By Donna Sprock
The wise man, or wise-guy, Stephen Colbert, once said: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without conditions, and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
My name is Donna Sprock, and I am the volunteer coordinator and kitchen organizer for the Meals Ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (UUFP). A little over 15 years ago, I stepped into the amazing shoes of Shirley Grice, who had been our kitchen organizer for PORT (People Offering Resources Together), LINK's* emergency winter shelter program, when she wanted to step back and let a younger generation take up the work. I was a little intimidated by the idea, but let Shirley’s example inspire me. Fortunately for me, she had a lot of great recipes that serve dozens of people! I talked to her, took lots of notes, and tackled my first PORT night. I was surprised to find that I have a knack for planning, shopping, organizing, and directing enthusiastic volunteers to create a meal for 100 people!
Ten years ago this month, in July 2008, the UUFP took on a new mission—to serve meals at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Newport News to people in our local community who are food-insecure. Our first day there was a Saturday. I had raided a friend’s garden and brought a lot of fresh summer squash and tomatoes, with the garden soil still on them! We worked with Reverend Isabel Steilberg and Pat Morrell to learn how to cook in their kitchen and how to minister to the people in the downtown, Newport News, area. I don’t remember the full menu that day, but I do know we made a hot lunch that included beef and vegetable soup with our fresh from the garden vegetables. We even had work for the kids, because we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for bag lunches. It was a great experience and everyone wanted to do it again. We were able to volunteer for four or five Saturdays a year, and as we gained experience we decided that we really wanted to do more. After a couple of years, we were able to take a monthly slot on the third Friday night of every month. Over time our skills and recipes evolved into the program that we are today. And now we have added the first Friday of every month, as well.
It is incredibly rewarding work; work that I personally believe has made me a better, more compassionate person. I don’t expect the people I help to change or “get better.” I don’t expect or want their gratitude. They don’t even have to like the food. I just try to treat them with respect—and remember that they are still people, too. At St. Paul’s we cook a hot meal, always including fresh vegetables and fruit, and serve it to our guests. Then, once everyone has a plate, we volunteers take a plate of food and sit down at the tables with the people we are there to help. We don’t all gather at one table, separate to ourselves. We spread out, one or two of us to each table. I say, “May I join you?” I put down my plate, pull up a chair, and then we talk. What do we talk about? The usual things—sports, the news, the weather. I’m often asked about the UUFP, what kind of church it is. And answering that question usually leads to very interesting conversations. “You accept everybody?” I often hear. And convincing them that we accept all beliefs often takes a while. It’s funny how acknowledging that we even accept atheists here is often the final proof! So of course, I’m asked what UU’s believe. And my answer is “It depends on the UU. But what we all believe is that a person’s beliefs or disbeliefs in God, or gods, or goddesses, are that individual's own business. It’s not up to a UU to tell anyone what to believe. We don’t have any creeds, but we do have a set of principles that address what we truly care about—which is how we treat each other.”
Besides being just neighborly, it gives the person a weapon to fight the isolation, depression and paranoia that many homeless people face. I try to put that old Golden Rule into action.: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat others the way you want to be treated.
There is another saying I try to put into action, one that at first seems to conflict with the Golden Rule. That is: "There is no free ride." But I don’t apply this to the people I’m there to help. I apply it to myself. It pertains to all of us. Every one of us has inherited benefits and developments from generations past, and each of us lives in a network of the labor of others. In order to keep that human network going, each one of us must contribute back to it. It is not always true that if you watch out for others, others will watch out for you. But you are more likely to get out of something what you put into it—from study, to relationships, to society. And the farthest that anyone is allowed to fall in your society is the farthest that you will be allowed to fall. If no one is allowed to starve, you will never starve. If it is unacceptable that anyone be outside without shelter, you will never be outside without shelter. If the dignity and civil rights of all persons—including those who annoy you—are respected, your own dignity and civil rights are safer, too. I believe these values inform all of the work our volunteers and I do at St. Paul’s and PORT.
Our 10th anniversary at St. Paul's is this month. I honestly think of it as a good beginning to good work. I feel fortunate to have found something that I am good at which also helps other people. I feel incredibly blessed that others in the UUFP also want to help and support the meals ministry. I think we all find the work to be enjoyable and important. So many people in the UUFP share my love for this meals ministry and believe in its value. I consider it a sort of yoga for the soul and believe we receive as much benefit from the program as our guests do. I don’t know how to express the depths of my gratitude for the opportunity to do this work. I can only hope you might consider joining me.
*LINK: Living Interfaith Network
Sponsored by the Adult Religious Education Committee
The Adult Religious Education program encourages and supports the spiritual, social and intellectual growth of our UUFP congregation through educational classes, activities, and focused discussions on topics of interest. These opportunities allow participants to learn from one another and from active members of the broader community.
