Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458



MVUUF Building by Lew Hann

MVUUF Forum  July 1-15, 2011

In This Issue
Letter from the President
Sermon Topics
Keeping up with Our Members
Around the Fellowship
Quick Links


"Why didn't you say anything?" she asked. I was tempted, and watchful. Were people going to get out of hand? Were comments going to be unintentionally hurtful? Were people going to write things that were insensitive?


When one of our new members posed a question about worship styles and how they are a reflection of our gender, class and racial make-up, I was a little nervous. But for the most part, the respondents were self-policing and open. Personally, I do not think a discussion board is the place for significant, potentially difficult conversations. On the other hand, calling a meeting didn't seem the appropriate response, either. All that to say, that a lack of response doesn't mean the issues surrounding diversity of worship styles, race, class, gender or sexual orientation are being ignored by the fellowship. They are on the agenda in several areas of fellowship life and work and I am glad so many of you responded so honestly.


There is work to be done beyond expressing opinions. The wheels around diversity have been turning for quite some time at MVUUF, and perhaps longer at the UUA. MVUUF has a pretty good track record around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. We were one of the earlier congregations, and the first in our district, to be officially designated as "Welcoming" to LGBT persons. We're still learning how to be affirming, but many of our leaders and members identify with one of these designations. But how well do we do welcoming of people of color, or people of poorer economic circumstances? After all, the old UU joke is, Do you have to have a PhD to be a member here?


We are largely a white, college educated, middle class membership. Our liberal religious tradition is partly responsible for our makeup and there are some real benefits to being who we are. We are liberal, meaning open minded to diverse thought, to change, and to challenges to the status quo. In our early heritage we were persecuted, and even executed, for expressing the view that God was not a trinity but a single God. We arrived at our diverse views and put our ideas into action through means that were available to an educated class, starting programs and organizations, affecting policy, etc. However, we also joined hands with people across boundaries in work such as Civil Rights and more recently, community organizing. We want to see a better world for more people and seek ways to "heal a hurting world." The long list of strong, justice actions by the UUA would make anyone stand in awe of our wisdom and accomplishments.


Yet, here we are. We care, and we do good work, but why are we so consistently mono-cultural? We do not reflect the diversity we say we want to see, or do we? Just a couple of years ago the Social Action Committee organized a Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations effort. While it was a most enlightening and meaningful experience for the small group that participated, we could not move it to another level of doing something for the MVUUF community, or even more importantly, for the greater Dayton community. We ran out of steam, in part because the numbers of us engaged was small, by design. Nor was that program designed to increase our diversity; it was intended to help us better understand race and race relations. Why were so few people interested in participating?


So how do we become more diverse ourselves, and through the process become more conscious of who we are and who we could be? How would being more diverse be a benefit to us and to others? What are the implications of being so isolated and insulated from our own community? At the UUA, there is a concerted effort to change the ethnic and demographic profile of the congregations so they better reflect the changes that are occurring in society. And the results are visible and impressive, but slow and difficult.


Much of the intention to be welcoming and affirming to more diverse populations comes in at least four significant ways. First, the UUA is making a concerted effort to invite diverse persons into leadership positions. Second, the UUA board has engaged in a process called The Journey Toward Wholeness for many years now, to address oppression within our own institutions and in the greater world. It involves training and consciousness raising. See for more information.


Third, the UUA has a Right Relationship team that is present at every General Assembly to help make oppressive behaviors public if it will raise the consciousness of the assembled. One of the classic incidents that occurred early on was when a white delegate asked an African American minister to carry her bags, assuming the minister was a hotel staffer. We are learning through these public, but sensitively presented reminders, of how to avoid unintentional oppressive acts related to race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and ethnicity. I have personally grown a lot when I hear about these incidents.


Finally, GA reflects diversity in worship and music, drawing on traditions that may not be our own, but we are informed about and made sensitive to the roots of the music. For instance, if we sing an old African American spiritual we need to understand the background that music comes from. We can learn from it, respect it, be moved by it, even if it is not our own. It makes the music all the more powerful to know the circumstances that created it.


