Being a part of something great!


From the Foodbank


During the summer we gathered canned goods for the Foodbank. And, we also collected money—$252.



Here’s what happened

The Foodbank distributed 11.7 million pounds of food in 2016 which is the equivalent of almost 9.7 million meals!

The UU Fellowship is a part  of making an impact on our neighbors in need. Thanks to the Social Justice committee and you!

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Of Words and Wonderings

Language is weird, English especially. We park in driveways and drive on parkways. While slim and fat are antonyms, slim chance and fat chance are synonyms, just like tie up and tie down mean the same thing. When we seed the soil, we plant crops but when we seed a watermelon, we remove the seeds. Tom Stoppard wrote in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that “what English lacks in beauty, it makes up for in obscurity.” Amen to that.

One reason our language is so weird is because it is always changing. As different cultures interact with American culture, Americans incorporate their words into their vocabulary. Examples? “Kindergarten” is derived from German, “entrepreneur” and “intrigue” are both French in origin, “chocolate” is Spanish, as is “ranch.” Emoji? Japanese. Schmooze? Yiddish. Phony? Irish. Banjo? African. Let’s not forget about the words we make up on our own. Band-Aid, Kleenex, Chapstick are from brands that became synonymous with their products, while terms like “boardwalk” “carhop” “moxie” and “sneaker” came about with cultural shifts. We even change the meaning of well-established words. Awesome meant something was so immense and moving that one was moved to a state of reverence until the 1980’s changed “awesome” into a mild affirmation. Words like “bad” “sick” and “ill” took on positive connotations at the end of the previous century.

The words we use cannot be pinned down, even though we try to. If writing words down prevented language from changing, we would all sound like characters from a Shakespearean play. Language moves on no matter what we do to preserve it. And it should. The only languages that don’t change are the ones that are not spoken (e.g. Latin). Language reflects culture, the everyday actions that make up life. We are ever changing beings in an ever-changing world, its only fitting that our words would change too.

maya card.jpgHowever, our words aren’t the only things that change. Our beliefs change too. As we experience the world in all its complexity, we find that truths that we once held either need deepening or discarding. As infants, we believe that our parents can take care of all our needs. As we grow, we find that there are needs that parents can’t meet. We discard the idea that our parents are perfect and begin to deepen our understanding of self-reliance. As we go through life, we start to observe new things and maybe we begin to incorporate them into our lives like English incorporates new words. The more we expose ourselves to new ideas, the richer our lives can become.

This applies to your spiritual life as well. One of the wonderful things about Unitarian Universalists is that we embrace the idea that theology can change, believing that revelation is not sealed. This may sound exotic and exciting at first, but remember change can often be difficult. In 2013 many dictionaries added that the definition of literally can be figurative as well as literal. Plural second person pronouns “they” and “their” are now being used as second person singular pronouns by people who do not use gender binary pronouns. These two issues have a lot of self-identified “grammar police” at the literal end of their rope. To them, this is a belief that one does not change. Yet the change comes.

If you truly believe that revelation is not sealed, then you must be prepared to encounter every new moment as a possible revelation. You must be willing to constantly examine the beliefs you have in the context of the world you live in and ask if those beliefs are bringing you closer to the inter-connected community or are they isolating you from it? It can be difficult work, examining what you hold dear, but it is rewarding work. In the example above, you can choose to not use “literally” metaphorically. You can hold that belief and still be in community with others, just don’t jump down someone’s throat when they say they literally tried on a thousand pairs of pants the other day. Be respectful of how they have grown into using language. However, in the second example, you may need to put aside your issues with “they” to be in good relationship with someone who prefers it for their pronoun. After all, the goal of language is to communicate clearly with others, not who has the best grammar.

If the goal of language is to be able to communicate with others, then what is the goal of spirituality? For me, the goal of spirituality is connection and meaning, which could be summed up in the question, “Where do you find meaning in the Universe?” Like language, the answer of this question is constantly in flux, taking on new meaning based on the surroundings. And like language, you don’t have to engage in this question alone.

uu-faith-class-posterStarting on Thursday, February 16th at 7:00pm I will be running the “Articulating your UU Faith” curriculum from the UUA. There will be a total of 5 weekly meetings (2/16, 2/23, 3/2, 3/9 and 3/16) and it is encouraged that you attend all 5. They will run from 7:00 to 8:30 and I would like to limit the class size to 10 people, due to the intensity of the curriculum. This is a workshop that is meant to arm you with an answer when someone asks you, “So, what is it exactly that UU’s believe?” However, you’ll find in the process of trying to answer that question for someone else, you’ll end up answering so questions to yourself that you never even knew that you had. This class is an opportunity for you to allow yourself to go deep with your personal theology and to put that theology into words.

But don’t forget, words do change. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and so too, the unexamined faith is not worth believing. This class will help you discover where you are now, but never stop examining the world around you, letting revelation come to you again and again. After all spirituality and language are both like a parade. It’s not very interesting if it stops in one place, it’s at its best if it keeps moving.

Interested? Contact me at and to register for the class.

