To question,To love,To serve,To celebrate differences— Together.
In the BUUF is the monthly newsletter of the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship 4340 Lincoln Avenue, Saint Joseph, MI 49085-8712. Articles should be given to the newsletter editor no later than the 20th of the month. Items for Sunday Bulletin should be in by Thursday.
Rev. Viola Moore PASTORAL LETTERS
We join, in the spirit of love, to develop our religious attitudes objectively and honestly that life may be more meaningful.
BUUF’s Board of Trustees meets on the 2nd Sunday of each month following the service. Contact Janice for more information.
BUUF MinistersRev. Dr. Roger BrewinRev. Donald WheatRev. Viola Moore (Emerita)Rev. Jim McConnellStudent ministerBeth LefeverBoard of TrusteesJanice Zerfas, President president at buuf2.org Emily Hecht,Vice Presidentvp at buuf2.orgDick Berndt, Treasurer treasurer at buuf2.org Amy Eklund, Secretarysecretary@buuf2.orgChris SirotiakLisa Dalgleish
The purpose of the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship religious education program is to provide the following:
As adopted by the RE Committee, January 2000
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. we gather at the homes of members of BUUF to listen to and discuss selected shows from Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith NPR program. Feel free to attend any or all of our get-togethers. The programs may be downloaded or listened to for free at speakingoffaith.org. We try to choose and schedule programs a month in advance. If you need directions, phone numbers, or if there is a particular show you would like to discuss or host, please let me know.
Dave Sarra, Director of Religious EducationDRE at buuf2.orgtelephone: 269-426-4051
Julie Williams will host “Beyond the Atheism-Religion Divide” which is described as follows: In 1965, a young Harvard professor became the best-selling voice of secularism in America with his book The Secular City. He sees the old thinking in the "new...
In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor black mother of five, came to Johns Hopkins, in...
Rev. Jim McConnell presents this Sunday's service.
Tom Hackley and Emily Bettencourt will host “Living Islam” which is described as follows: Nine Muslims, in their own words, reveal a creative convergence of Islamic spirituality and American identity that is unfolding, largely unnoticed, in the United...
Dave Sarra, DRE, and BUUF's RE students present this Sunday's service.
BUUF's Annual Meeting has been moved to June 13, 2010. This Sunday's service os "Becoming A Green Sanctuary" by Harvey Johnson.
BUUF's Board of Trustees meets on the second Sunday of the month at 8:30 a.m. at BUUF.
Emily Bettencourt hosts this month's meeting of the BUUF Book Club. We will discuss The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History by Linda Colley. From goodreads.com:
This is a book about a world in a life. Conceived in Jamaica and possibly...
Amy Eklund will host the May 14 BUUF Book Club meeting. This month's selection is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This is a very interesting book that all of you should read even if you are not attending the book club. It contains elements of biography, history, biology, civil rights, and ethics and very readable. From the New Yorker book review:In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor black mother of five, came to Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, to receive treatment for cervical cancer; eight months later, she was dead. Some of her cancer cells, however, became the first human cells to reproduce and survive indefinitely outside the human body. Before long, they were multiplying in labs around the world, and the research they made possible has contributed to everything from the polio vaccine to gene mapping. But when, eventually, the Lacks children learned of this they felt exploited and betrayed. Had the hospital given their mother cancer, so that it could use her as a guinea pig? Were there clones of Lacks living in England, like Dolly the sheep? Skloot set out to uncover the story of Lacks and her genetic descendants—both inside and outside the lab. This extraordinary account shows us that miracle workers, believers, and con artists populate hospitals as well as churches, and that even a science writer may find herself playing a central role in someone else’s mythology.
On Saturday, May 15th, starting at 8pm, the All God's Children Community Choir will be performing with Gemini, an extraordinary musical duo from Ann Arbor, at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph. The theme of this concert is "Music from the Folk Revival of the 1960's". Songs will include: If I Had a Hammer, Study War No More, Blowin' in the Wind, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, This Little Light of Mine, and many other favorites. This promises to be a very memorable concert. We hope you can join us. With warm regards,Larry and Sandy Feldman
More about the choir...
