Tidewater Cluster Annual Assembly
By Sandra Engelhardt and Joanne Dingus
Together, "Courage Times Seven" multiplies our reach! Members and friends from the seven cluster congregations (Fredericksburg, Glen Allen, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, White Stone, and Williamsburg) gathered to grow, learn, connect, and explore ways to further embody our Seven UU Principles. Shown here is a portion of our UUFP enthusiasts who attended! (Photo by Rosalee Pfister; click to enlarge.)
At the fifth Tidewater Cluster Assembly held on October 14, 2017, Newport News was well represented with ten of nearly forty attendees. Having gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg for this event, our UUFP team is pleased to offer these additional reports in complement to Courage Times Seven Part I previously published in The eFlame.
Joanne Dingus attended a workshop on "UU Evangelism," which provided some good ideas, many of which UUFP already implements. The second workshop in which she joined was titled "Courageous Spiritual Growth." Participants took time to consider how we define each of those words, both separately and together, and to reflect on how they are manifested in our congregations and in our personal lives.
Sandra Engelhardt and Pam Luke attended the "Climate Change and Sustainability" workshop by Keya Chatterjee of NASA. Rendering a very thought-provoking presentation, Keya stressed "three buckets of action." They were: prepare (by helping others), stop causing the problem (i.e., using fossil fuels) and minimizing human suffering and death. The importance of joining organizations and taking actions were discussed in detail.
Additionally, Sandra was present for the workshop on "Gerrymandering," led by OneVirginia2021 Executive Director Brian Cannon. Providing the background and possible actions to address this issue, the speaker included how various states have historically dealt with this problem. Brian invited us to learn more about the coalition's mission regarding "Virginians for Fair Redistricting" by viewing the documentary, “GerryRIGGED, Turning Democracy On Its Head.”
In the "Coalition Building" program, offered by Lisa Manion of Fredericksburg, we were divided into groups to work on various problems from the perspective of specific questions and skills.
Joanne Dingus described the spirit of our team. "I have to say my favorite part of the Cluster meeting was the travel to and from with Rosalee, Pam, Scott and Alicia. The amount of commitment, thoughtfulness, insight, leadership and love for our Fellowship exhibited in that van was amazing!" She concluded with a food for thought take-away, "How do we empower more people in our own congregation to embrace the qualities shown by the passengers in that van?"
Part of the Cluster Assembly's closing was a discussion for newcomers about the impact of UUA's General Assembly in New Orleans. The experience was both spiritual and wonderful, noted Joanne.
Next year's Tidewater Cluster Assembly will be at the UU Church in Williamsburg in the fall. Please think about attending! If you would like more information, contact one of the following: Henry Chambers, Alicia Hofler or Sandra Engelhardt.
By Mason Moseley & Alicia Hofler
Photo by Rosalee Pfister
Tidewater Cluster Annual Assembly
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg (UUFF)
The fifth gathering of the seven regional Unitarian Universalist congregations occurred this past weekend with several early-morning carloads making their way to Fredericksburg. Newport News had much to provide this event, both in planning and workshop leadership.
The Reverend Doug McCusker led the opening worship telling his own story of coming to UU ministry via having his United States Government employment security needs pointing the way. This led to his gratitude to his spouse for “having his back” during that transition challenge. That led to his offering participants to light a votive candle (harder than it looks) to honor those who have been there for us. Fredericksburg members showed that Doug has had a meaningful impact in his two years there.
Eunice Haigler, a Fredericksburg community activist and UUFF member, spoke of being African-American in a culture that upholds “white” values and consciousness. She reminded us whites to “invite us, we like to eat.” Ever hopeful in her many efforts at social justice, her words were inspirational.
There were four workshops in both the morning and afternoon sessions. UUFP member Alicia Hofler led “Fundraising: The topic that must not be named.” It’s not every day I get to hear from a Jefferson Lab scientist, so I attended. Being an academic, she started with a list of resources:
Alicia’s approach had us all involved, and we shared fund-raising stories and ideas from the three congregations represented. This, I feel, is the value of a gathering like this, hearing how others keep their faith community working. The responses kept her busy recording. “Mission budgets” versus “line budgets” was what had an impact; i.e., showing budget categories of an overall congregation’s mission rather than dollar amounts next to accounting lines.
