Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Young Adults Invited to Urban UU Social Justice Weekend

The UU Legislative Ministry invites young adults from around California to an incredible weekend — a statewide Young Adult UU Social Justice field trip for those in ther 20s and 30s. “Out of the Sanctuary into the Heart of the City”  is a great chance to build strong bonds with other young adults, create your UU spiritual identity beyond church walls, and learn skill in social justice advocacy.

California needs you!  The world needs you!

Go to http://uulmca.org/documents/flyers/flyerLA.pdf to see a flyer.
In our congregation, members, friends and guests in their 20s & 30s have attended UUSS events together and gone to the Second Saturday Art Walk. New young adults may inquire at the Connection Central table in the foyer after services, or may send an email to roger@uuss.org to be added to the email list.  Soon there will be a Facebook page by and for young adult UUs!

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Sermon: Words & Deeds of Prophetic Women & Men

The talk-radio ranting and Fox News fulminating on the right, the gnashing of teeth and temptation to despair on the left and center-left make me look for inspiration to those brave people who changed history and hearts by their words and deeds.  So, in the wake of the recent Massachusetts election and reactions to the President’s State of the Union address, I offer this old sermon.

Sermon from M. L. King Sunday, January 20, 2008,  Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship

Invocation

For the gift of life and the gift of this new day, let us be grateful and let us rejoice.  On a day of deep cold, we gather in this place for the warmth of companionship, the shelter of community; a time of rest, reflection, and renewal in silence, song, and the spoken word.  May our gathering together enlarge our souls and renew our commitment to the human values we hold most sacred.  Let us rejoice at this time we have together.  Amen.

Sermon Part I

Today’s sermon is one in a series about the Sources of our tradition of liberal religion.  Of the seven mentioned in the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the second source reads:  “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been one of those prophetic people.  He was born 79 years ago last Tuesday and murdered at the age of 39.  By his own account, he had an easy and fulfilled life growing up, with concerned and loving parents and “no basic problems or burdens.”[i] He wrote that he sailed through all stages of his education, ending with graduate school in theology, and became a Baptist preacher like his well-regarded father.  However, in 1955, as a new minister in Montgomery, Alabama, he became the president of Montgomery’s organization behind the boycott of the segregated bus system.  The boycott lasted over a year.  From the start King and his family received threats by letter and phone call.  The hostile threats increased and he began to take more of them seriously.  He later said: “I felt myself faltering and growing in fear.”  One night, when his wife was asleep and he was dozing off, “the telephone rang.  An angry voice said, ‘Listen, nigger, we’ve taken all we want from you.  Before next week, you’ll be sorry you ever came to Montgomery.’”

King said: “I hung up, but I could not sleep.  It seemed that all of my fears had come down on me at once.”  He got up and walked the floor, then went to the kitchen and “heated a pot of coffee.  I was ready to give up.  I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing to be a coward.  In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had almost gone, . . . I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud:…. ‘I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right.  But now I am afraid.  The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers.  I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.’”

Then, King said, he experienced the presence of the Divine. “It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice, saying, ‘Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth.  God will be at your side forever.’  Almost at once my fears began to pass from me.  My uncertainty disappeared.  I was ready to face anything.  The outer situation remained the same, but God had given me inner calm.”

Three nights afterward, their home was bombed, but King later said it did not remove his strength and trust.  When I read this passage, it became understandable to me that King’s favorite Gospel hymn was “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”  It’s in our gray hymnal at #199.  I invite you to rise as you are able as we sing this hymn in the spirit of solidarity.

Hymn: #199:  “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”  Hear it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY2xIoNKXD8

Sermon Part II

It has been written that the social purpose for leaders and institutions of religion is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  This is the role of the prophetic person—to help the hurting and speak up for the oppressed, even if it creates tension or makes us uncomfortable to do so.  It nearly always makes me uncomfortable to do so.

In February of 2007 I was recruited to be part of a delegation of religious leaders and union organizers to the airport in San Jose, California, where I was living.  Our purpose was to voice concerns and make requests about the treatment and wages of workers for a company called Aviation Safeguards.  This company is a contractor for the airlines, and its workers do not have union representation.  These are the non-airline employees who check in baggage at the curb, take passengers in wheel chairs to their flights, and check our ID at the start of the line to the x-ray security area.  They make low wages and have no health insurance, except for a plan with premiums they cannot afford.  A few have been there for nearly 20 years, and their pay has barely increased.  Some had begun union-organizing activity, and had been intimidated for it.

Our delegation met in the baggage claim area to confer about our purpose and plan.  Before heading up to find the company manager, we held hands in a circle and someone led a prayer.  From afar, it may have looked as if we were praying for lost luggage. I was wearing a black shirt, white clerical collar and a dark suit. I do this for demonstrations in order to be recognized as a clergyperson, to show that religious people are bearing witness to the cause at hand.  We found the manager and asked for a commitment that he and his firm would not interfere with union activities. After all, it’s the law.  He gave us that commitment. Weeks later, however, stories came to us of unfair treatment as retaliation. Some had had their hours cut, had been denied vacation requests, or had been let go. One was fired while tending to a family member having surgery.

So, we went back.  Six weeks later the union and the Interfaith Council held a demonstration outside the airport, near the taxi pickup area.  In spring sunlight we sang songs and heard speeches in English and Spanish.  A few of us prepared to go in the terminal to confront the manager.  The crowd prayed over us and wished us well.  I needed it!  This was a task that I had been talked into, not one I’d looked for. With me was the pastor of a conservative African American congregation. This took place during the Jewish Passover, and we carried with us a small basket of horseradish root—bitter herbs to give to the boss.  Along with us were a few off-duty workers and a member of the staff of our local State representative.

Inside the terminal, we found the Aviation Safeguards manager standing by the line of people waiting to go through the X-ray security line.  We introduced ourselves and started to voice our concerns about the workers.  He barked at us, “Get back behind that line. Arriving passengers come down this aisle.”  We moved back, but asked him if he would meet with us.  He said:  “I know all I need to know.”  From 15 feet away, my clergy friend spoke loudly, voicing our concerns about the workers.  The manager pretended not to hear.  The departing travelers passing through the security line did hear us. I said little and felt rather shy, but my friend was eloquent and powerful.  He announced we had brought an offering of bitter herbs to leave with the company; he said it recalled the oppression of the Hebrew children working under Pharaoh.  After a few minutes he stopped talking.  I revved up and spoke, repeating the same themes.

A few times we drifted back into the aisle, and the manager yelled:   “Get back, move over there.” We finished our pleading, went down to the baggage claim area, and met up with a couple of young union organizers.  Two police officers came up, asked us for our ID’s, and asked what we had been up to.  We explained why we were there.

My friend inquired “Why have you been sent to talk to us?”

“For causing a public disturbance,” an officer said.  I thought, “I wonder if I’m going to get arrested.  Do I want to get arrested?”

“Are you detaining us?”  my colleague demanded.   Uh-oh, I thought. “No, we’re asking you to wait for the sergeant.” This turned out to be a great opportunity to explain the issue to more people, and we did.  As I waited, I told the officers that we were standing up for the workers as they were standing up for themselves.  Soon the city’s manager on duty for the whole airport came to see what the problem was.  I told him about the intimidation the workers had faced, as well as their low wages.  This was news to him, so he said he’d ask Aviation Safeguards about it.  Then the sergeant showed up.  In calm but firm tones he told us we should have stayed outside the airport at the union rally, in an approved area.  I was calm too, and explained why we had come inside. Then he let us go.

That morning at the airport was hardly a risk of my safety or career, merely a donation of my time and presence. Bearing witness to the struggles of others may not call for much courage, but our presence can encourage them as they take real risks to improve their lives and their communities.

Had I gone to jail that day, I would have followed in the footsteps of many people.  In the Interfaith Council I knew old Catholic priests who couldn’t remember how many times they’d gotten  themselves arrested.

In our faith tradition, the most famous person jailed for taking a stand is Henry David Thoreau.  He was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts.  It was a Unitarian environment in which Henry David grew up and was educated, including Harvard College.  Unitarian minister and author Ralph Waldo Emerson was Thoreau’s friend and spiritual mentor.

Thoreau got a job as a schoolteacher but resigned in protest of the expectation for teachers to flog their students. When he was 29, he was jailed for having refused for two years to pay the poll tax.  His first refusal was to protest that poll taxes prevented the poor from voting, including free African Americans.  His second refusal, after which he was picked up by the authorities, was to protest this country’s invasion of Mexico the same year, 1846.  It was a terrible war, whose goal was to take over Mexican territory for American interests.  That’s how we got New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California.[ii] It was based on exaggerations and trumped-up accusations of Mexican aggression. Thoreau said the war was an example of a few people “using the . . . government as their tool . . .” for their own profit.  He resisted an evil system by withholding taxes that funded it.

It’s true that Henry David spent only one night in jail, but “very few people went to jail on principle in the mid-nineteenth century,” according to author Paul Hawken.[iii] Eighteen months later Thoreau gave a lecture about this.  Though famous as the book Civil Disobedience, his words were not published under this title until 1866, after Thoreau’s death.  His original title was more assertive:  “Resistance to Civil Government.”[iv] His lecture included the word civil only four (4) times but used the words disobedience and obedience not once!  His word was resistance!

Thoreau’s example influenced Mohandas K. Gandhi, an Indian leader of nonviolent resistance, first as a lawyer in South Africa where he lived under Apartheid, and then in his own country of India as the leader of the struggle for independence from Britain.  Ghandi and his followers knew the insides of many jail cells.  They knew the feel of clubs, fists and batons on their bodies.  What Thoreau modeled as a moral imperative of nonconformity for any person, Gandhi made into a tool for a mass movement. Gandhi later described the underlying principle as Satyagraha [SATYA-greh], which means “holding to the truth” in Hindi. Ghandhi called it “truth-force.” Sometimes he called it “love force.”  As a three-step instrument of change, “truth-force” entails protesting an unjust law, and if it is not changed, breaking the law, and then accepting the consequences of breaking the law.[v]

Ghandi’s example had an influence on the African American Civil Rights movement.  In Montgomery, Alabama, a young civil rights worker named Rosa Parks was well trained in nonviolent resistance tactics. One of the many segregated institutions in the American Apartheid of the South was the public transit system.  One day in 1955 Rosa entered a Montgomery bus from the front door, which was forbidden to blacks.  The driver dragged her off.  Some time later after a long’s days work, she entered the same bus, driven by that same driver.  She took a seat in the Negro section, in the back of the bus. It was crowded, so when a white man not could find an open seat, he told Rosa to stand and give up her seat.  She refused, and the bus driver had her arrested.  The result was a protest by the black community and a boycott of the public transit system.  It lasted over a year!  Martin Luther King, Jr. was 25 when, unexpectedly, he was nominated and elected to head the organization. At first, the King family had guns and armed guards in their home; after all, the couple had a two-week-old baby girl.  Bayard Rustin, a friend and leader, insisted that this was unacceptable—nonviolence meant no use of guns, even for self-defense.  Glenn Smiley, a Methodist minister, gave King three books:  The Power of Nonviolence, by Richard Gregg, Gandhi’s Autobiography, and Civil Diobedience, by Thoreau.   After the boycott, King gave credit to all three books for their influence on the boycott.

Such examples of courage and sacrifice can be daunting to us, even if we care deeply about fairness, justice and human dignity. As we heard earlier in the reading from Dr. King, the injustice and violence of the world can make us feel vulnerable and weak.

It’s normal to be afraid to stick our necks out, and understandable.  Somehow, though, ordinary people have done just that. Perhaps their fears get overtaken by their frustration, and they stand up to demand what they know is right.  Perhaps they are filled with a spirit they did not expect.  Perhaps they are buoyed up with courage they believe comes from a source outside them, whether it be from the Divine or from the strength of beloved community. Emerson’s book Nature inspired Henry David Thoreau with its concept of nature’s mutual dependence and inter-connectedness.  From this, Thoreau drew the principle of human kinship.  He was grounded by the idea of human inter-connectedness.

So many of the prophetic people we admire seem to speak from a deep grounding in a religious tradition, spiritual practice, or value system. Whether orthodox, secular or somewhere in between, even with non-stop turmoil around them, such people seem to know their center and return to it for strength.

What does this mean for those who are reluctant radicals, or not radical at all?  What about those of us whose comforts, personal commitments or fears hold us back from all-out activism?  As a shy activist myself, I can think of a few things.

We can be there for others, for those who call for dignity for themselves and their loved ones.  We can listen, and be present to those who need encouragement.  We can lend our voices to the civilians in other lands who live under oppression or live in fear of military attack—by our own country.  Without favor to any politician or party, we can raise tough questions about justice and fairness.  Whether with our taxes refused, money given, letters written, placards of protest held high at busy intersections, or time contributed, we can refuse to participate in unjust or deadly systems. We can lift up the human values that we hold sacred.

This is of primary importance—to ask:  What grounds us and empowers our work?

It’s not guilt, and not self-sacrifice either.  Feelings of guilt do not ground us.  They do not empower us or enlarge our sense of self.  What calls to you?  What gives you courage?

Speaking in 1967, Dr. King explained the reason for his two decades of prophetic ministry.  He said:  “I must be true to my conviction that I share with all humanity the calling to be a child of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of kinship.”[vi]

For Gandhi,  it was truth-force or Satyagraha. Sometimes he called it love-force.

According to Unitarian Universalist professor of religion Sharon Welch, what empowers those of us who are better off to work for justice for those who are oppressed must be an expansive sense of love.  Welch writes:  “[Love] is far more energizing than guilt, duty or self-sacrifice.  Love for others leads us to accept accountability (in contrast to feeling guilt).  [It] motivates our search for ways to end our complicity with structures of oppression.  Solidarity does not require self-sacrifice but an enlargement of the self to include community with others.”[vii]

Solidarity means that we do not look the other way.  We don’t let others look the other way.  For example, as Paul Hawken notes, in the American South, when segregation was maintained by the power of law and by the terrorism of lynching, “in every community, … poor whites took it upon themselves to be enforcers of the … system while the middle class averted its eyes.”[viii] Martin Luther King, writing in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, asked people not to look away, and not to shy away from the tension that comes with change. He wondered whether “the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the [member of the racist organization], but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.”  (85)

Like so many others who do care, I have personal commitments, I am busy, distracted. Yet sometimes I get involved and engaged; I do something.  Almost always it’s because I’ve been invited; someone has asked me to go.  I show up, and then I learn. I meet people and learn what their lives are like and their goals and hopes.  I see the courage required to stand up for oneself and for others.  This inspires me.  It moves me to show up again.  I learn that I have so much to learn—about myself, my world, my neighbors.

Henry David Thoreau said:  “[It] matters not how small the beginning may seem to be:  What is once well done is done forever.”

Martin Luther King said: “The time is always ripe to do right.” He must have intended these words for those of us who peer out of our comfort zones, wanting a better world and waiting for the time to act. Maybe this is a mantra for those times when we are invited to show up, or just urged to listen.  Maybe it’s a mantra to use to overcome shyness and ask another to come along with us: “The time is always ripe to do right.”

Let us all move forward into life, encouraged by those whose deeds and words have improved our world and enriched our lives.  Let us be centered, grounded, aware and connected. May we nurture our kinship with all people and enlarge our own souls.

May it be so.  Amen.


[i] “Our God Is Able,” a sermon in Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1981), p. 113-14.  All quotations in Part I of the sermon are from these pages.

[ii] Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken (New York: Viking, 2007), p. 77.

[iii] Blessed Unrest, p. 76.

[iv] Blessed Unrest, p. 76.

[v] Blessed Unrest, p. 78.

[vi] Address given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in  New York City, April 4, 1967.

[vii] A Feminist Ethic of Risk, by Sharon D. Welch, Fortress Press, 1990, p. 172.

[viii] Blessed Unrest, p. 81.



Stewardship Campaign Testimonial!
January 27, 2010, 5:41 pm
Filed under: Becoming and Being Part of a UU Congregation

All the Ways We Grow

Introduction:  Our Stewardship Campaign co-chairs for 2010-11 are Ginger and JoAnn.  On their shoulders rest the visions, goals, programs, dreams, and staff members’ daily meals for the next fiscal year at UUSS.  Seems like a heavy burden, no?   Yet they stand tall and proud—because they know they will have lots of help from many others—both in operating the campaign  and in giving generously!  Here is Ginger’s reflection about the ways she has grown through involvement in UU congregational life and the ways she has grown in commitment.  — Roger

Testimonial by Ginger Enrico, Jan. 3, 2010

I was raised un-churched, and I was always happy with that.  As an adult I attended various church services, but nothing clicked for me.  One religious element or another would always make it a “not me” experience.

Then one day when I was in my early thirties, I visited the UU church where I lived in Dallas – The service began with a reading of principles – about justice, equity, the inherent worth & dignity of each person, and the free pursuit of truth & meaning.

To see values dear to me printed in the order of service, to hear them recited in unison by the congregation jolted me.  I had no idea there was a church like this!  Those principles and the congregation’s covenant resonated with me.

I had not been searching; I had not been at sea. But this experience was so meaningful to me that it brought tears to my eyes.  That must be when I started becoming a Unitarian Universalist.

So what does it mean to be UU – to be a part of the  UU denomination? To be part of  this Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento?

For me, it means we have support and guidance from this institution and from each other – as fellow travelers – as we grow, as we serve, as we find our many ways, whatever they may be.

One of the most important things  it means to me is that we have a village to help raise our children.

In this stewardship drive we are reflecting on how we grow and develop here.

As I think about how I have grown, I think about the fact that when I was growing up, I didn’t learn much about how to work with other people to get things done, I didn’t learn much about working in community.

So when I started in church I needed an education!

It began in my first church home and it continues here. I’m grateful for the patient teaching I’ve gotten from fellow congregants, from ministers, and from staff.

I find working, being in community to be fun, to be hard, to be humbling, and to be rewarding.

And, over the years, as I have worked in Religious Education, and served on intern committees, and on planning committees I have sought to develop my spirit.

Here, I find support in the Spiritually Grounded Leadership course.  In that group we work to develop our spiritual selves and to be grounded in our leadership roles.  I think of it as developing and combining internal spirituality and external practicality.

I am most grateful though, for the development of my children as they grew up UU. That Dallas church and this UUSS church each provide a village to help raise children.

Now our grandchildren – Roy’s and mine – are going to Sunday school and to OWL [Our Whole Lives] in Texas.  I hope the members and friends there continue to be generous so our grandchildren can grow and flourish in a strong, vibrant church.

And I want the children and grandchildren here to grow and flourish in this church.

We UUSS members and friends have given generously here.   These are challenging times.  I think probably most of us are making less or have less than we did a couple of years ago.  Roy and I are no exception.  Yet this church needs more in order to hold its course and to be strong and vibrant.  So, Roy and I considered our pledge and decided we can raise it by 10% this year.

As you consider your pledge, please think about all the ways we develop, grow, and serve together here at UUSS.

Please think of the village that UUSS is now and the village it can be in the future – for the children and youth, for us gray-hairs and for everyone in between .

Thank you.

[Click to read more about this pledge campaign!]



Inspiring Pledge Drive Testimonial

Sunday we heard heartfelt reflections about what this congregation has meant to Lisa and Tom  in their few short but meaningful years of involvement here.   The text of Lisa’s testimonial is reprinted below, at my request.

My husband Tom and I have been members of this church for almost three years.  We were both raised Catholic and married in the Catholic Church, but to say we weren’t devout would be putting it mildly.

I am proud to be part of a religious community that encourages freedom of thought and affirms the worth and dignity of everyone.

When I first read our mission statement, values statement, and covenant, I felt good knowing that I could say these words aloud every week and really mean them. When my uncle married his partner just a few days before Proposition 8 passed, it was comforting to know that my congregation supports their right to marry. Coming to our Sunday morning services lifts my spirits, especially when I’ve had a tough week. Besides getting involved in groups that share my particular interests and talents, I’ve also been exposed to new experiences, like attending a peace vigil and writing my own prayers as part of an adult enrichment class.

There are many reasons why I’m glad to be here, but the most important reason is this: The best way for me to grow into the person I want to be is to surround myself with people who have the qualities I admire.  I’m proud to be among you.  For Tom and me, supporting this church financially is a privilege and a joy. We hope you feel the same, and that you will pledge generously. Thank you.  [Given Jan. 24, 2010]

News: The co-chairs of the 2010-2011 Stewardship Campaign have organized Cottage Conversations to be hosted in various locations.  UUSS Members and Friends have offered to provide their homes.  These small gatherings are ways to introduce people to one another and promote conversation concerning around goals for the next budget year as well as our thoughts and feelings about the congregation.  A minister and board member will be at each event.  (I’m attending at least four of these meetings, and will bring a Ziplock bag with me and raiding the snack table.)   Invitations were mailed out Monday to each pledging Member and Friend.  If you received an invitation, you may click on their names above to RSVP and ask them any questions.    One can be sent to you if you are ready to be part of our Stewardship Campaign to support UUSS in the coming budget year.   If don’t receive an invitation this week, please contact the office at 483-9283, or office@uuss.org.

Click the link to learn more about All the Ways We Grow.



An Outsider’s Perspective: All the Ways that We Grow

February Newsletter Column

An Outsider’s Perspective:
All the Ways that We Grow

By the Family Minister

I was hired as a consulting minister in 2008 by the Board of Trustees.  This is such a busy place and I’m so busy that I’ve been immersed in the work and have not taken time out for the reflective and advisory tasks of my “consulting role.”  I plan to do that in coming newsletter columns, weblog postings and email messages.
For now let me say just a few words about what I see here.  The theme of the 2009-10 Stewardship Campaign is All the Ways the We Grow.  From my perspective as a relative outsider, everything we offer is an opportunity for growth.

In less than two years I have grown in skills, knowledge, appreciation, and joy.

How have you grown since you’ve been coming here?  In what ways do you seek to grow?

This is a congregation of spiritual depth, social concern, creativity, caring, trust and fun.   It’s a congregation of leadership and vision.  Three Board-appointed task forces have begun to study an implement major goals of our long-range plan.  Changes to the physical look of our campus will make it more welcoming to the many new folks who come seeking connection and insight.  This is a congregation of loving relationships.  I know that primarily through Doug Kraft, whose affection and compassion have been a blessing to this congregation for a decade of ministry.  Working with him has been a source of growth for me.
This is a congregation of joyful involvement.  Over 20 people have registered for the next Newcomers’ Membership Orientation.  Adult Enrichment Classes have range from 8 to 15 people.  Spirit Play classes (for grades 1-5) have had 20-26 in attendance.  We have a cadre of trained and committed adult volunteer teachers for our Sunday morning classes, junior and senior high youth groups, and  Our Whole Lives (OWL), a values-based, comprehensive sexuality education program.   Religious Education volunteers range in age from 20 to 90.

I think we are in view of a new level of ministry across the generations.

Our UURTHSONG community garden and many ministries of Social Responsibility have been a source of delight and meaning for adults, youth and children, and a way for newcomers to participate and make connections.  I am deeply impressed by our many volunteers in music, worship, the office, an the care and upkeep of our buildings and grounds.
Thanks to the creativity and work of Peter, Bob and the other members of our website team, we have an enhanced and easy-to-use UUSS website.
Thanks to the initiative of Doris, our Program Council and several other donors, we now have regular ads in the Sac State Hornet newspaper.  Be on the lookout for visiting students, faculty or staff.  We already have a steady stream of guests to our services, and a lot of interest in what UUSS has to offer.
The most important thing we have to offer is YOU!  Your presence and participation make this a vital, lively and loving place to be.  Your deep generosity will sustain and strengthen this congregation, the ministries that it provides, and the values for which it stands.

Your presence and your generosity make possible all the ways that we grow.
As the Cottage Meetings of our Stewardship Drive take place in February, I extend my thanks to you.  Let’s keep the joy going!

Yours in service,
Roger

PS:   I welcome invitations to get together for a pastoral visit with UUSS families.  It’s hard to get to know all the kids on Sunday, except as flashes of light speeding past me.  Also I welcome everyone’s help in organizing activities and special events for all ages.



Sunday Prayer for Haiti Relief (guest minister)

Dear Blog Readers:  This prayer was given Sunday morning at First Parish (UU) in Arlington, MA, by my friend and colleague John Gibb Millspaugh, who serves as co -minister with his wife Sarah at Winchester, MA.  He is the chair of the UUA Ethical Eating Study Action Task Force and author of A People So Bold: Theology and Ministry for Unitarian Universalists.

the Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh:

A Haitian prayer book, entitled God Is No Stranger, includes the following prayer:  “Father, I have learned that one strong in calculation is called a ‘mathematician.’ You are the greatest mathematician because You can count all the people yet still see each one of us.”

Those words find new poignancy in the aftermath of the earthquake on January 12, in which tens of thousands of people lost their lives, their homes, their families and loved ones.

We who have watched from afar have felt helpless, powerless, in the face of this tragedy, forgetting that we do have the capacity to make a difference, one life at a time.

Let us enter that space of silence and honesty known by many names. Let us pray.

Spirit of Life; Sacred Presence; Web of Life, Death, and Renewal:

Our hearts have been opened to all who suffer as a result of the earthquake in Haiti.  We have seen-on our televisions and computer screens and in our newspapers–the shattered buildings, the hastily erected shanty towns, survivors struggling to find their kin, or just food and water; so many lives in ruins.

We have learned about the country’s staggering poverty that preceded this most recent disaster, and learned about our own privilege.

In times like these we stand in confusion before the global forces that shape our lives, in awe before the mystery.

