Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458



MVUUF Building by Lew Hann

MVUUF Forum  November 16-30, 2011

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A couple of weeks ago Bob and I provided home hospitality to a UU minister and partner from Austin, Texas. This was their second trip to Dayton, and their second visit to Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City. They were here for a seminar on the mission-driven church. Ginghamsburg is a mega church, so my radar was up wondering what they could possibly offer UUs: church as entertainment, promises of salvation, oppressive social positions on abortion, gay rights, the role of women, etc? But I kept an open mind, especially since I remembered they had raised millions of dollars for Darfur. They were doing something right. I wondered what we might learn from them, and our guests were most willing to share.


There were two key insights that I heard from these guests that I hope we will all consider: the purpose of membership and the role of the church in the community. These two insights are linked and looking at them is frame bending for UUs. (See last month's Forum.)


Ginghamsburg knew that it had a mission to serve communities that were less fortunate than Tipp City. But how could they do that from the north? A small, core group of lay members identified a small, dying church in a Dayton community and decided that they would consider the neighborhood within the surrounding 15 blocks as their community.


In order to identify what to do, they walked the neighborhood. They stood in front of the homes and prayed. (Okay, just for the record, I am not saying this is what we would do!) When they encountered people they struck up a conversation. They asked people what they thought of that little church. The responses fell into two categories. First, people said, "Oh, that's closed." Second, people said, "That is the church that is all white and is rude to us."


When they began talking with people they recognized that their neighbors were hungry, so they started serving breakfast. This breakfast was dignified and relational; they made custom, individualized omelets for people. There was no proselytizing, just relationship building. After six weeks, people started coming to church and would sit in the balcony. After twelve weeks they came onto the main floor. The church grew from 30 to 300 members and is financially self sufficient.


This is radical hospitality. The church treats its neighbors with dignity, it is focused on them, and it didn't demand much of people. They didn't have to join, or even attend church services to be fed.


Did Ginghamsburg have higher demands of its members? They don't demand much of people either, yet they have 4-5000 at worship in a given week. Only 1500 of them are members and members are expected to do the church's work. Members make three strong commitments to the church. They commit to be in church, they commit to take on a service project, and they commit to tithe (give 10% of their income). They want members, but they want members to be committed to the work of the church. We make similar requests of members; give of your time, treasure and talent. Yet we do not specify what that means.


As a liberal religion, we tend to give fewer directives, and I am not suggesting we change that. But what commitment should we make to our neighbors, either in Centerville or in Dayton? What does the commitment to MVUUF mean? As a member, do you commit to living your religion only in our building, or does membership bring with it a commitment to serve the community for the greater good? There are many opportunities at MVUUF to get involved inside and outside our walls. If you are seeking a beloved community, I recommend service as the means. May it be so.

~Alice Diebel, MVUUF Board President


Sermon Topics


November 20 - Thanksgiving - Intergenerational Rev. Amy Russell

~We are grateful for our community and we support one another. We'll enjoy a multi-generational play about how we learn to get along better with one another. Then we'll enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner together.


November 27 - Thoughts on Giving Thanks Joel Araujo
~Since the middle of the 19th century, the last Thursday in November has been designated a day of National Thanksgiving. However, the true significance of this day is usually lost in national myth and nostalgia. Your new Student Minister, Joel Araujo, reflects upon the various meanings of the holiday, both historical and contemporary, and expresses the intention of Thanksgiving in his own life.


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.




We've been hearing the words "multigenerational" and "intergenerational" a lot lately. They actually mean the same thing in context to Unitarian Universalism. Intergenerational is a term our church has traditionally used to refer to services that include children. Multigenerational is a more recent term used, in my opinion, to put a fresh label on something that evokes mixed feelings, not all of which are positive. Kind of like "multi-level marketing". They can call it what they want but I still want to run away when I hear the word Amway.


But let's not get hung up on monikers. Instead, consider the definition of the terms. If multi/inter-generational means that many generations are involved, doesn't that make almost everything we do in our church community multi-generational? Do we ever have services where only the baby boomers are welcome? Does the choir only allow people born between 1925-1945 to join? Even the Young Adult group, whose membership is limited by age, spans two generations (18-35 year olds).


