glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
May 16-31, 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
Letter from the DRE
YRE Information
Don't Forget!
Save the Date!
Letter from the President
A couple of months ago, I wrote about some trends in the Fellowship that might indicate a need to take a step back and look at the big picture.  What do we stand for and what is our place as a fellowship in this community?  I mentioned that author/consultant Gil Rendle describes the life of a church as an arc and that, in my opinion, MVUUF is at the top of the arc and that now is the optimal time to take this larger look.  Well, I'm still reading, and this time I just finished Alice Mann's book, The In-Between Church: Navigating Size Transitions in Congregations, published by the Alban Institute in 1998.
There are some similarities between the books.  Just as Rendle recognizes plateaus in the life cycle of a church, Alice Mann's describes the way churches get stuck in a particular size, making growth difficult unless we see a change in size as an adaptive challenge.  Both books address how challenging it can be to get unstuck from old patterns: to move up from the top of the arc, or to move beyond a growth plateau.  And both books describe the need for adaptive work: addressing problems by learning as we go; recognizing we have no easy or technical answers.
It is important to understand church size transitions because of the obvious implications for how we staff our programs and use our facilities.  But growth is about more than resource use.  Size affects how we govern ourselves, the relationship between lay leaders and clergy, and the relationship between members and community.  According to Mann, growth transitions are difficult - so difficult that most churches do not do what is needed to make the appropriate changes to grow.  They don't see growth as an adaptive challenge.  She argues that churches plateau in size because people inside the congregation do not see the difficulty others in the community might face trying to find their way into the life of the Fellowship. For example, we may not see the family that cannot find a parking space, the visitor who cannot make connections, or the new member who never receives an invitation to serve.

Our growth pattern reflects that MVUUF may be at a plateau.  Just a few years ago, we had a dip in our membership (most effectively measured as attendance at worship) and have recovered.  But our attendance at worship has been 120 for over two years now and we've been there before.  Is there something larger at work requiring an adaptive approach? 


Perhaps the first question to ask ourselves is what growth is, and what we kind of growth is appropriate for us.  We may also need to explore together how to help newcomers integrate into the life of the Fellowship.  The board and P.C. will be discussing these issues at our retreat this summer.  But that doesn't leave you off the hook!  I think integrating new members is everyone's responsibility. Based on what I have heard from you, this community means a lot to you. I have also heard that you recognize that there are people in the community who may need us but not know us.  Once they have found us, let's help them know us and be part of the community we have come to love.
~Alice Diebel
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Quick Links
May 16 - 100th Anniversary of First Unitarian Church of Dayton  Rev. Amy Russell, Rev. Chuck Thomas & Don Ferguson
~ On May 18, 1910, 48 Daytonians met to discuss founding a Unitarian church.  They were two people short of the required fifty needed to charter a church.  A quick phone call was made to two sisters who soon arrived and First Church was born.  We'll celebrate this event that eventually led to the founding of MVUUF.

May 23 - Coming of Age  Natalie Spriggs-Trobridge & Steve Trobridge
~ This Sunday is our Age of Reason intergenerational service, were we see our UU principles through a child's eyes.  This is also our teacher appreciation ceremony.

May 30 - Honoring Those Who Serve  Dawn Bellinger, Scott Leonard, Denny Smith, Don Ferguson & others
~ Three of our veterans (Don Ferguson, Dawn Bellinger, & Denny Smith) will reflect on their experiences and what Memorial Day means to them.  Our loved ones who we have lost in the past year will be remembered.
Keeping Up With Our Members
Katie Reese had appendicitis and is recovering at home.  Brad Kochunas fell and broke several bones in his foot and hurt his shoulder.  He had surgery to place screws in his foot and is taking it easy at home.  Nancy Moody had cancerous skin growths removed and is also recovering at home.  Kate Santucci's dad is also at home, recovering from a mild heart attack.  A big "get well soon" to all these folks!!

