Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458



MVUUF Building by Lew Hann
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MVUUF Forum  September 1-15, 2011


New to MVUUF?

We are starting our new church year on September 11th with our In-gathering Service. This is where we bring a bit of water from our summer activities to share in a communal ritual. We are seeing many new faces sitting in our pews and joining us for activities. Seeing new people makes us excited and happy because we feel like other people are finding out about something that we find so important and central to our lives. But often being new in an organization like a church is a little like being a foreigner in a strange country. There seems to be a new language that has new words and acronyms for which there doesn't seem to be a translation easily available. There are customs and ways of doing things that are unfamiliar.


While we at MVUUF don't intend to keep things secret or make things less transparent, we sometimes aren't good at being interpreters of our own culture. We are trying to become more aware of how a newcomer feels and become better at providing cues to our culture. We often need to be reminded that some people don't know what an "in-gathering" is, or what "UUA" stands for, or where you go to sign up for an activity.


Here are some clues that might help:

  1. Small group dinners are monthly pot-luck dinners at members' homes. You sign up for them on sign-up sheets available in the Gathering Space.
  2. Coffee is made each morning by volunteers. You can sign up to help with set-up or clean-up by seeing Katherine or Eric Freeman.    
  3. New Member Orientation is held every third week after church in the Founders Room. To become a member, you attend that session and then later a "joining session".
  4. If you'd like to get informed about activities related to the Fellowship, you can sign up to get the newsletter by leaving a note in the Visitor's book. You can also request a plastic nametag by leaving a note there.
  5. The MVUUF Discussion email list is an informal way that members and friends share insights and information. To sign up for this, you can also leave a note for Denny Smith, our Communications Rep. Our MVUUF News email list is for Fellowship information, such as weather-related closings, volunteer requests, etc. If you'd like to be included on this list, please email Kristin Freeman, our administrator, at
  6. If you'd like to meet with me, Amy Russell, just call the administrator at 436-3628 to make an appointment. I love to meet and get to know new people. You don't have to have a reason to meet with me.
  7. Each person is unique and has different needs. But whether you're interested in discussion groups, spiritual exploration, social events, volunteering, working with our youth, singing in the choir, etc., there's a place for you here!

Welcome, friends! We love having new people adding their gifts and talents to our community. As we welcome unique individuals to our community, we grow in richness. But please let us know when we are speaking some language that you don't understand. Hopefully, we can learn to be more welcoming if you help us.


~Rev. Amy Russell


Sermon Topics

September 4 - Church Community: How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Mike O'Brien
~ Scientists are beginning to understand the evolutionary biological underpinnings of human behavior. It may be that we evolved to have a finite number of human relationships. Mike O'Brien will discuss "Dunbar's Number" and how it relates to church community.

September 11 - In-Gathering & Water Ceremony Rev. Amy Russell
~On this 10th anniversary of 9/11, we'll remember the grief that we carry for our country, for those who lost their lives, for the hatred and violence of the wars that followed, and the religious intolerance that many citizens experienced. Then we'll have celebrate our traditional ceremony, sharing water collected over the summer and the experiences that made us grow.


September 18 - Families: Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them Rev. Amy Russell
~Our families are often our deepest connection to this earth. Sometimes our families are supportive and loving. Other times, we experience conflict and hurt and some become estranged from their families. How do we heal this? Can we? Do we need to?


September 25 - Why We Can't Wait Bob Lewis
~Putting our UU principles to work in our lives, in our congregation, and in the larger world, is central to our faith, and to our helping heal our world. Martin Luther King, Jr. used Why We Can't Wait! as the title of memoir about the 1963 Birmingham lunch counter sit-ins. He was serious about the need for justice; serious about the moral imperative of not waiting to overcome oppression; serious about the moral courage needed to meet the challenges of injustice and to heal our world. What can we learn from those who embodied moral courage to fight injustice?


Keeping Up with Our Members


Sam Kramer's wife, Linda, is at home under Hospice care. Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers.


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




Did you feel it?  It was almost indiscernible to the untrained.  One has to pay close attention to the shifting of light, the lilt of the breeze and the colors in the forest.  Fall is coming.  Sure, I know it won't be official here until September 23rd, but you can't deny the signs of autumn.   It sneaks in, slowly and deliberately at the end of August and then picks up speed until it explodes in colors and smells and tastes that are all so familiar, so comforting.  Like Mother Nature's last warm cuddling before she beds down for the winter and falls into gray, dreamless sleep.


