Miami Valley 

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

8690 Yankee St.  Dayton, OH  45458







MVUUF's Forum          January, 2015

A View From the 'Rim



With the coming of a new year and a new Worship Chair (Joe Zimmerman) at MVUUF, I thought it might be timely to share some thoughts about worship at MVUUF.


First, I want to express appreciation to folks who have stepped up and agreed to serve as Service Leaders at various times while I have been at MVUUF:  Alice Diebel, Linda Begley, Edwin Fuller, Tim Gemperline, Shannon Hansen, Carol Narigon, Heather Schroeder, Lathe Snyder, Christina Tomazinis, and Joe Zimmerman. Jo Anna Szymborski has been very loyal in scheduling a Service Leader for every Sunday.


I am also grateful to John Crockford, Eugenio Durand, Chris Gooley, and Don Heffner who have served with such dedication on the Audio Visual Team-I give special thanks to Pat Santucci who, in addition to serving on the AV Team himself, has helped to schedule his fellow Team members!


As we move into this new year, I'm thinking that we might want to try structuring this area of congregational life a little differently in a congregation our size.


Might we consider here at MVUUF:

READERS-who would read during the service from materials provided to them?

SERVICE LEADERS-who would lead certain portions of the service and read during the service from materials provided to them? They would get the sanctuary ready for service by attending Worship Committee meetings quarterly.

WORSHIP LEADERS-who would be certain designated Service Leaders who, with the minister/interim minister, would select certain materials to be read during the service? They would also attend Worship Committee meetings quarterly.

WORSHIP ASSOCIATES-who would be certain designated Worship Leaders who, with the speaker on Sundays when the minister is out of the pulpit, would select materials to be read in the service and plan the service? They would also be responsible for getting the blurb about the service and speaker to the MVUUF Administrator by deadline for inclusion in The Forum, Announcement Sheet, Friday E-Blast, and on the website-and for providing materials by deadline for the Order of Service to the Administrator. They would attend Worship Committee meetings quarterly.

DECORATORS-who would provide art objects, greenery, etc., on the theme of the service?


Any and all folks interested in stepping up to participate in any of these ways (after receiving brief orientation) please be sure to contact me: or (865) 660-0690 or Joe Zimmerman: or (937) 672-1217 or MVUUF's Administrator, Jennie Freiberger: or (937) 436-3628.


My best wishes for a Happy New Year to each and every one of you.



With warmest regards, as always,

Your interim minister,




Service Topics for January


January 4--Love Tends All Wounds--Jo VonRue. Let's explore together what the term "white privilege" actually means, and why we must work toward a deeper awareness of what is happening in our world today.



January 11--Be Afraid/Be Not Afraid--Rev. Mary Moore. FEAR seems to become ever more prevalent in our world these days-fear of people who are different from us, fear for our environment, fear of economic insecurity, fear of terrorism, fear for the future! What role might religion play in intensifying or calming fear today?



January 18--Hearing the Call to Go to Selma 50 Years Later--Rev. Mary Moore. Back in 1965, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., issued a call for people of faith to go to Selma, Alabama to march for civil rights, as depicted in a current movie. The Unitarian Universalist Association Board adjourned its meeting in Boston and traveled to Selma, along with many other UU ministers and laity, including Rev. James Reeb, who would be killed there.


The present Moderator of the UUA issued a call for UUs to go to Selma in March, 2015-and I have chosen to respond to that call! Come on this morning as we explore the meaning of going to Selma fifty years ago and today.



January 25--In Defense of the Civil--Rev. Mary Moore. What has happened to the concept of  civility these days-in our world, in our neighborhoods, in the electronic media, perhaps even in our own congregation? How do we treat one another, speak to and about each other? These are some of the questions we will be exploring on this morning. 



Around the Fellowship...




Program church is feisty, congregation-directed and energized. It springs organically from an engaged congregation. An engaged congregation is a congregation which does the work of the Fellowship. We have that here at MVUUF, and we can grow more of it.


What are some examples? I'm glad that you asked!


