Thank you to all members and friends who have volunteered to participate in the Caring Network! 

The Caring Network will offer its FIRST training on Monday, December 4, from 6:30 till 8:30 in Eliot Hall. The topic of the training will be: How to Help When You're Not Sure How To Help. 

This training will be a potluck dinner as well, so please bring a dish to share. All Caring Network participants are invited to attend!

Gratitude

We talk about it. There are lots of cliches about it. We focus on a major U.S. holiday—Thanksgiving. Many of us say “we’re grateful” but what does that really mean? Often we treat gratitude as contentment. As in, I’m grateful for my family. Or the years we’ve had together. Or my health. Good people. Good deeds.

In actuality, I’m learning that true gratitude involves action. To be grateful is a verb. So, to be grateful for my health, for example, requires action. Preventative medicine. Choice of diet. Daily exercise.

Let’s dissect a “day in the life” for a moment. List three or four people or things you are most grateful for in a typical day. How much time do you allocate to errands, housework, TV, electronic communication, childcare? How many of these acts and obligations are you actually grateful for!

I think gratitude comes down to how you choose to live your life. More to the point, it’s a sort of acknowledgement...taking time to remember all the gifts and good fortune we truly have.

And therein, perhaps, lies the true meaning of Thanksgiving. To tie the spirit of this holiday to First Church, know that you are welcome here. We are an open- minded and progressive community.

We promote social justice. We celebrate diversity. Our fellowship supports the spiritual, intellectual and social needs of our children. We encourage the exploration of religious experiences throughout our congregation—not only among our adults, but also through religious education for our children and youth.

As your Religous Education director, I view RE as a cooperative adventure. We express gratitude for the volunteers who provide childcare, for the volunteers who teach, and for all those who bring wisdom and experience to our families.

As we move into a somewhat hectic holiday season, reflect on the pursuits most dear to you.

In Service,
Julie Miller, Director RE

****

RE Notes, News & Upcoming Events

  • Sunday October 22 - RE children participated in the Anti-Racism/White Supremacy Teach-In
  • Thursday October 26 - Our Halloween Party was a howling success. Great costumes, way too sweet treats and a fun sing-a-long at Friendship Manor. Kudos again to Junior Choir director David Owens, Amanda Esko, Lissa Lander and our dedicated parent volunteers.
  • We participated in the Refugee Resettlement winter coat drive. Thanks to all the families who helped!
  • November 5 - Sandwich Sunday. Children make 40 lunches for youth living at the Volunteers of America (VOA) Teen Shelter.
  • November 5 - Daylight Savings time ends. Art curricula begins in Sunday School.
  • November 6 - Family Fun Night in Eliot Hall. All families are welcome to join us, 6-7:30pm.
  • November 26 - Service Project Sunday. Traditional RE classes are suspended.
  • November 17, 18, 19 - Our Whole Lives (OWL) Training in Salt Lake City. Several UU congregations will participate.

Earlier this year, many of us watched in shock as Jeff Sessions, despite his long history of racism and hateful conservatism, was nominated to the office of the nation’s Attorney General. His confirmation hearing, however, gave us a moment of hope, as his fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke against his confirmation. She quoted the words of Coretta Scott King, who in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 wrote that Sessions was unqualified to serve in the Justice Department due to his abysmal record on civil rights.

As she spoke, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked a Senate rule against impugning the character of a colleague, and warned her to desist. The Senate voted along party lines to silence her testimony. But – as we all now know – she persisted:

“Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

“Nevertheless, she persisted” became a rallying cry for feminists around the world: women who have been silenced by men in power, women who give voice to the injustices that affect them and keep them in second place, women who refuse to uphold the status quo.

Women who make noise, who persist despite the explanations and warnings, have forever been called “difficult”: “What a difficult woman…. Why does she have to be so difficult?” And not just women, for that matter: people of all genders who are marginalized by social groups are called “difficult” by those who benefit from the systems that marginalize those systems, especially when they cannot see their place in sustaining the oppressions.

