Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Croix

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March Newsletter

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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

 

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