Our Social Action Committee functions without direction of the Minister. We have a strong group that does a vast amount of work. There is the Anti-Racism Task Force; tutoring refugee children; the Environmental Action Group (which has been working on your behalf to have MVUUF designated as a Green Sanctuary); a monthly lunch at St. Vincent's Shelter; the West Side Action Group (addressing social needs); LGBTQ concerns (Transgender 101, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Freedom to Marry); Humanitarian Giving (where half of our non-pledge offerings are sent nine months of the year, and where the Holiday Giving Tree originates); regional advocacy with Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio; participation in protests against racism, police brutality, and marriage equality (to name a few); and more. This doesn't even cover it. A small group of committed people really is changing the world.


The Friday Evening Beloved Community Gathering is also an example of what is right about program church. This group brings together people for fellowship. As an Activities group, it is more than just an activity; it builds our community.


We use Pastoral Associates to help our Minister with her pastoral duties. We have trained members of the congregation to reach out to others.


Our Small Group Ministry helps to build relationships between members. Covenant groups bring us closer and help us to rely on each other to meet our pastoral needs.


In all of these, the emphasis is on the congregation providing direction, energy and expression of our mission. This is a program church.  For a brief explanation of program church, watch:


Someday, we could be a breakthrough congregation. How open are we to making the changes we need to make? Watch:


As a Valentine Day present, expressing our love of MVUUF, we will be hosting a Celebration of Our Congregation in February, celebrating what is right with our program church as we transition to fully implementing what we need to do.


Margaret Michal, Transition Team Chair




 Good news! YoUUr MSC (Ministerial Search Committee) has been hard at work and we are happy to report that the Congregational Record was completed and submitted for the UUA Ministerial Settlement System in December!


What's next? We will notify you this month when our MVUUF Congregational Packet goes live on the web, so that you may view it, too. Stay tuned!


Remember...if you have any questions about the search process, please contact one of us!

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


Statement of the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's

Anti-Racism Task Force and Board of Trustees

For Public Witness and Public Action, With Specific Citings


"Unitarian Universalists...strive to be of service to our communities and advocate for change on local, state, national and international levels. Through the Unitarian Universalist Standing on the Side of Love campaign we amplify the voices of the oppressed through online media; we show up in partnership at justice events across the country; we lobby national leaders...and above all we make love real in the world."                                            


In Ohio there have been two recent deaths of young African-Americans shot and killed by white police officers. The August 5 shooting of John Crawford III in Beavercreek was in our own community and the November 22 shooting of Tamir Rice was in Cleveland. In both cases, the victims were holding toy or replica guns, and there are videos of the shootings that show that the victims were not given adequate time to respond to police commands before the police officers opened fire.


"Given all that has transpired in the last few months around the killing of Michael Brown, police brutality, systemic racism, escalating tension in Ferguson and around the country, it's time to hold our police forces accountable when they abuse their powers and the citizens they have sworn to protect. And as a people of faith, we must be a loud, unified voice for change." -Peter Morales



"Recognizing that racism is an institutionalized pattern reaching far beyond Ferguson, Missouri (or any single incident)...," the Anti-Racism Task Force and the Board of Trustees of the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship joins in solidarity with the Unitarian Universalist Association and with many others around the country to say that #BlackLivesMatter.




To promote our seventh principle, respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, the UUA has established the Green Sanctuary Program to encourage congregations to reduce any negative impact we have on our environment.  At MVUUF, we've tried to do our part to live in more environmentally and respectful ways. We continue to replace our lighting with more efficient components, we have installed special window shades to help conserve heat and cooling energy, we use ecologically responsible practices in grounds care, we have encouraged recycling in many ways, and we try to be responsible custodians of the wetlands on our site.