We Unitarian Universalists are people who champion freedom, fairness, and liberation – and yet, we sometimes find ourselves in the company of “difficult” people. Yes, they can be found around us at work, at school, in society – but let’s look closer to home too. Right here where we worship, here in our church family, where we presume to share the same values and principles: do we have “difficult” people in our church?

When someone begins to get labeled as “difficult”, it’s important to keep in mind that difficult people have almost always had difficult lives. Every person you meet is carrying a burden that they don’t show to the world; do we dare to imagine that our beloved church may not be helping to carry the burden, or may actually be making the burden heavier? No institution is perfect, but the best institutions are those that have practices for checking out their “blind spots”, their unexamined prejudices and the ways in which they may be perpetuating injustice without even realizing it.

We can also adopt practices of pastoral care which help to lift these burdens. It is our duty as members of the church to adhere to our shared covenant of relationship to one another – engaging in and encouraging direct communication, and discouraging gossip and anonymous complaining. It is also our duty to prevent healthy boundaries from being violated, and harmful or uncovenantal behavior must never be excused as someone “just being difficult”. However, we must also listen to others with a mind to believe them, even if it sometimes means we ourselves are implicated, even if it means we ourselves have to change or make sacrifices.

Elizabeth Warren certainly isn’t the first persistent truth-teller in history to be told to sit down and be quiet: in ancient times, these truth-tellers were often called prophets. While we may no longer believe in prophets who receive direct messages from God, we still have prophets among us, in the form of truth-tellers who make us uncomfortable as they point out injustice. Let us rejoice and be grateful! There’s no better gift than honest feedback, even if it’s uncomfortable. It makes us better and stronger, and gives us the courage to be persistent in our own prophetic pursuit of justice

As part of the program at the Refugee Resettlement Committee Volunteer Dinner tonight the following special recognition of volunteer efforts was made in the form of “Hannah Awards,” (recognition comparable to an Oscar, Emmy, etc.)  Use of the name Hannah was inspired by its' Hebrew translation, meaning “grace” or “favor,” to capture the spirit of the RRC volunteer activity. Awards in the form of a prominent letter “H” (suitable for painting, plating, etc), were presented to those in attendance and will be delivered to other awardees later:

  • "Walking Wounded Award" to Ron Anderson, who has continued to be active in donation pick up and delivery despite a recently aggravated leg muscle limiting his mobility.
  • "Worthy Traveler Award" to Michael Pennie and Doug Roberts, who have traveled the farthest distance recently to be available for hauling duty.
  • "Olympic Hopeful Award" to Bonnie Baty and Ross Chambless, for agility and creativity shown in unconventional access to dwellings in household delivery and set ups.
  • "Rolling Wonders Award" to Andrea Globokar and Frank Globokar, for set up of the Pedal Project and successful refurbishing and delivery of donated bicycles, new helmets and locks.
  • “Basket Bounties Award” to Nancy Rasmuson and Johanna Whiteman, for set up of the Welcome Basket Project and successful delivery of full baskets.
  • “Happy Housewares Award” to Carolyn Erickson, Nancy Douglas and Nancy Howard, for skilled Unit 564 household donation related activity.
  • "Beverly Hillbillies Award” to Jim Wilcox and Gary Widdison, for creative stacking and hauling of donations through downtown SLC.
  • “Spinner of Gold/Successful Prospector Award” to Frank Steffey and Meredith and Robert Peterson, for RRC fund raising, e.g. managing KSL donation sales, etc.
  • “Weather Warrior Award” to IRC Volunteer Coordinator Kayla Norman, for braving the first snow storm of 2017 to train IRC volunteers at First Church.
  • “Fireman Award” to Richard Anderton, Joe Herring, Gene Mahalko, Will Morris, Mohammed Mushib and John Rasmuson, for response on short notice to urgent RRC activity.  


Thank you to Rev Monica Dobbins, First Church Board member Jan Crane and IRC staff Jessica Anderson, Jess Sheets and Kayla Norman, for attendance tonight. And thank you to all RRC volunteers for making a positive difference in many lives.

