Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Croix


Leave a comment

Newsletter: December 2014

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83) the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM.

Refreshments and conversation follow.

Upcoming Schedule of Service

12/14-“There is Value in the Valley, Qiyamah Rahman

12/28-“Holidays/Holy Service”, Yoshea Daniels, Shelli Brin, Bruce Spector

Covenant Group

Message from the board President, Jim Nealon

Hi Everyone…here is a friendly reminder: as I mentioned at our last service, we will be taking up a special collection at our next service, on December 14th, for UUSC-UUA’s (the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association) Ebola Epidemic Relief Fund. If you wish to make a donation to this worthy cause, please bring your check made out to : UUSC- UUA Ebola Epidemic Relief Fund. Thank you.

If you also wish to make your year end donation to the UU Fellowship, we will be passing two baskets. Gail Nealon

Stewardship Sunday/a reminder…
On January 11, 2015 we will celebrate Stewardship Sunday. The focus will include how we can support our congregation with our time, talent and treasure. Susan Kraeger will briefly describe the pledge campaign for 2015. A pledge brochure will be available at the door. We will gather for a pot luck lunch after the service.


Minister’s Column (reprinted from November Newsletter)

Part II Reviving the Spirit

In this month’s column I am continuing the conversation about my theology, mystical humanism and my spiritual journey.

I am particularly inviting of others theologies because I am very eclectic in my own theological orientation, that is, a combination of African cosmology, Christianity, Islam, metaphysics (spirituality) and Humanism. As a minister and community activist I encourage respectful sharing and discussion but tend not to tolerate disrespectful “debating.” I believe it is disrespectful and unproductive and a waste of time since none of us can really prove our beliefs. So, yes discussion is acceptable along with friendly inquiries, but hostile arguments and rants are not acceptable. The theological diversity within Unitarian Universalism is what has kept me a Unitarian Universalist and continues to inspire me.

My theology includes some of the following beliefs and ideas: • human beings – homo sapiens, exist to find God/the Sacred/the Divine because humans seek the recognition that something greater than themselves exists.  • Our person hood matters because we are a reflection of the sacred life and energy of the Universe. • Love is the fundamental source of life and power. • Our existence calls forth a deliberate recognition of community which nurtures life and celebrates love.  • We possess freedom of choice and can decide between good and evil, and the doing of good or the doing of evil. However, humans have a propensity toward good unless other factors corrupt this tendency. All choices bring consequences. • Suffering is an inevitable outcome of the human existence. I do not view it as a “punishment” by something or someone outside of ourselves  • Humans are social creatures that seek community; this reflects our drive towards connections and our interdependence.  • Humans inner ecology is like that of a self organizing system. The “self” is mutable and influenced by internal and external experiences according to context and function.  • Human history is the product of human actions and thus humans of necessity are the supreme arbiters of values for human existence.

The theological context of my call to ministry includes the freedom to decide between good and evil. I am influenced by process theology in which God/goodness lures but does not coerce humans to good deeds. Thus, God/Spirit lured me (called me) and invited me to ministry to be of service. Thus, I chose to respond to a call and claimed a life for which ministry is my “lifestyle” “vocation” “life long pursuit” “my love” “my gift” to the world.

Womanist theologians such as Emilie Townes have also influenced my theology. Townes contends, “womanist spirituality is the deep kneading of humanity and divinity into one breath, one hope, one vision. Womanist spirituality is not only one way of living, it is a style of witness that seeks to cross the yawning chasms of hatreds and prejudices and oppressions into a deeper and richer love of God as we express Jesus in our lives.”

As I come into my senior years I am claiming the wisdom of time and grounding myself in the things that I know the most about – being Black and being female. I know a little bit about resiliency. On the other hand I sometimes feel that I know absolutely nothing about love. And yet I have been the recipient of much love. I simply did not recognize it at the time nor could I really appreciate it and receive love fully and completely. Some of the things we know we take for granted. Resiliency is one of the things I know about. I can talk about being picked up after shattering in what seemed like a million pieces and in the middle of all that – be able to turn my life around. I do not take that for granted. I do not assume that everyone knows how to reach inside or to call on powers and sources greater than themselves in the midst of life’s storms. I cannot tell you how to do it because you may need something else for your journey. But I know how to be present with you and to listen to you and affirm your journey. That is why I am called to ministry. My ministry is about inclusion and journeying with individuals.

What else could I talk about but the love which has carried me forward through the years? What else could I embrace but that which held me when I could not stand. What else could I know to name but communities of support that loved me through times when I could not love myself.

Mysticism

In a sermon titled, Are You a UU Mystic?, R.M. FEWKES on JUNE 6, 1999 stated, …There is virtually no religious system that does not include a mystical tradition–the Kabalah in Judaism, Sufism in Islam, Hindu yoga, Buddhist meditation, Gregorian chant, Quaker silence, shamanic journeying, native vision quests, and Unitarian Universalist Transcendentalist philosophy. Mysticism takes many forms and expressions–nature mysticism, soul-mysticism, ethical-mysticism, God-mysticism, the mysticism of love and service, knowledge and understanding.” According to Fewkes, most mystics speak a common language of personal experience and union with the divine, the all, or the holy.”

