January, 2017

The week opens with honoring Dr. King's inspiring call to justice. May you live out that call through the end of the week and far, far beyond. We're in it together, hand in hand.

Blessings and courage,

- Martha

Truth, Together

On January 8th there was much joy and pride about our Meetinghouse as we celebrated its Bicentennial. I rode it all day long, and beyond -- the smiles, the laughter, the wonder, the celebration. It was a much-appreciated blast of happy gladness, contrasting the weighty news from the wider world.

That said, I'll be honest, I was pooped afterwards from all the output.

Wiped out, with each day drawing nearer to the inauguration... man, the world is feeling heavy! 

As a DRE I often feel like I'm supposed to be someone who -  no matter what - always knows how to find solace and reassurance in my faith. But I'll be real here and say that these "Trumptious" (my word) times in which we find ourselves are totally unprecedented, and sometimes I can only shake my head, speechless. 

There's no overstating the immensity of the stakes. Everyone and everything that's fragile, vulnerable and already gasping for breath is about to be slashed and smashed.

We are in a time of upheaval, turmoil, revolution - call it what you will - and I believe the upcoming times will probably include more mess and horror.

We just mustn't yield. We know, deep in our bones, what is right, what is good, and what is true. And we will have to fight harder, stand longer, and shout louder for that. We must take turns leading, and resting. And not fool ourselves and each other about our feelings. Because the truth - ugly, raw, and painful - will bring with it a piercing clarity needed to fuel our righteous ways. The evils unleashed can catalyze our empowered response.

As ever, we walk forward together. Amen to that.

Gratefully and with love,

Martha Dallas, Director of Religious Education
Youth Ministry is Everyone's Ministry
Tiffany Tillman 

Every other month leaders from each Ministry Area gather in the Community Room to organize, collaborate and learn how best to serve our congregation and world.  This past Tuesday one of the topics of focus was on Youth Ministry.  We discussed and explored  the idea that "Rather than have youth ministry as an isolated program under the responsibility of one youth advisor..., youth ministry is embraced as an integral part of the congregation and therefore the responsibility of the entire community." (UUA YM Guide,  88-89.)

As lay leaders eagerly talked about the opportunities and challenges of working with youth and creating pathways to nurture and support youth in finding their place in the UU, it occured to us that we need youth and families to know that there are multiple pathways for youth to engage in the life of the congregation after OWL and children's RE programming too.

So many of us have found (or will find) ourselves  in the place where we are forced to say, "Fine.  Finish OWL and then you are free to make your choice about Youth Group or not."  But what if youth group wasn't the only option?  

What if the conversation started like, "So after OWL there are many opportunities for you to explore here at FUUSB.  What is it that calls to you?  How would you like to engage?" 

Let's make that the reality.  Our congregation and community at large are exploring opportunities for welcoming in youth.  As  families let's do the same by nurturing, inspiring and supporting our budding adults in finding their place within our UU faith and spiritual home.  

High School students are of course welcome into Youth Group and Coming of Age, but they are also welcome to be Worship Associates, Ushers, sit on Task Force groups like the Justice Task Force, work in the Nursery, sing in the choir and so much more.  As more and more youth find their path, new ones will open for others.  So welcome in, find your place and continue to explore all that this faith has to offer.  
Small Group Ministry and Parents
Valerie Wood-Lewis 

What feels like having tea with trusted friends, receiving the wisdom of parenting experts, luxuriating in reflective listening, and getting a UU lens on your parenting journey all in one?   Participating in the Joyful Parenting Small Group Ministry!

While disparate and busy schedules have landed our group on hiatus, various configurations of our circle have met for over ten years!  We met biweekly, using the thoughtful and carefully crafted UU small group ministry model, to witness each other's lives and stories, often with a special focus on our parenting experiences.

We took turns leading a session - others simply needed to show up.  The facilitator selected a theme, chose quotes or opening/closing readings, and sent questions to ponder ahead of time.  We opened the meetings with check in, then each took turns speaking uninterrupted, with time at the end for "cross talk," reflection, questions, or going deeper.

Participants ranged in age, family constellation, ages and needs of children, work-for-pay status, and backgrounds, but we shared a desire to stretch ourselves to be open, vulnerable, always learning, and connected as we listened to one another share our successes, challenges, and questions.  This experience deepened our connection to our UU faith, to our congregation, to one another, and to our own spiritual growth.  

Like the wonderful theme circles, joining a small group ministry group is a way to connect more deeply with 6-8 people in our large congregation.  Having a focus on parenting allowed us to dedicate intentional time to nurturing ourselves in this role, learning each other's truths "behind the scenes" in our families, feeling supported, and becoming "better" parents.


Post-script by Martha:
Both Valerie and Sarah Forbes would be happy to meet with anyone who's seeking support with starting a group, or wanting to know more about small group ministry in general.

Valerie: 802-859-0049 valerie@burlingtontelecom.net
Sarah: 802-578-6119 sarahforbesdesign@comcast.net  
Coming of Age
Jenn Callahan 

Coming of Age has been meeting once a month since October. We are 8 youth strong this year, with 3 adult co-leaders: myself, Melinda Lee, and Debby Bergh. Debby, new to leading this program, commented, "It is really interesting to have conversations with the Coming of Age group about big topics that we don't often talk about and hear how they are developing their beliefs." We have also enjoyed visits from guests Jeff Trumbower (Biblical Historian) and Roddy O'Neil Cleary (Minister Emerita of First UU)!

So far, we have had thoughtful discussions about: life, death and thoughts of the afterlife and beliefs about/definitions of God. This month, we will be tackling the topic of good & evil, right & wrong, morality and ethics. Whew!! Pretty "heavy" topics make for some very interesting discussions!! 

I know that this is a program for the youth, but, honestly, I get just as much out of it as (I think, I hope!) they do! And we still have our panel discussion on spiritual practices and our spring retreat to look forward to yet!! Sorry for all the exclamation marks, but I REALLY do get excited about this program!!!
Civil Disobedience Books
Martha Dallas

This website lists and summarizes some wonderful book resources for children as we celebrate the legacy of MLK! 

Look for other parenting resources in the sidebar.
Safety at First UU

Martha Dallas


We hold 1-2 fire drills each year to practice evacuation. Instructions are provided, and exit maps are posted in each classroom. Protocols are in Classroom Binders and RE Teacher Handbooks.

Fire extinguishers are placed throughout the meetinghouse. Look for ones near where you frequent. Note the location of "pull boxes" too.

In This Issue

Questions to explore:

Share with your children what you inherited from your parents and other ancestors (monetarily, physically, spiritually, culturally, genetically). What of these buoys you? What weighs you down?

What can you identify that has been passed along multiple generations?

Tell children what you hope to give them as an inheritance and ask what they would hope to give the generation after theirs.

What gifts and challenges has society bequeathed to you? How have those changed over your life? Of what are you both proud and regretful that society is bequeathing to the rising generation? Discuss in your family.

What does it look like to accept an inheritance? ... to reject it? And how do you decide? What values are at play?

Handy Links
Parenting Resources

Check these out!

If you receive the UU World magazine,  in hardcopy, look for the center pages, which are always written for families and children.

Books to  build mutli-racial awareness:

First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont 
152 Pearl Street
Burlington, VT 05401