A Life of Continuous, Small Improvements

by Assistant Minister Sarah Caine. While trying to fight off an illness that had me coughing, tired and without much use of my vocal cords, I found myself watching that comforting cooking show “The Great British Bake Off” (called “The Great British Baking Show” in the U.S.). Rewatching episodes that had seen me through recovery after a surgery on my foot, something new caught my attention this time around. Finalist Kimberley Wilson, during an earlier episode, mentions the Japanese word “kaizen” and explains it as “continuous small improvements,” saying that you can always be just a little bit better. This is an oversimplification of the concept, but it’s not too […]

A faith that transforms in many different cultures

by Dick Van Duizend, UUCF Partner Church Circle. Imagine you are many time zones from home and way out of your comfort zone. You are in a poor farming village; most people only speak a language you do not know. You walk into an 800-year-old whitewashed stone church on a hill with a tall silver steeple or into a simple painted cement church with a flaming chalice on the roof peak. And you are immediately embraced and made welcome. You stay for the service sitting on a dark wooden pew or bench and although the words and liturgy are unfamiliar, you realize as you listen to the translation that the […]

Me Too. And Me. And Me.

by Rev. David A. Miller, Sarah Caine and Pippin Whitaker. More than 10 years ago, the Me Too campaign began with African American activist Tarana Burke. The recent wave of “Me too” posts on Facebook and Twitter were fueled by high-profile sexual harassment and assault cases starting with last year’s release of the “Access Hollywood” tape. All of these revelations reinforce how powerful men can get away with claiming the bodies of women as objects. The heartbreak, exhaustion, re-living of trauma and anger that accompanies any news of yet more violence disguised as sexuality is all too familiar. This violence is not distant from any of our lives. Although abuse […]

Raising Young UUs Into Adult UUs

by Diana Tycer, Interim Director of Religious Exploration. Many people conceptualize their lives as a linear continuum, a collection of their experiences along an established timeline. I have long conceptualized my life as a three-dimensional spiral, continually returning to the same place only on another plane, having gained greater wisdom through my experiences. When I was offered this opportunity to serve UUCF as the interim Director of Religious Exploration (DRE), I was conscious that I was coming back around to the mission most dear to my heart, but with a toolbox full of new skills to offer. I grew up Catholic, but had a branch of my family who were […]

‘Something clicked between my heart and mind’

by Assistant Minister for Congregational Engagement and Spiritual Enrichment Sarah Caine. When I was a child trying to make sense of the destruction in and of the world, I was afraid and deeply sorrowful. This informed how I interacted with the world around me, cautiously but lovingly. With the personal growth I have experienced in my life so far I have gradually felt less panic and fear, but no less emotionally connected to the earth and its beings. I was able to discover the mission of my ministry – building resilient, strong, beautiful, affirming community where I can. That hope and cultivation of the Beloved Community is the saving message […]

So Much Gratitude

by Director of Religious Exploration Linnea Nelson. Thank you for honoring me yesterday and over that last several weeks with your well wishes, beautiful notes and hugs. As the Director of Religious Exploration, I have been blessed with getting to know you through activities that brought great meaning to my life. Watching so many of you teach RE has always been a joy, and interacting with the children and youth has been the highlight of each Sunday. Yesterday was so joyful – to feel the connection and love in the Sanctuary and then to go down to the Program Building and experience one last time the gifts our youngest members […]

Let Us Go, Together!

by Senior Minister Rev. David A. Miller. I am so proud and honored to be a Unitarian Universalist. With very little exception, I believe that we so badly want to build a beloved community where humans are loved and seen for who they are and that compassion, respect and equality are primary values. It is also true that we may not always agree on the strategy or tactics to achieve this goal. As we do the long, hard work of dismantling oppression and systems of white supremacy, it can be frustrating when we see there is no one right way, no outline, no clear path. We as a faith tradition, […]

Welcoming September

by Lay Minister for Membership and Outreach Shannon Williams. “The Sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.” – Alexandra Elle Barely a month has passed since the UUCF Board of Directors welcomed me into my new role as the Lay Minister for Membership and Outreach. Here at the beginning of the congregational year, I want to share a bit about what we might create together in the seasons ahead. The word “welcome” captures not only September’s theme, but the experience of stepping into this world of UU leadership. My family only began attending UUCF in July […]

Two ways to build up our reservoirs

by Senior Minister Rev. David A. Miller. “Church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.” – Rev. James Luther Adams What helps each of us stay whole and holy in these extremely challenging times? After week upon week of incivility and a seemingly endless flow of assaults on decency and kindness, how do we build up our reservoirs of hope, gratitude and compassion? Some of us crave spiritual grounding, nurturing and respite. Others may want to be moved to action – literally and metaphorically – through more lively interaction. While no one UUCF worship service can be all things to all people, we […]

What will we do with the intern?

by Intern Minister Pippin Whitaker. Greetings new community! I am your new intern minister, and I will be with you half-time for the next 2 years, September through May. I am also a seminary student at Meadville Lombard Theological School, which is one of two Unitarian Universalist seminaries in the country. I live in Vienna with my spouse, Steve, and our three children, who range in age from 4 to 9. Yes, all this keeps me busy, but what a joyful busy it is! And what a joy it is to be an intern at UUCF. I have been a Unitarian Universalist by label since I was a pre-teen, but […]