weaving the threads of community

wondering with AWE

  • Note 2 from Sabbatical Road (pictures, too!), by Rev. Alison

    “Dia duit!” (or ‘God with you,’ a common Irish greeting.)

    I have just returned from nearly three weeks on pilgrimage in Ireland. I’m still adjusting to the five-hour time difference. And I’m still processing all that I experienced. Even so, I wanted to send a note and a few pictures to keep you up to date on my sabbatical activities. What follows are just a couple of insights. I’m sure I’ll speak about these themes and more when I return in August.

    One goal I had for taking a Celtic pilgrimage to pre-Christian and Christian holy sites and for experiencing this with a group of strangers was to strengthen my spiritual connections to the elements. By this I mean not only the Celtic connection to earth, air, fire and water elements, but to the natural elements—the weather, the land, the people – past and present, as well as the rich Celtic culture – religious and secular. I think I accomplished this goal.

    As I hope some of these few pictures show, the contrasting colors of Ireland are beautiful.

    Their expression, ‘forty shades of green’ certainly proves true. But they also have brilliant blues, nuanced grays, gleaming yellows, and more. My visual senses were amazed on numerous occasions.

    Ireland’s sense of connection to its people and past can readily seen, too. Sometimes it was evident that the ruins dotting the landscape are taken for granted, perhaps even a nuisance. In one location, I saw a set of 4,000 year old standing stones marking an ancient burial site, yet they rested right next to a parked car in someone’s driveway. Talk about amazing! And one time when I asked for a ruin we were passing to be identified, the spiritual director of the pilgrimage responded, “I don’t know. It’s just another castle.” What seemed extraordinary to me had become ordinary to her—and I’m sure to other Irish who might actually prefer to have fewer ruins on their property.

    These are just a few pictures documenting my pilgrimage. More will come later.

    Be well, Rev. Alison

  • 3rd Note from Sabbatical Road, by Rev. Alison

    As I head deeper into May I realize I’ve completed half of my sabbatical journey. That means my thoughts are beginning to return to UUFA and the upcoming program year. But before that time comes I have a few more travel plans, including General Assembly in June. I hope to see some of you in New Orleans.

    After returning from Ireland in April, I was home for only a few days before heading off to The Mountain for the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Ministers Spring Retreat (SEUUMA). Two Unitarian Universalist Association staff members, Richard Nugent and Jan Gartner, presented a program on ‘Care for Self & Staff’. This included information and best practices around the congregation as employer and minister as chief of staff and/or supervisor. We discussed topics such as start-ups for new employees, insurance, and retirement. We even had a sneak peak at a new Ministerial Agreement from the UUA. This is the basic contract a congregation works from when calling a minister. It may be complete by General Assembly and if so, I’ll bring it back to UUFA’s Board of Trustees for a conversation about whether to update my agreement made seven years ago.

    The discussion we had at the retreat around new employee start-ups was timely given that UUFA has now employed Kelli McConnell to be our Coordinator of Religious Education for the next year. She begins training on May 14 with outgoing Director of Religious Education, Morgan Watson.

    On the same day I returned from The Mountain I participated in an interfaith panel discussion at Congregation Children of Israel, the Jewish synagogue. I joined Rabbi Eric Linder, Pastor Paul Baxley, and Imam Adel Amer to speak about what allows us to be in conversation with each other and ways we are similar and different. A good crowd attended, including many folks from the Fellowship. I was happy to see you there and I hope I represented our tradition well.

    By participating in this event (as well as the March for Science on Earth Day) I continue to meet one of my sabbatical goals of deepening interfaith connections in Athens. I continue to meet with two different clergy groups each month, also.

    To get ready for the new program year, I’ve set up some planning meetings with the Worship Arts Committee and the Ministry Council to take place during my Study Leave time in July.

    During my remaining sabbatical time I’ll be reducing the mountain of reading material I want to get to. I read several Celtic spirituality books in advance of my pilgrimage to Ireland. I just completed Who’s in Charge Here?, the UUA Commission on Appraisal’s most recent study on ministry and authority in our congregations. The study identified areas where congregations and ministers are commonly unclear about who has authority for particular decisions or activities, and where they may be in conflict over that authority. Our Fellowship occasionally experiences some healthy tension over authority. As a congregation’s size or governance changes, it is wise to review where authority rests for different community activities. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be a free pdf version available, but you can purchase the report online (http://www.uuabookstore.org/Whos-In-Charge-Here-P17331.aspx).

    My return to UUFA feels just around the corner. I’ll be ready come August to be back in the pulpit, but until then be well.

    In faith, Rev. Alison

    For earlier Sabbatical Road posts follow the links below.

    http://uuathensga.org/note-2-sabbatical-road-pictures-rev-alison-2/

    http://uuathensga.org/note-sabbatical-road-rev-alison/

membership & volunteers

  • May Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Mayer
    Congratulations to Jane Mayer, our May volunteer being recognized in the Volunteer Recognition Team’s Spotlight Series.

    Former Lay Minister and Board President Jane Mayer is supporting UUFA now by serving as our sabbatical liaison during Reverend Alison’s absence. In addition, she is a member of the EOV Steering Committee as well as the Building Team, which is working directly with the architects and will be overseeing the building process.

    As President in 2015/2016 Jane took on the preparation for the expansion project and shepherded care of UUFA’s financial resources. While Lay Minister for Stewardship, she worked diligently on projects like the Fellowship’s auction and initiated the creation of the Volunteer Recognition Team.

    Thanks to Carol-Lee Baker for nominating Jane. To nominate a UUFA member or friend you feel is making a difference in the Fellowship, just follow this survey link or contact Susan Curtis to let the Volunteer Recognition Team know about your nominee.

  • June Volunteer Spotlight

    Penny Oldfather brings light and laughter into whatever she touches at UUFA. In the last decade her voice has lifted the choir, her concern has supported Share the Care, and her insights have been shared as a board member. Co-chairing with Linda Gilbert in 2013, Penny created the FaceTime Initiative for one-on-one conversations to share interests. Then in 2015 she transformed that program into the Stepping Stone Support Team. The SSST has matched newcomers with Welcoming Friends, has created an infographic to show the many options for involvement, and is producing videos to widen awareness. Right now Penny is committed to the Expanding Our Vision’s Building Team.

