glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
February 16-28, 2010
~  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 President
Keeping Up with Our Members
Around the Fellowship
Printable MVUUF Calendar!
Letter from the DRE
YRE Information
Don't Forget!
Save the Date!
Letter from the President

An end to tinkering.


I think we are having growth pains. In these columns I've often talked about how many changes we have gone through and how well we are doing - and we have and are! We have a lot of exciting work going on with a growing young adult membership, meaningful adult religious education classes, and the beginning of an important long range planning process. We're responsibly caring for our facility and building a memorial garden. And we're beginning covenant groups and paying attention to deepening our relationships.


But it struck me at our January Congregational Meeting that perhaps things aren't as rosy as I thought. Here is what I am beginning to see:


·         We struggle every year for an adequate pledge drive to provide funding for staff and programs.

·         We are having difficulty filling important leadership roles (such as a Religious Education Representative).

·         Our attendance at worship (an important measure of church growth) is flat.

·         Our attendance in Religious Education classes is no longer growing.


I've been reading about change in congregations and it has been quite enlightening. Gilbert Rendle* writes extensively on the subject, and he describes the life cycle of a congregation as an arc. According to Rendle, a congregation begins with a dream and builds its goals and structures up to a ministry. The ministry is the peak of the arc. Once it is achieved, the natural cycle is to start to decline. These declines typically stimulate some kind of response from leaders to go back and fix the structures to return us to equilibrium. It is a short-term response to a problem rather than a creative response born out of a strong sense of mission. This constant revisiting and tinkering by a congregation that just keeps fixing things can lead to a diminished sense of ministry and growth.


What I think we are seeing is the peak of the arc. After several years of considerable effort we built a building, hired a minister, and made other significant changes. But now our leaders are tired. We could be on the verge of that decline Rendle predicts and one possible response would be to make short-term, technical fixes. How shall we address these concerns? After all, they are legitimate. What we really need to do, according to Rendle, is revisit the dream and the goals - starting a new arc at the peak of the old one.


That, fellow members, is what long range planning is all about. As we address the urgent challenges we will need a vision for a vital, living mission. The joy of being in this community is the shared work we do that comes from caring about something greater than ourselves.

Our energy comes from this work of cultivation, nurturing seeds for our future and coming together to decide who we are and who we should be. I, for one, am excited about our future and the process of finding our way forward. An end to tinkering!


~ Alice Diebel


*Rendle, Gilbert R. (1998). Leading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual and Organizational Tools for Leaders. The Alban Institute, Inc.


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Quick Links

February 21 - How We Live, How We Die  Rev. Amy Russell
~ Does our dying tell us anything about how we lived?  Does our living tell us anything about how we'll die?  How is a life measured or should it be?  These questions about life are often raised for us when someone we love dies.  We are reminded again of the brief but amazing nature of life.

February 28 - Practice, Practice, Practice  Rev. Leslie Woodward
~ The season of Lent began February 17 and continues until April 3.  Lent is the traditional time for engaging in religious practices for Christians, a season for reflection and deepening your spirituality.  Modern UUs have been slow to consider that deepening one's spirituality requires discipline.  What practice in your life puts you in touch with the "direct experience of...transcending mystery and wonder?"  What meaning does, or can, the season of Lent hold for us as UUs?

March 7 - Women and Violence  Rev. Amy Russell & Corinne Woods
~ Women all over the world are victims of violence, oppression and slavery.  We'll hear stories about these women and talk about organizations that are working to free them.

Keeping Up With Our Members

Members Don and Ginny Renner celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary on February 1!  Ginny continues to enjoy her many bridge clubs and Don enjoys Turner classic films at home.  Congratulations on this marvelous milestone!

Bill Bogan is recovering at home after a kidney removal operation.  Please keep him in your thoughts as he undergoes this journey. 
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.
A Letter from the DRE

Part of the church experience is to make connections with others.   Connections are what help give church that home away from home feel.  For children, these connections are such an important part of their development as lifelong Unitarian Universalist.  Most children today have so many activities they are involved in that family time can sometimes seem few and far between.  Having support of the UU church becomes such an important part of a child's life.  There are so many ways for a child to become connected at church.

The first, and seemingly obvious, connection that a child maybe makes is the bond with one's peers in class.  In the past three years that I have been a director of religious education, I have seen many child to child friendships bloom and blossom into those lifelong connections that we hope our child will have.  I see this in youth the most.  This comes from the connections some of the youth have made with each other when they were much younger, are now these beautiful friendships.  This may also come from the fact that UU churches support a child to explore their beliefs of what is true and meaningful to them; therefore finding other children with similar values they have. 

Then there are those connections a child creates with the adults of our congregation.  To me, this is a BIG one.  These intergenerational connections support opportunities for adults to guide and get to know children (as well as adults learning from the child).  The youth religious education program has a wonderful event our YRE committee hosts called Mystery Friends.  This is a wonderful example of how intergenerational connections are made.  An adult from the congregation is matched up with a child.  The adult sends the child clues each week, and after a couple of weeks, there is a dinner where the child gets to know that adult. 