Fostering a vibrant sense of mutual understanding, curiosity, respect, empathy, tolerance, and social justice, Sunday Morning Forum is one such educational opportunity. Here is what is slated for an intriguing July 29th forum and a perusal of other recent stimulating topics.
“The Evolution of Darwin’s Religion”
Presented by Ken Goodwich - July 29, 2018
“To See in West Africa”
Presented by Dr. Hugh E. Berckmueller - July 22, 2018
Guest speaker Dr. Hugh E. Berckmueller shared about his personal and professional experiences in a Ghanaian eye clinic.
Interested in a mission such as this and reaching out beyond the comforts of one's own world? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will help facilitate the connection to learn more!
“Widening the Circle, Healing Divisions”
Presented by Pam Luke & Kathryn Ozyurt - July 15, 2018
Inspired by the power of fellowship circles, the class shared in small group format their perspectives on key questions provided by the Luke-Ozyurt team.
The Legend and Myth of Gilgamesh”
Presented by Meg Glenn-Albiez - July 8, 2018
Adventurer Meg Glenn-Albiez took us on a voyage to discover what this age-old story means to us today.
“Giving Hugs: Reading the Signs”
Presented by Gary Ott & Henry Chambers - July 1, 2018
In their joy, when the released prisoners of war got out of Hanoi they “hugged.” These hugs among men, those released and those of us who were bringing them home, were unconditional—hugs that showed happiness, sincerity, and were without fear. From that kind of hug, when we retired to the U.S. mainland, the unwritten rules for how men are supposed to hug were back in place. Bang! Facilitators Gary Ott and Henry Chambers were the perfect tandem team to illustrate the spectrum on this "hands-on" topic!
“Autism, ADHD, & the Sensory Spectrum: What To Do With Quirky in a Neurotypical World”
Presented by Rachel Bevins - June 24, 2018
So what do those terms really mean, and what can we as a community do in respect and support of people with special needs?
“Bananas in Heaven”
Presented by Kathryn Ozyurt - June 17, 2018
“The Radical Teachings of Jesus”
Presented by April Kelsey - June 10, 2018
We continue to owe a debt of gratitude to each forum facilitator and our faithful interactive attendees in creating such an enriching program! Join us, Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon in the UUFP Office Building!
It will run for all five Wednesday evenings in August. We will start with a light meal at 6:30, and the class will run from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Andrew and I will provide the meal the first week, and we will do potluck for the remaining four weeks.
Childcare will be provided on request. And we encourage all parents in the household to attend.
This course was written by Makanah Morriss and David MacPherson, long time UUs, who have both preached at our church in the past. They share in the introduction to this course:
Throughout our Unitarian Universalist Association, most religious education centers on the weekly hour of classes offered each Sunday. Beyond that there may be a youth program, and periodic meetings and social events. Almost everyone admits that is not enough. For example, parents are continually asking how they can better understand and interpret UU values during the week. They want to help their children respond to questions such as: What is the Bible? What do UUs believe about God? Parents want to know how they can make their homes stronger centers for UU values.
Each session is divided into three parts:
The session titles are as follows:
By Rachel Bevins
Questions? Contact Rachel B. at email@example.com. Thank you!
By Rachel Bevins
As our August summer camp approaches, I wanted to take a moment to share with you how wonderful our June camp was!
In the last week of June, the UUFP coordinated with the homeschool group, Williamsburg Classical Academy, to create TIME TRAVEL week. With campers and youth counselors ranging from ages three to sixteen, we packed in a lot! We wrapped up mummies in Ancient Egypt, built (and destroyed) cardboard box castles in the European Middle Ages, learned a native peyote beading technique in the American Wild West, played an old-fashioned record player in the Swingin’ Sixties, and inoculated one of our counselors (with shaving cream!) against a strange alien bug on Future Day!
We were fortunate enough to meet a lot of special needs. It turned out that more than half of our participants are sensory special. It was such a treat to see kids realize they were not alone! I was so impressed by their ability to respect one another’s needs, help each other through rough patches, and just be able to relax, be themselves, and have fun. Of course a lot of amazing projects and inventive games were created as well. Special thanks to Joanne Dingus, Chris Addotta-Smith, Emily Darugar, Gail Engle, and Scott Kasmire, who were our fabulous guest counselors. They added their own perspectives and exciting activities to make an environment that was perfect for creating important bonds and wonderful memories.
Our next camp will be SCI-FI & FANTASY, August 6 - 10, 2018. Half day for ages three to six is $75, and full day for ages seven to twelve is $150. Junior and senior youth counselor positions, for ages thirteen to seventeen, and adult guest counselor positions are also available. Please contact Rachel B. at firstname.lastname@example.org for a flyer or registration information. We look forward to another week of making great memories!
