Seeking a Song of Love

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

A hand that’s warm in friendship strong,
that lifts us up when things go wrong
and builds a church where — more than creeds —
we count our blessings in good deeds:
our hands can offer hope’s embrace
to make the world a better place.
— additional fifth verse to hymn 300, “With Heart and Mind”

While in Denver for my seminary studies at the Iliff School of Theology, I also worked for the Mountain Desert District, first as Youth Chaplain and then as interim Youth Ministry Coordinator.  Working with teenagers and their UU congregations from New Mexico to Wyoming, from Texas to Utah, I witnessed their youthful struggles with matters of personal and religious identity, with questions of morality and justice, and with attempts to put their hopes and aspirations into words.  In other words, exactly the same things with which we adults struggle!

At that time, with changes in how the Unitarian Universalist Association was doing youth programming, the District was developing a new understanding of its own ministry.  The youth themselves took the lead in working with their adult advisors, and in the process created a vision that they named “Quuest”, spelled with two Us (naturally!) but not an acronym for anything.  And it wasn’t just for teenagers, either!  Presenting it to the District’s Board, there was agreement that it’s not just UU youth who yearn for such a vision, for it spoke to the religious lives of UU adults, too.

QuuestWithin Quuest, the youth identified five particular components as most important.  The first component was named “gatherings” and was put into words as: “Across all that divides us, we gather to protect all that unites us.”  Second was “worship”: “Creating a moment in time that gives our community an outlet to pursue deeper spirituality.”  Then came “social justice”: “Caring for and receiving from the interdependent web of life.”  Another component emphasized by the Quuest vision went by a few different names, including “coming out of the basement” or “… the portable” or “… the back room”, referring to the tendency within many congregations to hide, whether intentionally or not, their children, and their youth in particular, in out of the way places, rather than welcoming them into a fully multigenerational community.

The remaining component was of a notably different nature.  And it was significant not only for being itself part of the vision but also for being an important part of making it possible to achieve the vision, too.  Demonstrating considerable wisdom, the youth had identified that component as “resilience”, which they described as follows: “To achieve personal and religious resilience, youth ministries provide community, trust and a strong spiritual identity by means of time together, reflection, family and friends, congregations, forgiveness of self and others, affirmation, encouragement and listening.”

As usually understood, resilience means being able to bounce back, to recover from a failure, setback or other adversity, something that inevitably happens to all of us, sooner or later.  Called as a religious community to engage in the work of transformation, it is essential to be able to find the strength to carry on when times get tough, to rise above disappointments and differences of opinion, and to draw upon our personal and spiritual resources for resilience.  Part of being a community, after all, is caring for one another in our times of need, offering our strength to one another when we can, and allowing others to care for us and lend us their strength, too.  And those seeking community are often looking for a place where they know they’ll be able to find a sympathetic ear, where there’ll be others willing to listen with compassion and without judgment, where they can be offered a song of love when they need it.

As we make our way into a time of year that is challenging for many people and for many reasons, may we continue to offer to one another the affirmation, the encouragement and the listening that we all need in our lives.  May we find joy in being together and in everything we do as a community, and though our paths may sometimes be difficult, may we remember and take comfort in the knowledge that none of us are alone in our journeys.

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Sunday Services (November 2014)

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

theme: Resilience

November 2nd: “Navigators USA — Nature, Inclusion, Community”

Every first Sunday of the month, our Share-the-Basket partner is Navigators USA Chapter 58, the UUFP’s very own co-ed, inclusive scouting group.  But what is Navigators, and why does it matter?  The leaders of Chapter 58 will speak on the importance of this program, how it can impact our youth and our community, and how it reflects our Unitarian Universalist principles.

Nicole LorsongNicole Lorsong has been attending the Fellowship since moving to the area in 2013, and was one of the founding leaders of Navigators USA Chapter 58.  Taking time off from a career as a registered nurse to homeschool her two elementary-school-aged children, Nicole enjoys time outdoors, baking, many do-it-yourself projects and community work.

