Navigators USA Chapter 58 – Meet the Juniors Leader

Nicole Lorsong

Nicole Lorsong

submitted by Nicole Lorsong

Hello, my name is Nicole and I am one of the founding leaders of Navigators USA Chapter 58. This year, 2014-2015, I will be leading the Stargazers and Juniors clusters, and am looking forward to a fun and informative year!

I didn’t grow up in the scouts. In fact, aside from a year in Brownies in 1st grade, I don’t have any scouting experience at all. I did, however, grow up playing outside. I was lucky enough to have a big backyard with a woods and a stream, where I could dig holes, build forts, and look for animal prints. In the summer my mom would garden while my brother and I rode bikes and swam. Though we didn’t have a farm, my parents let me keep chickens and a pot bellied pig as pets, and my friend down the street had horses we could ride. We spent a lot of time pretending to be part of a local native tribe, riding bareback, constructing stick and grass huts, and making pots from clay we got from the stream. My parents have always been into projects and do-it-yourself, and I watched them build buildings, start and run a business, fix cars, direct school plays, cook, sew, and more.

navigatinNot long after I had my own kids, I realized that my childhood was fairly unique. Living outside Baltimore City with two small children, I didn’t have the wooded backyard for them to play in, a safe street for them to ride their bikes, and aside from feral cats there were no animals around to look at. At first I despaired at what I considered my own failings as a parent. To me, childhood was nature. I worried that without the same exposure to the great outdoors that I had, my kids wouldn’t feel the same connection to the Earth, and would therefore be less likely to care about protecting it and its fellow inhabitants. I also worried that without the time, space, and talent for many of the projects I watched my parents complete, those skills would be lost both to me and to my children.

Looking around, I saw that my situation was hardly my own failing, but the standard for most families. Most children don’t have unrestricted access to large areas of safe open space. Many adults don’t have the time, space, talent, or family support for maintaining the do-it-yourself skills of their parents and grandparents. If my kids were going to be able to climb trees, see food growing, splash in streams – do the things I felt were needed for a connection to nature and the planet – I was going to have to work a little harder to bring them to those opportunities. To re-develop and preserve skills would take some branching out to the greater community. It was not a failing, just a different way.

Nav2Currently, I am a homeschooling mother to two navigators scouts. I have a small backyard vegetable garden and a strong interest in urban homesteading and self-sufficiency. I love to hike, paint, bake, and start any project I can get my hands on. In the past I have started and a run successful home business making and selling my own cold process soaps and men’s grooming products. I am a certified Iyengar yoga instructor, though I’m just now trying to get back into practice after the better part of 12 years off.

My desire to be a Navigators USA leader is to help other children connect with nature and their planet, and to build an inclusive community that supports and values developing the minds and skills of its youth. Teaching the next generation to work together, to value themselves and each other, and to be accepting, welcoming, tolerant, and compassionate is of major importance to me. I see being a part of Navigators USA as an opportunity to come together and support each other as a community that grows stronger individuals. As the Navigators Slogan says, “The more you give, the more you get.” Through my family’s short time in Navigators, we have been able to get dirty making compost, haul sticks in a yard clean up day, run along a secluded beach chasing crabs, search the forest underbrush for frogs on a nature hike, and bake cookies for a homeless shelter, all while making new friends and learning from and with each other.

NAV1I appreciate the points of the Navigator’s Moral Compass – “As a Navigator I promise to do my best to create a world free of prejudice and ignorance. To treat people of every race, creed, lifestyle and ability with dignity and respect. To strengthen my body and improve my mind to reach my full potential. To protect our planet and preserve our freedom.” – and am excited to be a part of this growing organization.

I am very thankful to the UUFP for sponsoring our chapter, and especially for selecting us as a Share the Basket Partner this year. This contribution will go a long way to making sure our program is able to stay active and running, to pay for national dues and insurance, help us participate in a wider array of activities, and ensure that we are able to truly include everyone, regardless of their financial situation.

Chapter 58 will be hosting an Informational Meeting and Open House on Wednesday, August 20th at 7pm in the office building. All are welcome to attend! For more information I can be emailed at


Posted in EDITION: September 2013, Navigators | Leave a comment

Announcements (August 2014)


There will be no get-together in the month of August;  our next lunch will be September 16th.  Enjoy the rest of the summer!

For any questions please contact Esther at 369-1858.