The seasons have always marked transitions and here at MVUUF we have our own transitions to navigate.  I am so happy to be writing you as the new Director of Religious Education.  MVUUF has been my spiritual home for almost 10 years and this transition from member and volunteer to employee and leader has been exciting and scary, empowering and humbling.   Over the years I have had the opportunity to teach almost every age group in YRE, I have lead Children's and Youth Worship, been a youth group advisor, chaired many events like Halloween parties, May Day Festivals, and fundraisers, and served as chair of the YRE committee and Representative of Lifespan Religious Education.  It has been incredibly satisfying work and I know the rewards will continue in this new phase.  I can truly say that I get paid to do what I love.


Like fall, YRE here at MVUUF starts out slowly, imperceptibly at first.  Getting back to a routine after a summer of fun is never easy.  But we'll build momentum as we go until, before you know it, our program will be in full swing with all the color, diversity and enthusiasm that our children and volunteers bring.  And unlike Mother Nature, I have no intention of bedding down for the winter.  We're going to keep this energy going all school year!


~Shannon Harper 


Around the Fellowship

A Letter from Our Youth   

Somaya Bernard, one of our youth in the Fellowship, recently attended a UU Leadership conference.  Here's an excerpt from a letter she addressed to the congregation.


"This week has been a transformative experience for myself.  I have been going to our church for the past 10 years, however I did not always come regularly and I wasn't very active.  These past three years I have become more and more active.  I am helping shape the way for future youth of our congregation.  Which is something I feel very strongly about because I know for myself, the youth programming has been a large part of my life.  It's very special to me and I feel that other youth should be able to appreciate this as much as I do.  I hope that our youth group continues to grow and accept kids with open arms.  I am so glad to be a part of such an amazing group of kids.  I would love to get the youth and adults even more involved with each other...I am going to work hard to bring the skills I have acquired at the Midwest Leadership School back to the congregation and help shape our youth and congregation into something more than a community."


St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
September 10 Menu:  Hearty turkey/ham sandwiches with cheese, cut up vegetables with ranch dip, applesauce, potato/pasta salad, 100% juice, 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 or sign up in the Gathering Space.


Lunch with Amy Update
Lunch with Amy will continue at 2nd Street Market through September.  During October we'll meet at the Panera at the Greene.  And in November, we'll go back to our usual haunt, Panera by the Dayton Mall.  All are invited!  Join Amy Thursdays at 11:30 a.m.


A Note from Our New Treasurer   

What can I say about our finances that hasn't already been said?  Absolutely nothing!  But that needn't bar an attempt to communicate about where we are and how we're doing. 


First, let me recap the operating expense budget for 2011-12.  Of our $250k budget, 60% goes to salaries and related expenses. Our building, including the mortgage payments, demands another 31%.  That only leaves 9%.  That breaks down as 5% for UU association fees, 4% for administrative expenses and about 1% for all programs, including RE.


On the income side, 90% of our income is the result of pledges, one-time gifts and the Sunday collections.  2.3% comes from building rental, grocery rebates, Amazon rebates and that old standby, miscellaneous.  That leaves between 7% - 8% to be raised by the folks who make the herculean efforts each year for the Service Auction, Fall Bazaar, Men Who Cook, and other special events and activities.


So far this year we are on target for expenses, but a bit behind in income, mostly related to pledges.  Cash flow requires a steady income as well as a steady outgo. 


Each year we seem to eke by.  But, as you know, there's not much left to cut.  That means most of our opportunities lie on improving the income side of the equation.  An increase in membership would certainly help.  Finding new ways to raise funds, and perhaps bring in outside money would also help.


What else?  Any ideas?  Anyone out there with the urge to get involved?  To tackle fundraising?  Are there great ideas you know of that we haven't tried?  What about attracting new members?  Word of mouth is very effective.  New members bring the energy of new ideas, the enrichment of their presence, their commitment to our fellowship and, as a nice corollary, their support - both personal and financial.  And in return, we strive to offer energy, enrichment, commitment and support.


Please contact me if you can help, Pat Whitney.

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).   At September's meeting, we'll discuss the book as well as pick titles for the next months.  For more information, contact Ann Snively.

