Get your calendar out!

The next Goddess Group will meet on May 3rd.

The Greek Muses

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 Sunday after service (about 12:30 pm)  

 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.

Hope to see you there!

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A NEW ADULT EDUCATION PROGRAM ON TUESDAY EVENINGS

PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME

A COURSE IN UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES AND OTHERS BETTER BY KNOWING OUR “TEMPERAMENT”

BEGINNING MAY 12TH— THE CLASS WILL MEET FOR THREE TUESDAYS IN THE ANNEX FROM 6:30 UNTIL 8 PM

TO DERIVE MAXIMUM BENEFIT, PLAN TO

ATTEND ALL THREE SESSIONS.

More details

 

suufi_graphic 

Lots to do on The Mountain, from spring to fall! What is SUUFI?

About The Mountain:

Founded in 1979 by Unitarian Universalists, The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center is a nonprofit, year round retreat center and summer camp open to all. The Mountain is located in Highlands, NC and is approximately a two hour drive from Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC. Visit our website, mountaincenters.org, to learn more.

 

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The Giving Buzz

by Christina Hockman

Christina Hockman

Christina Hockman

With just one week to go until the end of this year’s Canvass (aka pledge drive), we’re posting the remarks that Christina Hockman, the UUFP’s Intern, shared at the “Big Event” last month.  Chris introduced them by noting that they were the result of some soul-searching regarding her own personal giving when her home church was doing its own Canvass a few years ago; she hoped that this thought process, this story line would resonate with the UUFP’s members and friends just as it did with her home congregation.  So if you’ve already pledged, thank you!  But if you haven’t, we hope that Chris’ remarks will inspire you to pledge today!  You can do so via the UUFP web site by clicking here right now.

I’ve been thinking about how much my church is worth to me.  If I were asked to put a price tag on my congregation, how much would it be?  I know I care about my congregation a lot, but church communities don’t come with price tags.  There are no admission fees at the door, like at the movies.  There are no monthly fees like the gym.  But then again, church is more than a product or a service that can be rented or purchased.

Church giving is more complicated.  No one tells me how much I owe, or sends me a bill that I’m obligated to pay.  It’s an honor system, for goodness’ sake.  I determine how much I’m going to give, and it’s my responsibility to follow through, if at all possible.  If I don’t pay, no collection agencies will come after me and my credit rating won’t be ruined.  There will be no repo man towing my car away at 2am.  All that’s keeping me on the “straight and narrow” is my own conscience and sense of commitment to something greater than myself.  No responsible business person would run a company this way and expect to stay afloat.  Can you picture this honor system at Target or CVS?  I think it would go something like this:

Ma’am, are you ready to check out?  Okay.  Just place some bills in the basket as you leave.  Oh, no, we don’t use prices.  How much?  Just pay what you can; it’s all good.  Have a nice day!

I would love to shop at that store.

Church is not a consumer product or service.  It’s not transactional.  It’s not pay-to-play.  It’s so much more than that.  It’s a voluntary, self-supporting, self-sustaining community.  We give, in accordance with our personal means, so that our community may thrive, so that we may thrive in it, and so that we may help the world to thrive.  This is quite amazing.  Our accountability is solely to each other.  Think of the level of trust, care and commitment that is required for this bizarre and beautiful system to work.  Everyone contributes voluntarily, and the community continues — and it has continued, year after year, for more decade after decade!  I think that’s pretty remarkable.

As I continue to ponder giving to church, I turn my thoughts to how I spend my money.  I’m not rich, but there are some things — little luxuries — that I really like, and I spend some money on them.  I really enjoy eating out.  I love clothes and shoes, and I’m a little ashamed to admit that I really enjoy my Verizon FIOS cable TV.  But overall, I’m very careful and responsible with my money: I don’t go on mad shopping sprees or foodie binges, or subscribe to all the premium channels.