So let's face it, we're not nearly as concerned with the mixing of generations as we are with crossing the ominous and rigid line between Adult and Children. In our community multi-generational simply means we pull back the curtain; we force people to mingle with the "other side". Adults and kids - together, for better or worse. To some this means "family entertainment, dumbed down for the lowest common denominator and not intellectually or spiritually stimulating enough for an adult with no children to attend." And to others it means "Painfully uncomfortable time spent holding one's breath, hoping that their child will not a) lose all wits and run yelling around the sanctuary or b) come away complaining that they never want to go to that 'boring church' again." Let's not beat around the bush here people. If you have ever had close to either one of these thoughts, you are not alone. Not in our church and not in our denomination.  


 At this point I could go into an enthusiastic lecture spouting the benefits of including children in congregation life and how important our young people are to the future of our religion. But I hope we're all on the same page in this respect. I think what's getting us tangled up is that silly line that we expect our Youth to be ready to cross when they graduate from High School.

In our own families our children don't just cross a line into adulthood. Preferably it's something we gradually ease them into. It starts with making their own beds and taking care of their pets, and moves on from there. We let them try out this new world of decision making and responsibility while they still have the security of childhood to fall back on. So that when the time comes for them to leave our homes, they are not untested or completely unprepared. And once they leave we know that they will come back from time to time. We offer them a free place to do laundry, a stocked refrigerator, hugs and pep talks, advice and shoulders to cry on. Because sometimes it's hard in the beginning to find their place in the great big world, and adulthood does not usually come with its own built in support network.


Similarly, I hope to help ease our Youth into the life of our congregation. It starts when they are very young, with Words for All Ages and Multigenerational Service and goes on from there. In their years in YRE they will come into contact with dozens of adult teachers and mentors that will welcome them into the adult congregation when the time comes. They will be given opportunities to question and examine others beliefs and begin to consider their own so that they have a foundation to build on. They will have opportunities to volunteer, attend and lead worship services and serve on adult committees and projects. And when they leave YRE they will be comforted in knowing they can always come back for hugs and pep talks, advice and shoulders to cry on. Because it should never be hard to find your place when you are at home. Because no matter what generation each one of us fits into, we can always show love and support for one another.

~Shannon Harper, DRE


Around the Fellowship


St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
December 10 Menu: Fried or baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, applesauce, 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.


Community Discussion Group*
November 20 - Thanksgiving Sunday - NO CLASS
November 27 - "Paranormal Experiences." 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.


Lunch with Amy Update
During November, we'll go back to our usual haunt, Panera by the Dayton Mall. All are invited! Join Amy on Thursdays at 11:30 a.m.


Annual Thanksgiving Dinner
It's hard to believe it's almost time for our annual Thanksgiving Dinner! Please join us for food, friends and fellowship after service on November 20.  We're also asking that everyone bring a non-perishable food item that we can donate to a local pantry. This way, we'll be able to share the bounty of the season with those around us.


Mark Your Calendars - We're Having a Party!
Jesse Minnefield, our custodian of oh, well, 30+ years is turning 75 - and if that doesn't warrant a party, I don't know what does! So mark your calendars now for after service on January 29. If you'd like to contribute to a gift for Jesse, there will be a box in the Gathering Space some time in the next few weeks. You can also send a check to Kristin in the Fellowship office. Please plan on helping us celebrate the birthday of such a wonderful staff member!


Socrates Café
The first meeting of Socrates Café was a hit! Please join us for our next lunch on Tue., December 13 at 1 p.m. We'll start with a brown bag lunch (coffee provided), followed by a lively, respectful discussion. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet interesting people and explore new ideas. Please RSVP to Jim Faulconer at if you'll be attending.


Humanitarian Giving Action Group
The next meeting of the HGAG will be on Wed., November 16 at 7 p.m. in the Founders room. All are welcome and invited to attend!



Our annual Wassail celebration is just around the corner!  Join us at 5:30 p.m.on December 11.  We'll enjoy singing around the piano and lots of fellowship!  Please bring some holiday nibbles to share - we'll provide the Wassail punch.


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 13 - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
January 10 - The Elephant and the Dragon, by Robyn Meredith
February 14 - American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
March 13 - Paris Wife, by Paula McLain


Daytime Book Club Title*
November 16 - A Singular Woman - The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother, by Janny Scott
December 7 - Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham **Potluck at the home of Carol Vincent**
January TBA - Dreamers of the Day, by Mary Doria Russell
February TBA - Still Alice, by Lisa Genova
March TBA - What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank
*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!

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!