September 13 - March, by Geraldine Brooks
October 11 - Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand


Fall Bazaar
Our annual Bazaar is almost here - October 15, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.!  We need your help to make it successful!  There are lots of jobs to do such as setting up, being a food cashier, etc.  Please sign up in the Gathering Space.  If you'd like to be a vendor, contact Trena Swanke.  Have any questions?  Call Kristin at 436-3628.  Mark you calendar and bring your pocketbook - let's make this event the best yet!


September 11 Service   

On Sun., September 11, we'll hold our traditional water ceremony with everyone invited to share the drops of water they collected this summer (we'll also have some available in pitchers).  During the beginning of service, we'll remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with sharing and candle lighting.  Please bring a dish to share for a community potluck after service.  At the suggestion of the Environmental Action Group, we are asking you to bring your own plates, silverware, and glasses.


Chalice Night September 30
Come join in the community-building tradition that we began last year by participating in our first Chalice Night of the year, on September 30.  We'll enjoy dinner at 6 p.m. and then at 7 p.m., we'll enjoy a Soulful Sundown Service led by our young adults and youth.  A donation for dinner is appreciated.


Fellowship Retreat
The annual fall retreat will be held on Sat., October 1 at the Fellowship, 3 - 9 p.m.  We'll have a bonfire and fun activities for all!


Meet Our New Ministerial Intern
Starting this September, Joel Araujo will be joining us as a ministerial intern.  He'll work 20 hours/week for the next two years.  Joel is a former member of Heritage UU and Northern Hills UU.  He is a second-year student at Meadville-Lombard UU Seminary.  Welcome, Joel!


Daytime Book Club Title*
September 15 - The Iron Heel, by Jack London
October TBA - In The Time of Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez
*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!


Harvest the Power
Join us for a four-week adult religious education program, titled "Harvest the Power."  This is the third and final session in a 3-part series, but you need not have participated in the first two parts to join us.  The topic is "Path - In what way will we lead?"  This workshop will prepare leaders to help a congregational develop new organizational, cultural and spiritual capacities to face a particular challenge.  New and existing leaders are encouraged to participate.  The class will be held on four consecutive Thursdays: September 22 & 29, October 6 & 13, from 7-9 p.m.  Please contact Alice Diebel at with questions.  You can sign up in the Gathering Space or email Kristin at   


Humanitarian Giving Action Group Offering   

During September, the Humanitarian Giving Action Group welcomes donations for Reach Out of Montgomery County.  Reach Out's mission is to provide access to health care services for the underserved/uninsured population of Montgomery County, without restraints, utilizing the professional skills of volunteer physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.  Eligibility for patients living outside of Montgomery County is determined on a case-by-case basis.  Clinic visits are at no cost to the patient.  Ancillary services such as labs and x-rays are limited based on current contracts.


The New UU: A Course for New & Prospective Adult Members
If you are a new or prospective member of the Fellowship and want to learn more about what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist, this course is for you.  The New UU is a series of seven 75-minute workshops addressing important themes in Unitarian Universalist congregational life, including worship and theology, history, covenant and polity, spiritual growth and faith development, social justice and membership.  Led by Bob Lewis, and assisted by Rev. Amy Russell, the course begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sun., October 2.  Each class session will last from 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.  The class will be held in one of the classrooms in the RE wing of the Fellowship.  Childcare is available.  Please let us know if you need childcare.


Each workshop provides an opportunity for you to interact and share with others your own experiences.  There will be lots of time to raise questions, dialogue with others, and explore more deeply.  This course is intended to:

  • introduce newcomers to Unitarian Universalism
  • equip participants to make a decision about membership in a Unitarian Universalist congregation
  • provide information related to Unitarian Universalist worship, theology, history, social justice, religious education, and governance
  • provide resources within and outside the congregation for participants to explore topics independently.

You may sign up for the course by contacting Kristin Freeman, our church administrator, at 436-3628 or or signing up on the sheet in the Gathering Space.


Bowling Fundraiser
Ryan Gilhooly, son of MVUUF friend Connie Gilhooly, passed away in March.  To honor his memory, there will be bowling and a silent auction to benefit WPAFB Airmen Against Drunk Driving.  For more information, please click HERE for the flyer/registration form.

LIFT Greater Dayton Forum on Early Childhood Learning
LIFT Greater Dayton is hosting a forum on early childhood learning on September 26 at Fairview United Methodist Church.  If you're interested in attending, please view the flyer by clicking HERE

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!