Miami Valley 

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458







MVUUF's Forum          October 1-31, 2014

A View From the 'Rim


"Step Up/Step Back." This was how UU Retreat Facilitator, Barbara Friedland, phrased her wise counsel when she came to MVUUF last summer to facilitate a Retreat with MVUUF's YRE Committee, Board, and staff.


Ms. Friedland meant not only should retreat participants Step Up to speak more if they had been silent and holding back or Step Back from speaking so often if they had been very frequently contributing; she also extended the meaning of her words to apply to urging people who had not volunteered for tasks and groups much to Step Up and urging people who were over-functioning a bit by serving on many task groups to Step Back from filling some of these positions, thus creating empty slots into which others might Step Up and serve.


I think her advice is excellent-not only for those participating in the YRE Retreat that day but for all the members of the Fellowship. Ms. Friedland was really talking about one aspect of Leadership Development in a healthy congregation. If those who have been over-active in leadership step back some, then this creates spaces into which those who are of different ages and backgrounds can step up and serve. Decisions and programs in congregations are always strengthened if folks from diverse backgrounds participate in making them.


In September, when I attended a workshop day on Immigration in Ohio in Akron with Maureen O'Meara (MVUUF Social Action Rep.) and a workshop on Stewardship and the Annual Budget Drive in Cincinnati with Brianna Kempe (MVUUF Fundraising Committee person), I saw members of the Akron and Muncie UU congregations which I had served as Interim Minister. I was reminded that these congregations, while right around the same size as MVUUF, had over twice the number of members involved in providing leadership as you do here at MVUUF.


Leadership Development. Stepping Up and Stepping Back. I am very confident that this can happen at MVUUF in the weeks and months ahead.


I invite each of you to Step Up or Step Back, as appropriate for you, in regard to your service to MVUUF during this Interim Period. The result of this would be a more-healthy congregation to which a good new settled minister will be eager to come.


With warmest regards, as always,

Your interim minister,




Sermon Topics


October 5---We Forgive Ourselves and Each Other---Rev. Mary Moore. Just after the Jewish High Holy Days-Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur-we will explore together the idea of forgiveness on this Sunday.


October 12---Unitarian Universalism Encounters  Modernism/Postmodernism---Rev. Mary Moore. The

attributes of Modernism and Postmodernism have an impact on culture, literature, art, etc., in the West. As we move into a Postmodern world, what influence might this have on our Unitarian Universalist tradition and within our own congregation?


October 19---United Nations Day---Rev. Mary Moore.   

For decades, Unitarian Universalists annually have celebrated United Nations Sunday on a date in October, near the anniversary of the founding of the UN. This year our celebration will focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Come on this morning and learn more about the work of the UU United Nations Office as we join with many other UU congregations taking part in this celebration.


October 26---Alternative Worship Experience.  The Alternative Worship Experience (AWE) will present a service on the different ways people express their beliefs through prayer. 

Around the Fellowship...



I recently came across my childhood teddy bear. He is scruffy and worn and missing both eyes. His nose is dented with tooth marks, but his music box still plays Brahms' lullaby. His matted fur testifies to the tough times he helped my young self get through.


Most of us adults don't sleep with stuffed bears anymore. So I began wondering what helps us through the difficult times. As I considered this question, the image of a lighted chalice came to me.


Our chalice represents light in the dark times. It represents hope. It represents community and the deep caring we hold for one another. More than that, our chalice is a sign of our faith. It represents our best selves and how we are called to be in the world.


These are troubling and confusing times at the Fellowship. As I write these words, changes in leadership appear to be imminent, leaving uncertainty and many questions about how we came to this place in our lives together.


It is tempting at such times to seek a scapegoat, someone to blame it all on. Let us instead look for the patterns in our congregational life that have repeatedly through the years brought us to such disrupted times. This unsettled period represents an important opportunity for us to examine how we got here and to pledge ourselves to finding better ways to be together in the future.


