Thank you for the warm welcome!

Christina Hockman

Christina Hockman

Submitted by Chris Hockman

Hi UUFP!

I just wanted to thank all of you for the warm welcome you have shown me in these past months. I’d like to offer some extra-special gratitude to the newly-appointed Ministerial Intern Committee, a.k.a. my “beta testers” who will be helping to guide me through the process of becoming a minister for the next two years. These fine folks are Tara Joseph, Brittany Robertson, Jim Sanderson, Nickie Saylor and Pat Sloan.

In case you missed them on Sunday, below are my thoughts on gratitude.

In faith,

Chris

In a board meeting a few weeks ago, Mary Elizabeth, our Fellowship Administrator, shared a chalice lighting reading that really struck me as true. One point of the reading was that gratitude is easy when things are going well. When things are falling apart, well that’s a different story.  Why does gratitude only come to mind when things are looking good? What if, instead, we got in the habit of going straight to gratitude when things go bad?

Working as a hospital chaplain this summer, I was given a ten-week crash course on all of the worst things that can happen to patients and their families: diseases, accidents, pain, death and grief in many forms. There are many reasons all future UU ministers are required to have chaplain experience, but I think the most important one is the perspective it lends. It changed my concept of what really is a problem and what is not. I learned that any day without serious illness, pain and/or death is a good day. I learned that physical health is not a given – every day of it is a gift. Mental health is a gift. Being addiction-free is a gift.

On one of my more difficult days in the hospital, I bumped into a patient’s wife in the hallway. I had talked with her extensively the day before. Her husband of 50 years was quite ill. She told me that she had just found out that he only had a couple of days to live. I tried to provide as much comfort and sympathy as I could in the hallway, as she was on her way to call relatives. Immediately after this impromptu visit, I stepped on the crowded elevator. A young woman spotted my chaplain name badge and asked me to pray for her. I said I would, but quickly asked if she would like to talk. We got off the elevator in the lobby and found some chairs. A divorced mother of three young daughters, this healthy-looking woman was suffering from Addison’s disease. Having just been discharged from the hospital, she showed me her heart surgery scar. She told me that she had not much longer to live and would not be around to see her daughters grow up. After an extended conversation, in which I struggled to provide as much comfort and insight as I could in this tragic situation, I returned to the chaplain office to calm down and hide out for a while.

Soon, I received a phone call from my sister. She was checking in with me before leaving to go to Pennsylvania for a family reunion. She shared with me her resentment about having to make seven-layer dip that she would have to transport in a cooler of ice during the six hour drive. Still feeling the effects of that morning in the hospital (trying really hard to be diplomatic and keep my composure), I said, “You know after the people I’ve talked with today, seven-layer dip doesn’t really seem like a problem.” I quickly filled her in on the real problems I had encountered that day – and she was quite surprised and a little embarrassed.

Now, I don’t mean to be hard on my sister, well maybe just a little, but the truth is that I have been the seven-layer dip person many times – failing to see all the good around me while I’m obsessing over a minor inconvenience. In fact, I probably still am a seven-layer dip person several times a week. I think at any given moment, any one of us could easily be a seven-layer dip person – making small stuff into a consuming problem, getting hung up in critique and perfectionism – all the while forgetting about all that we have and all that is good in our lives. We are often blind to the abundance that surrounds us. The abundance that is right before our eyes. The discipline of gratitude helps us remember. It helps us remove the blinders so that our many blessings become visible.

When I think about the presence of gratitude in difficult times, I think of another patient I met at the hospital while chaplaining. This young man was about to be discharged, and it was apparent from his chart (as well as the bandages on his two feet) that he had lost all of his toes due to complications from diabetes. After I introduced myself, he looked me in the eye and said with great conviction, “I am blessed.” Taken aback, I asked how he managed to feel blessed despite what he  had been through. He told me that many of his relatives had lost whole limbs to diabetes. In comparison, his situation was so much better. He said he was grateful to God for sparing him from that greater misfortune. He was ready to go home and take on the world.