  • Unique Summer Opportunity at UUFA

    Would you like to brush up on your office skills? Or learn new ones while serving your community and making a little cash in the process?! The UUFA Administrative Office has a temporary position open for June and July. Position is for an administrative office assistant to make copies, sort mail, file papers, answer phones, greet people, assist with building maintenance duties as feasible, and assist in camp administration as needed, on Tuesdays and Fridays from noon until 4 pm for $8/hour. UUFA members may apply for this temporary position. Email uufa@uuathensga.org for more information. Applicants should be 17 years old or older and must agree to a background check and the UUFA Staff Covenant.

  • Time and Talent Recognition

    Through the year our Forum Committee members – Karen Solheim, Helene Brittain, Bob Schneller, and David Jarrett – arrange twice monthly speakers to bring valuable ideas to the congregation, continuing UUFA’s long tradition of hearing outstanding speakers and asking cogent questions. On April 30 Vivian Preston Sellers, Lay Minister of the Lifespan Development Cluster, recognizes their volunteer commitment.

  • Drivers Needed on Sunday

    If you drive to UUFA on Sundays and once a month would be willing to pick up a non-driver, please let Susan Ponsoldt know. For example, we have a few people at Talmage Terrace and in that neighborhood who would love to car-pool with you. If you can swing by on your way to UUFA it will be an easy way to help someone in our community.

expanding our vision

  • New Building Expansion/Renovation Plan Revealed!

    Dear Fellowship Members and Friends,

    The Revised EOV Building Project is described in the documents linked below.  Click on the appropriate link.

    At the April 30 Town Hall, we announced that we have me met our Capital Campaign goal of $1,300,000!  The total project budget is $1.8 million, which includes a $500,000 replacement mortgage.

    The Revised Plan addresses our most pressing problems (as described in the “Features” document above): parking, the Fellowship Hall, the entry and gathering area, additional multipurpose meeting rooms, expanded seating in the Sanctuary, and another restroom, with shower, near the Sanctuary, as well as more administrative space.

    Flexibility and accessibility are fundamental concerns of our renovation and expansion plan.  We recognize that we are creating spaces that will be used for many years as our Fellowship continues to evolve.

    Several areas are not included in the project and will be postponed for later consideration because of budget constraints.  These include renovations to the RE corridor and classrooms, new glass doors leading outside from the Fellowship Hall, the kitchen, a movable wall between the Fellowship Hall and Gathering Hall, and some parts of the Founders Wing (current administration wing).  There are a number of smaller renovations that we will do when funds become available in the future.

    Members of the Building Team will be available after both services on Sunday, May 7; at a special information session, Wednesday, May 10, at 6:30 pm; and after the single service on Sunday, May 14.  We look forward to continuing the conversations that have so benefited the planning process during the past year.

    All of us on the EOV teams are grateful for your incredible support and participation.  This is an exciting moment in the life of our Fellowship.

    With best regards,

    Robert McArthur, Chair, Expanding Our Vision Steering Committee

  • Capital Campaign Meets, Exceeds Goal!

    At the April 30 EOV Town Hall, Capital Campaign Team Chair Herb West announced the exciting news that the Capital Campaign met and exceeded the $1.3M goal by just over $3,000!!!  The total thus far is $1,303,160.  Thanks to all the hard work of the Capital Campaign Team (John Bleyle, Todd Dinkelman, David Jarrett, John Olive, Karen Solheim, and Herb West) and the many Visiting Stewards who contacted everyone in the Fellowship.  And a special thank you to all the UUFA Members and Friends who generously made financial commitments, or even increased previous commitments!  Click here for details about the plan!

    Because there are renovation elements not included in the plan, any new or additional financial commitments will help us achieve more of what we want.  Contact Shaye, Congregational Administrator, or Herb, Capital Campaign Chair, to obtain forms to make or increase your commitment.

care connections

  • Care Connections

    Sally Randall is home recuperating from recent back surgery. Cards and notes can be sent to their home. Contact Shaye if you need the address (uufa@uuathensga, 706-546-7914).

  • Irene Muthe Memorial Service 4pm June 3

    Irene Muthe passed away at home on Friday, April 21. Irene and her husband John were married 45 years and had been members of UUFA since 2006. Irene had been in declining health over the last eighteen months, following a fall. Irene was born in Germany and emigrated to the U.S. in 1959. A “Celebration of Life” Memorial Service will be held at UUFA on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 4 p.m.

  • Volunteer Opportunity with the Care Team

    Looking for a way to make a contribution to the Fellowship, but don’t have a lot of time? A small group of members have been driving George Koch and Roland Bramlet from Talmadge Terrace on Sunday to attend the service for a number of years. We need a new driver to take over the first Sunday. All that is involved is swinging by Talmadge about half an hour before the 11:00 service to pick up George and Roland and then drive them back after the service is over. And who knows – you might make a new friend. Contact Susan Ponsoldt at ponsoldt@msn.com or 706-548-4821.

    Many thanks to Virginia Carver for driving Roland and George for many years!

board notes

  • Get on Board, June 2017

    At its May 9, 2017 meeting, the UUFA Board of Trustees accomplished the following:

     

    Discussed:

    • exploring racial conversations within UUFA and the national association; and
    • preparations for the Annual Congregational Meeting on May 21.

     

    Took the following action:

    • to authorize Ben McLeroy and Associates to conduct the site management survey which includes a boundary, topographic and tree survey;
    • to allocate funds for the site survey from the facility project capital campaign funds;
    • to reject last-minute amendments to the budget;
    • to name Carol-Lee Baker as Board representative to the Nominating Committee;
    • to authorize the President to sign summer camp contracts;
    • to amend the Policy and Procedures Manual Governance Definitions Appendix to distinguish between teams and committees;
    • to accept Finance Committee recommendations on reserve and investment funds, including initiating the process to move our investments into the UUA Common Endowment Fund with the UUFA Investment Committee working in an advisory role;
    • to accept Lee Cornell, Karen Solheim and Susie Weller as delegates to the 2017 UUA General Assembly; and
    • to begin the search for a temporary summer Administrative Assistant to work with Shaye Gambrell, and hire a permanent assistant when Rev. Alison returns from her sabbatical.

