Reverend Michael’s Moment — March 2016

Some journeys take you farther from where you come from, but closer to where you belong.                                                                           —Ron Franscell

Whether it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or vice versa, as is often the case here in New England, March always feels to me like the end of a long journey. At no other seasonal transition does it feel as though we have been through so much, that we have changed and been changed by the climate, changed by the astounding, rhythmic and comforting roundabout that Mother Nature dances with all of her children in tow.

Although the turn from winter’s frosty beginning in December to the advent of spring, and the brighter, milder days of March and April is no longer than the other turnings of nature’s wheel, somehow it feels different; more profound, more challenging and more draining too. Darkness lingers, the cold breath of both day and night chill our bones and split the ends of fingers. Yet we persevere and go about the business of life bundled up, spooning up soup around the fire and telling old shared stories by night. Slowly, as if started with damp wood, the light of the world eventually builds. Once again we find that spring is here and we have seen ourselves through another winter. Soon enough the trees will leaf again.

Hallelujah, we were never all alone!

It is easy to see our lives as a solitary quest marching, marching between our nursery and the rest home. However, the truth is that our lives are not as private as we sometimes convince ourselves, and, though we may feel lonely for significant stretches, we are not alone. We are on a journey together: friends and strangers, human beings and all that roots, sings, swims and sets all that flows over, through and beyond the limits of the Earth. Truth is, we cannot choose most of the particulars of our journey, such as where we are born and to whom, nor shape most of the great events of the day. However, we can choose many of the most important things that give our life meaning: our friends, our work, our church among them.

I am so very grateful that you have chosen the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church and never take your participation for granted. As minister, I hope to help create an environment that brings comfort, challenge and light into your life. I hope that your call to KUUC, to our chalice, covenanted community, and shared ministry will only strengthen over the years, bringing clarity and greater meaning to your life as we journey together.

See ya in Church!

Rev. Michael

February 2016 Events & Activities

COMMUNITY BREAKFAST SUPPORT CONTINUES!

We are blessed to have two recent donations made to support the Community Breakfast program. The Thrift Shop at St. James Church has provided a $500 donation to underwrite the expense of food purchase. And our wish for a freezer has come true. Kathy Guenther, the mother of Bonnie White who is commemorated in the Starr Memorial Garden, has donated a small chest freezer! This will allow for storage of items that now take up space in the refrigerator, like donated bread, as well as purchase of items in bulk.

Although it has been a challenging season so far this year, we can remain grateful for the generosity of our incredible volunteer teams six days a week, and the opportunity to provide a valuable service and interfaith demonstration to community members in need.

Calling All Quilters!           Gather on Tuesday, February 2

The vision of next year’s raffle quilt will begin to formulate in the hearts, minds and hands of those who wish to be part of the effort. The proceeds from quilt, which will be raffled off at next year’s Green Sale, supports both the Community Breakfast program as well as KUUC. If you’d like to join us in 2016 please contact Hazel.  Next year’s quilt will be a hand-quilted project sure to delight and dazzle.  We invite you to consider joining us as many hands make for light work.   Contact Hazel at 499-6162.

Slice of Fellowship & Let’s Dance!   Friday, February 5

Slice of Fellowship is a monthly potluck dinner open to all members and friends of KUUC held on the first Friday of every month during the church year in the Parish Hall. We begin with wine and cheese at 5:30 pm followed by dinner at 6:00 pm. Our February theme is Colorful Foods hosted by Gerry and Jim Fredericksen. You are asked to bring a veggie, salad, main dish, or dessert. In keeping with our status as a green sanctuary, we ask that you purchase and prepare food accordingly. We ask that you bring your own dishes, flatware and napkins. (Wine glasses and coffee mugs will be supplied.) This will keep clean-up more manageable and usage of the dishwasher to a minimum. Please call Betty Forrest 357-1534 with any questions.

And After Slice… Let’s Dance! with Carin Torp. Waltz, Fox Trot, Cha Cha and bonus “Tip Fox” if there’s time. . . How about moving our bodies a bit after sharing a meal for February’s Slice of Fellowship? Carin will have music and the know-how, you bring the attitude and willingness and we’ll have some winter time fun together.