Well, this man was the direct opposite of a seven-layer dip person. He was going through what I think anyone would call a legitimate difficult situation, but despite all of this, his first expression was one of gratitude. This man is my gratitude role model. He was leaving the hospital with hope and optimism – and even joy. His gratitude helped him put his hard situation into perspective. By living in faith and gratitude, he was able to cope with and rise above a challenge that would have left many others in deep depression. Is gratitude in the midst of difficulty easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

There have been many scientific studies proving the benefits of gratitude, making it appear almost magical. People who practice gratitude are happier and healthier. They have less stress. They sleep better; they have better relationships. Put simply, gratitude makes us happier and better people in just about all areas of life. As Unitarian Universalists, I’m not sure we need to formally become the church of gratitude. But we are all missing out if we don’t make gratitude a main practice in our lives, including our spiritual lives and our spiritual community. There are many ways to practice gratitude – journaling, sharing gratitude lists, freely and regularly expressing gratitude to friends, family and others, and taking regular time to contemplate gratitude.

And of course, at times we are in fellowship together, we can hold up gratitude as a value – take time to appreciate the contributions of all in this community and truly celebrate one another’s presence. The world is a very distracting place that often takes our attention away from all that is wonderful right before us. By going back to the discipline of gratitude over and over and over again, we continually feel the presence of the good in our world and the good in our lives. Living in the abundance of our own gratitude, we are compelled to give to and share with others. Experiencing all that is good, over and over and over, creates a life of joy, a life of meaning and a life of generosity. May we all be blessed with life in the constant presence of gratitude.

~

Posted in EDITION: November 2014, SERMONS | 1 Comment

A Special Invitation For Our Sister Congregation

Alan Sheeler, President UUFP

Alan Sheeler, President UUFP

Submitted by Alan Sheeler

Greetings Fellow UU

Several months ago, Jennifer Slade, minister at our sister congregation in Norfolk, died.  She had just begun the ground work on a crusade to help the Norfolk UU’s on the road to relocation.  A project necessitated by sea level rise.  

Your congregational president, me, thought it would be meaningful to lend a hand in this time of grief and need.  So I brought the idea to Andrew, our policy board, and the other churches in our UU “cluster”.  All agreed.  The vehicle best suited for this, we determined, was faithify.org, a newly created UU crowd funding site.  With the help of Chris and Andrew this came to pass.  

Several weeks back I mentioned all of this at a Sunday service, and asked you to please consider lending a helping hand.  That time of helping is at hand.  At this Sunday’s service we will be sharing the basket with our neighbors, Unitarian Church of Norfolk.  This will be a special one-time request, and the contribution will be added to Faithify in the name of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula.    

The fund currently has pledges of $2,400 toward a goal of $10,000.  Some of our members have already contributed by going to the website and making a pledge.  If you won’t be with us on Sunday, I ask that you consider doing that too.

Please consider a generous gift this Sunday.  Let’s make it known that we are truly good neighbors.  Maybe it will become contagious.

Best Regards

Alan Sheeler

http://www.faithify.org/projects/help-norfolk-uus-get-move-rev-jennifer-slade-memorial-fund/
 
cropped-FaithifyLogoWeb
 
Posted in Announcements, EDITION: October 2014 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Joys and Sorrows

tea candle in front of many tea candlesSubmitted by Jeffrey Hinkley, Chair, Sunday Services Committee

Each Sunday at one or both services, we set aside time for the sharing of joys and sorrows. Not every UU congregation does this, and the ones that do use a variety of formats. In some, the minister or lay leader reads written notes. In others, people light candles or drop stones into water in silence.

Our spoken Joys and Sorrows provide a way to put into practice our desire to create fellowship – a caring community where we can share what is in our hearts. Visitors are impressed that we do this together, and a brief joy or sorrow expressed during the service often leads to a hug or to a longer conversation a little later.

There have been occasional problems with the ritual – the too-long speech, the political announcement masquerading as a personal concern – but our very openness to the variety of human experiences is part of what defines us. We want to know about how the events in others’ lives have changed them, so that in the hearing, we can be transformed, too. We want to hear about a new child or the new job — or a major birthday or wedding anniversary and how it’s important. And when it comes to the sorrows, we really want to hear about a family death, the loss of a job, or the illness of a friend whose name we should keep in our hearts.