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 Calendar!
Click HERE for a printable PDF version of the MVUUF calendar.  Please note, this calendar does NOT include outside events (ie: private parties, etc.), so for the most up-to-date information, you will need to access the MVUUF web site calendar or call/email Kristin in the Fellowship office.  She can be reached at 436-3628.
A Letter from the DRE
This month, the Age of Reason class is coming to an end.  This class is for our 2nd and 3rd graders here at MVUUF.  The class supports children on their religious path.

Our main focus in this class is our seven Unitarian Universalist principles.  Each class emphasizes on one principle and how it applies to our lives.  Now for some children (and perhaps some adults) this may be easier said than done.  For example, look at our first principle; to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, or in children's terms; respect every person-yourself and others.  We discus in our class what this means.  It is easy to say, respect everyone, but when someone at your school pushes your best friend down, then what?  Our first reaction may be to push the pusher down, but is that really respecting each person.  I honestly tell the children that I don't know.  What would they do?  How could they handle themselves in that situation?  Getting them to think about it before it happens is really a great starting point.  Allowing children to dialog and giving them a safe place for discussion is really an important part of helping them find their own spiritual path.

A few Sundays ago, we discussed principle five; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large (children's: Believe in the value of each "voice" as we work together).  Again, easy to say everyone gets a vote.  But what happens when what you voted for doesn't get chosen?  Do you feel like your voice was heard then?  Our activity we used with principle five was choosing a cake for our Age of Reason reception.  The children came up with a list of cake flavors, eliminated the ones that were impossible (ie. ant flavored cake), and then took a secret vote on what flavor we would have.  But alas, a flavor was chosen that not everyone liked.  So what do we do then?  Children were encouraged to use their voice on why they did or didn't like a flavor of cake.  They also took time to discus, is it fair to have a flavor of cake that is specifically for all of them if not everyone likes it?  Then, they brainstormed solutions.  What happened, you may be asking yourself???  Well let's just say some very thoughtful smart kids, and a few more times of voting, came up with a great solution.  We will now be having three flavors of cake (three different cakes) and all in the class like at least one of the flavors (can you say red velvet, lemon, and chocolate). 

A huge part of being Unitarian Universalist is our seven principles.  We continue to support and educate our children and youth here at MVUUF through our seven principles.  As First Parish of Watertown states so beautifully about children and the Unitarian Universalist seven principles, "We don't want our children to memorize these words. We want our children to experience the loving spirit of these messages." Could not have summed it up better myself!

Please check out the children and youth of MVUUF's art show.  Their work will be on display during the month of May.  Most, if not all, of their creations will be on sale for anyone to purchase.  All the money raised from this art show will go towards new playground equipment in our MVUUF backyard.  Please help support our children and youth by taking a moment to look at their natured themed pieces.  
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 May:
Chalice Children class (Preschool):
May 16 - Class: Me & My World - People know me
May 23 - Intergenerational service, no class
May 30 - End of year celebration
Kindergarten - 5th grade class: 
May 16
- Workshop Rotation
                ~K & 1st grade: Workshop 2 - Acts of kindness for MVUUF
                ~2nd & 3rd grades: Workshop 3 - Acts of kindness for our community in Dayton, OH
                ~4th and 5th grades: Workshop 1 - Acts of kindness for our families
May 23 - Intergenerational service, no class
May 30 - Workshop rotation
                ~K & 1st grade: Workshop 3 - Acts of kindness for our community in Dayton, OH
                ~2nd & 3rd grades: Workshop 1 - Acts of kindness for our families
                ~4th and 5th grades: Workshop 2 - Acts of kindness for MVUUF
6th - 12th grade class:
May 16
- Class: Neighboring Faiths (tentative field trip day)
May 23 - Intergenerational service, no class
May 30 - 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*
May 16
- "Light at the End of the Tunnel."  Moderator: Don Heidorn
May 23 - "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met."  Moderator: Ralf Grisard
May 30 - "Cultural Aspects of Alcohol."  Moderator: Sam Kramer
*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*
May 19
- Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan
June 16 - Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, by Al Gore or Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis (Young Reader Edition), by Al Gore.
July 21 - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, by Anne Fadiman
*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
We are now meeting in the Fellowship library!  Join us at 7 p.m.  Our June 8 selection is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson.  New participants are welcome.  Contact Ann Snively if you'd like more information.

