Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458





MVUUF Building by Lew Hann

MVUUF Forum  December 16-31, 2012

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Letter from the Minister



Making Room for Everyone


As a community, we struggle with how to make room for everyone. How to have enough food to go around on Thanksgiving, how to welcome every new person who comes to our door without forgetting to take time for those already here, how to have enough resources for all the programs we want to do, how to choose which community organizations to help. We all struggle to make these decisions when there are so many requests and so many needs.


The paradox is that we have so much to offer everyone that really at the end of the day there should be plenty to go around. Plenty of time, plenty of people with gifts to share and love to give, plenty of resources - we are so blessed by abundance.


Being in community isn't a zero sum game. When we add together all the unique people that we find in our community it always adds up to more than the total. One person's qualities might enhance and draw out another person's gifts. When a group of us add our different contributions to the table, the table is filled and over-flowing with the abundance and richness of diverse gifts.


Denny Smith shared the following story with me that he had seen posted on Facebook by Jenny Oest. He adds his commentary below.


~Rev. Amy Russell


Separately Connected


At the Festival of Peace, in Florianopolis, South Brazil, the journalist and philosopher Lia Diskin related a beautiful and touching story of a tribe in Africa she called Ubuntu.


She explained how an anthropologist had been studying the habits and customs of this tribe, and when he finished his work, had to wait for transportation that would take him to the airport to return home. He'd always been surrounded by the children of the tribe, so to help pass the time before he left, he proposed a game for the children to play.


He'd bought lots of candy and sweets in the city, so he put everything in a basket with a beautiful ribbon attached. He placed it under a solitary tree, and then he called the kids together. He drew a line on the ground and explained that they should wait behind the line for his signal. And that when he said "Go!" they should rush over to the basket, and the first to arrive there would win all the candies.


When he said "Go!" they all unexpectedly held each other's hands and ran off towards the tree as a group. Once there, they simply shared the candy with each other and happily ate it.


The anthropologist was very surprised. He asked them why they had all gone together, especially if the first one to arrive at the tree could have won everything in the basket - all the sweets.  A young girl simply replied: "How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?" The anthropologist was dumbfounded! For months and months he'd been studying the tribe, yet it was only now that he really understood their true essence...


There is a personal MVUUF experience, related to the above, that I recall from August 10, 2011, I think. Barb Weber and I, from the Long Range Planning Committee, were visiting a pool party Shannon Harper was hosting at her dad's house. There were 15 or more MVUUF grade 7 - 12 HS teens who had been acting like age appropriately, i.e., wild and crazy, in the pool along with some younger pre-teens, and then had sat with Barb and me for a remarkably insightful 90 or so minute "Appreciative Inquiry" interview.


Shannon then set out several boxes of fresh, hot take-out pizza. I expected a "mob scene," and I was mistaken. The hungry UU teens quietly formed a single line and patiently selected reasonable helpings of their favorite pizza varieties. Later, after all had pizza, those who were ready for seconds had the opportunity. All this simply happened as though all the teens were tuned to a community spirit as much as were the Ubuntu children.


Sometimes the youth of the world, be they Ubuntu or MVUUF, inspire me. It is so cool that so many people of Our Fellowship were looking to open their homes (at holiday time) to those without local family that it did not seem that there were enough guests to go around! Perhaps, as we are all fail-able human beings, someone was missed. And perhaps, if that person knew for next year that somewhere in Our Fellowship there was a family with a chair at their table for them, then, next year, they will be more vocal with their need.

Thank you for continuing to seek opportunities for Our Fellowship to become all it is capable of being.


~Denny Smith, Right Relations Evangelist

Sermon Topics

December 16 - Life's Unexpected Changes  Rev. Amy Russell
~Lao Tzu is reported to have said, "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow." Life is constantly throwing new people, new challenges, new ideas our way. The way that we respond to these changes defines how we live our lives.


December 23 - Celebration of Solstice and Birth 2012  Rev. Amy Russell & others
~The Mayan calendar is said to end on December 21, 2012, at the time of the winter solstice. Many spiritual writers have been coming together pointing to this time as a "great shift" in the consciousness of humanity. A new awareness of the oneness of the universe where we become consciously aware of directing our own evolution is how this shift is described.


December 24 - 7 p.m. Christmas Eve  Rev. Amy Russell and Joel Araujo
~We'll celebrate Christmas with music and readings honoring the theme of cherishing what is most important in our lives - the people we love and the communities where we live. The joy of Christmas will be shared with carols and candles.


December 30 - Standing on the Edge  Lathe Snyder

~As we stand on the edge between the last year and the next, we will look at our place in the wheel of the year through the lens of a Buddhist story and a story from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Letter from the DRE


In November we gathered for our traditional intergenerational Thanksgiving service/meal and I was struck with gratitude, once again, for our loving fellowship family. It's not easy to plan a service for all generations. Participation is almost a must. Our younger members are not content to just sit and "take in" service. They want to be part of it, to interact, to move and to connect. And let's face it, not everyone is comfortable with that. For many of us it's not what we're used to, it's not the tradition we were brought up in. But that's what makes intergenerational services so special. On those Sunday mornings, those of us that like to constantly move and talk and explore our universe and those that are more comfortable with tradition and routine and intellectual stimulation, get to sit side by side and be present together, actively upholding the inherent worth and dignity of all our members.


