Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zach Coming to Java Jive

Jenni of the Lifespan Growth Committee sends the following:
    As many of you know on Saturday evening, November 3, Java Jive will be presenting singer/songwriter Zach at UUCA (see attachment). This time JJ is a fundraiser to benefit the Lifespan Growth Committee (LGC) and their mission to provide and communicate growth opportunities at the UUCA to members, visitors and the public. The Lifespan Growth Committee will be using the funds raised for publications, public relations and to provide rich opportunities free of charge.

    Entrance to JJ has always included homemade baked goods to go with the coffee and tea. We are asking for finger foods, such as cookies, nuts, brownies, cupcakes, candy, muffins or any item that you feel would be enjoyed in the coffeehouse setting.

    The Growth Opportunities or GO! Brochure is funded entirely by Java Jive in conjunction with a matching grant for funds raised. So if you like what you see in the GO! Brochure and find it useful and helpful to the church, this is a way to help with it's continuance.

    Volunteers may e-mail me directly at to let me know of their donation so that I may plan accordingly. Desserts may be dropped off in the kitchen at the church (labeled for Java Jive) on Friday or Saturday. If some can bake but can't get it to the church, I can arrange for someone to come by their house to pick it up on Friday.

    Thanks to everyone, we are really looking forward to a successful fun evening. I hope to see you there!
You can read up on Zach at his website or his MySpace page. He always puts on a good show and it is for a good cause. Go if you can. And if you can contribute baked goods, so much the better.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Gentle, Advertising People

Our Association, if you haven't heard yet, is advertising. The UUA has launched a print ad campaign, the first example of which you see at right. I personally have a couple misgivings, which I'll get to in a moment.

In addition to running a couple of print ads in Time Magazine, the Association is paying for what they call "advertorials." I can't tell exactly what all the advertorials include, but they definitely include sponsoring Time.com/ReligionPages, a collection of stories from the Magazine about matters of faith.

I tried in vain to find the religion section from the Time homepage, to no avail. To find the pages, it appears you have to know where to look. The page currently runs an online poll asking readers' beliefs. The choices are: that there is an all-powerful God, that a spirit pervades all experience or that science explains everything. Right n0w, with 233 responses "spirit pervades" has over half the votes. Clearly UUs are swamping the poll.

So I'm all for anything that raises the profile of Unitarian Universalism outside the church. I am concerned, however, that the campaign does little to address one tension within a church comprised of theists and non-theists. Sometimes it seems that the only UUs who don't think the church is too Christian are those who think it's not Christian enough. We lose members who are looking for a spiritual home and find the church insufficiently nourishing and we lose members looking a community of Humanists who find too much God talk.

This tension is the great challenge of the church, made more challenging because it is difficult for the church to be neutral about matters of faith. And pretty much impossible to be perceived as being neutral. Hence, my misgivings about the ad. Some, in and out of the church, surely perceive the ad as being anti-theist/pro-Humanist. As such, how welcome will UU Christians or other theistic UUs continue to feel in the church? How well with the ad attract people who believe in something divine, but are uncomfortable in mainline churches? Happily, the online part of the church doesn't show much of a backlash yet, but we need be sensitive how the ads are playing.

The tagline for the "advertorial" linked to on the UUA website is "Find us and ye shall seek." This better summarizes what we are about. The church's great strength is its ability to welcome diverse spiritual seekers. That's also it's greatest challenge. Our ad wizards should bear that in mind.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I'm wrong about that last bit. The mock-up advertorial pdf on the UUA website shows that the tag is the old "Seek and you shall find." I saw "find and you shall seek" on a UU blog, but now can't find it again. Personally I like that version better -- witty and descriptive. It'd be great if that could wend its way to UUA and make it into the campaign at some point.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Gun Violence Program Reminder

Remember that our church is co-sponsoring a program about gun violence.
    Gun activist Toby Hoover will speak on gun violence as part of a speech and panel presentation titled Reducing Gun Violence to be presented at the Akron - Summit County Library Auditorium at 6:30 pm on October 10th, at 60 South High St., Akron. Admission is free.

    Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, has worked over thirty years at a state and national level to reduce gun violence. She has received many awards for her activism, including the Sue Kingsley Memorial Volunteer Award presented to her by James Brady in 1999. Toby’s understanding of gun violence is particularly clear, having suffered the loss of an immediate family member to gun violence.

    Ms. Hoover’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion by Judge Linda Teodosio - Summit County Juvenile Court, Officer Schismenos - head of the Akron Police Gang Unit, Judy Joice - President of Greenleaf Family Center, and University of Akron School of Communication Professor N. J. Brown - an expert on media affect on violence.

    Guns are the second leading cause of injury death in Ohio; 1,036 firearm deaths were recorded in 2004––only 20 of those deaths were unintentional. Only 8% of the people killed by guns are killed in felony crimes.

    A question and answer period will follow the presentations.

    This program is presented by the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron in partnership with the Akron Area Association of Churches, Akron Area Interfaith Council, American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Commission and the Coalition for a Safe Community.
Also, a programming note: Sen. Tom Sawyer, once on the bill, is unable to attend. Susie, the Social Action Committee and the co-sponsors have put great effort into putting this together. And it looks like a great program. If you can make it, to support the work of the church and learn more on this timely topic, please be there.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sunday Morning Worship Services for September

Sunday Morning Worship will return to a 10:30 am start time begining September 9th.

September 2 at 9:30 a.m.
Being a UU in Today’s Working World
Speaker: Pam Garn Nunn
There are many ways in which we can “live” our faith, and one is in our daily lives with our fellow workers and colleagues. It’s not necessarily what we do for a living but how we do it that can make a powerful statement. Join us as we explore the possibilities and celebrate this unique holiday created to honor work and working people.

Please note the service time change as summer ends and the 135th church year begins! There will be a potluck following the service – please bring a dish to share!

