Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458





MVUUF Building by Lew Hann

MVUUF Forum  January & February 2013

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Letter from the Minister


Adjusting to Change


As a child, my family moved across country three times as my father's career dictated, leaving neighborhoods and friends, adjusting to new lives. My siblings and I grew to know there was an impending move, when during dinner some night, my Dad would clear his throat and look at my Mom signaling an pronouncement was about to come. My sisters and I were familiar with the look crossing my Mom's face during these times. She would show this forced look of determination, a look that told us that it was not going to be easy; in fact, it was going to be downright miserable for a while, but that we would figure it out together. Each time I learned of such a move, at first I would feel anger that we had no say in these changes, being of course, part and parcel of a family unit where the father made most of the decisions. Then after a time, I would feel both fear and excitement. Fear at not knowing what the new school and new people would be like. And excitement that everything would be new. But learning of an impending change like this, often throws you into a state of chaos.


Many of you are aware that I've been in that state of chaos ever since my husband, Bill, came home and announced that he being offered a transfer to the DC area. We made the decision that since he wasn't ready to retire that he should take the transfer. In September, Bill moved into a rented townhouse in Alexandria, VA. He has been working there for the past few months. Every weekend, he gets on a plane and flies here to see me. We've been supporting AirTran's financial goals for the year.


We have made the decision that living apart like this no longer makes sense to us. We've decided that at the end of June, I will be leaving the congregation. I have informed the Board of my decision. I know this does not come as a surprise to many of you. Many of you figured it out over the past months and some of you have asked me and I told you what was going on.


But this decision was very hard for me. The past six years as your minister have not always been easy, but it has probably been the most meaningful and productive period in my life. I feel that I have grown and been stretched as a person and as a minister during a time in which this congregation has undergone some great healing. Together as a congregation, we've experienced challenges to becoming a more open and accepting community and to becoming a community where we've learned better how to communicate our feelings to one another. It hasn't been easy. And we still have lots of work to do. But through it all, I have grown so much by being a participant and observer in our collective learning process. So deciding to leave you before I was really ready to leave, was extremely difficult. But I think that it is also a good time to leave.


This congregation has matured to realize the ways in which you are a Beloved Community. Now, you always were. But for some, during some of the difficult years, this community did not feel safe. I hope that due to all the work we've done with the Covenant of Right Relations, the training of Non-Violent communication, the work we've begun with Journey Toward Wholeness, that the congregation feels more like a safe place to many. There's more work to be done. And feeling safe is a lifelong process that each individual works on all the time- there's no one time when life will just become safe. But this congregation is committed to the continual work involved in being a Beloved Community and it will continue.


In the next six months, we'll be in transition as we say good-bye and you prepare for your next minister. I hope in that time, we'll remind each other of the ways that we've done good work together. And we'll talk more about the work that is still to be done.


Meanwhile, have a wonderful New Year!


- Amy Russell

Sermon Topics




January 6 - Ringing Out the Old, Ringing in the New Rev. Amy Russell
~The Buddhist new year, which falls in mid-January, involves a time of meditation and a time for reflecting on one's karma, or what you want to change in your life. We'll do a variation on the ceremony of writing what you want to change on a slip of paper and burning it, saying "I relinquish this karma, open myself to new possibility, and free myself in this moment." Instead of burning our paper, we'll dissolve them in water.


January 13 - Forgiving Ourselves Rev. Amy Russell
~While forgiving others is like moving a boulder, forgiving ourselves can seem like moving a mountain. How do we give ourselves that grace of forgiveness and move forward?


January 20 - What Would MLK Do? Rev. Amy Russell
~What would Martin Luther King, Jr. say about where we are today in terms of equality for the races, in opportunities for the poor, and creating peace in the world?


January 27 - Pray If You Want To: Religious Liberty in the 21st Century Joel Araujo, Intern Minister

~It is the 444th anniversary of the Edict of Torda, one of the seminal documents in our religious history. This was the earliest attempt to guarantee religious freedom in medieval Europe, which gave rise to one of the fundamental rights of our country. Even so, what is the state of religious liberty today? How does it affect us as Unitarian Universalists in the world, and among each other in this congregation? Join Intern Minister Joel Araujo as he probes these rarely discussed questions.