Watching the service unfold was a lesson for me, in how open and gracious our family is. When I asked those that are willing and able to rise and do a movement prayer with me, I fully expected just the children and a few parents to leave their seats. But when I looked out and saw the whole sanctuary stretching and growing our limbs together, I was blown away. And when we told you we were going to play a get-to-know-your neighbor game, there was so much chatting and friendly competition we found it hard to rein everyone back in to finish the service. And then, watching the children join with adults to light candles while we sang Spirit of Life reminded me how important it is to pass on our sacred traditions to our next generations. The whipped cream on the pumpkin pie was sharing such a delicious and generous meal with old and new friends alike.   And when we had time to examine the Gratitude Tree we covered with leaves of people and things we were thankful for, we noticed that among the many, many leaves was one that said "Bob the Builder" and next to it one that said "Hospice." If that doesn't illustrate the beauty of "worship for all", I don't know what could.


This month we have several other intergenerational events planned at MVUUF. Chalice Night will be Dec. 14th and will once again be themed "Homemade Holidays". Expect good food and lots of crafts and gift making for all ages. Our Christmas Eve Service is also an intergenerational tradition not to be missed and will start at 7 p.m. on December 24th.  

Around the Fellowship



Community Discussion Group*

December 16 - "The True Believer."  Moderator: Jim Faulconer

December 23 - "What Is a Therapy Dog?"  Moderator: Diane Dermody & dog

December 30 - "Immigration."  Moderator: Gordon Taylor

*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.


Daytime Book Club Title*
January TBA - Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See
February TBA - Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan
March TBA - The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

 *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! 


Evening Book Club
Please join us at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Christopher's Restaurant (2318 Dorothy Ln., Kettering). For more information, contact Ann Snively.


Holiday Boxes On Sale in Gathering Space
We received a massive donation of holiday boxes - they're perfect for gifts, as they're already wrapped! They will be on sale in the Gathering Space on December 16 and 23, so come ready to get your wrapping out of the way! All proceeds will go to the Fall Bazaar fund.


January and February Forums - NOTE
Since Kristin will be out on maternity for much of January and February, there will be ONE Forum that covers BOTH months. If you'd like to have something included in this special double-issue, please email your submission to Kristin at [email protected] no later than 9 a.m. on Dec. 27.


Humanitarian Giving
During December, the Humanitarian Giving Action Group welcomes non-pledge donations to benefit the Minister's Discretionary Fund. This fund allows the minister t
o provide assistance to our members in their time of need.


St. Vincent de Paul Lunch
Menu for January 12:  fried or baked chicken, mac and cheese, vegetables, 2% milk, 100% juice
We serve lunch at St. Vincent de Paul Hotel (120 W. Apple St. in Dayton) the second Saturday of every month.  If you'd like to donate food or volunteer to serve, please sign up in the Gathering Space.  All servings donated need to feed 15-20 people.  Donations must be dropped off, already heated if applicable, to the Hotel by 10:30 a.m. that morning.


Items Needed for Giving Tree
This year our Giving Tree will be "baby items" themed. Please put all donations under the tree in the Gathering Space. Donations needed: baby food, receiving blankets, diapers (sizes 4, 5, and 6), wipes, bottles, diaper rash ointment, baby wash and lotion, formula (soy or regular), Diaper Genie bag refills, sippy cups, onesies, crib sheets, pacifiers, baby toys, teethers, and Orajel. All items will be donated to St. Vincent de Paul to help the youngest residents of their shelters.


Chalice Light Gallery
Brian Schoenharl has studied with several well-known photographers including John Gerlach and Brian Peterson. In the past several years, his work has achieved recognition in the Dayton/Cincinnati region. He focuses primarily on landscape and nature photography, exploring the world's natural beauty through the eye of the camera.


A lifelong resident of Dayton, Brian went to school at Chaminade-Julienne High School and Sinclair Community College. He works as a nurse and this helps support his photographic endeavors. He sincerely hopes that you enjoy viewing his photographs.


All photographs in this exhibit are for sale, either matted only or matted and framed. (Please see the price list.) You can communicate directly with Brian for special orders at [email protected]  Additional photographs can be viewed at


Learning to Love
A new study group called "Learning to Love," will be offered at the Fellowship every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. This is a group study, not a lecture course. It combines an understanding of man's psychology with an understanding of his spiritual nature. Those who desire to be more loving of themselves and others will find this study to be both enlightening and enjoyable. For more information, contact Bill Hill.