September 9 at 10:30 a.m.
A “Moving” Ingathering
Service Leaders:
Rev. Mary Moore, Interim Minister and Rich Roberts, Director of Religious Education
On this festive morning, we’ll all gather briefly in the Memorial Garden area before joyfully proceeding into the sanctuary for the service. Expect some of the old, some of the new – lots of music, some time for readings and reflection – and maybe even a few surprises! A time for all ages to reconnect with familiar faces and to welcome the new folks among us. See you at church!

September 16 at 10:30 a.m.
Gifts from Youth
Service Leader: Rev. Mary Moore
On this, the opening Sunday for UUCA’s Religious Education program, when we’ll be “dedicating” the already very-dedicated teachers in our RE program and affirming all the people in our church “village” who take part in raising our children, we’ll be lifting up the gifts young people offer that enrich our congregation, the larger community, and the world.

September 23 at 10:30 a.m.
Gifts from Elders
Service Leader: Rev. Mary Moore
Assistant: Pam Gar-Nunn
This will be a special morning as we recognize those who have been newly included in the UUCA Circle of Elders this year. What a good time to celebrate the gifts elders give to church, community and world – and together we shall celebrate on this day!

September 30 at 10:30 a.m.
Why I am a Unitarian Universalist Christian
Speaker: Al Lasher
Find out why and how someone who is essentially a Deist and a skeptic regards himself as Christian and enthusiastically participates in the activities of the UU Christian Fellowship.

Sunday Midday Worship Services for September

In the spirit of the Midday Service and its emphasis on offering a variety of worship experiences, some new options for worship will be offered during the 12:30 pm hour this fall. An open Small Group Ministry session, a Healing Service, and a UU Christian Communion service will start this month. In addition, a Music Worship involving guest musicians and some theatrical presentations will begin in October. Please check the website, the Reporter, or Memoranduum (in our weekly Order of Service) for future service descriptions.

All Midday Worship Services take place on Sundays at 12:30 pm.

Also consider coming early for Fellowship Hour which takes place in our Fellowship Hall between the Morning and Midday Services!

September 16
Sample Small Group Ministry Session
The Purpose of Small Group Ministries, which has been revised for the coming year, is to provide an opportunity for members and committed friends of the UUCA to connect more deeply with themselves and others through reflection, conversation, and service. Groups led by trained facilitators meet regularly throughout the year. If you are uncertain about committing to a full year, this is the perfect opportunity to explore what SGM is all about!

September 23
Healing Gathering: Group Meditation, Prayer and Healing
Group prayer and meditation will be followed by a time when individuals may receive the loving touch of Reiki practitioners and other energy workers for the healing of body, mind and spirit. If you are not able to attend, please feel free to stop by and leave the name of any people you might wish to receive such energy or contact Frances Pake.
(You may also leave names with me at uuakron@hotmail.com and I will assure they are passed on)

September 30
Unitarian Universalist Christian Communion Service
On this Sunday, we’ll be celebrating the first of our once-a-month brief UU Christian Communion Services. Everyone is welcome!

Unitarian Universalist Church of Blanchard Valley, Ohio Needs YOUR Help.

The following message is from Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Ohio-Meadville District, District Executive.


Our sister OMD congregation, the UU Church of the Blanchard Valley, in Findlay, OH, was heavily damaged by the recent floods in that part of the state.

They lost their piano, sound system, chairs, all of their RE curricula, books, and supplies in the flood waters. Checks could be made out to UU Church of Blanchard Valley, or if you can help with a donation of funds or in-kind materials, please contact:

(Please email me at uuakron@hotmail.com for Rev. Beth Marshall's Contact info.)

Please note that Rev. Marshall's phone is being used as the primary way to contact the church during this time. The old church phone number no longer works. I'm told that the congregation was able to save their pulpit, chalice, most of their hymnals, and the coffee pots. (The minister, says she finds a bit of ironic humor in the fact that the coffee pots were salvageable.)

Rev. Marshall also notes that her congregation deeply appreciates any assistance you can give. She said: "It's easy to feel isolated out here, and yet I know that there are good colleagues and congregations out there we can depend upon."

Thank you all for your help in this time of need.

Joan Van Becelaere
OMD District Executive

For more on the flooding click here.
For the church's website click here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't miss songwriter Jim Scott, Sept. 15th 7:30pm

Acclaimed acoustical guitarist, Jim Scott will perform an evening of his songs of peace and the environment.

With insight and more than a little humor, Jim makes his case for harmony in the world with jazz, world folk music styling and some great guitar technique in accompaniment.

Guitarist, performer, educator and prolific writer of songs, Jim Scott first achieved notoriety as a member of the Paul Winter Consort and as co-composer of the celebrated “Missa Gaia” - Earth Mass and many other pieces, including his “A Song for the Earth,” recorded live at the United Nations.

Several of Jim Scott's hymns, most notably #347 Gather the Spirit, are included in the Singing the Living Tradition hymnal and Singing the Journey supplement.

A suggested $5 dollar donation will be accepted at the door.
Snacks and Beverages will be available in our Fellowship Hall after the concert.

Saturday September 15, 2007 7:30 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron
3300 Morewood Road
Akron, OH 44333

Morewood Road is located off West Market street, directly across from Summit Mall.
Click here for location details

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

UU Christian Fellowship News

Bob Fabre is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron and on the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship. Used with Permission.

