glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
Jan. 1-15, 2011
~  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 Minister
Keeping Up with Our Members
Letter from the DRE
YRE Information
Social Action Grant!
Around the Fellowship
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
"Christ Climbed Down" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (edited)

Christ climbed down from His bare Tree
this year and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candy canes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down from His bare Tree
this year and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
And no tinsel Christmas trees
And no tinfoil Christmas trees
And no pink plastic Christmas trees
And no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powder blue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down from His bare Tree
this year and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
Crossing the desert to Bethlehem
Pennsylvania in a Volkswagen sled
Drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
With German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody's imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down from His bare Tree
This year and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary's womb again
where in the darkest night of everybody's
anonymous soul

He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
The very craziest of the Second Comings

*What I love about this holiday are the metaphors. The stars that light our way, the wise men bringing greetings to a newborn king of peace, the angels bringing us the good news. May your new year bring you hints of that Christ within you, that you will be born again and again.

Happy New Year!
~ Amy

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January 2 - Celebration of Kwanzaa  Rev. Amy Russell, Akil Sharif & others
~ Kwanzaa is a celebration of the African-American heritage that takes place at the end of December and lasts until January 1.  Kwanzaa means "first fruits of the harvest".  We'll celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa which center on family and community.  Please bring fruits or vegetables to add to our Kwanzaa feast of harvest.

January 9- My God Is Better Than Yours  Rev. Amy Russell
~ Is the God of Christianity the same as the God described in Islam, or in the Book of Judaism?  Stephen Prothero says they're not the same.  He contends in his book, God Is Not One, that the world's major religions have very different goals.  Why does this matter to us?

January 16 - Becoming a Hero  Rev. Amy Russell
~ Joseph Campbell writes about the archetype of the hero's journey as the road our own souls take in their personal transformation.  As we look at the heroes of our age, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., we can recognize the images of who we would like to emulate.

January 23 - Being Peace: Intergenerational  Rev. Amy Russell & Natalie Spriggs-Trobridge
~ To honor the beginning of the Season of Non-Violence, we celebrate becoming peaceful people using compassionate communication.

January 30 - Full Frontal Faith  Brent Walsh
~ Brent, a seminary student from Earlham School of Religion, will speak about his journey toward becoming a man.

Keeping Up With Our Members
Kathleen Pennington's mother, Jane Stephens, passed away December 28.  Our thoughts go out to Kathleen's family as they go through 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

Can you believe it?  It is 2011...where does the time go?  Well, we are at the half way mark for our YRE "school year".  Some things will remain the same on Sunday mornings in our Youth Religious Education program.  Our junior high is still on their soul searching venture in their Coming of Age class.  The senior high class is still moving strong and building wonderful bonds in their small group ministry.  We still have our junior high youth group (6th-8th grades) meeting the first Friday of every month at MVUUF beginning at 7:30pm.  Children in 5th grade and under still begin in service with families except for the first Sunday of each month where they begin in worship/class.  Children in the nursery (2 years old and under) can begin in the nursery or go with families into service...even travel between the two!

So what will change?  The preschool class (3-5 year olds) will begin a new kindness curriculum.  Our workshop rotations will continue to change themes each month, finishing the year with our focus on our Unitarian Universalist principles.  The senior high youth group will begin meeting on the fourth Sunday of each month after service.  This will give the youth a time to hang out and continue building community. 

What are the other events going on in our YRE program, you may ask?  We have our Social Action Grant Project still in action.  This is a wonderful contest where children/youth/families can turn in a proposal on what you would do with $100 to help make the world a better place.  A committee will then choose two winners and give them each $100 to help the project become a reality.  The last day to turn in grant proposals is January 9, after service.  Our winners will be announced Sunday, January 23 during our intergenerational service.  If your child(ren) &/or family is interested in turning in a proposal, please see me, Natalie, or look on the bulletin board in the YRE hallway for a form to fill out and turn in.

It is also time for Mystery Friends.  Signing up (adults and/or children) takes place all of January, with January 23 the last day to sign up.  All of February adult mystery friends will send letters to their child mystery friend.  The dinner will take place for mystery friends to meet each other on Saturday, March 5.  Please see the display table in the gathering space for more information as well as to sign up.

Finally, have you tried out MVUUF's new Chalice Night yet?  They take place the second Friday of each month at 6:30pm.  This is a time for all off MVUUF to gather in community.  Chalice Nights always serve dinner.  Dinner is followed by a family friendly activity.  Chalice Night in January will be a fun game night for all.  Child care for children 4 years old and under is always included!