Happy Birthday to all our members born in July!
Lucy Van Tine
If you are a member and have a birthday in July that we overlooked, please contact Bobbie Schilling; email@example.com.
Services include sermons preached by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard unless otherwise noted.
July 1st: “Human Kindness” and
July 8th: “Cosmic Perspective”
In describing the Earth as a “pale blue dot”, cosmologist Carl Sagan noted both the uniqueness and the isolation of our planet, lamenting the arrogance and cruelty that is unnecessarily common in human society and warning that “in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” In these Sundays bracketing the week of Independence Day, let us celebrate our interdependence, lifting up our urgent need for (in the words of our Second Principle) justice, equity and compassion in human relations and reflecting on the humbling and character-building experience of knowing our place in the Universe.
July 15th: “Between Every Two Pines Is a Doorway to a New World”
There is more to those woods than meets the eyes, and no, we are not talking ghosts and goblins; to the contrary, we are talking phytoncides. Phytoncides are volatile chemicals that plants emit that make us feel good. In this sermon, Jan will explore the concept of “forest bathing” and the importance of forests and nature not only in his life, but also in our lives and religious traditions around the world.
Jan Briedé has been a member of the UUFP since 2000. Originally from Holland, he became a US citizen in 1994. He has a Ph.D. in Range Science from New Mexico State University with a specialty in Plant Physiological Ecology and works for the Department of Environmental Quality for which he provides environmental workshops throughout the state. Jan has been married to Donna for forty-one years. In his free time, he sails, grows bonsais, bikes, blogs and “forest bathes”.
July 22nd: “I’ve Never Been This Old Before”
In pursuit of July’s theme of Exploring, Julian will tell us about his remarkable spiritual journey from “Jewish wanna-be-Catholic in Warsaw, Poland” to “dues-paying UUFP member in Newport News” “by way of the Holocaust, both political and personal.” An award-winning, best-selling memoirist, whose published memoir stopped at age twenty-two when he graduated college, Julian will now recount what he considers “pretty much the total journey”.
After college and military service, Julian Padowicz enjoyed a thirty-nine-year career producing documentary films. He has published a memoir with three sequels, five novels and “Mrs. Parsley” books for children, and he continues to write. Julian and his wife, Donna Carter (who will join him at the pulpit), moved to Hampton and joined the UUFP in 2016.
July 29th: “To Arrive Where We Started”
Does the journey matter more than the destination? It’s certainly important to reach a goal, complete a task or otherwise achieve closure, but how we get there matters, too. In a religious community like our Fellowship, for example, individual growth and the deepening of relationships is an essential part of everything we do, whatever our other intentions. After all, every journey, no matter where it takes us, is ultimately a journey of self-discovery.
By Judy Remsberg
Don’t forget that the UUFP Endowment Fund Trustees have $1,500 to contribute to social justice causes this year!
Thanks to your support through memorials, honorariums and outright gifts, the endowment has continued to grow from our beginning in 2006 to a current balance of $44,760.
In 2006, the policy board established the endowment fund as a way to make sure that the UUFP had funds in perpetuity and entrusted the trustees to guide and steward these important gifts. Over the years, the congregation and the board have developed this strong relationship.
The trustees voted to move our funds to Davenport & Company this spring because they will afford us the opportunity to work with a local company that has a proven track record of growth and personal service.
We report directly to you, the congregation. We give gifts each year but we never touch the principle and can’t without a congregational vote.
How about that for a lock box for our future?
If you ever have questions, please contact the trustees (Roy Schilling, Mason Moseley and Judy Remsberg) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, please, remember the Fellowship in your will!
Happy Birthday to all our members born in June!
If you are a member and have a birthday in June that we overlooked, please contact Bobbie Schilling; email@example.com.
Sponsored by the Adult Religious Education Committee
Sunday Morning Forum began many years ago in complement to minister led worship on Sunday mornings. With our Unitarian Universalist values as both foundation and springboard, the Forum has grown into a well moderated, high quality, adult discussion group that promotes learning on a wide variety of topics. It is a classroom of people who trust each other's good intentions and value each other's diverse opinions.
Haven't checked out the Forum yet? Here is a glimpse of the interesting discussion topics over the last couple of months.
“The Ennea-What Now???”
Presented by Sarah Davis - March 25, 2018
“Bumper Sticker Philosophy: Plumbing the Depths”
Presented by Lehni Lebert – April 3, 2018
“Prosperity Gospel: Evangelical Thought on Pre-existing Conditions”
Presented by Ken Goodrich - April 8 & 15, 2018
Going beyond the pulpit, prosperity theology's foundational notion that individual success or failure are powerful indicators of divine worthiness is becoming a powerful undercurrent in the public sphere.