Such difficult spiritual work will almost certainly involve speaking hard truths to each other as we seek understanding. As we do so, let us remember to speak with love and respect. Let us always know in our hearts that we have all and each acted from good intentions. Even as we work through these times of change, there is much good that is in our midst. We continue to nurture each other (cards of caring in the Gathering Space and our new Beloved Community endeavors) and to reach out to make a difference in our world (the media-covered Climate Change protest and successful Wesley Center shower). Let us lift up and celebrate all that we do together to live our principles.


Each of us can only bring our own perspective and our own gifts to our congregational life. But that will be enough. I believe strongly that we can and will work together to move through these challenging times to a place of greater strength, commitment and health.

As we explore and grow together, let us keep the image of our chalice in the center of our vision. Let us be guided by all the best it represents. For it is in seeking that light within ourselves and within our community that we will move toward a vibrant future together. May it be so.


With faith in our future,

Barb Weber,

Transition Team Chair



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Dear MVUUF Members and Friends,


I am writing to communicate with all of you as we continue to move through a period of change together.


In fact, it may seem to some that our congregational life has consisted of little but change in the last couple of years. We said goodbye to Reverend Amy Russell. We said hello to Interim Minister Reverend Mary Moore. We wrestled with changes in our worship services. We worried about the state of our finances. We are currently challenged by our search for a new settled minister. Just recently our Board President, Alysoun Taylor-Hall, who had served this congregation for many years, stepped down.


Your Board held a retreat last Saturday, September 27. We wanted to understand how our congregation deals with change and how we as a Board can help our community continue to thrive and grow, even during anxious times.


During our retreat, we were led in discussion by Barb Weber, Transition Team Chair, as we reacted to a book called Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times. As we began to reflect on our collective history, we began to uncover that change has always been a part of our life together:  how we handled it held the key to our continued growth and development.


Our discussion helped us tease out some of the patterns and practices in our organizational system that raised issues for us to consider:  How can we learn to deal better with conflict in our congregation? How can we address the problem of scarcity-in finances and in leadership? How can we learn to respect boundaries among ourselves, our volunteers, and our staff? How can we adjust our governance to achieve clearer authority and organizational responsibility? How can we learn to react to change as a normal, integral part of growth and not as a cause for alarm? How can we continue to lift up that which is strong and positive in our Fellowship at the same time we deal with those issues that need addressing?


Your Board will be having another retreat again this Saturday, October 4. This time the Program Council and Transition Team will join us as we continue to address the challenges that face us. According to our bylaws, it is the Board's responsibility to appoint a person from the MVUUF voting membership to complete an unexpired term in the event of a midterm vacancy. The Board will be considering candidates to assume the President's role and hopes to have a new President in place by the October Board meeting. We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.


In the meantime, I hope you will trust that your Board is committed to leadership that is thoughtful, loving, and courageous.




Trudy Krisher

Vice-President, MVUUF Board

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Thank you to everyone for completing the survey! We had a very strong response rate! Over 190 of you took the time to share your thoughts about where we are as a Fellowship and what you are looking for in a minister. We are in the process of analyzing these results now.


Thank you also for attending Beyond Categorical Thinking! We overwhelmed the facilitators, Jo Ann Dale and Michael Takada, with our turnout-the largest they've ever seen. We hope that the exposure to the ideas of looking at potential ministers as whole people and not as categories will spill over into our daily lives as well as into our selection process.


We also have had very inspiring and insightful Cottage Meetings.  There are two more opportunities this month to share your vision for the future that we hope you will take part in. You can sign up in the Gathering Space, or contact our Administrator, Jennie Freiberger, at (937) 436-3628 or to reserve your space.


We plan to wrap up all we have learned from the survey, the BCT, and the Cottage Meetings and turn it into a congregational resume for our potential minister candidates. The ministers in search are doing the same. We want to share what we have learned with you at a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, November 2, following the worship service.


You can keep up on the search process by visiting our website and blog at . Find the site right from our home page!


