This summer, UUCG will offer engaging multigenerational worship services for all ages, and offer childcare for infants and toddlers. We need a team of volunteers to assist our Sunday Nursery Care Provider to care for infants and toddlers during the Sunday services. We need at least one adult each Sunday, and teens are welcome to volunteer as part of a team of three or more. Sign-up to help at http://form.jotform.us/form/31364769247160.
Annual Auction Raises $12,400 for UUCG
The FABULOUS FIFTIES Auction on April 20th was "the best sock hop in Gwinnett." The food was delicious, the band got folks of all ages to rock and roll, and the kids crafted wonderful terra cotta planters, piggy banks, bird feeders, and picture frames, items which were auctioned off. Thanks to the generous support of donors, sponsors, supporters, bidders, and volunteers, this was a very successful event.
Participants acquired many beautiful items and bid on--or signed up for--parties, services, and classes. But for those who were unable to attend the Auction, there is still an opportunity to bid for some items. Visit the post-Auction online sale at: http://form.jotform.us/form/31204875254149 Details are in the Auction Catalog. please keep in mind that this Auction is the biggest fundraiser of the year. The funds raised are an integral part of our annual budget. You may have missed the fun of Auction Night, but you can still bring us closer to the goal of $15,000 by making a monetary donation in any amount that's comfortable for you.
Special thanks to our Platinum Sponsor:
Atlanta’s Best Home Nursing Care
Debra Greenwood, RN, PhD
After service on May 19, all are encouraged to attend the annual congregational meeting to review the program year and elect our 2013--2014 leadership teams. After the meeting, we’ll gather for a celebratory potluck lunch to thank all of our volunteers and celebrate UUCG. We do need food donated, so, if you can bring something to help, contact Denise Benshoof ( firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-344-5149) to contribute. Donations are also welcome the day of the event. Fantastic donations would be vegetables for grilling, vegan or vegetarian burgers, hamburgers, hot dog and hamburger buns, relishes/onions, chips, side dishes, desserts, and drinks. Bring your lawn chair and stay awhile! Select "Read More" below for Messages from the Board of Trustees and Leadership Development Committee about the meeting.
Please submit your announcements and items for the June GNUUS by May 25.
At our congregation's Town Hall meeting on Sunday, March 24, Rev. Taddeo presented information about "The Big Idea" for how we might transform the way we integrate all the facets of congregational life, especially Worship and Religious Exploration. This idea builds on the success of the Second Sunday, Second Hour program and will expand this format to other Sundays over the next year. The response was overwhelmingly positive to gradually transition to this new model of offering multigenerational worship followed by a selection of multi-age, multi-generational activities and classes over the next several months. This model will invite more people of all ages to engage in activities that are meaningful and make the best use of the many talents, interests, religious perspectives, and passions of our members and friends. This model will help all of us to live our Unitarian Universalist values more fully, deepen our understanding of Unitarian Universalism, and increase our comfort in sharing this faith tradition we have found so rewarding. If this program goes well, it could be in full swing by September 2014.
To see the slides from the Rev. Taddeo's presentation, visit http://www.uucg.org/attachments/article/344/Town%20Hall%20032413%20Big%20Idea.pdf. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Rev. Taddeo at email@example.com.
Request for Summer Indoor & Outdoor Project Assistants
After many of our summer services, we will be working on various projects inside and outside of the church. These will involve working on a making our grounds more accessible and creating more spaces for people to enjoy our beautiful property. Inside projects will include ways of making our spaces more earth-friendly and encouraging earth-friendly practices such as establishing recycling and composting systems and creating reusable "Fun Bags" for worship services. Sign-up to helpat http://form.jotform.us/form/31364769247160.
The April version of the UUCG Program Guide is now available online. Printed copies are available on the front bulletin board at UUCG.
Please submit your items for the next edition of the Program Guide by April 25.
Thanks to all who participated in the November Town Hall and December 2 Congregational Meeting to review and adopt the 2013 budget. Printed copies of the approved budget are on the board's bulletin board or download the 2013 Approved Budget.pdf
Please click here for to read the pledge brochure online. You can email your pledge information from a link in the packet, or print out the pledge form and mail it to the church, or give it to the treasurer, Chris Meyer, in person on Sunday.
The new Wellness Support Group focuses on health and wellness. Each month features a speaker. All are welcome.
Please contact Ally for more information.
Each week in our worship services we set aside time to honor that which we hold on our hearts … our sorrows, challenges, joys and triumphs. Whether we engage in a silent ritual of lighting candles or blessing our prayer shawls, or invite people to share what is utmost on the heart, I am deeply touched by the care with which this congregation holds one another through life’s hard truths.
This past month there was much holding to do. Many of our friends faced challenges, sorrows, and losses. The strength of this compassionate container cannot be overstated. Our Care Teams responded to many needs, and friends among us went above and beyond to care for each other. This is indeed a strong and beloved community, exemplifying the fundamental values of being a part of a religious community: connection and compassion.
Connection was the word that was used over and over as people shared how much they enjoyed our first Second Sunday Second Hour program. Some people told me that the depth of connection they felt in the 45-minute small group conversation in the Second Hour was the most connected they had felt in a long time. Many of the guests who were with us for the first time have returned because they made meaningful connections that first day.
In October we’ll continue to honor and increase a sense of connection within the congregation and explore ways to expand our connections beyond our walls … starting with our Upscale Yard Sale that brought in people from all over Gwinnett County. On October 20 we’ll gather to celebrate the life of our beloved long-time member Rene Gonzalez who died on September 18. We’ll close the month with the Day of the Dead service on October 28 to honor our connections with family and friends who have passed into the mystery, followed by a ceremony to dedicate our Memorial Garden.
Our theme in October is Money … not an easy topic! Money is loaded with meaning and emotions that develop differently for each of us depending on our formative experiences. Money speaks to core values of trust, compassion, empowerment, integrity, love, and happiness. Money is mentioned significantly more often in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures than prayer. Religious texts developed over many generations to explore timeless themes humans have struggled with for centuries: themes that can be interpreted in ways that encourage us to be our best selves. How can we be in relationship with money in a way that helps us to be our best selves, to be more deeply connected with one another, and to create a more compassionate ministry in the world?
Let us go into this month’s theme with courage and compassion as we experience more deeply the ways in which our spirits are nurtured and nourished by this beloved religious community.
With a compassionate heart…
Rev. Jan Taddeo
Now that we have a UUCG supported CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) we will likely have folks with more veggies than they can use! Check out the Produce Exchange table in the foyer on Sunday mornings and feel free to "Give a Veggie, Take a Veggie." If you are interested in participating in the CSA next season, please contact Mark Causey or Rev. Taddeo for information or visit www.dillwoodfarms.com.
At the February 26, 2012 Congregational Meeting, UUCG officially adopted a ministerial covenant. Printed copies are on the bulletin board at UUCG or available to download at http://www.uucg.org/attachments/article/554/Ministerial%20Covenant.pdf.
UUCG Ministerial Covenant
We, the minister and members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, choose to live in a relational covenant in the spirit of the Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Covenant of Right Relations of UUCG.
In the Unitarian Universalist tradition there is no higher authority than the Congregation. Yet the congregation does not operate in isolation, but rather in covenant with its professional leaders, other congregations, and with that which is ultimate.
We have called our minister to serve as our spiritual and pastoral leader and facilitate our shared journey with honesty, personal reflection, and purpose so we can grow in compassion and truth as we serve our mission in the wider world.
To encourage healthy shared ministry, we honor the following practices:
We recognize we will not live this covenant perfectly. When we fail, we will forgive ourselves and each other and begin again in the spirit of trust, compassion and inquiry.
- Adopted February 26, 2012
Please register for the event of your choice.
UUCG provides a weekly e-newsletter each Friday so subscribers can learn about UUCG programs and events. Subscribers may also receive occasional special announcements. Click here to subscribe or visit UUCG and check the box on a Visitor Information Card. Printed versions of the monthly newsletter (the GNUUS - Gwinnett News for Unitarian Universalists) and quarterly program guide are mailed by request, or pick-up printed copies from the bulletin board in the foyer, or download from the website.
Rev. Jan Taddeo is a fifth-generation Unitarian Universalist born and raised in Northern Virginia. In May 2011, she graduated from the Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago, earning two academic awards in Philosophy of Religion and Religious Education. In the years before entering seminary, Rev. Taddeo was a very active lay-leader at her home congregation, the UU Congregation of Fairfax, in Oakton, Virginia where she served on the Board of Trustees, Stewardship Committee, and Family Activities Coordination Team. She was also active as a Worship Associate and Lay Minister for Worship and Arts. As a professional religious educator, she served as the Youth Ministry Coordinator for the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation and as the Coordinator of Youth Activities for the Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Rev. Taddeo graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Northern Virginia Community College in 2005. She earned a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Jackson Memorial Hospital in downtown Miami, and did her ministerial internship training at the UU Fellowship of Boca Raton and the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale. Prior to being called as our full-time settled minister on May 22, 2011, she served as the Consulting Minister for the UU Fellowship of Marion County in Summerville, Florida, and as the Program Coordinator for the Florida District Racial Justice Council. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the UU Allies for Racial Equity and as a member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry.
Rev. Taddeo has been married to her beloved life partner, Russ, since 1986. They have an adult son, Davin, who lives in Columbia, Maryland with his life partner, Rachel. In her spare time, Rev. Taddeo especially loves to hike, canoe, backpack and camp, and when she can’t be on outdoor adventures, she enjoys needlework, reading, writing, meditation, or a cup of ice cream while watching one of her favorite TV shows.
On May 1, 2011, June Warfield, a member of the Ministerial Search Committee, spoke at Rev. Jan Taddeo's ordination. Pictures are on Facebook and here's the greeting:
"Greetings from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, or UUCG, located in Lawrenceville, Georgia!
We extend our gratitude to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, for being a warm and nurturing greenhouse in which Jan could sprout, grow, and bloom into the “Minister that Life Created”. We also express our gratitude to the UUA for providing the infra-structure of education, training, and mentoring that enabled Jan to develop from a skilled lay leader, to a religious educator, to the professional minister who stands before us today.
We share our joy, as we look forward with great expectation to Jan's candidating week with us. We feel blessed that, just as we have chosen her to be our ministerial candidate, she has chosen us.
A minister is many things to a congregation, a minister touches us individually and collectively. A minister is someone who shares in your joys and sorrows, and who can guide you to experience them more fully, more authentically, more spiritually, and with more love.
We are delighted to be welcoming Jan into our hearts, and our home, at UUCG. This is a time of celebration for us, because we are about to start a new chapter in our life as a congregation. Our past chapters have been filled with love, enthusiasm, hope, the occasional church drama and lots of wine and coffee along the way.
We know that this new chapter, this chapter with Jan, will include more of the same, and many things that we have not yet even begun to imagine. As her first settled church, we know that just as Jan will be helping UUCG expand our spirit, so too we will be helping Jan grow her own spirit. It is a shared responsibility, and one that we accept with joy and gratitude.
We offer our vision of many years of Jan's leadership as our settled minister, walking our shared path in trust, compassion, and inquiry.
We offer our prayer that in this sacred space, at this sacred time, and on this holy occasion Jan, and all of us present, may be touched and strengthened by the power of Love.
Thank you for inviting us to share this special day with you!"
From April 1 – 3, 2011, representatives from congregations throughout the Mid-South District convened at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Sandy Springs, to fellowship, participate in the business of the district, attend workshops, and worship together. It is always wonderful to see new faces at Mid-South events as well as the familiar. Some of the highlights of the Annual Assembly include the Service of the Lively Tradition, Saturday morning in-gathering, keynote speaker, lunchtime affinity groups, workshops, closing worship and Sunday AM worship with the host church.The keynote speaker was Rev. Michael Dowd, who, with his wife, Connie Barlow, travel the country evangelizing Evolutionary Christianity. The one point I most related to during his talk was this: post-menopausal women would make the best elected officials. It was like he read my mind! A beautiful quilt representing each member church of Mid-South was presented to Eunice Benton, outgoing District Executive as a token of appreciation from all of us. Connie Goodbread, incoming Acting District Executive for Mid-South presented a nice religious education piece on the process of change.
Sunday morning religious exploration programs are available for children and teens. Register online or download the registration form.
Lydia will be serving as interim choir coordinator for two years until a more permanent coordinator can be found. She has been involved in worship and music since she was a child. She starting working with
children's church when she was 8, then the youth group, and followed as a substitute pianist and solist in the church she grew up attending. She had the distinct privilege to travel with a music ministry group all during college and spent most weekends and summers singing in nursing homes, churches, prisons, and shopping malls. Unpacking her suitcase and settling into a home and home church were a welcome change after graduation. She enjoys community musical theater and looks forward to a time when she can get back into those roles again. In the meantime she will continue growing into the music ministry of the faith community she has grown to love so much!
Dear Mid-South Chalice Lighter,
This Chalice Lighter Call goes out to assist the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta, Georgia. The First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta was founded in 1976 and in 1980 moved into its current building-the Old Stone Church facing Candler Park. They are seeking a grant to help make their sanctuary more accessible to the congregation and to the community they serve, and to make the building ADA compliant. The present ramp, built of wood in 1986 by First E volunteers under the supervision of an experienced contractor, has become hazardous to users and to the beautiful and historic building. Their goal is to replace the ramp, and possibly install a lift or elevator. A new wooden ramp would cost $17,000 to $18,000. A lift would cost between $17,500 and $21,500.
The Old Stone Church was built by hand by a black congregation-Antioch East Baptist Church-as part of a vibrant African-American community later forced out by racism. That congregation rebuilt the church of Stone Mountain granite when their previous building was burned under suspicious circumstances.
Your Chalice Lighter contribution of $10 (or more!) will be a gift to support growth at the First Existentialist Congregation as well as the overall growth of Unitarian Universalism in Mid-South District and across the country.
Please give generously!
Mid-South District Chalice Lighter Program
The committee works on a range of issues, like immigrant rights, rights for the GLBT community, & health care reform. Join us on 1st Sundays as we plan internal education, build partnerships, and provide active witness. We also laugh, party, and have fun!
For more information, contact JoAnn Weiss.
Throughout the year, UUCG offers fair trade chocolate, coffee, teas, and cocoa. These delicious products are part of our social justice initiatives and are available for purchase from the white stand by the kitchen. Proceeds from sales provide the UUCG community with the coffee for our coffee hour and also a Hungarian education. What does a cup of steaming Joe have to do with education? Funny you should ask! Sales of the Equal Exchange products are shared with a scholarship fund for a Transylvanian youth from our Partner Church. Reverend David, the pastor of our partner church, has identified two youth, whose father died recently, who need help to complete high school.
Equal Exchange coffees, teas and cocoas are available for sale at UUCG throughout the year and make great gifts too.