At the recent General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists (UU), the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF), and many other religious-oriented groups, was denied independent affiliate status. In a response to an inquiry as to the ramifications of this decision, Pacific Southwest District Board member Tom Laughrey said, among other things: "the UUA is an association of congregations and that affiliations must serve congregational needs" and "Independant Affiliattion status gave [these groups] nothing to begin with [and] there was nothing to take away". UUCF Board member Peg Bartel then wrote the following letter to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Board. While the sentiments expressed therein are her own, many UUCF members feel the same, yours included.- Bob Fabre

I am writing in regard to the recent decision to deny the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship independent affiliate status with the UUA...While I am not surprised, I am disappointed. From a practical point of view it will have little obvious impact on the UUCF. We will continue our activities. Any financial impact will be offset by members such as myself, who now find themselves a member of two faith families instead of one and will adjust my pledge to my local congregation accordingly. But this is not a practical issue—it is a matter of the heart, of how a faith community defines itself and what it sees as central to its faith. In that regard, I have been a little dismayed to read some of the responses made by some trustees in response to inquiries—pointing out that affiliation with the UUA meant nothing in practical terms except perhaps slots at GA. Of course this perspective misses the issue entirely. It is not about benefits, it is about being part of a larger whole—of belonging.

I understand that the UUA wants to focus on congregations. But what is the religious life of a congregation, if not the religious life of its members and friends? The roots of Unitarian Universalism draw deeply from many religious traditions. To have groups lose their status because they are following a particular path is indeed disheartening. These groups, not just the UCCF, are comprised of people who are deeply involved in their faith tradition as expressed in and through Unitarian Universalism. They are the stimulus in their congregations for small study groups, religious education and other activities that feed the religious life of the congregation.

I will always be a Unitarian Universalist. It is my preferred faith. A faith that dares to be free of doctrine and creed and yet remain faithful to the life of the spirit is powerful indeed. But this recent decision by the UUA reminds me of the luke-warmness of much of the UUA. The fear to be religious. The focus on tolerating each other as a goal rather than the glorious celebration of our differences. The mush of commonality rather than the beauty of the mosaic. No—this decision by the UUA has no practical implication for the UUCF, but it reveals a great deal about how the leadership of the UUA views the religious life of the congregations and their members. That is what is truly disheartening.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Our Midday and 2nd Service

Dear Midday Service Attendees and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron Community:

Midday Service will be taking a longer hiatus than originally planned. With the arrival of Rev. Mary Moore and the limited availability of those coordinating services, the coordinating team has determined that now is a good time to step back, reflect, and allow for a period of discernment.

Originating as the 4:30pm 2nd Service in January 2006, The Midday Service has been an experience important to many of us in this church community and has been possible in large part due to the loving support and creative participation of many of you. We believe the 2nd and Midday Services have made significant contributions to the ongoing creative evolution of what worship looks like at UUCA. We thank you for your role in this, and we invite you to join the upcoming discussions.

With gratitude,
The Midday Service Coordinating Team
Ellen Carvill-Ziemer, Rev. Nancy O. Arnold, Sarah Culver, and Warren Brown

Worship Services in August

Sunday, August 5 at 9:30 a.m.
Remembering Hiroshima

Service Leader: Jamie Goodwin
Assistant: Elaine Young

On August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by the crew of the American Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 70,000 people. To this day many Americans struggle with the guilt and sadness associated with this attack, while others see it as necessary and even life saving event that ended the war. Please join us this Sunday as we commemorate and remember the lives of the people of Hiroshima and explore the destruction we are all capable of leaving behind.

Emanuel Bells, a local bell choir, will perform today. Please join us for this amazing treat and experience sacred music in a whole new way.

Sunday, August 12 at 9:30 a.m.
It’s About the Going

Service Leader: Rev. Mary Moore
Assistant: Elizabeth Reilly

As we proceed along the path of transition, what can and should we expect – both of the interim ministry and of ourselves? How can we rise to the opportunities as we walk together on the path, making ours a holy pilgrimage in which we find our own “heroic way?”

Sunday, August 19 at 9:30 a.m.
The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic

Service Leader: Claire Tessier
Assistants: Warren Brown and Margaret McConnell

Jesus spoke in Aramaic. Connect to the deepest truth of Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer by hearing the Aramaic words and learning the meaning of these words. Most of the English translations of the words from Jesus come from Greek, a language that differs greatly from Aramaic. As stated by scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz in the book Prayers of the Cosmos, “When Jesus refers to the “kingdom of heaven,” this kingdom is always both within and among us. Likewise, “neighbor” is both inside and outside, as is the “self” that we are to love to the same degree as our “neighbor.” Unlike Greek, Aramaic presents a fluid and holistic view of the cosmos. The arbitrary borders found in Greek between “mind,” “body,” and “spirit” fall away.”

Sunday, August 26 at 9:30 a.m.
Gaia People

Service Leader: Kevin Carr
Assistant: Lorie Lerner

Kevin will speak about taking care of earth as being essentially the same as taking care of ourselves and the rest of the planet. He’ll do this in conversation with Dr. James Lovelock's book, The Revenge of Gaia-Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity. Women's Equality Day will be a part of the message and part of the service as well.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Emanuel Bells

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron is proud to welcome Emanuel Bells, who will perform at the upcoming morning service, August 5th, at 9:30 am. Emanuel Bells is a local bell choir, performing at many churches and events throughout the area.

Handbell Choir music is beautiful and unique. Please join us for this amazing treat and experience sacred music in a whole new way.

Once again that's August 5th at 9:30 am.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Come Celebrate With Us

FRIDAY, JULY 27 AT 6:00 P.M.

Please join us in a celebration for Nancy Arnold to recognize the past 13 years of her ministry with the UUCA.

Babysitting will be provided, so indicate the number and ages of children.

Our own Blame Mama band will be performing!
Bring a side dish or salad to share for a potluck dinner.
In honor of Nancy’s favorite food, a Sundae Bar will be provided! YUM!

Introducing Our New Interim Minister

Rev. Mary comes to us after a two-year, highly successful interim ministry at Westside UU Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has training for accredited interim ministry and tells us that “I am now convinced that my skills and interests are best suited to interim ministry.” As a former parish minister, hospital chaplain, student, spouse, and current mom, Rev. Mary brings us a wide range of personal and professional gifts and interests.