As our congregation grows in size, may we use these brief times during our worship to deepen our connections and grow in community.

 

Posted in EDITION: October 2014, Sunday Service Committee | Tagged | 10 Comments

Leadership Development Committee Chair Training Announcement information

Submitted by Alicia Hofler

Remember that survey the Long Range Planning Committee did last year at the UU?  Reading from the report, one of the significant findings among those who participated was “an  understanding that Leadership Development is important for our growth, leaders inspire people, and the path to leadership should include training…”

The Leadership Development Committee is hosting a town hall type discussion with some of our own successful church committee leaders to encourage interested members of the congregation to find out about committee work and how to be effective committee chairs.  We want members to feel comfortable taking on leadership roles.

Specifically we’ll target three topics:
* How to make committee work fun.
* How to delegate and engage committee members.
* How to run a meeting and keep it short.

A small number of Leaders (including Mason Moseley, Greg Gecowets, Joanne Dingus, and Aaron Hansley) with these skills have been asked to talk briefly about what makes their leadership styles work so well.

This mutual training session will take place Sunday October 26th following a service about “The Worth of Our Volunteers” by Andrew.  It will be on a Soup-er Sunday lunch day and will run from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM (demonstrating how to keep a meeting short!)

Thank you,

Alicia Hofler

Leadership Development Committee Chair

Posted in Classes, EDITION: October 2014, Special Event, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Amazon Smile

amazon (2)Just a reminder!

If you’ve signed up for Amazon Smile, that’s great. BUT! For the Fellowship to receive your help, we still need you to use one of our links. You can do this in 3 ways:

1. Go to www.uufp.org and click on an Amazon link.

2. About 30% of our visitors use a smart phone. If you’re one, there’s an

Amazon link, too. Just use your phone and go to http://www.uufp.org.

3. Read the Flame http://uufp.wordpress.com/? There’s an easy Amazon link

there, too.

You don’t need to sign up with Amazon Smile. Just use the links. With all the

holidays coming up, Amazon is huge and it’s so easy to support all the programs

of the Fellowship like Religious Education, social justice and green sanctuary with

just a click!

 

(Thank you David for the Reminder!)

Posted in Advertisment, Reminders | Leave a comment

The Shared Pulpit

The Shared Pulpit Class

The UU Fellowship of the Peninsula invites you to a sermon seminar for laypeople.

Access your own inner wisdom and learn to craft it into a strong, empowering message for others to hear and enjoy!

In this seminar for laypeople, be embraced by a supportive peer group as you learn about the theory and theology of preaching.

Practice writing and speaking with authenticity and build toward composing and delivering your own 20-minute sermon. Facilitated by Joanne Dingus, DRE and Chris Hockman, Intern Minister.

 the shared pulpit (1)The seminar will be held in the Fellowship’s office building conference room on six Sunday afternoons from 2:00-5:00 pm.

Dates: October 26; November 2, 16 & 23, December 7 & 14.

The seminar is free, although participants are encouraged to purchase the text, The Shared Pulpit: A Sermon Seminar for Lay People by Erika Hewitt at www.uuabookstore.org.

For more information and to Register: Email intern@uufp.org

Posted in Uncategorized

Putting Gratitude into Practice

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

“The discipline of gratitude reminds us how utterly dependent we are on the people and world around us for everything that matters.  From this flows an ethic of gratitude that obligates us to create a future that justifies an increasing sense of gratitude from the human family as a whole.  Gratitude demands that we nurture the world that nurtures us in return.”  — Rev. Galen Guengerich (UU World, Spring 2007)

One Sunday morning last month, in announcing our Faithify project to help the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, Fellowship President Alan Sheeler shared with us the following story.

“Back in 1972 — I was a bit younger then — I spent the Summer in the Southwest, including a month in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. My camp was in the Needles District and was composed of my ’67 Plymouth, a pup tent and my 250cc Suzuki dirt bike. It was heaven. You could only get around by jeep, by dirt bike, or on foot, and I had two of the three.