Around the Fellowship



Congregational Meeting
Our Congregational meeting is scheduled for after service on January 27. Attendance is both a right and requirement for Voting members, but everyone is invited. Agenda items include voting on Board and P.C. members and an update on our financials.


Community Discussion Group*

January 6 - "Favorite Books of 2012." Moderator: Lindy McDonough

January 13 - "Positive Image of the Future Revisited." Moderator: Joe Lawrence

January 20 - "A**holes, A Theory." Moderator: Heather Schroeder

January 27 - "Gun Control." Moderator: Ralf Grisard

*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 16 - 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.

 January 8 - Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson

 February 12 - Dear White America, by Tim Wise
March 12 - Reasons to Be Happy, by Katrina Kittle
April 9 - Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo
May 14 - Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
June 11 - 35 Dumb Things Well-Intentioned People Say, by Maura Cullen
July 9 - The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Diversity, by Michelle Alexander
August 13 - Making Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa
September 10 - Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
October 8 - Elsewhere, by Richard Russo
November 12 - The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis
December 10 - Marmee and Louisa, by Eva LaPlante


Humanitarian Giving
During January and February, 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.

Smart Choices
Join Smart Choices on Thur., January 17 at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship kitchen for some MVUUF scrapbooking!


Environmental Book Club
The next meeting of the Environmental Learning Forum Book Club will take place in the Founder's Room at 7:00 p.m. on Mon., January 21. The book of the month is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Jared Diamond. Diamond contends that environmental damage, climate change, globalization, population growth, and unwise political choices are factors that brought about the demise of some past cultures. Yet other societies managed to survive in spite of these obstacles. He sees our present society facing some of the same threats, and raises the question, "How can we avoid ecological suicide?"   Our Environmental Action Group has obtained a few copies of Collapse from at a discounted price of $12.00 (list price $18.00). To obtain one of these copies, contact Environmental Action Group chairman Gary Courts at 436-1094 or The Environmental Learning Book Club's February meeting will be held on Mon., February 18, but the reading for that meeting has not yet been selected.            


Immigration as a Moral Issue
For the past two years, UU congregations around the country have been examining the issue of immigration as part of a Study Action Issue (SAI) process. In this process, an issue is proposed by UU congregations and considered - among other issues - by the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly. After one issue is selected for study the UUA develops study guides and curricula for congregations to use to better understand the issue under consideration. This process takes four years. In the final year of the SAI process the General Assembly decides whether or not to make a public Statement of Conscience (SOC) about that issue. We are at the point of making a statement following our national study on immigration and a draft SOC has been developed and is available on line at


Congregations decide whether or not this statement should be put on the agenda at GA for

consideration, and MVUUF will be asked to take a vote at the Congregational Meeting, January 27. We also have the opportunity to make language and content recommendations. To be prepared for the Congregational Meeting, we have scheduled a discussion after the service on Sun., January 20 at 12:30. Contact Alice Diebel or Maureen O'Meara with questions.


The UUA website says the following about such statements: As an expression of our faith and values, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) takes positions on relevant issues of social justice. Our positions are discerned via the social witness process as shepherded by the Commission on Social Witness. Grounded in these social witness statements, the UUA will sign on to letters and amicus briefs in coalition with other faith and social justice organizations, magnifying our impact in the larger world.


Men Who Cook
The Sixth Annual Men Who Cook Fundraising Extravaganza is scheduled for Saturday evening, January 26. The men of the Fellowship will show their culinary arts by preparing unique dishes to be served at a sumptuous dinner including appetizers, soups, chilis, salads, entrees, breads and desserts, . . . and wine. Entertainment will be provided. Please mark your calendars. Ladies, tickets will go on sale Sunday, January 6. Bring your friends!