Former colleagues describe her as outgoing and caring, with a definite sense of humor. She is regarded as a dynamic and focused speaker. She likes to work with “folks of all ages who are excited about their church, enjoy each other’s company, and look forward to working
together toward a common future.” Rev. Mary believes strongly in the importance of lifelong religious education and in creating worship that is varied and inspiring. Rev. Mary is excited about many of the programs we already have in place, including Worship Assistants, Pastoral Care Associates, and our nursing ministry.

Rev. Mary sees herself as a “vision caster,” working with lay leaders and staff to form a leadership team together. As a supporter and professional guide to our lay leaders and congregation, she hopes to foster “good communication, collegial and open exchanges, sharing and collaborating.” She is strongly committed to accomplishing the “Five Tasks of an Interim Year” as envisioned by the UUA. And, her experiences with conflict management, behavioral covenants, and stewardship and budgeting will be assets as we determine exactly where we are and where we want to go.

Theologically, Rev. Mary describes herself as a “UU Theist” who has served a variety of
congregations with members of many different backgrounds. She comes to us with hopes for a
productive, growing, and caring experience. As she says, “I fully want to be able – even encouraged – to bring ALL that I am to this new interim ministry.” (And then reminds us that we should include some FUN along our journey together!)

Sunday Midday Worship Services for July

Sunday Midday Services will be on hiatus for month of July.

Keep an eye out for The Reporter (our monthly newsletter) and online for future Midday Services.

Sunday Morning Worship Services for July

Morning Services during the Summer begin at 9:30 am, all services take place in the Sanctuary.

Sunday, July 8 at 9:30 a.m.

American Spirit
Service Leaders: Margaret McConnell and Sarah Culver

Terry Tempest Williams writes: “In the future, brave men
and women will write a Declaration of Interdependence that
will be read and honored along side the Declaration of
Independence….” In her Open Space of Democracy,
Williams urges us to engage in our democracy, take risks,
share ideas, and deeply listen. Today we will consider the
spirit that lies at the foundation of our country's democracy
and ask: Are we honoring that spirit now, and how do we
honor that spirit in years to come?

Sunday, July 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Connections to the Continent
Service Leader: Ellen Carvill

This morning’s service will be reflections on the business
and event of the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalist
congregations called General Assembly, which happened in
late June. Come hear what happened this year and how these
happenings affect UUCA.

Sunday, July 22 at 9:30 a.m.

Living the UU Life
Service Leader: Warren Brown

What can Unitarian Universalism bring to our lives? We
come to services on Sundays and get involved in church
activities, but how does Unitarian Universalism really
impact us on a daily basis? How does it improve our lives?

Sunday, July 29 at 9:30 a.m.

Miracles Happen
Speakers: Elaine Young & Frances Pake

Every day of our lives miracles happen. Miracles are
natural. Ordinary everyday miracles. If we pay attention
we’ll find them everywhere. It’s our choice to "Believe it or

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Midday Worship Services for June

Midday Services during the Summer begin at 11:30 am,
all services take place in the Sanctuary.

June 17
Celebrating Pride!
Service Leaders: Jamie Goodwin and Maia Beatty
The Stonewall Riots, ONE Inc., Harvey Milk… If you
recognize these names you may already know some of
the history of Pride in the United States. Join us for this
service as we celebrate Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian,
Transgendered, and Queer history and look to the future
of Pride movement.

June 24
Celtic Spirituality
Service Leaders: Warren Brown and Patty O’Shea
Special Guest Musician: Trish McLoughlin

Come enjoy this Celtic-themed musical service featuring
Irish melodies.

Morning Worship Services for June

Morning Services during the Summer begin at 9:30 am,
all services take place in the Sanctuary.

June 17
Summing It Up
Speaker: Rev. Nancy O. Arnold
Worship Assistant: Pam Nunn
In this, my last sermon with you as your minister, I’ll
reflect on some of this life we’ve shared together. Parent
and Child Dedication for the Horvath family will be part
of the service.

June 24
Speakers: Barb Beller and Elaine Young
We all know people who touch others with their
generosity, their caring, their hard work. VIPs all; people
who live their lives doing good, expecting no fame,
fortune or even a simple thanks. People who carry in
themselves the spirit of god, and it shows. These people
are indeed Very Important People. They can also be Very
Invisible People.

A Year In The Life

This Reflection was offered at the Morning Worship Service of The Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, June 10th 2007, by Jamie Goodwin

About a year and a half ago I was sitting in a meeting when I heard the Nominating Committee Chair say something like “We are having a hard time filling openings in the board, and we are running out of time.”

Cool I thought, I mean I haven’t been here at this church for all that long, less than 5 years, but I know a lot of people. I am really active in the online UU community. At that time I was on about 7 mailing lists, a blogger, and a member of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, which is a national congregation of Unitarian Universalists. Not to mention I was newly elected onto the Ohio-Meadville District board. Although I would have never admitted it at the time, I was thinking to myself… come on, you know this stuff, show up and blow them all away.

Suffice it to say, that is probably not the best attitude to take when starting out on a board of trustees. That is not to say my experience didn’t help. I like to think I brought insights and ideas to the board others might not have. I like to think my national and district connections have enabled me to look at issues with a scrutiny I might otherwise have not. But in the last year I have learned a few humbling lessons that I would like to share with our new board, with whom I will be working with in the next year, and all of you.

First of all, everyone on that board, everyone… in fact I would venture to guess nearly everyone in this congregation… knows this stuff. We all come from different perspectives and experiences and passions, but we know this stuff. We carry with us the hopes and dreams of what our future will be, and for each of us those hopes and dreams are a little different.

Which brings me to the second lesson I had to learn, our hopes and dreams may not be quite the same, what we each envision our tomorrows to look like will not be identical, and that is ok.