Our Sunday morning 9:30 learning/discussion program has a new name: SUNDAY MORNING FORUM. The Adult Education Committee chose this title to better delineate the activities of that program—we learn through discussion— the program is open to all not just adults.

SUNDAY MORNING FORUM schedule for August

Aug. 2: Dawn Hutchinson—Understanding the faith of two 19th century American Churches– The 7th Day Adventist and The Jehovah Witness faith..

Aug 10: Bob Smith—American Protestant Fundamentalism-Session #1

Aug. 17:Bob Smith—Fundamentalism-Session #2

Aug. 24: Ken Goodrich—Lost Christianities #1

Aug 31:  Ken Goodrich—Lost Christianities #2


Any announcements not submitted may be added to this post at a later date and/or posted via other communication venues.  

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Lay Pastoral Care Associate Introduction by Sarah Pierce-Davis

Sarah Pennington Pierce-Davis

Sarah Pennington Pierce-Davis

Submitted by Sarah Pennington Pierce-Davis

I was pleased when Andrew invited me to attend the Lay Pastoral Care training in Richmond last spring. But I wasn’t sure I was the best candidate because, unlike Brad, I am not an introvert who loves to listen, and, unlike Janine, I’m not a pastor’s daughter who did this kind of thing starting at age 12.

And lets be honest, talking comes much more easily to me than listening and I LIKE to solve problems, feed people, provide material help or offer my humble but accurate opinion (HBAO) on any subject under the sun; all of which is frowned upon in Lay Pastoring.

I went though, because it was a chance to hang out with some really cool people and because CLEARLY this is a “growth area” for me.   A third reason is that I grew up in the church. Knowing how much I received how could I NOT want to help provide the same to others.

Organized religion has played a pretty big role in my life.  In my quest to find a community of believers where I fit in or where not fitting was OK I’ve tried every mainstream denomination…twice and any number of not so mainstream ones. I guess my point is that a caring church community is a must for me and, I’m pretty sure for many others as well. Lay pastoral care seems a potentially excellent way to bring the Fellowship to members of our community who can no longer, for whatever reason, get here to participate.

Lastly I went because we are a congregation transitioning from small to medium in size.  So it’s vital we support our fearless leader Andrew in deliberately developing ways to bolster the net of support around our members in need.  And one minister, no matter how awesome, does not a net make.

In  “WELCOME: A Unitarian Universalist Primer” David O. Rankin presents 10 Unitarian Universalist (UU) belief statements.  All are profound but 2 of the 10  (IMHBAO) apply directly to the concept of lay pastoral care.    Number 7 states, “We believe in the ethical application of religion.  Good works are the natural product of a good faith.  The evidence of an inner grace that finds completion in social and community involvement.”  And number 10 says, “We believe in the importance of religious community.  The validation of experience requires the confirmation of peers, who provide a critical platform along with a network of mutual support.” We can’t validate each others’ experience if we are not present for each other.  A lay pastoral care program allows trained members to provide that validation as agents of the minister.

Part of the framework for religious community comes from its’ rituals and traditions. Just a few of ours are:  the lighting of the chalice, Sunday services, hymns, Joys and Concerns, religious education, and the 7 principles.  The opportunity to take a little of that and BE with a congregant in their time of struggle is the very definition of UUism.  So I am grateful for the opportunity to play some small role in the implementation of lay pastoral care here in our Beloved Community.

In closing, I love this quote from Theodore Parker which beautifully expresses what lay pastoral care at it’s best can accomplish.  “Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere: it’s temple, all space,: it’s shrine, the good heart; its creed, all truth; its ritual, works of love; it’s profession of faith, divine living.”

Thank you for letting me share.

Sarah Pennington Pierce-Davis



Posted in EDITION: August 2014, Lay Pastoral Care, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The thirteenth annual UUFP Retreat is coming soon!

IMG_9980The Fellowship’s thirteenth annual Retreat will be held at Pocahontas State Park the weekend of September 26-28.  It’ll be a great few days of “food, fellowship and fun”, enjoying workshops and other activities, the natural beauty of the park, evening worship, and of course delicious meals!   You can come Friday evening and stay through Sunday morning for the full experience (including lodging in one of the cabins) or just spend Saturday at the Retreat!

We’ll be developing a program for the weekend soon, but here are some of the fun programs we’ve had in previous years.