But when I think about what makes my life truly meaningful, my list of “likes” changes a lot.  Most of the meaningful things in my life — family, friends, church — do not have a price tag.  This makes me wonder, am I really putting my money where my values are?  Cute clothes and shoes fulfill my vanity.  Dinners out fill my appetite, most often with extra calories that are in direct conflict with my vanity.  Verizon FIOS entertains me.  I really do like all of these things.

But then I think about my congregation.  My congregation opens and challenges my mind, opens my heart and feeds my soul.  It reminds me on a weekly basis about what is really important in life.  It gives me the gentle kick in the pants I need to become less self-involved and more interested in others and the world around me.  That’s actually what I value.

My thoughts turn to all of my friends in my congregation who have given me so much, the ministers who have taught me how to be a better person, fellow leaders who have been the greatest mentors, the religion that has supported me in my spiritual quest — all of it giving me the space and the challenge necessary to grow.  That’s what I value.

I think of the lives this congregation has saved, which I believe to be absolutely true.  We may not be in the business of saving souls, but we do save and transform lives.  My mind goes to the stranger who is coming to visit us next week.  She’s practically given up on church until she comes to our service.  I think of the look on her face when she says, “Where have you guys been all my life?”  That’s what I value.  And that’s why I give to my church.

I think of all the babies, yet to be born, who will have the privilege of being raised Unitarian Universalist, here in our loving care.  I think of our long-time members who acquired our land, who constructed or renovated our buildings, who kept the church engine running year after year, decade after decade.  They are the ones I value.  They are why I give.

For the people who will care for me if I get sick, or have a personal crisis, or if I just feel alone; the people with whom I will work for justice: they are the ones I value.  They are why I give.  Somehow shoes, clothes and meals out just don’t compare.

People often equate giving money with sacrifice, that giving more money to church will result in some painful net loss.  But what if I lost this congregation?  That would be a real sacrifice.  To lose out on the staff we need for the church to grow, that would be a real sacrifice.  To lose programs when they’re needed most, that would be a sacrifice.  To lose our ability to fulfill our mission, that would be a tragedy and a sacrifice.  Not being able to maintain the buildings where we worship and learn and grow together, that would be a sacrifice, too.

I challenge you today to take a look at where your money is going, and if it is consistent with your values and priorities in life.  What are your clothes, shoes and Verizon FIOS, those things you really like but may not need as much of?  Do you value them like you value your church community, like you value this congregation?  Is it really a sacrifice to give more to something you care about, something that adds layers of connection and meaning to your life?

And you know the really funny thing about giving more?  It’s that it doesn’t hurt.  It actually feels good.  A friend of mine calls it the giving buzz.  Giving a gift of true significance is audacious, unexpected and joyful.  Giving fully and freely is countercultural, a naughty act of defiance in the face of a consumerist society.

That giving buzz doesn’t just come from giving money.  It comes from the satisfaction and joy you feel when you’re living out your values.  Put your values into action by pledging today and be happy about it!  Be proud of it!

I ask you today to make your love for one another, for this congregation, tangible.  Give of your resources; give of yourself.  Put your money where your values are, and enjoy the giving buzz!

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A Meaningful, Shared Responsibility

SandyUUFP Board Member At-Large Sandy Burkes-Campbell gave this member testimonial at a recent Sunday morning service.

When Rev. Andrew asked me speak, I thought back to 1992 when my family moved to Newport News.  The Fellowship was — and still is — a beacon of liberal religion in Hampton Roads.  And I thought about a picture of the Lorax on my refrigerator that says:

UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.

In 1992 our membership was about 75 members.  Dedicated, hard-working committee chairs and other volunteers worked every Sunday to insure that services were held and refreshments were provided, along with coffee and religious education for our children and adults.

Happily, with the addition of full-time ministry and the message that we offer here — of a free and responsible search for truth and meaning — our church membership has more than doubled in size.

Still, the job of providing those services on Sundays, to larger numbers of families and individuals, became more of a challenge.