And please contact any of us if you have any questions.

---Yolanda Crooms, Alice Diebel, Karen Evans, Edwin Fuller, Iris Mirelez, Catherine Queener, and Jay Snively





It's the time of year for covenants in YRE. Each of our classes creates their own "agreement" for how they will behave while they are meeting. It's always interesting to go around the rooms and look to see what the different classes hold important. There are the usual things like "listen while others are talking," "gentle touches," and "inside voices." There are some items that address specific classroom or age-group issues like "share the pillows," "don't put your feet on the table," or a favorite among high schoolers, "No making purple." (I'll let you figure that one out on your own). And then, every year it seems there is something that is so specific you just know there is a story behind it, like "no throwing things at the chalice," and "keep your clothes on." One DRE friend of mine even shared that her 1st-5th grade class decided to add "end climate change" to their covenant. Go big or go home, right?


Covenants can be very specific to the people who create them, but there is an awful lot of general good sense that comes out of them, too (I mean, I appreciate it when people don't throw things at my chalice, too!). Things that it wouldn't hurt all of us to raise up once in a while. When UU youth get together, there are pieces of their covenants that come up time and time again. They are points that sometimes require discussion or exceptions for consensus, but for the most part, everyone can agree they are worthy of consideration. Here are some examples that I like to keep in mind whenever I am trying to build beloved community:


Step-up, step back---If you find yourself talking a lot, step back and let some other people say something. Likewise, if you aren't saying much, remember that your voice matters, too...that we want to hear what you have to say. This is hard because it has a lot to do with personality type, extroverts vs. introverts. If you are an extrovert, it's important to remember that your introverted counterparts need a little processing time before they will be ready to share. But they DO have something to say, they aren't keeping quiet because they think you have all the answers or just love to hear your own voice. This can be translated into leadership in a congregation, too. There are always going to be people who feel the need to be very vocal, who seem to have their hands in everything because they have so much love for the church and want to see it succeed. It's easy to think that if they don't do something, no one else will. But I believe that's dangerous. People who are very capable and will give different perspectives and fresh ideas can be "shut out" if room isn't made for them. 


Assume and Act with Best Intentions---Of course this doesn't mean that every action has a good intention behind it or that even an act meant as good really is good. But I know if I can stop myself from jumping to the conclusion that someone is just being mean to me or is diabolically evil, I usually find that there is more to their view or their comment than I thought. Often times they are just hurt, misinformed, ignorant, or driven by a passion that doesn't allow them to see anything but their own agenda. The youth used to say "just assume best intentions," but that isn't really fair, is it? It puts all responsibility on the "victim" (for lack of a better word), whether purposely or not. So the youth like to remind themselves that they can't just say or do whatever they want and then expect people to forgive them because they had the "best intentions." 

Ouch, Oops---This is a way to say, "Hey, what you said or did broke our covenant or rubbed me the wrong way" and then gives the other person(s) a way to acknowledge that wasn't their intention and be aware of what they've done-WITHOUT making a big deal about it. Because sometimes it just isn't a big deal, right? Sometimes the responsible party just hasn't chosen their words well, or didn't take into consideration how their actions would affect others. And if left unchecked, the offense could happen again and again. But with one word like "ouch," the person has an opportunity to stop, think about what was said/done, acknowledge that they didn't mean to break covenant or hurt someone, and apologize, all with just an "oops." Of course, it's not always that simple. Sometimes further discussion and explanations have to happen. But I think it's a lovely place to start. Because I certainly have made slips or mistakes that have been blown out of proportion or caused people to stew and hold onto things when we could have just addressed it from the beginning and moved on in harmony.


A covenant is an idealist kind of document. We create them knowing that we may fail, occasionally someone is going to use an outside voice, and someone may forget and out their feet on the table. But if we can continue to acknowledge, to correct, to forgive...we can keep coming back to it in love. The Rumi quote that our hymn Come, Come, Whoever You Are is based on does not say "Come, but there is a limit." It says, "Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come yet again, come."

