glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
December 1-15, 2009
~  A Welcoming Congregation  ~
MVUUF Building by Lew Hann
Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
8690 Yankee Street, Dayton, OH  45458
Click on the headings below to navigate directly to these topics!
Letter from the Minister
Keeping Up with Our Members
Around the Fellowship
Printable MVUUF Calendar!
YRE Information
Don't Forget!
Save the Date!
Letter from the Minister
The Night Before Christmas and All That 

Before my door closed on the last Halloweeners, the TV was already blasting "Deck the Halls" Christmas commercials.  It's bad enough that half the costumes crossing my doorway that night were of Star War figures and other Hollywood images, but the vision we are presented with for Christmas is all about frantic commercialism - buying decorations, gifts, and must have taste treats.  I'd almost be happier with commercials selling us religious doctrine, at least then it would have meaning to some people.
The holiday season is a difficult one for many of us.  We search for what has meaning in this holiday and the thing that stands out primarily is the significance of being together with family.  But families are often one of the biggest challenges in many people's lives.  And the holiday season is sometimes a reminder of other more difficult times in our lives.  A time when we may have lost someone or we may have faced a difficult family situation.
For these reasons, I often find myself hibernating during this season.  This is the holiday scene I imagine: a fire in the fireplace, a good book, and some holiday sweets (my favorite are chocolate chip cookies, just so you know).  Maybe the Messiah playing in the background.
And then when we're all snuggled down for a long winter's nap, there arises such a clatter that I jump from my bed to see what IS the matter.  And it's Something- any number of Somethings that you don't want to deal with during the Christmas season.  It's some family member having a crisis and calling you at 2:00 a.m.  Or you just can't sleep because you're re-living that not so pleasant conversation you had with your partner.  Or you remember something you should have done that you just didn't get done.  This isn't what Christmas is supposed to be like, you say to yourself.  It's supposed to happy and everyone is supposed to get along and be peaceful and all that crap.
But Christmas, like every other day, presents us with the reality of human relationships and human suffering.  Christmas often brings stress into our lives instead of peace. 
How do we re-envision this holiday as a time of peaceful meditation?  A time that is not necessarily about celebrating, but for quiet reflection?  A time for a quiet walk in the woods or a time to finally establish a spiritual practice that works for us?  Just starting the day with five minutes of meditation or 15 minutes of yoga, or a time to read some of your favorite poems to yourself or to someone else.  Or maybe a time to practice lowering our expectations for ourselves and others?  (I'll let you know how this goes for me.)
And you can hear me exclaim as I drive out of sight, "Merry Christmas to all, and please DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY!"  Is that how it goes?

~ Rev. Amy Russell
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Quick Links
December 6 - God, Spirit, or Something Else?  Rev. Amy Russell
~ Can UUs ever feel comfortable using the G word?  Can we find a language that describes something unknowable which the majority of UUs could ever accept?  How do we find a spiritual language which has depth and meaning for such a theologically diverse group?

December 13 - A New Humanism  Rev. Amy Russell
~ In the past, humanists rejected the idea of spirituality as being too supernatural.  Perhaps there is a growing sense of humanism and spirituality having harmony in finding meaning in the here and now.
December 20 - The Despondent Winter Rev. Amy Russell
~ The winter season often brings for many a deepening sense of their recurrent feelings of depression.  Having an awareness of depression as an illness with chemical and psychological roots can enable some to seek help.  Having a community that cares also helps.
December 24 - Christmas Eve Service  Rev. Amy Russell
December 27 - Looking Back, Looking Forward  Rev. Leslie Woodward 
~ The beginning of a new year can be a time of renewing our vision of the possible, of changing how we see the world and our part within it.  As we begin to face the New Year, we need a time to reflect on our journey as individuals and as a sacred community.
Keeping Up With Our Members
Gordon Taylor's wife, Mariellen, passed away on November 15.  Please keep Gordon in your thoughts and prayers.

