approach the human predicament in different ways. Our own "Sunday Morning Forum Dean Emeritus" Bob Smith presented Part III of The Great Courses "Comparative Religion," giving classmates an opportunity to discuss the ways various faiths approach issues like sin, sacrifice and accountability.
"The 'predicament' is getting us all on the same page," commented one classmate. "And how do we get everyone on the same page," since wrongful or unacceptable behavior is defined diversely by different individuals, societies and cultures.
Do we need a new beginning…a new relationship with God, the Universe, or a "More Than" that is a part of us, yet greater than ourselves? What do we need to do to be "better people"?
"Being concerned about the human predicament is part of our job," noted a fellow participant.
Perhaps the daily prayerful words of beloved, late UUFP member Jack Dewar provides us with a worthy starting point:
"What is My Intention for today?
What difficulties might I encounter?
How do I prepare for those?
How do I bring more
love, compassion and peace
to my activities today?
How will I be more fully alive?"
As the Fellowship strives to keep its face towards the Light, may we be fully alive in this mission to:
Grow in Wonder — Connect in Love —
Engage in Service — Inspire Generosity
and perhaps Absolution will take care of itself!
By Joanne Dingus, DRE
October will be a busy month in Children’s RE. On October 1, the children will bake cookies as part of their RE class time. The cookies will be offered for sale during the hospitality hour to raise money for the CROP Hunger Walk.
On October 22, we hope to have a joint event with the Boys and Girls Club. I’m awaiting confirmation of the date from the Club but want to get the planning process going. The idea is to provide simple Carnival games, Relay races and Craft tables for the kids to rotate through. Thanks to a generous donation to the Fellowship, the Board approved funds to support this event. I’m looking for several volunteers to help run the activities that afternoon. If you are interested, please let me know.
Our third October event is our annual "Trunk or Treat" celebration. It will be held on Saturday October 28, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., in the UUFP parking lot. We are going to need several volunteers to decorate the trunks of their cars for this event. We have found it especially fun for the kids to have a simple game or activity offered at each trunk. Some ideas include: ring toss, soda bottle bowling, guessing games, coloring pages and corn hole. Let your imagination be your guide; just remember not to make anything too scary as we expect to have some very young children in attendance. Each trunk is also asked to provide some kind of treat (e.g., candy, colorful pencils, little party favors, etc.) to give to the kids. As always, because of the increase in childhood allergies, avoiding peanut and tree nut candies is appreciated.
In the past, we had a once-a-month group called "Got Kids?" We haven’t done this for over a year now, and I wonder if this is something families would like to start up again. The idea is to have a potluck and kid friendly craft or activity after church, one Sunday a month, to encourage families to get to know each other and give the kids a chance to have social time with their church friends. Please let me know if this is of interest, and we can reintroduce it into the schedule.
See You In the RE!
The employer of one of our members supports a grant program and asks outstanding employees to nominate recipients who would then use the grant to support local groups. Our member nominated us, and we were chosen. We are most appreciative to the member (who wishes to remain anonymous) and the member’s employer for this opportunity.
The Board, at our August meeting, voted to distribute this grant as follows:
May this act of generosity inspire us all to give what we can, where we are, to those who we can help. May it also alert all of us to opportunities to help others be generous through us!
Grow in Wonder — Connect in Love — Engage in Service —
By Jim Sanderson
This prayer opened the Sunday worship service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula, on Sunday, August 13, 2017, one day after the white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Virginia,
We gather together in pain, sorrow, horror and anger, but also always with hope. The events of yesterday in the city of Charlottesville, in our own Commonwealth have shocked and saddened us.
We condemn hate, bigotry and violence and recoil from them. We take heart in the reflection that these are not the values of the vast majority of people, but we also acknowledge that they arise in many. We also recognize that the racial violence energizing yesterday’s atrocities has deep roots in our society and our nation’s history which we must work to overcome.
We feel for all those who have been victims of yesterday’s violence and all those who have suffered over the history of this land from racial, religious and other forms of bigotry. We affirm the “inherent worth and dignity of every person”.