"Paperclips and Butterflies"
Presented by Dennis Shaw & Julian Padowicz - April 22 & 29, 2018
A unique memorial was established at the school, drawing visitors from around the world. Forum attendees viewed and discussed an award winning video illustrating what these amazing kids accomplished.
"Understanding Evangelicals" - Part III
Presented by April Kelsey – May 6, 2018
"Comfort in a Relationship with Death"
Presented by Mike Taber – May 13 & 20, 2018
“Politics and Religion in Turkey”
Presented by ARE Chair Kathryn Ozyurt – May 27, 2018
"Snake Goddesses of the Mediterranean"
Presented by Dawn Hutchinson - June 3, 2018
Christopher Newport University Professor Hutchinson helped us take a closer look at Mediterranean snake goddesses. What is it that the Rabbis feared?
Our thanks to the many forum facilitators and team members who offer these educational opportunities, which nourish the mind and spirit and infuse us to be Light in the world! Join us, Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon in the UUFP Office Building!
Services include sermons preached by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard unless otherwise noted.
June 3rd: “A Bouquet of People”
When we put together the flowers we have each brought with us for Flower Communion, we make a bouquet that represents the congregation. We appreciate each flower in and of itself, simply for being itself, and we’re glad for what it brings to the whole. In this way, we honor the unique worth of each person, as beautiful in their own way as a flower, each with a special contribution to make our community more beautiful as well.
For our Flower Communion, please bring a flower (preferably with a long stem) with you. Flowers are collected in vases and then distributed during the service.
June 10th: “Hope: the Fierce Urgency of Now”
In his sermons and speeches, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed the fierce urgency of now as the ultimate statement of hope as an existential proposition. Let’s explore existential meaning and its role in enhancing hope, discover the place and purpose of hope as integral to existence, and proclaim the fierce urgency of now as the natural expression of the human condition.
Soon to enter his eightieth year, John Whitley still has the fire in his belly. He is, to use words from one of the songs dear to him, a gentle angry person. His balance is to keep gentleness and anger in a healthy and respectful juxtaposition. Hope fills his being and creates within him the fierce urgency of now, the fire in his belly.
June 17th: “Things My Kindergartner Taught Me”
Where has the time gone? Five years ago, Rev. Andrew preached on “Things My Baby Daughter Taught Me” and now she’s finishing kindergarten! Life as parents continues to be exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time, and it’s always changing, too: Andrew and Allison still learn things about themselves and what it means to be human that they never knew.
Special music provided by the ChorUUs and the UUFP Winds!
June 24th: “All Are Called”
Grounded in a deep assurance that we are all prophets, Unitarian Universalists ask, “How can we faithfully meet the demands of our time?” The call to witness and act for justice in our society and in the world is clear. With the Unitarian Universalist Association addressing questions of identity, legacy and mission at General Assembly in Kansas City, let’s consider what it means to claim that the call of our faith has a place for each of us.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (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; email@example.com.
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.
Grow in Wonder - Connect in Love -
Engage in Service - Inspire Generosity
These are the words we are considering recognizing as our Mission. As such they should embody not only who we are but who we intend to continue to be, and become. I am reminded of the name spoken from the burning bush: “I am who I am becoming.” The Mission embodies those values we have trusted as our beacons and will continue to trust. They assert an ongoing overarching mission. Mission statements tell us how we currently embody, or seek to embody, the Mission.
We will always seek to grow in wonder and as we gain in awareness, our wonder may center on ever newer revelations. We will always be connecting in love, the emphasis on who and how may vary as needs and conditions change. We will always engage in service, but the objects of our service will change as we find new ways to serve and new needs that require service. We will always need to inspire generosity, both in spirit and with resources. Our expression of that generosity will always be finding new outlets.
The beauty of these terms is in their ongoing value, and in the way that they support one another. The more we grow our wonder, the more we will find to value in our universe: The act of valuing will inspire us to connect in love (think of the way that we have discovered the wonders of our planet, leading many of us to hold Earth in our love). As we give our love, so we will be inspired to offer service to that which we love. As we serve, we both express our generosity and are inspired to even more generosity.
As we connect in love, our sense of wonder is excited by that to which we connect. That growth opens further opportunities to engage in service. Engaging in service we find that we connect with those we serve and to others who also serve. Our sense of generosity will be expanded by our new connections. We may even learn to be generous in spirit to those we have not welcomed in the past.
