glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
Dec. 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
Letter from the DRE
YRE Information
Around the Fellowship
Don't Forget!
Printable Fellowship Calendar
Click HERE for a printable Fellowship calendar.  Please note that this calendar does NOT include outside events and the most up-to-date calendar can be found on our web site at
Letter from the Minister

Our family will be celebrating our first Christmas without my father this year.  When I think about all the gifts I've been given in life, I know that having a loving father is one of the finest gifts I've been offered.  So, our Christmas will not be the same.  It will not be a sad Christmas, but it will not be the same.

Many people experience a sense of heightened loss during this season when we're supposed to be joyful.  Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, and Jingle Bells all remind us of this season of enforced gaiety.  I think that's why I like the somber more religious carols like Silent Night or Away in a Manger.  They have that tone of tender sadness.  Maybe it's a little too much; maybe it can be a little over sentimentalized.  Like a bad Christmas special.  But I can't help but tear up when we sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve when lighting all the candles.  I always feel my losses at Christmas, but it isn't all about sadness.  It's also about memories.  Good memories of people I loved.

Here are some of my memories:

One Christmas Eve, when I was about eight, I was awakened to the sound of laughter downstairs.  I crept partially down the stairs and saw through the banisters my sisters and brother helping my father put together some toys.  Oh, I realized, Santa Claus is a myth.  But then, I also realized that my family was Santa Claus.

One Christmas, my sister and I were surprised with brand-new, shiny skis and ski jackets for Christmas.  My Dad loved skiing.  I hated skiing.  But I'd always go because it was a time to be with him.

The Christmas after my daughter, Bethany, was born.  She was just two months old.  Handing her to my father for the first time, I saw him handle her like the precious gift she was.  I saw how thrilled and amazed he was by her. 

The Christmas after my husband had died earlier in December.  My parents who had stayed with me through the hard weeks afterwards were still with me in early January.  My mother was crossing an icy parking lot and fell, breaking her foot.  She was hospitalized at Kettering Hospital.  Riding in an elevator with my father while going to visit my mother, it struck me how many months I had spent at that hospital with my husband.  I fell apart.  My father held me while knowing that even a good father can't keep you from pain.

The Christmas when I was trying to cook the broccoli for Christmas dinner and my father told me exactly how I should cook it, like I was a child.  I handed the pot to him and said, "Here do it yourself."

The many Christmases we had together that were just ordinary.  Lots of presents.  Lots of good food.  Lots of family tension just like in every family.  The times when my father would tell us funny stories and he would laugh the hardest at his own jokes.  The times when he needed to control everything by telling us what to do and we ignored him.  And the times when I would call my parents with a problem and he would just listen. 

Okay, so this sounds pretty schmaltzy, I realize that.  But I guess that's how I feel about Christmas.  I feel the joy of it.  I feel the pain of it.  Somehow it brings all those emotions to the surface.  It's not about the presents and the food.  Somehow it's also not about simple family togetherness.  It's about the mess of families, the wonder of complex relationships that sometimes support us and sometimes don't. 

During this holiday season, I hope to remember all of it and celebrate my Dad.  May you celebrate those you love with laughter and with tears.
~ Rev. Amy Russell

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December 5 - Joy  Group formerly known as AWE & Rev. Amy Russell
~ At this service we will examine the concept of joy.  What is joy?  How do we make it a part of our spiritual practices?  What keeps us from having joy more often?  Come prepared to share your own joyful experiences.

December 12 - Stranger in a Strange Land  Rev. Amy Russell
~ Many of our families originally immigrated to this country.  What would it be like to move to a foreign country, only to find that you and your family were not welcome?  How do we make strangers welcome both at our Fellowship and in our community?  Jim McCutcheon will honor us with some holiday music.

December 19 - Solstice Celebration  Rev. Amy Russell & Carol Narigon
~ With the beginning of the darkness of winter, the Solstice is the source of many religions' celebrations.  We'll celebrate Solstice and getting through the darkness.