Lunch was healthy and bountiful and provided for more greetings. Conversations were in full swing.
The afternoon saw Henry Chambers lead a workshop on "Nurturing Your Congregation."
Mason attended the workshop: "Virginia 2021: Virginians for Fair Redistricting," led by Brian Cannon, executive director, OneVirginia2021. He laid out the organization’s strategies, both successes and those less so. He demonstrated how this is a bi-partisan effort and how voters signing OneVirginia 2021’s petition is used and can get legislator’s attention. Additionally, he emphasized the need to have interested people watch the documentary on their website “GerryRIGGED, Turning Democracy On Its Head.” Brian believes this issue will be prominent in the next General Assembly session. He is a dynamic, enthusiastic leader in this effort. He remained through the closing session.
Pam Luke and Alicia attended the session on "The Richmond Pledge to End Racism." Members from Glen Allen described the history behind the pledge starting with the Birmingham pledge. Before signing the pledge, people are encouraged to take part in a two-day workshop that Richmond has developed to help participants better understand where racism is found in our society and within ourselves. The workshop motivates and charges participants to take action against racism and solidifies the commitment of pledge signers. The UUFP’s Social Justice Committee is considering bringing this workshop to the UUFP.
Everyone gathered for the Keynote Workshop: "Coalition Building."
Lisa Manion of UUFF took the information from the site “Community Tool Box.” In these times of seeming cross-purposes, she reviewed how to go about organizing and keeping on-track.
Sandra Engelhardt and Reverend Jeanne Pupke, First Unitarian Unitarian Church of Richmond, gave an overview of plans to revive the UU Legislative Ministry of Virginia by starting at the congregation level. More details to follow.
Rev. Doug wished us safe travels and reminded us to “have each other’s back.”
All were invited in the “get-it-ready-for Sunday-services” ritual.
The Fredericksburg Fellowship site is an excellent example of what could be if the UUFP decided to expand or build on another site.
By Maria Cory
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. The mountains are calling and I must go." -John Muir
And, indeed, the Shaws did go!
Fulfilling a lifetime dream, Dennis and Carol Shaw embarked on a six-week, 8000-mile, summer vacation to see Yosemite National Park, including enjoying other points of splendor and intrigue while driving across the United States. This traveling twosome's account at Sunday Morning Forum was far more than just a few "Kodak moments."
"The trip was breathtaking," expressed Carol. But lasting impressions were made by more than mountains and valleys, crests and canyons, waterfalls and desert. Nature's Majesty was only a portion of Creation's Beauty experienced by these explorers along the way.
Ahhh, yes…Creation's child named "Kindness" touched the lives of the Shaws. "We were blessed by kindnesses from people we did not know," said Dennis gratefully. These personal, random (though intentional) acts of kindness, without expectation of reciprocity or compensation, were not ones of altruistic heroism or charitable magnitude. Yet, they were as palpable in reach and spirit as Yosemite's magnificence!
Dennis further related: "There is a link to gratitude when kindness is received. Studies show that those 'consciously focusing on gratitude experienced a reduction in negativity, increased optimism and tendencies to offer emotional support, enhanced sleep quality and a greater sense of well-being'" (Warren D. TenHouten's "Emotion and Reason: Mind, Brain, and the Social Domains of Work and Love").
At the facilitators' invitation, classmates shared about their experiences with the selfless, caring acts of others and the importance of nurturing face to face interaction in a world of rapidly advancing technology. "One good turn deserves another," and Kindness begets kindness," were added affirmations visually depicted (in deed but no dialogue) via the class closing video.
Yosemite may be calling, but perhaps there is no need to shout "It" from the mountaintop. Rather, the Shaws shared the Dalai Lama's simple map for our journey: "My religion is very simple. My religion is Kindness."
May we be ripples of Kindness in Creation as we ride the Wave of Wonder, Love, Service and Generosity in a Universe so yearning for this Goodness!
May it be so.
In an effort to try on our new mission statement, the Sunday Services Committee is putting out a call for art. All art should reflect one or more
of the themes expressed in the statement.