     

    Accepted the following reports and discussed when necessary:

    • Treasurer’s report; and
    • announcement of the return of the Enjoyable Entertainment Events! Watch for the kick-off potluck in September!

     

    Set as future agenda items:

    • to decide the procedure for team formation and dissolution;
    • to review Bylaws to improve Congregational input on voting; and
    • to review nominees for the Committee on Shared Ministry.

     

    IMPORTANT DATE

    Sunday, May 21 – Annual Congregational Meeting, 12:30 p.m.

     

    To read the adopted April 11, 2017, and May 3, 2017, Board minutes, please click HERE – April 11, 2017 or May 3, 2017 (called meeting). The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees is Tuesday, June 13, 2017, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Comments are invited. You are welcome to attend this meeting, or please share any feedback you have with any Board member.

     

    Respectfully submitted,

    Barbara Teskey, Secretary, UUFA Board of Trustees

  • Reflections from the President, Lee Cornell

    In February 2013 I signed our membership book, in May 2014 I was elected to be a Board Member At-Large, in July 2016 I became Board President. A year later I prepare for life after the board, but what a year it has been.

    Reflections on 2016-2017

    July was, as July’s are in Athens, relatively quiet. August found UUFA gearing up for the new program year while Reverend Alison took her first month of sabbatical leave, but we were ready.

    September and October seemed normal and things were running smoothly. The US election process was in full motion, we had a terrific retreat at The Mountain, and plans were firming up for the launch of our capital campaign. Then November 8th came, and the world shifted in response to an unexpected outcome of the US elections. Still we were ready.  Reverend Alison was prepared to offer comfort and encouragement amid disappointment for some and celebration for others. Our community came together in love and we supported each other as we worked to understand what this change in our government would mean. (Work that still continues)

    Throughout December, January, and February we were executing our very successful Capital Campaign. We exceeded our goal for the campaign, demonstrating that we are ready for a building project.

    Spring found us again without our Parish Minister as Alison continued her sabbatical, but we were more than ready thanks to our “trial run” in August. We have had, in my opinion, a wonderfully diverse group of guests that sometimes pushed us outside of our comfort zone. I would like to extend thanks to the Ministry Council, the Worship Arts Committee, and the Sabbatical Team for all of their extra work and leadership through Alison’s much deserved absence.

    March and April brought more change as our DRE announced her departure next week; and our UUA President, chief operating officer, and director of Congregation Life resigned amid controversy over UUA hiring practices. Still we were ready. Members of our congregation came together to form a search team to hire Kelli McConnell as a temporary Coordinator for Religious Exploration. We have had discussions at many levels on what the resignations at the UUA, the controversy that sparked them, and our own policies and practices mean to our congregation here in Athens.

    This month the leadership of our congregation has had many passionate meetings discussing a wide range of topics including the resolution on racial justice and equity, our annual budget, the building expansion plans, our investment practices, and the UUA’s challenge to have a White Supremacy Teach-In just to name a few. We have faced controversy over issues, practices, and procedures within our community, but we were ready to have those discussions because we came together in love and with common principles that allowed the conversations to happen.

    What does it mean to be a member of the UUFA Board of Trustees? What does it mean to be President of the Board of Trustees?

    Hesitantly accepting the offer to be a nominee three years ago I wasn’t able to find an answer to these questions. Having served on the board for a year I still didn’t really know the answer. Today as an outgoing president, I’m starting to get a rough idea of the answer.

    For me being a member of the UUFA Board of Trustees means being a steward of our physical, financial, and human resources. Being a Trustee means earning, keeping, and honoring the trust that you placed in me when you voted the slate three years ago. It means respecting my personal feelings and opinions along side many others’ opinions that often are at odds with mine. Being a Trustee who had only been a member for a year meant a lot of cramming. Learning the Bylaws, Policy and Procedures, Robert’s Rules of Order; the history of the Board and the Congregation; what our Governance structure is, how we came to it, and how it is evolving. Being a Trustee means thinking on where our fellowship will be in three years time, when you aren’t on the board anymore, and working to make sure the board three years from now has the resources they will need.

    For me being President of the Board of Trustees means learning to temper your own emotional response so that you can guide your team through a discussion while at the same time honoring your personal response and opinion as being of equal worth. It means getting to see behind the curtain at all the moving pieces that make our fellowship run.  It means seeing where the duct tape is that holds some of those pieces together, where duct tape is needed, and where pieces just need to be reengineered. Being President means lots of meetings (lots of meetings); some short, some long, some easy, some hard. It means getting stopped in the doorway, half awake, before coffee, on Sunday morning to respond to a concern or event. It means, not having all the answers, but having a pretty good idea of where to find the answers. It means staying in tune with not only the activities of our congregation, but what is going on in the Southern Region and at UUA headquarters in Boston. Most importantly, being on the Board of Trustees means that you receive a reward beyond measure as you watch the community you love grow, struggle, hurt, rejoice, and thrive.  I thank you for your trust in me, for your support, for your love, and for the opportunity to be a part of the board of trustees.

    An Outgoing President’s Vision of the Future

    Before I move on to my next adventure at UUFA I would like to share some of my vision for our future. Ideas, dreams, needs, and ways I have observed and thought on during my time as a member of the board.

    First, we need to get re-engaged in our fellowship. Our congregation operates through the hard work of volunteers and our volunteer base is shrinking. The Sanctuary Enhancement Team who resets the decoration of our sanctuary each month, RE teachers for our children and youth, the Hospitality Team who provides refreshment after services, our A/V Team who allows us to hear what is being said, the non-existent building and grounds team that would work to keep our spaces lit, weeded, trimmed, and pleasant to use, and so many, many more groups of volunteers. We can not be lured into thinking that just because something is getting done that means there is not a need of your time and talent. Often it just means that someone pulled a little harder to get another hat to fit on the stack.

    Second, we need to look to our staff.  We need to develop a plan to get (and keep) our staff within the UUA fair compensation range for our congregational size and location. We will need to grow our staff, this includes giving our current staff the hours they need to not only complete the basic duties, but to support our growing and expanding activities. It also means adding additional staff to pick up some of the work going undone or being underdone. As we complete our renovation and settle back into a “normal state” we are going to need more support services to coordinate activities, clean and protect our spaces (new and old), and take care of the day-to-day needs of a busy community.

