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 LETTER
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 Francie for more information.
We Are A WELCOMING CONGREGATION This Unitarian Universalist community welcomes and celebrates the presence and participation of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people.
Religious Leader Jim McConnell
Board of TrusteesFrancie Porter-Snyder, President president at buuf2.org Emily Hecht,Vice Presidentvp at buuf2.orgDorothy Long, Treasurer treasurer at buuf2.org Lisa Dalgleish, Secretarysecretary at buuf2.orgChris SirotiakJoanne JohnsonJanice Zerfas
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. we gather at the homes of members or at 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 Educationoffice at buuf2.orgtelephone: 269-426-4051
Jim McConnell presents this morning's service: "La Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead),Honoring Those Who Have Passed Before Us"
Service Leader: JimMusic: GretchenAccompanist: GretchenSongleader: GretchenSpecial Music: GretchenSetup: Janice and MikeRefreshments: Janice and Mike
Julie Williams hosts Speaking of Faith/on Being. Tonight’s program is titled Repossessing Virtue: Parker Palmer on Economic Crisis, Morality, and Meaning. It is described as follows: We explore human and spiritual aspects of economic downturn with a wise public intellectual of our time, the Quaker author and educator Parker Palmer. He works with people from all walks of life at the intersection of spiritual, professional, and social change, and...
Guest speaker Dr. Esther Van der Walle presents this morning's service on Iran.
Service Leader: JimMusic:Accompanist: MarilynSongleader:Special Music:Setup: Refreshments: Dick Berndt
Rev. Beth Lefever presents this morning's service
Service Leader: Beth Music: Accompanist: Marilyn Songleader: Special Music: Setup:Refreshments:
John Berecz will present this Sunday service on "Patience."
Service Leader: Marilyn Music: Gretchen Accompanist: Gretchen Songleader: Gretchen Special Music: Gretchen Setup: MarilynRefreshments:
Be sure to check our online calendar for the latest info!
If you wish to volunteer, contact Dave for setup or refreshments, and Gretchen for music.
Beth Lefever to be ordained into Unitarian Universalist ministry
ELKHART -- Beth Lefever, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart since 1997, will be ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry in a ceremony at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, at her home church, 1732 Garden St., Elkhart, Indiana Participants in the ordination service will include the Rev. Amy DeBeck, pastor at UUFE; the Rev. Gordon Gibson, minister emeritus of the church; as well as a number of ministers from within and outside the denomination.
In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, when a person is called to the ministry, there is a stringent process by which they proceed through training. A candidate must earn a Master of Divinity degree, complete chaplaincy training and an internship, and pass “the boards” -- which includes meeting with the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee (MFC), the body which determines competency for UU professional ministry. Only Unitarian Universalist congregation can ordain a person. UU congregations govern themselves by congregational polity, with no authoritative diocese or synod. UUFE decided that that it did see in Beth a minister on whom to bestow the title “Reverend.” Beth intends to seek full-time ministry at a UU congregation. Beth was born and raised in Elkhart, Ind. She attended Indiana University South Bend, earning the Student Excellence Award in Sociology for 2005-06. She graduated in May 2011 with a Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Beth served four years as the half-time Religious Leader at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in St. Joseph, Mich., prior to and during her seminary training. She has led worship services at numerous churches throughout southern Michigan and northern and central Indiana. Beth is married to Evan Lefever. Before beginning her religious studies, Beth was a 911 dispatcher at the Elkhart City Communication Center for many years, eventually becoming the training director and later, the assistant director. After leaving that job, she served two years on the city of Elkhart’s Board of Public Safety. Interview requests can be made by calling 574-264-6525.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart 1732 Garden St., Elkhart, IN 46514 www.uufe.org or www.facebook.com/UUFElkhart
Yesterday evening I had supper with a friend of mine, who is a Christian pastor. He lent me a book by another pastor that extolled the idea of Universalism, the notion that all people end up in Heaven. He figured that since I was a Unitarian Universalist that I would endorse this idea. I reminded him that very few UU's use the idea of Heaven and Hell in their personal spirituality. "In fact," I said, "I do not use them myself. I much prefer the position that Jesus took on the subject." This is where the conversation got interesting. I won't go into the rest of what was said. I will however relate the basic idea that, I believe, Jesus held too. I doubt it included the notions of Heaven and Hell.
Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am." (Abraham is the Patriarch of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions. He predated Jesus by 1800 years.) What was Jesus talking about? In stark terms, it means that Jesus did not consider himself to be a being. He understood his true identity to be Being itself. It is very likely that he also meant to extend that concept of Being for all of life, not just people and, almost certainly, not just for himself. Putting it in words that I often use: Life is not what we live. Life is what we are.
Let's unpack the idea of being Life instead of being a life. This is a metaphysics that is far older than Christianity. As far as we can tell, it first appeared in the Hindu Vedas and may have predated Christianity by 1500 years. To be Life is, in the words of the "Bhagavad Gita," to be "indestructible and eternal." That sounds pretty good. On the other hand, it means that you are not your body. You are not your personality. You are not your brain or your mind or a soul. You are simply one of the many faces of God. (Here, God equals Life.) To be Life is to be constant change. One is being constantly born and constantly dying. (This should not be confused with reincarnation.) If Jesus was saying that he was one of the many faces of God, one can see how there would be much confusion in a society where the dominant culture was one of a Patriarchal, entirely-other God, who sat on a heavenly throne somewhere up there.
Interestingly, the idea of being Life and not just a life seems to erupt spontaneously out of the West as well. Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, felt the world had "only one soul." (Read: one life.) Neo-Platonism, as set forth by the philosopher Plotinus, carries strong intimations of this same idea. The mystics of both Christian and Muslim traditions (Meister Eckhart and Rumi, to name just two of many) felt that their true identity was God. Twentieth century theologian Paul Tillich talked about the Eternal Now and The Ground of Being. In fact, the idea of being Life or being Being shows up so much in Western thought that Huxley named it the Perennial philosophy. The Gaia Principle is a very close derivative. In the GP, our true identity is this planet. What we do to it, we do to ourselves. Putting it yet another way, just as a tree flowers, so the Universe (insert your name here)s.
So the bottom line is this: Here is another very old and very respected idea that as UU's we can, if we choose, use as a symbol or the poetic to express our religious feelings.
It should be noted that, according to the Book of John, immediately after uttering the words, "Before Abraham was, I am," the crowd started throwing stones at Jesus. Fortunately, there were no stones readily available at the restaurant, where my friend and I were sharing supper. We, as we always do, parted on the warmest possible terms.
-- Jim McConnell
September 1, 2011
Dear Members and Friends,
There is much that I do not know about the history of my country, but I have been saddened to read about our government’s “War on Children.” In 1877, the Bureau of Indian Affairs decided to end on-reservation schools and begin to build off-reservation boarding schools for Indian children, ages 7 to 18.
These children were taken from their families and taken to boarding schools far from the familiar reservations where they had been raised. Boarding schools were deliberately established far from the reservations, so that children could not make their ways home.
The government’s idea behind this scheme was to Americanize and Christianize these children so that they would become regular citizens, according to the white man’s ideas of civilization. At that time Indians were still called savages. And that word appears in the records of that period. The idea was to make Indian culture extinct.
The first insult to the children was to put them in uniforms, which meant nothing to them, but meant much to the white man’s culture. You can imagine what it does to the soul to anyone who is forced to wear a uniform. Not even the teachers at these schools sensed the cruelty of the system.
In addition to daily school work, where they were taught English and often given new names to replace their original Indian names, there was work to do after the hours of study; such as laundry, cleaning, tending to the farm animals, helping prepare the meals and washing up after.
The officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs had not a clue to the evil they were perpetrating in deliberately trying to make a culture extinct. The church also was complicit in this. As one student said, “We had a God we worshipped who was always reliable; you gave us a dead man on a cross.” You can imagine how little the Bureau of Indian Affairs understood about the drama of salvation as invented by the early church, beginning in 325 A. D.
There is much in our history to make us weep. One can only hope that our treatment of other cultures has improved since the dark days of the 1870s and 1880s. The off-reservation boarding schools were not closed until 1928.
Let us hope that today, as our children return to school, we have the wisdom to teach that every human being is worthy of respect and dignity. I sincerely hope that this is what is happening now in 2011.