“Engaging in service” similarly connects with the other parts of the mission. Serving opens us up to new objects of wonder. Service points to those we can connect to through love and opens new avenues for generosity. Generosity is a value that supports all the rest of the mission. Generosity points us outside of ourselves. The generous soul appreciates all that is and can be and is full of wonder at all that exists. The generous soul shares love everywhere it can. Service comes naturally to the generous soul.
UUFP has long served the Mission that these words embody. We will continue to serve this Mission far into the future as it embodies what we see as our duty to ourselves, our congregation, our community, our planet and its inhabitants. We may, and indeed probably will, develop mission statements for different times and circumstances as they emerge, but The Mission We Live will continue to embody those beacons that illuminate how we are (and are to be) in the world.
By Lou Seyler
Jim Crow was a deliberate attempt to discriminate against people of color that began as soon as reconstruction ended and Southern White people could create the means to deprive them of voting, education, movement, assistance, and other "Southern Whites' opportunities."
After the Civil Rights Act, once again, Southern Whites began many forms of "color-blind" means to circumvent the effect of that Act. This book documents that Jim Crow was basically re-invented, re-tooled and able to do its work of keeping people of color from opportunities to which they should be entitled. These include the bogus claims of "voter fraud"; the difficulties of registering to vote; the War on Drugs, which locked up generations of young black men for severe penalties for ounces of marijuana; "stop and frisk" laws without probable cause to search a person; and the tragic outcomes of police abuse, which resulted in riots in Ferguson and elsewhere.
This book concludes with a Call for Action to reform the Criminal Justice system. This is very much in keeping with the Unitarian Universalist goals of bringing about reform through Social Justice initiatives.
Held at Old Dominion University, a "Hearsay with Cathy Lewis" WHRO interview of author Michelle Alexander is available.
Sponsored by Social Justice and Adult Religious Education Committees
Facilitator Lou Seyler will lead a Book Club discussion of:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander.
Class meets June 5, 12, 26 in the UUFP Sanctuary/Caum Room, and June 19 in the UUFP Office Building.
Both locations, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Register via the sign-up form available in the UUFP Sanctuary Hospitality Area, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah Pierce Davis
As we spring into Spring, we ready for the UUFP SPRING COMMUNITY YARD & ESTATE SALE scheduled for SATURDAY, June 2, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.!
It’s that time of year to clear out those closets, attics, basements, garages and sheds to donate items to benefit UUFP. We welcome donations from your friends and family too.
It’s a fun way to help the Fellowship earn money and socialize with each other and the community. Last year we collected over $2000 at the spring and fall yard sales to benefit the budget and further the mission of UUFP!
DONATIONS: please consider condition; it should be appealing for people to buy.
All sorts of items in good condition will be accepted, such as: working electronics, tools, pet stuff, kitchen and other household items, appliances, craft kits and supplies, luggage, books, CD’s and DVDs, lights/lamps, adult shoes/boots, computers and accessories, linens, curtains, rugs, lawn and garden items, plants from your garden, purses, backpacks, beach and camping items, and bicycles.
No adult clothing, please (it doesn’t sell), but YES to baby and children’s clothing. Baby items and children’s games and toys in good condition do sell!
Items may be dropped off at the UUFP administration building beginning Tuesday, May 29, through Friday, June 1. Hours are 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Other times for drop-off can be arranged by contacting Sarah Davis or Michelle Sheeler at email@example.com., or calling the church office, 757-369-1098 (leaving a message for Sarah).
Many hands make light work so if you would like to volunteer, please let us know!
Let's repurpose our goods for Good!
My overall sense from the group was that things are going pretty well but that we could do more. Some of the comments were: We would like more events like tonight, more youth group (maybe twice a month), more plays, more parties, more multi-generational activities (perhaps bringing back the annual picnics from past years), more small groups (writers group, typing group) more Soup Socials (year-round), more non-food focused events (this would especially help kids with dietary or allergy concerns), more service projects (visit to an animal shelter), "A Blessing of the Animals" service, and last but not least, more rainbows!
I reviewed the events we currently have scheduled. Game Night (a combined Membership and RE effort) will now be offered year-round on the first Saturday of the month. With the success of the first Pancakes and Pajamas event, we have decided to try it again on the last Sunday of each month. It was suggested that we add a pajama fashion show and waffles (not just pancakes) to the event. Our current Youth Group meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month. We discussed adding additional age group events on a rotating basis. So, we might do a middle school event one month, an elementary school event the next month and then a multigenerational activity the following month. I am in contact with RE leaders in Norfolk and Williamsburg about doing combined activities for high school youth, including a CON (a weekend long event designed by and for youth) in the fall. We are also looking into new ways to support parents. Look for information on a "Parents Afternoon Out" program and "Being a UU Parent" classes in upcoming newsletters.