Grow in Wonder, Connect in Love, Engage in Service, Inspire Generosity.
Artists are asked to consider the mission statement Grow in Wonder,
Connect in Love, Engage in Service, Inspire Generosity when creating
their work. Work may focus on one or more parts of the statement. All
art should be appropriate for our faith community members and visitors
of all ages to view. The Sunday Services Committee reserves the right to
reject any art they do not deem appropriate for any reason. Their
decisions are final.
Rules and guidelines:
Please submit art to Joanne Dingus by December 31, 2017.
The art will be displayed from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
Well it is the end of September, so here is an update on some recent Board Activities. Before our first meeting the Board found itself in a perilous situation, locked into a room with only our wits and some very ambiguous clues. We managed to escape in the nick of time. It was a fun and enlightening bonding experience at Escape on Victory Blvd. The annual Board retreat followed a few weeks later, on August 19, at the Williamsburg church
Over the course of our monthly meetings we have accomplished some
important work. The Board has directed that the Social Justice Committee
include PORT and St. Paul’s Fridays as part of their regular budget next
year. Social Justice was happy to do this. These commitments are
important parts of our ministry to the community and should be
included in the Fellowship’s regular budget. We will also add a new line
to next year’s budget “Board’s Discretionary Fund” which will be
earmarked for providing recognition to members who perform
outstanding services to the Fellowship. (2018 Budget)
The Board has also created templates for Committee Charters to make
it easier for both Board and Policy Programs to complete these. (Template will be made available soon) We have adopted a procedure for the creation of Special Task Forces of the Board and reporting procedure. Task Forces will be formed to consider specific issues and make recommendations to the Board. Currently we have three operating task forces that will now come under this policy: Safety, Sunday Hours Review and Sabbatical. A new task force is being created to work on Archiving the Fellowship’s documents and records.
A new Child Care Policy and Procedure has been approved to ensure quality care for children at Fellowship Events. The Child Care Policy Team Alicia Hofler, Joanne Dingus, Allison Black, Christine Woods, and Jeff Hinkley worked very diligently on this issue.
Board Members are continuing to serve as liaisons to the Ministries of
the Program Council and as Board Member on Call on Sundays as well
as frequently serving as Lay Leaders during services.
Christine Woods has been asked to initiate the search for a new Office
Assistant and is well into the process. We hope to hold interviews
immediately upon Andrew’s return from Sabbatical. In the meantime,
the Board thanks all those who have stepped in to see that things get
done. Thanks to Gayle Phillips and Donna Carter for staffing the office,
to the Communications and Sunday Services Committee for picking up
some additional tasks and to Joanne Dingus for all her work and
supporting cheer and to everyone else who is helping out!
By Maria Cory
The headline's significant question is more than a pun on the marketing campaign trademark slogan implemented by an American multinational telecommunications conglomerate. It is a critical concern among the hard-of-hearing population and with people who interact with them.
Sunday Morning Forum guest speaker Kathi Mestayer is no stranger to hearing challenges and this field of study. Identifying herself and a number of family members as hard of hearing, Kathi led the class in a discussion entitled: "Say What? How Hearing Loss Affects Us, and Those Around Us."
Functional hearing loss ranges from mild to profound. "There has been an increased incidence of hearing loss among young people, and noise-induced audiological injury is the number one cause of hearing loss among veterans," illustrated Kathi through her statistical review.
Gradual and/or mild hearing loss can sometimes go unnoticed, since people may adapt to the change. But this is not always the case. Inability to hear can affect the quality of our work, our relationships and our day to day lives.
James Battey, director of the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health) states: "We do not [yet] have the equivalent of eyeglasses for hearing loss."
Despite hearing aids' incapacity to offer a sensory improvement commensurate to that of eyeglasses for vision, our Forum facilitator elaborated how each of us can be supportive of people with hearing challenges. These measures include attention to volume, quiet, clarity, visibility, no sudden noises and patience.
Kathi spoke further about advocacy within the medical community, citing the importance of including hearing screenings with annual physicals. She continues to join other activists in educational efforts to remove obstacles (e.g., expense and vanity!) regarding obtaining and using hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.