For much of this year, MVUUF's Green Sanctuary Committee (Gary Courts, Jerry Jenkins, Mike Fanelli, and Steve Thompson) has also investigated the possibility of using alternative power sources, such as solar energy. The group has met with regional experts and other church groups with a similar interest. Members have visited different sites where solar panels have been installed to learn about the installation and use of solar power. And the Committee invited solar power installers and service providers to submit their proposals for installing and maintaining a solar system at MVUUF. The committee now believes such a system would provide the following key benefits:


1. A 63 kilowatt system would supply 95% of the Fellowship's electrical needs-the maximum allowable while maintaining a connection to the DP&L grid.

2. The installation could be financed by Solar Power and Light, Inc. with no out-of-pocket expense to the Fellowship.

3. Cost savings for electricity use are projected to be over $1,200.00 in the first year, increasing each year for a total savings of more than $93,000.00 over the expected 25-year life of the system.

4. A projected reduction of over 115,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

5. The installer would provide operational management and maintenance of the system requiring no  special expertise from or additional cost to the Fellowship.

6. The provider would work with the Fellowship to support outreach and educational efforts to help    others learn about and use solar power options.

7. Reports from other congregations are that the installation of solar panels has resulted in increased membership attracted by the public demonstration of green values.


At their last meeting in December, the Fellowship's Board of Trustees approved the Committee's recommendation to proceed with developing a plan to install a solar panel system at the Fellowship sometime in the first half of 2015. There is still much to learn and the Green Sanctuary Committee will be sharing what it learns in the process. Watch for news and for information about opportunities for any members and friends who would like to consider solar power at home. The Committee also encourages you to check out the special information kiosk in the Gathering Space. And if you are interested in helping, or in learning more about renewable power options at home, contact one of the Green Sanctuary Committee members.



You can keep up-to-date with all the happenings at MVUUF by viewing the Fellowship's calendar online, from a link on our website:


The calendar is updated daily, so it's always the best place to check and see what's going on!




MVUUF's semi-annual Congregational Meeting will take place on Sunday, January 25, beginning at 12:15 p.m. in the Sanctuary at the Fellowship. All Voting Members are encouraged to attend. Participation in Congregational Meetings is the way to make your voice heard in our democratic process, and is both a privilege and a duty of membership.


We have a full agenda (which you should have received by now, either through email or snail mail) which includes election of next year's officers, seven proposed bylaw changes, and action on our current Green Sanctuary application and Humanitarian Giving choices.


Also, please note that the Board will hold two informational meetings after the services on January 4 and 11, to discuss the proposed bylaw changes. Because of the full agenda for the Congregational Meeting, it is hoped that these informational meetings will give everyone a chance to ask questions and be clear about the reasons the changes are being proposed (as there will not be time for this discussion at the Congregational Meeting).




We are trying a new process for choosing the recipients for the social action portion of the Sunday Offertory.

Step 1:   members of the congregation nominate recipients that (1)target the under-served; (2) are non-profit; (3) are in the greater Dayton area; and (4) have low administrative costs. Previous recipients are eligible. Submit nominations on or before Sunday, January 4, to Shirley Gezinski in person, in the suggestion box in the Gathering Space, or at It is helpful, but not required, to provide some information about the organization. If you like, you may include your name for follow-up.

Step 2:  The Humanitarian Giving Action Group will narrow the list. If you would like to help with this process, contact Shirley Gezinski.

Step 3:  After the service on Sunday, January 18, MVUUF members and friends will be invited to a discussion of offertory recipient nominees; there will not be time at the Congregational Meeting for this discussion.

Step 4:  During the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 25, there will be a silent paper ballot to choose two offertory recipients for March through May, and for June through August.





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 growers and workers; and a commission to support Social Action activities at MVUUF. Orders are available for pick up on the third Sunday of the for this month, that will be Sunday, January 18. You can also place your order at any time with Lynn Buffington at (937) 657-0426 or




On Sunday, January 4, we'll close our Guest At Your Table program. In recent weeks, program materials and Stories Of Hope booklets have taught us about real people engaged in struggles for justice in the United States and around the world. It has also taught us about our own power to change the world and inspired us to share our blessings to support the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the many amazing people they partner with.


