Part-Time Job Opportunity – Nursery Coordinator

 If you enjoy caring for babies and toddlers and can commit to being in the nursery every Sunday during the 11 AM service this position might be a good fit for you.  Qualified candidates must be at least 17 years of age, have experience caring for infants and toddlers, enjoy working with volunteers and establishing relationships with families, and pass a criminal background check.  The position is year round and pays $20 / week (10:45 AM – 12:30 PM).  Think you might be interested?  (Or know someone who might be?)  Contact Director of Religious Education, Gina Campellone at UUSE.redir@sbcglobal.net to learn more.

Black Lives Matter Sign(s)!

Black Lives MatterAt the 2016 Unitarian Universalist Society: East annual meeting, the congregation agreed to put up a Black Lives Matter sign on the roadside in front of our meeting house. Well, we’re now on sign number 5. You may have noticed that it’s no longer on the ground but up in a tree. The previous signs have all been removed by passersby who, we suspect, disagree with the message. Luckily, we bought a few backups and were prepared for this disagreement. We’ll see if they feel strongly enough to bring a ladder, climb up, take out nails and make off with this last sign. If that should happen, be assured we’ll order more signs and maybe find a more permanent way to display them. In cement?

We’re moving into a climate where intolerance is coming much more out into the open. As UUs, it’s important that we be just as open about our support for Black Lives Matter. It matters to those targeted by racism, but it’s also just as important for our own spiritual well-being for us to take a courageous stand.

White Supremacy at Unitarian Universalist Society: East?

A reflection from the Social Justice / Anti- Oppression Committee

With all we do to foster positive relations and support for people of the global majority, how can Rev. Josh (in his May 7 sermon) possibly say we are susceptible to white supremacy? We are not trying to squelch the right to vote or defending the police when another young black man is shot for a minor offense or sometimes for no reason at all.

What makes the unconscious sense of supremacy so difficult to perceive is its quietness. What we do actively as a congregation is very much trying to support people of color in achieving equality in education, in treatment by police, and in many other areas. But because the vast majority of us have grown up in an essentially racist society, we have become used to the many ways that people of color remain at the edges rather than at the center of life in the United States.

Much of this is unspoken and difficult to notice if one is not paying close attention. A young child of color might be punished more severely in school while a white child might just get a call to a parent or a reminder from the teacher for the exact same behavior. And it might even be more subtle than that, an omission rather than a commission. As Rev. Josh pointed out in his May 7th sermon, UUS:E has not set a formal goal of hiring a racially diverse staff. No one deliberately set out to exclude anyone—it just doesn’t occur to us in the normal course of events to encourage people of color to apply for jobs at UUS:E.

In the same way that women can recognize sexism in operation when men see themselves acting as they’ve always acted—what’s the problem?—people of the global majority can pick up on the minor, quiet, ways that white people and institutions reveal an unexamined sense of superiority. “This is how we do things.” And some of it is not even spoken—just a quiet assumption that whiteness is the standard by which everything else should be judged.

Here is a link to an online test that measures our automatic (as opposed to stated) preference for one race or another. Try it out—it’s pretty interesting. http://www.understandingprejudice.org/iat/racfram e.htm

We have much work to do in this area, personally and collectively. Watch for more on this topic.

June Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

The following meditation, entitled “Cooling Down,” is adapted from our new publication, Hear the Earth Call.

Summer approaches in earnest. May’s cool, dry, sunny days give way to June’s drenching, muggy heat. We melt. We wither. We stick. We shrink. We welcome any rain, any breeze. We welcome an ice-cold drink of anything on these hot, humid June afternoons. Whatever cools us down we welcome: lemonade, ice cream, popsicles, freeze pops, Italian ice, gelato, sherbet, sorbet, swimming pools, fountains, sprinklers, shade, shadows, clouds, dusk, sunset, evening, vespers, twilight, night,

A life of the spirit is like this. So often our greatest spiritual insights, our greatest truths, those elements of human experience that link us to the sacred and the transcendent—love, beauty, sorrow, joy, suffering, death—so often they too inhabit the cool places, the dark places. So often we encounter them in the life- giving shade, the cooling rain, the gentle breeze, the roaring thunder, the darkening night, the deepening dream, the widening ocean, the quenching of our thirst. So often we encounter them not in the glaring light and blazing heat but in the cool, dark places where we perceive less with our minds and more with our hearts.

