The Rev. Drew Moeller poses with the Shawl Ministry knitters at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, ME. He will preach his first sermon on September 11. They are a great congregation and would love to have you visit.
Attending General Assembly as an Armchair Traveler
Are you interested in doing some armchair traveling? The four members of UUS:E who attended the General Assembly of Unitarian Universalist Congregations (GA) in Columbus OH in June would like to take you on a journey right in the comfort of your home. You can see videos and read articles about everything described in this article—and much more—at http://www.uua.org/ga.
This year’s delegates were Stan and Sue McMillen, and Ted and Nancy Pappas. Among us we have a couple of centuries of UU experience, but we still find that a five-day gathering of thousands of UUs can be challenging, moving, inspiring and exciting.
The heart-opening experience started with the Banner Procession, where our elegant satin chalice moved among nearly 300 other congregational standards. “The opening remarks from Rev. William Barber were overwhelmingly inspirational and struck at the heart of our nation’s oppressive racism, sexism and anti-LGBT attitudes,” says Stan.
GA participants were lucky enough to hear from Rev. Barber again, along with Jewish and UCC leaders, at a rally and public witness entitled State of Emergence: Faith Filled People Rally for Racial Justice. Many who attended said it had the music and pacing of a revival. “The speakers were articulate and emotional; very moving. There was a very large crowd in attendance and it felt like we were cohesive in our focus on the topic and directions to take,” says Sue
During that welcoming celebration, UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, asked participants to challenge themselves during GA – to get out of their comfort zone and try something entirely new. For Ted, that new experience was a workshop on The Spirituality of Hip Hop. “I made a conscious choice to go into something entirely new, and learned that hip hop is a contemporary, valid language that speaks to members of many cultures,” Ted says. “It’s important to understand that conversation if we want to have real communication.”
Those who attended the fantastic public worship on Sunday morning heard some of that communication, as Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout provided moving and spiritual commentary in counterpoint with the glorious GA Choir that he was leading. This was one of the highlights of the entire GA, and is well worth watching on line!
Defending Our Democratic Principles
Every other year, delegates choose a Congregational Study/Action Issue of broad national significance for a four-year period of study and action with opportunities for congregational and district comment. At the 2016 GA, delegates chose “The Corruption of our Democracy” (www.uua.org/statements/current) Congregations study this topic and take actions that raise awareness and work toward a more representative governance. At the same time, we are entering Year 3 of the cycle for “Escalating Inequality,” which was a theme throughout many of the workshops and worship experiences.
The delegates also chose three Actions of Immediate Witness, statements that express the conscience of the GA at which they are passed. The final text will be posted by the UUA in August: (1) Expressing solidarity with Muslims; (2)-Advocating gun reform following the Pulse nightclub massacre, and (3) Affirming support for transgender people. Once these are published, UU leaders at the local, regional and national levels “may use them as a basis for public statements on the matter and are urged to act on them.”
New Leadership for the UUA
At the 2017 GA in New Orleans, UUs will vote for a new president to serve as the denomination’s chief executive officer for a six-year term. Similar to American political conventions, delegates are instructed by their home congregations to vote for a particular candidate. We attended a forum to hear from the candidates, who all have great ideas for our faith community: Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Rev. Alison Miller and Rev. Jeanne Pupke. Take a look at the video on line at uua.org/ga, read the coverage in the UU World and watch for opportunities to hear more directly from the candidates – they will be visiting each region and providing webinars where they answer our questions!
A Huge Kaleidoscope
Finally, there is no way to summarize the experiences the four of us had at GA. We went to a reception honoring Martin Luther King III, attended more than 20 workshops (collectively) and reconnected with former UUS:E members –including Bailey Saddlemire, a high school junior who will be one of two youth observers to the UUA national board!