Chalice of the Willow CUUPs

Chalice of the Willow is a MVUUF interest group and a local CUUPS (Covenant of the Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter here at MVUUF. Our regular meetings are a discussion group the 2nd Sunday of the month at 12:30 p.m. in Classroom 1 and a workshop/lecture the 4th Saturday of the month from 7-9 p.m. in the Founders Room, all at MVUUF. In January, we moved up our meeting due to a conflict with the use of the fellowship, so our workshop/lecture will be on January 19 instead. Topics are announced on the MVUUF email group, our Facebook page (, and the Google Calendar on our website ( as they are chosen.


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


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


New UU Class

If you are a new member of the Fellowship, or thinking seriously about becoming a member, and want to learn more about what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist, this course is for you. If you've been around for a few months, or maybe a year or two and are still trying to make sense out of being a UU, this course might be of help. The eight-session course begins Sunday morning, January 27, from 9:30-10:45 a.m. in Room #1 and continues until March 17. It will be led by Bob Lewis with assistance from Rev. Amy Russell. Childcare will be provided. The course will focus on important themes in UU life: worship, UU theology and history, faith development, social justice, organization and governance, and a congregational perspective. Personal sharing and dialogue will be encouraged. Please sign up using the sheet in the Gathering Space. If you have questions, please call Bob at 350-7763.


Joining Session
Anyone who has attended a Welcome Session and/or the New UU class and would like to take the final step in the membership process is invited to attend a Joining Session on Sun. Jan. 13 in the Founders room after service. During this session you'll receive paperwork to fill out and get more specifics on what membership has to offer you and how you can use your gifts to give back to this Beloved Community.

Examining Whiteness
Examining Whiteness is a dynamic, scholastic curriculum dealing with the historical roots of institutional racism, white guilt/shame, as well as strategies to break down our own prejudices and become anti-racist allies. It will be offered every Monday night, 7-9 p.m., for eight weeks, starting Jan. 28 in Room #1. At the conclusion of the course the class will organize a worship service for the spring conveying what they've learned. Because of the content of the curriculum and the nature of the work being done only white identified people are invited to participate. A signup sheet is available in the Gathering Space. For more information, contact Joel Araujo.


Mystery Friends
Mystery Friends is coming up! It is an intergenerational program that helps adults and children get to know each other better and strengthen our Fellowship. Adults with or without children are welcomed and encouraged to be a part of fun. Mystery Friends consists of the adult sending a card or a note to the child once a week for three weeks. The fourth week, there is a dinner held at MVUUF on Sat., March 9 where the adult/child pairs meet and share a meal, play games and talk. The sign-up sheets will be on the Mystery Friends table in the Gathering Space. You may contact Lori Damron if you have any questions at 

Chalice Night for February!
Be sure to mark your calendar for Chalice Night on Fri., February 8 at 6 p.m. This event for the entire family will be hosted by your MVUUF Environmental Action Group. A comfort food meal of lasagna (both meat and meatless varieties), salad, garlic bread, and apple crisp will be served. Following the meal, an informational program will be presented on the growing health and environmental crisis caused by billions of tons of waste produced worldwide. The presenter, Jill Boughton, has recently assumed a new role as CEO of the Foundation for Sustainable Waste Resources, a nonprofit international organization dedicated to seeking solutions for converting waste into valuable resources. Prior to joining the Foundation, Boughton was Associate Research and Development Director for Procter & Gamble where she led the company's long-term goal of eliminating waste sent to landfills. For children below middle school age there will be a program on reducing waste from their daily lives. Dinner will be served at 6:00 p.m. and the program will follow at about 7:30. Plan to join us for this evening of fun, food, fellowship, and facts.            


Treasury Notes
Happy New Year! We are going into 2013 in pretty good shape financially. If our pledges matched our budget things would be fantastic! Once again I hasten to acknowledge that everyone doesn't schedule their pledge payments on a monthly basis, so the budget to actual is just an estimator of where we are, and a reminder of what we need to do. We had some very happy news at the end of December. A bequest in the form of Apple stock that we hadn't received was in the state's unclaimed funds. Jim Faulconer saw the listing and encouraged me to check it out. The result is we received a check for $15,266 and change. It will be up to the Board to decide what to do with the funds, but I'm pretty sure that we will be resetting our association dues back to fair share level, as we said we would if possible. See you at the Congregational Meeting on January 27 with all the latest financial details!

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 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!