“I spent most of my time exploring the Needles, but I wanted to do a day trip to the other side of the Colorado River, to Island in the Sky. So the morning of, I filled up my canteen and rode the Suzuki into Moab. I fueled up at the last gas station on the north side of town. Then I was off, and the trip to Island in the Sky was wonderful.

“Now back in the seventies, Canyonlands was a relatively new park, it was August, and there were no facilities on Island in the Sky. All reasons for people not to be there — except for me, of course! But when you’ve spent some time on a dirt bike, you know how far you can get on a tank of gas, so watching the mileage, I knew it was time to turn around. I figured I could get a few extra miles out of this particular tank, but I was wrong. I ran out of gas on Utah Route 191, five or six miles north of Moab.

“I’d been in the desert for a month, so I know I looked a little ‘weathered’. I tried to get the attention of several RV drivers that passed, but no one stopped. I couldn’t abandon my bike, so I started pushing it south. Worst case, I thought I could cover the five or six miles in four hours.

“So I pushed for a while and a couple more RVs passed. At this point I wasn’t even trying to flag them down. I had thought that if you see someone in the desert, pushing something they should be riding, perhaps you’d think they’ve got a problem.

“Presently, an old, beat-up pickup truck, containing one old cowboy, pulled over. Now when I say ‘cowboy’, I mean the real article, not some political pretender. This guy was genuine ‘cowpoke’. He asked what the problem was. I said, ‘Out of gas.’ He said, ‘I’ve got a can of reg-u-lar in the back. Will that do?’ I said, ‘Reg-u-lar will be just fine.’ He handed me the can, and I took just enough to get me to town. Then he pushed the can up so that I ended up with quite a bit more than I needed.

“I thanked him, and then, although gas was only about fifty cents a gallon, pulled a five dollar bill out of my wallet and offered it to him. His help was certainly worth that to me. He pushed it away, and said ‘That’s okay. You just do the same for someone else sometime.’ Unexpected words of wisdom, that I try to live by to this day.”

This story captures the two sides of gratitude identified by Galen Guengerich in his UU World article.  The first side is when we realize how much we depend on other people and on the world to which we all belong.  Stranded miles out of town, Alan realized how much he was at the mercy of others on the road, and was understandably grateful to the one driver who was willing to stop to help him.  But the second side of gratitude is when we realize that it requires us to “pay it forward”, just as the old cowboy charged Alan to do.

This sense of mutuality has long been part of Unitarian Universalism.  Grateful for our congregation as a caring community, we strive, as individuals, to help one another in times of sickness, loss, financial difficulty or other need.  Grateful for the simple gift of life on Earth, we strive, as individuals and as congregations, to live into a deep respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.  And grateful for the wider network of Unitarian Universalists and their communities, that allows us to do together what we cannot do by ourselves, we strive, as congregations, to support one another in times of need, particularly when a minister is ill or dies.

Rev. Jennifer Slade

Rev. Jennifer Slade (1959–2014)

We have an opportunity this month to put our gratitude into practice, by living into our mutual promise of covenant.  With the sudden death of their minister, the Rev. Jennifer Slade, the Unitarian Church of Norfolk finds itself in the middle of selling its building and moving to a better (and less prone to flooding!) location while also grieving a profoundly personal and professional loss.  So, as Alan announced last month, the Fellowship has joined with the Williamsburg UUs and other congregations throughout the Tidewater Cluster to create a fund in Jennifer’s memory that will help the Norfolk UUs in their need to move on and to move up.  Thanks to the Unitarian Universalist “crowd-funding” platform known as Faithify, many individual UUs have pledged to contribute to the fund (which has a goal of $10,000 by November 3rd), though a number of congregations will be making collective pledges, too.  To that end, we will share the proceeds of our Sunday morning offering on October 19th with the Reverend Jennifer Slade Memorial Fund.  Let’s show the Norfolk UUs some love, and help them move to higher ground, both literally and spiritually!

UC Norfolk at high tide

Our sister congregation, the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, at high tide.

Posted in Denominational Connections, For all that is our life! | Tagged , , , , , , ,