Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Standing at the Gates of Hope

I have had lots of conversations and also thought long and hard about how to respond to recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island and beyond. How do we respond to a racism that is systemic? What is the role of religious education? 

I have been making sure we have programs in place in January that address racism and identity in age- appropriate ways for children and youth. Our programs with children utilize the well- respected, anti-bias work of early childhood educators Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia G. Ramsey. The underlying intent of their anti-bias education is to, "foster the development of children and adults who have the personal strength, critical-thinking ability, and activist skills to work with others to build caring, just, diverse communities and societies for all."

What else are we called to do? Recently The Daily Good posted a piece quoting UU Rev. Victoria Stafford. Stafford calls on us to stand at the Gates of Hope.  "We stand where we will stand, on little plots of ground, where we are maybe “called” to stand (though who knows what that means?) — in our congregations, classrooms, offices, factories, in fields of lettuces and apricots, in hospitals, in prisons (on both sides, at various times, of the gates), in streets, in community groups. And it is sacred ground if we would honor it, if we would bring to it a blessing of sacrifice and risk"…

"Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right.” But a different, sometimes lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see."

This is what I see. UU Rev Rebecca Parker wrote an essay, "Not Somewhere Else But Here: the Struggle for Racial Justice As A Struggle to Inhabit My Country," that has always resonated with me. Her descriptions of growing up white in this country are similar to my own. She writes of alienation and the "white mind-set" that can grow up not knowing, or ignoring, the violence and exploitation in this country's history, as well as "the resistance, creativity and multiform beauty of my country's peoples" She writes of the primordial violence that lies beneath wealth and privilege. A recent discussion with my daughter led to our researching prison population numbers and realizing that this country of  the "free" imprisons more people than any other country in the world.

Parker and others argue that we need to begin with remedial education for all of us. We need to know our country's history. And, Parker says, "theology must direct us, like Eve, to taste the fruit of knowledge and gladly bear the cost of moving beyond the confines of the garden."

Here are some specifics. Join us at UUSS for six Tuesday evenings, 1/13/15 - 2/17/15, 7 - 9 PM viewing and discussing the UU history DVD series, Long Strange Trip. Read Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States and Ronald Takaki's, A Different Mirror. I am exploring possibilities of doing this as a group read. To understand both the strengths and weaknesses of UU's participation in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and how it changed us,  join us Monday, February 23 at 7PM for a discussion of Mark Morrison-Reed's book, The Selma Awakening.

Readings on Race and Privilege:

Learning to Be White, by Thandeka

Soul Work: Anti-Racist Theologies in Dialogue, by Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Nancy             Palmer Jones
What If All the Kids Are White: Anti-Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and              Families, by Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia G. Ramsey
A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
A Different Mirror, by Ronald Takaki

Friday, December 5, 2014

Homemade Holidays! Dinner! Holiday Party!

Enjoy the season with your faith community Saturday beginning at 3 PM!  Prepare for the holidays, feast and fellowship with friends!

During this often busy time of year Religious Education Council hosts an afternoon of holiday crafting!  From 3 - 6 PM there are crafts for all ages, really! And for the very littlest ones, there is childcare available.

This year we have jewelry- making, card -making, ornament-making, orange pomander making, beeswax candle making and evergreen wreath making stations! You can even wrap your gift at a wrapping station.

There will be light snacks and Wassail available during the afternoon. For those staying for the APC sponsored  Holiday Party, there will be vegetarian chili and bread available to eat.

We ask, to cover expenses, one dollar per craft. Five dollars to make a wreath.

Winter Spiral

Short December days and long nights offer many opportunities to turn inward with quieter practices. One way to experience this turning inward is with ritual.

A ritual enacted in many ways at this time of year is a lighted spiral walk. It is called an Advent Spiral or Winter Spiral Walk.

For the past 7 years we have offered this walk to children during this season. It always seems so important to practice slowing down in the midst of an often hectic time of year. And firelight has a mesmerizing quality to it!

Children in grades 2-4 made simple lanterns as they arrived Sunday morning. 