You may ask, “Where were the voices of dissent and warning?” There were intelligent and merciful people who understood the evil of the off-reservation boarding schools. But they were silenced by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
August 1, 2011
You may have wondered where the “anti-body” teaching and attitude came from in the Christian story. This mischief began with St. Paul, an educated Jew, who wrote to the members of the church at Corinth that to be carnally minded is sin and death, to be spiritually minded is joy and peace. How did Paul ever come to such a conclusion? In this letter he introduces a purely Greek idea, not at all Christian, namely that the human being consists of two parts, a body and a spirit, and that the spirit is always superior to the body. This splitting of the human being is only recently transcended or overcome to some extent by contemporary theologians and physicians. The medical world has known for a long time that the healing of the body depends as much on the spiritual health of the person as on the body’s response to surgery or medicine.
This virus introduced so long ago by Paul today affects even the Unitarians, who pride themselves on having transcended this false dichotomy.
Our recent history, under the presidency of William J. Clinton, illustrated this in a most dramatic way. The condemnation or our President, which led almost to his impeachment, was our nation being infected by the virus of Paul’s teaching, which, alas is still with us, and is even celebrated in some traditional Christian churches, Protestant and Catholic.
At the height of the controversy I had visitors from Belgium, Holland, and Germany. They asked me what all the fuss was about. They did not know our American history very well. Our story begins in Plymouth colony 1620, and the virus was introduced by our founding religious leaders: you need only recall Hawthorn’s masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, to see how the virus affected those early colonists.
We, too, conclude that from the traditional Christian point of view carnality is a curse, and that we should have as little to do with it as possible. I say that today carnality is both a blessing and a burden. It is a burden for modern people because of the persistence of this infection in our society. Just read the pronouncements and see the votes of some members of Congress and the Senate on the evils of Planned Parenthood. How do you arrive at the conclusion that Planned Parenthood is an evil thing? You can see how convoluted and confused this thinking is, seeing the body as burden and not blessing.
According to “The Gospel of Viola,” we should be accepting our carnality and our spirituality as completely intertwined and interdependent. Remember the words of Robert Browning in his Grow Old Along With Me: “Let us cry ‘All good things are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul.’”
Some weeks ago at our morning service I was very pleased and happy to see some of the lovers in our congregation touching each other all through the service while paying rapt attention to the sermon.
Remember that skin-to-skin is often soul-to-soul.
Wishing you joy and peace,
Before our RE students present their December 18 intergenerational service, they will have completed the first of two curricula we are following this year. Ruth Hinkle and Tim Murphy created The Path to Community: A Guide to Worship as a way to discuss and understand worship as it applies to UUs (and to our students individually). In their introduction Hinkle and Murphy state:
"Worship is a many-faceted experience. It means something different to each of us depending on our life experience and where we find ourselves at the current moment. It may be calming, exciting, emotional, energetic, thought-provoking, etc. This might all happen in the same worship whether it happens for everyone or only a few people."
What does worship mean for Unitarian Universalists? How, why, and in what ways do we worship (if we do at all)? Our newest committee at BUUF is called the Worship and Arts Committee. How do we define worship individually and as a fellowship? Is our chalice a symbol of worship? Are our unison readings for our affirmation, offertory, and singing the children to class a form of worship? Or is our singing together of hymns? What or who do we worship during our sharing of joys and sorrows? Are our words of welcome, sounding of the gong, kindling of the chalice, opening and closing words, and various forms of meditation examples of worship? How about our children’s stories and sermons/messages? Do we as UUs worship our seven principles, or are these seven principles an attempt to reduce to writing what we do, in fact, worship? Our RE students will focus on these questions in the next two months in preparation for their December 18 service.
Of course, some of what we worship changes over time. When I was the age of our current class of students I worshipped baseball and the Beatles. I just wanted to hit/catch/throw a ball and listen/scream to She Loves You (yeah! yeah! yeah!). I broke a lot of windows, and I (probably) ruined whatever voice I had. As I had not been told what to worship (or even if I had) my choices seemed developmentally appropriate. We start out as infants and toddlers, totally egocentric and focused on getting our needs met, and then most of us mature and broaden our focus to include meeting the needs of others and of our community in general. As we mature what is important to us changes, as does what and how and why we worship. That doesn’t mean I have to stop throwing a ball or stop listening to the Beatles, it just means I can also worship what I now feel is more important.