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 January :
Chalice Children class (Preschool):

            January 2 - Kindness curriculum
            January 9 - Kindness curriculum
            January 16 - Kindness curriculum
            January 23 - Intergenerational service - NO CLASS
            January 30 - Kindness curriculum

Kindergarten - 5th grade class: 

            January 2 - Children's worship

            January 9 - Workshop rotation

                                    ~ K, 1st & 2nd grades - Workshop 1:  Oxygen chemistry experiment

                                    ~ 3rd, 4th & 5th grades - Workshop 2:  Evolution and creation

January 16 - Workshop rotation

                                    ~ K, 1st & 2nd grades - Workshop 2:  Evolution and creation

~ 3rd, 4th & 5th grades - Workshop 3:  World in comparison

January 23 - Intergenerational service: NO CLASS
January 30 - Workshop rotation
                        ~ K, 1st & 2nd grades - Workshop 3:  World in comparison

~ 3rd, 4th & 5th grades - Workshop 1:  Oxygen chemistry experiment


6th - 8th grade class:

            January 2 - Youth worship
            January 9 - Class: Coming of Age
            January 16 - Class: Coming of Age
            January 23 - Intergenerational service: NO CLASS
            January 30 - Class: Coming of Age


9th - 12th grade class:

            January 2 - Youth worship
            January 9 - Small group ministry
            January 16 - Small group ministry
            January 23 - Intergenerational service: NO CLASS
            January 30 - 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. 

Around the Fellowship

Community Discussion Group Topics*
January 2 - "Best Books of 2009."  Moderator: Open Forum
January 9 - "Your 'Seinfeld Moment'."  Moderator: Diane Bohlander
*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*
January 8 Menu:  hamburger buns, green salad, fruit salad, baked beans, 2% milk
(Pulled pork will be generously donated by Adina & Rita Reeve)
*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 or contact Kristin in the Fellowship Office.

New Study Group
A new course of study will be offered beginning on January 9.  The study, "Spirit 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*
January 19 - Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery & Alison Anderson
February 16 - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer
*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.
January 11 - Oil on the Brain, by Lisa Margonelli
February 8 - Lush Life, by Richard Price

Humanitarian Giving Action Group Collection
During January , the Humanitarian Action Group welcomes plate offerings for the YRE Social Action project.  YRE is asking its youth, "what would you do with $100?  How would you give back to your community and make your money stretch as far as it could go?"

And We Want Your Ideas, Too!
The Humanitarian Giving Action Group will be placing a suggestion box in the Gathering Space starting in January.  They are soliciting your suggestions on ideas for giving for 2011.

Food Fanciers
We will meet on January 21 at 2 p.m. in the kitchen.  Get ready to indulge, as Shirley Gezinski will be preparing eggplant parmesan!

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.

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.

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.

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

Catherine Queener - Secretary                                               Joe Law - Trustee A              

TBD - Trustee B                                                                     Kate Halpin - Prog. 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


Non-Violent Communication
Join us at the Fellowship for a one day workshop in Nonviolent Communication with Eric McLellan on Sat., February 5, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  (Lunch is included.)  The cost is $25 per person limit of 30 participants  (limited sponsorships available).

Non-Violent Communication (NVC) is a tool in communication, self-care, and personal development.  Developing skills in NVC can reduce personal reactivity, guilt, and resentment, while increasing empowerment and connection.  This workshop is for beginners as well as those who have practiced Nonviolent Communication.  Attendees will apply and practice the four-step process involved with NVC.   Learning to speak and listen compassionately is like learning a foreign language, engaging in a spiritual practice, and working for relationship enhancement all rolled into one (with another or yourself!) .  NVC is fun!  Participants will gain new perspective.

Attendees are encouraged to come with an agenda. Bring problems, concerns, and conflicts.  In order to get the most out of the experience, it would also be helpful for you to come with the following intentions:

    -a commitment to give up personal suffering,

    -a willingness to see more of reality, and

    -a desire to deepen one's experience of authenticity, hope, and faith.

The presenter, Eric D. McLellan M.Ed. PCC, has counseled, consulted and taught for 27 years.  He has studied, practiced and taught NVC 10 years.  Dynamic and witty, he has provided workshops on relationship, personality and communication in the Criminal Justice Program at Wright State, to Dayton Police peer counselors, the staff at Saint Vincent, school principles, school students, as well as several public workshops each year.  