I encouraged families to start scheduling play dates with each other. This was something that really helped connect my own family to the Fellowship when my kids were little. Practically every week after church, my kids either went home with other kids or invited other kids home to our house. It gave the parents a chance to connect at pick up time, too.
I asked people to think about possible, what I’d like to call, “Living Our Faith Field Trips.” Whether we travel near or far, field trips could be a great way to build community in a meaningful way. What if we organized groups to go to museums or memorials based on Social Justice, Peace, or the environment? Think of the discussions we would have on the ride home. Or what if we planned visits to nursing homes to play games with residents? Or what if we planned multigenerational nature hikes or clean-up days? If you would like to help organize something like this, please contact the RE Committee.
I brought up the fact that there are UU religion badges for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts so if any of our scouts are interested in working through the process to obtain the badges please let me know and we can make this happen.
I’m working on a summer program based on "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy." If you would like to help this summer as a volunteer guide, please let me know. That said, we will be looking for teachers to help in the fall as well. We work in teaching teams so there is flexibility for you to teach as much as you want. We are also looking for more members for the RE Committee as well. Being on the committee is a great way to get involved with shaping our program.
See you in the RE!
“For all that is our life” by Rev. Andrew
What do you remember of life and events at our Fellowship over the last sixty years?
As we prepare to celebrate the UUFP’s Diamond Anniversary next month, you are invited to help us build up a timeline of significant points in the congregation’s history. On the back wall of the Sanctuary, there are large sheets of paper labeled by decade. On Sunday mornings or any other time you’re in the building, you are welcome to add a note of what you remember, whether it’s from the last ten years or going all the way back to our chartering in 1958. (Though the paper is supposed to resist ink bleeding through, we have markers with washable ink, just in case!)
As for the celebrations themselves, don’t forget to mark your calendars for May 12th and 13th! We’re inviting all members and friends both past and present to join us for food, fun and fellowship!
When: Saturday May 12th, 6pm-10pm; Sunday May 13th, at 9:30am and 11:15am services
Where: UUFP Sanctuary Building (415 Young’s Mill Lane, Newport News)
What to bring: yourself — you are our special guest for the celebration!
What to wear: what about an outfit that represents the decade you began coming to the Fellowship?
What activities are planned? On Saturday, there’ll be a potluck featuring food and music of the last sixty years. (Potluck sign-up sheets are posted in the Sanctuary Building.) On Sunday, past Presidents will be recognized at the celebration. And for children and youth especially, bring something to put in the time capsule that represents the current time period.
By Kathryn Ozyurt & Maria Cory
“Diversity is generally divisive, and it has to be managed. There is some interesting research showing that when you celebrate diversity and point it out, you split people, but if you drown it in a sea of commonality, then it’s not a problem. So anything you can do to emphasize how similar we all are, how much we have in common, is good. Anything you can do that celebrates — 'Look at how different we are. Look at how diverse we are' — that tends to make it harder to have any group cohesion and trust.”
Lin Chambers had a “driving moment” as she was listening to NPR’s On Being radio show featuring social psychologist Jonathan Haidt - The Psychology of Self-Righteousness. Intrigued by Haidt’s interview, Lin subsequently purchased his book: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.
Haidt’s works were an inspiration and springboard for discussion at the March 4, 2018 Adult Forum. Facilitated by Lin, the class focus included how essentially good people can end up on opposite sides of the political and religious perspective, and how people at both ends of the continuum are at risk of blind self-righteousness.
Haidt defines “conservative” and” liberal”—"not necessarily as political affiliations, but as personality types or ways of moving through the world.” With the psychology of morality and the moral emotions as Haidt’s specialization, this New York University professor’s research indicates that people often believe they have discovered sole truths and are stating facts, while they are actually repeating what they have heard and read, and what they have seen and interpreted.
People’s ideas, beliefs and what they declare as facts often become a closed “moral world” in which they are unwilling and unable to think beyond their own perspectives. Haidt cites that it is impossible to see the flaws in one’s own “moral matrix”—a major impediment to conflict resolution and bridging political and religious gaps between conservatives and liberals.
Lin continued by explaining Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory and its importance in civility, problem-solving and speaking across difference. Liberals are viewed as morality-focused, with emphasis on compassion, fairness and social justice. Conservatives value loyalty and authority, preferring order and structure. People on the left tend to be universalist. People on the right tend to be parochial. Rigid application of each group’s values limits their understanding of the other’s motivations in political and spiritual decision making.
This is where building relationship is crucial to finding the balance between the two extremes, says Haidt. In accomplishing goals, using conservative and liberal virtues in complement to each other render the most effective results. “When you get people to actually understand each other, and they let down their guard, and they learn something new, and they see humanity in someone that they disliked or hated or demonized before, that’s really thrilling. And that, I think, is one of the most important emotional tools we have to foster civility.”