We must speak of our rejection of White Nationalism, Nazism, Fascism and all other philosophies and institutions based on hatred and division however they may try to disguise themselves.
We sorrow for those whose souls are filled with the type of hate that allows them to embrace violence in securing their own superiority, failing to recognize their own “worth and dignity” unless it be based on the degradation of others.
Lastly we recognize our own failings, great and small rededicating ourselves to the good of the human family.
By Maria Cory
"He who knows one [religion], knows none" (German scholar Max Müller). This "Father of Religious Studies" believed that religion, like many aspects of life, could only be understood through comparison and with knowledge of its origin.
Facilitator Bob Smith's "Comparative Religion" encore in Sunday Morning Forum motivated inquisitive minds in examining a type of "science of religion." How is religion possible; what is religion and how has it evolved; how have we, individually and collectively, come to have any religion at all?
"Don't religions come about to try to outline purpose in life?" notes one class member rhetorically.
In exploring these questions and the similarities and differences in belief systems, our veteran facilitator led the class in discussion of essential, structural components shared by most faiths. These thought-provoking discussions often lead to contrasting "religion" and "spirituality" (e.g., the phrase, "spiritual but not religious").
"What religion did is put Spirit in a box instead of living in unison with the Universe. Then, we applied a set of rules to it. To be loved; to be heard; to be needed and wanted; to be safe…these are things for which every human longs. Placing the Divine in a box strips the idea of mysticism," shares a class newcomer passionately.
Supporting that connection with the mystical, another classmate colorfully described being in the midst of a culture "in the bush," which exhibited a "Oneness with Nature." "Whenever everyone around you feels and sees Spirit, you feel it. Living closer to Nature…" heightens an awareness of a palpable connectivity and the interdependent web of life.
Studies, such as this "Comparative Religion" series, are explorations that can strengthen the interpersonal understanding that underlies our daily relationships, enhances our perception of events in a diverse world, and deepens our appreciation of our own beliefs and the traditions followed by others (The Great Courses).
From chaos to quietude on the day of this Forum, as Dusk greeted me with the Beauty of an unexpected rainbow, I was then drawn to a local dock to capture the canvas of Nature's brilliant descent over peaceful waters. Sun was setting on this contemplative, dissecting mind as I transitioned from the intellectual to the experiential.
In the ebb and flow of our lives, this confluence of the academic with the empirical equips us to have a meaningful impact on the canvas of our world. Let us not be knowers of one, but of many!
So may it be.
By Maria Cory
"Spirituality is that aspect of human existence that explores the subtle forces of energy in and around us and reveals to us profound interconnectedness. The deeper the exploration goes, the more we encounter a fresh transparency of connectedness…" (Charlene Spretnak in Diarmuid O'Murchu's "God in the Midst of Change," 2012).
Sunday Morning Forum Facilitator Bob Smith's photo stance conveys the vastness of the class topic presented this week! Tackling Part I of "Comparative Religions," Bob presented a snapshot of "The Great Courses" DVD series covering the conceptualization of divinity and four belief systems (Polytheism, Dualism, Monism/Pantheism, Monotheism) into which various theories can be categorized.
"What Do We Mean When We Say God?" (Deidre Sullivan's titled compilation of God-definitions, 1990). As humankind ponders the Divine, nearly all religions strive to address this enigmatic question. From traditions that define the Divine as a singular Supreme Being (some with 99 Names/Attributes), to spiritual perspectives that include multiple gods, or no god, the search often leads one back to the mysterious and inexplicable.
"Trying to conceptualize the ineffable is 'Like Catching Water in a Net'"(2007), reiterates one class participant as he quotes author and Methodist theologian Val Webb. Whether one's sense of the Divine is mystical or anthropomorphic in nature, many would agree that religion, science and spirituality are converging on this multilayered subject.
"When I was a child, God meant an old guy with a long white beard. When I grew intelligent, he meant nothing. Now as I grow old, God means perfect love" (Mary Jane Monroe in Sullivan's previously cited digest).