We now have Hazelnut coffee, along with Breakfast Blend! Coffee prices are on the rise. On November 1, 2011 the price of coffee will go to $9 a bag We have delayed raising the price for two years, but we can no longer put off inevitable, especially since we are serving a lot more coffee during our Sunday morning coffee hour to a lot more people. (Yeah). Baking cocoa and hot chocolate mix will remain at $6.50 a can. And that is good news!
Check out these recipes from Equal Exchange too.
The Nominating Committee’s duty has traditionally consisted of the recruitment of members willing to serve on the Board of Trustees, as well as finding their own replacements. This was done once a year, in the spring, prior to our annual meeting.
In addition to this responsibility, the five member Leadership Development Committee will have two main areas of concern. The first will be to conduct yearlong training sessions for committee chairs and their members, using, in part, a UUA curriculum entitled “Harvest the Power”. This close association with our lay leadership will aid the LDC in its selection of candidates for the Board of Trustees. The second area will be the identification of training programs and trainers both within our congregation and externally. Outside sources to be considered are UUA, programs offered via the web, the Mid South District, and the Atlanta area UU churches, including leadership opportunities available for our youth. And while members of the LDC would be expected to serve 2-year alternating terms, our first group would contain two people who would only serve one year, thus initiating alternate terms in the following year.
The ultimate goal of this program is to insure continuous leadership of our congregation and to help us move in a positive direction.
The Worship Committee meets quarterly to discuss the overall Sunday morning experience. Its chair, Bob Patrick, and Rev. Jan Taddeo lead the group in quarterly meetings with an annual planning retreat. A subgroup also meets monthly to focus on the music. In the summer, an annual planning retreat establishes the worship calendar of special days for the year (this is not Sunday by Sunday, but special days), practices themed music together (for example—social justice themed music) and shares a rich worship experience together.
Worship Associates are trained lay leaders that help with services each week, run 2 lay-led services each month and other services including the monthly Gathering of Compassionate Presence. Prior to the quarterly meeting, the Worship Associates propose topics for Sunday services. For more details, contact Bob Patrick.
The Music Committee coordinates Sunday music with Worship Associates, plans quarterly Universal Sensation Concerrts, and maintains music, instrument, and sound resources. Prior to the quarterly meeting, the committee identifies music possibilities and then refines these options at its monthly meetings. For more details, visit the articles on Music or contact Lydia Patrick.
The Hospitality Committee is currently looking for a few more people to join its core team to help one Sunday a month with set up and break down for potluck, Second Hour and other special events. If you are interested or need more information, please contact Nathalie Bigord.
Events Organized by Hospitality Teams:
This UUA workshop was developed to help congregation members broaden their notion of what the "ideal" minister is. When we narrowly define what (or who) we think would be the right fit for us (based on preconceived notions), we may miss out on possibilities for truly finding the "best" match that didn't necessarily fit our initial image. This workshop will challenge you to confront the stereotypes we all carry around and help you release them which results in many more possibilities for all. The workshop will be led by two experienced UU trainers from Alabama: Mary Johnson and Amanda Schuber. Child care and refreshments will be provided. You don't want to miss this!
More details below:
Beyond Categorical Thinking
A Beyond Categorical Thinking event is scheduled at the UUCG, January 16, 2011. Amanda Schuber from Ardmore, AL and Mary Esther Johnson from Harvest, AL are well-seasoned volunteer BCT facilitators will be speakers for the Sunday Service and facilitators of the three hour BCT workshop following service. They are UU members and between them have helped over 75 UU congregations across the U.S. and Canada.
The Beyond Categorical Thinking (BCT) program works with Unitarian Universalist congregations to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the ministerial search process. During the Beyond Categorical Thinking visit, the congregation will learn more about its institutional culture, examine ways it can be more inclusive in its consideration of ministerial candidates, and surface subtle and often unintentional, unconscious biases members hold that may result in a decision to not select the minister who would be the best fit for their ministerial needs.
Unitarian Universalist ministers who identify as people of color; as Latina/Latino/Hispanic; as bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender; or as a person with a disability often have a more difficult time in the ministerial search process because of unconscious congregational biases. Even in congregations that have called a minister, interim minister, or intern from one of the aforementioned identity groups, new biases have arisen because the congregation mistakenly assumed that the presence of these ministers means that they have adequately addressed diversity issues and need no further work.
The Beyond Categorical Thinking program creates opportunities for conversations and reflection for the congregation to identify issues related to identity. In the process, congregations explore some of these biases, learn more about the search process, and begin to think about next steps, such as further consultation, education, or training beyond the BCT program.
Well, we are getting closer. We have completed phone interviews with all the applicants of interest, and now ... the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) will meet a select number in person.
The MSC will spend the weekend with applicants and see them preach. It is an exciting time for us, the team has put in countless hours to get us to this point and all signs are positive.
And here is the most positive sign ... the MSC is intact. We started with seven members and seven members remain. You should be proud of these folks, they have all kept the trust you placed in them.
We will have special visitors over the next several weeks, so if there is anything you can do to make sure the place looks tidy that would be great. First impressions are important.
Thank you all for your faith and confidence in the team ... with trust, compassion, and inquiry.
The mission of the Care Team is to provide support and encouragement to members of the congregation by tending to their emotional, spiritual and material needs and to cultivate a feeling of community among church members.
Care Team members will:
Please contact us for more information:
Hatha Yoga Class at UUCG
Hatha Yoga is about bringing balance to the body, breath, mind and
spirit. It is a slow-paced class that offers basic yoga poses
(asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation techniques and
meditation. Benefits include:
-Calmer Nervous System
-Healthier Circulatory System
-Stronger Respiratory System
-Improved Focus and Clarity of Mind
This class is good for all ages and skill levels and includes pose
Yoga teacher, Carmen Watkins, is certified in Children’s Yoga,
Restorative Yoga and Vinyasa Flow Yoga and began teaching 10 years
Classes are $15 per session or $70 for 6 classes (paid in advance)
To register call Carmen Watkins at 404-374-9280
January 29, 2011 - MSD Faith Development Summit in Birmingham
February 14, 2011 - Standing on the side of Love Day!
February 18-20, 2011 - “Let Us Be Counted!” National UU Jewish Gathering in Atlanta (UUCA)
March 2-4, 2011 - UU Renaissance Modules Philosophy Module
April 1-3, 2011 -Annual Assembly at Northwest UU Congregation of Atlanta
May 2-5, 2011 - SEUUMA and SE LREDA at The Mountain
June 3-5, 2011 - President’s Convocation at Camp McDowell, AL
June 22-26, 2011 - General Assembly 50th Anniversary Celebration
Learn more at www.msduua.org
Getting involved at UUCG is a wonderful way to meet people and learn more about the community.
Here are a list of current engagement opportunities at UUCG:
2-2.5 hours on Sundays
1 hour as desired
Generate enthusiasm for belonging, Talk up the plans for 2011, Encourage people to pledge
Setup: 4 Fridays per year
Cleanup: 4 Saturday late nights per year
3 days for quotes, 1.5 days for carpet installation, 1 day to prganize painters, 1-2 days to paint, 1 day for lighting installation
Submit a building plan to Board for approval with cost estimate.
Plan a "build" event with committee volunteers.
3 days for plan & quotes
3 days to organize the build
1-2 days for build prep
1 day build project
1 day punch out
In Septmber 2012, the UUCG Board of Trustees launched the “Give Away the Plate” (GATP) ministry as a means for the congregation to further its UU principles, demonstrate generosity, and engage with good works in the community.
On select Sundays, typically two per month, UUCG gives its non-designated Sunday morning offering to a particular non-profit group. As of July 1, 2012, the recipient changes each quarter, increasing our impact with that group. One charity each month may also be a UU-affiliated organization (e.g., UUSC, UUA, The Mountain). UUCG receives on other Sundays, typically two per month.
Who can nominate a charity for GATP?
UUCG members, youth, the minister and staff may nominate charities. Nominations can be made through the UUCG website, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by completing a nomination form.
What’s expected of a nominator?
A charity nominator knows and supports the work of the charity. S/he follows up with the charity approved by the GATP team to:
Who approves charities for GATP?
The Give Away the Plate Team approves and prioritizes recipients based on confirmation of eligibility requirements and information from the congregation. The team also seeks to ensure that a range of charitable missions are supported by UUCG.
Who decides when a charity is the GATP recipient?
The minister and Worship Associates, with suggestions from the GATP team, determine the recipients for Sunday services. Factors include the theme of the service, time of year, and UU Association-wide events (i.e., Association Sunday).
What are the requirements for an eligible charity?
Desired Characteristics of Approved Charities:
If you are inspired by or involved with an organization who serves our local area and whose work aligns with UU principles and purposes, please let us know! We are actively seeking worthy charitable organizations that can be truly impacted by the generosity of our members. Ideal candidates will also have the potential to actively involve UUCG members in their work. Nomination forms are located on the fundraising bulletin board in the hallway. You can email your nominations or questions to email@example.com and a member of the Give Away the Plate committee will contact you. Share your gratitude for the good work of others with us as we expand our compassion into our community!
For more information, please email Give Away the Plate Team or visit Frequently Asked Questions about Give Away the Plate.
2nd Quarter Recipient
The recipient of UUCG’s Give Away The Plate (GATP)p rogram during the second quarter of 2013 (April 21, April 28, May 12, May 26, June 9 and June 30) will be Ahimsa House. With a name that means ‘nonviolence,” Ahimsa House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the links between domestic violence and animal abuse. Anywhere in Georgia and at no charge, Ahimsa House provides emergency pet safehousing, veterinary care, pet-related safety planning, legal advocacy, a 24-hour crisis line, outreach programs, and other services to help the human and animal victims of domestic violence reach safety together. In families affected by domestic violence, pets are also at risk. Abusers threaten, injure, and kill family pets to terrorize others in the home--yet most domestic violence shelters are unable to allow pets to accompany their owners to safety. Nearly 50% of individuals delay escaping the abuse because of concern about their pets.
1st Quarter Recipient
On select Sundays in 1st Quarter of 2013 (January 27, February 24, March 10, and March 24), UUCG donated the non-designated Sunday morning offering plate to Partnership Against Domestic Violence. PADV works to end the crime of intimate partner violence and empower its survivors. For 37 years, PADV, the largest nonprofit domestic violence organization in Georgia, has provided professional, compassionate, and empowering support to battered women and their children in metro Atlanta. PADV works to end domestic violence by:
Approved Nominations to Schedule
Nominations Pending Review
Paint Georgia Pink
Sunshine on a Ranney Day
Critical Needs Plate Recipients
Plate Collection History
UUCG's Music Director, Kevin McKinney, is currently booking studio music lessons. The lessons are available for:
Lessons are held Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at UUCG; for details, contact Kevin in person, or visit his website at ispeakmusic.com
Also available, Tuesday evenings only, are piano lessons taught by our very own Bryan Bishop. Contact Bryan for details.
UUCG now has a channel on YouTube.
Copies of our Sunday morning service are available for purchase immediately after the service concludes. Additionally, copies of past services are available in the white cabinet at the end of the hallway. A donation of $5 to the UUCG General Fund is suggested.
Wednesdays with Friends is on hold for the remainder of 2010. If you have ideas for Wednesday programming or another form of Adult Religious Education, please contact Paige Varner.
The prior program offered a catered dinner at 6:00 and a family friendly progra at 7:00. Childcare was avialable and folks were welcome to bring their own dinner too. People came to the dinner, program or both.
The Welcoming Congregation Designation – this is what our Congregation – UUCG has determined to re-explore. The process does not always end with a Congregation that chooses to be designated by UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association); I hope we do in the end; however, that is not all that the process is about. The process allows us to learn and explore our beliefs about the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered) population. This way we can make an informed decision. As a secondary effect it will help us, as individuals, identify many of our beliefs about those who are different. The series of workshops that will be offered starting in April or May after we complete the recommended written survey are both “introspective and interactive”. The movie night that was held in March was a kickoff of sorts allowing us to see some of the issues that our GLBT friends and neighbors experienced and continue to experience. It allowed us to view the experience before we are confronted with the actual expressions of the experiences of our GLBT friends and neighbors in the workshops. It helped us begin to define what we want to learn more about. It also helped those of us who are not familiar with the Gay Pride Movement to identify why the movement is so important to GLBT folks. I hope you will continue to participate in our events with an open mind and loving heart. The Social Justice Committee and Welcoming Congregation sub-committee are grateful that you continue to travel this path with us.
Thirteen youth are completing their Coming of Age program this month. They will celebrate with a dinner and ceremony with family, friends and mentors on May 18 and will be formally recognized in the service on May 19. These youth met at least monthly with their facilitators and mentors to explore questions of identity and faith. The high school-age group went to Boston to connect with the roots of our faith and to see how people continue to boldly live the values of our faith in their lives today. The middle school-age group completed a Roots and Wings retreat in April that took them to their family roots and provided opportunities to explore their dreams and how they might use their wings in the future.
Rev. Taddeo worked closely with the four facilitators, Peggy Averyt, Chris Michael, Nick Elliott, and Deidra Tucker, and they did the hard and rewarding work of leading the many sessions, taking the groups on field trips to local Unitarian Universalist congregations, and facilitating their involvement in service projects for UUCG and in the wider community. Patty Riehm was the COA Arranger, scheduling the tours in Boston, arranging for the retreats to Lake Laurel Lodge and Raccoon Mountain, and making sure all the details were attended to.
Recently at a family gathering we played a fun game of dealer’s choice poker. One particular game we played had a part where we all placed one card face out on our forehead. Quite a twist, since most poker games involve either everyone knowing your card, or only you knowing your card. In this case, you didn’t know your card but everyone else did.
I couldn’t help thinking-- what if my gender identification were like that-- everyone else knew it but me? It was also a good start to an exercise in thinking about how to be welcoming to folks regardless of their gender identification.
So, if I am my own worst behavior problem, how do I work on fixing that when it comes to interacting with folks? I think the first lesson is that my own identification is the place to start. The second lesson is that my “card” isn’t one of two, it’s more than that. The perils of being cisgender often involve thinking everyone else is, too. According to Transgender 101 (http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/identity/25348.shtml) cisgender means my gender identity, presentations, and behavior “match” (according to the gender binary) the sex I was assigned at birth. The third lesson is that I have to throw out all of my convenient assumptions about the “card” of others.
So, first I need to ask-- how much of my indoctrination that the world was like the old story of Noah loading the animals on the Ark-- “only two, please”-- influenced my own choice? Perhaps I need to think about all of the cards in the deck, that multiple types of identification have always existed, and ask-- if my card is the eight of hearts, what does that really mean? This could be uncomfortable-- society isn’t kind to folks who deny the convenient assumptions so I’m conditioned not to think like that.
Next, I need to ask-- why do I need to make a judgment about gender in order to feel comfortable in conversation with folks?