Parker AppelParker Appel started attending the Fellowship after signing on as a leader of Chapter 58.  A lifelong scout, he enjoys camping, coffee, kayaking and writing letters.  Parker hopes one day to work in a museum or outdoor setting, with a focus on diversity and accessibility in educational activities.  Parker currently spends his time babysitting and volunteering.

Adam BalsleyAdam Balsley has been attending the Fellowship since earlier this year and is excited to be the newest leader with Chapter 58.  In his spare time, he provides geospatial technical support and business process improvements to our regional water utility.  Adam especially enjoys experiencing Nature and learning about our world with his wife and their two daughters.

November 9th: “A Purpose Worth Pursuing”

Sophocles’ play Philoctetes (409 BCE) tells the story of a wounded soldier and his complex relationships with others. During the last decade it has been performed to help medical and military personnel to focus on the physical, psychological and spiritual wounds of warriors. What light does it shed on our Fellowship’s calling to support veterans, military families and others who seek spiritual wholeness?

November 16th: “LOVE Changes the World!”

Witness for LOVE!

photograph by Andrew Millard

Last Valentine’s Day, two dozen people, and a majority of them from the Fellowship, gathered at the Newport News Courthouse to Witness for LOVE!  This event, like many others across the Commonwealth, was coordinated by People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, a state-wide movement for justice founded in 2005.  Let’s celebrate that marriage equality is now recognized in Virginia, but also remember that there’s still plenty of work to do!

Robin GorslineRev. Andrew is pleased to share the pulpit with Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline, President of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia.  A native of Michigan, where he served as a local and county elected official, Robin earned his M.Div. from the Episcopal Divinity School and his Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.  From 2003–2013, he was Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond.  Identifying as a spiritual activist for social justice who builds bridges across social and religious divisions, Robin co-edited Disrupting White Supremacy from Within and is the author of articles on sexuality, anti-racism and theology.  He has been married to Dr. Jonathan Lebolt, LCSW, for seventeen years, and tthey are grateful for three daughters and two sons-in-law, two glorious granddaughters, and Cocoa, their standard poodle.

Special music will be offered by Janet and Jeffrey!

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012

pictures and montage by Rosalee Pfister

Special Service!
4:30pm on November 16th: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Join us for an early evening service marking the sixteenth annual, internationally observed witness of and resistance to violence based on bias against transgender people.  We’ll begin in the Sanctuary for some music, a brief reflection and the reading of names before lighting candles at sunset and processing outside for a time of silent vigil.

November 23rd: “A Guest at Our Table”

From Fourth Sunday Soup Socials to the Thanksgiving Dinner, from next month’s Festival of the Season to April’s Passover Seder, as well as many regular groups and programs that include potlucks or meals, we are a congregation that loves to share food and companionship together!  In gratitude we remember these and other gifts of our lives and embrace these opportunities to live into our commitments to justice and compassion.

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

November 30th: “Making Life New”

Despite our best intentions, we sometimes get stuck in places we don’t want to be.  What matters most is how we frame these situations.  Are they life sentences or passing stages?  The awareness that life can always be made anew creates a space for hope and resilience in times of difficulty.  Intern Chris and Rev. Andrew will offer their reflections in this service for Advent Sunday.

Special music will be offered by the UUFP Winds!

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Birthdays (November 2014)

Many Happy Returns to our UUFP members and friends who will be celebrating their

Flowers from Lake Burnt Mills, photographed by Dean Ceran

Flowers from Lake Burnt Mills, photographed by Dean Ceran

birthdays in November!  They are:

Ezra Moore
Robert Drees
Anne Cunningham
Allison Millard
Dean Ceran
Chloe Briede
Pam Luke
Catherine Bond
Jacquie Ream
Mary-Elizabeth Cotton

If you have an birthday that we’ve overlooked, please get in touch with Bobbie Schilling (UUFP Membership Committee) at:  membership@uufp.org

 

AbigaleAbigail Adams (November 22 1744 – October 28, 1818) women’s rights advocate and first Second Lady and the second First Lady of the United States.

 

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott

 

 

 

Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) – author of Little Women.