At MVUUF we still have work to do. Our own Covenant of Right Relations has obviously made a difference in how we talk with one another. If you are new here, look for one in the gathering space, or visit   


But what would make our culture more welcoming and inviting to more diverse people in the Dayton area? I will ask the board to begin thinking about ways we can take this on as a congregation. If you have ideas, please consider contacting me, Rev. Amy Russell, or other important leaders in the areas of worship, music, social action, membership, activities, or religious education. Diversity is not going to happen through a single event or even a single program. Being truly welcoming will require experience, learning, and a state of mind. Let us go forth in love.

~ Alice Diebel, Board President


Sermon Topics

July 17 - Jesus for Humanists  Lathe Snyder
~ Jesus is the central figure for Christian faith.  Others have sometimes seen him as the enemy.  This sermon suggests that humanists and others who do not identify as Christians may find value in the story of Jesus without seeing him as divine.


July 24 - From You I Receive  Dan Miyake
~ The act of giving is almost second nature to most of us.  We generously give of ourselves, our time, our money, and other resources.  Giving makes us feel good.  When it comes to receiving, however, we often feel awkward and uncomfortable.  Come join us as we look at the art of gracious receiving.  It feels good, too!


July 31 - Liberal Religion's Core Beliefs  Rev. Bruce Russell-Jayne

~ Surveys of UUs show broad agreement on a set of religious ideas.  In the text for this sermon, The Marketing of Liberal Religion, the Rev. David Bumbaugh spelled them out, and he suggests we use them to bring some clarity about liberal religion in the broader world.


Keeping Up with Our Members


Sarah & Peter Hewitt are thrilled to announce that they've chosen to adopt their son, Jay!!


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


Around the Fellowship

St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
August 13 Menu:  BBQ/fried chicken, mac & cheese, green beans, fruit salad, 2% 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.


Lunch with Amy
Lunch is on hiatus during July and will resume at Second Street Market in August.


Rev. Amy's Study Break
During the month of July, Amy will be on study break.  She will be available for pastoral emergencies.  Call Kristin to reach Amy.


Community Discussion Group*

July 17 - "Famous People Who Graduated from Your High School or College."  Moderator:  Bruce Baker

July 24 - "How Have Your Hobbies Changed over The Years?"  Moderator: Diane Dermody

July 31 - TBD

*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.


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.
August 9 - The Irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald
September 13 - March, by Geraldine Brooks
October 11 - Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand


Daytime Book Club Title*
July 20 - Bess and Harry: An American Love Story, by Jhan Robbins
August 17 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
*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!


Humanitarian Giving Action Group Offering

During July, the Humanitarian Giving Action Group welcomes donations for Homefull.  Homefull managers work one-on-one with clients in the gateway shelters with the primary goal of moving them into appropriate permanent housing, and out of the shelter system.  They also provide educational classes, including basic life skills and employability courses.


Water Communion

Don't forget to collect a little water from whatever mountain stream or city fountain you visit this summer.  We'll use it for our ingathering worship service on September 11.  During that traditional water ceremony, we all pour water together into a communal bowl, symbolizing what we've learned over the summer and bring it back to share with our beloved community.


Social Justice Film Series
Our next Social Justice Film is July 29 at 7 p.m.!  In addition, mark your calendars for August 5 (an LGBT film) and August 19 (TBD).  Our July 29 film is "Earth Days."  It's easy to pull at heartstrings with B-roll footage of century-old trees collapsing behind chainsaws.  But "Earth Days" moves beyond (though still includes) the cliché footage of a typical environmentalism film.  The documentary provides an intelligent look at the history of the green movement through the voices of authors, politicians, activists, conservationists, even an astronaut - all of whom had a hand in taking "green" mainstream.


Cinemaniacs meet the first and third Sunday of the month at a local theater.  Movies, times and locations are announced on the MVUUF Discussion list.


August 21 Service
Our August 21 service is titled "Stretching Into Our Discomfort Zone."  Have you ever allowed yourself to stay in a place that was outside of your comfort zone long enough to be really stretched by the experience?  Would you like to share that experience?  Let Amy know if you'd like to briefly share your stretching story during service.


Change in Regularly Scheduled Child Care Availability
Due to a lack of need, there will no longer be regularly scheduled childcare from 9:30-10:30 on Sunday mornings starting July 3.  If you are attending a meeting during that time and need child care, please contact Kristin and it will be arranged.  

We are a liberal religious community that embraces diversity and respects the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  ALL are welcome here, no matter their race, sex, sexual/affectional orientation, gender expression, or ability.

Please visit us on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. for our worship service - we'd love to see you!