Shannon Hillard and Jesse Gaither are excited to announce the arrival of their new baby girl, Willa Kai! Willa made her first appearance on November 12 at 10:39 a.m. and weighed 8 lbs 5 oz. and is 21 inches long.  Congratulations!!
For all those members who are experiencing difficult times in their lives, please know that your Fellowship community is here to support you.
Printable MVUUF Events Calendar!
Click HERE for a printable version of the MVUUF calendar!  This calendar is only for the upcoming two week period, but it will be updated for every Forum.  It doesn't include outside group events, so always check with Kristin or on the web site for the most up-to-date, expanded calendar.
YRE Calendar for December:

Chalice Children class (Preschool) 
December 6 - Class: Me and My World
December 13 - Class: Me and My World

Kindergarten - 5th grade class:
December 6
 - Children's Worship
December 13 - Workshop Rotation
                        ~ K & 1st grade:  Workshop 1 - Rosh Hashanah
                        ~ 2nd & 3rd grades:  Workshop 2 - Story Behind Christmas
                        ~ 4th and 5th grades:  Workshop 3 - Passover

6th - 12th grade class: 
December 6 - Youth Worship
December 13- Class: Neighboring Faiths
Family Dinners
Want to get to know other families with children in the YRE program?  Sign up for family dinners!  Sharing dinner with others is a time-honored way to build relationships.  The Family Dinners program groups 3 families together for a monthly dinner.  This is a 3 month commitment:  you will host one month and be a guest the other two months with the same group of families.  We will have two "sessions" of family dinners, one each in winter and spring.  Sign up for one or both to get to know more YRE families!  Sign ups will begin after Thanksgiving and the Family Dinners will start in the new year.
Junior High Youth Group Bake Sale
The Junior High Youth Group will be holding a pre-order bake sale once again.  Look for their table out in the Gathering Space before and after service on December 6 and 13.  You can pre-order all your holiday goodies and they'll be ready for you to pick up after service on December 20.  All proceeds will go to help feed the hungry.
**For more detailed information about the YRE program, as well as YRE events and schedules, please go to our web site at and click on "Religious Education."
Fellowship Thanksgiving Day Enjoyed by All!
Thank 1
Photo by MVUUF member Maury Wyckoff
Thank 2
Photo by MVUUF member Maury Wyckoff 
Around the Fellowship
Community Discussion Group Topics*
December 6
- "How We Enrich Our Lives"  Moderator: Carol Vincent
December 13 - "Setting Annual Goals"  Moderator: Julie Bragg
*This adult group meets every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the Founders' Room for fellowship and thought-provoking discussions led by member volunteers.  For a more detailed listing of topics, please see the Sunday bulletin.

Why Do You Need a ChicoBag?
Because you care about the environment!  Each year, the U.S. consumes 30 billion plastic bags.  The ChicoBag is the handy reusable bag that fits in your pocket or purse.  ChicoBags also make great gifts and are for sale after Sunday service or by contacting Deb Miyake or Jay Snively.

Daytime Book Club Title*
December 16 - Savannah: Or a Gift for Mr. Lincoln, by John Jakes
(December's club meeting will be at Carol Vincent's house - bring a dish to share, too!)
January 20 - Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
February TBA - Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
*We meet one Wednesday a month, at 10:30 a.m., in the Fellowship Library.  We then go out for lunch together.  All are welcome!

Food Fanciers
Come join us on December 11 as Janice Beers demonstrates how to make her Peanut Butter Pie - sounds delicious!  We'll be at the MVUUF kitchen at 2 p.m.  All are welcome!  Contact Sylvia Wince for more information.

St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch
December 12 Menu:
Lasagna, green salad, fruit salad, 100% juice
*All donations must be delivered heated & ready to serve 15-20 people.  Donations should be taken to 120 W. Apple St. by 10:30 a.m.  Contact or sign up in the Gathering Space.
Evening Book Club*
December 8
- Persepolis, by Marjorie Satrapi
*We meet the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Boston Stoker Centerville (behind the DLM at Whipp and Far Hills).  New participants are always welcome!  For more information contact Ann Snively.

Chalicelight Gallery
The paintings and photographs of Vijay Sharon Govender will be on display during the month of December.  Sharon is an Indian native of South Africa.  She grew up in the apartheid era and moved to Dayton with her husband in 2003.  Govender draws on her Hindu beliefs, Indian heritage and African homeland to enrich her work.  She focuses on mixed media and photography.  Her work is further enriched by her travels to Africa, India, the Far East and Europe.  She recently completed a master's in special education and hopes to incorporate more art in the classroom.  Her work can also be viewed at and  Please join us after service on December 13 for a reception welcoming Ms. Govender and we hope you get a chance to enjoy this wonderful display!