One More Snapshot
Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas sent a small number of protesters to the Columbus Convention Center to protest against UU support for LGBTQ people and abortion rights. Stan and Sue attended the counter-demonstration with hundreds of other UUS, including young people wearing angel wings sent by the Orlando UU congregation. Stan describes it: “As we marched to the site where Westboro had assembled, we sang and chanted “Love Wins” until the Westboro folks walked away. It was very moving.”
We hope to share some of this at the UU:E worship service on September 25. But please experience this for yourself, by looking at the workshops and worship services on line, and planning to attend the New Orleans General Assembly, June 21-25, 2017.
The extraordinary cellist, singer/songwriter and composer, Leah Coloff, will join UUS:E for Sunday morning worship on July 31st at 10:00 AM.
Ms. Coloff and Rev. Josh Pawelek will collaborate on an exploration of the spiritual personality of summer.
Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ms. Coloff’s classical roots collide with 70’s rock and a pioneer spirit. Creating songs and arrangements that are honest, sensual, funny, brutal, pissed-off, beautiful and chilly sweet, her voice and virtuoso cello playing distinguish her own and other composer’s work. Leah began her studies with Ray Davis, principal cellist of The Seattle Symphony, continuing with Irene Sharp at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, followed by Graduate studies with Bernard Greenhouse at The New England Conservatory of Music. She has worked with composers such as Philip Glass, Joel Thome, Sean Friar and Michael Gordon. She is the cellist for The Source (New Amsterdam), by Ted Hearne, selected one of the top 10 classical recordings of 2015 by The New York Times and The New Yorker. And she appears on Ted Hearne’s Outlanders, (New Amsterdam) as cellist, spotlighted vocalist and composer of the interlude Dirty to Love.
Leah is an artist in residence at Here arts, commissioned to create a multi-media theatrical work from her most recent album, This Tree, about family, legacy, loss and love. She is a regular performer at the Obie Award winning Secret City, the cellist for the Scorchio String Quartet and has played with many wonderful musicians including, Trey Anastasio, David Bowie, Michael Cerveris, Mark Mulcahy, Rufus Wainwright, and Linda Thompson. For more information visit her website: LeahColoff.com.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! The Bard has come to UUS:E!
Join us for performances of Shakespeare’s boisterously hilarious comedy TWELFTH NIGHT, on Saturday, July 16, in the Meeting Room at 8 PM, and on Sunday, July 17, outside on the lawn at 2 PM. There is no charge, but a goodwill offering will be accepted. Email Jessica at email@example.com with any questions, and we hope to see you there!
Join Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Unitarian Universalist leaders for a
vigil in honor of the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando
Wednesday, June 15th at 7:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
153 West Vernon St., Manchester, CT
All are welcome.
For information call (860) 646-5151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the UUS:E Social Justice/ Anti-Oppression Committee are engaged in a city-wide effort to resettle a refugee family in Manchester.
You can learn more about the project here.
One of the key elements of successful refugee resettlement is financing. The typical refugee family needs $6,000 raised by the community to get through their first six months in the United States. (This money is used to supplement resettlement funding from the federal government.) The UUS:E Finance Committee has approved this fundraising effort and we are encouraging UUS:E members and friends to donate. The Manchester Area Conference of Churches (MACC) is receiving donations on behalf of the initiative. If you would like to make a donation, please write a check to MACC with “Refugee Resettlement” on the memo line and either mail it to MACC at 466 Main St, Manchester, CT 06040, or give it to Judi Durham or Nancy Parker at UUS:E. If you’d like to use a credit card to donate online, you can go to:
After selecting the credit card you will use, on the bottom of the second page where it asks for “Donation Information,” designate the Manchester Refugee Project as the recipient of your donation.
This post is for UUS:E’s voting members. All voting members should have received a mailing recently with the call to the 2016 Annual Meeting on May 21st at 6:00 PM. The letter did not include the text to the proposed amendments to the UUS:E constitution. The point of the amendments is to remove the requirement that congregational meetings must be communicated in writing via traditional mail. While members would still be able to receive such announcements by mail if they so choose, such announcements would be sent by electronic mail if the amendments pass. We estimate this will save the congregation as much as $400 per year. We will also reduce our use of paper. The text to the proposed amendments is below. Changes are in bold red.