And last, for now at least-- How do I make the sort of connections that show my commitment to helping form a beloved community? How do I meet someone for the first time and start a conversation using inclusive language? How do I, in response to Reverend Jan’s challenge, “…make a commitment to transformation … to being and acting in ways that are different than what our dominant culture affirms…”?
So, I’m going to stay involved with the Welcoming Community initiative UUCG recently committed to pursue over the next two years. I’m going to attend the events and keep an open mind, willing hands, and a loving heart. If I miss an event, I’ll check in with folks who attended, keep connected to what has gone on, and do some catch-up work if possible. I don’t want to fall behind-- running to catch up gets harder as I age! I’m going to remember that “normal” is just a setting on my dryer, and that no one should be required to conform to stereotypes. It would be as silly as requiring people to wear a card on their forehead!
P.S. Don’t miss the upcoming Transgender Identity workshop!
Middle School Congregational Life Sessions
High School Congregational Life Sessions
Birthday Gifts Help Endowment Fund
A message from Doug Beers, Endowment Fund Chair
The UUCG Endowment Fund Inc. ended FY 2012 with $50,439.81 growing by $1,727.65 after granting $500 to UUCG for GA delegates and $500 towards completion of the Memorial Garden. Most of the growth last year was in large part due to the continued support of “Birthday Club” donations. Thanks for recent donations from Janet Causey and Lydia Patrick. At years’ end we also received $121.88 as our first distribution from the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund. Thanks to all of you for your continued support of long term stewardship for UUCG.
All you have to do is drop a check in the plate marked for the UUCG Endowment Fund when you celebrate your birthday (or a family members) made out in the amount of years you are celebrating and you become a member of our Birthday Club. If you donate every year from age 35 to 60 you will have helped us grow by $1,235.00. You can also designate the UUCGEF as a recipient of a memorial or bequest. For more information pick up one of our “Funding The Future” brochures in the front hallway at UUCG.
Who Moved My Church?
A letter from Bill Benshoof
"Where do we come from, what are we, where are we going..."
I want to share with you one of my favorite (OK, the only one could memorize) poems, "A Dream Deferred," by Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
With apologies to Mr. Hughes, I have a new version:
Community outreach, including holding our own events and attending those in our community as well as reaching out to local LGBT groups, is also a part of the program. We might attend a Pride Parade, a Rememberance Night, or meetings of local LGBT groups, or invite a local LGBT group to be part of one of our events-- things we've done successfully in the past. We might want to consider a range of activities to involve as many Congregation members as possible. Some folks might like decorating Pride t-shirts but not be able to attend the Parade. Some folks might want to read a book and gather in a small groups to talk about it. Some folks might be more interested in publicity, fundraising, or teaching a course. Someone else might write an essay.
Once the education and community outreach programs are well under way, the Congregation considers the thoughts and ideas of the Membership. We identify how being "Welcoming" supports our the core values. We encourage everyone to talk honestly about it, particularly those who have strong feelings. If we decide to bring the issue up for discussion, we define a structured process to "talk it over" possibly lasting several months. We make it clear that the integrity of all participants will be respected at all times and any behavior that does not treat people with dignity will not be tolerated. Then, we use a voting method that affirms the spirit of an inclusive democratic process and maintains the dignity, and, if necessary, the anonymity of the individuals voting. Then, the Congregation votes to request recognition from the UUA as a "Welcoming Congregation." Once recognized, we continue our programs and monitor our progress.
And, until I'm educated, reaching out, and recognized (taking personal responsibility here) my Congregation doesn't exist for folks who check that box on the UUA web site. Just as I checked out the safety of UUCG before attending regularly, checking the "Welcoming Congregation" box is important to someone who is screening churches and eliminating places that might not evidence support and validation.
So, regarding my essay's title, "Who Moved My Church?," here is the unfortunate answer: "Who" is me, because I haven't participated in the "Welcoming Congregation" program. "Moved" is the UUA, because they are part of a Movement and are following the Movement's agenda. "My" is definitely UUCG, as evidenced by my Signature in the Book. "Church" is a problem, because not being a member of the "Welcoming Congregation" separates me from a part of the Beloved Community many call "Church" that deserves my participation.
On some level, I knew that not participating in the discussions on a topic important to me would lead me to a painful place. My Father's mentor in the Air Force, Theodore Roosevelt Conley, was a gay man who had to hide his orientation for his entire career. My cousin Greg died of AIDS. Rev. Bradley Schmelling, of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Atlanta, was written off the rolls of the ELCA (my birth-Church) by ELCA Southeastern Synod Bishop Ron Warren for admitting he was in a committed relationship with a man, and his congregation decided to keep him, therby following him into excommunication. Rev. Schmelling was one of a number of ELCA pastors who were graduated from Seminary and Ordained, however they were only allowed to serve if they agreed to be celibate. Post-Ordination, they were investigated by Bishop Warren and, for the "sin" of falling in love and entering into a committed relationship, were written off the rolls of the ELCA (excommunicated, along with their congregations) unless they agreed to resign.
Dante Alighieri, in his "Inferno," writes “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” (I'm not claiming I read his "Inferno.") Metaphorically speaking, it's getting warmer and warmer-- I need to turn around and head back in the direction of Justice, overcome my own internal resistance, and work for improvement.
But this change is a hard one. I'm aware of the need, but I'm afraid of the process. All of this talk about sexual equality is outside of my experience. How does it feel to be "asexual?" or "pan-sexual?" and how do "Queer" feelings compare to "Gay" or "Lesbian" feelings? How could race or ethnicity complicate sexual orientation? How do I introduce or address mail to a same-sex couple, or two people in an "asexual" relationship? What sort of problems do bisexual people or people in polyamorous (the spell checker doesn't even know that word) relationships face? Can someone know their sexual identity before they even enter puberty? How do I treat a fifth-grader in transition? How do I treat a co-worker who transitions genders? What if I'm not sure if someone is a transsexual, a cross-dresser, or just has different tastes in clothing?
Sometimes the rate of change in my life seems overwhelming, exhausting, even paralyzing. As I lie in bed wondering how I can face this frightening change, what can inspire me?
A song? Well, the birds are still singing. Maybe I can imagine they are calling me (with Southern accents), saying "Be-all, Be-all, get up, there is work to do!" Perhaps I should listen to them-- my embryo once looked a lot like them. I suppose they do know a lot about change. They used to be dinosaurs.
"Where do we come from, what are we, where are we goiiinnnggg..."
Many of our UUCG teens gathered for a 24 hour planning retreat and developed a mission statement for the UUCG Youth Program and goals for this program year. They also claimed new space for their large and expanding group ... you can find them in the Treehouse now instead of the Lounge. When they gather on Sunday, September 16 for their first Sunday morning program, they will begin to plan how to accomplish their goals, decorate their new space, and start planning some activities for the fall.
The adult advisors working with our teens this year are John and Suzanne Nemeth, Donna Donohue, Steve Babb, Dave Averyt, Kelley Cody-Grimm, Chris Michael, Peggy Averyt, Tyler Campbell and Laura Meyer. Please give them each your gratitude and support!
UUCG high school youth and their parents can request to join the “UUCG Senior High 2012-13” on Facebook as one way of keeping up with events.
Look for e-news updates about youth activities, and this space in the monthly GNUUS as well.
Submitted by Nancy J. as adapted from UUCA bulletin and Diana Davis, author of books on Church Leadership)
Here is a reminder of a few important safety guidelines...
Special thanks to Debra Greenwood, our current organizer for the bulletin boards for updating the boards for Installation. Please feel welcome to work with your committee or class to make updates too. There’s a new Networking board, across from the Lost and Found, ready for use. And, if you’d like to help with the bulletin boards, please contact Debra at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many boards have forms and flyers for you to take home too. Themes include:
Many events at UUCG ask for a “suggested donation” and that’s just what it is meant to be, a suggestion. Some people will be able and willing to donate more, and some will not be able to donate at the suggested level. We strive to make our events inclusive for everyone in the congregation.This is one of the many ways we are modeling an intentional and welcoming community.
If you are interested in trying the choir on for size we usually warm up and practice Sunday mornings at 9:00 - however sometimes that time changes so if you want to sing with us you can e-mail Lydia and ask to be put on the Choir Friends list so you will know if the 9:00 warm up time is a go each and every Sunday.
We welcome your energy and enthusiasm!
About our Choir Director
Learn more about other music at UUCG
UUCG offers a wide range of opportunities for members to get involved in a rich and rewarding church life. Whether you want to volunteer within the church or in the community, continue down your spiritual path, or just socialize, chances are UUCG has something for you. UUCG is always open to new activities and opportunities for growth. Learn more about each group by clicking on its title in the list below or email the contact.
Give Away the Plate
Review and prioritize nominations for the Give Away the Plate program, administers program and facilitates program communication.
Lifelong Learning and Exploration
Sponsors programs of Religious Exploration for Adults.
Yarns from the Heart
Knitters and crocheters gather to create prayer shawls, baby blankets and other fiber gifts for members and friends of UUCG and the wider community. Open to all knitters & crocheters. 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 10:00 a.m.
Old "Groups" page.
Home Links help connect parents with the classroom by providing a summary of class lessons. It also supports faith development a home by providing a week of chalice lightings, websites and books to explore.
Home Links are available below, after logging in to the website, or pick-up your copy on Sunday mornings.
As a free church, the authority of UUCG lies with its members. We elect a Board of Trustees and Nominating Committee. The programs and events of UUCG are organized by volunteers. The board governs through policies and follows the bylaws set by the congregation.
Bylaws of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, Inc.
Adopted June 2, 1996; Amended May 17, 1998; Amended May 20, 2001; Amended May 2004; Amended May, 2009; Amended February 20, 2011, Amended May 19, 2013
Article I. Name
The name of this organization shall be "Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett," hereinafter referred to as "UUCG" or “this congregation.”
Article II. Purpose
Section 2.1 UUCG Purpose. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett is a supportive religious community whose purposes are to explore spirituality, celebrate humanity, and respect diversity, inspired by the Principles and Purposesof the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Section 2.2 UUA Principles and Purposes. UUCG supports the Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association (the UUA). A copy of the current Principles and Purposes of the UUA shall be included with this document as "Attachment A."
Article III. Denominational Affiliation
This congregation shall be a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association and of the appropriate district of that Association. This congregation shall make annual financial contributions to these organizations commensurate with its resources.
UUCG promotes the full participation of persons in all of its activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, ethnicity, color, national origin, disability, gender, affectional or sexual orientation, or age and without requiring adherence to any particular religious belief or creed.
Article V. Membership
Membership in this congregation is open to any person, consistent with Article IV. Nothing in these Bylaws shall be construed to impose any test of creed or belief as a condition of membership.
Unless otherwise specified, all references to membership in these bylaws shall mean “Voting Membership.”
Section 5.1 Criteria for Types of Membership
Section 5.1.1 Voting Member. Any person may become a Voting Member of this congregation who:
Section 5.1.2 Associate Member. Any person may become an Associate Member of this congregation who:
An Associate Member who reaches the age of 18 may elect to become a Voting Member by notifying the appropriate official as specified in the UUCG Policies and Procedures Manual.
Section 126.96.36.199 Associate Member Rights & Responsibilities. Associate Member will have full voting privileges and may be elected as a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees. Consistent with the laws of Georgia, an Associate Member may not accept a fiduciary and voting role on the Board of Trustees and may not hold an Officer position.
Section 5.1.3 Friend. Any person may become a Friend of UUCG who:
Section 188.8.131.52 Friend Rights & Responsibilities: A Friend can participate fully in the life of the congregation as described in the UUCG Policies and Procedures. Friends may not serve on the Board, nor vote in legal business meetings.
Section 5.2 Member Voting Rights.
Section 5.2.1 Length of Membership. Voting rights are reserved for those who have been Voting Members or Associate Members for at least six weeks prior to a legally called business meeting.
Section 5.2.2 One Vote. Each Voting Member and each Associate Member shall be entitled to one (1) vote on each matter submitted for a vote in accordance with the Policies and Procedures.
Section 5.3 Membership Review. Membership, including Associate Members and Friends, shall be reviewed at least once a year according to the Policies and Procedures, prior to certifying the congregation’s total membership to UUA.
Section 5.4 Membership Termination or Suspension. Membership in UUCG may be suspended or terminated as provided in the Policies and Procedures manual.
Section 5.4.1 Termination of Membership. A member shall be removed from the Membership Roll in case of:
Section 5.4.2 Reconsideration of Termination. If the Board has voted to terminate a member's membership, the terminated member or any Voting Member of UUCG may request in writing that the Board reconsider its decision as described in the Policies and Procedures.
Article VI. Organizational Structure
Section 6.1 Fiscal Year. The fiscal year shall be January 1 through December 31.
Section 6.2 Authority of Congregation. The government of this congregation is vested in its membership, represented by its elected Board of Trustees. The following powers may only be exercised by the congregation, comprised of Voting Members:
Section 6.3 Governance. The Board of Trustees, hereinafter referred to as the Board, subject to the prime authority of the congregation, is the principal policy forming and administrative body of the church. The Board has full authority and responsibility, except as limited by these bylaws, to act on the business and programs of UUCG.
Section 6.3.1 Responsibilities of the Board. The Board shall be vested with the care and administration of real and personal property of UUCG, and shall conduct its business affairs in accordance with UUCG Policies and Procedures. The Board shall review the UUCG Policies and Procedures at least every two years to adapt to current congregational activities. It shall keep the Congregation informed of its actions.
Section 6.3.2 Meetings of the Board. The Board will meet monthly to conduct the regular business of UUCG.
Additional meetings of the Board may be called by the President, minister, or three (3) members of the Board. Due notice of special Board meetings, stating the date, time, place, and purpose of the meeting shall be given to each Board member. No business except that stated in the notice shall be acted upon, but other matters may be discussed. Such meetings may be held in person, by conference call or other electronic means. Minutes of such meetings shall be recorded and made available to the membership.
The regular Board meetings shall be open except for "closed meetings" held for discussion of personnel and individual member matters only.
Robert's Rules of Ordershall be used as the parliamentary authority to conduct meetings.
Section 6.3.3 Quorum for Board Meetings. A majority of the voting members of the Board shall constitute a quorum.
Section 6.3.4 Composition of the Board. The Board shall consist of seven voting members: a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and three (3) members-at-large.
Section 6.3.5 Duties of the Officers and Trustees. Members of the Board shall perform those duties associated with their office in the Policies and Procedures Manual and as follows:
Section 6.3.6 Election of Board Members. An election for members of the Board shall be held during the Spring meeting of the congregation in the calendar year. Notice of the election shall be a part of the meeting's required notification. Such notice shall include the names of the candidates, as of the date of notice, for Board membership.
