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)


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: 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.

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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.



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.




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 *

Rev. Qiyamah: 704-458-7676


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

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.




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)





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.




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:




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







Our Sunday School children show off a craft project.


Qiyamah’s Column


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 *

Rev. Qiyamah: 704-458-7676



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 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


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:



(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 (
  • 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”




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.




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



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.


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 * *

Rev. Qiyamah: * 704-458-7676


February Newsletter

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.



Sunday, Feb. 9: Service “Celebrating Two Cultures: African American and African Crucian History” (Black History Month) by Rev. Qiyamah.

Please return your pledge forms at this service. Forms will be provided at the welcome table.


Sunday, Feb. 16: Covenant Group meeting at the home of Emy Thomas


Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7-8:30 PM at the Jewish Community Center: Power Point presentation and talk by Helen Engelhardt on Israeli/Palestinian cooperation (details below).


Sunday, Feb. 23: Service “How Do I Love You?” by Junia John Straker, CEO of Lutheran Social Services.


Saturday, March 1, 10AM-noon at the Jewish Community Center: Workshop: “What It Means to Be a Unitarian Universalist, led by Rev. Qiyamah and Gail Nealon(details below).


Pledging is important for budget planning! If you haven’t made your pledge yet for Calendar Year 2014, please do so this Sunday, Feb. 9, or you can mail it to the address at the end of this newsletter.



The Fellowship’s annual workshop entitled “What It Means to Be a Unitarian Universalist will be held Saturday, March 1, from 10 AM to noon at the Jewish Community Center. This workshop provides a brief overview on Unitarian Universalism and covers some of the following: History of Unitarian Universalism,
History of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix,
Congregational Dynamics that characterize UUism and the Fellowship,
Unitarian Universalist Association (denominational activities),
leadership and much more! This is a wonderful time to expand your
understanding of UUism ,ask questions and engage in deep soul
searching discussion. Light refreshments will follow. RSVP at



UU friend Helen Engelhardt made a 10-day visit to Israel and Palestine three and a half years ago led by a group called Rabbis for Human Rights. The focus was on some of the consequences of the Occupation of the West Bank and on the groups who are working cooperatively on many issues of mutual concern for Israelis and Palestinians. Helen will be showing a powerpoint program of highlights from that trip.

P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * *

Rev. Qiyamah: * 704-458-7676


Stewardship Weekend

Connie Goodbread, a representative of the southern district of UUA, which
includes the Virgin Islands, spent five days on St. Croix Jan. 8-13, 2014,
to help our fellowship shape a growth path for the immediate future. We
concentrated on growing membership, leadership, religious education and
income. A busy weekend included a workshop Saturday and a service Sunday.

1. Connie Goodbread of the regional office of the Unitarian Universalist
Association tells a children’s story, Five Smooth Stones.

2.With our minister, the Rev. Qiyamah Rahman, at the Jewish
Synagogue where our services are held.

3. Connie Goodbread with Jim Nealon, President, and Gail Nealon, Past
(Photos by Diane Moran)photo (6) photo (7) photo (8)

December Newsletter

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

Newsletter – January 2014

Happy New Year

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



Sunday, January 5: Covenant Group meets at the home of Emy Thomas. Leader: Gail Nealon.

Saturday, January 11, 10AM-NOON: STEWARDSHIP WORKSHOP at the synagogue with Connie Goodbread of the UU Regional Congregational Life Staff. She will lead a discussion about our expectations, dreams and concerns.A POTLUCK LUNCH will follow. Please bring a dish to share.


Sunday, January12, 10AM: “Gratitude and Generosity” by Connie Goodbread. (The UU values of hope, love, justice, courage and joy can change the world. How will we give them away?)

Please note: Immediately after the service Connie will meet with parents of the children in our Religious Education program to discuss their particular interests.


Sunday, January 19, 9AM: Covenant Group at the home of Emy Thomas, led by Gail Nealon. Please note change in starting time to watch a NOVA video about Machu Pichu, the subject of the day.