If you would like to donate a little something for this entertainment, it would happily be accepted by KUUC coffers I’m sure.  No experience necessary, no partner necessary, young and old and everywhere in-between, you can even just stay in your chair if you like. . . . hope to see you there!

Poetry Group – Wednesday, February 10

Join us each month on the second Wednesday at 5:30 P.M. in the library to read, or listen to, original, found and favorite poems.

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Informational Evening        February 12

Caitlin Peale Sloan is a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. CLF is hosting an event Friday, February 12, 2016 from 5:30-7:30pm at Antioch University New England, 40 Avon Street in Keene to discuss the pipeline.

The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline is a hot topic in southwestern New Hampshire. Sloan is an environmental lawyer with Conservation Law Foundation (a New England environmental nonprofit with offices in Boston, Concord, Montpelier, Portland, and Providence), who has been working on pipeline issues for two years in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

CLF will be joining Antioch’s new president, Bradley Campbell, on February 12 to talk about what the pipeline would mean for the communities it affects, energy in New England as a whole, and climate implications. Please join us and invite friends who are interested in hearing more about the impacts of the pipeline.

Lunch Bunch – Wednesday, February 17

Senior Lunch Bunch is a monthly potluck luncheon open to all senior members and friends of KUUC, an opportunity to meet and socialize with peers. We meet on the 3rd Wednesday at Noon, September through May in the parish hall. Please bring your own dishes, flatware and napkins. (Glasses and coffee mugs will be provided) Darcy Doyle and Carolyn Allen are hosts this month. Note: If school is canceled due to inclement weather, Lunch Bunch is also canceled. Call Betty Forrest at 357-1534, or email mandbforrest@myfairpoint.net with questions.

F.A.S.T.E.R. Support Group Postponed

Melinda Hildreth Honkala has been leading a peer support group for families impacted by substance abuse on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month here at KUUC. This meeting will not occur in January or February 2016, but will resume on March 1. In the interim, interested persons can travel to Peterborough every Thursday to attend a F.A.S.T.E.R. meeting held each Thursday from 7-8:30pm in the Bond Wellness Center at Monadnock Community Hospital.

Mark Your Calendars: Worship Workshop Begins April 26!

Have you always wanted to lead a worship service but weren’t sure where to begin? Do you feel there is a sermon within you yearning to break free? Have you led worship services before but are looking for an opportunity to hone your skills and learn more about the art and craft of worship development? Then you really want to take part in Rev. Michael’s workshop “It’s More Than a Sermon: Creating Quality Worship 2.0.”

For those of you who need to plan well in advance, the workshop will take place on the following Tuesday nights in the spring: April 26, May 3, 10 and 17 from 7-9 P.M. This class will be limited to 10 participants—if more than 10 people want to take the class we will offer a second section at another time.

Ferry Beach Get-A-Way Weekend                                        May 20, 21, 22

The KUUC Ferry Beach Committee is excited that we have been able to change our annual Ferry Beach Get-A-Way weekend to May 20-22, 2016. Ferry Beach is a UU Conference Center on Saco Bay in Maine. During the Spring and Fall weekends, the facilities are rented by UU Church groups.

This year we will be sharing Ferry Beach with the Acton/Stowe UU Church. Our weekend is a wonderful intergenerational gathering. Imagine long walks on the beach or in the nearby State Forest, conversations in rocking chairs on the porch, playing board games, joining various activities or just solitary time. The accommodations are rustic, but the setting is majestic. Costs are below.

Lodging              $140/room for the weekend (sleep 1,2,3 or 4 people) or $32/weekend campsite

Cleaning fee      $10.00/ “family” unit

Meals                  Provided by Pangea Food Service in the DeWolfe Dining Hall. Four (4) meals are included: Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner & Sunday breakfast.