That is ok, because, the whole point of what we are doing here in this wonderful and sacred place, is trying to show the world that people are not required to believe alike, or to love alike, in order to live in peace and strive towards a better tomorrow.

A few months ago heard someone say, I have thought about serving on the board, but I have heard so many horror stories that I am afraid to. That makes me a little sad. Now I am not going to stand here and sugar coat it for you, being on our board takes a great deal of time, a strong commitment to this church, and a passion to help shape that “whatever that tomorrow will be”, but it is not a horror.

For me it has literally the most profound opportunity for growth that I have ever experienced. I have learned to say “I don’t know” and “I cannot”. I have learned that sometimes being a leader means, letting go. Letting others take the lead, and trusting their vision, their passion, to do the work.

So to those of you who are leaving our board, I want to say thank you, you have literally changed my life. Your passion and drive have been an inspiration.

And to those of you who are joining us now, I commend you and am honored to get the chance to work with you.

And to the rest of you I just want to say; being a leader in this church is not about knowing all the answers, or having the best connections, it is about living our faith. It is about standing up for that better tomorrow. If you go, I will follow… I encourage you all to share your knowledge, your strengths, and your passion. We are in it together.

May it be.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

We have an Interim Minister!

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that we entered a contract for interim ministry with the Rev. Mary E. Moore. We and Rev. Moore are very excited about our relationship. May we walk together in a holy space as we chart our future.

Once the contract was signed and accepted by the Board, the Interim Task Force’s duty of strict confidentiality as to the candidate’s name and information ended. Rev. Moore is currently the Interim Minister at Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN. She is warm, enthusiastic and committed to celebrating who we are and helping us move closer to our vision of who we can become. We will be sending more information to members about her in the very near future, but wanted to share the good news as early as possible!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Evangelicals Unite Against Slavery

From Reuters:
    U.S. evangelical Christians are divided on global warming, the minimum wage and other issues, but they are united behind a new campaign to end modern slavery around the world.
The article is just OK, but worth a click-thru and read. Also odd that they don't make the obvious tie-in to the beginning of Passover.

A couple thoughts. First, understand that one reason evangelicals are is . . . abortion. Anti-choice conservative Christians see links between their work against abortion and the abolition movement against slavery. They also argue that the Roe v. Wade decision was flawed in the same way the Dred Scott decision was. I don't agree with the abortion/slavery link and their reading of Dred Scott is entirely off base (for reasons that would constitute an entire post by themselves.) Not to say that the link to abortion invalidates the campaign, but we should keep it in mind moving forward.

So what are UU's doing about international slavery? Browsing around I found a World article from '04 announcing the formation of a UUs Against Slavery organization. Unfortunately, the website looks pretty much dead.

Pho on UUCA blog

Since announcing my joining this blog, my posts have totalled, let's see here, zero. Nada.

Partly that's being busy, but partly it's also my tendency to try to write long, big ideas posts that take forever to finish. I have tons of half-done long posts.

I'm rededicating myself to this blog. I'm going to try to post smaller stories -- quick news items relevant to liberal religion with just one or two takes. Also, there's a vital Unitarian Universalist blogging community and I'll highlight some of the more interesting discussions there.

We Are Triumphant

Delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron. Midday Service, April 1st 2007.

The Story of Palm Sunday is one I resonate with. Just days before giving himself up to be sacrificed Jesus triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem, According to the custom of the times when a great leader or prophet entered the city, cloaks and tree branches were placed before him as a sign of honor. We must know that many of the people who did so had never heard Jesus speak, but they must of heard rumors about his message of acceptance and love. And so they turned out to honor him, to show their support.

“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones themselves would shout out."

Have you ever felt that way? Just felt powerful, exalted, and triumphant? It doesn’t happen very often, if we are a lucky once or twice in our lives we may really feel triumph. That’s not a bad thing, we see time and time again how those who are placed on a pedestal. Actors, entertainers, athletes, maybe sometimes even ministers, simply cannot live with such expectations.

We are a social animal and as such although we may look to a leader, to expect of that leader to be always perfect, to always win, is to strip away their humanity.

A few years ago where I work I was involved in an organizing campaign. Those of you who have ever seen or taken part in a union dispute or campaign will know exactly how messy, and dark, and complicated these types of things can become.

I was asked one evening “If you hate working here so much, why not find another place to work?” I said “NO… no... I do not hate it here, I am proud, honored to work in a place that does so much good. This is about trying to make us better, about assuring our future, not about tearing down.”

Now I am not promoting labor unions what I am trying to say is that many of us who find a church home within Unitarian Universalism do so because we want to make something better, we want a better future, and we want to be a part of something with a rich history, deep traditions, and an eye on the horizon.

Unitarians and Universalists in the United States have been abolitionists, reformers, and workers for justice. We have consistently been on the forefront of social justice issues in this country since as long as we have been around. We ordained non-white Americans at a time when most churches would not even let them in the door. We ordained the very first woman into a mainstream denomination. And we continue this today by ordaining gay, bi, and lesbian ministers, and we are on the forefront, the vanguard of pursuing equal rights for those among whose gender identity varies from what society calls common.

It is not only justice that has driven us. We count amongst our ranks theological geniuses, prophetic American voices who have reshaped the way the world understands faith, life, and nature. The Unitarian, and to some extend the Universalist, church was the hub of what has became known as the transcendentalist movement. Our membership roles resound with names like Emerson, Channing, and Parker who reshaped the very foundation of our faith.

More modernly Universalists in the middle 20th century reshaped Universalism in a very similar fashion. One of those reformers would even find his way to this church as our minister for 21 years, and serves as our Minster Emeritus still today. Gordon McKeeman.

We come from a long line of people who have chosen, who have demanded change in their world. And so it is today, we fight, we demand, we stand up for change, in our communities, in our world, and yes even in our congregations.