As summer approaches, as the temperature and humidity continue to rise, along with our anxieties about what things cost, about war, about violence, about the earth; as we welcome that which cools our bodies, may we also welcome that which soothes our spirits. In our moments of spiritual melting, withering, sticking and shrinking may we welcome, too, those insights, those truths, those sacred and transcendent experiences that provide respite from whatever wears us down and dries out our souls. May we welcome and drink in the deepest truths of our lives, like the sip of a cold glass of lemonade, out on the porch, as a cool evening breeze begins to whisper on a hot June night.

Hear the Earth Call is a collection of my nature writing, accompanied by the photography of Duffy Schade, and designed by Sharon Gresk. The first printing will be arriving soon. If you have not yet purchased a copy and would like to, please contact the Unitarian Universalist Society: East office. All proceeds from book sales go to Unitarian Universalist Society: East.

Our ministry theme for June is “journeys.” As summer approaches, as the heat and humidity rise, it is my hope and prayer that each of you, in the midst of whatever journey you are on, has the opportunity to pause and to find rest, respite, insight and wisdom in the cool places, in the afternoon shadows, the evening breeze, the silver night, the morning dew. May the coolness refresh you and make you ready to continue on your way

With Love, Rev. Josh

Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act in the Time of Trump

Adult Religious Education Program Announces

Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act in the Time of Trump
Monday, May 22, 2017, 7 PM

Attorney Judith Stein, founder and executive director of the non-profit Center for Medicare Advocacy, will discuss “Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act in the Time of Trump”, on Monday, May 22, 2017, 7 PM at Unitarian Universalist Society: East.  Free and open to the public.

Contact us at 860-646-5151 or uuse153@sbcglobal.net.

May Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

It’s been a rough few months for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA). As many of you know, in early April, the Rev. Peter Morales resigned as President of the UUA in the midst of allegations of racism in hiring practices. More resignations followed. What many of you may not know is that, in the wake of these resignations, there has been a great deal of conflict, much of it playing out on social media among clergy and other religious professionals. While some of the conflict is productive, some isn’t. People aren’t treating each other well. At times it feels like our faith is being torn apart. This is heart-breaking.

White supremacy is at the heart of this conflict. It feels really, really important for me to name that and for all of us to stay focused on it. When it became apparent that hiring decisions at the UUA were consistently favoring qualified white candidates over qualified candidates of color, something had to be said. Because the UUA has a stated commitment to hiring a diverse staff and a long-held commitment to conducting itself in antiracist ways, something had to be said.

Unitarian Universalist religious professionals of color were the first to say it publically in early March. Very soon after that, many religious professionals of color and their white allies starting referring to “white supremacy” at the UUA. The organization Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism and some of its partners called for congregations to dedicate their worship services on April 30th or May 7th to a “white supremacy teach-in.” (We will be participating!)

Much of the current conflict has spun out around the use of the term “white supremacy.”

This should not be hard to understand. We typically think of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo-Nazis and other hate groups as white supremacists. During last year’s presidential campaign, so many of us were upset that Donald Trump’s team intentionally courted voters of the “Alt-Right,” a code-word for white supremacist agitators. But Unitarian Universalists? How could anyone in their right mind use that term to describe us? How could “white supremacy” apply to our justice-seeking, Black-

Lives-Matter supporting, refugee resettling, criminal-justice reforming, earth-saving, GBLTQ- welcoming, answering-the-call-of-love, liberal faith?

Well, unfortunately, it can apply, and, all too often, it does. But I want to be crystal clear that attaching this term to Unitarian Universalism is in no way an attempt to equate our beloved faith with the KKK and other hate groups. To speak of white supremacist outcomes inside an organization (e.g., only hiring white people) does not mean that the people in that organization are white supremacists. But it does mean that the culture of the organization may harm people of color despite the good intentions of white leaders. That is what happened at the UUA.

I also want to be crystal clear that Unitarian Universalism isn’t somehow alone in this. Virtually every historically white institution in the United States has embedded within it some degree of white supremacy. This goes back to the founding of the United States and its legacies of genocide, colonization and slavery.

The question is, are we willing and able to recognize it? If religious professionals of color say it, can those of us who are white refrain from reacting negatively to the use of the term “white supremacy,” and instead open our hearts, approach the conversation with curiosity, and try to learn—really learn—why the term is being used? I hope and trust that we can. See you on May 7th!

Amen and blessed be.

Rev. Josh

March Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

This month marks a milestone for me, Duffy Schade and Sharon Gresk. After more years than I care to count, we are finally ready to publish a book we’ve been working on entitled Hear the Earth Call. It was Duffy’s idea originally. She offered to sift through my sermons and prayers in search of meaningful excerpts addressing our experience of Nature. Once she had collected a series of excerpts, she began matching her own photographs to them. Along the way we brought Sharon Gresk onto the team to design the book. Our Sunday service on April 23rd will feature readings from Hear the Earth Call and a viewing of some of the photographs in the book. (We will also begin taking orders. All proceeds go to UUS:E!)