Our thanks to Lin Chambers for leading us in a measure of self-examination and for generously donating Jonathan Haidt’s book to the UUFP. Interested in learning more about Haidt’s studies on moving from a state of polarization and paralysis to being a catalyst for political, religious and social change? Check out Haidt’s book available in the UUFP office.
Happy Birthday to all our members born in April!
If you are a member and have a birthday in April that we overlooked, please contact Bobbie Schilling; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Services include sermons preached by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard unless otherwise noted.
April 1st: “Why so serious?”
Given its coinciding with Easter Sunday this year, April Fool’s Day has been cancelled for 2018 and will instead be celebrated twice in 2019. The change has been ordered by the Pope, according to Vatican spokesman Father Pesce d’Aprile, who has had this authority since his predecessor Gregory XIII created the modern-day calendar in 1582.
Special music for Easter will be provided by the UUFP Winds!
April 8th: “Come On In”
Welcoming the bad stuff along with the good? Seriously?! Today we explore the practice of welcoming everything into our lives — yes, everything.
Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig is the minister of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists. She is new to the congregation and the Hampton Roads area, having moved here last summer after serving congregations in Northern Virginia, California and Illinois. She is also a trained spiritual director. We welcome Laura to the Fellowship in her first pulpit swap with Andrew!
April 15th: “WE > i”
A congregation is a group of like-hearted people who gather in community to share the gifts of their lives with one another. One of the most important things we can do as a community is to be present, to listen to one another with deep compassion, to hear another’s pain without making it a competition, and to remind one another that no matter who we are, this is a special place where we will always be loved.
April 22nd: “Returning Home”
As seen from space, the Earth is a mosaic of continents and oceans. By day there are mountains and deserts, forests and lakes; by night there are bright beaded networks of light from towns and cities. Except for clouds, though, the thin cradle of the atmosphere is all but invisible. Yet with every breath, we’re reconnected with every living being on the planet, yet most of us breathe so effortlessly that it takes no thought or feeling, and so we give it none.
Special music for Earth Day will be provided by the ChorUUs!
April 29th: “The Antidote to Greed and Avarice: Generosity!”
What is the relationship between greed and generosity? If we are wrapped around ourselves, how will that hinder or enhance the fullness of humanity that binds us together or separates us from a world of peace and joy? When we face violence and pain in the world, what resources are available to counter the potentially destructive impulses that too easily run amok in government and private levels of human interaction?
Rev. Charles Swadley is organizer of the James River Chapter of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. He twice served as Executive Director of the statewide organization and received its Citizen of the Year Award in 2016. He has served church and community in numerous ways with a focus on meeting the needs of children and received the 2015 Faith in Action Award from the Virginia Council of Churches. A retired United Methodist minister, Charles is an inspiration of generosity.
By Joanne Dingus
When I first heard about the march, I held off signing up, hoping there would be something nearby. But after reaching out to local organizers and finding nothing had been scheduled, I made the decision to go to DC. Of course, closer to the date, it turned out that marches were organized in Norfolk, Williamsburg and even Newport News. I’m pleased that many of our other members and friends were able to support those events.
I had some anxiety about going to Washington. Although I was glad to have gone to the first Women’s March there, it was a really hard day physically and emotionally, and attending the Women’s March in Williamsburg this year was so much easier and less stressful. In addition to worries about overly crowded metros, being trapped in a crowd that never moved, finding a portalet when needed, staying hydrated, being able to see or hear anything, and getting back to the bus on time, there was the extra worry about whether there would be violence. After all, this was a march about gun rights. I fully expected to see counter-protesters bearing arms. But as it turned out, of the three marches I’ve mentioned, the only one where I saw someone openly carrying a gun was in Williamsburg.
When we arrived at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, my excitement revved up seeing all the buses already parked. I looked out the window and saw a group of young people heading toward a shuttle bus led by a woman my age. It was Chris Johns, the director of religious education, in Fredericksburg. Yup, I was in the right place.
My group of four decided to take the metro. We each grabbed an extra water provided by the city and prepared for long waits and crowds. But much to our surprise, we were the only people in our car except for a man from Pennsylvania who said he had come with a group of Quakers. For a moment I wondered if maybe, people had decided not to support this march. Maybe the attendance would be far lower than expected. Our group continued up to Pennsylvania Avenue and made it to 6th Street; that’s when we knew there would be plenty of support for this march. We pretty much stayed there for the entirety. Overall, it was a very comfortable location. We could see the stage in the distance, and the nearby speakers and screens made it quite easy to see and hear the whole event.