Every crime will be punished, every virtue rewarded
 every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson from his essay, “Compensation”

 

Emerson was not particularly original in his personal restatement of the old catchy phrases like: As you sow, so shall your reap; cause and effect; chickens come home to roost; or the basic principle of Karma which makes it very clear that you better think before you act. There’s a notion that regardless how clever you think you are, you can’t get away with doing bad stuff. It all evens out in the end.

Emerson, however, proved somewhat original in applying these aphorisms to a moral plane where they became a sort of “multiplication table, which will always balance itself.” As in the above quote, “Every crime will be punished, etc.”

Compensation remains for Emerson a foundational law of the universe. Unlike religion which mollifies our consternation about life’s unfairness with retribution in the hereafter, Emerson insists we don’t have to wait that long. Instead, justice is served as surely as the fruit and seed are inseparable. He warns, though, that it may take some time for justice to be served: “Persons and events may seem to stand for a time between a man and justice. But this is only a postponement, for sooner or later the man must pay.”

I doubt that Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, or Bill Cosby have read much Emerson in their time. Perhaps they would then have understood that the laws of compensation could never overlook the rape culture they fostered. Regardless of their status, influence, and ability to pay tens of millions of dollars in settlements, no one escapes the fact that every crime is punished. No one can rewrite the laws of the universe.

I sometimes wonder if Emerson is merely expressing his faith in justice, regardless how slow it may be in coming. Or whether or not he insists that the inevitability of justice is assured, that retribution resides in the law of compensation. Otherwise the universe would be unbalanced. Sins are writ large; everyone must pay.

The “#Me Too” has clearly demonstrated that our entire culture has been submerged in an assault on women, mostly with impunity. But every crime will be punished. It has taken us so long to finally come to terms with this transgression because of the very pervasiveness of objectifying women. It has become the norm, but not in the eyes of the universe. Justice will bring down the pigs.

The odd thing for me in all these recent “revelations” about powerful men wielding their clout for their own perverse satisfaction is that they still don’t get it. If money can’t buy women’s silence, then men feel that money can buy lawyers’ incrimination against female victims. Powerful men today still believe they can trick the universe into functioning unbalanced.

This is an interesting time for us all as we bear witness to the universe righting itself. It has been a long, slow, and painful process. But now the oppression of women can potentially right itself and prove Emerson correct again: “Every wrong redressed.”

We don’t know at this time how widely justice will extend. Might Donald Trump personally discover Emerson’s claim that retribution is the universal necessity? Trump may want to start reading some Emerson, or at least glance at the teaching of Karma. The law of action and reaction when applied to the moral plane can bring down anyone. Powerful men have their moments, but the universe and its laws always win out at the end. TRG

First Church is excited to begin a social justice partnership with Planned Parenthood of Utah. This partnership will include community gatherings, legislative action, and a volunteer sex education program benefiting incarcerated women. 

We want YOU to get involved! The first step is to become a Planned Parenthood Ambassador. It's a simple process of signing up to be included in their email distribution list; then Planned Parenthood will notify you by email when a volunteer opportunity arises. 

To become an Ambassador, please click this link. Scroll down to the middle of the page, and under "Become an Ambassador", click "Sign Up Now". 

Then simply fill out the form, and watch for a welcome email from Planned Parenthood (note: it may appear in your spam filter!).

And be on the lookout for information from the Social Justice Council about opportunities to serve throughout the year!

In times of trouble in our lives, we need the support of our church community more than ever. But as the church grows, it needs new ways to approach the needs of our members and friends when they stumble upon tough times. That's why the Caring Network is getting an upgrade, and we need YOU to help!

In years past, the Caring Committee would email the volunteer list when someone in the church had an illness, a death in the family, or an emergency, and whoever was available would volunteer to fill the need. But as our church grows, a small committee can't fill all the needs. So instead, we're moving from a committee to a network. That means the committee will reach out to a few volunteers who live in the same geographic area and contact them DIRECTLY when there is a need. Neighbors helping neighbors, with better follow-through; and our relationships will grow stronger and deeper too.