---Shannon Harper, Director of Religious Education




Let the Halloween spirits move you!  Join us for some safe, family-friendly trunk-or-treating in the MVUUF parking lot, on Saturday, October 25, 6-9:00 p.m.   Trunk-or-treating is when you decorate your car trunk for Halloween, fill it with some tasty treats and enjoy a parade of costumed youth as they travel from car to car to collect their loot.  After treats are given out, we will gather for Halloween storytelling as we enjoy apple cider and homemade kettle corn.  Weather permitting, we will be gathering around a campfire to relish the lovely autumn season.  Kids will be given a little pumpkin to decorate and take home. 


Volunteers are needed to tell Halloween stories and to trick out their trunks with treats for the kids.  We are also in need of apple cider and pumpkin donations.  If you have a connection to a local farm or food market that could help us out, please message YRE committee member Pam Gromen, at (240) 405-6931 or




On Sunday, October 12th, following our Sunday worship service, there will be a Christian Unitarian Communion Service, beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. All are welcome to attend.




Have you noticed barriers to participation at MVUUF? Have you ever hesitated to invite someone you know to the Fellowship because of concerns about accessibility? One of the motivations for moving to our current church building was the lack of access for people with mobility challenges in our old building. We have come a long way in this regard, but we have further to go.


In our hearts, we want to include everyone, but we don't always notice the challenges that adults and children may face. Sometimes these are visible and other times invisible, such as fatigue, chemical (including perfume) sensitivity, anxiety, hearing loss. The Board is interested in supporting the formation of a task force at the Fellowship that will consider barriers and possible ways to overcome them, perhaps through awareness/education, format changes, or other types of assistance.


If you are interested in being part of this solutions-based Accessibility Task Force, please contact me.

--Genevieve Harvey, Program Council Chair





Do you check the box that says "white/Caucasian" when filling out forms? What does it mean to identify yourself as white? Examining Whiteness is a UUA curriculum designed to help white people understand how race and racism shape our identities. Examining Whiteness provides an opportunity to engage hearts and minds in a safe community where self-awareness and accountability can lead to transformation.


This curriculum is recommended especially for those who do identify as white. While it may seem counter-intuitive to do anti-racism work in a segregated setting, it follows a well-established model. According to Judith H. Katz, an anti-racism trainer, when minorities are part of mixed-group classes, "They were being put in the hot seat to discuss their experiences with oppression. Whites would often attempt to refute the reality of those experiences or would feel guilty about being white." Katz said the usual result was that white people either reinforced their initial attitudes or increased their feelings of anxiety and guilt.


Put our UU values to work. Take advantage of this opportunity for an honest discussion of whiteness. If we can't talk about racism at MVUUF, then where can we talk about it?


There will be six sessions, on Thursday evenings, October 2 through November 13 (no session on October 30), 7-8:30 p.m., in Classroom #5 at the Fellowship. You can talk with either:

Joe Law, or
Phil Wise,

who will be leading the sessions, and watch for sign-up sheets in the Gathering Space. 




If you are a new or prospective member of the Fellowship, or simply want to learn more about what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist, this course is for you! The New UU is a series of six 75-minute sessions addressing important themes in Unitarian Universalist congregational life. Led by Board member Bob Lewis, the course begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 12. Each session will be held 9:30-10:45 a.m., in Classroom #6 in the RE Wing of the Fellowship. Childcare is available.


Each session provides an opportunity for you to interact and share your own experiences with others. There will be lots of time to raise questions, dialogue with others, and explore more deeply. The course is intended to:

  • Introduce newcomers to Unitarian Universalism and to the workings of the denomination and this local congregation.
  • Equip participants to make a decision about membership in a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
  • Provide information related to Unitarian Universalist worship, theology, history, social justice, religious education, and governance.
  • Provide resources within and outside the congregation for participants to explore topics independently.