Section 6.3.7 Criteria for Board Membership. All Trustees of the Board shall be voting members of the congregation as specified in Article V, Section 5.1.1 for at least six weeks prior to their election or appointment to office. Only a voting member who has been a member of UUCG for at least two years may serve as an Officer. No more than one member of a household may serve on the Board in a given term.
Section 6.3.8 Board Member Term of Office. The President, Vice-President, and Secretary shall serve for a term of one (1) year, while the Treasurer shall serve for a term of two (2) years, terms to be served July 1st through June 30th or until their successors are elected and qualified. At-Large Trustees shall serve staggered three (3) year terms.
Members of the Board shall serve no more than two (2) consecutive terms in the same position.
Section 6.4 Committees and Task Forces. The Board shall establish such committees and task forces as it deems necessary. The Board shall delegate to such committees particular responsibilities that support the purpose, programs and functioning of the congregation.
Section 6.4.1 General. Committee chairpersons, other than persons elected by the congregation, shall serve at the discretion of the Board. Each committee has the responsibility to periodically communicate a summary of its activities to the Board. In addition, the committee shall provide an annual written report to the Board Secretary for presentation at the Spring meeting of the congregation.
Section 6.4.2 Leadership Development Committee shall consist of five (5) members, elected by the membership at the Spring congregational meeting from a slate of Voting Members. Terms shall be for two years, with three members and two members elected in alternating years.
The Leadership Development Committee is responsible for the identification, recruitment, and training of persons to serve in UUCG leadership positions and such other elected positions as may be necessary and described in the UUCG Policies and Procedures.
The Leadership Development Committee shall be responsible for preparing a ballot for use during Board and other elections and making that ballot available to the membership in accordance with the notice requirements described in 7.1.1.
Section 6.5 Removal from Office. Any person serving in an elected position may be removed from office, prior to the normal expiration of his or her term of office, by a two-thirds (67%) majority of the Voting Members of the congregation present at any Legal Business Meeting called for that purpose. Forty percent (40%) of the Voting Membership of the congregation shall constitute a quorum for this purpose.
Section 6.6 Vacancy. In case of a vacancy in an unexpired term, a candidate shall be recruited by the Leadership Development Committee as described in the UUCG Policies and Procedures. Upon approval by the Board, the candidate shall begin serving the unexpired term.
Article VII. Legal Congregational Business Meetings
Section 7.1 Notice of Legal Business Meetings. All congregational business meetings, hereinafter referred to as Legal Business Meetings, shall be called by the Board.
Section 7.1.1 Notice of all Legal Business Meetings shall be published in UUCG’s official newsletter or website at least fourteen (14) days before the date of the meeting, and shall be printed in the Order of Service on two consecutive Sundays immediately preceding the meeting. The notice shall state the business to be transacted. Notices may also be sent electronically or by mail to all members of the congregation 14 calendar days prior to the meeting.
Section 7.1.2 Official action taken at any Legal Business Meeting shall be limited to those items listed in the meeting notice.
Section 7.2 Quorum for Legal Business Meetings. Unless otherwise specified in these bylaws, twenty percent (20%) of the Voting Membership shall constitute a quorum. Members present at the meeting and those who submitted an absentee ballot prior to the meeting shall be counted in the quorum.
Section 7.3 Procedures. Robert's Rules of Order shall be used as the parliamentary authority to conduct all Legal Business Meetings.
Section 7.4 Decisions / Voting. Unless otherwise specified in these bylaws, all decisions in legal congregational business meetings will be determined by a simple majority of members present and qualified member voting ballots received prior to the start of the Legal Business Meeting. Voting Members shall be allowed to cast an absentee ballot in advance of a business meeting in accordance with the UUCG Policies and Procedures.
Section 7.5 Legal Business Meetings. There shall be at least two regularly scheduled congregational Legal Business Meetings per year, the Spring Meeting and the Winter Meeting.
The Spring Meeting shall be held each year on or between April 1st and May 31st and shall include as part of its agenda: 1) election of Trustees and Officers 2) annual report of the Board 3) financial report and any other business as may properly come before the meeting.
The Winter meeting shall be held on or between October 15th andDecember 20th to adopt the budget for the fiscal year and take action on such business items as stated in the meeting notice.
The time and place for these meetings are to be determined by the Board.
Section 7.6 Special Congregational Meetings. Special meetings may be called by the Board of Trustees as necessary to conduct the business of UUCG.
Section 7.7 Special Meeting Called By Members. Upon written request by 20% of the congregation's members, for one or more stated purpose(s), the Board shall call a Legal Business Meeting within 60 calendar days. Attendance by forty percent (40%) of the Voting Membership shall constitute a quorum. Decisions will be determined by a simple majority of members present.
Article VIII. The Minister
Section 8.1 Responsibilities of the Minister. The minister shall be the primary religious and spiritual leader of the congregation in accordance with the established purposes of UUCG. The minister is responsible for the spiritual well-being of the congregation by way of Sunday services and other religious gatherings or rituals of the congregation and pastoral services to individuals, families and congregational leadership. The minister shall be an ex-officio member of the Board and all other committees. The minister shall conduct such administration and coordination duties as agreed upon by the minister and the Board. The minister represents the congregation in the larger community.
Section 8.2 Freedom of Speech and Action. The minister shall be free to express or act upon his or her opinions, beliefs and convictions both in the pulpit and in the community at large. The minister's views are not necessarily those of the congregation and shall not be so represented.
Section 8.3 Ministerial Search. When authorized by the membership, a Ministerial Search Committee, composed of seven members representing diverse perspectives of gender, race, household composition, religious orientation, and skill sets, shall be selected by the Leadership Development Committee and approved by the voting congregation at a Legal Business Meeting. UUCG members shall be eligible to be elected after two years of active engagement in the UUCG congregational life.
The Ministerial Search Committee shall follow the search process prescribed by the Unitarian Universalist Association. The committee or its designee shall negotiate an initial job description and employment contract with the candidate. Said documents shall be presented to the Board for review and approval prior to approval of a candidate by the membership.
Section 8.4 Minister Eligibility and Congregational Approval. A minister, who is either in, or eligible for, Full Fellowship with UUA is eligible to become a minister with UUCG.
The Board shall call a special meeting for the selection of a minister when so requested by the Ministerial Search Committee. A minister shall be called upon the recommendation of the Ministerial Search Committee and the Board, by at least ninety percent (90%) of those members voting at a Legal Business Meeting called for that purpose. For the purpose of calling a minister, forty percent (40%) of the Voting Membership shall constitute a quorum.
Section 8.5 Termination of Call. The contractual relationship between the Minister and UUCG may be dissolved by either party for any reason upon three (3) months written notice. Such provision shall be incorporated in any contractual agreement.
Section 8.5.1 Dismissal. A minister may be dismissed from duties by a two-thirds (67%) majority of the members of the congregation present at a Legal Business Meeting. For the purpose of dismissing a minister, forty percent (40%) of the membership shall constitute a quorum. In the event of the minister's dismissal, his or her salary and allowance shall be continued for three months after the date of dismissal unless a shorter term is mutually agreed.
Section 8.5.2 Resignation. Should the minister offer his or her resignation, a written letter giving three months notice, unless a shorter term is mutually agreed, must be submitted at the time the resignation is offered.
Section 8.6 Interim Ministry. Should the congregation decide to employ an interim minister, UUA guidelines for hiring an interim minister shall be followed.
Section 9.1 Staff. The Board shall hire staff as necessary to carry out the mission of UUCG within the financial means of the congregation. New employee positions must be approved by the Voting Members.
Section 9.2 Terms of Employment. The Board will determine all terms of employment after consultation with the relevant committees or councils, consistent with the Policies and Procedures.
Article X. Policies and Procedures Manual
Section 10.1 In order to provide for efficient and consistent operation of congregational affairs on a day-to-day basis, a "UUCG Policies and Procedures Manual" (PPM) shall be followed. The Board may establish, modify, or repeal, policies and procedures as it deems prudent, however, such policies and procedures must not conflict with these Bylaws.
Section 10.2 The official copy of the PPM shall be in the possession of the Board Secretary and an up-to-date copy of the manual shall also be available in the church office.
Article XI. Other Legal, Insurance, and Financial Provisions
Section 11.1 Indemnification UUCG shall indemnify any person who is or was an employee, agent, representative, Officer, member of the Board of Trustees, or volunteer against any liability asserted against such person and incurred in the course and scope of his or her duties or functions within UUCG to the maximum extent allowable by law, provided the person acted in good faith and did not engage in an act or omission that is intentional, willfully or wantonly negligent, or done with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others. The provisions of this article shall not be deemed exclusive of any other rights to which such person may be entitled under any bylaw, agreement, insurance policy, vote of members or otherwise.
Section 11.2 Bonding. The President, Treasurer, Secretary, and other authorized signatories may be bonded at the expense of UUCG in an amount determined by the Board.
Section 11.3 Protection of Non-Profit Status. Neither UUCG, the Board, nor any officer or employee of UUCG shall take any action or allow any activity or use of UUCG property which shall endanger the nonprofit corporate status or charitable, tax-exempt status of UUCG or its property. Nothing in these bylaws shall be construed to allow a violation of this section.
Article XII. Amendments
These bylaws, so far as allowed by law, may be amended or replaced by a two-thirds majority at a Legal Business Meeting. Proposed change(s) shall be contained in the meeting notice.
Article XIII. Dissolution
Should UUCG cease to function or the membership votes to dissolve the organization, any net assets of the congregation shall be transferred to the Unitarian Universalist Association or its legal successor for its general purposes. The Board shall perform all actions necessary to effect such conveyance. This transfer will be made in full compliance with whatever laws are applicable.
Unitarian Universalist Association Principles & Purposes
UUA Purpose: This association of free yet interdependent congregations devotes its resources to and exercises its corporate powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. It supports the creation, vitality, and growth of congregations that aspire to live out the Unitarian Universalist Principles. Through public witness and advocacy, it advances the Principles in the world.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.
"Faith development is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is all we teach. The congregation is the curriculum." -adapted by Connie Goodbread from Maria Harris in “Fashioning a People” We welcome you.
Our Religious Exploration program for children, youth, and adults includes:
Please register all children and teens for the upcoming summer program and 2012-2013 year. Newcomers are always welcome.
For questions and more information, contact the UUCG office or the RE Committee.
Learn more about ideas for upcoming program years in The Big Idea Moves Forward.
Learn more about the proposed Child Supervision Policy at the April Town Hall meeting.
Read or download latest edition of GNUUS and archive since 2000.
In order to proceed, you must agree with the following rules:
UUCG.org Web Site Rules
Registration to this site is for UUCG members only. The membership committee will have final say on decisions regarding registration to this site. To use this site, you must agree to abide by the rules and policies detailed below.
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Sunday morning Children & Youth Religious Exploration programs are grouped by age and use age-appropriate curriculum incorporating the Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes.
RE programs are fun and help develop a sense of individual worth, a regard and respect for each person's uniqueness, and a knowledge and reverence for the beauty and diversity in the world. In our classes, we include material on ethics, values, nature, cultures, Judeo-Christian heritage, world religions, and Unitarian Universalist history.
Programs are also fellowship and support groups for get-togethers like pool parties, movie marathons, fundraisers, and lockins.
UUCG offers a variety of Religious Exploration opportunities beyond Sunday morning too.
The Children and Youth Religious Exploration Committee is planning the first steps for implementing The Big Idea for the 2013-2014 program year. What we can tell you now is that we’ll be asking children and youth to be registered both by age and by learning style and core interests. So, rather than what grade in school your child is in, we’ll be asking whether your child or teen prefers activities in these four core categories:
Please start giving some thought to which type of activities your child most enjoys in preparation for registration for the next program year. You might also start considering what passions, interests, hobbies, and skills you would like to offer to create programs in these four learning areas. As our planning progresses there will be much for us to co-create together in making this new way of being a religious community develops.
Lifelong Learning and Exploration
We offer programs for adults and youth periodically throughout the program year. What would you like to see offered? How often? When? What are some creative ways we can deepen our spiritual lives, increase our connections, and have fun learning together? Are you interested in facilitating a program for youth and/or adults? Share your ideas and your interest with Rev. Taddeo.
The Saturday Chalice Circles is open to all on May 19 at 10:00 a.m. Come and see what chalice circles are all about. The meeting begins at 10:00am. Come earlier for a shared potluck breakfast. The topic for discussion is "Computer Aggravation."
Current Religious Exploration opportunities for Adults at UUCG:
1:30 - 2:30
Join Rev. Taddeo in a discussion on the upcoming monthly worship and religious exploration theme. What stories do you have about the theme? What challenges have you encountered? How have your perspectives changed over time? Come to this supportive circle to share stories and ideas to deepen your spiritual exploration.
5/20: Death, 6/10: God
Being a UU is all about exploring religious thought, so Adult Religious Education is an important part of our religious experience. A variety of educational and social interests are addressed in continuing or periodic groups. They are led by congregation members and our minister. Watch our newsletter and this web site details on adult programs as they're offered.Adult Education Activities - Wednesday with Friends
Wednesdays are for fellowship, community and learning. Starting September 9th, 2009, our doors will be open every Wednesday evening for dinner with your friends and a great education program. Child will be provided.
See our article on New UU classes.
Partner Church History:
Our partner church, in Kolosz, Romania, has existed since about the year 1000 when the pagans turned to Christianity According to Rev. Farkas.
Historically, Transylvania was part of Hungary - save for a brief period of time as an independent kingdom in the sixteenth century. After the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Transylvania was awarded to Romania. Almost all of the surviving Unitarian churches (which at one time had numbered over 500 and now is about 160) in East Central Europe thus became not only a religious but also an ethnic minority in the vastly enlarged Romanian state. In the nineteen twenties the old American Unitarian Association instituted a "Sister Church Program" to match American with Transylvanian churches because for a time it looked as if the persecution of our co-religionists would entirely wipe out Unitarianism. After some time the "Sister Church Program" was nearly forgotten. The problem was finances, nor the expertise to adequately supervise the rapidly expanding program. It had never really had "foreign missions" and therefore had little experience in dealing with people with different cultures and histories than our own. The UUA decided to work with Dr. Judit Gellerd. Judit was the daughter of a famous Transylvanian Unitarian minister, Imre Gellerd, and had been living for some time in the United States. She was passionately committed to the cause of saving Transylvanian Unitarianism and had the knowledge and contacts in Transylvania the program desperately needed.
New UU Classes are offered throughout the year, New UU classes offer participants a "taste" of the Unitarian Universalist experience. The program is enjoyed by non-members wanting to learn about UUism in general and UUCA in particular, as well as by members who want to update their commitment and further explore their religious journey.Besides being a pre-requisite for membership (except for those transferring from another UU congregation), participating in New UU is a fantastic way to meet people, gain knowledge, and strengthen ties all at once.For more details or to learn about when the next New UU classes will be held, lease contact the Membership Committee team at email@example.com.