Mindful that our ministry theme for April is reconciliation, I would like to share with you part of the Epilogue from Hear the Earth Call. It speaks to the way Nature reminds us of inherent oneness in the universe:

“Let us imagine there was a beginning to everything—a primordium—a paradise of sorts—a tiny, compressed moment wherein all boundaries blur, so that shapes and spaces cannot be distinguished, matter and energy cannot be distinguished, light and shadow cannot be distinguished, past, present and future cannot be distinguished—a complete unity, all in one; one in all; a tiny potent moment in which a vast multitude of possibilities resides. This moment, this original unity, pregnant, about to burst forth with immeasurable creative power, if it did exist—and scientists say it did—by definition, must contain all truth…. More precisely, this moment—this astounding, glorious, eloquent unity is truth.

“Let us imagine everything we do in our lives, every decision, every emotion,  every thought—everything; even the misguided, harmful things—if we look deeply enough at why we do what we do and feel what we feel, if we look for the motivation

underlying our motivations, if we look in the most intimate way, illuminating our most inner, most vulnerable selves, we realize at our core is a longing—a profound and fierce longing—to return to that primordial moment, that sublime, original unity.

“Let us imagine, that from time to time, each of us in our own way has experiences—experiences of transcending mystery and wonder—brief, fleeting experiences: flashes, visions, dreams, deja vus, feelings, flickers, intuitions, insights, connections, A-has!, eurekas!—marked physically by butterflies and goose bumps—moments of awe, exultation, joy, amazement, and sometimes fear, dread, terror. And let us imagine these moments occur in both likely and unlikely places: in the sun rising over the ocean; the sound and call of the pounding surf; the view from the mountain top; the great circle of Midwest sky; humming birds and squirrels taking a meal at the backyard feeder; the exuberance of new love … spring’s rebirth; summer’s tomatoes served freshly cut with salt, pepper and oil; autumn’s vivid, colorful decay; winter’s barrenness; the cry of the newborn … the final breath before death…. Let us imagine, in these moments—these precious, grace-filled moments, we recognize, if only for an instant, that original unity of all things. We come screaming out of the birth canal into the soft light, into the wet morning, into life’s mud and muck and mess, and we know—a profound heart-and-soul-knowing—truth. The words before words sing in our hearts, and we know truth.”

Amen and blessed be.

Rev. Josh

Addiction and the Art of Surrender

Back in the Day

Back in the day when they allowed smoking at AA,
the nicotine haze hung in the air and clung
to my skin and hair for days,
like the memory of no memory
from too many chardonnays
that hung heavy on my newly cleared brain.

Back in the day, when I could drink any man
under the table and then dance naked on top of it,
coming to a week later with no recollection
of what had gone down, who knew that someday,
I would come to know myself again in crowded,
blue smoke clouded church basements all over town?

When a new state ordinance outlawed cigarettes
in the meeting halls, all of us drunks,
trying to live without a drink a day at a time,
didn’t think we could make it through an hour-long
meeting without a butt, but we stayed anyway,
drumming our yellowed fingers on the table tops,
gripping our coffee cups and listening for our lives.

We assembled again and again, again hearing
Jimmy K. tell about killing that girl with his old Chevrolet
and Maureen B. trying to reclaim her kids from the system
she had lost them to on her last big bender, and I knew
it could’ve been me, leaving my babies asleep in the car
while I ducked in for a quick one with the guys at Jack’s,
or drifting over the yellow line and not coming back.

Back in those days I was sucking wind like all of them,
running a race against the bottle I could never win
without crashing and burning everything in sight.
Those were the days before I gave up
the fight and surrendered, hauled the wreckage
of my past into God’s smoky cellars,
and finally learned how to breathe again.

~ Penny Field

February Ministers Column

Dear Ones:

It happens a lot these days. I’m at the grocery store or a restaurant, the kids’ music or karate lessons, a memorial service at a local funeral home, a rally or protest—and I encounter someone from UUS:E. There’s an instant connection, a feeling of warmth, a sense of mutual understanding. We’re part of that wonderful Unitarian Universalist congregational family, attached to that beautiful, green, accessible building on Elm Hill in Manchester’s northeast corner.