December 24 - Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m.
~ Our Christmas Eve service will be filled with candles and carols and holiday memories.

December 26 - What to Do with Holiday Leftovers  Deb Miyake, Phil Wise & Joe Law
~ Readings, reflections, and maybe even some recipes!

Keeping Up With Our Members

Jesse Gaither's mother passed away on November 24 from complications following heart surgery.  There will be a memorial service for Sandy on Thu., December 2, 7 p.m. at the Heritage UU church in Cincinnati.  We keep Jesse and his family in our hearts as they deal with this difficult time.

If you are experiencing a rough time in your life, please know that your fellowship community is here to support you.

A Letter from the DRE

Ahhh, the holidays are upon us.  So, this question comes to my mind; "What would Jesus buy?"  Is this a strange question for a Unitarian Universalist to ponder?  As my daughter comes to me with lists of "I want...." And "I REALLY want..." I rack my brain on trying to balance her wants, her lists, etc. with me telling her about "not all children get..." and "the holidays are not about..."   So what is a parent to do?  Well don't look at me for the answers, but I do have some ideas that we are trying out this year.

This year, our family took a pledge to not buy from big box companies.  We are; hand making gifts, buying from local artist, and/or buying from local "mom & pop" shops.  So what are we doing if we can't find that latest toy that is on the top of "the list"?  Does buying it from Amazon through MVUUF or WYSO count (where a portion of the money goes towards them)? 

After watching the documentary, "What Would Jesus Buy?" it really helped me figure out what type of consumer I want to be during the holidays (what type of consumer I want to encourage my child and family to be too).  Have I sparked your curiosity about the film?  Well you can see it yourself, you know.   MVUUF is holding its first Chalice Night on Friday, December 10, at 6:30.  The night begins with a yummy dinner, followed by the movie "What Would Jesus Buy?"  This is an event for all ages (childcare included).  Come see for yourself, what Jesus would buy...and see if you can spot what UU church "the Church of Stop Shopping" visits! 

Good luck to you and your family as you navigate your way through this buying season.   Happy Holidays to you all!!

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

Smile, Natalie; Director of Religious Education


YRE Calendar for December :
Chalice Children class (Preschool):

            December 5 - Kindness curriculum
            December 12 - Kindness curriculum
            December 19 - Kindness curriculum
            December 26 - Kindness curriculum

Kindergarten - 5th grade class: 

            December 5 - Children's worship

            December 12 - Workshop rotation

                                    ~ K, 1st & 2nd grades - Workshop 1: Winter solstice celebration

                                    ~ 3rd, 4th & 5th grades - Workshop 2:  Zen garden
            December 19 - Workshop rotation 

                                    ~ K, 1st & 2nd grades - Workshop 2:  Zen garden

                                    ~ 3rd, 4th & 5th grades - Workshop 3:  Illustrating pages

December 26 - Workshop rotation

                                    ~ K, 1st & 2nd grades - Workshop 3:  Illustrating pages

                                    ~ 3rd, 4th & 5th grades - Workshop 1:  Winter solstice celebration

6th - 8th grade class:

            December 5 - Youth worship

            December 12 - Class: Coming of Age
            December 19 - Class: Coming of Age
            December 26 - Class: Coming of Age


9th - 12th grade class:

            December 5 - Youth worship, led by the Senior High youth

            December 12 - Small group ministry

            December 19 - Small group ministry
            December 26 - Small group ministry

How Would You Spend $100?

Attention all children, youth, and families in our MVUUF YRE program!  Here is a wonderful opportunity to you to make a difference. 

Here's the deal!  You write down what you would do with $100 if we gave it to you to make the world a better place.  A committee will read you idea and decide who will be granted the $100. 

Deadline for grant applications is January 9.  The grant money will be awarded on Sunday, January 23 during our intergenerational service.  Individual children and youth, groups of children and/or youth, and families with children/youth are encouraged to apply for the grant. 