There's lots of music at UUCG! Click on any section header to learn more.
Our choir currently rehearses on Sunday mornings at 9:00am at UUCG. Newcomers should feel free to come to a rehearsal and join in. All voices are welcome.
House Band / Jam Night
Other musical options at UUCG include our “Jam Night”, typically the second Friday of each month. Come join with our house band for fun, fellowship, and musical experimentation. This is open to all instrumentalists, percussionists, and singers!
People of all ages and music abilities can gather to play music together. It provides an opportunity and purpose to practice, perform, and share gifts. Come and share the joys of playing a piece as a group and having it come together. Meets in the Sanctuary at 7-9pm on 1st and 3rd Mondays beginning July 1, with a special introduction on June 3. If you can't come for the whole 2 hours - come for the first or second hour. Listeners welcome too. Put it on your calendar; bring your music stand and instrument and your music - duets, trios, band (as many parts as you have available).
Random Acts of Music and Art
Random Acts of Music and Arts (RAMA) champions a variety of live artistic and musical performances to honor the talents of UUCG members and special guest artists, and to increase awareness of UUCG through inspiration, expression, artist cultivation, fellowship, and fun. There will be approximately one event per quarter. RAMA events will espouse a safe, welcoming, handicapped-accessible, and family-friendly atmosphere.
Guitar, piano, trumpet, music theory and other music lessons are available on select nights at UUCG.
Please take a moment and enjoy each piece and soak in these gifts from our local artists. The pieces help beautify our space and also available for purchase for your home, office, family or friends. UUCG receives a portion of the proceeds too.
The UUCG tech team creates audio recordings of services and assists with microphones and other audio or video needs for special events. Please contact them at least two weeks in advance for support.
If you like to greet visitors or can help out with service activities such as collecting the offering, please talk to one of the current Beacons on a Sunday morning to get connected.
If you're interested in volunteering to conduct a lay led service or you know of a guest speaker, please contact June Warfield: June's email or by phone (770) 985-6132
If you're interested in playing an instrument and/or singing during services - solos, duos (non chorus performances) - please speak to Kevin McKinney, our Music Director, after Sunday services.
"…To guarantee a continuing, strong Unitarian Universalist presence in Gwinnett County, we seek to establish a solid foundation of financial security through generous funding of the short-term and long-term needs of our congregation."
In 1996, we established the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett Endowment Fund, Inc. (UUCGEF) as a separate entity to provide focused management of funds raised for our long-term needs. The UUCGEF is a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation, organized under the laws of the State of Georgia and charged with receiving and investing funds and property to create a robust trust fund that will grow over the years and benefit many UU generations to come.
We realize that the circumstances of every member and friend are unique, so we want to make you aware of the many alternative ways in which you can contribute to the Endowment Fund, both now and in the future.
Important factors in making a planned gift include maximizing personal benefits, while minimizing after-tax cost. Here are some examples of ways that you can contribute to the UUCGEF that will help strengthen the future growth of the congregation.
Because of the charitable deduction, the net cost to you will be lower than the face value of your gift. If you wish, your gift can be designated to honor or memorialize another person or to commemorate special occasions, such as anniversaries or birthdays.
Gifts of appreciated securities can be an excellent way to support the UUCGEF and minimize your capital-gains tax liability.
With careful planning, charitable gifts of certain types of assets, such as appreciated long-term capital gain securities and real-estate, can provide even greater tax benefits to you than a gift of equivalent value in cash.
After ensuring that your family is adequately provided for, simply revise your will or your insurance beneficiaries to include a specific amount or percentage to the Endowment Fund.
Providing a gift through the terms of your will is one of the most common ways of making charitable donations. Bequests can take various forms, including specific, residuary, contingent, or restricted.
The charitable remainder trust is similar to other types of trusts, except that it has a charitable beneficiary. In this case, you transfer property irrevocably to a trust and specify how the trust income and principal are to be distributed. You may create the trust to become effective during your life or upon your death. Until the remainder interest is conferred to the Endowment Fund, you may continue to receive the income.
The charitable lead trust is the reverse of the charitable remainder trust in that it provides for the gift of an income interest from property to the Endowment Fund for a term of years--after which the property either reverts to you or passes to a non-charitable beneficiary designated by you.
An annuity trust can provide for payment to the UUCGEF in a fixed annual amount of at least 5% of the initial fair market value of the gift in trust.
On-Line (Credit Card) Donations
If you like, you can make an on-line contribution right now. We use a secure service provided by an organization called Helping.org to receive your credit card contribution online. Helping.org is sponsored by the AOL Foundation and provides secure donation processing to eligible non-profits nationwide.
If you would like to make a contribution by check, please use our printable Mail-In Contribution Form. Or, if you wish, just send your check to our address below--indicating any person honored or memorialized on your check:
UUCG Endowment Fund
12 Bethesda Church Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30044-4236
Contribution of Securities, Property, Insurance or Contribution via Will or Trust
If you wish to make a contribution of securities or property, please contact one of the members of the UUCGEF Board.
In addition, you should consult with your financial and legal advisors prior to arranging or making your contribution.
In the meantime, please consider donating through the UUCG Endowment Fund.
Our New Interim MinisterReverend Roy Reynolds started as UUCG's part-time Interim Minister on August 15, 2008. We're very pleased he is serving our congregation!In addition to his most previous position with the UU Church of Augusta, he has served Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Atlanta, as their Settled Minister (1992-2000), UU Congregation of Marietta as Consulting Minister, and three congregations in Mississippi and Alabama as Consulting Minister.
Our Bookstore is closed but if you like books, we bet you like to shop at Amazon.com
When shop at Amazon.com, please use the link below. When you make a purchase, UUCG will receive a 5% commission.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that embraces theological diversity.
While our congregation upholds shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists may discern their own beliefs about theological issues. As there is no official Unitarian Universalist creed, Unitarian Universalists are free to search for truth on many paths.
We welcome people who identify with and draw inspiration from Atheism and Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Humanism, Judaism, Islam, Paganism, Theism and Deism, and religious or philosophical traditions.
Read more about UUism
From "Getting to Know UUCG" by Jeanne-Marie B. Bailey
A gathering of UUs living beyond the pale convened on Mother’s Day, 1981 at the Stone Mountain Depot in Stone Mountain Park. Members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta and the Church of the Larger Fellowship who were living east of I-85 received invitations to found a new Unitarian Universalist congregation. One week later, the Northeast Unitarian Universalist Fellowship formed. On May 31, 1981, we held our first service with about 40 adults and almost as many children. In August 1981, we elected a Board of Trustees and made a charter application to the UUA. As the congregation became more organized and slowly began to grow, we moved services from people’s homes to larger, temporary facilities.
In 1982, most of the congregation attended two important events at The Mountain. In the spring, we participated in our first Mountain Work Weekend (a tradition that continues) followed that fall by a retreat on growth. The retreat led to a planning meeting in which we identified our needs and set goals. We also became the UU Fellowship of Gwinnett and part of Rev. Bob Hill’s circuit. Rev. Hill was the District Extension Minister at the time. Rev. Hill held his first service in August and appeared bi-monthly through April 1983.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gwinnett continued to grow but experienced a brief slump in the winter of 1984-85 when several families moved away, suddenly reducing our numbers. At this time, we returned to bi-weekly meetings in members’ homes. At a meeting in September 1985, we decided to eliminate officers and be governed solely by the Board of Trustees.
In the spring of 1986, we met Rev. Frances West. The ten adult members issued a call to Rev. West to become our part-time minister, and changed our name to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett. As UUCG grew, services were held in a dance studio (often referred to as the Sanctuary of Mirrors), where we held our first Christmas caroling.
The fall of 1987 was busy and exciting. In September, the congregation purchased the property where we are currently. Also in Sept. of 1987, Dave Averyt, one of the founding members, hand forged and donated an iron chalice to the congregation to commemorate the dedication of his daughter, Erin. In October, we joined the Metro Council, and in December, the Children’s Choir formed. The following year, 1988, was a year of firsts for UUCG. We held the first services on our property, our first Ministerial Installation, and our first Auction. The first group of youth completed the Coming of Age program and became full members and we held the first Senior High Weekend event.
In 1990, we held our first Spaghetti Dinner and planned our building construction. Late that year, we finished the exterior and began on the inside. We finally completed construction and moved from the dance studio into our building in March 1991. From that moment, the church began to advance. We held our first Winter Solstice celebration, dedicated the building, and established a bookstore as well as a variety of interest groups. By the late 1990s, we held the annual church garage sale on the property and established the Memorial Garden.
By 1993, membership had grown to about 120 adults and 130 children. Unexpectedly, in the late spring, Rev. Frances West underwent major heart surgery. In her absence, we became lay-led and remained so when Rev. West announced her retirement in September. In the fall of 1994, Elena Rigg, then a student at Candler Seminary at Emory University, joined us as our interim minister. Also in 1994, we installed the stained glass window that hangs at the front of the sanctuary. Scott Cone designed and constructed the window itself and the frame was built by Paul Therrian. Paul along with Bob Churchill designed and built the altar table in 1992. The table was refinished by Bob in 2006.
In the fall of 1995, Rev. Heather Collins joined us as our first full-time minister. Under Rev. Collins’s leadership, the congregation continued to grow, reaching a peak of approximately 175 members. In addition, Rev. Collins helped create a strong relationship between our congregation and the Gwinnett Interfaith Alliance.
To ensure our long-term growth and financial stability, the UUCG Endowment Fund was established in 1996. The Endowment Fund continues to grow as people contribute to honor special people or events.
In the summer of 2000, Rev. Collins announced her decision to leave UUCG. Accepting her resignation, the congregation began conducting lay-led services once again and initiated a new ministerial search. The congregation continued to operate full-time, implementing the Our Whole Lives (OWL) human sexuality program for youth and a UU education class for prospective members. In April 2001, we celebrated our 10th anniversary in our own building and our 20th anniversary as a congregation with special events and programs.
In September 2001, as we continued our search for a full-time minister, we welcomed Rev. Angie Theisen as our interim minister for two year term. From June 2002 to May 2004, major transitions took place at our church home. We held on to our dreams through some struggles and setbacks and endeavored to make them a reality. It was with some imagination and sheer determination we found a way to call a settled minister.
After following all the rules for conducting a search for a settled Minister, our candidate answered the call at another congregation. After we concluded our contract with Interim Minister Rev. Dr. Angie Theisen, we hired a Consulting Minister and with time, patience, and love we discovered we had a good fit. With the consent of the UUA, we asked our Consulting Minister if he would answer our call. With great joy and enthusiasm, Rev. Dana Reynolds accepted.
Building on a firm foundation, we had many new things happen during this time. We proudly inducted several new Youth members who completed the Coming of Age curriculum. We installed a new fire/alarm system and the new deck was dedicated in memory of Steve Soloway, an active founding member who passed in 2000. Our senior high youth raised money for a youth pilgrimage to Boston. Pledging per member increased and we returned to operating with a cash budget. We updated and revised the Policies and Procedures book to reflect who we are today.
Rev. Dana, the Board, and the entire congregation worked tirelessly to revitalize UUCG. That revitalization included refreshing the church interior, re-instating the adult choir, adding a music program, adding more Religious Education programs such as Fellowship and Enrichment Night, Chalice Circles, and the Culture Camp, and increasing membership to over 145 adult members. None of this would have been possible without the generous donations of time, talent, and treasures of UUCG’s members and friends.
In 2006, we celebrated our 25th anniversary as a congregation and our 15th anniversary in our building. To address our seating and crowding issues, in 2006 the Board of Trustees approved the purchase of approximately 200 new chairs for the sanctuary and the Board Room.
In 2008, Rev. Dana Reynolds turned in his resignation as Minister. After a beautiful farewell to the Reynolds family we formed a Ministerial Search Committee. Careful deliberation led us to call Rev. Roy Reynolds as our new part-time interim Minister. On August 15 we welcomed Rev. Roy to our congregation. In June 2009, the congregation voted to have Rev. Roy continue as a consulting minister for another year.
Into the future, we will continue to pursue the question “What are we called to do in Gwinnett County?”
Many of our societies offer introductory sessions, study groups, videotapes, and increasingly, a World Wide Web homepage to acquaint those interested in membership with our history, Principles, and programs. Individual appointments with ministers and members are encouraged. Many pamphlets are available through the UUA Bookstore. Usually, these are readily accessible in a church's foyer, and even small fellowships may have a good library of Unitarian Universalist writings. The UUA website at www.uua.org is another good source of information about Unitarian Universalism.
All of these, along with your presence with us at worship and in our many other activities, provide the means for learning more about who Unitarian Universalists are, and whether you want to become one of us.
The last act of joining the congregation is simple, but significant: You write your name on a membership card or in the membership book or parish register.
We have no creedal requirements. With your signature you affirm your pledge to enter and to remain in a continuing and tolerant dialogue concerning the ways of truth and love, a dialogue within which free persuasion may occur; to share in our fellowship and in our corporate decision making; and to support with your gifts of energy and money our common work for the common good.
Religious liberals put less emphasis on formal beliefs and more on practical living. Our interest is in deeds, not creeds. We appreciate the biblical text, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only."
Our members have been active leaders in the struggles for racial equality, civil liberty, international peace, and equal rights for all people. We work as individuals, in congregational social action, and in other groupings, including such denominational efforts as the UUA's Faith in Action Department and the UU-UN Office. We also work with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, which brings critically needed social change to many parts of the world.
The program of religious education is determined, as are all other programs, by members of the local congregation. A wide range of courses is available through our Association. These are adapted by members as they choose. Courses appropriate for children may be offered in subjects as varied as interpersonal relations, ethical questions, the Bible, world religions, nature and ecology, heroes and heroines of social reform, Unitarian Universalist history, and holy days around the world. The same is true of adult religious education.
In most of our congregations, regular children's worship-often held during a portion of the adult service-is part of the program. We seek to teach our children to be responsible for their own thinking and to nurture their own impulses of reverence, morality, respect for others, and self-respect.
Yes and no.
Yes, some Unitarian Universalists are Christian. Personal encounter with the spirit of Jesus as the christ richly informs their religious lives.
No, Unitarian Universalists are not Christian, if by Christian you mean those who think that acceptance of any creedal belief whatsoever is necessary for salvation. Unitarian Universalist Christians are considered heretics by those orthodox Christians who claim none but Christians are "saved." (Fortunately, not all the orthodox make that claim.)
Yes, Unitarian Universalists are Christian in the sense that both Unitarian and Universalist history are part of Christian history. Our core principles and practices were first articulated and established by liberal Christians.
Some Unitarian Universalists are not Christian. For though they may acknowledge the Christian history of our faith, Christian stories and symbols are no longer primary for them. They draw their personal faith from many sources: nature, intuition, other cultures, science, civil liberation movements, and so on.