Adult   $48 (13 years+)        Child  $32 (5 -12 years)

For registration forms and information visit the Ferry Beach table at coffee hour. The forms are also available in the KUUC office. Registration and $100.00 deposit are due February 20, 2016 and full payment is due March 20, 2016. Contact Jim Peale or Carol McIntyre-Peale, 357-7875, pealefamily@gmail.com for all details.

Rummage Sale!   May 28

Rummage is so fun and profitable that I am pleased to announce we will be doing an ongoing bi-yearly event.  The next rummage sale is set to take place on May 28th.

Please take notice of the two newly designated “rummage drop spot here” signs, located in the area across from the ladies room door and also on the landing between the former R.E. space & the elevator.

As a community we have opportunity here to exorcise our “green” values while working towards our budgetary needs.  I would encourage us all to consider creating a “drop spot” in our homes for all the things that no longer serve.  We all have excess that can be better used elsewhere, so let’s redistribute together and make a difference for our church, our homes, our community.  We will have pick-up options in the near future.

If you would like to be involved in the sorting and pricing process contact Hazel Erdoben-Evans.   Thank you all for your participation!                                     

Performance Based Fundraisers (People and Ideas Wanted)

Rev. Michael is looking to talk with anyone interested in creating performance-based fundraisers together. Ideas are welcome and people willing to do the work of staging a concert, play, pageant or coffee house. Those willing to share their talents as set-builders, singers, dancers, writers, house managers or musicians contact Rev. Michael via email: rev.michaelkuuc1824@gmail.com. Although we may have a meeting sometime, we are not looking to create a committee just stage some shows, raise money for KUUC and have fun!!!

 

Board President Lucius Parshall – February 2016

The tinsel’s packed away for another year, but I was honored to be part of our Christmas Eve service. I’m often a sucker for things traditional, and the Christian overtones connect me with my own youth, for better or worse.

Since joining KUUC, I’m trying to do this free and responsible search for truth and meaning, but it can’t happen in a vacuum. I test new ideas against what I once believed as true. This makes me embrace my roots, and honor my traditions, if only on a personal level. I thank each one of you for teaching me tolerance both for myself and with others.

I also think on Liberalism’s Big Tent. If we are a welcoming congregation, where are the liberal Christians, where are the Eisenhower Republicans? Pete Seeger said that, “It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” I think that Pete was right, but learning to talk has to be hand in hand with respect.

This month we have begun a new policy, you may have noticed. We have a designated point person who each week is identified from the pulpit during announcements. That person is charged to be available to visitors. These visitors are seeking, but often leave without finding or even identifying what they are seeking. The best we can do for them is to listen. One of the tag-lines that the Communication Committee came up with was “KUUC–Where all your answers are questioned.” We need to go beyond saying that we are a dogma free congregation and live it.

The history of our Liberal faith has placed us ahead on so many issues. It is a position that I am loth to surrender, and do not wish to let go due to complacency. We have a good thing, and expanding our base is good for our community and the world. I’m ready to clarify our vision and work together to strengthen our congregation.  Please share your thoughts and ideas to help make this happen.

Peace,

Lucius Parshall

 

Rev. Michael’s Moment – February 2016

You teach me, I forget. You show me, I remember. You involve me, I understand.    ― Edward O. Wilson

I have been doing a lot of thinking about church life—how could I otherwise, such reflection is central to my calling and my work. Congregational life, the joy of worshipping together on Sunday mornings, the larger ministry we share and my evolving relationships with you, the wonderful, welcoming and thoughtful people that comprise our KUUC community all bring me joy.

However, I also spend a fair amount of time in committee meetings which, though often cast as pointless time suckers, are vitally important part to a shared ministry such as ours. The various committees, the clusters and the Board of Trustees each provide support for our community; they can inspire us to new levels of individual and collective growth; they create vision, stimulate worthy dreams; they make important decisions about how we carry out our mission, preserve our beautiful sanctuary and maintain the common property that we have hold in trust. Participation in the process of church life, growth and government is both central and sacred to Unitarian Universalism, with historical connections stretching back to the earliest churches in America.

