Almost is Almost here!

Summer is almost over!

Whether it’s keeping the grass cut or teaching a class. We’ve had full Sunday Services and Sunday Morning Forums. We’ve welcomed a human dynamo, Walter Clark and helped feed those in need. And as we close out August, there’s still time to fulfill your commitment to support your Fellowship, whether you bring a check this Sunday or do it on-line. Thanks for keeping your pledge up to date.

Things to do next!

Some friends are leaving, which is always difficult. They’ve been a huge part of the Fellowship.

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Nicholas Hirlinger Saylor and John Hirlinger Saylor

Our UUFP future begins with your participation on September 17. And you can go here for all the information.

LEADERSHIP-AD

See? Almost is coming but it’s not here yet!

Posted in Caring for One Another, Denominational Connections, Community Building, Finances | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Honoring the Goddess

UUFP member Allison Black offered the following homily as part of recent Sunday services on the subject of “Kinship with the Earth”.

Goddess Circle is a discussion group that is open to everyone who wishes to attend.  Although we generally have a presentation each month on a different goddess, we are currently discussing rock paintings and carvings in different religions around the world.

Cover of Marija Gambutas' book, "The Language of the Goddess"Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas wrote in her book, The Language of the Goddess,

The Goddess gradually retreated into the depths of forests or onto mountaintops, where she remains to this day in beliefs and fairy stories.  Human alienation from the vital roots of earthly life ensued, the results of which are clear in our contemporary society.  But the cycles never stop turning, and now we find the Goddess reemerging from the forests and mountains, bringing us hope for the future, returning us to our most ancient human roots.

Gimbutas connects the withdrawal of the Goddess with “human alienation from the vital roots of earthly life.”  According to Gimbutas, the Goddess’ withdrawal came with the rise of monotheistic religions that imagined a masculine deity as the only possible or acceptable deity.

When we see God as exclusively male, it’s very easy to value only those traits and habits associated with masculinity: aggression, dominance, stoicism and so forth.  Not only does this lead to the devaluation and dehumanization of women and other non-masculine people, it also encourages us to disregard the needs of the natural environment around us.  The trees do not take up weapons to force their will upon us, and the oceans cannot advocate for themselves in our boardrooms.

Instead, Mother Nature’s reaction to our environmental banditry plays out in slow cycles that viciously turn back on each other: deforestation and intensive agriculture cause erosion, which in turn leads to loss of agricultural productivity, ecological collapse and, eventually, desertification.  Climate change increases the incidence and severity of tropical storms, droughts, and flooding, all of which push climate refugees from their environmentally precarious homes to heavily populated areas.  Rising sea levels spur the disappearance of wetlands.  As the wetlands disappear, so do their diverse populations of plant and animal life, as well as the water purification and nutrient cycling that they do.

All this is to say that if Gimbutas is correct, if we are once again beginning to recognize, respect and honor the Goddess, I welcome her return.  Although I don’t believe in a literal Goddess who directly affects the physical world and responds to petitions, I do believe in the importance of honoring traits and tasks that are usually associated with the Goddess: compassion, gentleness, caring, nurturing, feeding the people, childbirth, child raising and education.

When I say “honor” I mean more than lip service.  I mean fair and equitable wages, hours, and conditions for the people who perform these tasks and keep our society running by doing so.  I think that when we truly begin to value women, we will be forced to slow down our pace of life to allow for better self-care, better nurturing of our families, and, not coincidentally, better attention to and enjoyment of the environment around us.  When we are more in tune with the cycles of nature, we will see ourselves in the migrations of the butterflies and the salmon, the new green leaves of spring, and the ebb and flow of the tides.

As we see the Goddess “reemerging from the forests and mountains, bringing us hope for the future,” then we will be moved to act to preserve our treasures, which were given to us free of charge but will cost us dearly upon their departure.

Goddess Circle meets in the office building for a potluck lunch and discussion after services on the first Sunday of every month.  For more information, contact: goddesscircle@uufp.org

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RE NEWS

 

RE NEWS by Joanne Dingus

Who are the people in our neighborhood? That’s the question I asked in children’s focus recently. At General Assembly, we were asked to reach out, spread the good news of Unitarian Universalism. We were told that churches that keep their focus inward dwindle and die. Churches that cast their focus outward grow and thrive.

We have been located in the same place for 36 years, yet we don’t know our neighbors. Very few of our congregants live in our neighborhood.

