Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458



MVUUF Building by Lew Hann

MVUUF Forum  December 1-15, 2011

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During the past three years, many of us have been committed to building the congregation-based community organizing group, Lift Greater Dayton, as we worked on significant local issues. We have been involved in petition drives, in canvassing on issues, and in working on research around education and jobs in the area. We had a great deal of success in raising an interfaith voice on supporting the human services levy and repealing the bill that diminished collective bargaining for public employees. Through these efforts we have created meaningful relationships with people from many different faith traditions and different parts of Dayton. The collaboration we have been involved in has expanded our reach in becoming more well-known throughout Dayton as a Fellowship that deeply cares about our community.


Throughout this time, we have been fortunate to have the energetic leadership of our staff organizer, Rev. Darryl Fairchild. Through personal contributions from the people involved and through grants (partially from the Unitarian Universalist Association's Community Organizing Fund and from the Veatch Fund, a UU funding organization), Lift has been able to keep Darryl on staff. The congregations currently in the leadership of Lift are no longer able to sustain the funding for Darryl's position. The Leadership Team has formally decided that we would terminate Darryl's position at year's end.


I can't tell you how sad this makes me. I feel that our ministry through Lift enabled us to have a broader and deeper involvement in the Dayton community. As a minister, I formed relationships with other ministers and lay people that were invaluable in many ways. I, personally, do not want to lose this important avenue to connect on social justice issues with people of faith in our area.


In the coming year, the Leadership Team of Lift will get together to discuss how we can re-define Lift's mission. We don't feel that we can continue in the same way we've been functioning without a staff organizer. However, the clergy present expressed a desire to maintain our collaboration in some future way as yet undefined. We all felt the need to continue to build an interfaith organization that is able to speak out on local issues as well as maintaining important ties among us.


Bob Lewis and I both sit on Lift's Leadership Team. We are anxious to know what you think about the future of Lift. In the coming months, we'll have continued conversation around our involvement in community organizing and our need to continue our outreach into the broader community.


This is a discouraging setback. We must "keep the faith" in advancing social justice as a part of our Unitarian Universalist commitment in the world. Working actively on social justice is not just an option for us as UUs, it's a part of who we are.


~Rev. Amy Russell

Sermon Topics


December 4 - Universalism: The Prominent Heresy Rev. Amy Russell
~Hosea Ballou was known as an "Ultra-Universalist" because he believed there was no punishment after death, unlike his Universalist colleagues, many of whom believed that there was some sort of purification process before reaching heaven. What do UUs today believe about the nature of sin and punishment?

December 11 - The Darkness of Winter Rev. Amy Russell & Dan Miyake
~This season, beginning with its darkening days, is a difficult time for many people. There are many religions that honor the time of darkness as a fallow period before growth. How do we honor the darkness in our own lives?

December 18 - What Is the Miracle of Christmas? Rev. Amy Russell
~What do we as UUs celebrate about Christmas? The tinsel and the mistletoe? Or the story of a babe born long ago and far away? What is the miracle of this story? What is the miracle of Christmas for you? We'll share stories of what's most meaningful to us.

December 24 - Christmas Eve: Stories & Candles at 7 p.m. Rev. Amy Russell
~With the notes of hope and joy that strike a chord on Christmas Eve, stories and carols will be shared.

December 25 - Christmas Day Service Joel Araujo


Keeping Up with Our Members


Joel Araujo, our Student Minister, lost his grandmother after she went through an illness.  Please keep Joel and his family in your thoughts and prayers 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.




Homemade Holiday


I grew up in a house that didn't celebrate Christmas. In fact we didn't celebrate any holidays. It wasn't all bad. You know what they say about not knowing what you're missing. My parents did a great job of working "around" the holidays. But despite my parent's efforts on the home-front, we could not ignore what the rest of the world was doing during the holidays. Christmas was everywhere. And so I began to construct an elaborate dream of what it would be like to celebrate this alluring and unattainable holiday. I combined memories of my grandparents' house at Christmas time, stolen moments watching Christmas specials on television, and what my friend's at school told me about their own experiences.   What I came up with was a mismatched, idealistic jubilee, complete with artificial Christmas trees and lots of alcohol and friends, Macy's Santa Claus and John Denver singing about Christmas in Montana, and excessive amounts of presents and ham.


