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Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter First USome of our neighbors and some members of our community ask about the Black Lives Matter banner than hangs outside our sanctuary. What does support for Black Lives Matter mean for a faith with “Universalist” in our very name? 

To proclaim that Black Lives Matter is not to say that other lives do not. In this church we celebrate the inherent value of every life. Each life matters, but not all lives are equally at risk. Black Lives Matter is an attempt to spotlight  and interrupt the persistent patterns of institutional racism which always leave persons of color on the margins, more vulnerable, with less protection. Black Lives Matter insists that the Beloved Community will not be achieved while these differences persist. Black Lives Matter calls us to solidarity in the service of justice. Black Lives Matter is an affirmation that we have not…yet…given up on the American Dream."

-Rev. Bill Sinkford


Invitation to a Wellspring Informational Session

Have you heard about Wellspring?

We are offering an Information Session on Sunday, April 26 at 1:05pm —after the second service, in the Channing Room.

Read: pdfWellspring Overview.  

Wellspring logoNow in its seventh year of success within the national UUA, the Wellspring program is a spiritually deepening journey within the ever-evolving living tradition of our faith. Wellspring is a year-long covenant with yourself and a small group of others who yearn for a deeper understanding of their own spiritual source. The aim of the program is a deeper connection to your own inner teacher. First Unitarian has offered this program for the past three years. Each year groups of about 10 commit to being together for 9 months. We will offer the program again beginning with a retreat in September of 2015 and then will meet twice a month from October 2015 through June 2016. 

Wellspring is an opportunity for learning more about ourselves and our faith through five interconnected components:  
commitment to a daily spiritual practice, 
monthly spiritual direction (self-reflection with a guide), 
small group meetings twice a month , 
reading about the theological and historical foundations of our faith, and
putting our faith into action.  
Wellspring  participants wrote:  
"I learned more about the foundation of UU history and how our church arrived to where we are today. We sampled Buddhism, Transcendentalism, Humanism and more. We celebrated Winter Solstice, a truly lovely experience. We introduced our personal spiritual practices and in the process we learned to trust each other with our souls. Now we are building our own beliefs. We had fine facilitators to nurture our growth and it has been a most amazing experience. I love it and I will continue to expand my beliefs."   
*For me, our Wellspring group has excelled in following the guidelines of our covenant: honoring each other, sharing honestly, being trustworthy and supporting each other's spiritual explorations. I love learning about our varied spiritual pasts. I loved learning the history of our church. And I love the companionship of my eleven special friends as I bob up and down on the waves of my own spiritual journey."
A Wellspring Information Session will help you decide whether Wellspring is a commitment you want to make.   We will be enrolling during the month of May.  

Please join us after the second service at 1:05pm on Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the Channing Room bring your questions, and your open hearts.  
Interested but cannot attend, or questions please contact:  Ron Walker This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    


Seminary For A Day 2015

Sem.1.Day.logo.2Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, 9:15am–4pm, 

at First Unitarian Church campus: Eliot Chapel and Buchan Building

Registration has closed for this event. 

pdfSeminary for A Day Brochure  

Our guest speaker will be Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, the recently retired President of Starr King School for the Ministry. Her keynote presentation is titled Entering the Sanctuary of Openness.

RParkerParker writes, “What might we call sacred if we have left God behind? Many sensitive people of conscience and many thoughtful theologians reject offensive, oppressive and problematic beliefs about God. This keynote proposes that saying ‘No’ to untenable and destructive ideas about God is an act of faith—one that provides an entryway into a sanctuary of openness in which a spiritual awakening can occur and a new sense of the sacred can arise.  Beyond our ‘no’ there is a mysterious ‘yes’ that beckons.

This Seminary for a Day keynote will explore how emerging theologies deal with these questions in surprising ways that can inform, intrigue and inspire us to new expressions of reverence and devotion.”


8:30–9:15am Registration, coffee, Buchan Atrium
9:15 Worship, Eliot Chapel
9:45 Introductions
10:00 Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, Keynote Address
11:15 Questions/Dialogue

12pm Lunch

1:00 Workshop Session A
2:15 Break
2:30 Workshop Session B
4:00 Closing Gathering