Here are the conditions for getting the money.

1.       You can't spend it on yourself or your family.

2.       In May of 2011, we want you to tell us how you spent the money and what good it did.

Special consideration will be given to ideas that 'grow' the money in giving back to help make the world a better place.  How can you make the $100 go the farthest?

Please click HERE for the official form, or see Natalie Spriggs-Trobrige; DRE ( or Shannon Harper; LRE rep.( for more information/questions. 

Thanksgiving 2010!
A crowd of over 200 gathered at the Fellowship on November 21 to share food and fellowship as we celebrated the Thanksgiving season.  Thanks to Maury Wyckoff for capturing the special day.


Around the Fellowship

Community Discussion Group*

December 5 - "Trivia Can Be Very Interesting."  Moderator:  Bruce Baker
December 12 -
"What Are Your Pet Peeves or Irritations?  If You Were King, President or God, How Would You Make Things Different?"  Moderator: Joe Casto      
*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.

St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
December 11 Menu: Lasagna, green salad, fruit salad, 2% milk or 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.  Contact, sign up in the Gathering Space or call Evan James at 286-7512.

New Quilting Group
Rev. Annie Foerster is coming to "kick off" the newly formed quilting group on Fri. December 3 at 2 p.m. at the Fellowship.  You won't want to miss her presentation and her sharing of her quilts.  All are welcome!  For more information, contact Cindi Remm.

It's that time of year again - time to sing and be merry!  MVUUF's holiday tradition of a Wassail program will soon be here.  Come enjoy seasonal music offered by the Choir, fun fellowship with other holiday-loving people, and of course, wonderful desserts.

Remember to bring a dessert to share following the program.  It's a holiday - be as decadent as you wish!  Wassail punch will be provided.  The program is Sun., December 12, at 6:30 p.m.  For those who wish to, caroling around the piano will take place once we get our plate of goodies.  Don't miss out on the fun - mark your calendar now!

Support the Paper Retriever Program
Your MVUUF Environmental Action Group is making arrangements to establish an ongoing paper recycling program at MVUUF.  The plan calls for us to partner with AbitibiBowater, the world's largest paper recycler and a major manufacturer of newsprint.  They will place a paper retriever bin in our parking lot for recycling of newspapers, catalogs, magazines, junk mail, office paper and school paper.  Please note, the following items are NOT accepted: cardboard, plastic bags, phone books, cereal boxes, milk cartons, food containers or tissues.  By participating in the program, MVUUF will not only benefit the environment, we will also receive payment for doing so!  Based on monthly collections, we will be compensated on the following scale:  0-3.99 tons = $5/ton  4-7.99 tons = $15/ton  8+ tons = $20/ton. 

For the program to be successful, we must have sufficient member commitment to support the project by bringing in recyclable paper on an ongoing basis.  We urge all members and friends to do their part for the environment and the Fellowship by getting behind this project.  To pledge your support, check your bulletin for a form, or pick one up in the Gathering Space, and fill it out.  You can also pledge your support by emailing Gary Courts at or calling him at 436-1094.

Decorate Our MVUUF Holiday Tree with Kindness!
From November 28 - December 31, we will be collecting unwrapped baby items for the St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter.  Needed items include:  baby bottles, baby wipes, bottle brushes, diaper bags, diaper ointment, diapers, formula (milk or soy based), Pack-N-Plays, Pedialyte, play yards, shower shoes, socks, sturdy strollers, children's underwear and thermometers.  You can place your items under the tree in the Gathering Space - thanks for your kindness and generosity!

Smart Choices
The Smart Choices Birthday Club will hold a birthday luncheon on Thu. December 9 at 11:30 a.m. at the usual place.  RSVP to Peg Peterson.

New Study Group
A new course of study will be offered beginning on January 9.  The study, "Spiritual Awakening", will explore several channeled books which describe the human experience from the perspective of the soul and spiritual reality.  For more information, contact Bill Hill.

