Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458



MVUUF Building by Lew Hann

MVUUF Forum  January 16-31, 2012

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"Speaking up and speaking out."


UUs are not known for their reticence. We usually come to this faith because being UU requires we think about what we believe and act in accordance with those beliefs. It's not as easy as it sounds. As a denomination we have a long history of taking stands on issues of social justice; UUs have been abolitionists and civil rights activists, environmental justice advocates, and gay rights activists. Because of this history, and because our principles and purposes guide us toward working for justice and equity, it would be easy to assume that we can - and do - speak publicly easily and often about our "positions" on these issues. That would be a naïve assumption about who we are.


Not only does being UU require us to speak out on our beliefs against injustice, our faith also calls us to seek our own truths and live as our individual consciences guide us. When we speak as a body, how carefully have we considered these individual searches? It is important to note that our fifth principle invites us to affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in the wider world. (How did I do for not looking it up?) Naturally, there is a tension between our individual heart-guided consciences and our ability to decide things as a collective body. UUs seldom think alike, as the old joke makes clear: It is said that when three UUs are together, among them on any subject there are at least four opinions!


Does it still sound easy to make a public statement? In the recent past, our congregation has taken vocal stands on issues by hanging a banner supporting gay marriage or by proposing we join a community organizing group. These forms of "speech" have raised a lot of concerns about how such decisions were made and how people who might disagree with these public statements were consulted or considered. To help develop policy about how the congregation might better make such decisions, an ad hoc committee of the board was formed to work it through. The committee worked hard for over a year and was unable to arrive at a clear policy direction they could all agree on. The group deserves all our thanks for the hard work they did (Pat Santucci, Chair, Gail Cyan, Jack Fenic, Bob Lewis, Kathleen Pennington, and Denny Smith).


The majority of the members of the ad hoc group believe that social justice work is central to our faith as a people and as a congregation. They also believe that the congregation has enough direction in our by-laws and policies to guide such decisions. They did not recommend layering on additional policies. For example, we have a covenant of right relations, a process for program council and board decision making, and the opportunity to use congregational meetings for big decisions. Further, our governance structure is intended to encourage the creativity that can come from small groups working together without burdensome bureaucracy. They also support the need for using consensus-seeking approaches in our decision-making related to making public statements. However, the board believes that we need some clearer descriptions or cautions to people who might face these issues ten years down the road when our memories fade. Even at that, we will probably continue to make choices that will leave some people feeling discounted in our decision-making processes from time to time. That's why we have a democracy with clear and fair processes that we use in open ways.


One of the reasons I am writing this letter is to encourage you to read the ad-hoc committee's report. Their report is not written as policy but offers guidelines to us. When you read it I think you will realize how difficult this kind of policy is to write. The board will draft language and share it with you all before we change any of our policies. Please watch for the drafts on the News List and share what you think with the board, or share your views now. The beauty of democracy is that we take the time to think through our choices and their consequences, and then we choose. We will make as well-considered a decision as we can, respecting various points of view internally, while looking outward to see our faith alive in the world as a justice-seeking people.


In the Spirit,

Alice Diebel, MVUUF Board President


Sermon Topics


January 22 - What Does Membership Mean?  Rev. Amy Russell
~Unitarian Universalism is non-creedal. Our being together in community is considered "covenantal," not creedal. What does membership mean is a covenantal community? If a covenant is a promise, what do we promise each other?

January 29 - Loyalty and Service  Rev. Amy Russell
~In the story of Naomi and Ruth in the Bible, we hear a story of true loyalty and service when Ruth followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to their homeland after Ruth's husband died. In this service and in the reception afterwards, we'll celebrate the 31 years of loyalty and service provided by Jesse Minnefield, our custodian, to this Fellowship.

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.


Around the Fellowship


St. Vincent de Paul 2nd Saturday Lunch*
February 11 Menu: chicken & noodles, biscuits, coleslaw, fruit 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.


Community Discussion Group*
January 22 - "Reading History." Moderator: Tom Starr
January 29 -"WORM, First Digital World War." Moderator: Lindy McDonough
*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.


Mark Your Calendars - We're Having a Party!
Jesse Minnefield, our custodian of 30 years 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. 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!


Congregational Meeting
Our next Congregational Meeting will be immediately following service on Sun., January 22. The agenda items include voting on the slate of candidates, voting on Study Action Issues for the UUA, and presenting the Unsung UU Award. The Board also invites discussion on building security.


Slate of Candidates
In preparation for the January Congregational meeting, the Nominating Committee is working to fill a slate of candidates. The following names will be presented:
Alysoun Taylor-Hall - President
TBA - V.P.
Catherine Queener - Secretary
Pat Whitney - Treasurer
Jim Hudson - Trustee A
Duane Ferguson - Trustee B
Kate Halpin - P.C. Chair
TBA - Communications Rep.
Alice Diebel - Membership Rep.
Joe Law - Music Rep.
Carolyn Leman - R.E. Rep.
Dan Enterline - Endowment 

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 14 - American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
March 13 - Paris Wife, by Paula McLain


Daytime Book Club Title*
January 18 - 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!


Humanitarian Giving
During January, 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.


Chalice Light Gallery
During January, 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.


It's a New Year and the LGBT support/social group, Interweave, is revived! Starting Mon., January 23 at 6:30 p.m., we'll meet in the Founders room. This is an organizational meeting. Bring your ideas for the group. We are going to have a potluck dinner that night, so please bring a dish to share. For more information, contact Margaret Michal at


OWL for Elementary-Age Children
This February and March, there will be an optional OWL (Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education) program for first and second graders, and their families. Topics include: Our Wonderful Bodies, Healthy Bodies - Safe Bodies, Families and Feelings, Babies and Families, Birth of a Baby, and Celebrations. Each week there is a story, song, activity, discussion, and "Home Link" (a parent note that talks about what we did and how you can incorporate it into conversation at home.)


There will be a parent info session on Jan. 29, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., to share more about the program and to answer your questions. The class (if there are enough interested families) is scheduled to begin with a parent/child orientation from 12:30-3 p.m. on Feb. 5, and then will meet from 12:30-1:30 p.m. every Sunday for 8 weeks. If you have friends outside the Fellowship with children in this age-range who would be interested, feel free to pass along this info. If we have room in the class, we will be able to allow non-Fellowship attendees to participate.


Also note: OWL for fifth and sixth graders is slated to begin with a parent meeting on April 15 (12:30-1:30 p.m.), orientation on April 22 (12:30-3 p.m.), and classes April 29 - June 7. More information will be coming soon, but please mark your calendars if you think this will impact your family.


Thank you!

Genevieve Harvey & Joe Zimmerman

Socrates Café
Our Socrates Café is going well - do join us! We meet at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. It's an informal "brown bag" lunch with lively discussion. Our next lunch is on Tuesday, Feb. 14.


Which Witch Is Which?
If you have ever wondered what that thing called Paganism is, I would like to invite you to join me after services for a Pagan 101 class at 1 p.m., every other Sunday. I will be covering the basics of common Pagan beliefs and practices, holidays and celebrations, the different major pantheons, and hopefully be able to answer any questions you may have. This is an academic class and not a worship, nor covenant group. If you have any questions, please contact me, Shannon Hansen, 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!