More about Gemini...
May 1, 2010
Dear Members and Friends,
Henry David Thoreau enriched our language with his statement, “I march to the beat of a different drummer.” Certainly he was different from his fellow citizens in Concord. His metaphor has stayed in our language and is used frequently by many who do not know its source. Now in this darkening time, we need people who will hear their own different drummers and act accordingly. Many conservative school boards have won control of curricula and text books. This means that uneducated people, incapable of critical thinking, can mold the minds of children in false or distorted knowledge which they will vote on election day.
This means an erosion of our democracy until we become a fascist state, complete with secret police carrying the threat of violence. Every state has violence imbedded in it. Only the state can kill with impunity, the “terror that stalks at noonday.”
Are we to have another Scopes trial with no Clarence Darrow at hand? Remember the film? How have we gone so far astray that we produce doctors who assist in torture and lawyers who deliberately distort language and the Constitution to enable a heartless president to invade two countries with trumped up lies and distortions. I do not even mention the evil designs of bankers and the real estate industry.
The crisis in health care reform brings the evil to light in those who wish to destroy the public school system in the hope of making this a Christian nation, where no one will be free to think and criticize the “holy” state. Fear will rule as it did under the McCarthy witch hunt.
In spite of our president’s promise to reform education, the forces arrayed against him are so powerful and rich that they can buy politicians to do their will, and the Supreme Court by its recent decision to allow corporate money to flow to candidates without limit. How can common people stand against this power?
If you remember my homily at the service for Kate Fuller, I spoke of her intelligent heart and passionate mind. It takes a free country to educate strong supporters of democracy. What is the role of our church in voiding a theocracy whose hallmark is ignorance? The Tea Party is a real threat! For a beginning we could establish forums on how to reform the public school system before it is destroyed and the darkness makes it impossible to produce people with intelligent hearts and passionate minds. We are all too at ease as Zion’s “cows of Bashan,” we who concentrate only on our own small worlds where we always come first. We need people who will march to the beat of a very different drummer. We can help each other by “lending our minds out,” as Browning suggests in his poem about Fra Lippo Lippi.
May the greening of our earth in April put us in a resurrection mode for the saving of our experiment in building a sane and thoughtful nation.
As we approach the end of another RE year I’d like to express my gratitude to those who’ve made our program possible. Three teams of teachers led our 4-6th grade students through the UUA’s Amazing Grace Tapestry of Faith RE Program which focused on UU beliefs and values. Lisa Dalgleish and Emily Hecht taught the first week of the month, Trish and Harvey Johnson taught the second week of the month, and Sharon Roberts and Gloria Weberg taught the fourth week of the month. The third and occasional fifth weeks were filled in with intergenerational services and other activities. Our students will lead the May 23 service and share some of what they’ve learned during this past year.
Thank you also to Louis and Sharon Orlando for hosting BUUF’s Halloween Party, Jim McConnell for our cabaret pizza party (and including our students in leading parts of our weekly services), and Lisa Dalgleish for initiating an all-ages monthly game night, which the adults seem to enjoy as much, if not more, than the kids! Thanks also to all of you who helped make this year’s BUUFlympics a real Olympic event!
Not all of our activities were successful; Although our high school poetry program did not last long, I’d like to thank Charles Long and Janice Zerfas for their efforts and willingness to lead the couple of classes that were taught.
And, most of all, I’d like to thank our students. Their regular attendance and enthusiasm made it a pleasure to teach and learn with them! Thank you Eve and Liam, Nicky and Lillie, Emily and Larkin, and Emily and Eliza! And thanks to you, too, Mike, for attempting the poetry sessions and all the other help you’ve provided this year!
Our Tuesday evening Adult RE Speaking of Faith get-togethers continue to spark conversation on topics of all kinds. These get-togethers have been hosted by nine different BUUFers during the past year. Thanks to all of you who host and attend, and especially to Gary Cook who initiated this “gender-neutral” event!