The entire ritual is done with quiet music playing in the background. Children walk one at a time into a spiral of evergreens holding an unlit candle in a lantern. At the center their candle is lit by an adult helper from the central fire. (Children were given an option of LED lights which some chose.) As they walk out of the spiral they leave their lit candle on one of the stars placed on the floor along their path.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Service Sunday

This is Sunday is our annual Service2Service worship! We will have a brief worship and then lots of opportunities to share in the work of service.

The Senior Youth Group will be serving pizza after the service as a fundraiser.

There are activities for all ages and abilities. Here are a list of activities planned for Sunday.

Leaf raking with your own tools at the homes of two UUSS members:
(Maps available at the SAC table.)

Schenectady Home Furnishings. Starting at 11:30 we will
meet there to put together kit furniture. Pick up directions
at the SAC table after the service.

Book drive for recycling unwanted books (hard back or
paperback.) Bring to the church.

Clean up Steinmetz Park just north of UUSS.

Assemble bags of personal care products for the homeless.
It's not too late to bring supplies!

As part of care packages, sign cards for senior youth
graduates attending college.

7th and 8th graders will be making 100 bag lunches for
Bethesda House to be delivered the same day.

(Evening Opportunity)  SICM Harvest for the Pantry.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Parade returns!

Our Halloween Parade returns, this Sunday, following worship! Young and young at heart are invited to dress in costume. Then, if you can, stay for lunch! Social Action Council hosts a luncheon following the parade.

Pumpkin at home of FUUSA DRE Leah Purcell

This Sunday, Religious Education will take place in the Great Hall with an all-ages worship service! UUSS religious education teacher, Belinda Mex Moreno, will share an altar that is part of her family's way of celebrating the holiday Days of the Dead. We plan to create a ritual together by adding to the altar. Please bring a photo or memento of a loved one (family, friends, beloved animal companions) to be honored on the Day of the Dead altar at the front of the hall.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Practicing Love

Casa de Paz (House of Peace) from Michelle Moore on Vimeo.

This is to me an example of Standing on the Side of Love. Maybe it should even be, Living on the Side of Love. I like the call to be both activists and spiritualists.

Friday, August 8, 2014

RE for children and youth beginning in September

We have a really exciting year in RE for children and youth shaping up! We are offering nine different programs this year; our regular classes and OWL classes All of out OWL programs are fully staffed with trained facilitators and our regular programs are close!

What follows are class descriptions for all the classes for children and youth. These class descriptions will be on the website soon and a new RE brochure will be out soon as well.

Grades K/1. Love Surrounds Us and Our Whole Lives (OWL). Children, ages 5 -7, meet in a room next door to the nursery. This program explores our Seven Unitarian Universalist Principles. The Principles encompass all the ingredients of a good and faith-filled life based on equality, freedom, peace, acceptance, truth, care, and love.

January-February 2015, during RE, we will offer Our Whole Lives (OWL) an 8 week age- appropriate, sexual education program. This class requires parental orientation and approval. Parents will receive more information with orientation dates in the fall.There is an overview of the Our Whole Lives programs on Thursday, September 11, 7-8:15 PM, at Waters House, at UUSS.

Grades 2-4.  Spirit of Adventure. Children ages 8 - 10 begin together at Waters House for a brief, interactive Childrens Chapel. Unitarian Universalist ritual, sharing, mindfulness practices, curiosity and movement are all part of childrens chapel worship.

After Childrens Chapel, the group divides into two, mixed -age groups and travels with an adult to their Adventure. Spirit of Adventure develops UU identity thru art, nature, exploration, movement, games and fun challenges.

Grades 5/6. Heeding the Call and Our Whole Lives (OWL). September - December 2014 we will offer OWL, an 8 week, age-appropriate sexual education program. OWL fosters the development of sexual health and ethical values as it nurtures the worth and dignity of all participants. Children are encouraged to value themselves and act on their values throughout their whole lives.  This class requires parental orientation and approval. There is an overview of the Our Whole Lives programs on Thursday, September 11, 7-8:15 PM, in Waters House, at UUSS.

