Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter from Unirondack on Reunion in Albany January 8-9

Happy Holidays Unirondackers!

With 2011 just around the corner there is one thing on our minds (and hopefully yours as well)... Unirondack's Winter Reunion!

We know that winter without camp can seem long and we want to help bring the joy of camp to a winter weekend for you all. We hope you can join us for this year's reunion, which will be held in Albany, Jan 8-9th. If you have not already read about the details in our newsletter or on our website please check out

On the reunion retreat web page you'll find a registration form. Please fill this out and get it back to us by Jan 2nd.

We hope to see you in Albany for bug juice, games and a flameless campfire!

Take care- Darren and Dan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Children's Advent Spiral: Saturday 5-7PM

We have decked the halls and made gifts to give.
We have made cookies to share and caroled.

Now, we can take some time to draw inward, to acknowledge our own inner light and guide our children in a ritual called the Advent Spiral. Families are invited to a potluck beginning at 5 PM this Saturday. We will all hear a story that relates to this season. Then children will be guided to walk the spiral and light a candle from it's center. Adults will share in the awe and reverence by "holding the sacred space" for the children as the children journey in the spiral. We'll be done by 7PM. All this magic happens in the dining room.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turning Inward and Turning Outward without getting dizzy

Ah December! I have such mixed emotions about this month. I want to turn my attention and focus inward and acknowledge the inner light as the outer light dims. And I want to celebrate more with family and friends, all the while, making gifts for everyone...

The revelry of this time of year really harkens back to pagan roots. After all, lighter days were ahead even though, in many places it was still cold. This celebration of light over darkness takes many forms.

As a religious educator I find the history of Christmas fascinating. Over the last three hundred years there were times when Christmas celebrations were outlawed, including Boston in the 18th century.

As a Unitarian Universalist , I realize not everyone had a Christmas experience or even the same Christmas experience growing up. So what do we do as a religious people? What does our own religion call us to do? In as much as we honor the wisdom path of many traditions, we can continue those from our own. We do not need to completely give up our past, it is part of the evolution of tradition in as much as we are part of it too. There are many festivals of light we might embrace as part of our own story.

But, for the sake of our youngest, we should not zoom through every religious tradition, leaving them wondering, what do we believe or what do you believe as a family? We also risk cultural appropriation when we try to celebrate everything without an understanding of what is happening to a culture or people now, as well as its history. We want what we do to be grounded in a deep understanding of the practice. This means an understanding of the negative aspects as well as positive and the culture and history from which it all arises. This is our responsibility as adults and religious UU's to each other and our children.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RE Advent class online!

I hope you are taking the opportunity to check out our first ever online RE offering for the season of Advent. AdventUretreat. You can still join in! If you have been there you will see that it is very opened ended. The main image is one of a spiral.

This advent class is an offering that is different from "brick and mortar" classes. It is not a webinar either. You can just go on each day and see what is posted. You can send pictures or email text of your own experience that Lisa will post. There is a button on the right side that says "submit posts." In that way you become a presence in it. You can put as much or as little into it as you like. What you get out will depend on your own willingness to engage.

I am experimenting with creating a sticky note spiral on a wall in my kitchen. You could do this on a shelf or on a piece of paper. The key is to keep coming back each day and let yourself be inspired by what Lisa and other's post. There really are many ways to travel this.

This is a new adventure for us. It is kind of mysterious: this new technology, this way of being, alone and together.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcoming the Returning Light!

At First Unitarian Society Schenectady our own past and traditions lend themselves to many opportunities for celebration and service during this season of increasing darkness. In that light (:0) , we are offering opportunities in Religious Education for both inward exploration and outward celebration and work.

We are offering our first online Religious Education class, led by Lisa Temoshok. ADVENTURE + RETREAT = adventUretreat. The season of Advent ad+venire (to come) rises like the sun on a frosty autumn morning. It is a time to retreat and reflect, noticing how our inner lives shape our outer lives.” Follow the link to read some about it. Starts on Advent, Sunday, November 28.

Saturday December 4 from 3- 6 PM we will have our first Homemade Holidays for the entire congregation. We have done this for the past two years with our children in religious education and now want to offer it to the FUSS community. Come, slow down and enjoy making gifts for your loved ones or teachers or friends. Make an evergreen wreath, a beaded bracelet, a felt ornament. Roll beeswax candles. Make an herbal sachet. The smells of this season are enticing. This really is an all- ages event! $5 at the door to make a wreath; $5 for tickets to make one each of the remaining crafts, or make more than one. Please email if you are planning on attending so we can make better guesstimates of supplies to have on hand.