But let us not forget, for all our work, our hard, sustaining, important work. For all that we envision for the future, for all our hopes and desires about who we can and should be. We are also a people who do great things.

We are a people who have triumphed.

We are a people who have weathered the storms of fundamentalism and theocracy. And though we be few, we consistently, courageously, and demandingly been at the forefront of every march, every advocacy, and every effort.

Gordon McKeeman said, “If we who have chosen the critical, purifying way in religion have neglected some essential, it has been our propensity to diminish and trivialize our religious practices and thus to diminish our effectiveness as liberators, as resacralizers, as agents of wholeness, and our ability to repair of the world.”

It is important to take this time, to know who we are and feel good about what we have done and what we are trying to do. It doesn’t really make the next steps any easier, and it doesn’t mean we get to rest for long, but it is important to remember just how vital and amazing this faith we share is. It is important to realize we have been and will be triumphant. If we come from a place of honesty, a place of care, and a place of faith, we shall ever be.

To close I would like to go back to Gordon McKeeman,

Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of sabres,
Nor for carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of all
With more abundant life.

Let me make the songs for the weary,
amid life's fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
and careworn brows forget.

Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o'er life's highway,

I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, sure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.

Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
and the hearts of all grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.

Amen, and May It Be

Monday, March 19, 2007

What is Luck?

What is Luck? Homily delivered on March 18th, 2007 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron. ~ by Jamie Goodwin

The existence of luck and of the ability to influence luck, both for good or ill, is one of the prolific and diverse beliefs in all of humanity. More popular than a belief in a personal God, more widespread than a belief in humanistic potential, and more prevalent than any kind of belief in natural or earth based spirits, the belief in Luck crosses lines of religion, class, race, culture, upbringing, and geographic distance.

But is it real?

Like all of what we call mysteries of life it is impossible, of course, to prove one way or the other. That doesn’t mean that we have not tried. It may be a very Unitarian Universalist point of view, but I do not like to let a simple thing like impossibility get in the way of a good discussion. We have talked about Luck, or the lack there of, for about as long as we have been able to talk. I imagine our first human ancestors on the banks of some unnamed river in Northern Africa laughing about the luck of one of their members on the hunt. I imagine my ancestors in Ireland returning home saddened and hungry, there no work to be found, and they say “no luck again today.”

Even Ralph Waldo Emerson, the transcendentalist poet who reshaped Unitarianism despite only being an ordained minister for a little over 3 years, had something to say about Luck.

Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances.
Real men believe in cause and effect.

Those are tough words from a man known for his tough words. So is carrying some small token in hopes of a brighter day as shallow as all that? Does coming to terms with the circumstances in our lives make us less real? I must say sorry, Uncle Ralph, but this time I must disagree.

A quote that captures my heart is from Seneca the Younger. He was a Roman Dramatist of the first century.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Those others here, besides myself, who are Oprah fans may recognize that phrase; it is one she says often. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

I watched a television show the other day. Highlighted in this show was a young fellow, who at the age of 15 was dealt what many might consider a terrible amount of bad luck. While goofing off at the railroad tracks at night behind his home he was struck by a train. The result was him loosing both legs above the knee and his right arm just past his shoulder. This young man was able turn this devastating tragedy into something amazing.
He is now once again an athlete, competing regularly in running and swimming events using prosthetics. He was also the first double lower amputee to walk down stairs without holding on to another person, or railing, for support. He does it unassisted.

All of this is in thanks in part to an amazing clinician who just happened to be as energetic and passionate about this young mans future as he is himself. He was the first Prosthetist the family worked with. As his work grew he has now helped raise the bar on what amputees can hope to gain on the use prosthetics.

Was it luck that brought these two people together? The energetic young patient who demanded more and better, and was willing to work for it, and the equally energetic and extremely competent clinician who is determined to clear every bar that is raised in his path. Was it just plain old dumb luck?

The young man had been an athlete before his accident, a runner, a swimmer, and a skateboarder. He mentioned how this made him much better prepared to master the types of muscle control needed to control modern prosthetics. The prosthetists energy and ingenuity was well known before this, but coming into contact with this specific patient enabled him to soar in a way he had never before known.

What has stayed with me from watching that show is this. You can make the best out of ever opportunity, even when it arises out of tragic events, if you are willing and prepared.

What is luck? Is it even real? I cannot answer that for you. But I believe in it. I believe that we CAN influence the word around us by our willingness to take part in life and in our preparations for the future. I believe that simple tokens carried or cared for that help us remember, or hope, or focus are amazing gifts, sacred artifacts from our very lives.

I would like to end with a traditional Irish Blessing in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Amen, and May it be.

Take a Stand Against Genocide in Darfur

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron joins congregations nationwide, in association with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, to celebrate Justice Sunday.

This year Justice Sunday, will take place on March 25, 2007. Unitarian Universalist congregations in the US, and Unitarian and Universalist people around the world will stand together to end the genocide in Darfur.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron is offering two services this year on Justice Sunday:

A Morning service at 10:30 am; where we will explore peace, not as the absence of war, but as a way to cultivate justice and be at peace in and with the world. A special collection benefiting the UUSC-Darfur Fund will take place during this service.

And a Midday Service at 12:30 pm; where special musical guests Tracey Nguma and the Umojah Reggae Band will join us as we stand witness to the people of Darfur, and explore how we can transform our grief into grace even when we see the suffering of so many people around the world.

Join us for this unique opportuanity to change our world.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Being Winter

BE Winter - Delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron Midday Service. 2-11-07 by Jamie Goodwin

When I originally proposed this service back in December I was thinking, amidst the 50 degree days, I really want to talk about winter! that is, if winter ever gets here. Alas, as always, winter did come. The nights grew cold, bitter even, many of us have picked up the various winter time viruses that come along with living in a community of humans, and now we are in the depths of February.

