Saturday, December 30, 2006

Upside Down Sunday is Coming to a Church Near You!

A very special thanks to Rev. Sean Parker the minister of South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City, Utah whose description of his own Upside-Down Day inspired me to present it as an idea to my own church.

On January 28th it is going to be a reality.

There is of course... some nervousness! The first time we do anything there is bound to be some nervousness. That doesn't mean that is not worth doing. I hope many people show up - we have a great service (although still in the planning stage) where Adults will get a sense of what Childrens worship feels like, and the children will hopefully get a better sense of what adult worship feels like.

I personally am very proud of the Religious Education Committee and Way Cool Sunday Volunteers for being brave enough to take on this challenge. It is scary right? I mean there is no curriculum for this, there is nothing on paper to follow, (except what we make for ourselves) and yet they have stepped up and took it on.

It is going to be a great and unique experience. Please come and take part!

Sunday, January 28 at 10:30 a.m.

Upside Down Sunday!
Worship Leaders: Nancy O. Arnold,
Rich Roberts, Jamie Goodwin, Rebekah Benner,
Becky Ensworth, and Liz Bright

We will gather in the sanctuary to begin our
worship together. Then – the adults will leave, and
the children will stay! What can we learn of the
religious life through the eyes of a child? “Building
Bridges” is the theme for today’s services.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Unitarians on Anderson Cooper

I watched this Anderson Cooper special on TV about, "What is a Christian?" and was glad to see that they included a clip about Unitarian Universalism. You can watch it on YouTube.

Thanks to UU World for publishing this link to the clip. The minister and the couple they interviewed did a good job of explaining many of the good qualities of our denomination.

For another view of this special go to Faith In Public Life.

There are more clips from it there.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Guest At Your Table

I have another church job, UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee)representative. I didn’t come looking for another volunteer opportunity, but it found me, and I took it because I believe in the work this organization does. This Sunday we will be collecting our yearly Guest At Your Table offering, or GAYT. When I joined our congregation, it was my first introduction to an organization like the UUSC. Coming from a Christian background, I was familiar with missions where social services were provided to people in conjunction with the message of Christianity. So, when the offering for the UUSC came up during the Thanksgiving service, I assumed that Universalists must have some missions somewhere in the world to provide aid to people and ……. ? What message were the UU’s giving people along with the aid, certainly not any particular religious doctrine.

Since that time, I have learned a bit more about the UUSC. It provides aid to people around the world, but not by establishing missions. Instead, it works through partnerships with local grassroots groups that are trying to bring about change. The UUSC is particularly concerned with marginalized populations that may be overlooked or excluded from traditional aid organizations, women, minorities etc. Besides providing money for direct aid through partnerships with local organizations, this group also advocates for social change. For example, the UUSC website has a link to express opposition to torture and to support fair wages. It is not enough to give aid to the victims; we need to change the social conditions that cause people to be victimized. Every year Unitarian Univeralists recognize the UUSC efforts during Justice Sunday. This year, the service will focus on the Crisis in Darfur.

Our congregation has done a great job of supporting the UUSC in past. Last year we received UUSC’s Vision of Justice Banner Society honor for our 2006 (50-99% membership) and the James Luther Adams award (for giving $1 per church member through our budget. As we give this year’s GAYT offering, I am hoping for another banner year, and encouraging our congregation to support the UUSC, not only with contributions, but by using this voice of Unitarian Universalism to fight for peace and justice around the world.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The New Guy

Hi. I'm the latest blogger for the UUCA blog. In blogworld I'm known as "Pho;" those of you in the congregation are more likely to know me as Scott Piepho.

For those who don't know, I've been blogging for about a year and a half now. My original blog, Pho's Akron Pages, is something of a fixture on the Ohio political blog scene. The avatar at right (art by my older daughter) is well known in comment fields around the state.

Blogging has been an important part of my life for the past year and a half. It was through the blog that I was interviewed for the piece on WCPN that many of you have heard (and that you can still listen to online.) I've also interviewed candidates and elected officials, been interviewed for news stories and gotten one campaign job so far, all directly as a result of blogging. With all that, one of the most satisfying moments in my blogging career was when Rev. Arnold introduced me to a visitor who had found his way to our church through my blog.