I met recently with James Moynihan of One Church Ministries and he talked about Asset Based Community Development which calls on neighbors and institutions to work together to build stronger more sustainable communities.

As I mentioned in my children’s focus, we may have an opportunity to work with some of our neighbors on a clean-up project they hope to do this fall.

James Moynihan said there are three types of ministries. One that is in a neighborhood, one that does things for or to a neighborhood and one that is with a neighborhood.

At General Assembly, we were also called to stand up against injustice, to speak out against racism, to use our UU values to build beloved community. I would like our church to begin reaching out to our neighbors to find out what changes they would like to see. I would like us to ask them how we could be supportive in helping them reach their goals. I would like us to be the kind of ministry that works with our neighbors.

See you in RE!

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Sacred Space

Image of the Earth rising over the Moon from Apollo 8

The NASA image that inspired
the name of the UUFP’s pagan group.
(Click for more information.)
Credit: NASA

EarthRising, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula’s pagan group, was formed in 1988, making it the oldest such group in Virginia.  As shared in recent Sunday services on the subject of “Kinship with the Earth”, here is the founding document, “Sacred Space”, as authored by MountainHeart.

We have come together to form a community of kindred spirits — to make interconnections with the Earth and all her life — of which we are a part.

We gather to help heal ourselves from the sickness of separation from Mother Earth — an unnatural separation which makes her sick also.  We gather to heal ourselves, our Earth.

We gather to rediscover our tribal roots and to celebrate the Dance of Life — for we are Dancers who have perhaps forgotten the steps that we knew as children — but we crave the Dance in our Deepest Beings.

We join together to feel our Hearts beat — to know they are part of the pulse of the Earth.

We gather together to share our Breaths — to breathe the Air that is the Breath of the Earth — the breath of our grandfathers and grandmothers.

We gather together to share the warmth of the Fire of Life, which burns within us all — to feel the tidal rhythms of the Oceanic blood coursing through our veins.

We join each other to affirm the goodness — the sacredness — of our bodies and to celebrate our natural, good wildness — to shed our unnatural estrangement from ourselves and from wilderness.

We come together to nurture each other and our Earth, who nurtures us.

We join together in a sacred protective circle in which we can let fly the child within.  A temporary place of reconnecting with the Earth Mother, the Great Spirit, the Goddess, the God of the Dance, the Lord of the Hunt, the Green Man, the Spirits of Mountain and Stream, the Muses, the Elements — a place for the suspension of disbelief.  These Forces, Beings, Feelings, Aspects, Spirits, Archetypes, Symbols are invited to join us in the circle.

We meet in a circle and look into each other’s faces because that’s where we find God — in each other, in ourselves — as in all of Nature.

Our Living Circle is a Magic place where we rediscover the Enchantment of childhood.  It is a place of Laughter and Spontaneity.  A joyfully sacred space where we are free to explore our deepest feelings without fear of ridicule.  Where we can express joy, sorrow, fear and Immanent strength.  Where we can express connectedness with each other and with all of Life — all the Universe.  Where we can play.  Where we can express wonder at the Great Mystery of Ourselves, the Cosmos, the Cycles of Being — Beginnings from Endings, Endings from Beginnings, Life from Death, Death from Life.  We express ourselves through Song, Dance, Poetry, Meditation, Chant, Symbolic Ritual, Visualization or any other Creative means.  Or just by Being.

Our Circle is Opened but Unbroken, for the Peace of the Goddess, the Strength of the Laughing God, the Nurturing of the Earth Mother and the Light of the Stars can always be found within.

EarthRising offers seasonal Earth-centered celebrations — at the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days — in support of a modern, Nature spirituality.  For more information, contact: earthrising@uufp.org

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Adult Forum

Upcoming Adult Forums, open to all members friends and visitors!

Here is your chance to hear about a topic loosely related to one or more of the 7 principals of Unitarian Universalism and to participate in the resulting discussion.

Dawn Hutchinson's Profile Photo

8/21/16 Dawn Hutchinson Patriarchal monotheism has been the norm for the north-western quarter of the globe, but why? We will discuss how this type of worship developed, as well as the justification for the worship of a feminine divinity on August 21.