Workshop Session A

God, No! — Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker
Going deeper with the theme of the keynote, this workshop will engage participants in examining theological protests against God. We will give particular attention to ethical critiques of God-concepts by humanists, people of color, women, LGBTQ folk, eco-justice advocates, and survivors of trauma. You will be invited to offer your voice: in what ways have you said no to established images of God? Why? Where has no led you? This workshop will offer a respectful and appreciative honoring of the importance of saying no and will celebrate the ethical and spiritual significance of atheism and agnosticism.
Divining the Word — Ron Hall 
Reverence for the Word as a source of understanding and inspiration is common throughout the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions. This workshop will explore the origins and different perceptions of the Word and we will discuss how our varied understandings affect our spiritual lives and practices.
Practicing Peace: The Spirit of Mindfulness
— Katie Radditz and Rev. Bob Schaibly
“True peace is always possible. Yet it requires strength and practice, particularly in times of great difficulty,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh. Come practice in community the Zen way of listening, breathing, walking, and speaking in order to bring more harmony into your daily life. We will discuss the application and implications of the teachings for creating compassion, presence, and joy.
Lectio Divina: Going Deeper with Scripture
— Rev. Thomas Disrud and Mary Gear, Intern Minister
Lectio Divina is a practice from the Benedictine tradition that invites us to go deeper with our reading of scripture in order to more fully understand what it might mean in our lives. In this workshop we will both study the practice and its origins and also work with a passage from a sacred text and explore how it might be part of a spiritual practice. 
The Path of Spiritual Activism — Rev. Kate Lore 
We are living at a time of wide-ranging social unrest and uncertainty about the future. In our ongoing quest for a more just, democratic and sustainable world, it is easy to feel burned out or to lose one’s sense of peace, hope and possibility. The path of spiritual activism, however, reminds us to ground our individual efforts in something greater than ourselves, connecting us to a transformational source of faith, hope and love. This workshop will focus upon spiritual practices and philosophies to keep activists energized and compassionate.
Color Lines — Rev. Preston Moore   
This workshop is an invitation to discover Black American history and its poetry. Early twentieth century African-American poet James Weldon Johnson asks God to tell every human to “Put his eye to the telescope of eternity. Let him see the paper walls of time.” Come see what happens when we let poetry be that telescope. We will touch upon poems about race that get under our skin. 
Qigong: Relax and Renew — Don Liedel 
Take time to move and enhance your life-force energy. Enjoy the slow QiGong movements that bring together intention, stretching, breathing, and gentle exercise to invigorate the vitality of body, mind and spirit. Don adds  aphorisms and humor to his instruction, that help create a sense of calm and well-being.

Workshop Session B

God, Yes! — Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker 
Following up further on the theme of the keynote, this workshop will explore new concepts of God, Goddess, Spirit, and/or Divinity that are emerging from those who have said no to highly problematic and oppressive claims about God. We will reflect on the many new namings that are arising from scientists, eco-justice activists, women, people of color, LGBTQ folk, trauma survivors and others for whom no has been a prelude to a different yes. You will be invited to offer your voice: have you felt, discovered, or named the ground of your spiritual life in a new way? If so, how and why? Where has yes led you? This workshop will offer a respectful and appreciative honoring of those for whom love for the Divine is as necessary as breathing and will celebrate the ethical and spiritual significance of theism. 
Finding the Sacred In the Everyday: Writing Memoir — Rev. Marilyn Sewell 
Our lives are full of epiphanies—awakenings that tell us larger truths about our values and the meaning of our lives. This workshop will spell out for participants the rewards and challenges of memoir writing. In addition, each participant will do a short piece of writing in response to a prompt. Whether you write for yourself, for friends and family, or for publication, memoir is a satisfying way to explore the unique person you are.
Language of Reverence — Rev. Bill Sinkford 
What language do you use to describe the Holy? In a community of varied religious backgrounds and many spiritual paths, must we settle for the lowest common denominator as we give voice to our faith? We can employ the language of ethics as well as our essential descriptions of wonder and mystery.  Come explore a search for language that can nurture our spirits and sustain us as we move in the world.
Contemporary Scripture: Create your own Sacred Text — Katie Radditz and Rev. Bob Schaibly
Scripture has always been compiled over long stretches of time to address people’s spiritual longing and changing  needs. Today, you can be your own editor or writer and start to create your personal sacred text. Class participants will share with one another sayings and images that have given our lives meaning. Please bring something you have loved, that has given you hope or insight—a poem, a photo, a passage from religious teachings. Katie and Bob will also bring poems and materials for making a folding book. 
Walk the Labyrinth — Joyce Gotsch and Mark Woodlief 
Walking the Labyrinth is an ancient, symbolic practice of pilgrimage, embodying the metaphor of traveling inward for guidance, opening at the center, then retuning with a new insight for use in daily life. A little history and various ways to approach this form of walking meditation will be discussed before walking the First Church Labyrinth. The remaining class time will be reserved for reflection on the experience through conversation or writing or visual response.  
Relating to the Great Mystery—Rev. Mark Gallagher
“Great Mystery” is not just a different term for God. It is a spiritually evocative way of referring to the transcending reality which enfolds us. It can give focus to our reverence without reducing it to familiar human images. The term itself reminds us that it is a mystery, not something to pretend to understand or try to figure out. Our sense of the Great Mystery may change with our living experience, or with new information about the physical universe, life, sentience, or esoteric realms, as it must to be honest. In this workshop we will explore how relating to the Great Mystery might engender a reverent sensibility, without the idolatrous associations attaching to the word God.
Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In 
Without Going Crazy — Barbara Ford 
Hope is something we do, not something we have. Active Hope is about finding and offering our best response to the crises of our time and place, using practices and tools that help us discover our part in the healing of the world.


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