 Environmental Learning Forum Book Club

Due to the fact that many of us are super busy during the holiday season, the Environmental Learning Forum Book Club will NOT meet in December. Instead, our next meeting will be held in the Founder's Room at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 21. The book we have selected for discussion is COLLAPSE: HOW SOCIETIES CHOOSE TO FAIL OR SUCCEED by Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Jared Diamond. Diamond contends that environmental damage, climate change, globalization, population growth, and unwise political choices were major factors that led to the demise of some past societies. Others, however, found solutions and survived. With ominous warning signs on the horizon today, he raises the question: How can our society avoid ecological suicide. Your Environmental Action Group has ordered a few copies of COLLAPSE from at a discounted price of $12.00 (list price $18.00). To reserve a copy, contact Environmental Action Group chairman Gary Courts at 436-1094 or [email protected]. All MVUUF members and friends interested in environmental and conservation issues are invited to be with us for our discussion of COLLAPSE on January 21.


Guest At Your Table
We will be taking donations for Guest At Your Table through Sunday, January 6. All proceeds go to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), the UUA human-rights organization. By celebrating Guest At Your Table, you are helping nurture a spirit of gratitude and justice, equity and compassion in human relations. For more information on UUSC, please visit Contact Alice Diebel with questions at (937) 439-9815, or [email protected] 

Donation boxes and envelopes will available in the Gathering Space after the Sunday service.


The Nominating Committee Presents Candidates for Your Consideration at the January 27 Congregational Meeting:


Board Members                                                 Program Council Members
President - Alysoun Taylor-Hall                             Activities - Shannon Hansen

Vice President - Ralf Grisard                                 Social Justice - Maureen O'Meara

Secretary - Sharon Harmer                                   Worship - Lathe Snyder

Treasurer - Bob Lewis                                          Communications - Laura Vondenhuevel

Trustee A - Jim Hudson                                        Operations - Steve Thompson

Trustee B - Bill Dugger                                         LRE - Heather Schroeder

P.C. Chair - Genevieve Harvey


Christmas Dinner
The tradition of dinner at 2 p.m. at the Fellowship continues. Once again we will share a "pot luck" meal and share "building the beloved community we all seek." Look for a signup sheet in the Gathering Space, or email me the number of guesses in your group and the food you plan to share. Also we will need a few folks to help setup tables and chairs, and of course the all important "cleanup after the festivities." ~Phil Wise, [email protected]  


Buy a Wristwatch at Amazon and Earn MVUUF $5784.67...
It's holiday shopping time and if you do at least some of your shopping online, you can help MVUUF earn affiliate commissions through Amazon and hundreds of other retailers. But if you're like me, sometimes you may forget to go to our affiliates web page first to click on the Amazon or Goodshop link.


A very simple way to rememberthat the Fellowship receives commission was contributed by Alice Diebel: Bookmark (or save in Favorites) the MVUUF Affiliates Web page - - and name the link "Amazon."


Important note: Do not add items to your Amazon Shopping Cart until you are ready to purchase. Accumulate your intended purchases on the Shopping List or Wish List instead. A purchased item that has been in the Shopping Cart for more than 24 hours will not be eligible for MVUUF commission.


Oh, the wristwatch? The Fellowship's commission on the Zenith Men's 96.0529.4035/51.M Defy Xtreme Tourbillon Titanium Chronograph Watch comes to $5784.67. Alas, the JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank is currently unavailable.


If you have questions, email Jay Snively at [email protected] 


Chalice of the Willow CUUPs
Chalice of the Willow will be having our Yule/Winter Solstice ritual at
MVUUF in the Sanctuary on Dec. 22, 6 - 9 p.m. Social time will be from 6 - 6:30 p.m. The ritual will begin at 6:30 p.m. and all participants are asked to bring a candle for the altar. We will be lighting them and placing them in sand to burn down as we are celebrating together, so a small taper or votive would be perfect. Following the ritual, we will have a dinner potluck so please bring a dish to share. We hope to see you there to celebrate this turn of the year as the nights start to get shorter, the days start to get longer, and light returns! All Chalice of the Willow events are open to the entire MVUUF community and community at large. You do not have to be a Pagan to come, we have many members that are Pagan, some are Pagan interested, some enjoy Pagan ritual, and others just want to come and support us. We welcome all! For more information contact us at [email protected]



Office Closures - Mark Your Calendar Now!

The office will be closed several days in December and January to celebrate the holidays. Mark your calendars now, so you're aware of the days no one will be here to answer the phone/email, or let you in the building! 

Dec. 24 - office closing at noon

Dec. 25 - closed

Dec. 26 - closed

Dec. 27 - office opening after Sadie's 9 a.m. doctor appointment

Jan. 1 - closed 

Eloise is due on Jan. 10. The plan at the moment is work through noon on Jan. 7. While the office will be opened and staffed with volunteers while I'm gone, if there's anything you need from me specifically, please contact me as soon as possible so I can help.

Come One, Come All to Our

Masquerade Ball!

Please join adult members and friends (18+) at the
Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
At 9 o'clock in the evening on Monday,
the 31st of December, in the year 2012
for a New Year's Eve Masquerade Celebration!


   Wear your best formal attire & don't forget a mask...

             Enjoy music, snacks, karaoke, & more.

Want to toast the New Year with a beverage or two?
Feel free to BYOB.

All fantastic parties need a helping hand to make them fabulous!
Can you help set-up earlier in the day on Dec. 31?
Contact Shannon Heather at
[email protected] or 397-6517.


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!