January - June, 2015, Heeding the Call: Qualities of a Justicemaker. Heeding the Call is a social justice curriculum that not only explores linked oppressions in our society, but also encourages participants towards personal growth in values that counteract the marginalization of others. Workshops on empathy, courage, abundance, joy, and other qualities ask participants to recognize how these standards can be tools for justice.

Grades 7/8. Popcorn Theology/Neighboring Faiths and Our Whole Lives (OWL). Sunday mornings alternate between Popcorn Theology and Neighboring Faiths. Popcorn Theology utilizes our youths interest in learning through visual media. Thru movies, websites, social media, and more, youth examine issues of theological and ethical importance to our world. Neighboring Faith is a world religions program to deepen youth's understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. The youth will have field trips to nearby religious  communities.

Tuesday evenings, October 2014 -May 2015, we will offer OWL, a 27- session, age-appropriate, sexual education program. OWL fosters the development of sexual health and ethical values as it nurtures the worth and dignity of all participants. Youth are encouraged to value themselves and act on their values throughout their whole lives.  This class requires parental orientation and approval. There is an overview of the Our Whole Lives programs on Thursday, September 11, 7-8:15 PM, in Waters House, at UUSS.

Grades 9-12- Senior Youth Group and Our Whole Lives (OWL). Youth group meets Sunday mornings, 10:30 AM - 12 noon in Waters House.  Our youth group is open to the youth of our congregation and their friends. Our advisors work in collaboration with the youth; all working toward empowering the group to be youth-led and directed. Youth group focuses on five components: social action/justice, worship, activities and fellowship, learning, and leadership opportunity. Committed youth group members may also participate in district and continental events, including District Youth Conferences (Cons) and the Youth Caucus at General Assembly. Cons are held throughout the year at various UU congregations throughout the region. These weekend youth retreats offer opportunities for friendship and spiritual reflection in addition to workshops, worship, dances, shared meals and communal living.

Tuesday evenings, February - April 2015, for grades 11/12,  we will offer OWL. OWL is a 12-session, age-appropriate, sexual education program. OWL fosters the development of sexual health and ethical values as it nurtures the worth and dignity of all participants. Youth are encouraged to value themselves and act on their values throughout their whole lives.  This class requires parental orientation and approval. There is an overview of the Our Whole Lives programs on Thursday, September 11, 7-8:15 PM, in Waters House, at UUSS.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our Whole Lives

For over 10 years, Our Whole Lives (OWL)  has been a cornerstone in our religious education programming at UUSS. OWL honors sexuality as a part of our human experience and provides age-appropriate information. Healthy sexuality education in the context of Unitarian Universalism offers  a safe and open forum for people to make wise and moral decisions regarding relationships.

Teachers who lead the class are trained specifically to teach OWL for their grade level. They attend a 15 -hour training in order to be certified.

This year our RE program is re-committing itself to OWL and will offer additional classes. We will offer two of our OWL classes on a weeknight evening. There is a brochure you can pick up at church, or you can access a pdf brochure through the website here.

Briefly, we will offer an eight-session OWL for grades K/1 in January/February 2015. We will offer an eight-session OWL for grades 5/6, October - December, 2014. We will offer a 27-session OWL for grades 7/8, October, 2014 - May 2015, TUESDAY EVENINGS. And, brand new to UUSS, we will offer a 12-session OWL for grades 11/12, February - April 2015, TUESDAY evenings.

There will be regular RE programming Sunday mornings for youth in grades 7/8 and for senior youth in grades 9-12. Because of the nature of OWL and the length of the program for 7th and 8th graders, youth and their parents need to commit to the entire program and we can not allow youth to join midway. But the nature of our religious community is that people discover UUSS and begin attending throughout the year. Offering OWL on a Tuesday evening allows us to be welcoming on Sunday mornings for all ages.