When it came time for me to finally concoct my own family festivities, it's no wonder our first few Christmases were like crazy bonanzas of elaborate planning and experimentation. We, of course, have settled into our own traditions over the years, but without childhood memories of my own, I still find myself floundering each year to create not only an authentic experience for my children, but for myself as well. Like a person who goes to Disney World for the first time as an adult, I was faced with the mechanics (and cost) of Christmas before I ever experienced the pure magic and wonder.


December's Chalice Night has sparked yet another holiday dream of mine: to have a truly simple, homemade holiday; where it's not about buying presents but making beautiful things with our own hands; where we don't have to pay someone to entertain us, but we make the fun ourselves; and where we aren't just rushing around being hosts and hostesses, but sitting back and enjoying our time together. No matter what your family looks like - whether you have kids and a significant other or no kids and no significant other, or like me, you consider the lovely people you've come to know at our fellowship, an extension of family - I hope that everyone will feel welcome to join us for this special time on Friday December 9th.


~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*
December 4 - "Ask the Doctor." Moderator: Tom Starr, Sam Kramer, & Wil Brooks
December 11 - "Integral Relationships." Moderator: Don Heidorn
December 18 - "Guardians for the Legally Incompetent." Moderator: Heather Schroeder
December 25 - NO CLASS
*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.


Mandatory OWL meeting
There is a mandatory OWL parent meeting for parents who wish to have their 7th, 8th, or 9th grader attend the OWL program beginning in January. Please attend this mandatory session in the Founders room at 7:30 p.m. on Fri. December 2.


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 is a box in the Gathering Space to put your donation. You can also send a check to Kristin in the Fellowship office. Checks should be made out to MVUUF and indicate Party in the memo line. Please plan on helping us celebrate the birthday of such a wonderful staff member!


Our annual tradition of singing by the piano and, more importantly, enjoying holiday treats, is just around the corner! Please join us in the Sanctuary at 5:30 p.m. on December 11 for our Wassail celebration. If singing's not your thing, that's OK! Come watch, enjoy & encourage our singers. Please bring some holiday nibbles to share!


December 18 Sunday Service
What does Christmas mean to you? Is it a special time to be together with the people you love? Is it a quiet time to snuggle up with a good book and listen to holiday music? In our service on December 18, we'll be sharing what we think the "miracle" of Christmas means. If you'd like to share, please contact Rev. Amy.


Congregational Meeting
Our next Congregational Meeting will be immediately following service on Sun., January 22.


Leadership Positions
The following leadership positions will be filled by election on January 22 during our Congregational Meeting. The MVUUF Nominating Committee is seeking recommendations and suggestions for leadership opportunities for terms commencing March 1, 2012. The Nominating Committee will consider your input and complete nominations in the coming weeks.
Board positions (1 year term): President, V.P., Secretary, Trustee A, Trustee B, Prog. Council Chair
Program Council positions (2 year term): Communications, Membership, Music, Religious Education
For more information and job descriptions, you may check the Fellowship web site at or talk to one of the members of the Nominating Committee: Genevieve Harvey, Jamie McQuinn, Carol Narigon, Phil Wise, or Ruby Powell. Please give us your input in writing by December 4. If you're interested in the Endowment Committee, Nominating Committee, or any other area of the Fellowship, you can let us know and we will pass your name to the appropriate body.


Holiday Giving Tree
Our holiday giving tree is in its usual holiday place, the Gathering Space! This year, we'll be gathering donations for St. Vincent de Paul. Currently, their greatest desire is for baby items. Next to the tree you'll find a list of items they need. Let's help make the holidays of local families in need a little bit brighter! Please bring all donations to the Fellowship no later than December 28.