    Finally, we need to nurture our Lay Leaders. These volunteers give of their time and talent to manage the operations and activities of our fellowship. We need to continue building our leadership development program so people may step in a leadership position from a small team or committee leader to serving as a Trustee or Lay Minister with confidence and not trepidation. We need to support those lay leaders willing to represent us as a delegate at General Assembly each year with a portion of our treasure. The costs of attending one General Assembly can easily run over a couple of thousand dollars. By not offering financial support we not only limit the pool of volunteers, but we exclude many for whom that level of donation beyond the annual pledge is unobtainable.

    Life after the Board

    So what is my next adventure at UUFA? I will continue to support the Communications Team with my IT skills by managing our Realm Connect service and our website, but I could use some help. I have a project of passion to build a stronger and wider reaching A/V Team to not only manage our Sunday Services, but to support our Forum, RE, and other groups with their A/V needs. You don’t need to be a technical person or audio wiz to work A/V. All that is needed is attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions. My biggest adventure though is that of Lay Ministry.  I plan on submitting an application to the next Lay Minister class Alison offers. I invite you to join me on my adventures.

denominational affairs

  • Denominational Affairs: Defend Democracy and Separation of Church and State

    At this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, Donald Trump promised to “get rid of  and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment,” and now some Members of Congress and others are seeking to repeal it.

    Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has drawn a line between tax-exempt religious organizations  and other charities, and political spending to support or attack candidates.

    Please join the UUA and other faith organizations in telling Congress not to change the current law that keep congregations from becoming centers of partisan politics. Visit faith-voices.org to add your name to the growing list of faith leaders (clergy and congregational leaders) standing up for the integrity and independence of houses of worship.

    To read more about Love Resists, click here.

  • Denominational Affairs: June 4–Rev. William Barber

    In a few weeks Rev. William Barber will be announcing dates and stops for a 2017-18 new Poor People’s Campaign tour. On June 4, the campaign is launching a monthly Sunday-evening program “The Gathering: A Time for Reflection, Revival and Resistance.”  You can sign up to view and to host a live stream of The Gathering in your community.
    Rev. Barber writes: “As we gathered to announce that I am stepping down from leadership of the NC NAACP to serve a new Poor People’s Campaign that will share this movement with other states and with the nation, we got news from the Supreme Court that out victory against voter suppression–a four year legal battle–will stand.  For me, it was a confirmation: moral fusion organizing can transform mean-spirited ‘divide-and-conquer’ politics into a Third Reconstruction for America.”
  • Denominational Affairs: June 9-Love Resists Conference Call

    Join the hosting monthly one-hour Love Resists Conscience Calls to deepen spiritually grounded justice work and build community.

    On the next Love Resists Conscience Call, we will hear from Caitlin Breedlove, Vice President of Movement Leadership at Auburn Theological Seminary, and former UUA Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Director.

    Caitlin will provide us with an overview of the political landscape, the organizing challenges and opportunities at this time, and how UUs and Love Resists can make a difference.  As is our practice on these calls we will ground ourselves spiritually and have time for small group sharing and reflection.

    Sign up here for the next Conscience Call

    on Friday, June 9, 1 pm ET/10 am PT

    To read more about Love Resists, the UUA and UUSC joint campaign, click here.

  • Denominational Affairs: Love Resists…an Overview

    One month ago the UUA and UUSC rolled out a joint campaign, Love Resists, building on the Declaration of Conscience that many of you (over 14,000) signed (if you have not yet, click here).

    At the same time over 600 UU congregations signed up for the #UU White Supremacy Teach-In  organized by UU religious educators of color with support from Black Lives of UU.

    Thousands of UUs took to the streets for the People’s Climate March and May Day and we are receiving news daily of congregations voting to become sanctuary and solidarity congregations.

    Our movement is responding to the need to ready ourselves for deep, protracted, sustainable and intersectional justice-making—inside and out.

    In this issue, we have three invitations to help strengthen your justice work, revive your spirits, build multiracial UU and multi-faith community and defend our democracy:
    1. Join Love Resists monthly Conscience Calls – next one on June 9.
    2. View/host a monthly multi-faith livestream from Rev. William Barber on Reflection, Revival & Resistance and the new Poor People’s Campaign – June 4th
    3. Sign & share a Faith Leaders Letter from the UUA and other faith organizations to Congress to Defend Democracy and Keep our Houses of Worship Non-Partisan.

    Click here to read more.

  • What Can You Do to Welcome Elod?

    He’s eighteen! He’s a Unitarian! He’s from Transylvania!
    Elod is the son of our partner church’s minister and his wife, and he will visit us from June 3rd until July 3rd. The Partner Church Committee is lining up volunteers to entertain and educate him. ( He’s an English as a Second Language student.) If you can contribute time and talent (and maybe a little treasure ) to making his visit memorable, please contact Heather Kleiner (hkleiner@uga.edu) and/or Michelle Liebens-Mack (leebensmack@hotmail.com) to volunteer. Thanks! (L-R: Rev. Levente & Elod).

  • Denominational Affairs: UUA Southern Region–Read All about It!

    Click here to read the Mid-May 2017 Southern Region UUA newsletter.

  • Toward the Beloved Community: Updates from UUA Interim Co-Presidents, May 4, 2017
    May 4, 2017

    The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Interim Co-Presidents, the Revs. Sofía Betancourt and William Sinkford and Dr. Leon Spencer, shared this message following their recent time together in Boston:

    Last Thursday and Friday we three Interim Co-Presidents had the opportunity to sit down together face to face for the first time since our appointment by the UUA Board of Trustees. This allowed for deep reflection on our portfolios and the work ahead for the coming weeks. We were joined in this time by Interim Chief Operating Officer the Rev. Sarah Lammert and our UUA Moderator, Jim Key. This Quintet, as we affectionately think of ourselves, dove into the work of interim tasks, constituent outreach and support, the pastoral and structural needs of the UUA staff, and early thoughts for planning

    picture of individuals

    the Commission called for by the UUA Board. We shared with one another the collective wisdom that is starting to coalesce from our conversations with many leaders and constituents in our movement.