The Question: Shall UUSE amend its Constitution to remove the requirement to send congregational meeting announcements via regular mail and instead send them by email except for those who request to receive a hard copy?
Proposed Constitutional Amendment
Article VII – Meetings of the Society
Section 5. The Society shall hold Congregational Meetings from time to time to hear and/or act on specific policies or issues that may require full membership participation. These normally called Congregational Meetings, which include the Annual Meeting (Article VII, Section 2), must be announced by electronic mail at least twenty days prior to the scheduled meeting date. A quorum consists of fifteen percent (15%) of the Society’s Voting Members.
Section 6. Special Congregational Meetings may be called by the Clerk at the written request of at least ten percent (10%) of the Society’s Voting Members. Notice for all special Congregational Meetings must be announced at least ten (10) days prior to the scheduled meeting date. This notice shall specify the reason for the meeting, and no business other than that specified shall be transacted.
Section 7. The Society shall publish all notices of the Congregational Meetings and Board nominations by posting a notice prominently at the entrance of the place where the services of the Society are held, and electronically mailing a copy of said notice and/or nominations to each member of the Society separately or placing such notice on the first page of the Newsletter.
Section 8. All Congregational Meetings of the Society shall be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. All other meetings as outlined within Article VII may be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order as agreed to by the facilitator and attendees. All meetings of the Society as outlined within Article VII are open to all members of the Society.
Section 9. Members may choose to receive a hard copy of electronically emailed meeting notices by notifying the Society’s office administrator in writing. If a valid electronic mail address is not on file, then a hardcopy will be mailed to that member.
On Sunday, May 1, the Rev. Drew Moeller, a long-time member of UUS:E, was called by unanimous vote to be the settled minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, ME. Congratulations Drew!!!! We are so proud!!!
The UUS:E Policy Board will host a congregation-wide conversation on Black Lives Matter on Sunday, April 17th at 1:00 PM in the chapel.
All are welcome and encouraged to attend!
Background: At its February and March meetings, the Policy Board considered a request from the UUS:E Social Justice/ Anti-Oppression Committee (SJ/AO) to place a Black Lives Matter road-sign on our property along West Vernon St. SJ/AO had previously held congregational conversations on this question and also invited feedback from members and friends following Sunday services in January. While SJ/AO found clear support for placing a road sign on our property, there was not unanimous support. Concerns raised about placing a sign included 1) the risk of vandalism and 2) the notion that UUS:E members and friends support many causes and we don’t want to privilege one cause over the others.
The Policy Board determined that placing a road sign on our property constitutes a “congregational statement” and thus, based on our policies, requires the congregation to pass a resolution at a called meeting. While the agenda for the May 21st UUS:E Annual Meeting has not yet been set, it is highly likely that the Policy Board will ask the congregation to vote on whether or not UUS:E officially supports the Black Lives Matter movement. Given this, the Policy Board would like to hear comments from members and friends. This is the purpose of the April 17th Black Lives Matter Conversation.
Many Unitarian Universalist congregations have entered into such conversations about Black Lives Matter. Many have placed signs on their property. This is due in part to the fact that African American Unitarian Universalists participating in protests in Ferguson, MO, along with the Back Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective have asked Unitarian Universalist congregations to place banners and signs in order to show solidarity with America’s new racial justice movement.
For further reading, see:
Alicia Garza’s “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”
Read the 2015 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly’s statement on Black Lives Matter.
Read about Black Lives Matter signs being vandalized.
See Rev. Josh’s 2015 sermon #BlackLivesMatter.
See Rev. Josh’s 2016 sermon, “Perhaps Struggle is All We Have.”