We regard the highest values to be integrity, caring, compassion, social justice, truth, personal peace and harmony. Advancing these values is a major purpose of our congregations.
Our ceremonies-of marriage and starting a new family, naming or dedicating our children, and memorializing our dead-are phrased in simple, contemporary language. We observe these rites in community, not because they are required by some rule or dogma, but because in them we may voice our affection, hopes, and dedication.
Though practices vary in our congregations and change over time, UUs celebrate many of the great religious holidays with enthusiasm. Whether we gather to celebrate Christmas, Passover, or the Hindu holiday Divali, we do so in a universal context, recognizing and honoring religious observances and festivals as innate and needful in all human cultures.
The English word salvation derives from the Latin salus, meaning health. Unitarian Universalists are as concerned with salvation, in the sense of spiritual health or wholeness, as any other religious people.
However, in many Western churches, salvation has come to be associated with a specific set of beliefs or a spiritual transformation of a very limited type.
Among Unitarian Universalists, instead of salvation you will hear of our yearning for, and our experience of, personal growth, increased wisdom, strength of character, and gifts of insight, understanding, inner and outer peace, courage, patience, and compassion. The ways in which these things come to, change, and heal us, are many indeed. We seek and celebrate them in our worship.
In most of our congregations, our children learn Bible stories as a part of their church school curricula. It is not unusual to find adult study groups in the churches, or in workshops at summer camps and conferences, focusing on the Bible. Allusions to biblical symbols and events are frequent in our sermons. In most of our congregations, the Bible is read as any other sacred text might be-from time to time, but not routinely.
We have especially cherished the prophetic books of the Bible. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and other prophets dared to speak critical words of love to the powerful, calling for justice for the oppressed. Many Unitarian and Universalist social reformers have been inspired by the biblical prophets. We hallow the names of Unitarian and Universalist prophets: Joseph Tuckerman, Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Theodore Parker, Susan B. Anthony, and many others.
We do not, however, hold the Bible-or any other account of human experience-to be either an infallible guide or the exclusive source of truth. Much biblical material is mythical or legendary. Not that it should be discarded for that reason! Rather, it should be treasured for what it is. We believe that we should read the Bible as we read other books (or the newspaper)-with imagination and a critical eye.
We also respect the sacred literature of other religions. Contemporary works of science, art, and social commentary are valued as well. We hold, in the words of an old liberal formulation, that "revelation is not sealed."
Unitarian Universalists aspire to truth as wide as the world-we look to find truth anywhere, universally.
Classically, Unitarian Universalist Christians have understood Jesus as a savior because he was a God-filled human being, not a supernatural being. He was, and still is for many UUs, an exemplar, one who has shown the way of redemptive love, in whose spirit anyone may live generously and abundantly. Among us, Jesus' very human life and teaching have been understood as products of, and in line with, the great Jewish tradition of prophets and teachers.
He neither broke with that tradition nor superseded it.
Many of us honor Jesus, and many of us honor other master teachers of past or present generations, like Moses or the Buddha. As a result, mixed-tradition families may find common ground in the UU fellowship without compromising other loyalties.
Some Unitarian Universalists are nontheists and do not find language about God useful. The faith of other Unitarian Universalists in God may be profound, though among these, too, talk of God may be restrained. Why?
The word God is much abused. Far too often, the word seems to refer to a kind of granddaddy in the sky or a super magician. To avoid confusion, many Unitarian Universalists are more apt to speak of "reverence for life" (in the words of Albert Schweitzer, a Unitarian), the spirit of love or truth, the holy, or the gracious. Many also prefer such language because it is inclusive; it is used with integrity by theist and nontheist members.
Whatever our theological persuasion, Unitarian Universalists generally agree that the fruits of religious belief matter more than beliefs about religion-even about God. So we usually speak more of the fruits: gratitude for blessings, worthy aspirations, the renewal of hope, and service on behalf of justice.
More than one thousand congregations in the United States and Canada belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) of Congregations, with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.
The oldest Unitarian congregations are in Romania. There are large Unitarian congregations in the Khasi Hills of India. Others are found in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, the Philippines, and Japan. (Some of these are Unitarian and some are Universalist.)
North American Unitarian Universalists maintain ties with other Unitarian Universalists throughout the world, mostly through our membership in the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), organized in 1900.
Members of the IARF include other liberal Christian groups as well as Humanist, Hindu Reform, Shinto, and Buddhist groups.
In North America, Unitarianism and Universalism developed separately. Universalist congregations began to be established in the 1770s. Other congregations, many established earlier, began to take the Unitarian name in the 1820s. Over the decades the two groups converged in their liberal emphasis and style, and in 1961 they merged to become the Unitarian Universalist Association.
We are a religious people who have woven strands of a rich past into a tapestry of the present.
In the first centuries of the Christian era, Christians held a variety of beliefs concerning the nature of Jesus. In 325 CE, however, the Council of Nicea promulgated the doctrine of the Trinity-God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-and denounced all those who believed differently as heretics.
At a Unitarian Universalist worship service or meeting, you are likely to find members whose positions on faith may be derived from a variety of religious beliefs: Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, naturist, atheist, or agnostic. Members might tell you that they are religious humanists, liberal Christians, or world religionists. All these people, and others who label their beliefs still differently, are faithful Unitarian Universalists committed to the practice of free religion. We worship, sing, play, study, teach, and work for social justice together as congregations-all the while remaining strong in our individual convictions.
If Unitarian Universalists hold such varied convictions, what does it mean to be a Unitarian Universalist?
Explore the FAQ menu to your right to learn more.
General Assembly June 19 through 23, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky
You are invited to attend the 2013 General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky
FROM PROMISE TO COMMITMENT
The theme of this GA is "From Promise to Commitment." Building on the experience of Justice GA, we will gather in Louisville to examine and renew our covenant to our faith, one another, our congregations and the larger world.
Programs will explore the kinds of promises our religious communities are called to make as we seek to live out our Unitarian Universalist values; how we make these promises, with whom, and how we hold ourselves and each other accountable. Here are just some of the topics that will be addressed: environmental justice, the next steps in immigration justice, anti-racism, anti-oppression multiculturalism, organizing for justice, multigenerational work, growing Unitarian Universalism, leadership education, spiritual growth and theology. There will also be many, many opportunities to worship.
Some highlights this year will be: the Election for UUA Moderator and President; Eboo Patel as the Ware Lecturer; The Rev. Vanessa Southern preaching the Service of the Living Tradition along with Music Directors David Smith and Rick Fortner of All Soul’s Tulsa; and a focus on the meaning of covenant in our tradition. Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process.
Housing is still available; rates are guaranteed through May 16.
Learn move about Unitarian Universalism around the world by exploring some of our favorite links:
“It matters what we believe” —Sophia Lyon Fahs The members and friends of our Unitarian Universalist fellowship are committed to a lifetime of learning—from our youngest children to our oldest members. We are a dynamic and diverse religious community. We grow, play and learn together. We both challenge and care for one another.
We have no one doctrine, we believe in an open exchange of ideas. If you believe that you have the right to freely ask questions about the nature of God, and believe that living a life of dignity, compassion, and respect is more important than adherence to a specific creed, then a Unitarian Universalist Church may just be the place for you.
Because of the great diversity of Sunday services, as well as educational and social activities, you might want to experience several activities to get a sense of the “flavor” and “personality” of who we are.
While many people in our culture are seeking a spiritual community that honors their individual search for religious truth, very often these seekers are unfamiliar with our historic faith. If you are one of those who see exploration as a vital part of the process of developing one’s faith, then we hope you will take the time to learn more about our fellowship and our historic faith.
We welcome visitors.
Thank you for visiting our congregation’s website. We hope you'll come and visit our congregation.
Seeking donations to Complete Garden in October
With a target date of October 28th, UUCG would very much like to complete and dedicate our Memorial Garden located behind the deck in the wooded rear lot. We have acquired 5 natural stone benches which will be installed soon, and we are working to get the granite obelisk for the center cut and delivered. We are, however running short on funds. In our typical do-it-yourself fashion, we are saving costs by picking up the obelisk and installing it ourselves (which involves renting a Bobcat for a day). The volunteer labor, we’re never short of, but what we need most is about another $600 to cover all of the costs. Contact Chris Meyer to make a designated gift donation to help us reach that goal.
Stephen M. Soloway, D.V.M.
Albert "Al" Colwell
12 Bethesda Church Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30044-4236
Our Minister, Rev. Taddeo is in the office Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday is her day off, and Friday is set aside for writing and study.
Our Administrator, Laura de Castro, is in the office, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30-3:15.
Hours for our minister and administrator can vary, so appointments suggested.
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Building and Grounds:
We're located approximately 20 miles Northeast of downtown Atlanta. We are in a lightly wooded area adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Parkway and the Bethesda Park recreation area. The modern shopping development of Gwinnett Place, the quaint craftshops of Stone Mountain Village, and Stone Mountain Park are just minutes away.
Our building is a non-smoking facility.
Our building has handicapped parking and is fully wheelchair accessible.
Our building is 50 feet wide by 150 feet long. The main meeting room is 2500 square feet and can seat over 150 people easily. Smaller meeting rooms are available for groups of four to twenty. A modest kitchen is also available.
Our Building is available for Weddings or Special Events by calling the office at 770-717-7913 or email. Click here for rates and sample contract.
Our property includes a Memorial Garden.
Our Building and Grounds are maintained by the Building and Grounds Committee.
Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist
Congregation of Gwinnett!
We are a non-creedal, covenantal religious community seeking to create a model of the Beloved Community we envision for the world. Here we gather to recall our true selves, reflect on the meaning of our lives, and explore questions of ultimacy together.
We engage the world with curiosity, courage, and compassion. We stand on the side of love, supporting human rights, equality, and justice for people in our local community and around the globe. We have a deep respect for the interdependent web of life with which we are inextricably interconnected.
We invite you to engage with us in your search for truth and meaning and to share the journey of hope and love among supportive friends.
In the spirit of trust, compassion, and inquiry…
Reverend Jan Taddeo
We are a supportive religious community whose purposes are to explore spirituality, celebrate humanity, and respect diversity, inspired by the Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
We affirm that we at UUCG intend to nourish the spirit. We affirm a spiritual community that recognizes that individuals are on their own paths. We celebrate the magic and mystery of diversity as we develop our appreciation of each other.
We, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, in covenant with each other, honor this entire congregation, its spiritual growth, and mission.
It is our deeply held belief and commitment that this be a community of love.
We sustain our community through trust, compassion, and inquiry.
To live our commitment…
As we come to the end of the 2012-2013 program year, there is much that is worth of celebration, and losses to acknowledge and mourn.
Welcoming Congregation: Many are engaging in the deep conversations about the responsibility and intentionality that is required of us to have integrity in our relationship with people whose sexual, affectional, and gender identities span the continuum of human experience. As we continue this program through the 2013-2014 program year, I hope even more people will engage with this program as we look at the practical ways being a truly Welcoming Congregation influences our shared ministry.
Second Hour Program: From all that I have heard and witnessed, the Second Hour experiment was a great success. This is now the foundation for “The Big Idea.” In 2013-2014 we will begin a transition to a multigenerational approach to congregational life that offers unlimited possibilities for people of all ages to expand their understanding of Unitarian Universalism and live our shared values within and beyond our walls.
Holy Week Pilgrimage: This year we focused our energy on learning about the complex world of immigration legislation and the real impact our laws have on the people in our community. These efforts culminated in UUCG hosting one day of the Holy Week Pilgrimage with great success! Now we are the home to the 2013 Pilgrimage Cross that holds the prayers for people negatively impacted by U.S. immigration laws. It serves as a reminder that immigration issues will continue to need our energy in the coming years, even as we expand our awareness to other social issues.
Celebrating!Give Away the Plate hit the $20,000 mark! Amazing Community Concerts and Universal Sensations. Our Church Council developed more form and greater purpose. The leadership for our Religious Exploration program for Children and Youth is reenergized after a time of revisioning and restructuring. Our new Leadership Development Committee has hit their stride as they move us toward developing a more mature leadership structure. We overhauled our financial management systems and now have an accounting structure that provides the tools we need to manage our finances with greater integrity.
Letting Go: We mourned the death of Rene Gonzalez, and dedicated our new Memorial Garden through which we remember and continue to grieve the death of our beloveds. We are saddened by the loss of the eight members of our congregation who have left our fold and chosen to continue their spiritual journeys beyond our community.With mixed emotions, we honor thirteen seniors as they cross the bridge from youth to young adulthood, and send them off with hopes and prayers for their well being as they make their way in the world.
Welcoming In: We joyfully welcomed seventeen new members from June to April, and several more will be signing in May! The curiosity, courage and compassion these families bring to our shared ministry are great gifts to us all. Last, but not least, we welcomed newborns Drew Perkins, and Elissa Branum-Martin into our nursery this year!
With gratitude for all that touches our lives in this shared ministry…
At our Town Hall meeting on Sunday, March 24, we discussed “The Big Idea” for how we might transform the way we integrate all the facets of congregational life, especially Worship and Religious Exploration. This idea builds on the success of the Second Sunday, Second Hour program to offer more variety of activities in the second hour, and to gradually expand this format to other Sundays over the next year.
This idea is grounded in the words of Connie Goodbread, our Congregational Life Consultant for the Southern Region of the UUA regarding congregational life:
“Faith Development is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is the faith we teach. The congregation is the curriculum.”
This way of being and doing “church” will provide opportunities for all of us, of all ages, to live our Unitarian Universalist values more fully, deepen our understanding of the Unitarian Universalist religion, and increase our comfort in speaking about and sharing this faith tradition we have found so rewarding.
The response from those who attended the meeting was overwhelmingly positive and we were encouraged to move forward to gradually transition to this new model over the next several months. This new model offers multigenerational worship followed by a selection of multi-age and multi-generational activities and classes. The structure invites more people of all ages to engage in activities that are meaningful and allows us to make the best use of the many talents, interests, religious perspectives, and passions of our members and friends, of all ages.
We begin this summer by offering multigenerational worship services followed by a shared project that will involve activities both inside and outside. I hope that we will start with a project that moves us towards greener stewardship of our spaces. I have a few ideas, and I’d love to hear yours!
In September, we’ll continue the Second Sunday program, but with a full hour for worship and for the Second Hour program. We’ll also add more options for activities for people of all ages. On “regular” Sundays, we’ll have less structured classes to allow for choices of multi-age activities for the RE program during the “regular” service. In February, if all is going well, we’ll add one more “Second Hour” Sunday each month. Then, if we are ready, we’ll move to offering “Second Hour” every Sunday in September 2014.