To register, please notify Genevieve Harvey of your interest and any special accommodations needed for your participation (e.g. dietary restrictions).  This workshop is open to the first 30 registrants, not limited to members of MVUUF. 

January Chalice Night
Our second Chalice Night will be Fri., January 14 at 6:30 p.m.  We'll start with some icebreakers to get to know each other, then share dinner, followed by games for all.  You can choose to play Apples to Apples, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, or bring your favorite game to share.  All ages are welcome!  Child care is available.

Sponsor a Guest At Your Table

The Guest at Your Table program began on December 12 and will end Jan 30.  Dates have been extended this year, to give plenty of time after the Christmas season.  Donations after January 30 should be sent directly to the UUSC.  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, boxes for contributions, and "Stories of Hope" highlighting UUSC partners in four target areas.  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 sort and total your donation.  You may also bypass the box and simply submit your check made out to the UUSC in one of the envelopes available at the table.  Don't forget to return your contribution to me or to the office by January 30.

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), and $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

Adult Sexuality Education: Our Whole Lives

Your sexuality is a major part of your identity. It grows and changes-it's part of your health and relationships and your age and your self-image. But our Western culture trivializes sexuality and often has an underlying current suggesting that sexuality is only for the young and beautiful.

The Our Whole Lives program for Adults allows people to have adult conversations about an adult subject. Using values, communication skills and spirituality as starting points, OWL explores sexuality issues for adults of all ages inviting adults to strengthen connections between their sexuality and spirituality, between their values and their behavior, and between themselves and their religious community.  Besides, why should the kids have all the fun of learning (or relearning) about sex!  OWL for Adults affirms diversity and helps participants accept and affirm their own sexuality throughout their lives.

Our Whole Lives for Adults, led by Leslie and Chris Woodward on Sun. evenings, January 23-March 27 from 7:30-9:30 p.m., first come first served with a maximum of 12 participants.  A donation for materials and curriculum will be appreciated from participants who are able to contribute.  Contact Kristin Freeman at 436-3628 to register.

Green Sanctuary Project

Our journey toward achieving Green Sanctuary accreditation by UAA has begun, but the pathway to get there can be likened to embarking on an ongoing journey rather than arriving at a final destination. 

UUA's Green Sanctuary Manual provides explicit details of the procedures to be followed to achieve the Green Sanctuary designation. The process consists of the following ten steps:
(1)Establish a Green Sanctuary team. The Environmental Action Group, a subgroup of the Social Action Committee, is working in the capacity of a steering committee as our MVUUF Green Sanctuary Team;
(2)Conduct an environmental assessment. This assessment consists of two components --  a professional energy audit and a congregational assessment.  A team from the University of Dayton's mechanical engineering department was engaged to do the energy audit, and they recently completed a walk-through inspection of our facility and operating procedures.  A written report is forthcoming. 
(3)Create and action plan. The action plan will involve our choosing twelve major projects to complete related to four areas - worship and celebration, religious education, environmental justice, and sustainable living. These will be large scale projects that will require the support and participation of many members, youth, and friends. 
(4)Apply for Green Sanctuary Candidacy. The application we will submit to UUA will include our congregational profile, a summary of the environmental assessment, and a description of our action plan projects.
(5)Review feedback from a Green Sanctuary review team. We will receive feedback with possible suggestions for modification
 (6)Make appropriate modifications to your action plan.  Based on the feedback we receive or if circumstances have changed, we will modify our action plan as needed. 
(7)Complete your action plan.  Typically the action plan projects take one to two years to complete. 
(8)Apply for Green Sanctuary accreditation.  We are required to submit a comprehensive document that will include congregational information, a description of the outcomes of the action plan projects, and an evaluation of our progress.
(9)Receive recognition as a Green Sanctuary.  If our application passes muster, we will receive a letter designating MVUUF an official Green Sanctuary.  At the next General Assembly we will be recognized along with other newly accredited congregations and receive a framed certificate to display in our building. 
(10) Continue your commitment.  Hopefully we will strive to continuously live up to the Green Sanctuary standards by implementing environmentally sustainable practices as a congregation and in our daily lives

Yes, to join the ranks of other UUA Green Sanctuaries will be challenging and it will  require widespread dedication and participation. And it is an ongoing journey, because even on arriving at our destination, living out our seventh principle is an ongoing quest. To learn more about the specifics of Green Sanctuary program, go to the UUA web site,  At the bottom of the home page, click on the Environment/Sustainability link.  The Environmental Action Group invites your participation in the greening of MVUUF.