Sunday, January 26, 10 AM:.    “Owning Your Own Shadow” by Guest Speaker Nancy Ayer.  (The unacceptable characteristics of ourselves collect like dust bunnies under the carpets of our personality. The shadow is the despised or unacknowledged part of our being. Nancy will bring the shadow into the light through the perspectives of modern day news headlines and her own personal experiences.)    



A celebrated violin virtuoso will perform on St. Croix the evening of Sunday, January 12, at 5:30 PM at the St. Croix Reformed Church and we’re all invited. Elizabeth Pitcairn will play Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and the Bruch Violin Concerto on her legendary 1720 “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius violin, said to have inspired the Academy award-winning film, “The Red Violin”.  Ms. Pitcairn comes from a musical family and began playing the violin at age 3, making her debut with an orchestra at age 14. An alumna of the Marlboro Music Festival, she has performed with members of the Juilliard and Guarneri String Quartets among others. She is also currently the President and Artistic Director of the Luzerne Music Center in Lake Luzerne, New York.

She will be accompanied by pianist Barbara Podgurski, who is currently the Executive and Artistic Director of Musica Reginae Productions, a non-profit musical foundation devoted to bringing music and the arts to underserved schools in Queens, New York, as well as many other musical organizations and groups performing chamber music in New York City.

The concert is being offered to the St. Croix music loving community without charge, though contributions are welcome for the Reformed Church’s Vesper Series.

Ms. Pitcairn is a friend of UU Friend Helen Engelhardt, who arranged the concert.



 A Few 2013 Reflections


Family ties have taken on a new meaning for me being so far away from family and friends stateside. However, I have made new friends within the UUFSC community and the larger Island community. Family and friends are slowly beginning to visit now that I am settled in. As I sit writing these brief reflections I anticipate the arrival of my son Muhammad, the youngest of my three children, his wife, Michelle and my granddaughter, Malia. My granddaughter was born premature weighing one pound. Malia is now a hale 13 pounds and well on her way to becoming a vibrant toddler with little evidence of her birth trauma. Life is filled with miracles – small and large.  

During 2013 I became more familiar with some of the social issues that plague St. Croix. In my role as Medical Social Worker at the Caribbean Kidney Center I am exposed to some of the many health challenges facing residents of St. Croix and the paucity of resources. The ongoing crisis of the Juan Luis Hospital, our only hospital on Island, makes me nervous and yet some assure me that the government will never let it go under! In addition to the prevalence of asthma, diabetes and hypertension on the Island, I have discovered that the Virgin Islands has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of HIV Aids per capita outside of Africa. As a clergy person, I strongly believe there is a critical role that the faith community can play to address this epidemic. I hope that as a community we may see the need to channel some fiscal and human resources towards this troubling issue. I stand ready as your representative to the Interfaith Coalition (IFC) to lend my voice and efforts to this issue.

One of the exciting developments forthcoming from the IFC is the establishment of a Peace Center. After years of planning, sweat and tears, Carolyn Keys and supporters have birthed the Peace Center. You will be hearing more about these peace initiatives in future columns. We know that St. Croix has not been immune to the epidemic of violence that appears to be sweeping our nation. I was reminded of this when I was honored to deliver the invocation at the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims of VI for the Women’s Coalition on November 25. This is an annual event that honors all murdered victims. Family members, though small in number, came out, often wearing

T-shirts and other tributes to their murdered loved ones. I missed the Take Back the Night Annual Silent March and Rally held in October because I was working. It was reported that it was the largest in the history of the Women’s Coalition. However, I was able to attend the “Best Dance Party Ever,” an annual fundraiser of the Women’s Coalition.

As you know there are a number of worthy non-profits on Island doing great things for at risk populations. I often times see many of you at these worthy events! Thank you each for your active support. It is one of the things that I love about UUFSC – you put your faith in action! 