Food Fanciers
Janice Beers will demonstrate how to make dulces de miel, which is a peanut-honey candy.  The recipe comes from Ecuador, where the Guana family runs a beekeeping and honey-selling business.  Please join us on May 21 at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship kitchen.  All are invited!  

Congregational Meeting
Our next Congregational meeting will be June 13 after Sunday service.
Memorial Day Service
During our May 30 service, we'll honor our loved ones who've passed away since June 2009.  If you'd like to include the name(s) of loved ones, please contact Kristin in the Fellowship office at  436-3628 no later than May 25.
Pledge Status?
Need to know where you stand on your current pledge status?  Our current fiscal year ends on June 30 - that's in just six short weeks!  If you want to know what your outstanding pledge amount is, call or email Kristin and she'll get it to you ASAP!  She can be reached at 436-3628.
Flower Communion
Our flower communion service will take place on Sun., June 6.  This is a MVUUF tradition where we bring in flowers from our gardens to decorate the altar.
St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
June 12 Menu:
Chicken (BBQ or Fried), fruit salad, scalloped potatoes, milk, 100% juice
*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.

Offering for May
The Social Concerns Committee invites plate offerings for Planned Parenthood of Dayton.  The mission of Planned Parenthood is to prevent unplanned pregnancies and protect the health of low income women.  Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate.  For more information about Planned Parenthood, the services offered, as well as their educational programs, please visit  
If there's anyone in the congregation who will be graduating this summer, we would like to recognize you in our June 6 service.  Please let Kristin know by June 1 at 436-3628.
100th Anniversary of First Unitarian Church
Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of First Unitarian Church on Sun. May 16.  The service will be dedicated to a century of liberal religion in the Dayton community and commemorate the founding of First Unitarian Church on Salem Ave. in 1910, from which MVUUF later emerged.  Come learn our history, share memories, and meet old friends.  Reception with refreshments will follow the service.
YRE Needs YOU!
It is that time to sign up to volunteer in our YRE program for the summer months.  This summer our theme is PEACE.  Children will be learning cooperative games, the joy of singing for peace, meditation for their inner peace, and much more.  Take a look at the display table out in the Gathering Space, ask Shannon Harper (LRE Rep.) or Natalie (DRE), or contact Natalie via email for more information or with questions.  Please consider donating a few Sundays in the summer for our MVUUF children and youth.  They need you!
Harvest the Power - Leadership Development Curriculum
Are you a new leader in the Fellowship?  Are you a veteran leader?  Are you considering leadership?  Wherever you may fall on this leadership journey, we are offering a religious education opportunity for you.  It is based on a new curriculum developed by the UUA calledHarvest the Power, focusing on three areas of leadership: identity, purpose and path.  We will offer this curriculum in three different units. You may wish to participate in one or all of the units.  Each unit will be only four weeks in length.The first unit onIdentity will begin on Tuesday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. and will end on June 8.  The second unit will be held this fall.  From the curriculum: The Harvest the Power program was created not only to strengthen the skills and the confidence of individuals who have accepted a leadership role in our congregations, but also to provide the intentional faith development of integrated leaders who model healthy personal, spiritual and leadership practices.  Faculty includes Alice Diebel, Amy Russell and other Fellowship leaders. Please sign up in the Gathering Space or contact Kristin Freeman, Fellowship administrator, or Alice Diebel.  If you have questions, please call Alice at 350-7763.  Please join us!
Michael Moreda and Andrew Dover were elected to the Heartland District Youth Steering Committee!  Michael is the Transitional Age Range Rep. for Junior High youth and Andrew is the Communications Officer.  MVUUF now has youth representation on the district level - way to go, guys!!
Changes Proposed for Endowment Bylaws
Our MVUUF Endowment Fund was created in 1992 to receive fellowship bequests and to fund long term projects.  Despite its very small beginning, and minimal deposits, a rising stock market and earnings reinvestment enabled it to reach a high value of $110,000 in June 2007.  However, starting in 2006 MVUUF had several years of financial problems & we began using the Fund to make up budget shortfalls.  We withdrew $3,853 in 2006, $5,000 in 2007 & $3,235 in 2009--a 3-year total of $12,088.  The Fund still went up in 2006, but our 2007 action forced a slight loss & our 2009 withdrawal hurt recovery from a $65,000 stock market low.  Last year our Endowment Trustees closed four of the Fund's separate accounts and joined the UUA's Common Endowment Fund, which has unified management & also earns higher returns.  Since our initial $76,000 deposit in August, our Fund has gone up to $87,000.  We are now also proposing Fund bylaw changes (see below) to clearly define Net Income, allow the Fund to recover its losses & to return to its long term purpose.  We want to do this by restricting withdrawals in three ways:  1) No withdrawals in a down market  2) No withdrawals forcing the Fund into a loss and 3) No withdrawals until the Fund equals 50% of the MVUUF budget (now at $190,000).  These changes must be approved by the June 13 Congregational Meeting, and we invite you to a discussion of the Endowment Fund at 12:15 p.m. after church on Sun., May 23.
John Bierman
Endowment Fund Secretary
Formal Proposals
Add the following sub-paragraphs:
  Definition of Unrestricted Net Income
Unrestricted Net Income is defined as the Fund's declared dividends, interest & other income, minus the fees & expenses for the July 1 - June 30 fiscal year as shown in the Statement of Activity & Balances provided by the Fund's professional management company.