We have several people who can teach yoga, whether in the morning or in the evening.

Socrates’ Café has been popular at past Retreats, and with everything in the news, it won’t be hard to find an interesting topic for discussion!

What better way to get to know people of all ages than with fun indoor and outdoor games?

Mike Rosie Violet  Pocahontas State Park Boat Ramp hike_0036How about creating a group art collage that celebrates the memories we’ve made at the Fellowship?

We’ve had spiritual development workshops for adults, helping them to explore their own identities and beliefs.

Let’s imagine how the Fellowship might be in five years’ time and envision how we might get there through strategic planning.

UUFP Retreat Pocahontas State Park_0014Cake decorating is always a sweet success!  The decorated cupcakes are then enjoyed at dinner!

Last year’s beading class was very popular, with many people creating their own prayer bead bracelets.

A nature labyrinth is a wonderful way to commune with the great outdoors, taking a meditative walk through each twist and turn.

IMG_9911Or enjoy a guided hike through the woods and learn exciting facts about science and nature!

And of course there’s always time on the lake, with canoes and kayaks that can be used throughout the day.

There’s usually worship on Friday night and music or a talent show on Saturday night.  We have great story-tellers and amazing musicians!

And campfires with s’mores are a given!


Are there any activities you’d like to lead?  Is there something you’ve done at a past Retreat that you’d love to do again?  Or something new you’d like to offer this time?  We’ll be putting out a call for activity leaders soon, as well as for people to help with meals, music, campfires and more!

Stay tuned for registration information, but in the meantime, save the date: September 26-28 at Pocahontas State Park!


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Lay Pastoral Care Associate Introduction by Brad Garbus

by Brad Garbus

click image for biography

Brad Garbus
(FLAME Keeper)

Good morning. My name is Brad Garbus.  While I am nervous speaking in front of more than 3 people, I am very honored to speak today about something that is very close to my heart.

Being an introvert, I naturally prefer to listen. Having to grow up at a very young age, after the passing of my father, and many other life changing events ­ it has taught me to listen compassionately and deeply.

My ongoing goal in life is to live authentically and compassionately. To avoid the human impulse to judge or criticize anyone, especially in a time of need. I believe our congregation needs this program as Rev. Andrew is only one person and as you can see from the roped off rows (about 10 seats were ropped off where congregants would sit that normally are unable to attend)  … we have many members who can’t be here for many different reasons. Being able to spend time with them, taking the warmth we share in this beloved community to them, when they are unable to be here, is very important.

During the short time I have been a UUFP member, I have seen many new faces walkin our doors and as our numbers grow so does the real need for Lay Pastoral Care. There are times when we all need someone with an open heart to hear us. Tret’s song touches the core of why this program is so important. We have all experienced life changing events in our lives, and we will continue to struggle with life’s twists and turns as time goes on. Learning from these experiences helps us grow and gives us the opportunity to become more compassionate and more human.

As a Lay Pastoral Care Associate it will be my honor to listen compassionately and be a caring presence for anyone that needs support. No one who walks through our doors, in body or spirit, should have to feel alone or excluded, especially in a time of need.

I am sincerely grateful to be of service. Thank you…

(This 5 minute introduction was given at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula on August 3rd, 2014.)



Posted in EDITION: August 2014, Lay Pastoral Care | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Art of Writing a Letter

For all that is our life! by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard

When I receive a gift or someone does something particularly nice for me, I try to be sure to write them a thank you note.  When I’m invited to another minister’s ordination, I try to take the time to write them a letter of congratulations and blessing.  And at the holidays, I try to send cards to family and close friends, wishing them happiness and peace for the coming year.  You may have noticed that I used the word “try” in each of those sentences, because I have to admit that sometimes I don’t always do those things, in spite of my good intentions.

From an early age — from whenever I could write, I guess — my parents had me write thank you notes for every birthday present and Christmas gift I received.  I hated having to write them.  Part of that was writing what seemed like the same thing over and over again: “Thank you for the _____. It’s very _____. I shall _____ with it and think of you.”  But I think that writing those notes did something to instill in me the importance of being grateful for what we have, of appreciating the generosity of others.