So when I recently stumbled across this blog and saw that Jamie and CeeJay were looking for more writers, I signed up. I'm excited about this new project. Having seen how blogs help organize communities of interest, I am pleased that we are using this tool to communicate with our members and advance our ideas.

For me posting here will necessarily be different from posting on my home blog. Though I focus more on policy than politics and though I try to maintain a high tone, things get heated and elbows get thrown. I've been known to say things like "X is just plain stupid," which falls somewhat short of treating every individual with dignity and respect. I'm also overtly partisan on my home blog which will not work here.

At the same time, we have things to say as a church. As I said in my Reflection back in July, we bring important perspectives to the increasingly strident conversation about the role of faith in our modern society. We represent a religious minority (or perhaps minorities) and we know the difficulties of maintaining a community based on religious pluralism. This is one place we can talk about what we've learned and witness for religious pluralism.

I look forward to the conversation.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mitten Tree

Fairlawn Village Preschool, which operates here in our church, will be doing a mitten tree this year for the Battered Women’s Shelter.

Mittens, gloves, hats and scarves are needed for all ages, babies through 12 years old.

The deadline for donations in Wednesday, December 20.

The mitten tree will be outside the sanctuary doors. For more info, contact the Fairlawn Village Preschool teachers.

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Excerpted from the sermon "The First Day and the Rest of Your Life" delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron by our Minister Emeritus; Rev. Gordon McKeeman - January 2, 1972

Part 2

Let me suggest to you that change is something that happens under the impact of necessity. We are not likely to change unless it appears to us that it is necessary for us to change. Now, I think it you were to take a poll and ask any ten people if they wanted some changes, the majority would say, "Yes we would like some changes." If however you ask them if they wanted to change themselves, if they were ready to pay the price of changing themselves, perhaps a different result would arise. In order for change to take place, we must want or need to change badly enough to pay the price of change. The price of change for human beings is self discipline. If you want a change you've got to adjust to altered circumstances. And in order to do those things - any of all of them - self discipline is required.

Sometimes we talk at the beginning of the year about a fresh start. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. There's a kind of aura of a fresh start about that. But, in fact, the notion of a fresh start can be a kind of dodging of reality, because any first day that any of us takes at this point begins with the baggage of the past. Every one of us has experienced happy and hurtful experiences. We have, al of us, things that we fear to do out of embarrassments and failures of the past. We all have security blankets, food, and money - and statues - and prestige that we fear to risk or lose so we not make a fresh start, that is, a start without any encumbrances. We start from where we are, and that is starting from where we are means an acknowledgment of our self-knowledge, some better or deeper understanding of who we are as the starting place for what we might be. The most profound changes that ever occur are inside people. They occur when people acknowledge realities of their own existence and seek out some broader perspectives. This requires often times the company of others. Few people understand themselves well enough to be able to know what they really are apart from the reflections they get from other people. Few of us can do without the company of others. Few of us there are who do not need a widening of the context of our lives. Most of us do not mind change as long as it doesn't alter anything. But if it does, it might alter us and that might be painful - or difficult - or demanding. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Socrates Returns

No, he isn't coming back from the dead, but the Socrates Café will return to our church starting January 23rd from 7-9PM. We will meet every 4th Tuesday of the month at the same time in the McKeeman room.

What is a Socrates Café? Socrates Café, technically, is a book written by Chris Phillips, author and co-founder of The Society for Philosophical Inquiry. Chris developed the idea of Socrates Café to do as Socrates did, bring philosophy to the every day individual. Since his book was published, Socrates Cafes have been appearing all over the United States and even in other countries.

Basically, a Socrates Café is a group of individuals, who like to talk. We get together and discuss what is on our minds, from something on the news that day to the age old questions. We want to learn how to think, not what to think.

The topic of conversation is chosen by the participants at each meeting, and those gathered are encouraged to explore it together in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and philosophical curiosity to gain a greater understanding.

So, Join us for coffee and discussion where good conversation is our main goal. Our tools will be listening & learning as we ask the big questions.