Fewkes further contends that mystical experience is often associated in the popular mind with the irrational or fanciful and not connected with the real world. Nothing could be further from the truth according to Fewkes. Fewkes states that, “Mystical experience has to do with a sense of unity and connection with reality–with nature, with people, with the web of life, with the soul, and with God. Nothing could be more natural than the experience of oneness with all that is. Science tells us we are part and parcel of nature through an evolutionary process manifest in natural law. Mysticism tells us that we are one with the whole of being and that our separateness is a transitory illusion. Science uncovers the truth of our connection with the natural world through reason and analysis. Mysticism comes to the truth of our interconnectedness through intuition and experience. They are two sides of the one coin of reality–the outer and the inner. The mystical and the rational are one. Reason, we should remember is both analytical and synthetic. We analyze, decipher and test the reality we encounter in order to figure out how it all hangs together. It’s like drawing a picture by first deciphering the dots of reality, and then we take the next step by connecting the dots. Both the scientist and the mystic are engaged in the business of trying to connect the dots of reality, the first from within, the latter from without.”

” Mystics declare in one way or another that revelation is not sealed, that the discovery of truth and the encounter with ultimate reality is a continuing process. Walt Whitman, America’s poet of the soul, put it this way: “I do not say that Bibles and religions are not divine. I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow out of you still. It is not they who give the life. It is you who give the life.”

Fewkes asserts that if we do extend beyond our skins, if we can function in both Sensory Reality and Clairvoyant Reality (and clairvoyance means “clear seeing”), then maybe we are at the point of beginning to understand the unities and universals of our Unitarian Universalist faith.”

“Unitarianism says we are all one (because God is One and we are part and parcel of God), while Universalism says we are all linked to a universal reality from which we can never be separated (because God is Love and salvation and wholeness are forever and always available to all).”

Fewkes maintains that Unitarian Universalism is grounded in a mystical sense of connection of each to all, and all to each. Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes refers to “the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part”, and then goes on to talk about the “direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.” If that is not a mystical statement then I do not know what is. It is time for us to reclaim and own our Transcendentalist mystical heritage. It is both the source of our sense of connection to the whole of being, and of our social conscience that recognizes our connection to one another in justice and love, and our responsibility to the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.”

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah


Leave a comment

Newsletter: November 2014

  Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83) the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM.
Refreshments and conversation follow.

Upcoming Schedule of Services:

11/9 – Bless all who serve (Peace Day) , John Clendenin

11/23 – Gratitude – UU Service Committee , Gail Nealon

Covenant Group:

11/16

11/23


Message from the board President, Jim Nealon
Hello again all. It is great to be back home after our summer away. It is exciting to see our UU programs well in place and some great sermons and presentations. I personally enjoyed and was warmed by Edmund Davys “dog tails” celebration of animal rights last Sunday. The program committee and Rev Qiyamah have a lot of interesting subjects on the agenda. Covenant group meetings on alternate Sundays are well attended and expected to be as provocative as ever.

We are missing a couple of critical elements this season, however. Those of you with fine voices that can carry a tune are doing your best , but we really need an accompanist to lead our music during the services and perhaps renew the organization of the choir. If you have any thoughts on who we could retain in this capacity please contact Qiyamah or me.

Our “social hour” after the  service isn’t the same without a few snacks and homemade delights. Our hospitality coordinator  takes care of signing up members to contribute goodies after the services and occasionally reminding those generous chefs that they are “on” for this Sunday. Please contact Qiyamah or me with your interest.

We are also on the lookout for a remembrance person to help us celebrate birthdays and render condolences when the occasions arise.


Minister’s Column

Part II Reviving the Spirit

In this month’s column I am continuing the conversation about my theology, mystical humanism and my spiritual journey.

I am particularly inviting of others theologies because I am very eclectic in my own theological orientation, that is, a combination of African cosmology, Christianity, Islam, metaphysics (spirituality) and Humanism. As a minister and community activist I encourage respectful sharing and discussion but tend not to tolerate disrespectful “debating.” I believe it is disrespectful and unproductive and a waste of time since none of us can really prove our beliefs. So, yes discussion is acceptable along with friendly inquiries, but hostile arguments and rants are not acceptable. The theological diversity within Unitarian Universalism is what has kept me a Unitarian Universalist and continues to inspire me.