Joanne Dingus's Profile Photo

8/28/16 Joanne Dingus Children’s Focus UUFP offers children’s religious education classes at both services each Sunday. There is a youth group that meets once a month. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go to RE? Joanne will share a sample RE class with the Adult Forum and discuss the importance of providing quality religious education to our children and youth.

 

9/4/16 Christine Woods Socrates Café – this ever popular forum is your chance to choose the topic of discussion! Christine will have our group suggest and select a topic and then facilitate the discussion by using the Socratic method to draw out our thought on all aspects of that topic.

The Sunday Morning Forum meets in the Office Building at 9:30am each Sunday.

This forum is for you all!  If you have suggestions for future topics or would like to volunteer to facilitate a topic, please contact anyone in the Adult RE committee for more information and scheduling: Bob Smith, Lehni Lebert, Ray McAdaragh, or Kathryn Ozyurt. You can do one, two or three consecutive sessions.  As always, our format is interactive, so be prepared to facilitate a lively and interesting discussion after, before and or during your presentation.  If you are interested in doing an evening or weekend class for more intensive study, please also contact us about that.

Kathryn Ozyurt, Chair, Adult RE Kathryn.Ozyurt@yahoo.com

 

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Let’s hit the trifecta!

You are the one to win this! (A trifecta means a “run of three wins or grand events”)

This is a special Sunday because you have a chance to make a difference.

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First, this is LINK Sunday! The UUFP has been a strong, dependable supporter for years because they LINK community resources to provide fast and affordable housing solutions to homeless individuals, as well as emergency services to men, women and children who don’t have access to their basic needs and find themselves in a housing crisis or other emergency situation.

Did you know that even with over 15,000 clients LINK sometimes has an overage of kids’ clothes so they send them to Africa!

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Second, this is the Sunday we collect for the Foodbank. Imagine being hungry and scared and walking into a welcoming space like this!

Foodbank Center

Food and money are desperately needed. Bring food and money this Sunday. Memo your check Foodbank or make your gift on-line.

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Third, bring your pledge gift on Sunday or do it today on-line!  The UUFP is an amazing state of mind with a huge variety of volunteer activities and happy faces!

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Be a part of the trifecta!

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Radical Hospitality

breakfast

Hungry?

Thank you all for the warm welcome. It has been just about a month since I became the intern minister at UUFP and you have all been delightful. I don’t know if I have met everyone yet, but I do know I have a bunch of new names and faces swimming around in my head. I have been absolutely impressed with the warm smiles, friendly handshakes and earnest conversation.

Not to mention the food.

I have to admit, UUFP bars no holds when it comes to laying a table. Every Sunday there has been a breakfast buffet in the kitchen with cheese and crackers, bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, cookies and of course coffee. I have stayed in hotels who didn’t have as nice of a breakfast option available. When it comes to hospitality, you don’t holdback.
It got me thinking about the spiritual nature of hospitality, what it means to be deeply hospitable.

I have been reading a book called Radical Hospitality by Lonni Collins Pratt. The book speaks about hospitality from the perspective of St. Benedict, the Catholic saint who is known as the father of monasticism. It is a great read that I recommend to everyone, but it is steeped very heavily in Christianity, so some translation may be in order. The lessons within the book are not only beyond any particular faith but are a shining example of the seventh principle*, “Respect for the interdependent web of life, of which we are all a part.” Pratt talks about listening as a spiritual practice, focusing on discovering the divine in others and allowing ourselves to be open to receive that divinity, that uniqueness. She refers to hospitality as “mutual reverence.”

Pratt also gives us a warning about hospitality. Very often we get caught up in how to offer hospitality that we forget why we offer hospitality. Paying more attention to the type of silver we are putting out for our guest and making sure we make a good impression, instead of attending to the actual needs of the guest herself.

One semester during seminary, I stayed at an AirBnB with in-home hospitality, meaning I was staying in a spare room in someone’s house while they were living there. They were a wonderful older couple, both creative artist types with a history of community activism. Their walls were covered with intriguing paintings and delightful kitsch that kept your eyes occupied for hours. These were my kind of people! When I arrived they were excited to show me around the neighborhood. They had a few in home dinners planned for me and were excited to talk with my about my education and career path. It was a great example of warmth and enthusiasm.

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My room at the AirBnB. Note the amount of art on the walls and the lack of space in the room.