Over the next two months, I’ll be working closely with the Board of Trustees and key representatives from the Ministry Council to build this model, work out some of the challenges, and recruit the volunteers needed to make this the vibrant and fulfilling model we imagine it can be.
To see the slides from the Town Hall presentation, visit www.uucg.org and search for “The Big Idea Moves Forward” . If you have questions or ideas, please contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our shared faith…
I have been a strong proponent of experiential learning for many years. When given facts and data, some people are very good at remembering those facts; however, others may be better at finding them again than in learning or retaining the information. A good example of experiential learning is riding a bicycle. Time after time you fall to the ground. Then on the tenth or umpteenth time, you get it … that magical moment of balance.
Experiential learning often engages all or most of our senses, and accommodates multiple learning styles. When we engage all of our senses in exploring the world around us, we open ourselves up to transcendent moments … those “Aha!” moments that stay with us and help us to grow in our connections with one another and with that which is ultimate. These “holy moments” are like those participants shared with one another at our Mission Workshop last March. These moments reflect some of our shared core values. These are the values that became our mission statement: Curiosity. Courage. Compassion.
I have wondered for some time how such moments can be nurtured through congregational life and how we can offer more experiential learning for people of all ages at UUCG. During a recent meeting of the Children and Youth Religious Exploration Committee (CYREC) I learned that I wasn’t the only one having such ideas. Anna Elliott had been having similar musings, many of which were sparked through conversations with our children and youth who were asking for more meaningful experiences in congregational life. They yearn to engage in activities that make a difference.
We began to envision new ways to engage in religious exploration that would not only be more fulfilling for our young people, but would also engage our entire congregation in meaningful opportunities to contribute to the congregation and the wider community. What began to emerge was not just a new way to “do” religious exploration for children and youth, but a new way to “do” church for all ages. We began to envision a whole a new way of “being” as a religious community.
Through subsequent conversations with the Board of Trustees and some key leaders, we think these seeds might be worth nurturing to see what shape and form might emerge. The next step is to share these early ideas and expand them in conversation with the members of the congregation to see what these seeds might become when given the soil in which to flourish
Please come to the Town Hall meeting following the service on Sunday, March 24 to hear these ideas and to offer your creative energy. It is important that people of all ages, including our young people from elementary to high school, participate in this conversation. If you have other commitments that day, we will offer other ways to encourage your input. What develops will take shape over time as we move toward a common vision together.
In the spirit of trust, compassion and inquiry…
Seeking New Worship Associates
Our dedicated and talented team of Worship Associates have been working with the minister to create quality worship services for over four years. In preparation for the 2013-2014 program year, I am seeking new members of the team, and inviting current members to assess if they would like to continue serving as Worship Associates, or to engage their talents in other areas of congregational life.
Worship Associates work closely with the minister for at least two years as part of a team that assists with creating worship services that touch our hearts, challenge our minds, and lift our spirits. Worship Associates assist the Service Leader during worship services in a variety of ways, such as offering readings, reflections, lighting the chalice, etc.
Some Worship Associates may like to be more involved in planning and leading services. The minister and Worship Committee Chairperson will select a team of Worship Associates to serve as Service Leaders. This team will meet with the minister every four to six weeks, and will be responsible for creating three or four services a year on Sundays when the minister is not in the pulpit.
Worship Associates are asked to serve a minimum of two years and not more than four continuous years. All Worship Associates must attend a training session on Saturday, May 11 from 10:00 to 1:00, followed by a meeting of the Worship Committee from 1:00 to 3:00. Worship Associates serve as part of the Worship Committee which meets several times a year.
To apply, complete the on-line application using this link http://form.jotform.us/form/22698264340154.
Applications will be accepted through March 15. I will contact each applicant by March 30.
I hope many of you will consider offering your gifts and talents to serve as a Worship Associate. It is not only a rewarding way to serve, it is also an opportunity to expand your spiritual journey and connect more deeply with people in our congregation.
In the spirit of trust, compassion, and inquiry...
Welcoming Congregation program is off to a great start! 57 number of people, youth and adults, participated in our first workshop series. In the session I attended, people shared their fears about the process of becoming a Welcoming Congregation and explored the possible benefits. Everyone learned something new about sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression … and I think we all learned something about ourselves. I was moved by the depth and honesty of people’s sharing.
Some of the fears that were expressed in all the workshops included the fear of saying something that might offend someone; losing momentum in our process and failing to complete the program; and possible negative reactions from the wider community.
Indeed, we are all likely to say something that will offend someone! Yet, we know that we are compassionate people with honest intentions; and, we are willing to learn from our mistakes. Experience is a great educator, and as we learn more about GLBTQIA culture, we will make fewer mistakes, and we’ll be better equipped to identify our mistakes when we make them.
The best way to address the fear of losing momentum is to plan ahead to attend the workshops each month, and invite others to join you. Perhaps you are curious about what else you might learn! As soon as the monthly schedule is published, put a date on your calendar. Then, check in with a few of your friends and acquaintances in the congregation and encourage them to do the same.
Becoming a Welcoming Congregation is a courageous act. So far we have publicized our support of the immigrant community and marriage equality and had no negative consequences … we’ve actually had some positive attention. This month I will reach out to the two Lutheran congregations in our area that are also Welcoming Congregations. I hope we can build a relationship with them so we can support one another should any of our congregations experience a backlash.
I am so pleased that the lists of possible gains in being a Welcoming Congregation were much longer than the list of fears. Many people look forward to the personal growth to be found in this process, see the potential for this program to expand our intercultural awareness as a congregation, and appreciate the possibility of becoming a religious sanctuary and spiritual home for people who are too often shunned and marginalized by other faith traditions.
As we enter into the February theme of Evil, I encourage us all to draw our attention to our mission: Curiosity. Courage. Compassion. There are two definitions of evil that resonate with me: 1) the destruction of Beauty; 2) separation from the knowledge of our inextricable interconnectedness. I firmly believe love conquers evil. If we live our mission in the world, live our covenant together and in all our relationships, and remember to seek out the beauty and divine in each person we encounter, we can overcome evil in our lives and model what it means to Stand on the Side of Love. Let us give ourselves the Courageous Love Award for moving boldly forward to become a Welcoming Congregation.
Standing on the Side of Love with you…
Leading with deeds, not creeds. This is our message to the community this month, telling the world that we are more focused on how we live than on what we believe. However, what we believe is an important foundation for how we live.
This month we’ll explore the concept of spiritual leadership. Spiritual Leadership invites us to consider all the aspects of our life as a sum that is greater than its parts. The choices we make and the actions we take at home, work, school, church, and in our various communities are all indications of our core beliefs, commitments, and values.
A recent quote by James Luther Adams was posted on Facebook by the UU Media Collaborative Works: “Church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.” One person commented, “That is the problem, too many people only practice it at church, not in the world.”
What we offer at our church is a covenantal structure to explore and name our beliefs and values, and to practice living in relationship with others in a way that we would like to be in all our communities. Typical school and work environments do not provide the time and space for this deeper exploration in how we are to live … here we practice so that in all our communities it becomes our first nature to be the people we strive to be.
Being part of a religious community invites us to make a commitment to transformation … to being and acting in ways that are different than what our dominant culture affirms. In religious community we are encouraged to develop our spiritual gifts – our relational gifts – so that we can model life-affirming, life-giving behaviors in all our relations. In this way we all become leaders in the world, leading with our deeds, based on our personal creeds.
Being an effective leader in any setting, and especially in a religious community, requires clarity about our spiritual gifts and core values. In a voluntary organization, it is important that volunteers do what they love, learn about what they love, and mentor others to take over so they can move into new areas of growth and contribution, and allow others to develop their gifts and contribute to the community.
This month I encourage you to read Serving with Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice by Unitarian Universalist minister, Erik Walker Wikstrom. It is a very quick read – only 83 pages. It’s available for Kindle and in paperback through Amazon (please use the link on the UUCG website so we get Amazon credit).
Whether you see yourself as a leader or not, I think you will benefit from reading this book. It encourages each and every member of the congregation to explore the ways they can grow in spirit and be most fulfilled through engagement in congregational life. This is what I want for each and every one of you … to feel engaged, connected, and supported in this beloved community.
In our shared ministry…
Our theme for congregational life in December is Ministry. This month we’ll explore what it means to be engaged in shared ministry together, the differences and similarities between professional and lay ministry, and the meaning of the word “church” and what it implies for our shared ministry in a Unitarian Universalist context.
In preparation for our Second Sunday service, you may want to read ahead at the scriptural reference, and look for various interpretations of these verses as you develop your own translation that is meaningful for you. You might even consider meditating or journaling on these verses. We’ll be referencing I Corinthians 12:4-11. Here’s a link to take you to the verse quickly: http://www.biblegateway.com/passag/?search=I%20Corinthians%2012:4-11&version=NRSV.
As we enter in this exploration of ministry it seems an appropriate time to re-publish this guide for when to call the minister. I strive to be as accessible as possible, and of course, there are times when I am more accessible than others! I have flexible office hours Monday through Wednesday and it is best to make an appointment. I also need to be clear about the limits of my expertise – I am not a licensed counselor or therapist; my role is to provide a listening space in which one can sort through immediate issues.
Call the Minister When:
How to Reach the Minister:
Office: 770-717-7913 (Monday-Wednesday)
In the spirit of trust, compassion and inquiry,
Rev. Jan Taddeo
It takes courage for a congregation to try new programs and new ways of doing old programs. We are doing some new things this year, and I’m working carefully with the leadership of UUCG to plan thoughtfully the implementation of change. We also try to communicate changes in many ways, but invariably, some people will feel surprised when something new is rolled out. And no matter how well we think we are communicating, it is very challenging to penetrate the data overload we all encounter.
There is one big change this year that I want to lift up as we enter into our new program year: Second Sunday, Second Hour. This is an idea that developed through feedback I received from many sources last year, and was discussed at a congregational Town Hall meeting in March. I’ve been meeting with people from many groups to develop this idea into something I hope you will find engaging.
Second Hour, Second Sunday is a new worship and learning format we are testing out just one Sunday a month from September 9 through May 12. Here’s the format: We’ll have a multigenerational service from 10:30 to 11:15, a short break to grab light snacks, and then convene for a “second hour” lifespan religious exploration from 11:30 to 12:15.
The second hour portion of the program will be age-centric, with Kindergarten – 3rd grade in the Playhouse, 4th grade – 8th grade in the Treehouse, and High School youth engaging in the program in the Sanctuary with the rest of the congregation. Volunteers from the Children & Youth Religious Exploration Committee, the Worship Committee, the Lifelong Learning and Exploration Committee, and youth from the Coming of Age programs will lead these breakout sessions.
This program responds to a desire for more opportunities for adults to engage in religious exploration, as well as for more opportunities for families to worship together. I welcome your constructive feedback and ideas about the format.
The theme for this program will coincide with the monthly worship theme and will draw primarily on “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.” This may be one of the most challenging of our six sources for many of us. Don’t worry … we’ll incorporate stories from other sources throughout the year as well!
To make these services most relevant, I invite you to share with me any Hebrew or Christian verses or stories that interest or challenge you and we’ll try to include them in our services and exploration over the course of the year. I welcome your constructive feedback and ideas about the theme as the year progresses.
In our shared courageous exploration…
Rev. Jan Taddeo
Save the Date - October 21, Annual Giving Pledge Drive Kick-Off: We have amazing music planned for the Sunday service, followed by a special celebratory potluck. This is a Sunday you won’t want to miss!
As I write this I am still wearing the glow of my annual pilgrimage to SUUSI (Southeast UU Summer Institute). It was a time filled with laughter and tears as old friends reunited and new friendships were forged through the deep sharing of the stories that are our lives. I look forward to sharing this experience with some of you next summer!
It was one year ago while at SUUSI that I received the sad news that Merle Hamburger, a beloved member of UUCG, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. The first anniversary of Merle’s death fell on the night that I led the Transitions Service at SUUSI, a service in which we dedicate babies, bridge our teens, and remember those who have died. As I said Merle’s name into the sea of community support, I sent loving energy out to his family: MaryBeth, Benjamin, Kevin, and Abby; and to all of you who knew him well and still feel his absence.
I have been contemplating congregational systems of remembrance for some time now. It can be challenging to strike a balance between honoring the past and moving into the future. It is important that we provide ways for people who enter our community to learn about our past, while also inviting them to share in creating our vision for the future and finding their place in our community.
We currently honor people from our past through plaques and dedicated spaces. There is more we can do. For instance, on June 3rd I introduced a “Ritual of Remembrance” that I intend to bring into our worship service at the end of each October. The beautiful memorial wreath we created in that service hangs on the wall of the sanctuary, and will grow each year in the annual Ritual of Remembrance.
Another way to honor the past is our Memorial Garden. I look forward to the day when this sacred place is completed and we have a quiet, contemplative space where people can sit to reflect on those who have touched their lives and our congregation. It would be appropriate for that space to be completed by October 28 when we have our next Ritual of Remembrance. Perhaps we can make this happen.
As we remember the past, we must also look forward, exploring ways to provide opportunities to deepen our connections with one another so that we continue to grow in spirit, body, influence, and congregational health. We especially want to ensure that our newer members are engaged in congregational life, and that our seasoned members have ways to broaden their spiritual journeys and deepen their connections.
I will be returning in August with new ideas, and I hope you will too! When our Ministry Council meets on September 22nd, I look forward to engaging in a creative conversation about how we can develop current programs and initiate new ones that intentionally serve our growth as a religious community.
Please remember to bring water with you to the Ingathering Service on August 12!
With love and joy…
There’s no greater Gadding About event in Unitarian Universalism than the annual gathering of congregational delegates at our General Assembly. This year over 3,400 delegates gathered in Phoenix along with over 200 remote delegates. It is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas, learn new things, and experience a renewal of our Unitarian Universalist faith.
This was an historic and unique General Assembly … the first ever “Justice GA.” It was energizing, inspiring, informative, and, at times, overwhelming as we strived to understand the complexity and interconnected challenges of creating a more just and loving society. As delegates return to their congregations, one of the challenges they face is bringing the experience back without overwhelming their congregations! I hope you will seek out the UUCG f
olks who attended, Leah and Rene Gonzalez, JoAnn Weiss, and Karen Smith, and invite their stories.
I offer three of the many highlights of the week. This fall we will explore more of what was offered in the workshops, worship services, and various discussions.
Rally to Close Tent City: Over 2,000 people dressed in Standing on the Side of love attire boarded big yellow school buses to participate in this rally on Saturday night. It was inspiring, hot, and a bit tense. The Phoenix police department provided security for us as we walked past Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his team of officers on the other side of the line. We were treated to a number of galvanizing speeches, and were led in song by Emma’s Revolution. Several of our leaders, including UUA President Peter Morales, toured the detention center with Sheriff Arpaio … they reported that they could indeed hear our singing from inside the camp! The story of the rally, along with photos, were released by AP, and run in over 350 newspapers.