My theology includes some of the following beliefs and ideas: • human beings – homo sapiens, exist to find God/the Sacred/the Divine because humans seek the recognition that something greater than themselves exists.  • Our person hood matters because we are a reflection of the sacred life and energy of the Universe. • Love is the fundamental source of life and power. • Our existence calls forth a deliberate recognition of community which nurtures life and celebrates love.  • We possess freedom of choice and can decide between good and evil, and the doing of good or the doing of evil. However, humans have a propensity toward good unless other factors corrupt this tendency. All choices bring consequences. • Suffering is an inevitable outcome of the human existence. I do not view it as a “punishment” by something or someone outside of ourselves  • Humans are social creatures that seek community; this reflects our drive towards connections and our interdependence.  • Humans inner ecology is like that of a self organizing system. The “self” is mutable and influenced by internal and external experiences according to context and function.  • Human history is the product of human actions and thus humans of necessity are the supreme arbiters of values for human existence.

The theological context of my call to ministry includes the freedom to decide between good and evil. I am influenced by process theology in which God/goodness lures but does not coerce humans to good deeds. Thus, God/Spirit lured me (called me) and invited me to ministry to be of service. Thus, I chose to respond to a call and claimed a life for which ministry is my “lifestyle” “vocation” “life long pursuit” “my love” “my gift” to the world.

Womanist theologians such as Emilie Townes have also influenced my theology. Townes contends, “womanist spirituality is the deep kneading of humanity and divinity into one breath, one hope, one vision. Womanist spirituality is not only one way of living, it is a style of witness that seeks to cross the yawning chasms of hatreds and prejudices and oppressions into a deeper and richer love of God as we express Jesus in our lives.”

As I come into my senior years I am claiming the wisdom of time and grounding myself in the things that I know the most about – being Black and being female. I know a little bit about resiliency. On the other hand I sometimes feel that I know absolutely nothing about love. And yet I have been the recipient of much love. I simply did not recognize it at the time nor could I really appreciate it and receive love fully and completely. Some of the things we know we take for granted. Resiliency is one of the things I know about. I can talk about being picked up after shattering in what seemed like a million pieces and in the middle of all that – be able to turn my life around. I do not take that for granted. I do not assume that everyone knows how to reach inside or to call on powers and sources greater than themselves in the midst of life’s storms. I cannot tell you how to do it because you may need something else for your journey. But I know how to be present with you and to listen to you and affirm your journey. That is why I am called to ministry. My ministry is about inclusion and journeying with individuals.

What else could I talk about but the love which has carried me forward through the years? What else could I embrace but that which held me when I could not stand. What else could I know to name but communities of support that loved me through times when I could not love myself.

Mysticism

In a sermon titled, Are You a UU Mystic?, R.M. FEWKES on JUNE 6, 1999 stated, …There is virtually no religious system that does not include a mystical tradition–the Kabalah in Judaism, Sufism in Islam, Hindu yoga, Buddhist meditation, Gregorian chant, Quaker silence, shamanic journeying, native vision quests, and Unitarian Universalist Transcendentalist philosophy. Mysticism takes many forms and expressions–nature mysticism, soul-mysticism, ethical-mysticism, God-mysticism, the mysticism of love and service, knowledge and understanding.” According to Fewkes, most mystics speak a common language of personal experience and union with the divine, the all, or the holy.”

Fewkes further contends that mystical experience is often associated in the popular mind with the irrational or fanciful and not connected with the real world. Nothing could be further from the truth according to Fewkes. Fewkes states that, “Mystical experience has to do with a sense of unity and connection with reality–with nature, with people, with the web of life, with the soul, and with God. Nothing could be more natural than the experience of oneness with all that is. Science tells us we are part and parcel of nature through an evolutionary process manifest in natural law. Mysticism tells us that we are one with the whole of being and that our separateness is a transitory illusion. Science uncovers the truth of our connection with the natural world through reason and analysis. Mysticism comes to the truth of our interconnectedness through intuition and experience. They are two sides of the one coin of reality–the outer and the inner. The mystical and the rational are one. Reason, we should remember is both analytical and synthetic. We analyze, decipher and test the reality we encounter in order to figure out how it all hangs together. It’s like drawing a picture by first deciphering the dots of reality, and then we take the next step by connecting the dots. Both the scientist and the mystic are engaged in the business of trying to connect the dots of reality, the first from within, the latter from without.”

” Mystics declare in one way or another that revelation is not sealed, that the discovery of truth and the encounter with ultimate reality is a continuing process. Walt Whitman, America’s poet of the soul, put it this way: “I do not say that Bibles and religions are not divine. I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow out of you still. It is not they who give the life. It is you who give the life.”

Fewkes asserts that if we do extend beyond our skins, if we can function in both Sensory Reality and Clairvoyant Reality (and clairvoyance means “clear seeing”), then maybe we are at the point of beginning to understand the unities and universals of our Unitarian Universalist faith.”

“Unitarianism says we are all one (because God is One and we are part and parcel of God), while Universalism says we are all linked to a universal reality from which we can never be separated (because God is Love and salvation and wholeness are forever and always available to all).”

Fewkes maintains that Unitarian Universalism is grounded in a mystical sense of connection of each to all, and all to each. Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes refers to “the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part”, and then goes on to talk about the “direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.” If that is not a mystical statement then I do not know what is. It is time for us to reclaim and own our Transcendentalist mystical heritage. It is both the source of our sense of connection to the whole of being, and of our social conscience that recognizes our connection to one another in justice and love, and our responsibility to the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.”