What about connections made family to family?  We have events here at MVUUF supporting that as well.  Family dinners are one of the many ways for families to connect.  These dinners gives families opportunities to hang out with each other outside of church. 

As you can see, the connections are there.  We just have to make them. 

If you are interested in joining in on the family dinners and/or would like to sign up (or sign your child up) for mystery friends, please let me know.  There are deadlines to both of these events.  As always, if you have any questions, I am happy to answer!  You can call me at 436-3628.  Thank you everyone and have a wonderful & blessed New Year!

Smile, Natalie; Director of Religious Education

YRE Calendar for February:

Chalice Children class (Preschool):
February 21 - Class: Me and My World - My world has fish (with Sean and Ed)
February 28 - Class: Me and My World - My world has birds (with Genevieve and Sean)
Kindergarten - 5th grade class:
February 21 
- Workshop Rotation
                        ~ K & 1st grade:  Workshop 2 - Eating Local 
                        ~ 2nd & 3rd grades:  Workshop 3 - Fair Trade
                        ~ 4th and 5th grades:  Workshop 1 - Vegetarianism
February 28 - Workshop Rotation
                        ~ K & 1st grade:  Workshop 3 - Fair Trade
                        ~ 2nd & 3rd grades:  Workshop 1 - Vegetarianism
                        ~ 4th and 5th grades:  Workshop 2 - Eating Local
6th - 12th grade class: 
February 21
- Class: Neighboring Faiths (Tentative fieldtrip day)
February 28 - Class: Neighboring Faiths
**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."
Around the Fellowship

Community Discussion Group Topics*
February 21 - "Views of the Fellowship."  Moderator: Jim Faulconer
*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.

Daytime Book Club Title*
February 17 - Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
March 19 - Spite Fences, by Trudy Krisher  *This will be held on a Friday so the author can join us!
April 14 - Women of Brewster Place, by Gloria Naylor
*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!

Evening Book Club
The Evening Book Club will meet at 7 p.m. on Tues., March 9 at Boston Stoker (behind the DLM at Far Hills and Whipp) to discuss The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson.  New participants are welcome.  Contact Ann Snively if you'd like more information.

Food Fanciers
Sylvia Wince will demonstrate how to make her famous Killer Brownies on February 19 at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship kitchen.  All are invited and this is a secret if you want to know how to make them, you'll have to come and watch!


Bowls of Hope Soup Supper

Plan to attend the Bowls of Hope Soup Supper on Sat., February 27 at 6 pm.  This is a benefit dinner for the Dayton International Peace Museum and the Dayton FoodBank.  Pick out a beautiful pottery bowl made by a local artisan and select from a variety of soups (including vegetarian) donated by some of Dayton's best restaurants.  Specialty breads will be donated by BoosalisBaking Company and Rahn's Artisan Breads.  Desserts will be provided by our own Reeve's Catering and Sisters' Catering.  Tickets are on sale in the Gathering Space after the service and must be purchased in advance:  Adults $20; Children under 10, $10 without a bowl.

St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
March 13 Menu:
Chicken (BBQ or fried), roasted potatoes, green beans, fruit salad
*All items must be delivered heated and ready to serve 15-20 people.  Donations should be taken to 120 W. Apple St. by 10:30 a.m.  Sign up in the Gathering Space.

Calling All Night Owls!

The OWL program  (Our Whole Lives, Sexuality Education for 7th - 9th graders) needs at least two volunteers and preferably four (two women and two men) to help chaperone an overnight at the Fellowship on Sat., March 20.  Starting at 4:00 p.m., the youth will have a dance party, watch videos and stay up late (REAL late).  By 11:00 p.m., Shannon Hansen and Richard Donnelly will be ready to crash.  That's when volunteers are needed to stay up with the youth.  Ideally, two volunteers will take the 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. shift and another two will be on the dawn watch, 3:00 - 7:00 a.m.  After the youth clean up their party debris, we'll all go out for breakfast around 8:30 a.m.  If you are a night person ready for a slumber party and before all the party slots are filled, e-mail or phone Richard or Shannon or see them after service.


Knit, Crochet & More
The Knit, Crochet & More group is kicking off the craftiest service project of 2010.  We are accepting donations of knit, crocheted, or fabric squares, roughly 6-8".  These will be assembled and donated to Project Linus ( or another similar charity.  We will also accept donations of yarn, however small.  The donation box will be in the Gathering Space or in Classroom #4.  For more information, contact Adrienne Clark.


Small Group Dinners
Enjoy conversation, good food, and fun while getting to know others in the Fellowship.  Groups of 8 to 10 gather in each others' home once a month, October through June, for dinner and everyone brings a part of the meal.  In March, we start with new groups, so this is a great time to join!  Friends and members alike are encouraged to participate.  Contact Jay Snively for more information or fill out the sign up sheet in the Gathering Space through February 21.


