glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
March 1-15, 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 Minister
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 Minister

Conversations around the Fellowship

Over the past few months, you've probably been hearing something about community organizing.  Some members of the Social Concerns Committee and myself have been exploring what it is and whether we want to be involved.  You may have heard some emotional statements about people feeling that maybe this isn't something we should be involved in.  Or that perhaps the Social Concerns Committee may commit something to this organization (formerly Vote Dayton) that the Fellowship as a whole hasn't approved.

I want you to know that the group involved in the community organizing effort from the Fellowship has been careful not to speak for the Fellowship or to make commitments on behalf of the Fellowship.

Concerns about the community organizing effort have been brought to the board and we have begun several conversations lately to hear what people think about:

- what small groups within committees are authorized to do without receiving program council or board approval
- what process would be used if a group wanted to bring an issue to the congregation for a vote

The conversations I've participated in have been healthy.  The board has announced a congregational wide discussion on March 14th after the service.  I hope the conversations will continue to focus on the issues and not on personalities.  I hope our conversations will focus on what we each think is important to our Fellowship's mission. 

Can we be a place where people find a safe, warm community and also be a place where people work for social justice?  How will we work on social justice?  Do we want groups within the Fellowship to generate different kinds of social concerns projects for whoever wants to participate?  Or do we need criteria for what kinds of projects are acceptable? Should we vote on issues or is that too divisive?

Bill Gardiner, the Director of Anti-Racism and Social Justice Empowerment at the UUA, has written an excellent article describing the different kinds of viewpoints that people in UU congregations have about social justice issues.  He points out that with people of such diverse viewpoints in our congregations  that controversy is a natural part of figuring out what direction a congregation wants to go.  See the linked article at the end of this letter. 

When I see people speaking passionately about the Fellowship, I see how much they care about the kind of place we are creating.  I hope we remember that our passion is only one viewpoint and that others care just as much about the Fellowship but see things differently.  I believe there's room for many viewpoints here.  Creating a Beloved Community is not easy.  It takes a lot of stretching to make room for everyone.


To read "Congregational Decision-Making" by Rev. Bill Gardiner, please click HERE

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Quick Links

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.
March 14 - Above Us Only Sky  Mike O'Brien
~ Is a religion without supernatural parts possible?  British philosopher and theologian Don Cupitt thinks it's not only possible, but inevitable.  Mike O'Brien will speak on the subject of religion fully contained in the natural world.
March 21 - Bringing UU Values to Life  Rev. Amy Russell
~ Living in fellowship with one another, we struggle to learn about how to live our UU values.  To launch our stewardship campaign, we'll talk about how our daily life here teaches us about living our values.
March 28 - The Spirituality of Self-Love  Julie Collins
~ Many spiritual practices discuss how important it is to be loving and accepting of others.  However, sometimes we neglect to honor ourselves with that same loving kindness.  In this week's service, you will be invited to look at the relationship you have with yourself as we dare to practice self-love.

Keeping Up With Our Members

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

This semester our workshop rotation theme is Social Justice & Action.  Social Justice and Action is so embedded in who we are as Unitarian Universalist.  Just looking at our seven principles, you can see how social justice and action is such a part of us.  Looking at our UU principles from a child's perspective we have:

1. Each person is important.
2. Be kind in all you do.
3. We're free to learn together.
4. We search for what is true.
5. All people need a voice.
6. Build a fair and peaceful world.
7. We care for Earth's lifeboat.

So how do we help our children hold these values as they grow and eventually move out into the world?  Holly Case from the "How to Make a Family" website writes; Making the world a better place becomes even more imperative when you have kids. Of course, you want to do everything you can to improve the state of the world. But even more important than that is how you raise your kids. It's not enough to assume that if your kids never see you acting in a prejudiced manner, that they will grow up to be socially conscious, concerned adults. Ensuring that your children are prepared to make the world a better place begins in childhood.

Our UU churches are definitely a great place to start!  However, teaching social justice and action needs to happen in a child's home life as well.  There are some wonderful books as well as web sites out there to give you and your family ideas on how to help the world.  Most families have the basics: reduce-reuse-recycle, be kind to your neighbors & friends, putting change in the collection boxes on counters.  Yet, does your child know why we do these things. 

What about beyond the basics?   There are so many organizations and people in need, sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin.  So, I say, start with your child!  Ask what is important to her/him.  You may be surprised...from the mouths of babes....sometimes children really have a grasp of what is going on around them.  Then go with it.  This is what we did in our home.  We used to live in the city of Dayton.  It was common for us to walk and bike everywhere.  It was also common to get stopped by someone asking for money.  My daughter took great notice to this, and started asking questions.  Then she wanted to know what she could do to help people in the situation where they had to ask for money.  With some thinking & brainstorming, she came up with the idea to hold an ice cream social in a local park to raise money to donate to The Other Place.  A few hundred dollars later, she learned a great deal on how she can make a difference.  Now, when some of her friends talk about being rich and famous some day, she tells them that they will need to make sure they donate some of that money to help others...and she still holds her ground on wanting to be a first grade teacher!  My point is, it begins by talking with your child(ren).  They will have ideas on what is important to them.  Then, encourage them to take steps to helping, whatever that means to them.

We make change in our world by helping our children pave a path.  For me, this is the foundation of social justice and action.  If we do not work with our children about these ideas, then our ideas will die when we do. 