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah


Stewardship
Our Stewardship Committee is planning for our pledge drive in 2015.  With our new RE Coordinator, Shelli Brin, and emphasis on religious education, we are hopeful that we will grow our membership this year.    Our pledge goal for 2015 is to increase the amount of pledges by 10%.  We will kick off the pledge drive in January.  We look forward to your participation and support and development of our UUfellowship on St Croix.


A Final Note
We encourage your input and suggestions regarding future program content, issues of concern to the membership, or even news regarding your recent experiences as you may find them of interest to the membership!! You can reach us at uustx@gmail.com.

Til next month…..


Leave a comment

Newsletter-October 2014

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83) the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM. Refreshments and conversation follow.

Upcoming Schedule of Services

10/12 – Update – Sanitation in Ghana, Susan Kraeger

 10/26 – Animal Rights , Edmund Davies

 11/9 – Bless all who serve (Peace Day) , John Clendenin

 11/23 – Gratitude – UU Service Committee , Gail Nealon

 Untitled
Minister’s Column

Many individuals, religious and non-religious, strive to lead a life of meaning and purpose. Depending on your theology/ideology/philosophy, your belief system might include numerous opportunities to get your life right in other life times. Still others believe this is the only life we are given to get it “right”. Whatever you believe we can all benefit from a “Revival of the Spirit”, a spiritual cleansing and renewal of the spirit. By spirit I am referring to the deepest part of you, the part that lets you make meaning of your world and life. It is that essence of who you are and I believe that it is made up of energy and lives on after the body temple dies or breaks down. Sometimes we refer to “spirit” as the soul.

Every opportunity we take to feed our souls and love on ourselves is time well spent. Thus, spending energy on negativity is a detriment to our well being and promotes the attraction of lower vibrations and more negativity. Did I forget to say that I believe everything is made up of molecules and energy that vibrates at different energy levels? Higher thoughts and concepts such as peace, love, compassion, justice vibrate at a higher level and lower thoughts and concepts such as hatred, envy, conflict, murder, theft and jealousy vibrate at a lower leve

Some of you have asked me from time to time what I believe as a Mystical Humanist. While this list is not comprehensive and is in no particular order it includes:

  1. We contract to come to earth to live and provide certain experiences. We each have unique talents and gifts to bring to the world.
  2. We are always in charge of the way we bring our gifts to the world and how we choose to show up in the world. However, it is difficult to experience happiness and wholeness if we refuse to share the gifts we contracted to bring.
  3. We can create a life on earth that reflects a heaven or hell (or some of both)!
  4. The way we use our time and energy will directly impact the quality of our lives and that of the world.
  5. If you want to know what you think look at the results of your life. No judgment here. Ignorance does not excuse us from experiencing certain consequences and laws of nature and the universe.

Ok, that is enough for now. Stay tuned next month for Part II of Reviving the Spirit.

See you in Service at UU Fellowship of St. Croix.

Be Blessed! Rev. Qiyamah

 

 


Leave a comment

Summer Newsletter

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

Newsletter Summer 2014

Schedule of Events

Friday, August, 8, 7-9 PM at the Jewish Community Center: Farewell Sendoff for Frances Vernell/ Potluck Dinner. Frances is leaving the island to return stateside to be with her mother and family. She has been a dedicated member and volunteer with the Fellowship since she joined in January 2013. Please come out and show your appreciation and support for Frances and enjoy the company of your UU fellowship. This may be our only get-together this summer. Please bring a favorite dish to share (no pork or pork by products).

Sunday, September 14, 10 AM, Jewish Community Center: Services resume, starting with our Water Communion Service and Signing of the Membership Book. Bring water from your travels or home. (See explanation below in Qiyamah’s Column)

1

Qiyamah’s Column: Odds N Ends

Summer Greetings to Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix Members, Friends and Supporters!

 

I trust everyone is having a great summer! Mine has been a memorable one in more ways than one and it isn’t even over! One big milestone has been my “semi-retirement.”

Regarding my Fellowship duties, I continue to meet with and do some planning with Shelli Brin, our new Director of Religious Education. I am scheduling more time to read and write and to conduct research on the status of Black women in Unitarian Universalism. I am also gardening, walking and swimming daily.

I attended General Assembly this summer in Providence, Rhode Island, with the generous help of Jim and Gail Nealon, the UUFSC Board of Directors and the UU Association (UUA). Over the course of the week I was able to rejuvenate myself and reconnect with folks that were helpful in my growth and development. I also brought some resources back for Shelli which I hope will prove to be helpful. I have been exploring many aspects of personal and community growth that included attending a recent training with Alternatives to Violence here in St. Croix. It is my intention to take further training and become a facilitator. I have become an active board member with Liberty Place, an organization devoted to GLBTQ persons and their families. A training session on Hate Crimes will be offered on August 13 at UVI. I hope that some of you can attend.