          Health insurance was another issue challenging our Island population in 2013. Nearly 30% of the VI population is currently living at or below poverty. In light of the decision to either implement a Health Insurance Exchange or to expand Medicaid, the Virgin Islands opted to expand Medicaid. A government appointed Health Reform Task Force determined that it would have cost the VI $251 million over five years to provide subsidies while the Territory is only receiving $24.9 million in one time federal funding. The exchanges would have pooled users to create cost effective rates outside of traditional employer issued plans. In a survey conducted in 2009 almost 1/3 of residents in the VI were uninsured. This is twice the United States average (15.4%). While the decision to expand Medicaid and forego the Health Insurance Exchanges allowed for expanded eligibility of many previously uninsured individuals there still exist many individuals in the Virgin Islands who do not currently have health insurance – including individuals who are self employed (artists, landscapers and consultants). This population of entrepreneurs, which given the economic climate we would want to nurture, are left either with the option to purchase their own policies because they work alone or go without health benefits.  

The year 2013 held many personal milestones for me: the acquisition of my driver’s license (I reluctantly relinquished my Illinois license), senior discount card, food handlers card and now my voter’s registration card. I am an official resident of St. Croix with all the documentation to prove it! I have also begun to read about and understand the history of the Island, including establishing a relationship with our Congressional Delegate, Donna Christensen. I actually took two kidney patients to her office to speak with her about some of their concerns living with End Stage Renal Disease. What I am learning about my beautiful, newly adopted home is that we often fall below the radar because we are small and geographically isolated. This history of being treated differently pains me since there is so much that needs to be done.        

To that end, at the UUFSC we are looking at ways to grow ourselves so that we can become a larger presence on the Island to more effectively impact some of these issues. Currently, we await a visit from Connie Goodbread, a Unitarian Universalist Association Consultant, and the UU Regional Congregational Life Staff Consultant. Connie is a Credentialed Director of Religious Education with over twenty years of experience in two congregations. Besides her many other gatherings including meeting with the Board, members and supporters of the Fellowship and our Sunday guest speaker, she has agreed to meet with parents and other supporters to hear about our vision for Life Span Religious Education. Having access to services and staff like Connie are just some of the benefits we derive from being a “Fair Share” congregation, that is paying our annual dues to the Unitarian Universalist Association. There are several funding sources that we are eligible for that I plan to submit future proposals (once I finish studying and pass my licensure exam for clinical social worker). 

And while 2013 was a stellar year in terms of membership growth with ten new members we also suffered the loss of our matriarch, Marge Tonks. Marge would be proud to learn of our progress toward growth and stewardship. As we move into 2014 I wish each of you and UUFSC all the very best. May we dream big and continue to look out for one another and continue to let our light shine brightly here on our beautiful Island of St. Croix.


Blessings, Rev. Qiyamah


P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * *

                                   Rev. Qiyamah: * 704-458-7676


December Newsletter

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




 Sunday, December 8: Justice Sunday

Speaker: Carolyn Forno, Assistant Director of the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix

 Sunday, December 15: Covenant Group at the home of Emy Thomas, led by Gail Nealon.We will be finishing our series: What UUs Believe.

 Sunday, December 22: Holidays/Holy Days Musical Tribute: Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice and Kwanzaa.  -1Led by Rev. Qiyamah Rahman and pianist Marsha Shuman.





Save the weekend of January 11-12 for UU. We will have the privilege of hosting an expert from the regional UU staff, here to help us define goals for the future and how to meet them. Connie Goodbread of the UU Regional Congregational Life Staff will lead a workshop on Saturday and a service on Sunday. See details following.


Nothin’ Standin’ in Our Way

Saturday, January 11, 10 AM to 2 PM: Stewardship Workshop with pot luck lunch at the synagogue.Please come and take part in a deep discussion about our congregation that Connie will facilitate.  We will have an opportunity to talk about our expectations, dreams and concerns.  Connie is an organic facilitator and so the discussion will go in the direction we need it to go.  She brings expertise in congregation development and a deep love for Unitarian Universalism.  Connie considers us the experts when it comes to our congregation.  She will help us to articulate our vision and develop our mission.  We will discuss growth and size issues and how we might appeal to younger people and families.  Please come and join in this exciting discussion.