But according to Pratt, it wasn’t really hospitality. While my hosts were certainly gracious and kind, what I really needed during my stay was a desk, an outlet for my chargers and a quiet place to read and study. I didn’t have time to tour the area, I didn’t have time for long conversations with dinner. I had work to do! This was my last semester and I wanted to graduate.

When we offer hospitality, we often get caught up in the act of offering, what we can do to make our welcoming the best welcome ever. We become more concerned about the social graces themselves and not the person we are offering them to. As Pratt says, “one of the inherent problems with programs to develop radical hospitality is the focus on hospitality as a goal. Hospitality requires that our focus is on the other rather than attainment of a concept.” In order to be truly hospitable, we need to find out what those we are offering hospitality to really need. We need to focus on the needs of the other.

So let me end this post with a question for you all to ponder. What are YOUR needs? What do you come to UUFP for? What are looking for from this community? Think about the need that brings you to this congregation and ask if that need is being met.

support.jpgThen I encourage you to ask a close friend in the congregation that same question. What are they looking for when they come to UUFP? What is it that they need? Listen to what they have to say. Think about it. Take a moment of silence between the two of you to let it sink in. Repeat it back to them to make sure you heard it correctly. Don’t offer solutions, don’t give suggestions. It’s tempting to try and fix when we have conversations like these, but this is an exercise in observation, not solution. Just listen.

And if you are brave, when a visitor comes into the door, someone you haven’t met before, after you have welcomed them in, given them your name and a genuine smile, say to them, “Thank you so much for coming, what brought you in today?”

It is a scary thing to walk into a church for the first time, it takes a lot of courage. There must be a very good reason for them to act so bravely. Your earnest listening and presence will be remembered by them long after to cookies and bagels are gone.

Show them that wonderful UUFP hospitality!



*(I know that many interpret the seventh principle as being the environmental principle, reminding us that the web of life extends beyond humanity. While that is certainly a part of what the principle is about, I also see it as a reminder that we are all part of the human family, that we are interconnected and need each other. We cannot live this life alone.

Posted in From the Student Minister | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A note about the UUFP music program

music

The music program has been alive and well this summer, to include weekly accompaniment and occasional wind augmentation. For all involved, thank you very much!

For the fall, there are many opportunities for involvement. ChorUUs practice starts Thursday September 1st at 7:00 PM in the sanctuary. We practice weekly, and sing for both services every 4th week: September 18, October 16, November 13, and December 11 will be our ChorUUs Sundays this fall.

We’re always looking for new folks to join both ChorUUs and the UUFP winds, which will play throughout the year. Beginners are welcome! People can e-mail Greg Gecowets, director, at “chorUUs at uufp.org”, or Marcy Stutzman, Music committee chair, at “music at uufp.org”.

We are looking forward to new music, new friends, and continuing into a new church year at UUFP!

Greg Gecowets and Marcy Stutzman

Posted in Announcements

Here’s your Chekhov-Liszt

Or check-off list, if you prefer! Things you’ll want to be a part of:

Fellowship-logo-new-colored

August 21st-New Member Recognition Potluck: After we recognize our newest members in services, there will be a potluck lunch following second service. Plan to bring a dish to share and stay to welcome these new members.

 

Fellowship-logo-new-coloredContact Forms: Have you filled out a purple contact form? If not, please do so and leave in the basket below the membership bulletin board. These forms can also be used for any address changes you may have.  Membership is entering this data into the new Icon program, which will create a photo directory available to all members and supporters. Photos can be uploaded to membership@uufp.org or find Rosalee to take your photo.

 

cell-phone Digital Scavenger Hunt

This is not like other [yawn] scavenger hunts because you’ll need a car and your cell phone camera, tablet camera or digital camera to prove you solved the clues! Register now

You and your team will receive a map of your search area and a list of the clues and then you’ll have 90 minutes to go out and return.

The cost of registration is $6.50 per person which includes dinner prepared by renowned chef Henry Chambers. Henry will be preparing his famous Huggy Burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Non-meat choices available, of course.

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Posted in Announcements, COMMUNICATIONS, Community Building, Digital Scavenger Hunt, New Members, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Circle of Kinship

For all that is our life! by Rev. Andrew Clive MillardLighting the Flaming Chalice

“Circle ‘round for freedom, circle ‘round for peace,
for all of us imprisoned, circle for release,
circle for the planet, circle for each soul,
for the children of our children, keep the circle whole.”
— Linda Hirschhorn

Kinship is an easy idea to grasp intellectually.  After all, it’s simple to say that we’re all one human family, and as Unitarian Universalists we readily declare that we’re part of the interdependent web of all existence.  It’s easy to quote Dr. King and speak of “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

However, an intellectual grasp of an idea is not the same as truly living it.  Knowing something on an intellectual level is not the same as living it with our emotions, our bodies and our everyday decisions, as studies on implicit bias have demonstrated.

