glowing chaliceThe FORUM
Newsletter of MVUUF
Jan. 16-31, 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 President
Keeping Up with Our Members
Letter from the DRE
YRE Information
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 President

My November president's letter was not without controversy; I heard from those who loved it and those who hated it. But that's what I cherish about UUs! We develop thoughtful responses based in principle and value rather than reactions that have not been thought through. You may remember the letter: I wrote about civil rights and where and how UUs take a stand to support the rights of oppressed groups.


I really enjoy reading the David Brooks and Gail Collins dialogue columns in the New York Times occasionally. I thought it might be fun to have a Diebel-Fenic dialogue with Jack Fenic, one of our most thoughtful members. Jack doesn't swallow a liberal bias easily. I think of myself as middle-of-the-road but I guess I've been leaning to the left in this case.


Alice: So, Jack, as I understand you, my November article was a bit over the top. You said that my tone reflected a, "of course we would stand for - whatever" attitude. I should know better than to use "we" with UUs! But, I'd rather you explain it.


Jack: Alice, thanks for the opportunity to worm my way into your monthly Forum letter. I always enjoy it and find it well reasoned and thoughtful, even when I don't agree with it - and, as you mentioned, I found something in your most recent letter that troubled me a bit.

I am particularly sensitive (probably too sensitive) when UU's make statements that seem to imply that all UU's "of course" agree with a certain opinion. When you defined Koran burning, the Arizona immigration law, and opposition to the mosque location in New York as candidates for denomination-wide condemnation, I was brought up a bit short.


No problem with opposition to Koran burning, other than I wonder whether by our condemnation we dignify the idiot who suggested it. However, in the case of Arizona's law and the NY mosque, I find myself holding a minority UU view that differs from yours, but which I think is deserving of consideration by UU's. If UU's took a formal public stand articulating your view, I would at the very least feel a bit crowded, and would wonder whether my right of conscience, so fundamental to Unitarian Universalism, had been violated in some way.


Alice: Worm away! It's a challenge to come up with a meaningful article every month! So you're doing half my job! Perhaps we could just use the NY mosque to focus our dialogue. Here's what troubles me:  the way the media framed the thing as being built with terrorist money or even by terrorists. They called the Imam into question without justification. It was a media frenzy - but what isn't these days? But more than the overreaction, the response seemed to me to say that all Muslims were the cause of 9-11, not just radical extremists. Here was a group of Muslims trying to build something good in the community, a recreation center (not unlike a YMCA) in the heart of an area filled with X-rated shops. I am troubled when we paint this religion with a broad brush. In fact, I'm troubled whenever I hear, "Oh they're all blah, blah, blah" about anyone! (Which I suppose makes your point about UUs!) That for me is a time to pause and remember the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to stand up for justice rather than join the fray. Oh, and on the right of conscience thing? Isn't that where our democratic process falls within the principles? How would we decide when to take a stand?


Jack: Ah, good points all. I certainly agree that all Muslims should not be condemned for the actions of some, and that UU's should stand up for justice against those who promote such ideas. However, I think that some UU's have a blind spot when it comes to radical Islam, which is far more than a few random crazies. Radical Islam is a potent worldwide movement and is the reason our soldiers are fighting and dying in Afghanistan, and why we all must endure body scans and pat downs when we want to board an airplane.  


I'm not saying that the Muslim leaders who selected the Islamic center and mosque location in New York City are part of radical Islam. I do wonder, if Islam is a religion of peace, why such a provocative and inflammatory site was chosen. I also wonder whether the required contributions of 100 to 200 million dollars to build the Islamic center and mosque would be quite so easy to obtain from the Muslim world if the site were in mid-town Manhattan or the south Bronx. I don't think any UU would question the right of Muslims to build in the proposed location; the issue is whether it is a reasonable and appropriate thing to do. Even President Obama amended his support for the right to build the mosque to say that he was not commenting on whether it was appropriate.


You raise a very important point when you ask how we can take a stand for justice given the "right of conscience thing" and our commitment to the democratic process. UU's have a long history of standing up for justice and speaking out on moral, ethical, and social issues. UU's also are committed to the right of conscience of individual members and avoidance of dogma, both religious and secular. At times, these two fundamental values of Unitarian Universalism can come into conflict.  As you know, the MVUUF Board has appointed an ad hoc committee, of which I am a member, to deal with just this question. We have been tasked with several issues, but I think the central question we face is how can we make statements on moral, ethical and social issues that purportedly represent what all UU's stand for without violating the right of conscience of individual UU's who don't support such statements.


Thanks again for the opportunity to be part of your letter. If you feel like adding the last word - you are a woman after all - (whoops, was that a sexist remark?) - feel free.

Alice:  Of COURSE I want the last word. You wormed your way into my column, remember? But all seriousness aside, I think we're both guilty of making assumptions. You assume that the Islamic community would not have supported the Mosque financially if had been built somewhere else.  I make assumptions about what sort of social justice values UUs have. I think the lesson for us both is to work hard to learn as much as we can before we jump to conclusions. Pretty basic, eh? Your committee has its work cut out for it.

~ Alice Diebel, Board President

You are receiving this newsletter because you are a member or friend of MVUUF. If you don't wish to receive our newsletters, let us know by replying to this email or using "safe unsubscribe" at the bottom of this email.
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links
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
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 16 - Kindness curriculum
            January 23 - Intergenerational service - NO CLASS
            January 30 - Kindness curriculum


Kindergarten - 5th grade class: 

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 16 - Class: Coming of Age
            January 23 - Intergenerational service: NO CLASS
            January 30 - Class: Coming of Age


9th - 12th grade class:

            January 16 - Small group ministry
            January 23 - Intergenerational service: NO CLASS
            January 30 - Small group ministry

Another Beautiful Labyrinth!
Shannon Hansen organized another beautiful, spiritual labyrinth on January 1.  Our Sanctuary was transformed by the soft glow of the hundreds of candles.
Labyrinth 2
Around the Fellowship

Community Discussion Group Topics*
January 16 - "Making and Keeping Resolutions."  Moderator: Sam Kramer
January 23 - "How Does Your Garden Grow?"  Moderator: Ron Malish
January 30 - "Joyful Moments in Your Life."  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*
February 12 Menu:  beef stew, green salad, fruit salad, 2% milk
*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 Kristin in the office, sign up in the Gathering Space or call Evan James.


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.
February 8 - Oil On the Brain, by Lisa Margonelli


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!


Men Who Cook
Join us for this annual fundraiser presented by the gentlemen of our Fellowship.  The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sat., January 29.  Be prepared to eat, drink and be merry!  Tickets are only $30 for adults and $5 for children under 10.  They are on sale after service in the Gathering Space.  For more information, contact Bob Lewis.

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.

Women's Group
The Women's group will be discussing Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, by Geneen Roth beginning February 6 through the month of March.  This book will help us examine that how we eat is related to our core beliefs and way we live.  Please join us as we discover a book by a celebrated author which has changed lives.  Please contact Sarah Hewitt or Alice Diebel for more information.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The Centerville-Washington Township Diversity Council is sponsoring a MLK Jr. Day breakfast on Mon., January 17 at 7:30 a.m.  It's being held at Yankee Trace.  For reservations, please call 433-7151.

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. 

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.