Gratitude and Generosity

Sunday, January 12, 10 AM — Stewardship Service led by Connie at the synagogue.  Her sermon is titled Gratitude and Generosity. She says about her sermon:  “Gratitude and generosity are instrumental in living a happy life.  We are the keepers of this moment. We are the writers of this chapter.  What happiness shall we give the world?  What shall we leave the children?  What are we called to be in the world?  What will our legacy be?  Unitarian Universalism has at its foundation in deep values of hope, love, justice, courage and joy.  These are the values that can change the world.  How will we give then away?”

About Connie

Connie Goodbread, one of our Regional Congregational Life Staff, has served as the Program Consultant for Florida, Mid-South and Northern New England Districts.  She also served as the Interim District Executive for St Lawrence District and the District Executive for Mid-South District.

Connie has studied Healthy Congregation development and congregational conflict identification and transformation with Rev. Dr. Peter Steinke.  Prior to her district work, Connie was a Healthy Congregations and Conflict consultant. Connie is a trainer of Dr. Steinke’s Healthy Congregations process and has written a Unitarian Universalist supplement to Dr. Steinke’s work called The Smart Church.

She has co-authored an emerging congregation process called, The Chrysalis Way. Connie is part of a team that redesigned and leads the Dwight Brown Leadership Experience and Southern Unitarian Universalist Leadership Experience.  Connie has also co-authored Your Faith Home - a new UUA pamphlet.

She is a Credentialed Director of Religious Education with over twenty years of experience in two different congregations.

Connie lives in Palm Harbor Florida with her husband Bob.  She has two Granddaughters who are the light of her life.


COLLECTION FOR PHILIPPINES Our fellowship has made a donation to the relief effort following the devastating typhoon in the Philippines.  We sent $200 from our Social Concerns budget plus a special collection from the congregation taken on November 24 to the UU Service Committee’s fund directed toward that relief.



It is hard to believe that the conclusion of the year is just around the corner. One of the highlights of the season is the Holidays/Holy Days Musical Tribute featuring a wide array of music. The Musical Tribute integrates components of education, worship and entertainment. The educational component familiarizes us with ritualized expressions that reflect the values and beliefs of varied faith traditions including Unitarian Universalism. The worship component features rituals and songs that capture the beauty and sacredness of the Holy Day/Season while inviting attendees into a space of reverence and contemplation. And finally, the entertainment element simply captures the pure joy of music and singing. Our December 22 Service will highlight the following Holy Days/ Seasons: Hanukkah; Christmas; Solstice; and Kwanzaa.     

Religious Education (RE)

Spiritual and intellectual growth for children, youth and adults remains one of the most compelling challenges facing faith communities. No religious movement can thrive without a vibrant commitment to religious education or lifespan faith development (as it is now called).

Our RE program for children and youth is an important part of our Fellowship and one that we are working to stabilize. We strive to provide a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for our children and youth. We honor and respect each child as a valued individual with unique gifts to share.

Our desire is to provide an opportunity for the children and youth to embark upon self-discovery. We provide the foundation of religious community and Unitarian Universalist values that our children can ground themselves in as they grow and develop.

We do not teach one truth. We guide our children by allowing them to explore many truths (theologies, ideologies, and philosophies) while establishing their Unitarian Universalist identity. We believe that this exploration allows them to find the path that is right for them – while knowing they are an essential part of our Unitarian Universalist community.

Unitarian Universalist Principles for Children

We Believe:

  • ·         That each and every person is important;
  • ·         That all people should be treated fairly and with kindness;
  • ·         That we should accept one another and keep on learning together;
  • ·         That each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life;
  • ·         That all persons should have a voice in the things that concern them;
  • ·         In working for a peaceful, fair, and free world;
  • ·         In caring for our planet earth, the home we share with all living things.