An important part of living a sense of kinship is empathy, and empathy — like any other faculty — needs to be developed through exercise.  Like learning to ride a bicycle, it’s something that must be practiced until it becomes second nature.  To switch similes, nobody reads books about music and then starts playing the piano proficiently.  People can be self-taught, but it takes time and effort to learn how to apply knowledge well and to grow in skill.

While compassion literally means suffering with another person, in other words having a deep awareness of someone else’s pain, empathy is more broadly the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing.  And nothing is more basic to personal experience than our awareness of existing, a recognition that the interdependent web of all existence is no mere intellectual proposition but something for which we can develop a deep sensibility.

A few years ago, then, I created a guided meditation to help us see ourselves in a wider context, to recognize our place within humanity and the larger world of life.  I offer it here as one possible tool for developing and deepening your own sense of kinship.

~ ~

First, find a comfortable position.  If you are seated, it may help to have your back upright, your eyes level, your feet flat on the floor, your hands loosely over one another in your lap.  If you will be reading this, put it in a place where you can do so without having to move.  (Once you have practiced it enough, you’ll know what to do and can close your eyes.  Alternatively, you can have someone read it to you.)  Once you are comfortable, allow your breathing to become steady and regular.

Now visualize yourself as you are, in your current setting.  Maybe you are indoors, maybe outdoors.  Without straining or changing your position, notice what else is around you.  Whatever you cannot see directly, allow your imagination to fill in for you.  Bring an image of yourself and of the space immediately around you into your mind’s eye, and take the time to study it.

As you imagine the space around you, notice what is defining its boundaries.  If you are in a room, visualize its walls, its floor and its ceiling.  If you are outdoors, visualize the ground and whatever fences or hedges or trees that mark the edges.  Now imagine the walls or other edges becoming transparent.  They are still there, but allow your mind’s eye to see through them, to see past them, out to other parts of the building, to other places outdoors.  Are there people nearby?  What else is in the immediate area?  Visualize a slightly larger space than where you are right now, and take a little while to consider it.

Now imagine the outer walls of the building, the outer boundaries of the larger outdoor space, becoming transparent, too, and expand your vision still further.  Allow your mind’s eye to see beyond the vicinity, to see other buildings, to see the open spaces between them, to see further afield.  Visualize the people who might be in those buildings or outside.  If your mind’s eye can’t see specific faces, don’t worry: you can imagine the glow of their humanity, whether they are still or moving around.  Take some time to appreciate their glow.

Now allow your imagination to take you to larger and larger perspectives, pausing between each move outward to appreciate the view.  Take in your neighborhood, with people going about their lives, in their homes or at work, whether shopping or going from one place to another.  Expand outward to see a bigger part of your town, people too numerous to see but marked as glowing, highlights amidst the verdant glimmer of the living landscape.  Further out now, and you can see more of the local region, the glows of people, of animals, of plants, filling both land and water, interconnected in so many ways.  Keep moving outward, and now your mind’s eye takes in ever wider vistas, more of this continent and the ocean, until finally you hold in place, visualizing the whole world.  It is now life that is glowing, for the sources of the glow cannot be distinguished from one another.  It is the life of our world that glows, swirling and shifting, always moving, always changing.  Hold this place, your mind’s eye filled with the glow of life itself.

As you continue to visualize our world and the life that fills it, remember that you are still in your original position, perhaps sitting or lying down, whether indoors or outside.  You are a part of the world that you are imagining, just as human life is but a part of the great system of all life that is making the world glow in your mind’s eye.  The room or other space that holds you also holds a part of that glow, sheltering it for now and perhaps strengthening it as needed.  At the same time, your part of that glow is a reflection of the whole world’s, another source of shelter and strength.

When you are ready, bring your imagination back, from the world, to the continent, to the region, to the town, to the place where your body has been resting.  Take in once again the immediate space around you, knowing that you are both here and also intimately connected to the wider human family and the larger world of life itself.

Posted in For all that is our life! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments