Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Racist Big Government Crushes Minority Neighborhood– in Romania

A Unitarian Universalist I know sent me this summary and this link.  It’s pretty terrible, so I hope we can raise awareness and voices of protest.

Over 100 people living in a yard of houses on 50 Vulturilor Street, Bucharest, Romania, were forcefully evicted on Monday, September 15. The community has decided from the outset to protest and reclaim their rights. This fundamental right has been gravely violated when local police brutalized several members of the community on the 15th and the 16th of September. Among those targeted were children, elderly persons and persons with disabilities. The evicted have currently no genuine alternatives for relocation. They consider the treatment of officials a blunt breakage of their rights and a racist act given that most of the evictees identify as Roma So far 50 Romanian organizations joined the solidarity network progressively built with the evicted community on Vulturilor Street, either by asking local authorities to find immediately an adequate housing solution or by helping the people resist and organize in the street. The community is determined to keep protesting until their demands are met and the housing issue becomes a priority for the state and local authorities! More details here:

They need money for food, medicines, tents, blankets, sleeping bags (wet and they keep changing), diapers for babies, plastic foils, fuel.

Pastoral Prayer for UUSS service Sunday, September 8, 2013

On these warm and shining days, it is a blessing to draw the breath of life.   Let us give thanks for this day and for all our gifts.  Sitting near us are fellow seekers on the journey toward wholeness, joy and hope.  We give thanks for this time to be still and reflect with one another.

We come together, in part, for celebration of the joys and achievements of life.  On this opening day of a new year of Religious Education, we give thanks for a committed corps of adult volunteers and for so many full-hearted youth, children, and babies.   Today we say farewell to four homeless families after a week of hospitality here through Family Promise, and give thanks for the generosity of our many volunteers.  At this time, let us call out and give voice to the glad occasions of our own lives and of those people we celebrate.   PAUSE.

On many hearts are those who need healing and care.  We embrace those among us mourning a loss, living through transitions, tending an injury, worrying about jobs or finances, facing an unwelcome diagnosis, wrestling with addiction, or working a recovery program, one day at a time.  We send our love to you.  We send our love to all who are healing from surgery and other treatments, including Mary, convalescing after a broken hip.  Tami, home after surgery.  Ginny, regaining strength after a heart attack.  Jerry, back with us after a long bout of pneumonia while out of the country.  Now let us speak the names of others on our minds.  Whether whispering to ourselves or saying a name aloud, let us bring into the space of our sanctuary those who need our loving wishes. PAUSE.

On this day also we hear of wars and rumors of wars.  So many are living with fear, pain and loss in zones of conflict, including the civil war in Syria.  Wedded to power, the Syrian tyrant kills children and adults without mercy, even with chemical weapons, dealing death and agony to hundreds.  A hodgepodge of rebel forces, understandably outraged, now has grown to include extremists.  They use weapons, fighters and money from terrorists; they bring boys into battle and scar their souls.  We, as caring people, feel helpless.  American leaders debate an American military action, bombing.  Such an action seems to have no clear objective, but has many unforeseen risks.  Many of us may protest against military action, but we must also grieve the bloodshed that continues.  There is no good answer to this dilemma.  Who can say?  There may be no answer at all.  Certainly, no answer can make us pure.

We contemplate this tragedy in humility and in mourning.  Now two million Syrians, having fled the strife of their nation, try to stay alive and sane in refugee camps.  Let our hearts reach toward them.  Let our efforts our nation’s generosity hasten to their aid and their survival.  As we speak for nonviolence, let us pray for mercy.  As we long for mercy, let us act for healing in all the ways we can, wherever we may be.

In all the choices of life, let us act for healing and wholeness, and give thanks for all our gifts.  On these warm and shining days, as we draw the breath of life, let us remember how fragile is the gift of life.  Now let us take a minute of silence, just for the simple gift of being alive, here, together as members of the human family.  Amen.


Philippines News–Typhoon Damage to UU Communities on Negros Island, Emotional Plea from Philippines Leader about Climate Change Action

Some members have asked me how the UU Church of the Philippines came out of the two back-to-back typhoons that hit the southern part of the archipelago, and how it has been dealing with life since then.  Fortunately, nobody in our congregations there was killed, but that is small comfort given that many of their fellow Filipinos have died from flooding, landslides, and building collapses.

My summary of a report by the president of the UUCP, the Rev. Rebecca Sienes:

The UUCP headquarters building in Dumaguete City (on the island) was damaged by wind, water, and falling trees and construction materials.  Its facade was damaged, and large trees fell in the inside and outside gathering areas. 

Some of the village church buildings were damaged by winds, and some members’ homes did sustain damage, especially roofs torn off their houses.  There are 27 congregations on the island, plus two more groups in Metro Manila, on Luzon Island.  The greatest losses have been of their crops:  corn, rice, bananas and other fruit trees.

Here is a New York Times article from Dec. 5:  Philippines Struggles to Reach Typhoon’s Victims.

My friend Julie from Montclair, CA, sent this link through the UU Partner Church Council:  Philippines Appeal for Climate Change Action.

Rev. Rebecca asks that we keep her congregations and people in our thoughts and prayers.  While working nonstop to help their congregations and villages, they still look forward to hosting a group of North American UUs on the UUCP Pilgrimage in March 2013.  (It’s always booked for March because that’s after the rainy season, but I am sure we will see much of the damage of these unusual storms.)

Testimonial by Tiffany for Capital Campaign >”Building the Beloved Community”<

by Tiffany , Sunday, October 21, 2012
I first started coming to UUSS in the late 80s for the “intellectual stimulation” of the excellent Forum lectures that were held right here every Sunday morning at 9:30.

Sometimes I would look around and up at the banners and it would occur to me, “I think there’s a church here. I should check it out some time.”
The first few times I actually attended services, I found it all a bit odd, offbeat, refreshing, and intriguing. It felt comfortable. I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to go along with anything that was said or sung. Then I found out that since it was summertime, the services were lay-led and were more casual than the regular services that would begin in September. Ah, that explained it.
You can imagine how mystified I was when I came to some regular services later on, and still no crucifixes on the walls, no Bible verses, and sermon after sermon with themes that were so inclusive, so full of universal truths, so understandable, that I began to suspect that people with all kinds of different beliefs and backgrounds could feel at home here.
My own religious background had been very sketchy and eclectic, a patchwork quilt of Church of Christ, Christian Science, Unity, Luthern, Catholic, with a splash of LDS from a period in high school when I sang with the local Mormon Youth Choir (and went on some really fun trips), and Islam, from the years I lived in Algeria and was married to a liberal Muslim in a very traditional family.
At UUSS, at the beginning, it was hard to get straight answers to some of my questions, like, what do UUs believe? Is this a church or not? If anyone can walk in and attend services, what is membership about? There was a phrase I heard fairly often: “we are a community of seekers” and that touched me. I got it. UUSS is like a spiritual half-way house, a place where you can reflect and deepen your learning and draw from all the wisdom traditions to find your own path. So when I met people who had been members for 20-30 years, I thought, “Gee, it’s sure taking them a long time”–because I thought that once you figure things out, you leave and settle down someplace with your “real” faith.
It’s been 23 years now. I joined. My husband Clair and I were married here. UUSS became central to our lives. We’ve been involved in more committees and activities than you could shake a stick. I remember the workshops on Women in Film that changed the way I look at movies. I learned about the power of myth and how to decode the meaning of dreams. What good times we’ve had – at the Millenium Celebration, at an “Offda” Scandinavian Night, sharing some of our Paris adventures at a Cabaret singalong. We’ve danced here. I was in several Theater One plays here. We’ve grieved here and shared the deep, powerful experience of gathering together as a community to remember and say goodbye to dear friends.

Here are some things I’ve learned: you never stop learning; you never stop seeking; people with all kinds of different beliefs and backgrounds do feel at home here; it’s not our beliefs that define us, but our values and actions; Unitarian Universalism is my “real” faith.
I’ve learned that membership matters. The thoughtful commitment we make when we become members, of our time, talents and support, creates a real bond that connects us to one another. I’ve also learned that the more I’ve participated and the more I’ve contributed, the stronger the bond and sense of belonging I feel in return.
It gladdens my heart to see the plans we are making now to ensure that UUSS will grow and thrive for the future generations who will find their spiritual home and haven at UUSS.

Ministerial Installation–Chalice Lighting Words and Choreography

Chalice Lighting                  [Chalice & stand are up on the stage, over to right side near organ alcove]

[Narrated by alternating voices]

 We are people of a liberal faith assembled in celebration, this day!

As we draw inspiration from the traditions we share and affirm our common commitments, we prepare ourselves to light a chalice.

A symbol of Unitarian Universalist community.

A reminder of  the divine spark in each person: inherently worthy, infinitely gifted, inherently generous.

Each one of us part of a greater wholeness.

Each one of us a reflection of the light of love.  Let it illuminate our path!

Choreography:  Two adults  light the small candles held by four kids sitting on the aisle halfway in the back.  They carry the candles up and gather around an Adult Chalice Lighter, who will be holding a brass candle lighter.  She takes their lights together as one flame on one wick and remains standing on the steps of the organ alcove.


With the kindling of this flame, let us awaken our hearts and minds to the ministry we share.  All of us are leaders and learners together… in this faith, which extends love across the generations with gratitude and with grace.

Choreography:  Adult Chalice Lighter walks the flame up the steps of the organ alcove, up the steps onto the stage by an elder or a youth.  From the other side of the stage, a girl does two cartwheels across the stage and stops to stand near the chalice, then takes the candle and lights the flame.  They pause, and then after silence returns, they move down together and take their seats.

Need for Discretion in Dealing with Immigration and Local Policing: Need for Gov. Brown to Approve the TRUST Act!

This op-ed commentary in Friday’s Sacramento Bee is clear and compelling.  It explains what is wrong with ICE and the federal government’s “Secure Communities” program, and calls for Gov. Brown to sign the TRUST Act.  It is written by a Unitarian Universalist now retired from the California Supreme Court.

YOu know how much I hate to brag… but Adult Programs at my church are worth crowing about

Associate Minister’s Annual Report, Part 1

We have a congregational meeting this Sunday, May 20.  In anticipation of that, I’ve been talking with folks and thinking about a summary of some of the many changes we have experienced and made happen at UUSS.  My areas include Child/Youth Religious Education,  All-Ages Community Building, Management of Administrative and R.E. Staff (including facilities and finance-related matters), New Member Orientations and support of our great Greeters/Ushers, and Adult Enrichment.

Here is a list of the many adult programs we have hosted in the past 12 months, give or take.  Since I am going to Boston for meetings of the grants panel on which I serve, I may not be able to add other reports before Sunday.

Continuous Classes and Groups

UU Readers Book Discussion (monthly)

Poetry Circle (monthly, no longer meeting)

Fencing (semi monthly, no longer meeting)

Tai Chi

Easy Yoga

Chair Yoga

Saturday Meditation (monthly, no longer meeting)

Prayer Circle (drop-in, starts June)

Strangers’ Feasts (circle suppers, starts again in fall)

Documentary Film Club (monthly, no longer meeting)

Women’s Group  (semi monthly)

Gen’X Boomers Fellowship Group

Walkers and Talkers (weekly)


Time-Limited Courses and Series

Immigration as a Moral Issue

Health Care Reform

Vegetarian Cooking

God and Consciousness

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (2 series)

Palestine/Israel Study Group

Atheist Spirituality

Prayer Circle

Health Care Action Study

Photo Magic for Dummies

Journal and Journey

Soulful Sundown

Global Garden of Unitarian Universalism

God, Consciousness, and Spiritual Literacy

Discussion of “The Power of Now” (starts in May)


One-Time Discussions/Presentations

Introduction to the Mormon Religion (June 3)

Summer post-sermon discussions

Unitarian Universalist Heritage and Identity (August 5)

1568 to Today:  Unitarians in Transylvania  (May 29)

Slide Show and Conversation about UU churches in the Philippines

Related Activities to Appreciate,  but not Organized by Adult Enrichment

Newcomers’ Orientation to Membership (3 series/year)

Betty Ch’maj Event with Meg Barnhouse & Kiya Heartwood (April 28)

Alliance Program (monthly, September through May)

Social Responsibility Network:  Beyond these Walls (monthly speakers)

Spiritual Grounding for Leadership (application only)

Congregational Conversations (first Sunday of every month, September through May)

Sunday Soups (twice monthly, winter months)

Theater One performances (two plays yearly, plus one summer worship service)

CUUPS Labyrinth Walks

CUUPS Pagan Holiday Ritual Celebrations

Interweave’s Facilitation of a UUSS presence at LGBT Pride Parade and Fair (June 2)

Attendance of Staff, Lay Leaders and Minister at District Assembly (Pacific Central District, UUA)

What did I leave out that you remember from the past year?