Another event I would like to promote is a debut of the play “Out of Control” by Opal Adisa Palmer, playwright and director. This debut of her latest play is about domestic abuse and the emotional and physical violence that impacts the entire community. The Moving Women Collective Theatre Ensemble in Frederiksted will showcase their talent on August 9 at 8 PM. The cost is $10. There will be only one performance. Location: James C. Savage Theatre, the Good Hope School, Frederiksted. Come out and support the arts! For more information: opalpalmeradisa@gmail.com or 510-219-0704.

Fall services resume September 14 with our Water Communion Service and signing of the Membership Book. Remember to bring your water from the various places you have traveled so that we might co-mingle the water and recall with fondness some of our summer memories.

Rev. Qiyamah

Wish List

Two bookcases on wheels are needed. One book case will hold our hymnals and the second our library books, tapes and donated children’s books. If you would like to make a donation towards these items, please write a check made out to UUF of St. Croix with bookcases in the memo line. You may mail it to UUFSC, P.O. Box 3034,  Kingshill, USVI 00851.

Click here to Reply or Forward
  1. 35 GB (62%) of 15 GB used

Manage

©2014 Google – Terms & Privacy

Last account activity: 5 minutes ago

Details


Leave a comment

May Newsletter

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

Newsletter—May 2014

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83)

the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM. Refreshments and conversation follow.

 

SCHEDULE

May 4: No covenant group due to triathlon.

May 11 (Mother’s Day): “The Flower Ceremony” by Elizabeth Peacock (Sunday School children will participate)

May 18: Covenant Group at home of Emy Thomas

May 25: “Getting to UU.  My Journey”  by Susan Kraeger followed by Annual Meeting. (Agenda and proxies will be sent by email in a few days)

 

VICE PRESIDENT NEEDED. We will be voting for officers for next year at the annual meeting and we don’t have a candidate for vice president as yet. Be thinking about it!

 

MUSIC ACCOMPANIST NEEDED: We’re still looking for an accompanist for next year. If you know of a pianist who might be interested please let us know.

 

UU IN WOMEN RACE: Lots of UU members and friends participate in the annual Women Race which benefits the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix. This year men are invited to participate as well and we will all identify ourselves as UUs. When you register for this year’s race on June 1 please remember to put UU in the team blank.

 

SUMMER GET-TOGETHERS: Although we have no official meetings during the summer we like to get together a few times if possible. You will be receiving a general survey shortly and will have a chance to express what activities you would like planned during the summer.

 

QIYAMAH’S COLUMN

 

Religious Education as a Transformative Vehicle

 

No religious movement can thrive without a vibrant renewed commitment to religious education. Thus, nurturing spiritual and intellectual growth for children, youth and adults remains one of the most compelling challenges facing any faith community. Thus, the selection of a new Director of Religious Education, Shelli Brin, is just one of many efforts to bolster such a vibrant and renewed commitment at UUFSC.

Eleanor Morton, Director of Religious Education in Minneapolis, Minnesota, asserts that Sunday School has not always been a mainstay of American life According to Eugene Navias, the first documented Sunday School was started by Theophilus Lindsey in 1763 in Yorkshire, England A printer in Gloucester, Robert Raikes, published Reading, Riting and Religion which spread quickly through England and then America. The Sunday School movement emerged in the late 18th century shortly after the formal creation of American Universalism by John Murray and just prior to the emergence of American Unitarianism. Early universal public education reached out to“community children who would otherwise be deprived of basic schooling.” Likewise, Morton contends that Raikes initial intention was to provide religious education. Instead, the teachers soon realized the need to provide reading and writing. Thus, it could be said that religious education was “the forerunner of public-supported education”.

Reverend William Ellery Channing, a Unitarian minister, represented one of the early influences on Unitarian Universalist religious education. In 1837 he urged the audience of the Boston Sunday School Society to have faith in children and instead of stamping their adult thoughts and ideas, to stir up those of the children. He further emphasized the importance of helping children to see and feel the love of God rather than merely telling them of God’s love. While the curricula being used by Unitarians and others at that time were “didactic and authority-centered”, Channing, though he objected to catechisms, had otherwise a very progressive vision of education that included the transmission of the author’s or teacher’s beliefs to the learner.

Kathleen Carpenter, Director of Religious Education, at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charlotte, mirrors William Ellery Channing’s views though she and her contemporaries are many years removed from Channing. She asserts, “Instead of educating individuals about RE, we need to give them tools to deepen their spirituality and emphasis on UU identity. Carpenter contends that in the 1960s and 1970s UU curricula were very secular with a focus on world religions and UU identity. However, the mid 1980s and early 1990s presented a shift so that new curriculum reflects a focus on faith development. Approximately sixty percent of UU curricula used are UU developed.