As always, please let me know if you have ideas for adult or children RE programs that we may be able to provide to our fellowship. Your comments are always welcome!
BUUF has recently received a significant financial contribution from Heartha Whitlow, a portion of a required distribution from an IRA. Heartha gave the gift to BUUF because she is aware of BUUF’s financial needs, because she did not want to pay additional taxes, but primarily because of her generosity. She could have done other things with those funds and chose to make a contribution to BUUF. Thank you, Heartha.
-- Dorothy Long
During the potluck on May 9, members and friends of BUUF officially dedicated the "general purpose room" between the kitchen and the RE rooms as the Fuller Fellowship Hall. In honor of our founders and mentors, Kate and Marv Fuller, this re-naming and dedication reminds us of their work in founding this Fellowship and of their hands in its continued existence.
The plaque (pictured at left) reminds us of their influence in our lives and the life of this Fellowship. This and another plaque that says simply "Fuller Fellowship Hall - Welcome!" have been placed in the newly cleaned and organized Hall.
Diane Fuller Brown and Jim Fuller were there and accepted a duplicate of the plaque to circulate among the homes of their family.
A stone marker was also placed near the trees planted for Marv and Kate, in the new Memorial Garden on the East side of the BUUF building which faces Lincoln Ave.
February 1, 2010
The Children’s Choir of Watertown, New York, is singing a French carol filling my room with glory, although outside this winter day is gloomy. The song ends with the question, “Can you hear me, can you see me?” As this music floats through me, I am thinking about the recent research on three year olds which reveals that we humans are hard-wired to be helpful and cooperative.
Two weeks ago the New York Times published the data from the research findings of the University of New Mexico. Dr. Thomas Thomasello says, “Children are altruistic and they are also innately selfish. Parents need to try to tip the balance towards social behavior. Humans putting their hands together in shared activities are the origins of human culture. Thus, the invention of language.” This behavior is unknown in the chimpanzee world, hence no language has developed. Unitarian Universalist teachings spring from the faith in original goodness, but until now we had no scientific data on which to base our faith.
On the contrary, the whole drama of salvation taught by the traditional churches depends on original sin and the curse that goes with it. Hence the emphasis on sin, guilt, shame and punishment. You can see why the mainline churches are losing ground. The Presbyterian minister with whom I discussed these things predicts that in the near future, the Protestant churches will become small “house churches” and that the day of cathedrals and large expensive buildings will be over.
You may be wondering what happens to all this original goodness. Joanthan Kozol in his book, Death at an Early Age, partly answers this with his study of the pubic school system of Roxbury, Massachusetts. He shows that by the third grade the excitement of learning has died, the imagination has been frustrated and they have received the message, “You are an unworthy person.”
The problem begins in the education departments of our universities. How do we reform education is one of President Obama’s problems.
In our Unitarian Universalist church school we teach the inherent worth and dignity of every person as fundamental. The mythology surrounding the drama of redemption may be appealing, but it carries a deadly message. Those who teach in our church schools are trying to build a foundation of self-respect, courage to change, and love thy neighbor. Children so educated can be trusted to maintain a strong democracy.
Sometimes while attending the annual concert by the Watertown Children’s Choir I talk to the young singers and ask them to autograph my program. The request is met with surprise and smiles. This new experience confirms them as valuable, honored persons and helps to confirm their goodness.
This is Black History Month and I hope as we recall the legacy of slavery we will remember all who have fought for freedom as we still struggle to set all of our citizens free of the chains of prejudice, so that all people may feast at the banquet of life.
March 1, 2010
In my February letter I did not mean to give the impression that there is only one piece of research that undergirds original goodness. There are in fact many studies at several universities which reach the same conclusion that we are wired for cooperation and caring and that negative behavior is caused by failure in the nurturing process. I have told you of the photograph I have of Hitler at eight months in his baby carriage. It is a constant reminder that every child is precious and entitled to a life which encourages that original goodness.