There will be a general OWL informational session held at UUSS Thursday evening, September 11 from 7-8:15 PM. Additionally, parents with children who are eligible for OWL programs will receive a letter with information on an orientation specific to their child(ren)'s class and led by the OWL facilitators.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

RE breakfast Sunday, June 8 @ 9AM

Please join us Sunday for our annual Religious Education celebration! This year our RE Council is hosting a breakfast. It's a chance to celebrate our RE teachers and look back at the year.  Everyone is welcome! We will have a slideshow at 9:45AM.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Henry David Thoreau

"Henry David Thoreau" greets our Coming of Age class at Walden Pond.

I was in high school when I read the book, Walden Pond, by Henry David Thoreau. It had a transformative effect on my 16- year old self, my understanding of nature and philosophy, and my relationship to these things. I have always remembered some form of Thoreau's quote about wanting to "live deliberately." Thoreau, I have come to realize, was my first mindfulness teacher.

In talking with some of the parents of our Coming Of Age youth about the Boston Heritage trip, I realized that many of us were deeply affected by Thoreau's writings.

So it was extra exciting to bring our Coming of Age class to Walden Pond in late April 2014. It was the culmination of our Boston Heritage Trip, in many, many ways.

Thoreau was raised Unitarian. His family was very involved in the abolitionist movement. He was a friend and benefactor of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a former Unitarian preacher and a leading voice in the Transcendental movement of the mid 1800s.  I came to realize more fully how the ideas of Transcendentalism are at some of the core values of current Unitarian Universalism.

We were led around Walden Pond and learned about Thoreau via local historian Richard Smith who takes on the role of Thoreau. As Thoreau, Smith shares stories and answers questions about his time period.  While he spoke, he credited our New York UU youth with the "very active upstate" New York abolitionist movement.

Walden Pond is a kettle pond and one of the deepest in Massachusetts.

Traveling along Walden Pond.
A silent walk thru the woods. We were asked to walk silently and observe sights and sounds.

Original site of Thoreau's cabin


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Boston Heritage Trip 2014

Follen Church, Lexington, Massachusetts.
Eleven youth from our Coming of Age class traveled with four adults on our Boston Heritage trip, April 25 -27. We slept on the floors of the religious education space at Follen Church in Lexington, MA.

We spent the day Saturday in Boston traveling into the city by public transportation. We walked around Boston and thru the public gardens. We visited Arlington Street Church, located on the corner of the Boston Green, and were led on a tour by their music director, Mark David Buckles. We were even taken into the bell tower and youth could ring the bells.

Looking up at organ from the front in the Arlington Street church. sanctuary.

Tiffany stained glass depicting Jesus's Sermon on the Mount.

Gathering around the organ.

Mark David Buckles playing organ.

Pulling the ropes to play the church bells.

Ropes and music for playing bells.

Reading a piece by William Ellery Channing from Arlington Street Church pulpit.

We learned about one of their ministers, William Ellery Channing, whose 1819 Baltimore Sermon is considered a defining moment in Unitarian theology. We also visited other UU heritage sites: Kings Chapel, the first church in the United States to declare itself Unitarian in the late 18th century! It is also the site of a Puritan graveyard.

We will have lots more pictures to show at THIS SUNDAY"S worship service

Dinner at Follen Church, Lexington.

We finished our heritage weekend on Sunday with a visit to Walden Pond and a tour by local historian Richard Smith. We visited a replica of Thoreau's home on Walden Pond and walked around part of the pond to the original site of the home.

Inside replica of Thoreau's home on Walden Pond. Smith, as Thoreau, answers questions and shares stories about life at that time.

Site of Thoreau's home on Walden Pond.

Quote near a cairn started by Ralph Waldo Emerson near site of Thoreau's home.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Children at the Well: UU Resources for Building Bridges

Children at the Well returns to UUSS for their 5th year! Local youth storytellers share stories from their religious traditions during our all ages worship this Sunday. Our own Coming of Age youth, Samijo Buczeksmith, will tell a Unitarian Universalist story!

Following the worship, anyone interested in talking with the storytellers and/or finding out more about the Children at the Well program is invited to the Emerson room.