Judith Frediani, Director of Lifespan Faith Development of the UUA, articulated the following role of the newly named Department formerly known as Religious Education, “Our job in Lifespan Faith Development is to help people make life religious – help make our lives meaningful, ethical, spiritual, connected, mindful.”[1] Currently, the movement in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is away from RE to faith development philosophy.

RE as a Corrective Tool to Oppression

Transformation of society is a worthy goal for a faith community and it stands to reason that one of the tasks of religious education is to help learners embrace a spirituality of transformation. Effective religious education captures bonding, mutuality and resistance of destructive behaviors and attitudes that might lead to alienation and depersonalization. Sacredness of individuals, reflection and critique of contemporary society’s narcissistic focus on the self provides some balance by actively encouraging service to others. The demise of community and tendencies towards alienation and ennui can be challenged with transformative curricula that reflect UU principles and values.

The purpose of RE is to sponsor persons toward a mature faith – towards freedom of choice. The role of religious education in reproducing the diverse ideologies, values, perspectives and lived experiences of its faith community cannot be ignored, particularly as it relates to its own religious culture and the larger social norms. Faith communities seeking to embrace diversity as an integral dimension of its religious beliefs by putting its faith in action must be prepared to constantly interrogate its values. The ability of the religious to create spaces in our lives where we can do the work of creating Beloved Community is indeed its true work.

Come and let us build Beloved Community Together!

Rev. Qiyamah

P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * www.uustcroix.org

Rev. Qiyamah: revdocrok@gmail.com 704-458-7676

 

[1] Judith A. Frediani, Lifespan Faith Development-Board of Trustees Report (Boston: UUA, April 2007), 1.


Leave a comment

March Newsletter

   Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

Newsletter—March 2014

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83)

 the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM. Refreshments and conversation follow.

 

APRIL SCHEDULE

 

Sunday, April 6, 10 AM: Covenant Group led by Jan Giles at home of Emy Thomas

 

Sunday, April 13, 10 AM (Palm Sunday): “Re-Imagining Easter” by Rev. Qiyamah Rahman

 

Sunday, April 20, 10 AM: Covenant Group led by Gail Nealon at home of Emy Thomas

 

Sunday, April 27, 10 AM: Earth Day Service led by Carol Cramer Burke of St. Croix Environmental       Association.

 

Sunday, April 27, 5:30 PM: Holocaust Memorial Service (see below)

 

 

PERSONNEL: GREAT NEWS!

 

We have exciting news. We have hired a director for our Religious Education program and we have a temporary contract with a piano accompanist.

Shelli Brin, a young eighth-generation St. Thomian and well-known in St. Croix, where she has lived for the last several years as a very active partner in Ridge to Reef Farm, will be in charge of our Sunday School starting in September. She will shadow our current teachers for the remainder of this church year and develop a curriculum based on material shared by the national Unitarian Universalist Association.

Paul Knipler, who gave us a taste of his musicianship at our last service, will continue as our accompanist at least for the remainder of this church year.

 

 

NEW MEMBERS

Four new members will be welcomed into the Fellowship during our final service of the year on May 25: Shelli Brin, Carolyn Forno, Renee D’Adamo and Bill Schultz. Anyone else interested in joining at that time should contact Gail Nealon: gailnealon@gmail.com.

 

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY-2

 

Last year, instigated by Artemis Joukowsky III’s generous offer to screen his film about his grandparent’s courageous actions during the Holocaust, the Jewish and UU congregations collaborated on a program/memorial service for Yom haShoah / Holocaust Memorial Day.  It was well-attended and well-received, and the two congregations plan to come together to mark the date again this year.  We have also invited the Unity Church community.  Of course, everyone is welcome, and we hope you will spread the word in your circles.
It will be on Sunday evening April 27, at the JCC, beginning at 5:30.  After a short memorial service we will view and discuss informally the morally complex film “Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance after the Holocaust.”  All are most welcome.
Rabbi Marna Sapsowitz

-1

 

 

 

 

 

Our Sunday School children show off a craft project.

 

Qiyamah’s Column

Introduction

Having secured a new Religious Education Instructor I am excited at the prospect of dipping my fingers and toes back into the familiar waters of Religious Education. While most of my experience has been with adult Religious Education, I did have the honor of co-teaching grades 4-8 at First Unitarian Church of Chicago using the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) curriculum titled Neighboring Faiths in 2007-2008. Neighboring Faiths is one of many curricula developed by UUA. It is a 13-week curriculum that introduces youth to the faith traditions and practices of other religious groups through field trips in their community. It consists of eleven units with 34 ninety-minute sessions. As part of the curriculum we visited a mosque, a Hindu Temple and a Catholic Church.

Read the reflections of a young adult (18-35 years old) reminiscing on his RE experience:

When I was eight years old, my parents, Alan and Jacqui, joined the

First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, and I began my journey through a

Unitarian Universalist religious education program. One of the most lasting

values I gained from that religious education process was a great appreciation

for the diversity of systems of belief. I learned to accept, tolerate, and appreciate differences in people. In church school we were given a great deal of exposure to

other religions so that we could always make an informed choice about what we

were going to believe. Growing up in a Unitarian Universalist religious education program was extremely helpful in developing and honing my powers of critical thinking. Because my religious education encouraged me to ask questions, I developed the ability to ask myself questions to clarify my values and functions as a mature individual in society. It is an ability that I cherish and employ every day. . . That I am still a Unitarian Universalist is largely due to my religious education experiences. As I made the transition from youth to adult, my understanding of the religion grew with me. I was able to redefine my values as I encountered situations in the real world that fundamentally challenged the belief structure I had developed while younger. Unitarian Universalism allowed me to grow and develop without encountering an unyielding dogma, thus enabling me to retain my intellectual curiosity about life and religion.

–Tony James, son of Jacqui James, former UUA Faith and Development staff member

 

The above testimonial reveals the powerful influence that a Religious Education Program can have in an individual’s life. RE is a lifetime process that spans from the cradle to the grave, hence the term, “Lifespan RE.” Faith formation is an integral part of human development and Sunday School is the process that nurtures faith formation. Intergenerational faith development integrates the different needs of individuals into all aspects of the community emphasizing new understandings, abilities and ways of interfacing with self, family, parents, UU community and the larger world.  Intergenerational worship includes worship with a focus on diversity across a range of ages with diverse learning approaches exploring, reflecting and dialoguing on life mysteries. I look forward to being a part of the efforts to create a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for our children in the days to come. Please consider volunteering some of your time in Sunday School with our children.

Rev. Qiyamah

P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * www.uustcroix.org

Rev. Qiyamah: revdocrok@gmail.com 704-458-7676

 

 


Leave a comment

March Newsletter

Newsletter—February 2014

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83) the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM. Refreshments and conversation follow.

MARCH SCHEDULE

March 2: Covenant Group led by Gail Nealon.

March 9 (GLBT Sunday): “The Culture of Gender Identity: Stigma and Discrimination.” Guest Speaker: Sandra G. Phaire, Executive Director of Virgin Islands Community Aids Resource & Education, Inc.

March 16: Covenant Group led by Gail Nealon at home of Emy Thomas

March 23: “UU Women in Conversation” by Rev. Qiyamah Rahman

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

Life Span Faith Development (AKA Religious Education)

(Notes by Rev. Qiyamah Rahman from parents meeting on January 12, 2014)

Our guest consultant Connie Goodbread facilitated the discussion with nine individuals, among which four were parents representing the six children in our Fellowship. Some of the following are highlights from the hour long conversation:

 

WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF LOVE, HOPE AND COURAGE!

(values identified at Saturday, January 11, conversation with Fellowship attendees during a facilitated discussion by Connie Goodbread)

Faith Development is all we do.

Faith Development is the faith we teach.

Congregations are the curriculum.

(one of Connie’s favorite sayings)

Connie reminded us that all congregations are in the business of faith development and everything we do teaches something – including what we leave out. If we are not “cradle UUs”, that is, born UUists, then many of us came out of other faith traditions. What we have to remember when we find UUism is that it is not the end of our journey and the work continues in our search for truth. UUism is our discovery of our spiritual discipline, she stated.

We need to include Bible stories for our children (and adults) because it makes them culturally literate and is one of many tools to teach values and tell the story of human beings’ struggles.

Research findings from the Search Institute asked what brought individuals to a particular faith community. They stated the following:

  • The minister knew my name and knew who I was
  • My parents were involved
  • I can articulate the faith and understand it
  • They made room for my leadership (and voice)

Involvement of Young People

The following ideas surfaced in our discussion on involvement of our children in no particular order:

  • Everyone should be allowed to serve (12 year olds make great worship associates)
  • Remember that we are a family oriented Fellowship and we should be including our children in service
  • Teach children (and adults) church worship manners
  • Create multi-generational (intergenerational) services
  • Utilize older children as tutors and mentors but not babysitters. Some felt this is often abused and turns out looking more like babysitting instead of classroom assistants
  • Consider using themes for worship that carry over into Sunday School
  • Utilize curricula from Tapestry of Faith found on Unitarian Universalist Association’s website (www.uua.org)
  • Make name tags for children
  • Create children’s welcome bags that include: name tag, beanie babies, Alice the Chalice coloring pages, children’s version of 7 principles, comic book, plastic chalice, legos
  • Use children in following: bell ringer; chalice lighters; ushering; readings; story tellers; greeters
  • Pose the question to them, “would any of you like to help me with the worship?”
  • Pose the question to ourselves, “How do we get in deeper relationship with our children?”
  • Create a service primarily led by the children; Art show; Parents Chalice Circle (advisory group) to meet after next service; 3 hour program that includes 1. RE 2. worship and 3. community work.
  • Include more energetic activities for the children that are more kinetic and want more movement opportunities (arts and crafts are not for everyone)

Reflections on Stewardship

Connie reminded us of our attitudes about money revealed in the following saying: “We (Unitarian Universalists) are the people that will talk you to death about sex but never talk about the dollar bill.” We keep money a secret, she stated.