So in 2012, our wonderful Policy Board President Alan Sheeler proposed that hospitality teams support our Sunday services today on a regular, rotating basis.

For years I have attended the first service here on Sundays.

Volunteering as a greeter and usher on a hospitality team has been a great way for me to meet new families and members that come to the second service who were unfamiliar to me.

Helping to collect the offering, preparing food for coffee hour, no matter what the particular job is, makes me feel more connected to what happens here on Sundays.

It takes all of us working together to support our little interdependent church web.  Hospitality teams enable all of us to share in making our Sundays together a meaningful, shared responsibility.

So if you are not already on a team, please contact Rosalee, Bobby, Sarah or Dan to sign up.

And thank you, Alan, for suggesting this new way of helping our church home.

Supporting the Fellowship with my time, money and whatever talents I may have is my way of supporting liberal religion in this community.

So remember that we are well into our pledge drive and we need to support our wonderful paid staff.

But giving to this church is about more that keeping the lights on.  It’s about generosity and supporting what you believe in.

Unitarian Universalism transforms and, in some cases, saves lives and changes communities.

How can you not love a place where all the women are strong, the children are above average, and the men… are wonderful!

The task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all.  There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others.  It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community.

So please pledge generously!

And remember:

Lorax

Posted in Hospitality Teams, Member Testimonial, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Embracing Our Identities

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

This time last year there were a couple of a widely shared articles criticizing Christianized versions of the Passover seder.  In “Why Christians Should Not Host Their Own Passover Seders”, for example, Rebecca Cynamon-Murphy describes how, as a Christian woman married to a Jewish man, she has become a “safe person” for her fellow Christians to ask about Judaism.  As such, she has been approached by Christians who want to hold Passover seders.  “Their logic,” she notes, “is that since Jesus was celebrating Passover during the week when he was arrested, tried, executed and resurrected, in a desire to be more Christ-like, they too should celebrate the holiday.”

While understanding that desire, Cynamon-Murphy goes on to make the case that Christians hosting their own seders do more harm than good, from ignoring thousands of years of persecution of Jews to reinterpreting the story of Passover by making it all about Jesus.  Rather than objectifying their Jewish neighbors and treating them as if Judaism hadn’t changed in two thousand years, she argues, it is better for Christians to engage with the celebration by studying it rather than mimicking it.  Being invited by Jewish friends to their seder, Cynamon-Murphy concludes, is a fortunate opportunity for a non-Jews to appreciate “sitting as a minority amongst a table full of people who are part of a community that has celebrated Passover every year since they were born.”

I understand and appreciate these points.  My Hebrew Bible professor in seminary, for instance, explained that the process of analysing and interpreting a text is called “exegesis” and not “I see Jesus”.  After all, the Torah and other Jewish scriptures should be taken on their own merits, not as a mere prelude to Christianity.  (Even to call them the “Old Testament” is insulting.)  And having married into a Jewish family, every Passover I have attended has been a treasured opportunity to experience an important tradition that holds so much meaning for my in-laws, to learn more about what matters to them, and to begin to appreciate a culture other the one in which I was raised.

While I appreciated Cynamon-Murphy’s article, however, I did not agree with some of the declarations that followed that Unitarian Universalists shouldn’t observe Passover with a seder, either.  Her article certainly offered an opportunity for a discussion of cultural misappropriation, something that is often a temptation for UUs — and not only because we explicitly name the wisdom and teachings of other religions as amongst the sources from which our living tradition is drawn.  But in rightly standing opposed to mimickry of a tradition and objectification of its practitioners, we carelessly fell into categorical thinking by assuming that Unitarian Universalists holding a Passover seder would be just like the Christians that Cynamon-Murphy sought to advise.  (Juxtaposing the arguments against “UU seders” with those, from a few years back, against UU ministers wearing “Christian” clergy collars demonstrates a major inconsistency in our self-image resulting from such categorical thinking.)