-- Dave Sarra
I was thinking this morning how unimpressive it would be to win “A LIFETIME SUPPLY!” of various things at my age. For example, all the shirts I’d need would easily fit in half my closet. Cars? Assuming safe driving, three would do fine. Money? Many people collect it in one hour just in interest and still worry about possible poverty. I already own a lifetime’s supply of alarm clocks and have for about thirty years. (I should probably take the dead battery out.) A lifetime supply of sauerkraut for me is downright microscopic. Sometimes less is more: who in their right mind would celebrate winning a lifetime supply of laxatives? Being awarded a lifetime of friends is an unlikely abstraction, yet revealing in concept: would you rather win a large or small number? I’m not at all convinced I’d like to live to be 120, yet enabling that seems to be a goal of medicine. My goal is to recognize my limits and to gracefully accept them. Oh, and to discover untapped skills and potentials. As many as possible!!! -- Gary Cook
All members of the Fellowship are eligible to receive UU World, a magazine published by the Unitarian Universalist Association. There are always copies in the lobby of the Fellowship to peruse. If you do not receive it, and are a member, please contact office at buuf2.org to request to be added to the list (or if you would prefer not to receive it, we can take your name off the mailing list as well). The entire magazine can also be found online www.uuworld.org. You may elect to receive a weekly email highlighting articles from the current magazine and other information by going to their site. We sometimes have extra copies at the Visitors' table.
BUUF Board of Trustees meeting minutes are now posted on our website as far back as June 2007. You can view them in sequence, newest to oldest, by finding "BLOGS" on the top menu, then select "Board Minutes." A handy feature, especially for the Board, is the ability to search through the text of all these minutes. In the search box, type the term you are looking for, such as "budget." The search results will show you links to a number of articles that contain that word or phrase. It's a good way to find answers to questions like "what did the Board do about..." or "when did we decide to..." If you have any questions, contact our Board of Trustees president, president at buuf2.org.
The Central Midwest and neighboring districts (comprising the MidAmerica Region of the UUA) have announced their fall schedule of online workshops ("webinars") that anyone can participate in for free! Workshops last about an hour and a half, and cover a wide variety of topics. Participants call in to a conference call number, and sign in to an online PowerPoint presentation using a Facebook or SlideShare account.
You can always view the next few events by going to www.buuf2.org and scrolling down to the right for the Webinar Schedule! There is a link to the full calendar. Or visit:
"Leadership Development with a UU Spiritual Core" will be the theme of the 2012 District Assembly, to be held in the Chicagoland area at the Marriott Oak Brook Hill Resort on April 27-29. Because you asked for it, we are going back to having a full weekend DA!
Friday night's opening ceremony will feature special guest Rev. Bill Schulz, president of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and past president of the UUA. Rev. Marilyn Sewell will be our keynote presenter on Saturday morning. She has been interested in the theological and spiritual dimensions of leadership development for some time and is looking forward to exploring this with us. There will be two sessions of workshops on Saturday afternoon and then in the evening, we will show Rev. Sewell’s documentary film, “Raw Faith.” http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/movies/raw-faith-review.html. Read more about Rev. Sewell in UU World or on her website.
Sunday morning, the winner of our DA Sermon Contest will lead a worship service open to all. There will be lots of music throughout the weekend, opportunities to connect with old friends and meet new ones, and times for spiritual reflection. Save the dates on your calendar now and let us know if you’re interested in being a part of our DA planning team or offering a workshop. Workshop proposal form.
(BOSTON) The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), has issued a statement regarding Occupy Wall Street and accompanying protests around the country. The statement says, in part:
"Unitarian Universalism embodies a long tradition of working for economic justice and workers' rights. Today is another opportunity for us to live our faith, and the Occupy protests are a first step on the road to repairing our country.
"I reach out to Unitarian Universalists everywhere to consider how you might be of service to any among us who are struggling to provide for their families, those who have been cheated and abused by financial institutions, and all those whose backs ache under a burden of debt, unemployment, and fading hope. Let the world see the power of our faith in action."
In support of those involved with Occupy protests, a collection of UUA resources related to economic justice is available on the UUA website.
For more information, call 248-549-5170.
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