We have a huge educational task to overcome centuries of the doctrine of original sin and the systems in place to perpetuate that teaching, often as dogma in some churches.
There is sound biology behind the milk of human kindness. At the University of California in Berkeley, researchers have found that the hormone Oxytocin makes sympathy and trust possible. Without this hormone we would not respond to the distress and pain of others, nor perform the thousand little kindnesses which make human life possible. It is the key to a civilized society. The implications for religious education and public school education are enormous. What if Oxytocin could be made in the laboratory, and marketed as the pill to make a child good!
I was talking to a Baptist minister recently and he kept talking as though God were a giant blacksmith who must put each one of us on the anvil and shape us through pounding into what we must be to be good. During this extended metaphor, I did not hear the words love or mercy. You can see what two thousand years of original sin can produce. What is the antidote to original sin? The antidote is original goodness! You can see what a vast task awaits us all as citizens and religious people.
I wonder if there is any research exploring the effect of diet on the making of this hormone in our bodies. We know that what we eat and drink affects every cell in our bodies. Perhaps in the fullness of time the dietary implications will be revealed by nutritionists and other researchers.
It takes courage to stand against accepted notions of how to educate children for civilized living. How do we begin to eliminate the ancient dogmas about raising a strong child, ready to live courageously in a democracy? Perhaps our democracy depends on a radical reform of education.
Certainly the church will lead this reformation, and under this president it should go well. My suggestion is that we begin to look critically at our graduate schools of education.
Have you ever cringed at the English of a teachers union president? That tells you how far we have to go.
I am opening in Sawyer on March fifth, and please pray for an early Spring. We have so much work to do and celebrate!
April 1, 2010
Napoleon once said to a Cardinal, “Are you aware, Your Eminence, that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The Cardinal replied, “Your Excellency, the clergy has been trying to destroy the Church for a thousand years, and they have failed, and so will you!” I attended mass in a Catholic Church in Florida recently, the fifth Sunday in Lent, and hoped for a good homily. The Gospel lesson for the day was the raising of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead after having been dead for four days. The liturgist had read the story very well. The priest read it again, very poorly in a monotone. Then I thought he would come up with some interpretation which would appeal to a modern congregation. Instead he retold the story in very poor English, and continued to cook soup on a nail, giving neither insight nor explanation of how this myth was included in the canon. The congregation of one thousand left as ignorant as when they entered. Catholics are not the only priests who fail in this way. There are many religious groups who try just as hard to keep their people ignorant. I am reminded of Milton’s words, “The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.” Now the Catholic Church faces its greatest challenge since Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg.
It is not only the Church that is failing in its educational task. It is the educational establishment with its union-bound teachers, often lacking in imagination and passion, who keep dumbing down the profession, no matter how well-funded. There seems to be a concerted effort to destroy the public school system with alternate schools and programs often with a barely concealed agenda to insist on teaching creationism, Biblical inerrancy, a fear of Darwinian evolution, and a paranoia about socialism, the latest bogeyman to frighten and mislead.
How can a democratic society respond to these challenges?
They will be important issues in the next election. With the loss of our own Unitarian Supreme Court Justice, we have cause to worry. Where is the next strong liberal voice? I look to our church as a denomination to speak clearly to the nation through our churches to give people the courage to speak up for a public school system which teaches critical thinking so that students do not simply accept what is taught them. Some modern high school history texts devote only one page to the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki! These texts do not even mention the incarceration of thousands of Japanese-American citizens, who waited many years for reparations to be paid them until the dollar had lost its 1945 value. Think on these things, speak up and speak out! Your faith demands it. May Spring's bursting greenness resurrect in us our passion for justice. We are not alone!
The following opportunity for Shambhala Meditation training is open to BUUF members, friends, and anyone you know from the community who might be interested. Below is a message from Danny Drotos (a Hospice at Home employee). If you are interested, or know anyone else who might be, please contact Danny. You can reach him via email at email@example.com or call 429-7100.