One thing I have noticed lately, which is also commonplace in the cyclical nature of congregational life is a lot of talk about the level of our commitment. We worry about the participation of membership, the need for more folks to volunteer, the hope that we can integrate newer people into the mix, and the of lack of people taking advantage of our wonderful programs and fellowship activities. Sometimes we express frustration over what seems like a few people trying to cover all the bases and do all the work that needs to be done around here—and these are perfectly natural concerns of caring people. I must say that from time to time I have contributed to these discussions and those equally important conversations that naturally go hand in hand with them: conversations about how so many of us are overworked and stressed out, or are busy dealing with illnesses and family issues, who feel they hardly have enough time for their children and grandchildren or that they have already done so much for KUUC.

So, I want to hold up some important themes that have risen to the top for me. I think that perhaps we are looking at all of these questions about community involvement and commitment level in a manner that probably isn’t as productive or successful as we would like. We need to make sure that we are enjoying ourselves even as we do the hard work of managing and promoting this congregation. We need to remember and share the deep satisfaction we get from doing our part. We need to share our own stories about how we made friendships and got to know people better while painting walls and planning rummage sales and helping out with RE.

Unitarian Universalism is an active faith tradition focused on service, community, curiosity and the democratic process. Without participating in the life of the church, we miss out on something vitally important about the religion we have freely chosen; things that no amount of pamphlet reading or listening to sermons can give us. Ours isn’t a path that believes in guilting people into doing something. The work, worship and society that are at the heart of congregational life should never be seen, promoted or lived as mere drudgery, as obligations, or “shoulds” and “musts.” We do ourselves a disservice when we do not aim high, making all of church work joyful as well as productive.

I hope that KUUC will bring you intellectual challenge and growth, opportunities to learn about yourself and live your values, that it will bring mutual support and fond fellowship to enrich your lives, and yes, work, that makes you feel part of something important and rewarding.

Yours in Faith and Fellowship,

Rev. Michael

Board President Lucius Parshall – January 2016

As most of you should know, with Michelle’s recent move for work (Congratulations Michelle!) my elected status was accelerated. While I already miss the guidance of Michelle, I’m excited to take on a new role in promoting our liberal faith.

Someone recently asked me to put the word “liberal” in context. I said I was using the term liberal from an intellectual perspective rather than political. I look over our principles, and I wonder how many conservatives and theists that may stumble upon our church would agree with my use of the word liberal. Are we the “big tent” church, or have we been galvanized by a too tight interpretation of our own liberalism? I think on our third principle, “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregation.” Does this happen with each person that comes through our door? I can’t say, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Now I’ve promised Rev Michael that I’ll leave the sermons to him, but I do believe that we have a good thing here within our faith. Good for our community, and worth preserving. We all need to nurture our church not only spiritually, but also financially. While I believe that where there is no vision, the people perish, having a heated sanctuary to gather together in has to be right up there as well. I also see solid financial footing is the foundation upon which our vision resides.

Over the next few months I hope to be examining all of our resources and ask if we are putting them into best practice for nurturing our vision, and sustaining our future. I will truly welcome your thoughts and suggestions on this matter that concerns not just our current congregation, but also those potential congregants who have yet to participate. It seems to me a natural way in which to live out faith.

Peace,

Lucius Parshall

Adult Religious Exploration Book Discussion

BOOK DISCUSSION: THE CONVERSATION

“The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care” by Angelo Volendes, MD, will be the focus of an Adult RE book discussion in January/ February 2016. Book discussion sessions will be co-facilitated by Nancy Brigham and Dottie Bauer, and will be scheduled for several Sundays after church with specific dates yet to be determined.

Please contact Susan in the office if you would like us to order a paperback copy of the book for you. DEADLINE for requesting a book is Monday, January 18, 2016 (MLK Day). If you have any questions, please contact Nancy (npbrigham@gmail.com) or Dottie (dottiebauer@gmail.com).