In order for this to work, we need LOTS of volunteers! We're looking for 100 church members and friends who'd be willing to provide a meal, child care, or a ride to church a few times a year, for someone in your neighborhood who is sick or has had an emergency or death in the family. 

If you can fill this need, please visit our website and fill out the NEW Caring Network Participation Form: http://slcuu.org/ programs/committees-and- groups/item/24-caring-network

Frequently asked questions: 

1. I'm already signed up for the Caring Network. We are starting over with a brand new list, so please sign up again with the new form!

2.  Are you trying to form a committee of a hundred people?! No - this isn't a committee, it's a network. But there will still be a committee, and we'd love for you to join!

3. How many times a year will I need to volunteer? It depends on how many people in your neighborhood have needs this year. But the more people we can sign up, the more we can do as a group, and the fewer things each person will have to do.

4. I'm still confused, how can I learn more?  There will be a brief (15 minute) information session after both services on October 1st. Rev. Monica will describe the program and answer any questions, and of course be available to sign people up. Please also look for our table in Eliot Hall during the month of October. 

REflections

Welcome!

Religious Education (RE) holds a central place in the life of our congregation. Our programs are based, in part, on the belief that the search for truth and meaning is a life-long pursuit. One of the roles of our faith community is to provide opportunities to embrace our heritage as Unitarian Universalists (UU) and to engage in experiences throughout life that help us stretch spiritually and personally.

We offer programs for children, youth and adults to help guide you on your spiritual paths. RE programs are age-appropriate and provide a safe and engaging place to explore growing personal beliefs. Religious Education for children includes infant and toddler supervision with highly-qualified staff at both the 9:00 and 11:00 am services. We offer a Pre-K and Kindergarten program for four and five year-olds as well as Sunday classes for children in grades 1-6. Sunday classes/religious education programs are offered only at the 11:00 am service.

This fall we are piloting a new program called Awake Camp for 5/6th grade children. The focus of this program is building awareness and skills in mindfulness, body-mind connection and being awake in—and responsive to—the natural world. The objective here is multifaceted: provide children with personal tools to help them focus, relieve stress, grow in individual control and be present without anxiety. These practices, we believe, enable pre-teens to develop a sense of spiritual life. Awake Camp curriculum incorporates UU Principles, the Golden Rule Project and service projects.

Middle schoolers and high schoolers continue to deepen their spirituality and beliefs as they develop their identities as Unitarian Universalists. Youth continue to learn about effective leadership skills.

We are hard at work living up to our theme this year—Faith in Action.

In Service,

Julie Miller, Amanda Esko and Lissa Lander, your dedicated RE Team

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
Whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price;
No amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are a life-saving medicine.
--Wisdom of Sirach, 6:14-16

People often choose to join a church at a turning point in their lives: after experiencing a major loss; after moving to a new city; after a change in their family’s structure. And of course, people join churches when they are having a crisis of faith or personal identity. The days when people joined a church out of social expectation are passing by – we can see this in the growing number of “nones” and “spiritual but not religious” people in American life. People now need a positive reason to join a church, and often that reason is forged in crisis.

It is for this reason that I am convinced that churches are still in the business of saving lives, even if we may be getting out of the business of saving souls. And it’s not just our life-affirming theology that saves – many of us have been surprised to find salvation in serving other people. There is such longing to be a part of something bigger than oneself, such longing to be of service – especially in these times when selfishness and egotism dominate our common political discourse.

As our congregation grows larger, we may be surprised to discover that we no longer recognize all of the people who are invested in this church. That new face at coffee hour – does it belong to a visitor, or to someone who’s been attending for months, whom we’ve never had the pleasure to meet? That person carrying our church’s banner in the Pride Parade – have they been here all year? It seems there’s nowhere to sit at that special event… and how did that adult RE class fill up so quickly?