I’ve been told more than once in the last few years that someone was surprised to receive a card or note that I wrote by hand and mailed to them.  It’s definitely becoming a lost art.  E-mail can be quicker to write and is certainly quicker to receive.  Some might still prefer to pick up the telephone, while others would post a message to another’s Facebook page, but with so many ways to communicate, it’s not surprising that we keep hearing about how the US Postal Service is in trouble.  Standalone USPS mailboxes have gone the way of newspaper vending machines and the passenger pigeon.

The Internet is blamed for many things, including the demise of both the hand-written letter and (so some are claiming) organized religion, but perhaps the writing was on the wall when Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first wireless signal across the Atlantic.  I suspect a changing culture has as much to do with it as new technology, though.  I remember that my grandmother was quite comfortable picking up the telephone for extended conversations with family and friends, but would still write lengthy letters and mail them.  And there were surely times when my grandmother would send a letter to someone and then call them before they’d actually received the letter!

love lettersFor all that the mailed letter is essentially obsolete as a necessary means of person-to-person communication, given how many other ways there are to communicate, perhaps it still has uses in support of other purposes.

Four years ago, Hannah Brencher was riding the New York subway, fresh out of college and feeling at a loss for what to do with her life.  Unable to come to grips with her sense of purpose, she felt alone in one of the most crowded places on Earth.  So she began writing letters to the other people on the subway, people she didn’t know but who seemed like they could do with the encouragement of knowing that someone, anyone, cared about them, even if anonymously.  Brencher began leaving letters all over the city, and as she blogged about what she was doing, she received requests for her “love letters” from all around the world.  In just nine months, she wrote over four hundred letters to people in need of reading them, and she found that they healed her, too.  In a world with so many means of instant communication, Brencher discovered a deep craving for the “old-fashioned” hand-written letter.

When was the last time you received in the mail, addressed to you personally, a letter or thank you note or greeting card “just because” from another person?  When was the last time you sent one?  What could happen if, once in a while, each of us spent a few minutes and the cost of a stamp to put into words some measure of gratitude or compassion or thoughtfulness?  It might not save the US Postal Service, but it might save us.

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Sunday Services (August 2014)

Services for August 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula

theme: “Lost” Arts

August 3rd: “The Art of Being Present”

The covenant enacted by members of the Fellowship includes caring for one another in times of need and letting others care for us, too.  We know that we can do this by sending a thoughtful card or by bringing someone a meal or by helping them get somewhere.  But how can “pastoral presence” as a form of lay ministry help our Fellowship to grow as a caring community?

Special music will be offered by Tret Fure!

August 10th: “The Art of Saying ‘No’”

The great Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who are alive.”  But when many of us find it all too tempting to raise our hands when asked to help, to give, or to take on responsibility in the face of obvious needs and important causes, how do we respond?

August 17th: “The Art of Doing Nothing”

Our nation is renowned for its strong economy, and American people take pride in their strong work ethic.  But why do Americans work so hard?  We usually think of our economic behaviors as rational and secular; religion and the sacred seem to rise above it all.  But how might our perceptions of earning and spending change if we thought of these behaviors as sacred, too?  In fact, Protestant Christianity has had a profound impact on shaping the American economy, whether or not we realize it.  By drawing on Zen and Taoist verses on non-action, and with a nod to the American counter-culture, we’ll offer an irreverent ode to laziness in the closing days of the Summer that will challenge Protestant values often left unconsidered.

Matt ThompsonMatthew Thompson earned his doctorate in anthropology at the University of North Carolina.  He is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University and a student in the School of Information Science at the University of Tennessee.  Born and raised in Austin, Texas, his family has resided in Newport News since 2007.  Matt’s interests include smoking barbeque, drinking cold beverages, and listening to music — preferably all three at the same time.  This is his second time preaching at the Fellowship.

August 24th: “The Art of Letting Go”

It can be tempting to hang on even when we know that hanging on isn’t doing us any good.  Whether it’s people who are not positive influences in our lives, or possessions that are little more than clutter, or emotions such as resentment or remorse, it can be hard to let go, even though we know it would be better for us.  But there’s more to it than a certain popular song!

August 31st: “The Art of Failing”

We are taught from an early age that it’s important to succeed.  But when success is the only thing that matters, we find crazy-making problems such as high-stakes testing based on dumbed down curricula.  And if we only experience success (or what we are told is success), how do we learn about our limitations, recognize our shortcomings, and otherwise grow as whole persons?

Special music will be offered by the UUFP’s ChorUUs!

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