    Your Interim Co-Presidents have been doing a lot of listening in these early weeks, listening to staff, leaders of affiliate and affi

    nity groups, board members, UUs who identify as people of color and/or

    indigenous, and more. Voice after voice is telling us of the richness, depth, and complexity of their commitment to Unitarian Universalism. That commitment is needed now more than ever in our movement. It comes with hope and relief for some who for decades have been doing the work of dismantling racism and the impact of white supremacy on our movement. Hope comes from the now more than 600 congregations participating in the white supremacy teach-ins that arose from the grassroots of Unitarian Universalism. The hands, minds, and hearts of our leaders are shepherding this work. More voices than ever are questioning, wrestling, and hoping together.

    We also know that our shared commitment to Unitarian Universalism underlies some of the fears that we are hearing. For many who longed for the spiritual home they finally found in our congregations, the fear that we might lose one another in these times is devast

    ating. Some have already lived the experience of losing their home in UUism over the realities of racial injustice, and they fear losing this community of hope and love once again. Whether the language of white supremacy seems unimaginable in connection with Unitarian Universalism, or raising questions of racial injustice in our hiring practices is far out of keeping with our perception of this faith that we love, realizing that we too can be disconnected from our central values is deeply troubling to many.

    What keeps us hopeful is the profound commitment that we are hearing across the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences that so many of you are sharing with us. Time and again conversations return to the importance of Unitarian Universalism, and how very much is at stake. We hear you that you long for us not only to move toward the Beloved Community, but to model that transformation in the world. We know that the journey forward centers on our moving together. Truth and reconciliation will require all of us to face our fears, embrace our hope, and remain engaged together.

    The UUA’s Interim Co-Presidents are the Revs. Sofia Betancourt and Bill Sinkford and Dr. Leon Spencer
    General Assembly

    General Assembly is the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual meeting. Thousands of Unitarian Universalists from across the country participate.

    For more information contact info@uua.org .

    http://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/toward-beloved-community-updates-interim-co-presidents-may-4-2017

  • Denominational Affairs: May 9 Updates from UUA Interim Co-Presidents

     

    The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Interim Co-Presidents, the Revs. Sofía Betancourt and William Sinkford and Dr. Leon Spencer, shared the following message Tuesday morning:

    Over the past three weeks we have spoken frequently about the hope-filled possibilities inherent in this moment for our Unitarian Universalist movement. That leaning into hope is based in large part from the powerful healing impact of truth and reconciliation commissions following times of extreme conflict around the globe. We know the importance of truth telling, just as we understand that it is the long-term work of justice that leads to reconciliation in community. We also remind ourselves regularly that high emotions, the kind born of strong commitments to this faith that we love, often serve to shape our understandings of the truth. Moments like these require intentional processing, and careful listening. The way before us will not be achieved in ten short weeks of interim leadership at the upper levels of the UUA staff. Instead, it will be broad-based and faithful ongoing work that carries the potential for sustainable cultural change.

    It is important to remember that the Commission on Institutional Change called for by our UUA Board of Trustees will be directing our process going forward. We want to assure you that the people most directly involved in, and impacted by, the hiring decision which prompted this moment of opportunity in Unitarian Universalism will have a chance to tell their stories to the Commission. That is critical work, and the primary focus of the Commission will remain on the impact of white supremacy on Unitarian Universalism as a whole.

    The plans for and scope of work of that Commission are early in development. Later this week we are bringing together a small group of leaders connected to our UU constituency groups to partner with us to envision the construction of the Commission. These leaders all identify as people of color, because we believe it is critical for the Commission’s foundation to be rooted in the vision of Unitarian Universalists of color. With input from that group to inform us, our eventual task is to appoint a small and nimble group of commissioners who will work collaboratively with an outside organization to bring badly needed analysis, visioning, and theological depth to these efforts. That Commission may continue for 18 months or more. In the meantime, work on new interim hiring policies for the UUA continues to move forward. You can expect a more specific report from us on those policies in the next few weeks.

    We want to acknowledge how emotional these times are for us as a community of faith, knowing that there are those among us whose personal and professional lives are immediately and directly affected and are often being discussed and debated in the public square. These are times for us to engage and communicate out of our most faithful selves, mindful of our first principle, striving to maintain relationship even when deeply held opinions vary. We invite you to join us in embracing these moments of opportunity for finding a new way forward.

    This message is also available on  UUA.org.

  • General Assembly Matters–Let’s go to NOLA!

    Registration for this year’s General Assembly to be held June 21-25 in New Orleans opened March 1, and rates increase on May 1!

    Want to be put your name in nomination as one the six delegates representing UUFA? 

    Click here. Go to or nominate yourself at the April 30 Town Hall Meeting.

    Want more information about the UUA General Assembly?  Watch for upcoming General Assembly information sessions at UUFA. Go to www.uua.org/ga. Delegates to General Assembly 2017 will be electing the next president of UUA. To read more, go to http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/elections/president.

    Bus to New Orleans for GA?!

    Dear UUFA Friends:

    We have just learned that the cost to charter a bus to G.A. is MUCH LESS than previously reported.  We hope you can circulate this updated announcement out to the UUFA Family.

    Atlanta Regional UUs are planning to rent a bus from Atlanta to General Assembly in New Orleans in June. We have just learned that the cost to charter a bus to G.A. is MUCH LESS than we previously reported. The bus travel cost would be about $130 per person round-trip, which is much less than flying or driving (at 55 cents per mile). We will be finalizing and confirming our plans by March 22nd if we can get tentative commitments from at least 50 attendees to travel down together by bus. We would depart Atlanta (Northwest UUC-Sandy Springs) on Wed. June 21st at 9:30 a.m., arriving at the New Orleans Convention Center at 4:30 p.m.  We would depart New Orleans on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. after worship, arriving back at Northwest UUC at 8:30 p.m. Please emaildavid.zenner@zennergroup.com  (with “Bus to G.A.” in the subject line) promptly if you are interested in joining a busload of enthusiastic UUs, or have questions or comments.