Daytime Book Club Title*
December 15 - Seven Stories of Christmas Love, by Leo Buscaglia & Tom Newsom
--This our holiday potluck meeting at Carol's house!
January TBD - Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery & Alison Anderson
*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
Please join us at 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Christopher's Restaurant (2318 Dorothy Ln., Kettering).  For more information, contact Ann Snively.
December 14 - The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks
January 11 - Oil on the Brain, by Lisa Margonelli
February 8 - Lush Life, by Richard Price

Humanitarian Giving Action Group Collection
During December, the Humanitarian Action Group welcomes plate offerings for Daybreak.  Daybreak is an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless teens.  They operate the area's only 24 hour crisis hotline and have branched into outreach, prevention, transitional housing, life-skills training and other services.

Joining a Covenant Group
A covenant group is a small group (4-10) of people who meet regularly with the purpose of deepening relationships, spirituality, and a sense of community in an intimate setting.  We have two such groups currently meeting.  They have been meeting for about 7 months.  These groups will be meeting for another three-four months.  They have room for a few new people.  One group meets every Monday night and one group meets twice a month on Sunday nights.  If you would like to join one of these groups, please see Amy.  New covenant groups will form in March.

The Greening of MVUUF
In April, Social Action Chairman Bob Lewis formed an Environmental Action Group as a subgroup within the Social Concerns area of our governance structure.  At its May meeting the group decided to explore the process for MVUUF to gain recognition by UUA as a GREEN SANCTUARY.  On receiving sanction by the Program Council and Board, the Environmental Action Group embarked on the journey to get us to our destination as a Green Sanctuary congregation.  Green Sanctuary is a program that provides a framework for UUA congregations to live out our seventh principle, "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."  The program was sanctioned at the 1999 General Assembly, and a comprehensive manual, now in its fifth edition, was prepared to provide specific projects and activities that congregations can undertake to receive UUA Green Sanctuary accreditation.  As of 2009, there were 98 accredited Green Sanctuary congregations plus an additional 116 that had applied for accreditation. 

The process for becoming a Green Sanctuary is challenging and comprehensive; and congregational support is vital. The program is focused on four areas: (1) worship and celebration, (2) religious education, (3) environmental justice, and (4) sustainable living.  Since these areas touch on many facets of what we already do at MVUUF, the entire congregation will  have an opportunity to get involved.  The first major requirement is to complete a comprehensive environmental assessment that consists of two components: (1) a professional energy audit, and (2) an assessment of congregational practices and programs.  At this time arrangements are underway for having an energy audit of our building completed in the near future.   Member of the Environmental Action Group are also working on the congregational assessment at this time and plan to have it completed soon. 

A next step will be the development of an action plan consisting of a minimum of twelve projects in the focus areas listed above.  These will be comprehensive, ongoing projects that will require the resources, talents, and skills of many of our children, youth, and adults.  There will be numerous ways for all MVUUF members and friends to take part in this collaborative effort to make the environmental well being of MVUUF and the wider community central to our lives.  WE WELCOME YOUR SUPPORT, SUGGESTIONS AND PARTICIPATION ON OUR JOURNEY TO A GREENER FAITH!      

Harvest the Power - Leadership Curriculum
Join us for a four-week adult religious education program titled, Harvest the Power. This is the second in a 3-part series, but you need not have participated in the first part to join us. The topic is "Purpose: What ends do we serve?" This workshop will help leaders explore several aspects of the experiences, challenges and responsibilities of their role. New and existing leaders are encouraged to participate. The class will be held from Tue., January 11 through Tue., March 1 from 7-9 p.m. Please contact Alice Diebel with questions, or sign up in the Gathering Space or with Kristin Freeman

Congregational Meeting
The next congregational meeting will be Sun., January 9 at approximately 12:20 p.m. following the service. Childcare will be provided.  The agenda items include: election of all Board members and half the Program Council members. We will also award the Unsung UU award. Finally, we will decide whether the Draft Statement of Conscience, Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice, should be placed on the final agenda for the General Assembly in 2011. For more information on the Statement of Conscience (SOC), please attend a discussion prior to the congregational meeting. We will meet after the service on Sun., December 5 at 12:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary.  Information is available at We can also submit comments on the draft SOC.