Here is some more information about the religious traditions youth will share from...

We will hear a story from the Hindu tradition. Our online Tapestry of Faith UU resource describes Hinduism this way,

Hinduism is an ancient faith birthed in India in a time beyond memory and still practiced by more than 900 million people around the globe. Hinduism is frequently associated with Buddhism, which is logical, since Buddhism grew from Hinduism: The man who became the Buddha was born Hindu. However, Hinduism is distinct, and more ancient. The almost infinite paths to God supported in Hinduism are the result of its unique approach to the human spiritual quest. Hinduism is an indigenous religion with  complexities and a staggering variety of practices.

Here are more recommended online resources on Hinduism.

We will also hear a story from the Muslim tradition, the religion of Islam. Again from our own UU resources,
Islam is the world's second largest faith. Only Christianity has more adherents. Over 1.5 billion people are Muslim, nearly a quarter of the population of the earth and living on every continent. Islam, like Hinduism, Christianity, and Judaism, is monotheistic: Muslims believe in one god, whom they call Allah. "Allah" does not mean "God—it means "the God."
Here are resources for sharing information with your children on the religion of Islam. 
We will  hear a story from a storyteller who is Quaker.

The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, is small in numbers—less than half the size of Unitarian Universalism, with only 300,000 adherents worldwide. Religious soul mates of Unitarian Universalists in many ways, Quakers have had a far-reaching social and political impact, as well as an influence on our own faith, through their commitment to peace, equality, justice, and humanitarian work.

Last, but not least, a story from a UU ritual, the Flower Communion. Here is a list of sources of our UU beliefs.

These sites are part of our Unitarian Universalist Association online curriculum, Tapestry of Faith,  and offer resources for UU faith development for children, youth and adults.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hunger 101: RE and Social Action Council

This past Sunday was Social Action Sunday for our children in grades 1-5 ; 21 children participated in a morning of worship and social action.

Children's Chapel provides an opportunity to introduce our children to some of the rituals of our Unitarian Universalist faith. This includes chalice lighting and sharing of joys and sorrows, along with singing and story telling. It is about sharing ritual and community and getting to know one another better.

Almost every children's chapel includes a story. This Sunday the children heard a Japanese & Chinese folk tale, The Difference between Heaven and Hell. This story can be found in our online UUA Tapestry of Faith curriculum here.

Using curriculum from Atlanta, Georgia's Community Food Bank, Hunger 101, we talked about food and its importance both in celebration and good health. We talked about  "food insecurity, hunger and poverty," and what those words meant. As part of a discussion about unequal distribution and redistribution of food, children experienced a creative snack activity led by Jennifer D'Arcy .

During this time of Children's Chapel children learned about CROP Walk. You can join this year's Schenectady CROP Hunger Walk. Join team: UUSS, led by Gary Feinland, Sunday, May 4th at 1:30pm at Emmanuel Friedens Church, 218 Nott Terrace, Schenectady. The walk is 5 K or 3.1 miles Register online or via paper registration.

After Children's Chapel, we worked with Robin Schnell from our UUSS Social Action Council and put together 42 bags of "friendship soup!" Robin came up with a great plan and things quickly settled into a lovely time working together on a valuable social action project.

Partnering with other councils and programs in our church and local community can help us all learn about and find more ways to participate in important social issues in our communities. And that is part of what it means to "live into our faith." It includes living into those cherished beliefs of a just community and finding ways to work towards it together.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Social Justice Sunday: Hunger

This Sunday grades 1-5 will have a children's chapel dedicated to the issue of hunger. There will also be a social action project they can participate in following their chapel time that is in collaboration with the Social Action Council at UUSS.

Hunger and food insecurity is a serious issue in our Schenectady community. One of the ways faith-based groups such as ourselves rally together and raise money for programs designed to end hunger is through the annual CROP walk. This year's walk is May 4 and leave from nearby Emmanuel- Friedens Church.