(You can find the adult version of the UU Principles in the Singing the Living Tradition (hymnal) #594 and on the back of the Sunday Order of Service)


P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * *

Rev. Qiyamah: * revdocrok@gmail.com704-458-7676



October Newsletter


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


Sunday, October 6, 10 AM: Covenant Group at the home of Emy Thomas

Sunday, October 13, 10 AM: ** “Exploring Our Diverse Theologies” **Rev. Qiyamah Rahman. **In preparation for this service Re. Qiyamah requests your assistance. Please go to the following:  ( and click on “get started”. You will have to register so that your results can be sent to you. The 20 brief questions focus on your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature etc. The quiz will tell you what religion (if any) you practice. The results will be sent to you. Please send your quiz results to me at by Tuesday, October 8. Your name is optional but along with the quiz results please indicate whether you are: 1. a member, 2. friend (not a member but attend) or 3. visitor. This information will allow me to examine the theologies and ideologies present at UU Fellowship of St. Croix and the percentages represented. Thank you for your cooperation. Rev. Qiyamah**


Sunday, October 20, 10 AM: Covenant Group at the home of Emy Thomas

Sunday, October 27, 10 AM: “Sankofa: Using the Past to Inform the Future” Guest Speaker: Linda Hodge


Note from Your Board President

Welcome back everyone. I am excited about a new season with a great selection of program topics and music. It looks like some volunteerism among the fellowship will keep the religious education program active until a more permanent solution is found. Cat Franks tells me that the UU RE curriculum has a very friendly on line component. I will have to look it up. A new committee, Stewardship Committee, was formed at our last board meeting to more formally consider our continuing financial support. You will be reading more in the months to come.

Best regards,

Jim Nealon




Fired Up and Ready to Go!

The new 2013/14 Fellowship year has begun and I am fired up and ready to go! Those of you that were not in attendance at our first service on September 8 missed our annual Water Communion. It is a time set aside to reconvene the new Fellowship year with stories of travel, camaraderie and adventures of family and friends over the summer. The September 22 service was special for two reasons, number one, the theme – Reconciliation and Forgiveness, both important spiritual practices which when engaged with consistency and intentionality can open one’s heart to embrace experiences and individuals that connect us to our humanity that might otherwise be impossible. The two poignant and heartbreaking stories I shared depicted individuals that were able to reconcile their personal tragedies and act on their values of forgiveness as taught in their faith traditions. These amazing examples personified the transformative power of love.

Another reason the services were special: Jemille Vialet, our new Fellowship Musician, was present to grace us with his musical talents. We are fortunate that the small island of St. Croix has so many talented musicians. In that same vein, the small but growing Fellowship Choir under the tutelage of Donald Coley continues to explore new music and grow its numbers. Shirley Ziegler, choir member and pianist, is currently off-island taking care of family business and we miss her. We are holding her in our hearts and prayers and await her return. 

Thanks to each of you that were able to attend Margery Tonks’ Celebration of Life held at the Jewish Community Center on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Marsha Shuman did a fine job having created an experience that reflected Marge’s choices about how she wanted her family and friends to gather to say good-bye. It is hard to believe that we will not see Marge’s smiling face in the pews or in the social hall after service or hear her melodious voice in the choir and her insistent voice reminding us of our commitment to social justice.  I for one will miss the feedback she always had for me about my sermon talks. I think that is why I was able to recently preach a noteless sermon because she had given me her vote of confidence so many times. We are preparing a small Memorial Table in the overflow room with a few of her personal items. If you have something for the table please see me!

As our small community stretches and grows I invite you to think about ways that you can find to be of service. Grab me after service in the social hall or pick up the phone and call me. I want to hear what you are thinking and ways that you might want to be involved. One of our greatest needs right now is for a Religious Education Teacher. We have run ads in the Avis, made announcements during service and generally tapped every option imaginable. Jan Giles, one of our members, has agreed to take on the responsibility once a month temporarily. What I am hoping is that others of you will agree to teach and rotate Sundays. As some of the Sunday Schoolers said at First Unitarian Church of Chicago, “Sunday School is way cool!” If you want to find out for yourself then speak to me after service or call me at 704 458 7676.