What a wonderful problem to have! But integrating new folks into the life of the congregation takes skill and discipline. It will require some new habits on the part of long-time members. Most importantly, we must never let ourselves believe that someone else is going to take care of it. We must live out our faith as individuals through practicing radical hospitality. You never know when that “new” person might be someone in crisis, someone who’s looking to make friends and find salvation through service.

What does that look like? Well, wearing your name tag is a good start. Be willing to risk the embarrassment of asking a “new” person for their name (even if you discover they signed the book last fall!). If you’re a member of a group in the church that you feel is making a real difference, take a chance and invite a “new” (or new to you!) person to join you. Remember, new folks want to find belonging; they’re more likely to get that feeling in a service project or a class than at a committee meeting. There’ll be time for that later.

I believe that Unitarian Universalism is a saving faith, no matter the size of the congregation. True, a growing congregation presents new challenges; but human need for connection and service remain the same no matter what. Let us vow to love and serve one another – “new” or “old”.

The Climate Crisis: A Fresh Look - What do We do, by When, and How?

Location: The Haven, First Unitarian Church, 569 S 1300 E, SLC

Time & Dates: 6:30PM-8:30PM, Thursdays (except for one Friday) Oct 12 & 27 (Friday), Nov 9, Dec 7, Jan 11 & 25, and Feb 8 & 22

Sign up online

We know that we are in a climate crisis.  But, what does this mean?  What are the most impactful things we can do?  Where will we be most effective in focusing our action?

Will resisting Trump be consequent?  Can cities and states “make Trump irrelevant”?  Is education the path to follow?  What about legislation?  Petitions, rallies, demonstrations, protests, civil disobedience, lawsuits - what place do these efforts have?

Are all of these together, and more, enough to stabilize the climate?  What if all the groups (local, state, national, international//large and small) working on all the efforts they are working on now actually accomplished their stated goals, will this stabilize the climate?  And will it stabilize the climate at the 2◦C Paris Accord heat ceiling? 

Are we in a climate emergency?  If so, how can we tell and what does this mean?  And if so, what do we do about it?  Are current efforts sufficient, if they accomplish what they state is needed?  If not, what more or different needs to be done, and how can it be accomplished?

The New York Magazine and author Wallace-Wells published “Uninhabitable Earth,” very recently.  He interviewed dozens of experts and climate scientists.  What is the importance of this article that millions of people have read and discussed? 

The Fresh Look at the Climate Crisis will begin with Wallace-Wells article and include other readings that are just as intriguing, and perspectives that are just as informed by science and experts, and in so doing, together we will answer these questions. 

This course will be a fascinating and challenging ride.  We will have the input and involvement of some of the best climate scientists in the world, and we will examine information and implications that are not being discussed or explained at any level in the conversations about the climate crisis. 

This course offers a completely different view of the Climate Crisis, a completely different view of your role in the crisis, and a completely different view of how to respond effectively. 

This is not about telling those who come to the course to do more of what they are already doing, or to ask them to do the things they are doing better.  This is something different and fascinating.  This is a Fresh Look, and a Revelation.

Sign-up for this course online by clicking here or sign up at the Environmental Ministry Table at church on Sunday.  The materials for the course: the readings, the discussion questions and thoughts will be circulated via email throughout the course.  Attend the full course or specific sessions that fit your schedule.  But please sign-up to receive the materials.

 

The content for the first session on Thursday, October 12th will be based on the “Uninhabitable Earth, the Annotated version.”  A video that will be referred to is from Kevin Anderson, and the YouTube is here (Note: the hyperlinks to the course material will be sent by email to the entire class after registration.)

 

A key theme throughout the course will be to define and to deal with the Hydra-Headed Meta-Delusion that describes the way we have responded to the climate crisis so far.   This particular type of mythological hydra, a ten-headed one, mated in its ancestry with a dragon.  When a hero is able to cut off one head, two more grow in its stead.  These two are each more deadly than the one severed.  The blood from this hydra, if splashed on a human, causes the human to become insane in short order.  This hydra’s greatest vulnerability is ice.