3.01.02  Required Current Market Value Net Increase
No part of the Unrestricted Net Income may be requested unless the Fund's total Market Value has shown a net increase for the last reported fiscal year.
3.01.03  Limit of Unrestricted Net Income Request
No request for any part of the Unrestricted Net Income of the Fund may exceed the amount of net increase in the Fund's total Market Value for the last reported fiscal year.
3.01.03  Required Current Market Value as Budget Percentage
No part of the Unrestricted Net Income of the Fund may be requested unless the total Market Value of the Fund equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the current MVUUF budget.
Change the following paragraph:
7.01  Amendment
  "It may, nevertheless, be amended in the manner in which it was created."
TO:"The Fund Bylaws may, nevertheless, be amended by the same procedures as those for amending the MVUUF Bylaws."

Lobby Day
This congregation has been very supportive of MVUUF's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members and friends, and of the larger LGBT community.  We are a Welcoming Congregation which means specifically that our Fellowship invites, supports, and "welcomes" LGBT people into our community of worship, life-long learning, fellowship, and social action.  Those of us who are "straight" are important allies in support of LGBT rights.  Part of our mission as a congregation is to advocate for human rights.  We are in the midst of a state legislative struggle to bring equal housing and employment rights to all Ohio citizens.  Last year, the Ohio House of Representatives passed H.B. 176, the Equal Housing and Employment Act, a bill to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Now, a similar bill will be soon introduced in the Ohio Senate for consideration.  It needs our support.  On Wed., May 19, members and friends of the Fellowship will join hundreds of other people from around the state to lend our support to the passage of this Senate bill. We will be going to Columbus and visiting with our senators to encourage them to pass this bill. This effort is called Lobby Day and it is sponsored by Equality Ohio.  We hope you will consider taking this trip with us for a late morning and early afternoon day of lobbying.  We'll carpool and we'll have lunch together.  And we'll stand together LGBT and allies together for human rights.  Please contact Antonia Harter, Joe Law or Bob Lewis if you wish to be a part of this important effort.
Don't Forget!
**Cinemaniacs will meet May 16 at the Neon.  Please contact Pete Hering at 974-0360.
Save the Date!
**June 13 is the next Congregational meeting.
**June 6 is our Flower Communion service.
**Also in our June 6 service, we will be honoring graduates, so let Kristin know if you're graduating!