We are planning on having the Level 1 Shambhala Training on June 5th in the Community Room at Hospice at Home, 4025 Health Park Lane. At this point, I need to get a list together of people who are seriously planning on attending the training. If you know of a group or individual who may be interested in additional information about this opportunity I would be happy to meet with them and share my own experience from attending 3 trainings. The training cost $55 for registration and the training runs basically from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thanks for your interest.http://www.shambhala.org/shambhala-training.php
Should always be encouraged
They sharpen our lives.
Like a slow winding river
Delight at each turn.
The Pride of Ethics—
We need to find it again;
It could save our land.
Heartha Whitlow, February 2010
Every evening at World News Time
I went to the TV with a glass of wine
and two slices of cheese.
He went to the blue chair
with a glass of wine and two slices of cheese, and waited.
I tuned the TV to the World News channel,
Then I glanced at him and asked “Is the volume right?”
He would point up or down, and I’d adjust the knob.
When it was right, a horizontal wave OK’d the change.
Now he is gone.
And now each evening I tune the TV to World News,
with a glass of wine and two slices of cheese.
Then I glance at the blue chair, but it is empty.
It no longer matters if the volume is just right.
Heartha Whitlow, March 2010
Central Midwest District Assembly ("DA") was held in Wheeling Illinois this year, during the first weekend in May. Rather than bringing in a keynote speaker, there were panel presentations by various churches in our five-state District that talked about successful programs and growth strategies in their congregations.
Opening Ceremony included a sermon by Rev. Gary James of North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, IL. People enjoyed Saturday's panel presentation and the more detailed breakout sessions. On Saturday evening, the first annual CMwD Choral Fest conducted by Martha Swisher and coordinated by Jan Chamberlin resulted in a phenomenal performance on Saturday night that received a standing ovation. Anyone who says "UUs can't sing," would have been blown away by this performance. The choir numbered nearly a hundred, and had only rehearsed together that Friday and Saturday. Many of the pieces they'd selected were the works of UU composers.
District Youth and Young Adults (pictured above) conducted a Saturday afternoon service that got people thinking and participating. One of the highlights of DA is usually the Sunday service featuring the annual sermon contest winner. Our own Beth Lefever won it a few years ago. This year the winning sermon, "Selling Unitarian Universalism" was delivered by the newly-ordained Rev. Lynne Garner from Third Unitarian Church in Chicago (one of Beth's fellow students at Meadville-Lombard). You can listen to it at the CMwD website, www.cmwd-uua.org.
As a part-time employee of the District, I worked with the Office Manager in setting up and running registration, and coordinated the Media Team -- people who had volunteered to take photos, and record audio and video of some of the sessions. It's a long and tiring weekend for me and the rest of the staff, but some of the best features of congregations in our District are highlighted, and people come away with excitement and ideas for their home congregations. -- Gretchen Ohmann
Save the dates - August 6-8, 2010Join us for our annual Summer WomanSpirit retreat held at Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center in Watervliet, Michigan.Workshops, woods, walking, worship and more. You are invited to join us this August!
The UUA General Assembly this year will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, about an 8-hour drive from SW Michigan. In addition to inspiring programs and educational workshops, the business of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations is conducted at GA. Each congregation gets two delegates for every 50 people in the congregation, with a minimum of two, so BUUF has two. I will be attending Plenary sessions as one of BUUF's delegates. If you are planning to go, please see me and I'll get you through the process of authorization through the BUUF Board. -- Gretchen
More UUA News: The 2012 GA has been planned for Phoenix, Arizona, but in light of UUA protest of the severe anti-immigration laws recently enacted in Arizona, the UUA may decide to move the event. Here are some links to more information:
How is the UUA involved in immigration issues? More information here:
Our neighbors from the UU Fellowship of Elkhart Indiana are featured in this latest video from the UUA. CLICK TO PLAY (from UUA site).
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