The streets were a melting pot, an undeniable visual of what democracy looks like. The signs in general, were powerful, raw and from the heart. The chants were for change: Enough is Enough, Never Again, Vote Them Out.”
My decision to attend was reaffirmed when the event began. Andra Day started singing “Rise Up,” a song I feel strongly connected to. A young girl next to me started singing along. Tears began sliding down my cheeks as we sang together. “And I'll rise up. I'll rise like the day. I'll rise up. I'll rise unafraid. I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again.” And I thought about my kids, and I thought about the kids I help to protect at my school. And I thought about the kids from my church whose signs I brought to the march. And I thought about all the kids on the march and those about to speak on the stage.
One after another, students from Parkland and students from around the country shared their stories and their messages about the effects of gun violence on their lives and the desperate need for change. Several other top singers performed and there was a special appearance by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, granddaughter who led us in a chant. There were several videos broadcast throughout, including the one where we heard the shots being fired at Parkland. Videos featuring views from various politicians and the National Rifle Association were met with roaring disapproval from the masses.
The whole event was extremely well organized and professionally executed. The student’s statements were powerful and confident. They showed their passion and their ability to lead. But there was one moment in the day, completely unplanned that may have sent the strongest message. One of the Parkland students began speaking about her experience. She went on to recite a poem she’d written, and halfway through, she suddenly threw up. You could hear other students yelling, “We love you,” as she continued to heave. A woman, perhaps one of her teachers, held her shoulder.
And then the girl rallied. She laughed and said, “Oh my God, I just threw up on national television.” And we all laughed, and smiled, and she continued. She finished her poem, and she finished her speech. She persisted. And it was the most human moment. The greatest moment of universal connection to the human condition.
Of course, she would throw up. She was a 15, maybe 16-year-old student in front of 800,000 people. She was on the same stage as Pop culture, super stars. She was public speaking! Who among us has not felt the shaky knees, the queasy stomach, the light-headedness that goes along with the courage needed to put yourself out there? But far more than stage fright, what happened to her, what happened in her school on February 14, 2018, was sickening. And 38 days later, her body spewed out in revolt; “enough is enough.” And I wondered how many students may have vomited that day as they ran passed the bodies of their murdered classmates? How many collapsed when they reached the safety of their parent’s trembling embrace?
Being sickened by the violence that is happening in this country is a human reaction. Because if knowing that our children and adults are being senselessly murdered in our schools, streets, churches, movie theaters, concerts and nightclubs isn’t enough to make you sick to your stomach, what is?
So, what will I bring home from the March For Our Lives? A renewed sense of conviction to speak up, to show up, to persist. And I will bring back the reminder that we are all human, and our universal experiences give us the power to connect beyond any differences. We can rise up! And we must rise up unafraid and even when we are afraid, because there is hope and we have each other. And with that we can end gun violence!
“For all that is our life” by Rev. Andrew
From its chartering in 1958 until the turn of the century, the Unitarian (then Unitarian Universalist) Fellowship of the Peninsula was served by a series of part-time ministers. (Some of you may remember the song that Joanne wrote, setting to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” all the names of this ministers!)
Many of these ministers were “shared” with the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, such as the Rev. Peter Lee Scott who in the 1980s was called to Norfolk — where his wife, Faith, served as Director of Religious Education — and also provided quarter-time support here in Newport News. It was during Peter’s time serving the Fellowship that his father, Universalist minister Clinton Lee Scott, died: the Japanese maple outside the Sanctuary’s front door was planted in memory of the elder Scott.
After his time here in Virginia, Peter went on to serve other congregations. Faith was also ordained and the couple served as co-ministers before they both retired in 1999. At the age of eighty, Peter was elected Minister Emeritus by the congregations where he continued to preach occasionally. Recently, we learned that he died in December. As Faith noted, “Peter much disliked the closing in of increasing darkness and shortening days between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. He died on December 20th, the day marking the return of the light.” You can read Peter’s obituary in full here.
As the Fellowship approaches the sixtieth anniversary of its charter on May 14th 1958, this news offers one opportunity of many over the coming weeks to look back at our history as a congregation. It also gives me a reason to share Peter’s list of times to contact the minister, which came to me recently via another colleague. “When to Call the Minister” has been re-printed and re-posted many times over the years, first in church mailings and nowadays electronically. Sometimes it appeared without attribution, or with mis-attribution, but it was written by Peter Lee Scott, as a young minister serving his first congregation, the First Universalist Society of New Haven, CT in 1957. “He reports being amazed and amused to see it appear in so many other newsletters.”
When to Call the Minister?
Of course, there are other times to call the minister, and these days there are other ways to reach me, too. (Though if you don’t have my cell number, just ask!) So, let me know what you think!
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