See you in service! Rev. Qiyamah


P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * *

Rev. Qiyamah: 704-458-7676

President Jim Nealon: 340-332-2850

Newsletter September 2013

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

Newsletter September 2013

Welcome back! We will resume regular scheduling this month. Some of us were able to keep in touch this summer thanks to two discussion groups run by Rev. Qiyamah and one memorable evening of kayaking through the bioluminescent bay in Salt River. Your Board of Directors and the Rev. Qiyamah are planning an interesting and stimulating year for us. The schedule for the rest of the calendar year follows.


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

Sunday, September 8, 10 AM: Water Communion Ceremony (see description below).

Sunday, September 15, 10 AM: Covenant group led by Rev. Qiyamah at home of Marge Tonks – RSVP to Rev. Rahman (704-458-7676 or email

Sunday, September 22, 10 AM: “Reconciliation as a Spiritual Practice” by Rev. Qiyamah and Olu Massey. 

9/8 Water Communion Ceremony

9/22 Reconciliation as a Spiritual Practice

10/13 Exploring Theological Diversity: Inner and Outer Journey

10/27 Sankofa: Using the Past to Inform the Future

11/10 War and Peace

11/24 Practicing Gratitude

12/8 Standing on the Side of Love: Justice Sunday

12/22 Holidays and Holy Days: Musical Tribute

WANTED: Religious Education Teacher

Wanted – Individual to teach Religious Education for children’s Sunday School at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Croix in Hermon Hill on 2nd and 4th Sundays 10 am to 11 am. Using existing curricula and adapting lesson plans, the individual will carry out the following duties:

Work with minister to adapt and deliver one hour lesson plan to children ranging in ages from pre-school to twelve years old.

Submit a short monthly report to Religious Education Committee plus annual report in May, 2014.

Experience – class room teaching, previous Sunday school or student majoring in education or religion.

Only serious applicants apply with resume to Rev. Qiyamah A. Rahman: P.O. Box 912 Frederiksted, VI 00841


New Music Accompanist


The Church has hired Jemille Vialet as accompanist for the coming year.  Jemille was referred by Marsha Shuman, our recently retired musician. Jemille studied with Marsha from 1999-2009.  He is a member of Elyte Band (2009-present) as leader, piano and vocals.  The band plays R&B, Reggae and Ballads. He has played at the casino and twice for Divi Hotel for New Years.  Jemille has played various recitals for Shuman Piano Studios, for a number of shows and on local television programs backing up singers.  Jemille has recently finished a bachelors degree in physics and is on island for one year.  He promises to be a nice addition to the church’s music program this year.  Welcome.


I trust each of you has had a great summer and that you are ready to resume the Fellowship year with gusto.  For the majority of Unitarian Universalists stateside the church year begins in September. So starting 2013 we will begin our services in September. We will continue to meet the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month through May, 2014, when we break for summer. It is my dream that one day soon we will continue services over the summer.

Water Communion

Each year many Unitarian Universalist congregations begin the new congregational year with a water communion. This Unitarian Universalist ritual invites each member to bring some water symbolic of a summer memory, trip etc. to briefly share. The water is poured in a common container – thus holding and blending all the memories into one as we begin our year together as one community.  You can take a cup of water from the welcome table if you forget to bring your own water. We will later invite the children to take the water outside to pour into the garden – thus nurturing the plants with our summer memories.

Interfaith Coalition (IFC)

As the Fellowship-appointed representative to the Interfaith Coalition Board I have been occupied with various responsibilities that include the Multicultural Film Series and the Interfaith Steele Drum Youth Summer Camp. The Summer Camp concluded with a student performance showcasing their newly acquired musical skills with attendance from their doting parents.

P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * *

Rev. Qiyamah: 704-458-7676

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