There may be times in life where the proverbial saying, "Silence Is Golden," is applicable, but the sound of silence can be deafening in the lives of hard-of-hearing people. Let's do our part in ensuring that the communication lines between all of us have a sound and respectful connection!
Happy Birthday to all our members born in October!
Hirlinger Saylor, John
If you are a member and have a birthday in October that we overlooked, please contact Bobbie Schilling; email@example.com.
theme: Stronger Together
Rev. Andrew Clive Millard will return from sabbatical next month (November) and will resume regular Sunday preaching in December.
October 1st: “Water Communion”
An indigenous social activist from Guatemala, Rigoberta Menchú says, “I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark, and I leave my mark in many people's hearts.” We will celebrate the power of water and our own powers to create and to destroy. Bring water from your home to be shared.
Cynthia Snavely lives in Hayes, VA with her son-in-law, who is currently stationed at Fort Eustis, her daughter, and her four grandsons. She serves the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in New Bern, North Carolina part-time, spending eight days a month on site and working remotely at other times in the month. She is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College and Drew Theological School.
October 8th: “Creation Care”
Understanding God's love and care for creation grounds us in our response to be stewards of all creation. Climate change in effecting all creation and requires us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Huntington Mennonite Church has enacted a Creation Care Energy plan to help care for creation and our future families.
Russell DeYoung was a senior research scientist in the Science Directorate of NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1970 and a Ph. D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois 1975. He is a member of Huntington Mennonite Church, Newport News where he helps lead the church on creation care.
October 15th: “Loving the Other”
We live in a society where we have problems with the “Other”, those who don’t share our culture, language, political views, or religious beliefs. But they are our neighbors in the beloved community. Biblical scriptures ask us to “Love our Neighbors as ourselves, however at times we find it difficult to do. In these polarizing times that we live in, how can we find within ourselves to love the “other”?
Rev. Sherman Z. Logan, Jr., currently serves as the Executive Minister for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia. An ordained Baptist minister, he joined the staff of First UU in 2008, as the Business Manager. While serving as Business Manager, Sherman started the process of becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister and was granted preliminary ministerial fellowship (plural standing) in 2014. He is married to his” soul-mate” Franka, and they are proud parents of five children, five grandchildren, and two dogs.
October 22nd: “The Dred Scott Case and White Supremacy in Abraham Lincoln's America”
In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared in the infamous Dred Scott decision that African Americans were not citizens and did not possess any rights that white people were bound to respect. This Supreme Court case ignited a political firestorm in the United States, just as the nation was on the verge of civil war. This teach-in will examine Abraham Lincoln's strong rejoinder to Taney and the Dred Scott decision in which Lincoln expounded a view that all Americans, regardless of color, possessed certain rights and privileges as citizens.
Jonathan White, an associate professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, is the author of several books, a finalist for both the Lincoln Prize and Jefferson Davis Prize, a “best book” in Civil War Monitor, and the winner of the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. He has published more than seventy-five articles, essays and reviews, and is the winner of the 2005 John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article in Civil War History, the 2010 Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize, and the 2012 Thomas Jefferson Prize for his Guide to Research in Federal Judicial History (2010). He is president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Board of Advisors of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, and the Ford’s Theatre Advisory Council.
October 29th: “Reformation 500th Anniversary”
Five Hundred years ago on October 31st (All Hallow’s Eve) a scholarly monk is said to have nailed 95 theses to the doors of Wittenberg Cathedral. His name was Martin Luder (later changed to Luther) and some believe the Protestant Reformation began with his hammer stroke. Our faith has been called the far-left wing of the Reformation, but what is our debt to Luther and his movement?
Jim Sanderson, UUFP president, is a long-time Unitarian Universalist. He has served as chair of the Sunday Services Committee, as UUFP Vice President, and as a Fellowship Circle facilitator. Before joining the Fellowship, Jim served as the locally ordained minister of the Jenkins UU Fellowship in Petersburg and for a decade as chair of the Religious Education Committee at First Unitarian in Richmond. A retired librarian, Jim has a strong passion for UU history, finding much in our past that can inform our present and future.
Older Blog Posts (2013-2017)