 There are several ways to sign up for The New UU:  signing the sheet in the Gathering Space; contacting our Administrator, Jennie Freiberger, at (937) 436-3628 or; or by contacting Bob Lewis, at (937) 350-7763 or .




What are covenant groups? They're MVUUF's form of small group ministry, welcoming members and friends to connect at a deeper level around meaningful topics, service opportunities and, of course, the joy of fellowship! These groups are a vital part of what gets us beyond our Sunday morning messages and committee meetings, creating true community and offering powerful chances for healing through listening to what really matters.


The next round will include powerful new themes and topics, as well as regular updates and communication about what's happening in our congregation-an important steadying role as MVUUF navigates the most challenging months of our transition process!


We're all eager to start. If you already know you're interested in taking part, email with your top preferred day of the week and time of day for meeting. If you'd like to know more before committing, watch for an upcoming information session and min-covenant group! Based on responses and timing, we hope to start the next round this fall, but we may wait until after the holidays.


Sign up now to help us get started! Email  with your top preferred day of the week and time of day for a meeting. Thank you!




One aspect of increased ministry to our members is a program called WHEELS. You may have noticed that word on the poster board where Gwen Crockford encourages people to send caring messages to members and friends.


Eight generous people have offered a service of providing transportation for Sunday church services, emergencies, and just plain helping out if a car is not available to you.


All of these people have verified that they have driver's licenses, insurance, and have had no moving violations in the past two years. More drivers would be welcome! Please look at the Lay Ministry Table in the Gathering Space for a form you can complete to help with this valuable ministry.


If you need transportation (or think you may in the future), please take a sheet with the volunteer's names, phone numbers and additional information about when they are available, how many people they can have in their car, how far they are able to drive, etc. It has been suggested that passengers may want to offer the driver a donation for their time and gas costs. Another way to show your appreciation could be to make a donation to the Fellowship.




We are excited to announce that Community Yoga will now be a regular activity offering at MVUUF! Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, traditionally for the practitioner's mental, physical and spiritual benefits. Yoga can be a vehicle to a healthy body, steady mind, and deeper connection to one's inner self and truth.


The Community Yoga class is open to students of ALL levels of experience, and to those with no experience at all but a desire to explore their mind, body and heart through Pranayama (mindful breathing), Asana (posture), and Dhyana (meditation). If you can breathe, you can do yoga!


Classes will be offered on Wednesdays beginning October 1, 6-7:15 p.m., in the Sanctuary at the Fellowship, and facilitated by Amanda Rae. Classes are donation-based, with a suggested donation of $5; however, there is no minimum donation amount, and everyone is welcome regardless of their ability to donate. A portion of the donation will be given to the Minister's Discretionary Fund. Classes are open to members, non-members, and the public, so bring a friend!


We do have a donation request: if you have any yoga mats or props, including blocks, straps, blankets, or bolsters that you are able to donate, they would be appreciated. Please feel free to contact Amanda with any questions, at (513) 315-583 or




Roots in MVUUF---Wings in Ministry, Reinvestment, and Cooperative Living

Did you know that two of the six Board members of the Unitarian Universalist Community Cooperative (UUCC) have MVUUF roots? That's Liz Weber (Lay Leader at Arlington Street Church and first year divinity student at Andover Newton Theological School, and daughter of Dan & Barb Weber) and Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen (Community Minister at Boston Mobilization, and daughter of Don Nguyen & Lynn Buffington). They will be joining us live via Skype and other media, in the Sanctuary, immediately following the worship service on Sunday, October 19. The focus will be on UUCC with time for questions. Grounded in UU values and tradition, "UUCC grows intentional housing communities of spiritual practice, sustainability, and social change." We'll see a video showing the success of the Lucy Stone Cooperative in Boston, and we'll hear about plans for additional houses and how UUs and others are using UUCC for individual and organizational investing, combining financial and moral purpose. Please join us!