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Joys and Sorrows Change

 by Jim Sanderson, Chair Sunday Services Committee

Joys and Sorrows is an important part of our worship service, however it can either take up a great deal of time or it can cause individuals to rush through their concern to allow others to speak.   Also, people have different comfort levels with speaking before the congregation.

In July, we started something new at the second service.  Joys and Sorrows are expressed through a Pastoral Prayer. We are making a small change to how it works.  The “Book of Life” will be placed on a desk in the Library Space adjoining the lobby. Before the service anyone having a joy or sorrow they wish to share may briefly and quietly write it in the book.   This will provide easier and private access to the “Book of Life.” Andrew will weave the entries into a Pastoral Prayer which he will offer aloud during the Joys and Concerns section of the service.

We will continue to offer the current form of Joys and Sorrows with individually presented concerns and candle lighting at most 9:30 services

Did You Know?

Did you know you can share an item to be included in the Pastoral Prayer with Andrew in 2 ways:?

  1. Write your concern in the Book of Life prior to the start of the service
  2. E-mail Andrew with your request


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Snow income

Actually it’s no income! That’s what occurs when church is cancelled. The baskets sit in a cool, dark sanctuary untouched and empty. Sad, but don’t cry.

The Fellowship has Vanco, our on-line collector of funds to pay Dominion, Verizon, support share the basket and, really important, our staff! And with nearly half of our income (seriously, stop crying) being received on-line it makes a difference.

As dependable as the post office

Through rain, sleet, snow and even broken pipes, we receive the financial support the Fellowship needs. If you are using it, you know how easy it is to set up and pay your pledge, support our share the basket and tip the web master. Never mind, that was removed.

If you aren’t using it, try it once and see for yourself. The church only pays 25 cents when you pay using your checking account and about 3% when you use a card, but either way the money is automatically deposited within 48 hours to our bank account, ready to use!

Melt the snow income!

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Upcoming Adult Forums

We are so happy to have the opportunity to take part in this fellowship full of really interesting people with lots to say! You are invited to come listen and participate the Adult Forum every Sunday at 11:15 am in the office building. Here is a sample of what is coming up:

1/15 Kathryn Ozyurt: Beyond the Partisan Divide Part 2: Anonymous UU voices from the 2014 General Assembly

1/22 Kimberly Irvine: Effective Advocacy and the General Assembly: Kimberly Irvine is the Director of York-Poquoson Social Services. Kim will discuss advocating to protect the interests of those in need in the legislature.

1/29 Preston Saks: Diet and Religion

2/5 Bob Smith: Science and religion
2/12 Bob Smith: Science and religion part 2
2/19 Bob Smith: Science and religion part 3

We welcome suggestions for future Forums.  Please talk with Kathryn Ozyurt, Bob Smith, Lehni Lebert, Maria Cory or Kimberly Irving if you would like to hear about something or if you are interested in facilitating a Forum.

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Delving Deeper Returns

We had a nice discussion after our service on November 20th. Several people asked us to offer this again. So, we have decided to hold our next “Delving Deeper” discussion circle on Sunday, January 29th after second service.

The intent of these discussion circles is to enrich your Sunday morning experience and help you carry it into your week.

If you would like to talk with others about the morning service, please return to the sanctuary at 12:30. The circles will be made up of approximately 10 people with a group facilitator. The facilitator will guide the group through 3 questions about the service.

To get you thinking about this service in advance, here is the description. “Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil” How do you love? Does your love touch you, hold you, fill you, fling you into the world? Whom do you love? Are there relatives and friends, close to you or far away, living or departed, their faces in your heart? What do you love? Does your love reach out, to heal, to soothe, to comfort, to feed the hungry and warm the cold?

Posted in Adult Religious Education, Community Building, Fellowship Circles, Sunday Services, Sunday Services Committee | Leave a comment


Robert Smith and Donna Carter will facilitate the second in a series of workshops designed to help us more effectively build our beloved community, both within our walls and in the wider world.

This workshop, called “Leading Your Congregation into the Future” will be on January 28th from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM — breakfast and childcare provided.  For more information you can also see the flier in the lobby, or contact


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Kroger Community Rewards Program Benefits the UUFP!

UU Fellowship of the Peninsula

by Connie Keller, Policy Board Member at-LargeConnie Keller

If you are a patron of Kroger grocery stores, there is an easy way for the UUFP to receive financial rewards each time you shop, and it will not cost you one penny more! Simply link your Shopper’s Card to Kroger’s Community Rewards program, and every time you shop a small portion of each total receipt is donated to our Fellowship. For the recent period of December, January and February, Kroger donated $128.48 to the UUFP because just twelve households shopped or bought gas at Kroger. If only twelve more households were to sign up that would be about $1000 added to our budget each year!

Here is how you can sign up:

  1. Go to: Kroger Community Rewards
  2. Create an account. (Or sign in if you already have sign-in for your KrogerPlus Shopper’s Card.)
  3. Designate the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula as your Community Rewards…

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Engaging as a People of Faith

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

The Mountain is a beautiful Unitarian Universalist retreat and leaning center in far western North Carolina, and the Southeastern UU Ministers Association meets there twice each year.  I am not able to go every time, and what made it all the more special when I went in November was that the featured speaker was the Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed.  Mark is a UU historian, best known as the author of a number of books that are essential reading for anyone serious about knowing UU history, including Black Pioneers in a White Denomination and The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism.