This Sunday, children will hear from one RE child who has taken up the issue of hunger and will be participating in this year's CROP walk.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Unitarian Universalist youth leadership development opportunities

We have a lot of wonderful opportunities for UU youth leadership development in the coming months! There is District Assembly, March 29. There is UU United Nations Office Intergenerational Spring Seminar on, "Rights of Indigenous Peoples," April 2-5. Probably the biggest event is the UUA's General Assembly (GA), held this year in Providence, RI, June 25 -29. GA has some of the best workshops, worship and music Unitarian Universalism offers. There is a youth caucus too and youth's voices are valued in the work of the UUA that takes place during GA. 

All of these events offer wonderful opportunities to meet UU youth and adults from all over the region/country and be inspired by the potential and possibilities of our faith!

The Religious Education Council wants to support youth in attending these events. REC  offers financial assistance with money from the Aninger Scholarship fund. The Aninger Application is rolling and if your child is interested should be completed ASAP. It can be found here.

There is also financial support available from the UUA. The UUA youth application for GA needs to be submitted by March 31. It is here

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Green Man

Last Sunday I shared a story called, The Green Man. I have been wanting to tell this Celtic nature-spirit story for a long time. To me it is a story upholding our connection to plants and animals that is mystical as well as practical and scientific. Fortunately there were youth and adults willing to help bring the story to life with scenery, props and acting! I have included the story here and photos from the service when we told it!

The Green Man, based on a version in Gail Forsyth-Vail's book, Stories in Faith.

....Once upon a time there lived a rich and vain young squire. Servants prepared her favorite foods each day. Her every wish was granted. She had every gaming system ever invented.

One of her favorite things to do was to walk though the woods that were part of her kingdom. She would hunt small animals, just for sport. After all, she believed, the woods and all its creatures belonged to her and she could do as she pleased with them. 

There were many people in the village who believed the woods provided a home for the animals that lived there. The wild plants they gathered from the forest provided medicines to care for all the people in the village.

The people in the village would tell stories about the Green Man  who lived in the woods and cared for the small creatures. They said that he even watched out for the children. The villagers would leave food out on winter nights for the Green Man to eat.

One warm day the squire and her friends decided to go for walk in the woods.
The friends walked in the woods, completely unaware of their surroundings. They trampled the nests of small animals, tossed litter onto the ground.

After a time the squire became separated from the rest of the party. As she looked for her friends she came upon a pond. It was a beautiful pond, clear and refreshing. Why, she thought to herself, how clever of me to have a pond in my woods to refresh myself. She removed her fine clothing, carefully folding them, placed her gaming systems on top on her neatly folded pile of clothes and jumped into the cool, clear water. She swam back and forth enjoying herself immensely.

 While she was swimming and splashing away, a hand reached out from behind the tree and took her clothing. When the squire got out of the water, she discovered she had nothing left to wear save a piece of rope and some leaves.

She took the rope and quickly fashioned a cover up. When her friends came looking for her, well, she was embarrassed to be seen without her fabulous clothes and gaming system! So as her friends looked for her, she hid.

Eventually the squire’s friends gave up looking for her and went home.

That night the squire went looking for shelter.  She stumbled into a cave. She did not sleep much that night, all those strange sounds. It was dark, she was frightened and she kept hearing animal noises all night!

In the morning when daylight came, she saw she was not alone in the cave! There was a goat and a chicken and a gourd for holding water. Someone had been living in that cave. The squire found some grass for the goat and feed for the chicken. She discovered some grain she could eat as well.

Over time, the squire settled into life in the cave. She fashioned a whole garment out of leaves. She ate eggs from the hen, drank milk from there goat. And the plants. She began to recognize plants she had learned. Plants she could eat and stay healthy.

Little by little she became transformed.

 One day the squire came upon two children running from a wild pig threatening to bite. The children saw a man covered head to toe with leaves and mud, with a wild looking beard and hair.

“Are you the Green Man?” they asked?

“I guess I am,” said the Green Man, who no longer looked anything like a squire.

When winter came the Green Man was happy to go into the village at night and to take the food that the villagers left out, sharing it with animal friends.