Saturday December 18 from 5- 7 PM children can enjoy their own quiet, seasonal experience with our Advent Spiral Walk. We'll gather as families at 5 PM to share a potluck meal and hear a story related to the season. Then children will have the opportunity to walk a spiral laid out with evergreens and light a candle at the center. Adults will support them by holding the space sacred and modeling the reverence that it embodies. We offered an Advent Spiral as part of children's chapel three years ago and it was beautiful and sacred and quiet.. We all crave meaningful silence and we are able to embrace this with traditions that are age- appropriate. For a longer time of quiet reverence, enjoy the Winter Solstice Service Tuesday, December 21 from 7:30 – 8:30PM.

We say in our Bond of Union that “service is our prayer.” This is a time of year when we seek to do good for others. The Mitten Tree is one our our oldest, continual holiday traditions at FUSS. People knit, crochet and purchase hats, mittens and socks to donate to two local shelters, Bethesda House and Sojourn House. For a great story for children of a mitten tree, check out The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen.

On December 5, in our religious education classes, many of our children will be involved in service projects, making cookies, making cards, and preparing to staff a table to collect items for Sojourn House.

We will again support Sojourn House, a second chance home for homeless women with children and pregnant women with our without children, this holiday season. Beginning November 28 we will have a table in the back of the Great Hall to collect new, unwrapped toys and arts and crafts supplies. See the sidebar for items from their wish list. Gifts will be collected at a table at the back of the Great Hall through December 19.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Join a Common Read

December 15 7-8:30 PM come participate in a Common Read of The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands.

The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands by Margaret Regan (Beacon Press, 2010) presents "a series of intimate stories from immigrants, activists, human rights workers, and border patrol people. Through their stories, the book explores the ethical, moral, and spiritual challenges presented by the complex immigration issues on the border, evoking our human response, rather than a political or policy debate. Regan calls us to the religious act of bearing witness to brutality and despair along with extraordinary courage and commitment."

This past June, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly selected Immigration Reform as the new four-year Congregational Study/Action Issue and resoundingly endorsed holding a special “justice” General Assembly focused on immigration issues in Phoenix, Ariz., in 2012.

Please consider reading the book and joining our discussion. The book, a $15 paperback, can be purchased locally at a 15% discount if we have at least four people willing to buy it from the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady. To support this local business and get a discount let Melissa know at by November 29. Otherwise, the Open Door will have copies available.

Childcare will be available. Led by Rev. Priscilla Richter and Melissa MacKinnon, DRE.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homemade Holidays!

Please join us for an all -ages fellowship event

of craft and gift making!

Saturday, December 4, 3-6PM

Create a wreath or swag from evergreens to take home, make beautiful gifts to share for the holidays and crafts to decorate your home.

Minimum charge for supplies.

Childcare provided.

Bring box, tray or laundry basket to bring your treasures home in.

APC and RE will offer sub sandwiches at 6 PM for those wishing to stay for the annual FUSS Holiday Party that starts at 7 PM.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reverse trick or treating for halloween

During our Halloween Party At FUSS we will be introducing Reverse Trick or Treating to children and parents. We will hand out cards and candy children can give to adults at whose homes they trick or treat. Read more here and watch a video posted on the right side of this blog.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Children's Chapel Sunday

With Moses, we can see the world lit up from within by the fire of God’s spirit and hear a voice calling out to us, “Take off your shoes. The ground on which you stand is holy.” We can recognize that the call to resist oppression arises from an epiphany of divine presence in the midst of life’s present realities. from We Are Already in Paradise by Rebecca Parker.

This Sunday is children's chapel for children in RE classes from PreK thru grade 4. We're very excited with the worship we have planned. Children start with parents in the Great Hall. They will here the story of Moses and the Burning Bush told by Lisa Temoshok. Children will travel to children' chapel to explore through worship the meaning of the story. This is not just for children, adults are welcome too. Adults who remain in the Great Hall will also continue to explore the meaning of the story too through the worship service and Priscilla's sermon.

****Because of the rummage sale children's chapel will be in a different place this Sunday. It will be next door to the dining room in what is normally the preK/K room. It will still be transformed into a worshipful, sacred space...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

religious education programming for children and youth

It is a busy time right now at First Unitarian Society Schenectady! Many of us are hard at work preparing for our upcoming year. There are some changes in our children's programming which I write about in more detail in this months issue of Circles. Also, for a description of classes for children and youth go here.

I am excited about the multigenerational services we have been planning. Soon I'll have information on adult RE offering as well.

Enjoy these warm late summer days!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Religious Education All- Church CAMPOUT!

Join us this weekend at Glimmerglass State Park for our first all -church camp out! They weekend is yours to enjoy the facilities. We'll gather at 5 PM Saturday evening for games and refreshments and have an RE -sponsored dinner. Afterwards will enjoy a fire with s'mores, songs and stories.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reimagining the garden: paradise found

I have been reading a new book called, A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century. It very much informs how we will be together in religious education this year. You can read an except, and one of my favorite parts of the book at : we are already in paradise

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer RE

Summer religious education for ages 4-10 every Sunday 10:30 AM - end of church service.

"And forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." -- Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rain, sigh

I am really, really happy it's raining, mostly. We need rain.