Christmas Eve 2010
Our Christmas Eve service will be held December 24 at 7 p.m.  Rev. Amy Russell will not be leading the service this year, as she will be with her family, this the first Christmas without her father.  Please come and celebrate the season with candles and carols.  The collection during this service will go towards the Minister's Discretionary Fund.

Unsung UU Award

MVUUF has a tradition of honoring an "unsung UU" every year. An unsung hero is someone who tirelessly shows their commitment to the Fellowship behind the scenes. It's not typically a person in a formal position, rather someone who sees something that needs to be done and gets it done. This recognition is made by the board of trustees. If you would like to nominate someone for this award, please submit your names and some description of why they deserve this award to Alice Diebel at prior to the next Board meeting, scheduled for Thu. December 16.

Slate of Candidates
The Nominating Committee will be presenting the following slate of candidates for election at the January 9 Congregational meeting. 

Board members:

Alice Diebel - President                                                 Alysoun Taylor - Vice President

Mike O'Brien - Treasurer                                              Catherine Queener - Secretary          

Joe Law - Trustee A                                                      TBD - Trustee B

Kate Halpin - Program Council Chair

*All Board positions have a one year term, March 1 - February 28.

Program Council members:

Dawn Bellinger - Membership (completing second year of two year term)

Bob Lewis - Social Justice               Rita Schindel - Activities                  Sean Halpin - Operations

*All P.C. positions have a two year term beginning on March 1.

Open positions:

Public Relations                      Music              Worship                       Internal Communications

Raffle Winners!
Congrats to David Cobb, Jim Hudson, Alice Diebel, Denny Smith, Mary Lou Heitkamp, Genevieve Harvey, the Duron's, Ruth Rowley, Leslie Woodward, Kathleen Turner, Rita Schindel, Kate Halpin & Steve Thompson for winning the raffle gift baskets at our Thanksgiving dinner!  A great time was had by all and we hope to have an even bigger and better raffle in 2011!

Guest at Your Table
The Guest at Your Table program will begin on December 12 and end January 30.  This program serves as the annual fundraiser for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee founded in 1939.   Since 1975, the Guest at your Table program has been putting UU faith in action, by raising funds to help people struggling for basic human rights both in the U.S. and around the world. The UUSC partners with self-help groups to fund the projects these groups have developed for their communities. 

Through December and January, there will be a table in the Gathering Space with information on the UUSC's activities, as well as envelopes and boxes for contributions.  Guest at Your Table boxes encourage families and individuals to reflect on others' human rights and needs and to make an appropriate daily contribution to sponsor an imaginary international visitor at their table.  If you can total the coins and bills in your box, enter the requested information on the box, and write out a check for the corresponding amount made out to UUSC by January 30, it cuts down the delay in submitting all our contributions.    However, you can also just bring your box to church marked with your name and I'll total your donation.  Many of us opt to bypass the box and simply submit a check made out to the UUSC. 

Stop by the Guest at Your Table table for an envelope.  Please return your contribution to me or to the office on or before January 30, so I can report our total contributions back to the congregation.  Guest at Your Table is an ideal time to become a UUSC member or to renew your membership.  I have a list of current UUSC members, if you wish to check the status of your membership.   Basic UUSC Membership rates are:  $40.00 -regular, $75 dual regular (2 adults),  $20 Seniors (65 and over), $10 for Students and Youth.,  If you are able, please consider making your contribution go twice as far.  Donations of $100 or more from a family or individual are matched by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock.

~ Maureen O'Meara

Don't Forget!
**Cinemaniacs will meet December 5 at Danbarry South around 5 p.m.  Contact Pete Hering for more information.