Smart Choices
Smart Choices will meet December 18 at 2 p.m.  Laurel Herminghausen & Jan Campbell will perform a Christmas reading.  Bring your favorite Christmas story or memory to share, too!

Memorial Garden Phase Two Nears Completion
We invite everyone to inspect the Memorial Garden as Sheldon Mutter is finishing the six decorative pillars and the memorial bench.  Two of the pillars mark the start of the curving gravel pathway, which ends in a circle marked by four additional pillars creating an enclosed space.  The bench on the west side of the circle will face the stone-mounted memorial plaque on the east side and look toward the wetlands in the background.  The committee has decided this concludes our work for this year and we will begin again in the spring.  We anticipate the project will be finished by summer of 2010, but you can already see that this is a memorial garden of which we can all be proud.  Thirteen people have pre-registered to date.  Memorial Garden brochures, policies and procedures information, and application forms are available in the church office.
~ John Bierman, Memorial Garden Chair

Offering for December
The Social Concerns Committee invites plate offerings for the Minister's Discretionary Fund and the YRE Social Justice project.  The Minister's Discretionary fund helps the minister distribute resources to members of the Fellowship or the outside community who may have fallen on hard times and need financial assistance.  The YRE Social Justice project allows the youth of the congregation to raise funds to support a social justice cause of their choice.

Fair Trade Coffee Crusade
The Fair Trade Certified label means the farmers who grew your coffee were guaranteed a fair price and access to credit for their harvest.  The Social Concerns Committee is participating in the Fair Trade Coffee Crusade and is joining with the UU owned business Fair Trade Coffee Company, to bring you the finest in coffee.  For every pound of coffee sold, our congregation receives $3.00.  And we're promoting public awareness of the plight of farmers around the world, too.  And in case coffee's not your cup of, um, tea, we have tea and chocolate bars available!  A member of the SC committee will be present after Sunday services to take your coffee order.  We'll fax your information that day and you should receive your order in two weeks, delivered right to the church!  It's that easy! 
Questions? Contact Bob Lewis or Rita Schindel.  Brochures will be available during coffee hour and you can visit for even more information.
Wassail Time!
It's holiday time again and that means it's time for our annual Wassail celebration!  Join us as Choir presents a celebration of the season in song and word.  This year's program is centered on the miracle and wonder of birth.  Come enjoy the fellowship and fun!  Don't forget to bring a dessert to share after the program.  Also, for those who enjoy singing carols, we'll gather around the piano (after getting your desserts, of course!) and sing until we can sing no more.  Join us on December 13 at 6:30 p.m. - mark your calendar, gather your goodies and we'll see you there!

Guest at Your Table
Guest at Your Table is the UU Service Committee annual fundraiser that puts UU faith in action, by raising funds to help people struggling for basic human rights.  This year, the fundraiser will be November 29 - January 9.  GAYT allows your family to sponsor an international visitor by money in your GAYT box as you eat your main daily meal.  You may prefer to collect coins throughout the weeks, or simply write a check.  If you prefer an envelope for a check, rather than a box for coins, both are available throughout the campaign.  Please make your check out to UUSC, and return it to Maureen O'Meara or Kristin Freeman (Fellowship Administrator) before January 9.  All proceeds support the UUSC for its international and domestic human rights programs.  Please consider becoming a UUSC member.  If you're not sure whether your membership is current, Maureen O'Meara has a list of members and expiration dates, as well as the cost of joining.  Thank you for your generosity during this holiday season!
Panera Bread with Amy Cancelled
Lunch with Amy at Panera by the Dayton Mall will be cancelled for December 24 and 31.
Don't Forget!
**Cinemaniacs will meet December 6 at Danbarry South around 5.  Please contact Pete Hering.
Save the Date!
**The Congregational Meeting will be after service on January 17. 
** "Bowls of Hope Soup Supper" will be February 27 at 6 p.m.