Often this time of year I find myself longing, wishing, desperately hoping for the change of seasons. Winter to spring is one of the most fantastic and celebrated times in all cultures. We center some of our most important festivals on spring’s arrival. We think about beginning gardens and cleaning our homes, even though we know it is still too cold to do such things.

These last couple of years I have been wondering, am I missing something? Am I missing an opportunity, am I missing out on something important… by waiting? Waiting is important, essential. Patience may be the strongest lesson we are taught by winter. Still I wonder if waiting, if patiently longing for warmth and longer days is limiting me? I never expect I will be one of those people who full heatedly embraces winter, I doubt you will see me in snow pants and skies strapped to my feet, and I doubt you will ever see me with a joyous smile while shoveling my driveway and the smidge of sidewalk that I am responsible for keeping clear. Then again I have made a conscious effort, a spiritual choice to try to embrace winter. I call it Being Winter.

As much as I am able - I stretch, even when I am uncomfortable, I pull my heart back from that longing for what was and what will be, back into what is.

In many ways my feelings for winter mirror how many of us feel about change. We know it is coming, we sometimes dread it. We look around at our warm comfortable days and say “This is alright, if it’s all the same to you, I will stay right here.” When it hits, we wait, unbudging by the hearth fire, unwilling to look up from our melancholy and fatigue. We wait for a glimpse of the sun and the melting of the world around us. We wait, if we wait long enough perhaps… perhaps… we will find ourselves right back to those warm comfortable days.

Of course, life doesn’t work that way. There is work to be done. There are pathways to clear - there is crisp, refreshing air to breathe. My challenge to you, is to embrace change. Even when it is uncomfortable, even when its cold and challenging winds worm their way into your warm and comfortable cloak. Be change.

That is a little scary isn’t it? I don’t deny it. Change is scary, sometimes even hurtful. We are comfortable, secure, in some ways even happy. But it is also necessary. Just as the cycles of the earth, the changing seasons, are essential to the plants and animals we share our little slice of earth with. Change is essential to us as believers in a living faith.

But how do we change?

It is simple really, and only takes a life time. For things to change, we must also be willing to change. We must be willing to pour the light of our love into all we do. We must be willing to reach into the heavens and bring back the sacred, the true, the worthy. Most of all we must be willing to share all we find, and learn from those others who bring their own, sometimes unexpected, treasures into our midst. And they say this is an easy faith.

But if things change, tomorrow will be so much different than what we have today.

That may be true, but tell me, has one spring ever looked identical to the one before. Have the exact same flowers, and the exact same leaves appeared as they did so long ago. And yet spring is spring. Gardeners know that a plant that was thriving last we saw it may suddenly be struggling this year, what has been struggling for several seasons may suddenly burst forth in beauty and elegance. It is exactly those varieties in life that make it such a fulfilling adventure. Spring is spring, and just like the seasons, if we hold tight to who we are, if we remember and honor our history and traditions, whatever tomorrow might bring we can embrace and welcome into our lives.

There is a song close to the heart of many Unitarian Universalists, the last two lines perhaps, say it more clearly and simply than I have.

Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

We are blessed with roots, deep sustaining roots that even in depths of winter and blowing cold have sustained us, have kept us.

We are blessed with wings, as a living and moving faith, that we may soar above the clouds and search for all that is right and true.

Life surrounds us, even in the depths of winter.

I want to BE winter, and not just endure it
I want to BE change, and not just wait for it to happen
I want the BE life, and not just a spectator

No, it is not always easy, AND that is no excuse for not trying.

In the spirit of prayer I ask you to sing with me now, some of you may know the words, but if you do not they are listed in your order of service, the song is Spirit of Life. After we sing we will take a few moments to set together in silence. For now I ask you to rise, and as we sing think of all that life is; the warm spring days, the cold winter nights, the comfortable waiting places, and the challenging changing future.

BE winter with me now, BE change, BE Life.

Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

~ Silence ~

Amen, and thank you for being here today.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

What UU's Believe About God

Our 7th and 8th grade RE class did a survey of members during coffee hour. We asked people to check the beliefs below that pertained to them. We allowed the respondents to check as many as they felt fit for them. We got the list of statements from Compass Points by Gaia Brown and Michelle Richards, the curriculum for our class. After people responded (48 people), we classified the statements in the categories shown on the pie graph and determined the percentage of responses in each area.

Almost everyone agreed with the statement that "There are as many ideas about God as there are people", so we used that for the title of our graph instead of including it in our pie graph.
Here are the statements and the way we classified them. We would be interested in finding out what others in our congregation and other UU's on the Internet think about the findings of our survey.

Statements and Classification
God cares for us and listens to our prayers.-9
God is present in the relationships among people.-30

There is a spark of divinity in each of us.-43
God and the Universe are the same- God is in everything and everyone-30
God is inside, around us and with us wherever we are-8

I find God in Nature-43
God is like a loving mother who sustains us and all life-11

God is my conscience calling me to make the world a better place-19
We can use science and reason to make the world a better place-46

There is no way we can know whether or not there is a God-20

There is no such thing as God, and even the word is meaningless-5

God created the universe and left it to run itself.-6

Some Questions We Have:

* Do you think this is a true representation of the diverse beliefs in our congregation?

* Is this representative of UU's in general?

* Would you classify the statements the same way we did or make changes?

* Are there other beliefs that are not represented here?

Please leave your comments.
7th and 8th Grade RE Class

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stanley’s Journey

Reflection delivered by Warren Brown at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron
Dec. 3, 2006

When I met Stanley he was chopping wood. It was a cold and rainy morning in early March of 1994. By the time I got there at nine, he had been at it for several hours. The old trailer hitched to his Ford tractor was bulging with firewood. Later, as I was helping him stack the wood in an already full wood shed, I asked him why he was chopping more just before spring. He explained that when he got up at five that morning it was raining too hard to work in the field. So he decided to chop wood until it cleared. The clouds broke just as the wagonload of wood was empty. And he headed out to plant 25 red oak trees.