Given the care that needs to be brought to the discussion, consider the haggadah, which is the text that provides the directions and readings for the seder.  For one thing, there are many versions of it, created by different communities as need arose.  Oranges and Olives HaggadahThere is Nancy Cronk’s “Oranges and Olives”, for example, which she developed in consultation with both UU and Jewish individuals and congregations, not to mention the Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness.  For all that it includes elements lifting up feminist, environmental, cognitive, non-violent and LGBTQ concerns, it has strong similarities to the haggadah we used at the seders I attended at my grandmother-in-law’s house.  Such elements as Miriam’s Cup and the orange had already been created by movements within the mosaic of Judaisms, and my grandmother-in-law was no stranger to adding new commentary to the haggadah in order to bring in contemporary themes.

Another concern I have is more personal, however.  Without some care when it comes to discussing cultural misappropriation, we risk using our privilege not to prevent the theft of others’ identities through objectification but to erase others’ identities altogether, or to force them to choose.  Unitarian Universalism is no more monolithic than Judaism (or, for that matter, Christianity), but categorical thinking would pretend that we’re all the same.  What does blanket criticism of “UU seders” say about people who are UU, whether by birth or by choice, while at the same time being Jewish, whether by upbringing or by ancestry?  PassoverMy daughter is such a person.  It is my fervent hope that, when she is old enough to understand these matters and think about them for herself — which UU Religious Education will, of course, encourage her to do — she is able and willing to embrace both of these aspects of her identity.  There will be plenty of places outside UU walls where she will face denial of who she is or what she believes, whatever those will be.  I trust that that won’t be the case within UU walls, too.

~)<

This year’s UUFP “Oranges and Olives” seder will take place on Saturday, April 4th, from 4pm to 7pm in the Office Building (13136 Warwick Blvd).  You can let us know what you plan to bring here: http://bit.ly/UUFPS15

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

Announcements (April 2015) UPDATED

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GODDESS CIRCLE

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 Sunday after service (about 12:30 pm)  

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.

(submitted by Janet Gecowets)

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SECOND SUNDAY LUNCH

Second Sunday Lunch Group
All are welcome!
April 12, 2015
12:30 pm
Anzio’s Turkish and Italian Cuisine
980 J Clyde Morris Blvd.
223-7311
Questions?  Ask Bobbie Schilling secondsundaylunch@uufp.org

(submitted by Bobbie Schilling)

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FIFTY AND BETTER

TBA

Questions? Contact Esther Sherman at fiftyandbetter@uufp.org.

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Bellydance Classes

New “Skills and Drills” classes for all levels of dancers are starting in March!  These will focus on exercise through Mid-Eastern dance combinations done with an emphasis on correct posture and having fun.  Classes will run on Mondays from 5:30 – 6:15 pm, March 16 – April 27, with an optional field trip to Rosalita’s to see instructor Jeylan perform on Monday, March 30.  The cost is $45 due at the first class.  Questions or concerns may be directed to Rachel at jeylan@cox.net.  Ladies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities are encouraged to give it a try!

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Black History Study Group  –  Facilitated by Allison Black

The Black History Study Group will meet in the Office Building on April 18, 2015 at 2 pm.  We will discuss Black feminism, intersectionality, and stereotypes.

The Black History Study Group is a monthly discussion group dedicated to examining black history (and current events involving race), which is much deeper and more complex than allowed for by the one month we usually give to black history.  This discussion group will be a venue for members of the congregation to become more informed about race, including the racist history of the United States, the history of different communities in the United States, to the roots and impact of current events.  The group will also encourage discussion of the experience and history of other minority communities in the United States.

RACISM CONTINUES TO BE RAMPANT IN THE US—

As UU’s we can make a difference!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Posted in 2015, EDITION: April 2014 | 1 Comment

Sunday and Special Services (April 2015)

Services for April 2015 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula

theme: Liberation

“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.  The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both.  But it must be a struggle.  Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass

Special Service!
4pm on April 4th: a Passover Seder — UUFP Office Building

This multi-sensory liturgy dates back thousands of years and is celebrated annually by millions of Jews and people of other faiths.  The modern seder allows us to bring its meaning alive in terms of contemporary themes, while continuing to revisit the ancient story of liberation and hope.