It looks like RE Games Day will be scaled back because of it. We'll still be in Waters House, we'll still have games and Circus Yoga and snacks, just inside.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Spiritual Practice of Play: RE Games Day!

This Sunday marks the end of our regular year in religious education. We'll celebrate with the spiritual practice of PLAY! The deep spiritual value of play is often over looked in our very overextended, time- deficient lives. (There is too, the even more spiritually profound experience of unstructured time- we'll consider that at another point.)

RE Games Day will involve open- ended activities: hula hoops, scarves, jump ropes, balls, bubbles, all valuable tools in our spiritual exploration of play. Christine Carpenter will return to offer an even bigger Circus Yoga experience that will include flying demonstrations and a flying station.

RE Games Day also includes the very profound "snack communion." We will break bread together as we play and celebrate this paradise we are lucky enough to call home: a beautiful place, our blessed and sacred lives.

RE Games Day is for all ages.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Social justice work and children: CROP walk SUNDAY

In April I visited the Chicago area with my family. We spent 1/2 a day in the city visiting a few of the sites. There were a lot of homeless people asking for money and I gave away all the spare cash I had. I didn't really talk about it with my family.

What I didn't realize was how my eight -year- old was paying attention. The Sunday after we returned from Chicago, FUSS member Nancy Peterson came to Children's Chapel to talk with the kids about the upcoming CROP walk. My daughter made a connection at that moment. Seeing all the homeless people disturbed her and the CROP walk was a way she could do something about it. She asked me about participating in the walk, and so, we picked up the forms and I helped her make an online contribution site for out- of- town family to donate.

I have to say honestly that if I had tried to get my daughter to participate, she probably would have been less interested. I am not even sure I could have had a conversation about what we experienced in Chicago at the time either. But, allowing her the experience to walk a city street and confront a troubling reality in our society and then having a church community that offers concrete ways to make a difference, opened up the possibility of her making a connection. Things are not always fair and she can make a difference in that. I think this is one of the best parts of what we do together that I, certainly, can not do alone.

We'll be walking in the Schenectady CROP walk this Sunday. Maybe we'll see you there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hot off the Press!!! U.U. Spirituality and Parenting

Many parents ask me about books on Unitarian Universalism and parenting. There's a new book out on Unitarian Universalist parenting by professional religious educator Michelle Richards. It's called Tending the Flame: The Art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting. There is also a blog that Michelle writes that you can find here. Her latest post is on spiritual practices with children. It touches on some of the practices children are introduced to in our religious education classes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Circus Yoga at FUSS: Parents welcome!

This Sunday our children in the Pre K thru third grade classes will have an opportunity to participate in Circus Yoga.

Circus Yoga teacher Christine Carpenter will lead the group. I am excited about this because we have been offering yoga in different forms to our children through Spirit Play. I often see children moving through yoga poses on their own or with a friend when I am in the classroom. My hope is that Circus Yoga can broaden our understanding of the spiritual practice of yoga in community.

Parents are welcome to join us! Come in comfortable clothing.

We will be in the PreK/K room and the back half of the dining room. Circus Yoga will run from 10:30 -11:30 AM. Then we will offer a snack.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Multigenerational Religious Education

This Sunday Religious Education will be part of CC&C.

From 9:30 - 10:15 we'll show part of a fiilm titled: Three Faiths: One God. It's a look at the similarities between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Childcare will be available in the nursery!

The following Sunday, March 21, will be a multigenerational worship service and we'll hear stories from these same wisdom traditions told by youth from Children at the Well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

On Stewardship

Last Sunday in Children's Chapel we talked about stewardship. I talked about what it meant to be a steward and the children offered ways in which they were stewards.

We can be stewards in big and small ways. Stewardship calls us to think locally and globally.

Globally our children have been collecting pennies in our Pennies for Peace project. We will collect pennies until our May Children's Chapel. Then we will count them and donate them. The jar for collecting pennies is in the Waters House entry. We also have it at Children's Chapel.

Locally, very local, we are looking for help painting classrooms in Waters House this Sunday. Buildings and Grounds chair Kim Schnell has been really wonderful in keeping attention on Waters House and working on fixing it up. We Need You! We will be painting Sunday between noon and 3 pm. Come at any time and stay for as long as you are able. The Religious Education Council will provide pizza. Please consider being a steward of our space.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Charter for Compassion

Charter for Compassion

Charter for Compassion

I have been working on the curriculum for our upcoming Neighboring Faiths class with our 6th and 7th graders. In the course of researching and writing I have learned about and been inspired by the Charter for Compassion. The post above contains a video with the entire charter. When I figure out how, I'll put it into the sidebar so it can stay at the top for a while (I need to make the video appear smaller) Currently at the top of the sidebar there's a longish video with Karen Armstrong who initiated the Charter with her TED prize and presented it to the World Parliament of Religions in December of 2009. It's very inspiring.