Nonviolent Communication Class

Simply put, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a way of relating to ourselves and others, moment to moment, free of past reactions. By learning to identify your needs and express them powerfully, as well as to bring understanding to the needs of others, you can stay connected to what is alive in you and create a life that is more fulfilling.  Nonviolent Communication study and practice group will be held Sundays March-May.  We'll meet 7-8:30 p.m. in the Founders' Room.  Books are strongly recommended, including Nonviolent Communication: A Language Of Life by Marshall Rosenberg and the Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu and can be purchased through or your favorite used-book seller.  The group is welcome to all, whether this is new to you or you have been practicing NVC for some time.  I am looking forward to improving my own skills as well as sharing this very helpful tool with others.  If you would like to participate, I'd love to hear from you so that I know who and how many people are coming.  Please contact me, Genevieve Harvey, at  436-3473.


Chalicelight Gallery
The Chalicelight Gallery is showcasing the work of Cathy Jeffers.  Cathy is an artist and a teacher.  She works for Dayton Public Schools teaching art to emotionally disturbed children and at Wright State where she is an adjunct professor working with future elementary school teachers to give them the basics of art education philosophy and techniques.  Cathy made her first quilt in 2003 and after many years of experimenting and layering, has discovered her unique style.  Her work has been shown in Ohio, Hawaii, Oregon, Nebraska, and many other states as well.  Her quilt, The Artist and the Mermaid, is now on tour until 2011 with the Quilt National, an international quilt show.  The focus of her show is about the many people she's met, imagined, or would like to know.  For more information on Cathy, please visit

MVUUF Starts New Covenant Groups in March
A covenant group is a small group(4-10 people) who meet regularly (once or twice a month) with the purpose of deepening relationships, spirituality, and a sense of community in an intimate environment.  Facilitators will lead structured discussions designed to encourage deep sharing within a group who creates and agrees to a "covenant" which is their agreement on how they will be together.  These groups will start in March, meet for four sessions when the group will get to know one another and will create their covenant.  After these four sessions, members will be asked to make a commitment to meet regularly for six months.  After six months, the group will decide whether they want to commit to another six months, with a one year limit.  Want to find out more?  Come to an introductory meeting on February 14 or March 7, at 12:30 in the library.  Amy Russell, who is helping to coordinate the groups, and the facilitators will answer questions.  Meeting times:

Julie Collins, Sunday evenings, 7-8:30, starting March 14

Bruce Howorth, Monday mornings, 10-11:30, starting March 15

Al Woods  Monday evenings, 7-8:30, starting on March 15


New Service for Grocery Cards
Want to purchase grocery cards, but don't carry your wallet/checkbook with you on Sundays?  Just contact Sylvia Wince and she will deliver your Kroger or DLM cards to you and collect your money.  The Kroger refillable cards are $5.  You add money at the Kroger service desk.  The DLM debit cards are in denominations of $20 and $50.  You can make checks payable to MVUUF.  What an easy fundraiser for the Fellowship!

Calling All Wordsmiths!
If you like to write stories, poems, and prose, and would like to share your work and give/get feedback with other writers, the MVUUF Writers' Group is welcoming new members!  Meetings are once a month, usually on Sundays, and consist of discussion, activities, and peer critiquing.  Writers of all levels and interests are welcome.  If you would like more information, please contact Roger Davis or Marisa Becker.

Offering for February
The Social Concerns Committee invites plate offerings for the Wesley Community Center of Dayton.  The Wesley CC was founded in 1966 during the Dayton race riots and is located on Dayton's West Side.  The Center's mission is "helping others through God-centered principles."  Although the Center is faith-based, it serves all persons without regard to race, religion, sex, age, or sexual orientation and maintains a non-proselytizing stance.  An important and primary principle of the Center is to enable families and individuals to become self-sufficient and to be able to give back to the community.  The generosity exhibited by MVUUF in becoming a supporter of the Wesley Center is most appreciated.

Service Auction - April 17
What is the Service Auction, you ask?  The Service Auction is the biggest fundraiser for MVUUF.  Members and friends of the Fellowship donate services or goods, which are then auctioned off with all proceeds going to the Fellowship.  It's that easy!  What we need from you are goods and services!  Need some ideas?  Here are some items from the last few years:  an African dinner for 6; a close personal parking space at the Fellowship; old-fashioned chicken dinner delivered to your home; architectural services; dog walking; one hour massage at your home; first table in line to get food at the Thanksgiving Dinner...if you haven't been to the Auction, it is LOTS of fun!  There's great food and a fun theme to tie it all in...this year is triple the fun (but it's a surprise for now!).  If you have any questions, or are interested in helping out with set-up, children's activities, or working the night of the Auction, please contact Kate Halpin.

Don't Forget!
**Cinemaniacs will meet February 21 at Neon Theater around 5.  Please contact Pete Hering.
Save the Date!
**Service Auction is April 17!
**Mystery Friends dinner is March 6!