What do people of faith need to know to identify victims of domestic violence and human trafficking and respond helpfully? You will learn this and more at the Interfaith Conference on Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence, which will be held on Wednesday, October 29, 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., at U.D.'s River Campus, 1700 S. Patterson Blvd., in Dayton. Two MVUUF members are on the planning team, and they are excited about the amazing array of speakers, from Ohio Representative Teresa Fedor to panels focused on children, men, survivors, and responders. Links for the full program and registration can be found here: , with paper versions available in the Gathering Space. Register now, and if you cannot attend, small donations are welcomed to support scholarships for others to attend. You can make a check out to West Ohio Annual Conference-Oct. 29 and give it to Maureen O'Meara or Lynn Buffington, or mail it to the address accepting paper registrations. And please, share the link with others!




Chalice of the Willow (CUUPS) will be holding their monthly discussion group on Sunday, October 12, 12:30-2:00 p.m., in the Founders Room at the Fellowship. Come and chat with Chalice of the Willow and network with other locals. For any event updates or other happenings, please visit our Facebook group (Chalice of the Willow) for more information, at: 




The Anti-Racism Task Force (ART) is presenting a series of films on the first Friday evening of each month, featuring varying aspects of race relations in the United States.


The featured film for October will be Traces of the Trade, in which producer/director Katrina Browne and her cousins explore the story of their New England ancestors, who comprised the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. It will be shown on Friday, October 3, 7:00 p.m., in the Founders Room, with a discussion following. Refreshments will be served, and there will be a discussion following the film.




We need you! Please consider joining the Anti-Racism Task Force (ART) at our next meeting, on Wednesday, October 22, 6-8:30 p.m., in the Founders Room. We encourage everyone to join ART! Upcoming meetings dates are:  October 29 and November 5.




October 5:  The Uses of Religion  with moderator Gordon Taylor   

October 12:  What is Life & Can We Find It Beyond Earth? with moderator Joe Lawrence  

October 19:  Hope:  What Does It Mean To You?  with moderator Ken Schory     

October 26:  Beyond Categorical Thinking  with moderator Alice Diebel




October 15-The Hundred-Foot Journey, by Richard Morais

November 19-The Dollmaker, by Harriette Arnow


We meet one Wednesday a month, at 10:30 a.m., in the Fellowship Library.  All are welcome! Contact Janice Beers, ( 937) 836-7166.





The Evening Book Discussion Group will meet on Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 p.m., at Christopher's Restaurant to discuss My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead.  New participants are welcome; contact Ann Snively if you'd like more information. Upcoming titles are:

November 11 - The Circle, by Dave Eggers

December 9 - The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd




Smart Choices will hold their next monthly birthday luncheon on Thursday, October 23, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at MCL Cafeteria in Kettering (Far Hills and David Road). All are invited to help us celebrate...come check us out! You can RSVP to Allie Petersen at




After service on the first Sunday of the month is the time to order Fair Trade coffee in the Gathering Space, for a triple win:   delicious coffee or tea; economic justice and safety for the growers and workers; and a commission to support Social Action activities at MVUUF. Orders are available for pick up on the third Sunday...Sunday, October 19 this month. You can also place your order at any time with Lynn Buffington at (937) 657-0426 or




Please join us in our longstanding 2nd Saturday ministry serving lunch to homeless and/or low income women and families. If you are thinking of helping at St. Vincent's but would like a bit more information, please pick up one of the information half-sheets from the table near the windows in the Gathering Space.  October 11th Menu: hearty chili, green salad, fresh fruit or fruit salad and 100% juice (we will also use stock in the St. Vincent pantry for milk and bread). We need four to five donations of each item, with each donation serving 15 to 20. Please bring all items, heated if applicable, to 120 W. Apple St. in Dayton (St. Vincent de Paul Hotel) by 10:30 a.m. Sign up to serve or donate menu items in the Gathering Space. Feel free to call Lynn Buffington at (937)657-0426 if you have any questions. 


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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!