Money is the oil of change. We can be a place of abundance or a place of scarcity. The more money you give away, the more money you receive. While this may be counterintuitive it is nevertheless true, according to Connie. She contends that the more generous we are the more money we will receive.

One of her many ideas was to have the children come up with a charity/charitable cause to give to.

Action Steps

  • Everyone will meet after service on January 26 to continue looking at ideas to build Sunday School and obtain a permanent instructor
  • Qiyamah will be in conversation with Connie about “Best Practices”

 

PLEDGE RESULTS

 

Dick LaRhette, chairman of our Stewardship Committee, is happy to announce that we doubled our number of pledges this year. Our anticipated income outlook is good—about $20,000.

 

HELP WANTED: MUSICAL DIRECTOR

 

We are looking for a keyboard player for the following duties: attends and

plays at choir rehearsal (1 hour) & Sunday pickup rehearsal when

necessary (9:00 a.m.); Sunday, 10-11 a.m. plays hymns (2-3), prelude,

offertory, postlude and anthem; compensation commensurate with

experience and qualifications. Only serious candidates need apply.

Send short resume to revdocrok@gmail.com

 

QIYAMAH’S COLUMN

What It Means to Be Unitarian Universalist

I love a good workshop experience. It can be such a rich and productive experience with the right facilitator and agenda. While Connie Goodbread, The Unitarian Universalist Association’s consultant, was here she led a workshop that through a series of questions and conversations we concluded that we are the people of love, hope and courage! We arrived at this conclusion by asking and answering some hard questions like the following:

What is our center?

What is the deepest reason we exist?

Do our by-laws reflect our values?

Do we struggle to be what we say we are?

Who are we?

How are we changing the world together?

Do we understand who we are as Unitarian Universalists?

What is our covenant?

How are we connected to the larger movement?

On a more recent Saturday, March 1, Gail Nealon and I gathered with nine other individuals to explore Unitarian Universalism in a workshop aptly titled, What It Means to be a Unitarian Universalist. We explored the history of our UU faith tradition as well as the personal history of the UU Fellowship of St. Croix. Gail and I described the highlights of congregational life and our relationship with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations that is comprised of all the member UU congregations. We viewed a great video that you can find on U-Tube titled, Voices of a Liberal Faith – Unitarian Universalists. The video depicted diverse individuals (gay, straight, clergy, lay, old and young of different races, ethnicities and locations) talking about why they are Unitarian Universalists. Similarly, in our workshop introductions we paired off and had individuals interview their partners and then in the large group – sharing their names, where they were born, how they had heard about UUism and their first visit to a UU congregation. This is always such a rich experience to hear about the varied paths to UUism and to note the similarities and differences.

In the future we hope to share some of the Board of Director’s stories in our newsletter. I begin this process with a couple of stories from a pamphlet titled Journeys: The Many Paths to Unitarian Universalism edited by Edwin C. Lynn.

Story#1

I was brought up in the Lutheran church. During that upbringing I completed all the required rituals but was never an active member. After my marriage, my family was not active in church, even though the children went to Sunday School. When our oldest child reached confirmation age, I started questioning my beliefs and what I expected of my children. Freedom to choose and honesty seemed to be the two values I held most dear.

After a year of concentrated involvement and searching in the Lutheran church, I felt restrained from exercising those values and I left the church completely. After about a year it seemed there was a real void in my life and although I had family and friends, I felt very alone. Somewhere I had heard of the Unitarian Universalists, so I found their address and decided to go one Sunday, even though it was thirty-five miles away.

It was stimulating and exciting. I was warmly accepted and found people willing to share themselves. I never felt put down for my ideas and I went home feeling like a participant rather than an observer, and much more alive and aware. For the first time in my life, I discovered the need for community, and I find that need being met. I now feel I have a spiritual life and am free to explore it in any way I see fit. I have found a church that fits me, rather than me fitting the church. I am home!

Marilyn Bolin – Clarksville, Iowa

Story #2

I became a UU because I found a community for my sons and for myself – a community in which I need not defend my doubts but may pursue my own truth.

I found a community where I can express my outrage at inequity, injustice, and irrationality in human affairs; a community that assumes wrongs should be righted, and where the quality of life for all people is each person’s concern; a community where the principles of diversity endorse the acceptance of all races and cultures.

I found a community aware of the scope of human identity – the brevity and uncertainty of life and its weakness before natural forces on one hand, and the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual potential for unlimited growth on the other.

Within this environment I confront the mystery of divinity and the reality of humanity – a UU in a UU enterprise.

Gwendolyn Thomas – Aurora, Colorado

Blessings and see you in Service! Rev. Qiyamah

P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * http://www.uustcroix.org *uufstx@gmail.com

Rev. Qiyamah: * revdocrok@gmail.com 704-458-7676

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.