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
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Til next month…..