Since the seder combines worship with a potluck meal, please sign up at: http://bit.ly/UUFPS15

April 5th: “Not a Moment, but a Movement”11am only at Sandy Bottom Nature Park

The Biblical story of the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt became a powerful source of hope for Africans and their descendents yearning for freedom from slavery in the United States.  In its own way, the Christian story of Easter has long been understood to make promises of liberation from guilt and fear.  And in today’s world we also have the “words and deeds of prophetic women and women which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.”  The struggle continues!

Special music will be offered by the UUFP Winds!

April 12th: “Prejudice: a Retrospective” — 11am only at Sandy Bottom Nature Park

With so many recent events concerning racism in our country and the fiftieth anniversary of Selma, Joanne Dingus has taken some time to look back on examples of her own personal prejudice.  Reviewing these images past and present has improved her understanding of privilege and oppression, and she challenges us to examine our own attitudes about race and privilege.

Joanne Dingus

Joanne is the UUFP’s Director of Religious Education.  She loves her work with children and youth.  She sings in the ChorUUs, participates in a Fellowship Circle, and is an active member of the Sunday Services Committee.

April 19th: “Selma Here and Now”

More than fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sent a telegram to faith leaders around the country, including Unitarian Universalists, calling on them to join him in Selma.  They heeded the call.  Now that the celebration of this historic event has passed, where do we go from here?  It’s 2015 and the American Dream is still only a dream for many, even in our own neighborhood.  As people of faith who value peace, justice and liberty for all, there are still many bridges to cross.

Christina Hockman

Christina Hockman is the UUFP’s intern.  She is a resident of Virginia and a member of First Unitarian in Richmond.  Currently a student at Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chris is in training to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.

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

April 26th: “Small Gods”

“In the beginning was the Word.  And the Word was ‘Hey, you!’  For Brutha the novice is the Chosen One.  He wants peace and justice and brotherly love.  He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please.”  When author Terry Pratchett (1948–2015) took us to the desert theocracy of Omnia, the time of the eighth prophet was nigh.  But then Brutha the novice heard the Great God Om talking to him — only it appeared that Om was just a lowly tortoise…

Posted in Sunday Services | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Birthdays (April 2015)

Many Happy Returns to our UUFP members and friends who will be celebrating their birthdays in April!  They are:

Daisies on the banks of the Diascund Reservoir in Lenexa, VA by Dean Ceran

Daisies on the banks of the Diascund Reservoir in Lenexa, VA by Dean Ceran

Chloe Tinari
Patricia Moseley
Mary Elizabeth Garrett
Daniel Drees
Josie Dougher
Barbara Morgan
Tonya Sprock
Sarah Davis
Bobbie Schilling
Jaimie Dingus
Lou Ayers
Mary Luke
Joanne Dingus
Scott Kasmire
Donna Briede
Konrad Krafft
Connie Keller
Chris Meyer
Lissa Henry
Kenny McIntyre
Amy Grissom 

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

Mary White Ovington

Mary White Ovington

Mary White Ovington was born April 11, 1865 in Brooklyn, New York. Her Grandmother attended the Connecticut congregation of Samuel Joseph May also known as Harvard. Her parents, members of the Unitarian Church were supporters of women’s rights and had been involved in anti-slavery movement. Educated at Packer Collegiate Institute and Radcliffe College, Ovington became involved in the campaign for civil rights in 1890 after hearing Frederick Douglass speak in a Brooklyn church.

The National Negro Committee that held its first meeting in New York on May 31 and June 1, 1909. By May, 1910 the National Negro Committee and attendants, at its second conference, organized a permanent body known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) where Ovington was appointed as its executive secretary

Posted in 2015, Birthdays, EDITION: April 2014