Spirit of Life and Love,

Even as we have witnessed death sweep the landscape,

we know that life renews itself, and renews itself even now,

as human good springs up in the face of disaster, and people reach out to one another within neighborhoods and across oceans, serving one another across every difference.

We pray for the people of Haiti, that they know the people of the world stand with them as they face the challenges ahead.  We pray for those in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and other relief organizations, that they may act from ongoing wisdom, and courage, and compassion.

We pray for ourselves and other people living in comfort, that our hearts might be opened to generously support these other human beings facing a tragedy we cannot comprehend, but that they must live through.  May we open our hearts and our wallets to them, as they work to rebuild what they can.

Spirit of Life; Web of Life, Death, and Renewal,

Help us, too, in our own lives’ struggles, which matter even though others always face greater challenges than ours.  There are those among us in this community who are sick, those of us who are grieving, those of us who have not yet discovered our substantial power to bless the world.

We pray for support amidst our struggles, that we might find the courage and grace to move closer to healing, closer to the sacred potential of our lives.  We pray for strength, and finally we pray for gratitude: for all that is not lost, for the ever-renewing powers of life, for all that can be rebuilt.

And we join in this time of silence, in which we lift up the meditations of our hearts.



Stewardship Campaign Testimonial!

All the Ways We Grow

Introduction:  Our Stewardship Campaign co-chairs for 2010-11 are Ginger and JoAnn.  On their shoulders rest the visions, goals, programs, dreams, and staff members’ daily meals for the next fiscal year at UUSS.  Seems like a heavy burden, no?   Yet they stand tall and proud—because they know they will have lots of help from many others—both in operating the campaign  and in giving generously!  Here is Ginger’s reflection about the ways she has grown through involvement in UU congregational life and the ways she has grown in commitment.  — Roger

Testimonial by Ginger Enrico, Jan. 3, 2010

I was raised un-churched, and I was always happy with that.  As an adult I attended various church services, but nothing clicked for me.  One religious element or another would always make it a “not me” experience.

Then one day when I was in my early thirties, I visited the UU church where I lived in Dallas – The service began with a reading of principles – about justice, equity, the inherent worth & dignity of each person, and the free pursuit of truth & meaning.

To see values dear to me printed in the order of service, to hear them recited in unison by the congregation jolted me.  I had no idea there was a church like this!  Those principles and the congregation’s covenant resonated with me.

I had not been searching; I had not been at sea. But this experience was so meaningful to me that it brought tears to my eyes.  That must be when I started becoming a Unitarian Universalist.

So what does it mean to be UU – to be a part of the  UU denomination? To be part of  this Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento?

For me, it means we have support and guidance from this institution and from each other – as fellow travelers – as we grow, as we serve, as we find our many ways, whatever they may be.

One of the most important things  it means to me is that we have a village to help raise our children.

In this stewardship drive we are reflecting on how we grow and develop here.

As I think about how I have grown, I think about the fact that when I was growing up, I didn’t learn much about how to work with other people to get things done, I didn’t learn much about working in community.

So when I started in church I needed an education!

It began in my first church home and it continues here. I’m grateful for the patient teaching I’ve gotten from fellow congregants, from ministers, and from staff.

I find working, being in community to be fun, to be hard, to be humbling, and to be rewarding.

And, over the years, as I have worked in Religious Education, and served on intern committees, and on planning committees I have sought to develop my spirit.

Here, I find support in the Spiritually Grounded Leadership course.  In that group we work to develop our spiritual selves and to be grounded in our leadership roles.  I think of it as developing and combining internal spirituality and external practicality.

I am most grateful though, for the development of my children as they grew up UU. That Dallas church and this UUSS church each provide a village to help raise children.

Now our grandchildren – Roy’s and mine – are going to Sunday school and to OWL [Our Whole Lives] in Texas.  I hope the members and friends there continue to be generous so our grandchildren can grow and flourish in a strong, vibrant church.

And I want the children and grandchildren here to grow and flourish in this church.

We UUSS members and friends have given generously here.   These are challenging times.  I think probably most of us are making less or have less than we did a couple of years ago.  Roy and I are no exception.  Yet this church needs more in order to hold its course and to be strong and vibrant.  So, Roy and I considered our pledge and decided we can raise it by 10% this year.

As you consider your pledge, please think about all the ways we develop, grow, and serve together here at UUSS.

Please think of the village that UUSS is now and the village it can be in the future – for the children and youth, for us gray-hairs and for everyone in between .

Thank you.

[Click to read more about this pledge campaign!]