If you would like to check out some books on social justice and action for families, children & teens, please stop by the RE Prep room; we have plenty of books to borrow and take home!  Also, to read more of Holly Case's article on teaching social justice to kids, please check out this website:    

As always, if you have any questions, I am happy to answer!  You can call me at 436-3628. 

Smile, Natalie; Director of Religious Education

YRE Calendar for March:

Chalice Children class (Preschool):
March 7 - Class: Me and My World - My world has water (with Genevieve)
March 14 - Class: Me and My World - My world has air (with Genevieve and Sean)
Kindergarten - 5th grade class:
March 7 
- Children's Worship
March 14 - Workshop Rotation
                        ~ K & 1st grade:  Workshop 1 - Sing out for diversity
                        ~ 2nd & 3rd grades:  Workshop 2 - Pre-judging and equality
                        ~ 4th and 5th grades:  Workshop 3 - Families in all shapes and sizes
6th - 12th grade class: 
March 7 
- Youth Worship
March 14- 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*
March 7 - "Aristocratic Rule or Oligarchy: The Way of the Future?"  Moderator: Joe Lawrence
March 14 - "What's So Great about Multitasking?"  Moderator: Lindy McDonough
March 21 - "Most Unforgettable UUs - Miami Valley and Beyond."  Moderator: Don Ferguson
*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*
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
May TBA - Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan
*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.  On April 13 we'll discuss The Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant.  New participants are welcome.  Contact Ann Snively if you'd like more information.

Food Fanciers
Iris Carter will demonstrate how to make yummy corn bread muffins on April 23 at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship kitchen.  All are invited!  Please note, Food Fanciers will not be meeting in March.

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.

Long Range Planning Seeks New Members

The Long Range Planning Committee is looking for a couple of new members.  Tom Cruse and Chris Gooley have had to resign from the Committee because of changes in their personal lives.  We will miss their insights and perspectives.  We are therefore looking for a couple of new Committee members.  Vital qualities include dedication to the Fellowship and to listen openly.   We would like to find another Young Adult member and would also value knowledge and experience with different UU congregations.  We will generally be meeting on Sunday mornings at 9:30, once a month.  There will be work to be done between meetings and we will occasionally need to meet more often, depending on the flow of our work.  Our goal is to help the Fellowship define where it wants to go in the next years, and how it wants to get there.  We see this as a sacred trust given us by the congregation, with far-reaching impact.  If you know someone you think might be helpful to this work, or for more information, please contact Barb Weber.


10th Annual Meeting & Spring Conference
"Ten Best: Celebrating Ten Years in the Heartland 2001 - 2010" is taking place April 9-11, hosted by the First UU Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI.


Thank You!
Thanks to your incredible generosity, we were able to raise over $1800.00 to send to the UUSC to aid their work in the Haiti relief effort!! 

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.  This group 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 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 7

Bruce Howorth, Monday mornings, 10-11:30, starting March 8

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


Board-Facilitated Discussion

The board encourages all members to participate in a board-facilitated discussion on Sun., March 14 following the service. We need to hear from everyone as we help guide the congregation through differences that have been expressed about committee involvement in community organizing. The problem on the table for the meeting is: When does the work of a small group within the congregation need to be considered more broadly?

Context: A member of the church brought a concern to the board about the social concerns committee. The concern was that the committee has gone much further than some people in the congregation would like in its work on congregational based community organizing (CBCO).

In this case, the social concerns committee has been working with a community organizing group for over a year. While well publicized, the work is not well understood by most members and there are many concerns about the direction further involvement might take the fellowship. Concerns needing greater consideration and voice include how the church's name might be used, the political (nonpartisan) nature of community organizing and other social justice work, and the degree of freedom our church's structure affords committees. The board needs to hear from more voices before it suggests any changes in the bylaws and policies or to make an informed decision on the concern that was brought to it.  For questions, please contact Alice Diebel, Board President.


MVUUF Coffee House
Enjoy a relaxing evening of music, coffee and your MVUUF friends at the MVUUF Coffee House!  On Sat. April 3, 7-9:30 p.m. music will be provided by Chris Gooley, Kate Santucci, Carol Narigon, Ann Rismiller and Dave Nolin.  There may even be a special guest!  There is no admission for this fun event, but we do request a donation at the door.  Join us (even if tea's more your thing...)!


Emily Upham Award

The Social Concerns Committee is inviting nominations for the 2009 Emily Upham Social Justice Award. This award is given by the Fellowship to a member(s) of the congregation who, in the spirit of MVUUF member Emily Upham, exemplifies commitment and service for world peace and social justice and is involved in on-going activities that support a vision of a better world. Recent awardees include Joe Law (2008), Lynn Buffington (2007), Diane Dover (2006), Gail Cyan (2005), Kate Santucci (2003-04), and Bev and Sylvia Wince (2002).  The Selection Committee consists of the President, Vice President, and Social Concerns Representative. If the President or Vice President is unable to serve, the Board will select an alternate Board member.  Please send your nominations to the church administrator, Kristin Freeman, no later than March 31, 2010. Include in your nominating letter your rationale for making the award to your nominee: tell us about the person and why you think he or she should be selected.  The award will be made at the Fellowship's Congregational Meeting in June.

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 March 7 at Danbarry South around 5.  Please contact Pete Hering.
**The Mystery Friends Dinner will be on March 6 at 6 p.m.!
Save the Date!
**Service Auction is April 17!