    Dave Zenner

    NWUUC president-Elect

    Unitarian Universalist Northwest Congregation

Forum

  • Forum Folks Needed

    Do you have good ideas? Do you know people?

    If so, you are invited to become a member of the 2017-18 Forum Committee to help plan, promote, and introduce next year’s Forums.

    Need more information?  See any member of the current Forum Committee:  David Jarrett, Helene Brittain, Bob Schneller, or Karen Solheim.

    Ready to join?  Contact Karen Solheim (justice@uuathensga.org or 706.202.7515).

  • Forum April 9: Dennise Grayson, attorney Elder Law / topic: The Four Important Documents

    Dennise Grayson, attorney and specialist in Elder Law, will present a forum on “The Four Important Documents: Will, powers of attorney, advance directive — why having a Will alone is not enough.”

Education

  • Space Available in Summer Camps

    There are still slots left in our supremely fun summer weeklong day camp programs! Please visit http://uuathensga.org/education/summer-camps/ for more information
    Peace Camp: June 26-30; Hogwarts School at the Pyramid: Session 1- July 10-14, Session 2- July 17-21

  • Farewell to UUFA from DRE Morgan!

    Dear UUFA folks,

    I sit with a heavy heart as I realize this is the last Family Tree I will write for the congregation, and the reality of stepping out of the church doors settles in. By the end of May, I will have served the congregation for eight glorious program years, and I have loved this work with all my heart.

    I will miss you all very much, yet I’m also excited about the next chapter opening up before me. As of this writing, I plan to co-purchase and live on a 40’ trawler-style boat at the Brunswick Landing Marina (and wherever I cruise!) in Brunswick, Ga.

    Upon the close of his business, my partner John will join me as a live-aboard later. There, we’ll continue ongoing plans to acquire a small island on the Altamaha Sound, where we hope to build a home and maybe even a low-key camp and retreat center. This is a very longtime dream coming to fruition! I promise to keep you all posted.

    Meanwhile, I’m excited about the DRE Transition Team’s selection of Kelli McConnell to take up the RE helm (yes, boat’s on the mind!) as the Coordinator of Religious Education. Be on the lookout for more information about Kelli later this month. We are graced with some transition time together, as Kelli begins learning to navigate the complex waterways of the Children and Youth RE program on May 15th, working with me through the end of the month. Her first Sunday will be May 21.

    I also want to make sure you’re aware of another important aspect of this transition. Religious professional guidelines suggest that the best practice in these transitions is for the outgoing person to step away from the congregation for a year before visiting back. So I want you to know that, aside from special circumstances such as a funeral or wedding that may arise, I won’t be coming in to visit for a while. I am deeply grateful for my time here, and I hope to return for a visit one day down the line.

    Until then…. Much love to you all!

     

    There are good ships, And there are wood ships,
    The ships that sail the sea.
    But the best ships, Are friendships,
    And may they always be.

    ~Irish Toast

    In Faith,

    Morgan

    Click here to read the rest of the Family Tree.

  • SUMMER Schedule in Religious Education

    The congregation returns to the summer schedule on May 14, with one service at 10:30. The children and youth summer RE program begins on June 4 with one all-ages class of adventure. As with the program year, children will begin in the sanctuary and dismiss to class.

    Nursery for children

    Our nursery caregivers, Erin Favre & Marcus Prince are happy to care for our youngest UUs during services. Children of all ages may join them during the forum or any other UUFA activities held between services. Children through age 4 may attend the nursery during all-ages services. Summer hours are 9:45-11:45

    Children’s Charity

    Each Sunday during RE Class or the CWS, we pass an offering can to give children the opportunity to donate to our children’s charity, Food 2 Kids, which assists children who are at risk of hunger by sending them home from school with easy-to-prepare bags of food. Please encourage your children to bring their change or dollar bills for this love offering.

    MAY Sundays

    May 7 CWS

    Children & youth begin in the sanctuary, then dismiss to the Rainbow Room for our monthly 1st Sunday Children’s Worship Service (CWS). This Sunday, we introduce the congregational theme of Revelation, focusing on children’s personal “aha moments” in RE. Children’s Music Leader Debbie Hardegree will lead theme-related music.

    May 14 RE Classes

    Closing Sunday~ Children and youth will have their last classes of the program year and will also spend some time preparing for the RE Sunday worship service.

    May 21~

    Multigenerational Worship Service

    “REvelations in Faith Development”– As we close our annual theme of “Expanding our Vision”, we’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Children and Youth Religious Education program and its place in the UUFA community. Our Coming of Age youth will present their Credo Statements, and we’ll honor RE volunteers in celebration of our year together.

    A reception will be held in the Fellowship Hall to honor RE Volunteers and Coming of Age Youth, then the Youth Group will go to Funopolis!

    May 28~

    Sailing into Summer

    This Sunday marks a transition between the program year curriculum and the summer program. We’ll play fun water games, so make sure to bring towels and wear bathing suits or clothes that can get wet. Easy slip-off water shoes are recommended, so they can be left at the door before re-entering the building. This will also be Morgan’s last Sunday with UUFA.

    Summer Camps

    There are still slots left in our supremely fun summer weeklong day camp programs! Please visit http://uuathensga.org/education/summer-camps/ for more information

    Peace Camp:

    June 26-30

    Hogwarts School at the Pyramid:

    Session 1- July 10-14

    Session 2- July 17-21

    Volunteer Corner

    UUFA’s RE program is a cooperative venture that requires many hands to create a warm and loving environment. There are jobs of all sizes, and these are just a few. Please be thinking about how you’d like to participate and…

    Sign up at the RE Welcome Table TODAY!

    Summer Teachers & Assistants

    It’s nice when we can give our regular program year teachers a break over the summer. Try a one-Sunday commitment just to see how much fun you’re missing! Most slots are to assist the CRE, however, there are a couple lead slots for her monthly Sunday off.

    Children’s Religious Education Committee

    This team partners with the Director of Religious Education to oversee all components of the Children’s Religious Education program, including Sunday RE, All-Ages worship services, and special events. We generally meet on the second Sunday, following the second service, in the Ocean Room. You’re welcomed to come by any time and see what we’re up to!