November 2015 KUUC Events & Activities

Berry Bowl Project – November 1,7,29

Every year in November we gather to make berry bowls to sell at the annual Greens Sale. Volunteers are needed to help pick the partridge berries, create the bowls and finish them three weeks later. Please consider joining us this year as new people are always needed to help with each part of the project. There will be a sign-up sheet at coffee hour for the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 1                       Pick berries, time and place TBA or pick on your own

Saturday, November 7                   9-Noon          Make berry bowls, church kitchen

Sunday, November 29                    11:30               After coffee hour, church kitchen

Poetry Group – Wednesday, November 11

Join us each month on the second Wednesday at 5:30 P.M. in the library to read, or listen to, original, found and favorite poems.

Lunch Bunch – Wednesday, November 18

SENIOR LUNCH BUNCH is a monthly potluck luncheon open to all senior members and friends of KUUC, an opportunity to meet and socialize with peers. (Senior is loosely defined.) We meet on the 3rd Wednesday at Noon, September through May. Call Betty or Mike Forrest at 357-1534, or email mandbforrest@myfairpoint.net .

KUUC to Host Interfaith Thanksgiving Service November 22

On Sunday, November 22nd @ 4 P.M., KUUC will host the Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Do not worry sports fans, the Patriots are playing on Monday night that week—we checked.

The change to Sunday was made due to the low attendance we have experienced when holding the service on the Tuesday evening prior to Thanksgiving. By changing the day and time of the event we hope to increase the number of attendees, particularly those with families.

As the host for the event, we will need to provide a collation after the service. If you are interested in helping with that rather large undertaking please contact D’Vorah Kelley, Fellowship Cluster Lead.

Hymn Sing “Celebrate in Song” Sunday, November 29

Deadline for hymn requests is Sunday, November 15, 2015.

 Now is an opportunity to sing your favorite hymn/hymns. All you need to do is take a moment to browse through our hymnals and enter your requests. Perhaps you have a favorite hymn from another hymnal. We can always print the words on an insert. Please write numbers and/or titles on the lines below. We will attempt to include at least first requests. Please include your name and best way to reach you in case we have questions for you. Please put the form in the box, decorated in music wrapping, located on the Welcome Table in the parish hall. Forms will also be available in the sanctuary on tables by both entries.

Thank you for sharing and participating!   Betty Forrest (357-1534)   mandbforrest@myfairpoint.net

Book Nook at the Greens Sale

It’s the time of year to check your shelves for gently used books, CDs, videos, etc. that you no longer need. Thanks to your donations, each December the BOOK NOOK tables are filled with fantastic buys during the annual Greens Sale. Please leave all items in the undercroft area opposite the furnace room door or on the ledge by the stairs to the undercroft. If you need help getting things to the church, please call Nancy Brigham and arrangements will be made to pick them up at 852-5154.

KUUC Outdoors – Sunday, December 6, 1:00pm

Roam the trails in Robin Hood Forest!

Meet at the Robin Hood Park Reservoir . Parking off Roxbury Street

 We will explore the wilds of Robin Hood Park in Keene including:

The Octagon, Fern Dell, Ascutney, Boulder, Jumbo Rock, Blarney Stone, and more!

Questions or suggestions? Contact Tom Julius (603) 357-4521, tjulius54@gmail.com

As always, KUUC Outdoors says… Go take a hike!

Reserving Space at KUUC

Our building is used so frequently that the calendar takes on a life of its own! Please either check the calendar posting at the top of the stairs to the office, or call Susan to inquire about scheduling a meeting.

Church Office Hours

The church office will customarily be open M-F from 9:30 A.M. – 2:30 P.M. It’s always a good idea to call or email first to make sure Susan is available – 352-1719.

CALLING ALL QUILTERS!

Beginning in early February the vision of next year’s raffle quilt will begin to formulate in the hearts, minds and hands of those who wish to be part of the effort. The proceeds from quilt, which will be raffled off at next year’s Green Sale, supports both the Community Breakfast program as well as KUUC. If you’d like to join us in 2016 please contact Hazel so we can determine a schedule that will accommodate all.  Next year’s quilt will be a hand-quilted project sure to delight and dazzle.  We invite you to consider joining us as many hands make for light work.   Contact Hazel at 499-6162.