Before turning in your GAYT donation, be sure to convert your cash and coins to a check made out to UUSC Guest At Your Table and complete the form on the envelope. If you prefer, you can make your donation online, or mail your envelope directly to the UUSC. If you choose either of those options, make sure to tell Kathleen Pennington so that your donation can be included in our congregation's total. We'll announce the results of our GAYT program as soon as possible. If you miss bringing back your GAYT envelope by the closing date, please return it to Kathleen Pennington, our GAYT coordinator, at your earliest convenience.


If you have any questions, please contact Kathleen Pennington at





An Endowment Fund is a way we try to ensure the long-term financial future of our Fellowship. Each year, we have a financial campaign to take care of our operations for the current year. Meanwhile, our Endowment Fund occasionally receives designated gifts for future use. Generous people give cash, or stocks and bonds, which are then carefully invested. Our intent is that the principle will never be touched, while income and capital gains may be used to enhance our various programs.


At present, our Endowment Fund is rather modest, but growing. It amounts to about $134,000 and is invested with the UUA Common Endowment Fund. That fund, in turn, invest in socially responsible corporations.


For more information, please pick up a brochure from the brochure rack in the Gathering Space. Or you can consult with one of our Endowment Fund trustees:  Jim Faulconer, Sharon Harmer, or Larry Stone.





We are now collecting food items every Sunday for our local food pantry. Just be mindful to bring a can or box or some non-perishable food item with you on Sundays. Although any food is welcome, protein (in the form of canned meat or jerky) is especially welcome. Look for the specially-marked spot in the Gathering Space where you can drop off your donation. And thank you for helping to feed the hungry!    





The Evening Book Discussion group will meet again on Tuesday, January 13, 7:00 p.m., at          Christopher's Restaurant (2318 East Dorothy lane, in Kettering) to discuss The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Other upcoming dates and selections are:

February 10--Bad Paper: Chasing Debt From Wall Street to the Underworld, by Jake Halpern
March 10--What I've Stolen, What I've Earned, by Sherman Alexie. 


The Evening Book Discussion Group holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the month, at Christopher's. New participants are welcome! Contact Ann Snively if you would like more info.





Smart Choices will be having a birthday party lunch on Thursday, January 22. We'll be meeting at 11:30 a.m. at a private room at MCL Cafeteria. Everyone is invited! Please RSVP to Allie Petersen at





(the following is a follow-up to the Roots and Wings Presentation from this past October)


Often when we think of using our financial resources to do good, we think of donating to a charity. Another path that is rewarding financially as well as morally is through intentional investing. In 2010, the Lucy Stone House in Roxbury, MA was purchased, with $140,000 coming from allied lenders, both individual and organizational. The Lucy Stone community includes the residents of the house and an extended community who live UU values and traditions in an intentional housing community of spiritual practice, sustainability, and social change. The Lucy Stone House has been a great success with the number of applicants far exceeding the number of spaces.


Unitarian Universalist Community Cooperatives (UUCC) will purchase another house soon and is seeking allied lenders. Individual allied lenders invest in multiples of $2,500 and choose an annual interest payment of 0-3% over the five year term of the loan. How cool is that, to choose your interest earnings? Allied lenders fill out a commitment form. Two of the six UUCC Board Members, Liz Weber and Elizabeth Nguyen, have roots at MVUUF. Liz and Elizabeth would welcome the chance to talk with you by phone or email about UUCC, the Lucy Stone House, and investing in UUCC. You can email them questions, or request one of them to give you a call, at There are copies of the UUCC prospectus and loan commitment forms on the Social Action table in the Gathering Space and at You can view photos and more information at:





Please join us in our longstanding 2nd Saturday ministry serving lunch to homeless and/or low income women and families. It's getting colder and the numbers are up at St. V's, so we've needed more contributions. Thanks for the many who have helped us serve more than 90 people in December! Special thanks to Adina and Rita Reeve for stepping up with extra batches of chili again, too!  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.  January 10th 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) 657-0426if you have any questions. Contact Lynn  or Shirley Gezinski if you would like to help with planning the menu we will repeat for several months, beginning in February.




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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!