That’s the way all of Stanley’s mornings started. His work was determined by weather and by season. If it was too rainy to plant, he would chop. If it was too hot to chop he would prune. If it was too cold to prune he would mend. The only thing that Stanley never did was nothing. Because as he told it, there was never nothing to do.

Stanley was a farmer. By the time I met him, he had been a farmer all of his 82 years.

His Dad was a farmer, as was his Grand Dad. Altogether, they farmed the same Medina County land for over 125 years. Theirs was one of the once countless small American family farms handed down generation to generation that have all but disappeared from the landscape.

Over the years, Stan and his family raised a number of different crops. At one time or another, they raised corn and soy and wheat. But by the early thirties they were dairy farmers. It was also at this time that Stan started doing something that was unusual for the 1930’s. Their farm had a number of steep hills and erosion was always a problem. To hold the sharp grades, Stan started planting Scotch Pines. This proved much more effective than the grasses that most farmers used. And it began a practice that would later become much more than land management.

By the early sixties, Stan began to have health problems. Frequently, in the course of his work he would become dizzy and then violently ill. He was diagnosed with Maniere’s Disease an inner ear disorder that made the work of dairying impossible. Sadly, Stan sold off his herd and equipment.

With his dairy income gone, he was persuaded to sell timber from the forested areas of the farm. But this proved more difficult than he had thought. Watching as the mighty trees that had stood over his land through all memory were felled, he was filled with grief. And as the first trucks loaded with logs began to leave, he stopped them. He made them unload, paid them for their time, and told them never to return.

Now Stanley knew what he wanted to do. He began planting trees. Not just a few. But many, many trees.

500 Norway Spruce.
500 Tulips
2000 White Pines
3000 Red Oak.
Beach, White Oak, Sweetgum, Red and Scotch Pines, Black Walnut, High Yeild Sugar Maples.

Stanley was not planting a tree farm. Many were species that would never mature in his lifetime. This wasn’t planting to harvest for his own gain. He was planting because he loved to plant. He lived everyday, doing what he loved the most. And by the end of his life in 2001, he had planted over one hundred thousand trees. His 125 year family farm is now mostly forest.

Each of us is on a journey. We trudge our paths seeking meaning in the passage, and a destination that rewards the effort. But people like Stanley remind us that the journey itself IS the reward. And that which we seek, we can find everyday, if we’re willing to see it.

In 1997, Stanley and Esther Allard willed upon their deaths their family farm to the Medina County Parks district. And today, if you travel down Remson Road in Granger Township, about ¾ of a mile west from Medina Line Road, you will come to Allardale – one of the most beautiful and scenic parks in region – including, as estimated by the National Park Service, Stanley’s 100,000 trees.

Stanley Allard’s journey led him to plant trees. He didn’t have a park in mind as he was doing it. But through his selfless and persistent efforts a place of peace, tranquility, and beauty exists for all of us to enjoy from now on.

What do we seek on our journeys? Do we seek knowledge, or power, or security? Maybe we should just go about the business of traveling. Joyfully planting a little of ourselves as we go.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey today.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Freedom Files Films

Join the ACLU of Ohio and the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron for a screening of an episode from the TV series "The ACLU Freedom Files," followed by a discussion led by Carrie Davis, ACLU of Ohio staff attorney. Wednesday- 1.31.07 and 3.14.07 7:00PM.

Unitarian Universalist Church-3300 Morewood Ave., Akron
Off Market street across from Summit Mall.

Coffee and dessert provided. Child care is available. If needed, please call ahead at 330.836.2206.

ACLU Freedom Files: Racial Profiling
1.31.07 | wednesday
7:00 pm

Do you believe in equality? Are you concerned about the growing use of racial profiling to combat terrorism and everyday crime? Ready to hear the stories of those who have been profiled?

ACLU Freedom Files: Women's Rights
3.14.07 | wednesday
7:00 pm

The episode tells the stories of immigrant retail workers in New York who stood up to their abusive boss; women who stood up to receive equal funding for sports in their communities; and women whose health was endangered because Medicaid wouldn't cover their abortions.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Racial Harmony Group

The first mtg. of the Racial Harmony group will be on Feb, 19th, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, in room 405. At that time the group will decide on whether to meet once or twice a month. We will be affiliated with the Small Group Ministry program.
In his book, THE SOUL OF POLITICS, Jim Wallis asks, "What is racism?" He defines it as prejudice plus power. "The task for white Americans is to examine ourselves, our relationships, our institutions and our society for the ugly plague of racism. He states that the "Nation's original sin of racism must be faced in a way that we have never really done before. Only then can America be rediscovered. "
Please join us in this exciting task.
For questions or to register call Mary Kapper at (330) 836=4361

The other day I followed a link to a blog post by Rev. Sean Dennison titled, "Returning to the Table Again and Again" I won't try to summarize his post; you need to follow the link and read what he had to say. His post led me to a sermon by Martha Niebanck titled "Breaking the Rules" .

In his post Rev. Dennison talks about the difficultly of having conversations about topics like racism, discrimination and diversity. I have to admit that I have often found myself personally uncomfortable with these topics, and I've "left the table or avoided dinning" there at all. But several members of our Social Action Committee pushed for the formation of this group, and brought Bill and Jeannette Avery to talk with us about the Racial Harmony Group they formed at First Unitarian Church of Cleveland. Their enthusasm and willingness to come to the table encouraged us to form our own Racial Harmony Group starting with a small group ministry within our own church. Jeannette passed away last May, and I could not help but think of her when I read Martha Niebanck's tribute to Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley.

I hope that our newly formed Racial Harmony Group will grow and invite members of our congregation and others in our community to "Return to the Table Again and Again."