That sense of connection is no accident. We share seven profound principles. We share a commitment to justice-making and peace-building. We share a faith-based loyalty to the earth. We share a common experience of Sunday morning worship that draws on many sources of religious wisdom, comforts us in difficult times, and sends us forth into the world with love in our hearts. We share a spiritual home! In a world where fear, anger, and injustice seem to be gaining ground, it matters that we have a place like UUS:E that we can call home—a place that knows us, holds us, challenges us, loves us. What a precious and valuable thing to have in our lives, and the lives of our children.

“A Place We Call Home” is the theme for this year’s annual appeal, which is fast approaching. Like virtually every year, we are asking for an increase in pledging in order to cover all those fixed costs that regularly increase—insurance, utilities, etc. We also hope to provide our staff with cost of living raises as well as cover the expense of 6-8 guest ministers during my sabbatical next year. We’re hoping to continue funding our growth efforts, which include offering innovative, relevant and (sometimes) entertaining programming and marketing it more effectively to the greater Manchester community. And one of the new programmatic ideas I’m very excited about is an investment in our youth ministry. We’re learning, like so many congregations across denominations, that traditional “youth group” models no longer work for today’s teenagers. So, our youth ministry team is proposing to spend the coming year experimenting with new models and a variety of new activities for our youth. While the old models don’t work, youth still need loving, nurturing spiritual communities that allow them to question, search, test out their values, and discover who they are. Youth need a place they can “call home,” and we fully expect to provide it. If you are interested in helping out with our “experilearn” year in youth ministry, please let me or Gina Campellone know. We’d love to include you.

Of course, our children and youth are not the only ones who need a place to call home. All of us need it, a place we can come for human contact, warmth, support, challenge and love. A place for beloved community. A place that not only reminds us to stay focused on our values and commitments, but sends us forth to overcome cynicism and despair with hope, to meet violence with peace, to counter hatred with love. UUS:E is such a place. Please make the most generous pledge possible to this place we call home!

 

With love,

Rev. Josh

January Ministers Column

Dear Ones:

First, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you’ve had a peaceful and restful holiday season. Winter is here. Cold, snow and ice are here. Snow-blowing, shoveling, sanding and salting are here. Freezing and shivering are here. Hats, mittens, gloves, heavy coats and boots are here. Frozen car batteries are here. The dark season continues, though we know longer daylight hours are slowly returning. I hope and pray that this winter treats you well. I hope and pray that 2017 will be a good year for you. And no matter what challenges you face in this new year, I hope and trust you will find at UUS:E a place to lay your burdens down—to let others hold them for a while, so that you may regain the energy and strength you need to move through life with integrity and grace.

****

No, it’s not a rumor. Some of you have begun to hear the news that I have a sabbatical coming up. It is true. In fact, I have two sabbaticals coming up. I have accrued quite a bit of sabbatical time (10 months at the end of this current congregational year). The UUS:E Policy Board has graciously agreed to let me begin catching up on this unused time and take a one-month sabbatical in the current congregational year. I will take that time from February 12 to March 12. And the Policy Board has also granted my request to take a full (four month) sabbatical from October, 2017 to February,2018. During my sabbatical time, I am planning to return to the writing I was doing during my last sabbatical. Hopefully, I will come out of it with a completed novel!

Ministerial sabbaticals can be anxiety-producing for members and friends who rely on the minister’s presence, especially on Sunday mornings. Please know that the Sunday Services Committee is working with me to plan compelling, life-affirming worship services during the month I am away in the current congregational year. We are also in the early stages of inviting local Unitarian Universalist ministers to preach during my full sabbatical next year. The Sunday Services Committee is a talented group of people, many of whom were on the committee during my last sabbatical. They know what to do! They will provide excellent services in my absence.

Ministerial sabbaticals can also be anxiety-producing for members and friends who rely on the minister for pastoral care. It is true that people who seek a regular level of pastoral care from me will not have access to that care during my sabbatical. However, for pastoral crises that require ministerial presence, we will have a list of local UU (and possibly other) clergy who are available. And in the event of a pending death or an actual death, I will certainly come away from my sabbatical to provide care and to conduct a memorial service. All the other regular caring activities performed by our Pastoral Friends Committee will continue without interruption during my sabbaticals.

If you have any questions or concerns about what happens at UUS:E when the minister is on sabbatical, please do not hesitate to contact me. I like to think we are taking care of every important detail, but you may have a question or concern we haven’t yet thought of. And whether or not we’ve thought of everything, UUS:E has strong leaders and a strong staff who function wonderfully, whether I am present or not!

Rev. Joshua PawelekWith love,

Rev. Josh