The year passed peacefully, until one warm day a group of children came wandering into the woods. The Green Man hid behind a tree to watch. A rich young man, a squire perhaps, became separated from his group. Discovering the cool, clear pond, the young man decided to take a swim. He thought it clever that he had such a lovely pond in his woods. He took off his clothes, folded them, left them under a tree with his gaming system carefully placed on top.
 The Green Man reached out a hand and took the clothes, leaving behind some leaves and rope.  After cleaning up and dressing in the new clothes, the squire journeyed for a long day back into town, back to her parents castle.

When she arrived her parents were overjoyed to see her. But there was something different about the squire now, She no longer wanted to hunt for sport. She continued to learn the names of the plants and trees in the forest around her. 
 And in the winter, she never failed to leave out food for the Green Man.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Six Nations work opposing Hydrofracking

The work of honoring the Two Row continues. Here is a recent video that includes Onondaga Hickory Edwards, whom many of us met padding on the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers this past summer. It reminds again that Native peoples are not gone. They are here today. Their cosmology has something to offer all of us; we do not to be a Native person to respect, understand and maybe even embrace the message here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Neighboring Faiths starts tomorrow!

TomorrowFeb. 9, the Neighboring Faiths class for 6th and 7th graders will kick-off with a presentation and slide show about the ancient civilizations and religions that developed and overlapped in the land that is now modern Turkey. Marta Ozisik will share slides and anecdotes from her family's travels to Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia and Ephesus.

These slides show some of the famous "fairy chimneys" and cave churches in Cappadocia where early Christians, fleeing Roman persecution, lived and hid.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Great Love: Stories of Buddha and Jesus

Rev. Priscilla Richter and I have planned together Sunday's multigenerational worship service. We are excited to share teachings of Buddha and teachings of Jesus that can inform our Unitarian Universalist faith!  In the same way we say we "stand on the side of love." Jesus and Buddha stories offer practices and expressions of great love even in the face of hardship and suffering. Our stories will span all ages.

And we will be paying tribute to Pete Seeger. So come Sunday prepared to sing "If I Had a Hammer." and "We Shall Overcome."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Warmth of Community: Church Fair and Camping too!

Tomorrow it will still be cold outside, but join us in building warmth in community in Religious Education at Unitarian Universalist Society Schenectady (UUSS.)

All RE classes meet this Sunday. Come check out the RE table during the Church Fair this Sunday too!

Children in Grades 1-5 will finish a three-week focus on Peacemakers and Peacemaking.  They played games to build community. They enacted a local story of the Peacemaker of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois.) They learned about Martin Luther King Jr and his great contribution to the Civil Rights movement of the practices of non-violence. They learned a personal practice, "SA-TA-NA-MA,"  to help when feeling overcome emotionally.

Grades 6/7 are busy writing and filming their next movie a UU version of  The Lorax. They will also be out exploring our community with the Neighboring Faiths, late-winter/early spring.

Coming of Age meets in their classroom and finishes at the Church Life Fair with a scavenger hunt. Everyone will have an opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt!

Senior youth, grades 10-12, meets. Senior youth planning to participate in the mission trip to NOLA meet after worship.

Hope you can join us at our RE/APC Winter Outing and Indoor Camping next Sat/Sun,  Feb 1-2, 2014! Play outside during the day, join together for a dinner, games, music, conversation, Vespers and sleep overnight in the Great Hall! Finish with breakfast early Sunday morning. Join us for all or part!


By now, people know that Rev. Priscilla Richter is leaving UUSS and moving on this coming summer. We will miss her! As the Director of Religious Education, I will miss her. We have worked well and grown so much together these past 6 years! But I understand her leaving. And in her leaving she is also giving us a gift. Our programs and our leadership are in a good place right now. There is work to be done and lots of willing hands to participate.

We have the gift of creating a transition with Priscilla's leave- taking that affirms all of us on towards the next steps in our journey. We will be creating a ceremony this spring, bringing our best intentions together and seeing Priscilla off!