    Classroom Monitors

    Classroom monitors are needed for each RE room to help the DRE and teachers straighten and organize materials in both the rooms and in the RE Supply closet to help keep our materials easily accessible to teachers. Occasional table wiping, window washing, and floor shampooing would be plusses! Work on your own time, or coordinate with other monitors for more fun!

    All-Ages Worship Helpers

    When we invite children and youth to participate in worship, it’s always great to have more hands on deck. Please let Morgan know if you’d like to assist with the the May 21 RE Sunday worship services. Helpers assist with props. costume preparations, and “people moving”.

    Classroom Teachers

    We have several spots to fill for next year! Please be on the lookout for volunteer sign-ups for the 2017-18 program year and can be thinking ahead on how you’d like to help build beloved community through RE.

  • Any Adult RE Ideas?

    Hey! Have an interest or idea for an adult Religious Exploration topic? Willing to facilitate a class this summer or fall? Please contact Vivian Preston Sellers at vpsellers@gmail.com or 770-833-6290 with your thoughts. THANKS!

spiritual arts

  • Worship in June

    4 June Mutuality: The Heart of the Matter

    How shall we dwell together in community? In society? How shall we be together in all of our relations? These questions keep bubbling up and foisting themselves upon us. This Sunday we’ll enter these questions ever-seeking to create love. Service led by Roy Reynolds.

    11 June The Journey, Not the Destination: Spirituality Through the Adventure of Travel

    Travel can open the doors of perception and allow new sights and sounds to bring us to a type of meditation. The poetry and photography of Clela and Lee Reed illustrate how habituated perception is cleansed by journey. Yet ultimately, life itself, even daily life, is the greatest adventure of all. Service led by Lee & Clela Reed.

    18 June I’m Not Lost, I’m Exploring

    Michelle & Jim Leebens-Mack consider Proust’s oft-paraphrased take on travel, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes.”  Service led by Jim & Michelle Leebens-Mack.

    25 June Monks on the Move Travel is monasticism on the move. On the road we often live more simply (even when staying in a luxury hotel), with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance and adventure in order to rescue the humanity of places and save them from abstraction and ideology. Service led by Marguerite Holmes & Rosemary Woodel.

  • Music Ministry
    “Will you seek in far-off places?Surely you come home at last; in familiar forms and faces, things best known you find the best.” -Alicia S. Carpenter, UU singer & songwriter
    As you embark on adventures of body, mind and spirit this summer, reflect on what you will bring back to share with this community in the fall.  Maybe you will bring an idea, some inspiration.  Maybe you will bring a work of art, a song, a new creation.  Maybe you will bring a question or a challenge.  (Remember to bring some water for the August water ceremony.) As UU’s  we agree to encourage each other as we embark on our individual journeys of a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”.
    This month, our music activities come to a close, Palms of Fire will play with dancers at the Hot Corner celebration on Saturday, June 10th and at the Juneteenth celebration in the West Broad Farmer’s Market on Saturday, June 17th.  Our choir will continue to sing during June but put their folders away until August.
    Crystal and I will be away in July, having adventures of our own.  Crystal will be in Argentina for most of July, and I will be attending the UU Musician’s Network National conference in Arlington, VA.  We will bring back ideas, music, and energy from our explorations!
    For those having adventures close to home, don’t worry, music will continue at UUFA in our absence.  Ned and the Dirt, our own BlUUgrass Folks, lay music leaders, and guest pianists will keep the music going while we make exciting plans for the coming year!
  • Do Values Matter? A Sharing Service.–July 2

    Our annual sharing service will be held at 10:30 AM Sunday July 2nd. This is the service in which you, the congregation, participate actively instead of listening to one speaker giving a message. The theme for the service will be “Do Values Matter?” What values are the most important to you? Which values does this congregation actually live by, as shown by our actions, rather than just our words? How about this nation? What should be the most important values for our country? Do values really matter?

    Please bring a reading or quote, poem or song related to this topic to share with the congregation during the service (about 5 minutes per person). We depend on you to make this a meaningful service each time, and our congregation has never disappointed.

    Service led by David Jarrett.

  • Worship in May: Revelation

    Theme for the month of May – Revelation

    7 MAY – Have You Heard Any Good Messages, Lately  The monthly theme of Revelation will be looked at through the stories behind the founding of the Abundant LUUv Ministry, in the Southwest neighborhoods of Atlanta.  Rev. Duncan Teague is leading this plant of a new Unitarian Universalist community. Teague feels this revelation must be fulfilled, and that we all are receiving messages that could benefit our movement. Are we listening?

    14 MAY – (Badass) Kindred Spirits  Two women, one miraculously a mother, one not, connect across cultures and generations. Rev. Marti Keller discovered the Mexican artist and cultural icon Frida Kahlo — as did many millions of moviegoers — in 2002 when the Hollywood biopic drama was released. As a film and theater critic, she was captivated by the fine performances and innovative production. And after a lifetime of dutiful adulation of New England Unitarian women heroines such as Margaret Fuller, Susan B. Anthony and Louisa May Alcott, the colorfulness and contradictions of Frida sparked a constant fascination that has taken the UU minister to museums, galleries, street vendors, tattoo shops, and internet sites all over the world. Why Frida and who are our Fridas today?  Her talk will encompass just some of her findings from a year, more or less, devoted to the study and sometimes emulation of Frida Kahlo. Please consider bringing objects associated with your own fandom idols. 

    21 MAY – Morgan Watson, Director of Religious Education, IG service

    28 MAY – Progressive Revelation   What is progressive revelation?  God’s words are God’s words, why do we need changes? Why doesn’t He just tell us everything, so we will know it all?!  Why do all these religions seem so different, yet are so similar?   The core teaching in the Bahá’í Faith is that religious truth is revealed by God progressively and cyclically over time through a series of divine Messengers, and that the teachings are given to us to meet the needs of the time of their appearance. The service is led by Sohayl Moshtael of the Baha’is of Oconee County.

    NOTE: Schedule/time change:  Beginning on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, 2017, we begin our summer schedule of one worship service at 10:30 am.

    Sunday morning Forums are on hiatus now and will resume in September.  The 2017-2018 schedule is TBD.