Most of Mark’s workshops at the SEUUMA meeting were on the subject of religious ritual.  At first glance, of course, “ritual” is still something of a dirty word amongst UUs today, particularly if we only understand ritual to mean prescribed ceremonies that are rigidly followed and offer no warmth or deeper meaning.  However, in the course of Mark’s workshops, we quickly recognized that today’s Unitarian Universalism is steeped in ritual, from lighting the chalice to singing the children out, from times of silence to passing the offering basket.  No longer are UU services “a university lecture and some classical music”.  From greeting people as they come through the door to holding hands at the end of a service, everything is intended to deepen the spirituality of community.

Mark’s final workshop was a review of UU involvement in the civil rights movement, how we went to Selma and, from the high of marching with Dr. King, how we fell to the low of broken promises to African American UUs.  The parallels with our own time, some fifty years later, are striking.  After all, we find ourselves in a dangerously similar position now, having made a commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement at General Assembly two Summers ago and then being called to account at GA this Summer for not having really done anything to follow through on that commitment.

Mark’s point was that when UUs were engaged in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s, we had no sense of ritual, no spiritual grounding for our work, no religious context.  We were, to all intents and purposes, unrelated individuals who happened to show up to the same event, with little congregational or denominational identity to bind us together, next-to-no spiritual or religious resources to ground us.  Mark’s point was that we have those resources now, so we don’t have to make the same mistakes.

I bring this up because, later this month, two buses full of UUFP members and friends will be going to Washington DC for the Women’s March on Washington.  It is truly gratifying that so many of you are answering the call to participate in this inclusive event that will bring together people of all races, creeds, economic classes, abilities, gender identities and sexual orientations to declare in a diversity of voices that women’s rights are human rights.

Taking the Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed’s lesson to heart, though, I want to put our participation in the march in a religious context, to give it spiritual grounding and, yes, even bring some ritual to it.  We are not just unrelated individuals who will happen to show up to the same event.  We will be engaging as a congregation.

In preparation for the march, then, we’re planning a workshop to do just that.  In order to allow as many people as possible to attend — and you don’t need to be going to the march to participate in the workshops — we’re offering it twice, at 7pm on Tuesday, January 10th and at 10am on Saturday, January 14th.  Both times it will be in the UUFP’s Sanctuary Building and will last for ninety minutes.  Youth are encouraged to participate and there’ll be childcare for younger children.  Facilitated by our Community Minister the Rev. Jennifer Ryu, our Student Minister Walter Clark and myself, we’ll share our individual motivations for joining the march and what it means to participate as people of faith (and, specifically, as UUFP members and friends).  We’ll also discuss gender issues (e.g. the Women’s March being open to people who do not identify as women) and intersectionality (i.e. the interlocking and mutually reinforcing oppressions and privileges of sexism, racism, classism, etc.).  There’s no need to RSVP, but please do plan on attending the workshop on one of the two dates we’re offering it.

The Women’s March on Washington promises to be a historic event, and I am thrilled that the UUFP will be so well represented.  Let’s plan on showing up as the “church of the open mind, the loving heart and the helping hand” that we know ourselves to be!

Posted in For all that is our life!, Social Justice, Women's March on Washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gifts of the Season

RE News by Joanne Dingus

I think it’s always a good idea to take a little time at the end of the year to reflect. In doing so, I wanted to share some of the gifts of the season that I witnessed here at the Fellowship.

I saw the gift of time given freely. In a hectic season when every minute was scheduled and counted and there wasn’t a spare moment in sight, people volunteered, shared their talents and showed up when it would have been much easier not to.

May we express our thanks to those who gave their time freely.

I saw the gift of guidance. Volunteer teachers and leaders in the children and adult RE programs prepared lessons, facilitated discussions and taught new skills in Sunday morning classes, evening classes and at the Festival of the Season.

May we express our thanks to those who provided guidance to others.

I saw the gift of self-expression. Our children and youth shared their many talents with us this season. They performed in plays and music at the multigenerational service, Christmas Eve services and UU Winds. For some this was the first time in front of an audience. Some were nervous and scared and yet they pushed through.

May we express our thanks to those who had the courage to express themselves creatively this season.

I saw the gift of kindness. An older brother helping a younger brother with his lines. An adult keeping a child safe from candles and hot wax. Adults and children shaking hands to greet each other. Laps open for those children whose parents were needed elsewhere.

May we be thankful for the many gifts of kindness.

I saw joy in the gift of giving. The RE-Gift store gave our members a chance to donate, recycle, give and receive.  When we brought the store to the Boys and Girls Club, I witnessed the excitement and joy of the children as they carefully chose things to give to others.

May we be thankful for the joy that giving brings.

And may we remember to extend the season of gifts throughout the year.

See you in the RE!

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