Chalice Night!
We invite all Fellowship members and friends to join at the Fellowship on Fri., December 9 at 6:30 p.m. This month we're having a lasagna dinner (yum!), craft tables where you can decorate gingerbread cookies, make ornaments, etc., and a cookie exchange...not a bad way to spend a Friday night! Remember, Chalice Nights are for everyone - young, young-at-heart, singles, couples, families of all shapes and sizes. So please don't be shy, we're hoping you'll be there! If you want to participate in the cookie exchange, please bring 2 dozen cookies. One dozen will be exchanged, the other we'll pass around for dessert. Also, list your ingredients, so people can choose according to dietary restrictions. Get away from the malls & holiday crowds - unwind with your friends at the Fellowship!


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.


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*
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!


Young Adult Meeting
The Young Adult Group will start meeting every Sunday evening at 5 p.m. beginning December 4. They'll be meeting at Sky Stewart's house for informal get-togethers. Sky's address is 121 Arlington Dr. Franklin 45005. She can be reached at 286-2205.


Humanitarian Giving
During December, the Humanitarian Giving donation will be to the Minister's Discretionary Fund. The economy has taken its toll on many people, including those in our own church community. The Minister's Discretionary Fund allows Rev. Amy to provide assistance to our members in their time of need.


Smart Choices
Ladies of the Fellowship are invited to attend Smart Choices on Thu., December 8 at 2 p.m. for card-making. Join us in the kitchen as Jan Campbell leads us as we learn to make wonderful holiday cards!


Chalice Light Gallery
During December, the Gallery will be displaying the photography of member Maury Wyckoff. Through Maury's lens, see revealed the majesty of our world, capturing ordinary, extraordinary, and humorous moments, and presenting them in a way that draws you in as if you are there. Or could have been there. Or wish you were there. An artist's reception will be held in the Sanctuary on December 11 from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.


Interested in Eliminating Stress?
Bill Hill, facilitator of the Spiritual Awakening group that meets Sundays in the library at 12:30 p.m., has a handout available that addresses a simple way to reduce your worrying and eliminate stress from your life. As stress can place hardships on every aspect of your life, eliminating stress is a kindness to yourself! The handout is available in the Gathering Space.


Possible Theist Group
There appears to be some interest in forming a group of people who might call themselves "theists." This group could meet to pray, meditate, do bible study, or just discuss ideas. Rev. Amy Russell will lead a discussion after service on December 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the Founders room. By attending the meeting, you're just exploring this idea. It does not mean you're committed to the group.


General Seminar on Family Law
The Dayton Family Law Center is a nonprofit law firm, and part of its mission is to provide free legal information sessions to the general public. On Sun., December 4, an attorney from the firm will present a session on various aspects of family law. Topics will include adoption, child custody, divorce, dissolution, home foreclosure, bankruptcy, and legal considerations of children turning 18. This informal session will begin with the basics of these and other topics, and you will be invited to ask questions of a general nature regarding the law. The attorney cannot answer specific legal questions you may have. The session will be held after service at 12:15 p.m. in the Sanctuary.


Unsung UU Award
MVUUF has a tradition of honoring an "unsung UU" every year. An unsung hero is someone who tirelessly shows their commitment to the Fellowship behind the scenes. It's not typically a person in a formal position, rather someone who sees something that needs to be done and gets it done. This recognition is made by the board of trustees. However, we welcome recommendations from the congregation. Please send your suggestions to Alice Diebel at no later than December 11.


Which witch is witch?  I mean, which?

If you're ever wondered what that called Paganism is, I would like to invite you to join me, Shannon Heather, after services for a Pagan 101 class.  Look for specific dates and times to be announced soon.  I will be covering the basics of common Pagan beliefs, practices, holidays, celebrations, the major pantheons, and hopefully be able to answer any questions you may have.  This is an academic class, not a worship or convenant group.  If you have any questions, please contact me at


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!