Justice

  • Denominational Affairs: Defend Democracy and Separation of Church and State

    At this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, Donald Trump promised to “get rid of  and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment,” and now some Members of Congress and others are seeking to repeal it.

    Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has drawn a line between tax-exempt religious organizations  and other charities, and political spending to support or attack candidates.

    Please join the UUA and other faith organizations in telling Congress not to change the current law that keep congregations from becoming centers of partisan politics. Visit faith-voices.org to add your name to the growing list of faith leaders (clergy and congregational leaders) standing up for the integrity and independence of houses of worship.

    To read more about Love Resists, click here.

  • Denominational Affairs: June 4–Rev. William Barber

    In a few weeks Rev. William Barber will be announcing dates and stops for a 2017-18 new Poor People’s Campaign tour. On June 4, the campaign is launching a monthly Sunday-evening program “The Gathering: A Time for Reflection, Revival and Resistance.”  You can sign up to view and to host a live stream of The Gathering in your community.
    Rev. Barber writes: “As we gathered to announce that I am stepping down from leadership of the NC NAACP to serve a new Poor People’s Campaign that will share this movement with other states and with the nation, we got news from the Supreme Court that out victory against voter suppression–a four year legal battle–will stand.  For me, it was a confirmation: moral fusion organizing can transform mean-spirited ‘divide-and-conquer’ politics into a Third Reconstruction for America.”
  • Denominational Affairs: June 9-Love Resists Conference Call

    Join the hosting monthly one-hour Love Resists Conscience Calls to deepen spiritually grounded justice work and build community.

    On the next Love Resists Conscience Call, we will hear from Caitlin Breedlove, Vice President of Movement Leadership at Auburn Theological Seminary, and former UUA Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Director.

    Caitlin will provide us with an overview of the political landscape, the organizing challenges and opportunities at this time, and how UUs and Love Resists can make a difference.  As is our practice on these calls we will ground ourselves spiritually and have time for small group sharing and reflection.

    Sign up here for the next Conscience Call

    on Friday, June 9, 1 pm ET/10 am PT

    To read more about Love Resists, the UUA and UUSC joint campaign, click here.

  • Denominational Affairs: Love Resists…an Overview

    One month ago the UUA and UUSC rolled out a joint campaign, Love Resists, building on the Declaration of Conscience that many of you (over 14,000) signed (if you have not yet, click here).

    At the same time over 600 UU congregations signed up for the #UU White Supremacy Teach-In  organized by UU religious educators of color with support from Black Lives of UU.

    Thousands of UUs took to the streets for the People’s Climate March and May Day and we are receiving news daily of congregations voting to become sanctuary and solidarity congregations.

    Our movement is responding to the need to ready ourselves for deep, protracted, sustainable and intersectional justice-making—inside and out.

    In this issue, we have three invitations to help strengthen your justice work, revive your spirits, build multiracial UU and multi-faith community and defend our democracy:
    1. Join Love Resists monthly Conscience Calls – next one on June 9.
    2. View/host a monthly multi-faith livestream from Rev. William Barber on Reflection, Revival & Resistance and the new Poor People’s Campaign – June 4th
    3. Sign & share a Faith Leaders Letter from the UUA and other faith organizations to Congress to Defend Democracy and Keep our Houses of Worship Non-Partisan.

    Click here to read more.

  • June 4: Cause of the Month Conversation

    Join a representative from The Cottage on Sunday, June 4, from 9:30-10:20 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall to learn more about this June Cause of the Month.

  • June 4: Social Action Committee

    You are invited to attend the next meeting of the Social Action Committee (SAC) Sunday, June 4, beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the front office.

    Can’t attend?  If you would like to know what transpires in the UUFA SAC, join the SAC listerv here: http://lists.uuathensga.org/listinfo.cgi/social_action-uuathensga.org

    This listserv will let you know what transpires not only in the UUFA SAC but also in the local Athens area in terms of social action. Everyone is encouraged to sign up!

    For more information, contact SAC Chair David Jarrett (daviduufa@gmail.com).

  • May 28: Smart Lunch Smart Kid Sandwich Making and Lunch Assembling.
    YoUU are invited to be part of the Smart Lunch Smart Kid sandwich making and lunch assembling on Sunday, May 28, beginning at noon-ish (after the Fourth Sunday lunch) in the kitchen and Fellowship Hall as we make 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches lunches for the Smart Lunch Smart Kid program, which provides summer lunches to students who traditionally receive free and reduced-lunches during the school year.
    Contributions needed:  
    • peanut butter
    • grape jelly
    • individually wrapped salty snacks (pretzels, trail mix, cheese crackers, peanut butter crackers, veggie chips, etc)
    • individual fruit snacks (fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit chips, apple sauce, fruit cups)
    • Ziploc sandwich bags
    • brown lunch bags.
    Help needed on Tuesday, May 30, to deliver the lunches between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. to the Milledge Avenue Baptist Church.
    Not a fan of “cooking”?  Monetary contributions are always need.  Please put Smart Lunch Smart Kid in the check memo line.
    Please click here to RVSP for this summer SAC (Social Action Committee Project).
    Not in town on May 28? Join us for  sandwich making, lunch assembling on Sunday, July 16 and  Sunday, July 23, beginning at noon.
  • Time and Talent Opportunity May 18-19: What’s Cooking?

    What’s cooking?

    Hopefully you might be. 🙂 Help is needed on Thursday, May 18, at 2 p.m. to prepare the monthly meal for Our Daily Bread. Help is also needed on Friday, May 19, from 11:30 to 1 to serve the meal. Interested?

    Questions? Contact David Jarrett (daviduufa@gmail.com  or 706.338.2798).

    Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday and a sack meal on the weekends. Annually, this program provides more than 60,000 nutritious meals with gracious hospitality to men, women, and children in need and offers a gateway to other transformational services. Partnering with more than 70 volunteer groups, Our Daily Bread in Athens has served meals seven days per week, 365 days per year since 1989.

    Our Daily Bread outreach is part of UUFA’s Justice Cluster.

  • April Cause of the Month Conversation

    Join a representative from Upper Oconee Watershed Network on Sunday, April, from 10:05-10:50 in the Fellowship Hall to learn more about the April Cause of the Month.

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