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Announcements (November 2014)

Eighth UUFP Thanksgiving Day Potluck
If you are looking for somewhere to spend Thanksgiving but don’t want to spend a lot of money, please consider joining other members of the fellowship, and sometimes others, on Thanksgiving Day,November 27, at the UUFP for a traditional meal in the late afternoon.
Singles and families are welcome and have both participated in previous years. Your response is needed by November 24 so that the right size turkeys can be purchased. There will be a sign-up sheet at the fellowship for you to put the item/items you will bring or you can email them to Sandra Engelhardt with the number attending in your group to slealbers@cs.com

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2nd Sunday Lunch

Second Sunday Lunch will be at Yannas’ Taverna

12715 Warwick Blvd. on November 9th after the second service.

Contact Bobbie Schilling with any questions.  All are welcome!

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50 & BETTER

If you are over fifty you are warmly invited to join your peers for a delicious pot-luck lunch on November 18 at 12:30 in the office building of UUFP.  Please call Esther at 369-1858 so that we can reserve a place for you at the table.

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Second Saturdays in the Garden

For the month of November the second Saturday in the garden will not be held.  November we will focus on leaf gathering and the date will be determined after finding out when the leaf trucks will be around for Newport News.     Stay tuned for  a date and time. second Saturdays will resume in December, December the 13th from 830-11 am.

Thank you !  Christy Hilberg

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GODDESS GROUP

Cathy will facilitate our annual examination of Crossroads. Bring your favorite tale!
This is an open discussion circle for both men & women.
Goddesses are chosen from various world religions as a starting place for group discussion.

When: 1st Sun.of each month after the 2nd service (about noon)

Where: In the Annex Building Why: potluck, fellowship and fun.

Childcare can be provided with advance notification.
Please contact goddesscircle@uufp.org with any questions.

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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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RE NEWS

Joanne Dingus  (Director of Religious Education)

Joanne Dingus
(Director of Religious Educatio

Submitted by Joanne Dingus

As you probably know, Rev. Andrew and I attend Vacuum meetings each month. Vacuum is a gathering of Ministers and DRE’s from our cluster. We meet to check-in with each other, worship, share news or issues currently being discussed in our faith, etc. For the DRE’s it’s a great time to share news about our programs.

At our most recent meeting the DRE in Fredericksburg talked about an activity she has started in her church. As in Scouting programs, the children and youth will be able to earn badges for participating in various activities around the church. She is working with each committee to come up with ways that the children and youth could get involved and feel more a part of the church as a whole and not just a part of the RE program. For example, to get the Grounds Committee badge, children might help out at a leaf-raking day. To get the Sunday Services badge, children might light the chalice one Sunday. I thought this was a clever idea and would like to propose we start something like this at our church.

We would want to make this easy for the committees and fun for the children and youth. We own a button maker in RE so we could make up unique buttons that would represent each committee. Then we would need to decide the specific details for earning a button from each committee. Last, we would want to publicize the program in our UUFP channels.

This would of course be an optional activity for the Committees and the students. But I think it could be a lot of fun and would promote multigenerational connections along with strengthening the student’s ties to our Fellowship.

Please feel free to let me know what you think about this idea.
Don’t forget our RE Upcoming Events: November 15-16 Youth Lock-in featuring lessons learned from Be the Change. Our Winter Festival with Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 6th.

See you in the RE!

Posted in Children's Religious Education, EDITION: November 2014 | 1 Comment

Special Collection Update for UCN!

Alan Sheeler, President UUFP

Alan Sheeler, President UUFP

Submitted by Alan Sheeler

I’m happy to report that Sunday’s special collection for our sister congregation in Norfolk totaled $1,343.  You may proudly view the results of your contribution here:  http://www.faithify.org/projects/help-norfolk-uus-get-move-rev-jennifer-slade-memorial-fund/

If you haven’t made a contribution and still wish to, you can do that individually at the above link (as you can see others from our congregation have already done) OR we will accept checks labeled UCN at this Sunday’s services.  Please keep in mind that donations end on November 3rd.

I’m honored to serve a congregation that generously comes to the aid of a neighbor.

Keeping the Faith

Alan   

Related Article – LINK

Posted in EDITION: September 2014 | Leave a comment

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