While copious descriptions exist for God and the Divine, perhaps an Energy that transcends all conceptualization points to a message beyond itself. As faithful UUs, we recognize and strive to respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. In doing so, as we make this cosmic journey, if the search for truth and meaning leads us to living in love and care for all of Creation and in Building the Beloved Community, then our quest has been and is worthwhile!
What would religion…divinity…God…the Ineffable…look like if we had no (oral or written) language to define or debate these things? A wise friend says humbly, "Just Be Love." From concept to action, may we embody this way of being to the fullest extent possible! So may it be.
Grow in Wonder; Connect in Love; Engage in Service; Inspire Generosity!
By Maria Cory
Owls—rarely vocalizing in the presence of humans; able to come and go without detection; able to do things at night most creatures cannot; large, observing eyes. While owls are excellent hunters, and mythology and some cultures have long featured this creature as mysterious and wise, they aren't necessarily more intelligent than a lot of other birds.
However, the "OWL" of another species measures up to the title's idiom! We are grateful for facilitators Jeff Hinkley and Lehni Lebert for bringing to Sunday Morning Forum a preview of "Our Whole Lives" (OWL)—a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
Many present-day seniors give account of their upbringing where any family conversation about sexuality was non-existent or repressed. Today's parents long for another method of teaching their children about this sensitive subject. Suitably, the silent owl and "Mum's the Word" demeanors are being replaced by holistic, wisdom-filled attitudes and instruction.
OWL affirms that well-informed youth and young adults make healthier, more responsible decisions about sexual health and behavior than those without complete information. Based upon four core values—self worth; sexual health; responsibility; and justice and inclusivity—the integrated approach strives to dismantle stereotypes and assumptions, build self-acceptance and self-esteem and foster healthy relationships. Recognizing and respecting human diversity regarding sexuality, this UUA/UCC*-sponsored program is inclusive in its carefully chosen workshops and language.
UUFP is fortunate to have a number of teachers trained to lead this developmentally age-appropriate curriculum, recently offered to our middle and high school students. "The course is providing the tools so that they become a reference for their peers," comments OWL-trained facilitator Jeff Hinkley.
The Adult Religious Education Committee is also pleased that a four-part, evening course geared for adults is planned for this October (dates TBA). Should you have a topical question for the facilitators to consider addressing during the evening series, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
OWL, and honest, comprehensive and respectful approaches to sexuality, certainly align with our UU values. In UU-form, bringing our whole selves, our full identities, our questioning minds, and our expansive hearts to the table, facing these challenging questions together has the potential to transform and save lives. What better pursuit during our whole lives?
*Unitarian Universalist Association & United Church of Christ
three kilometer walk commencing at 2:00 p.m. The three kilometers (nearly two miles) represents the distance that many people in the world have to walk for water.
CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by religious groups, businesses, schools and others to raise funds to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. This mission supports our local food bank, U.S.-based hunger-fighting organizations and international efforts in providing clean drinking water and tools and training to help families grow the food they need.
We at the UUFP need walkers, donations and cookies. Our cookies are greatly appreciated as an end-of-the-walk treat for the walkers. It’s often the first question we are asked at our Sunday morning Social Justice info/registration table: “Will we be donating cookies this year?”
New and used shoes (ALL sizes and types) are also being collected to donate to THRIVE Peninsula, an organization that teams with many others in turning our donated shoes into jobs in developing nations, funds to help Peninsula families and an environmental effort to reduce waste in our area (and nation’s) landfills! A shoe collection box for this “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” mission is located in the UUFP sanctuary near the entrance/rest rooms.
On October 1, the children of the RE classes will bake cookies for the walk. Because the aroma of baking cookies is so enticing, they will be offered to the congregation for a donation towards the CROP Walk.
To sign up to support this worthy outreach, go to Newport News/Peninsula CROP Hunger Walk, or see Carey Hall-Warner at the Social Justice table between services. If you have questions, email her at email@example.com.
So let's get our coins, our cookies and our walkin' shoes ready to be a part of "ending hunger, one step at a time"!