The Sunday morning worship service: This was an energizing event with over 3,500 people celebrating our faith together. Rev. John Crestwell delivered an energetic and inspiring sermon. We were reminded that people of compassion who seek a fairer world feel the pain of those who are marginalized and oppressed, and cannot rest until all are treated with respect, worth, and dignity. You can watch the service via the UUA website … it’s well worth your time to do so: http://uua.org/ga/2012/worship/200330.shtml
The Responsive Resolution to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery: This was one of the most interesting and important parts of General Assembly this year. We were asked by our Arizona partners in immigrant justice to learn about the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and encourage the US to uphold the U.N. Declaration of Rights for Indigienous People. I encourage you to read about it and watch the videos that describe various aspects of it. This resolution calls us to learn more about the history of the land on which we live, work, play, and pray and to be in accountable right relationship with the indigenous people in this country. Here’s a link to more information: http://uua.org/ga/2012/dod/index.shtml
I encourage you to create time this summer for renewal and relaxation. I look forward to seeing you all on August 12 for our Ingathering Water Ceremony … remember to bring a sample of water that represents your summer experiences.
In the spirit of trust, compassion, and inquiry…
Rev. Jan Taddeo
Creating an engaging and affirming environment for religious explorers: this is the mission of the Children and Youth Religious Exploration Committee. We all do this together as a congregation in several ways:
Connie Goodbread, the District Executive for the UUA Mid-South District, adapted words from Maria Harris that speak to this mission: “Faith Development is all we do. Unitarian Universalist is all we teach. The Congregation is the curriculum.”
All that we do together in congregational life teaches our young people how to live the values and principles of our faith tradition. We model for them the core values of our covenant – to sustain our community through trust, compassion, and inquiry. Our children and youth are an integral part of carrying our congregation’s mission into the world: Curiosity. Courage. Compassion.
Our Sunday morning Religious Exploration program is an important aspect of the way this congregation demonstrates its commitment to our shared values, our covenant, and the future of our faith tradition. It takes all of us, the whole village, to equip our children with the values and critical thinking skills to face a changing and challenging future.
As both your Parish Minister and your Minister of Religious Education, I hope each and every person in this congregation seeks a way to directly support the Religious Exploration program … it is an enriching and rewarding ministry we do together. Talk with me about any of these possibilities:
In the spirit of trust, compassion, and inquiry…
At the May 20 Congregational Meeting, we discussed putting this phrase on our sign during the month of June. We had a very open and honest conversation, and I was pleased at the way people used our newly adopted mission statement (Curiosity. Courage. Compassion.) in the dialogue. In the end, we had total consensus to put this phrase on our sign, knowing it calls us to be curious in learning more about the factors and conditions challenging immigrants in our county; courageous to stand up for human rights for immigrants; and, compassionate towards the many families who are experiencing the harsh consequences of Gwinnett County’s enforcement of 287g and Secure Communities.
At the Congregational Meeting, we agreed that in putting these words on our sign we are not making a political or legal statement, but rather a faith statement. Faith, as written in Hebrews 11:1, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” To make a faith statement about human rights for immigrants calls us to be agents of change because our Unitarian Universalist faith does not look to a supernatural being or external forces for change, but rather to human acts of courage and compassion. With regard to immigration, the substance of our hope may be the compassionate creation and enforcement of our laws. The evidence of things not seen is the acts of love that create a more humane world for all people. I have undying hope that our collective human heart is infinitely compassionate, and the conviction that great acts of love will become evident. May we be curious enough, courageous enough, and compassionate enough to stand behind this statement of faith and make it so for immigrants in Gwinnett County, and throughout Georgia.
Dates to Note:
In the spirit of trust, compassion, and inquiry…
Curiosity. Courage. Compassion. These are the three words that captured the essence of the holy experiences we shared with one another in our mission workshop on March 10. These are the transcendent values that are fundamental to those experiences, and best articulate the identity and purpose we want to communicate to the people in our wider community.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett engages the world with curiosity. We approach complex issues and ideas seeking to understand different perspectives and committed to learning more about what we don’t know that we don’t know. Curiosity has led humankind to the farthest corners of the cosmos, the darkest depths of the oceans, and the infinitesimally tiniest places in between.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett engages the world with courage. We move through our fear to engage with people who have different perspectives, to build connections and partnerships with people who share our concerns for humanity, and bravely engage issues that are controversial and complex seeking to create a more just and loving world.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett engages the world with compassion. We strive to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, to allow empathy and respect to guide us in creating a more compassionate world, and to seek to alleviate the systemic issues that cause human suffering.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett covenants to maintain a community of love through trust, compassion, and inquiry. This covenant binds us one to another and makes us a strong and mighty congregation as we engage the world with renewed purpose: Curiosity. Courage. Compassion.
In the spirit of trust, compassion, and inquiry…
The worship service on May 20 will include a Child Dedication Ceremony. If anyone would like to have their child(ren) dedicated, please contact Rev. Taddeo at RevTaddeo@uucg.org.
Living Into Our Future!
Last weekend we Celebrated Our Future in so many glorious ways.
I expect we all need to take several deep breaths and pause to reflect on all the energy and joy that was generated this weekend. This Sunday’s Service of Compassionate Presence will provide a soft landing from all the soaring we did together last weekend!
We need to be sure to extend our deep gratitude to one another for all the work that went into creating the inspiring outcomes that will continue to generate energy and joy in our lives together for years to come.
Now we start living into our future. We’ll explore how to use these three powerful words that identify us and call us to action. How do we engage life with curiosity, courage, and compassion? What does this mean to you, and what does it mean for us?
Come to the Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, March 25, to begin this exploration into living our future. We are a mighty congregation, full of curiosity, courage, and compassion. Let us walk together into the future with joy in our hearts and spirit in our steps!
In February I will be co-facilitating an introductory training on anti-racism and white privilege for the participants of the UU Allies for Racial Equity Conference in Fort Worth. When leading and participating in workshops like this in the past, people share deeply of their pain, their anger, as well as their frustration and confusion. Their reward for their vulnerability is new friendships, and feelings of profound connection. They leave feeling inspired and filled with a sense of hope and peacefulness. They also gain the skills that give them the courage to take these conversations out into the world and invite others to share their stories and struggles
Vulnerability is an essential requirement for building lasting relationships. Yet, it is not encouraged in our larger culture. Indeed, we are bombarded with messages that encourage people to strengthen the walls that separate us, wear masks that hide our authentic selves, and distract us from being in deep relationship with one another. Many seem to wear “busy” like a badge of honor. Binary messages of us/them, black/white, gay/straight, rich/poor deny the reality of a continuum of possibilities that are more inclusive, creative, and complex. We are quick to condemn people rather than engage in the more challenging work of true dialogue.
This is the work of justice: building relationships. Justice ministry requires learning to be courageous in our vulnerability; crossing borders and boundaries that separate us; and truly humanizing the Other.
It takes a great deal of courage to be vulnerable, and it also requires a supportive space in which to be courageous. At UUCG, we increase our skills, and our courage, through the deeper sharing and vulnerability in our small groups … book discussions, Compassion Circle, Chalice Circle, religious exploration programs for children, youth and adults, and sometimes in committee meetings and in our worship services. Here we practice what we can take out into the world with courage and commitment. When we take our practice out into the world, then we are truly creating a more just and loving world. Then we are Standing on the Side of Love.
On February 12, we will celebrate our Universalist heritage that is rich with stories of living our faith out in the world. Universalism is an important part of the foundation for our imperative to reach across borders and boundaries that separate us so we can love our neighbors as we love ourselves; so we can create the Beloved Community here on earth.
Are there places beyond UUCG where you are reaching across borders? Please send me your stories, pictures, and reflections about those times in your work or your volunteer service that you think represent the spirit of Standing on the Side of Love. On February 12, wear your yellow shirt to the Standing on the Side of Love Celebration of our Unitarian Universalist commitment to disappearing fear and generating more hope, more love, and more peace.
With a loving heart,
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
In my conversations about hope with people in the congregation I heard many perspectives and experiences of the concept of hope. Some were taught that hope is magical thinking and not something intelligent, reasoning people express. They learned hope is synonymous with wishing … like wishing for a million dollars when you blow out your birthday candles, or telling Santa all you want for Christmas is world peace.
Others expressed some ambivalence about the way the word hope is tossed around casually. We may write on a holiday letter, “I hope this letter finds you well…” when we really don’t know if it will. Even with all of our social networking and advanced technology, it can be a challenge to stay in touch with the depth that keeps us feeling truly connected to friends and family far away. We can hope … but it does take action to make it so. We can hope for a million dollars, but we know we actually have to work for it; and we can have world peace if a whole lot of people answer the call to make it so!
Hope can be a motivating force, a calling towards a dream that compels us to action. I think this may be, in part, how Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed hope. Perhaps the only way one can survive the finite disappointments of setbacks, discriminations, and injustices is through an infinite hope. This ideas was expressed in the words of the 19th century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker (and adapted by Martin Luther King, Jr.):
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
This expression of hope might call us to live up to our values, compel us to action, and draw us toward being more just and loving people. I think this is what we are witnessing in the Occupy Movement … people compelled to action by the combination of finite disappointment and infinite hope.
What calls you into action in a way that helps you weather the storms of life? What is the source for hope you tap into when the well feels dry? One source of hope may be in the connections and relationships with people: through our compassion, empathy, gratitude, and generosity. Knowing that we are capable of great love, may help us to endure the finite disappointments and tragic losses in the here and now.
As we turn the page on the calendar may we consider the hopes and dreams that call us into action.
With infinite hope,
“It takes generosity to discover the whole through others. If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.” -- Jacques Yves Cousteau
This quote on generosity speaks to the essence of living in an intentional religious community. Here we strive to offer space for people to discover their gifts, explore new ways of expressing themselves, and contribute their time, talents, and treasures in ways that will create the harmonic symphony of Beloved Community.
In December our congregation will explore many facets of generosity: generosity of the human spirit, the generosity of the earth, and the generosity in the many reasons for this season that holds special meaning for many faith traditions. There will also be opportunities to express the generosity of a caring community.
December can be a time of great joy and cheerfulness for many, and a time of stress, depression and grief for others. It is at the holidays that the absence of a loved one brings a new surge of grief, estranged family relationships leave people feeling a sense of aloneness or loneliness, and economic hardships feel most harsh. Generosity is so often tied to our ability to buy gifts and make donations, and holiday traditions are fraught with cultural expectations for warm family gatherings.
For those among us who do not have a family gathering to attend, there are members who are opening their homes to create extended family gatherings. If you would like to be with someone for a holiday meal, please let me know and I’ll assist in getting you connected. Likewise, if you can fit a few more people around your table for Christmas dinner, let me know.
For those who are blessed with economic stability, you may feel moved to give additional gifts this season. We are hosting an Angel Tree to provide gifts for children and families from Corley Elementary School in Lawrenceville, a school offering 91% free and reduced lunches. We’ll collect all the gifts by December 11 so the families can receive them in time for Christmas.
Other ways to give: Send a thank-you card to a Religious Exploration Volunteer or someone at UUCG who has made a different in your life; make a donation to your favorite charity in someone’s name; offer a contribution to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund and/or the Benevolence Fund (both of which provide support for members and engaged friends in the congregation who are facing economic challenges); or give a little extra to UUCG to support the good work of this congregation.
With the generous gift of your time and talents, we can create the symphony of Beloved Community. I invite you to take part in the many opportunities for gathering as a community in the month of December to create the deep warmth of community to sustain us all through the cold winter months.
With generosity of spirit,
Please Note: I will be taking time from December 26 through January 17 for combined study time and vacation. I will not be checking e-mail or taking calls during this time. Laura de Castro is the point of contact and will refer people to appropriate resources as needed. Sue-Ann Soloway and the Care Team are standing by to assist as well. I look forward to returning with renewed inspiration and energy for our continued ministry together.
The Minister Start-Up Weekend was energizing and inspiring for many of us, not the least me! It was wonderful to hear your stories, and to begin exploring dreams for the future. We started the conversation about the role of the minister, the leaders and the congregation. We began the work of creating a covenant between the congregation and me. We are off to a great start in what I hope will be a long and fulfilling relationship for all of us.
The relationship you have with your minister can be, and should be, supportive, affirming, and empowering. It is my intention to make this true for all people in our congregation, from the youngest to the oldest, and everyone in between. Your minister should feel approachable and accessible. And, of course, there are times when I am more accessible than others! Sunday morning is often a very full and focused time, and not the best time to try to engage in a deep conversation. However, I am accessible throughout the week. Not sure when to call your minister? Here are some ideas developed several years ago by Rev. Peter Lee Scott, and adapted by many over the years:
Call the Minister When:
How to Reach the Minister:
Office: 770-717-7913 (Tuesday-Thursday)
In the spirit of trust, compassion and inquiry,
There are three new ways for you to “Gad About” coming up soon. I hope you will consider all of these opportunities, but especially the third and most important event listed below.
First, The Ware Lecturer at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Charlotte this past June was Dr. Karen Armstrong, author of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Dr. Armstrong reminded us in that lecture, as she does in her book, “at their best, all religious, philosophical, and ethical traditions are based on the principle of compassion.” Compassion is the theme for our worship services and religious exploration programs in September. I invite you to join me in reading Karen Armstrong’s book; I am doing so in the hopes that I can improve my own capacity for compassion, and I know that doing this with others will make my efforts more effective, and together we can move closer to a tipping point to create a more compassionate community. I would like meet regularly with a small, committed, group of people over the course of the year, a Compassion Circle, to explore the “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.” If you are interested in joining me, please send me an e-mail: RevTaddeo@uucg.org. I will limit this group to 12 people; so please respond by September 15, then we’ll establish a date for our first gathering.
Second, having monthly themes for worship services and religious exploration is a new idea we’re trying out. I met with the Worship Associates and some members of the Choir and Religious Education Council to develop a shared vision for our work together this year. We had an energetic and inspiring dialogue in which we explored ways to make real a vision to offer engaging multigenerational worship experiences, and develop cohesive and collaborative programs that focus on shared themes. You may have noticed that in our services in August on the theme of inquiry, we included many voices, and reached out to include people of different ages. I hope to continue to include different voices in the services I lead. I also want to create services that feel relevant to the congregation.
In this spirit, I will hold open dialogues, Reverend’s Roundtable, to discuss upcoming themes. My first roundtable will be on Sunday, September 18, 1:30 – 3:00pm. The discussion for this gathering will focus on October’s theme of “Forgiveness.” What does it mean to forgive? Have you had an experience in which you sought forgiveness, had difficulty forgiving, or discovered something new about forgiveness? Come to this open and supportive dialogue to share your stories and explore ways in which this theme is relevant in your life, the life of the congregation, and in the wider community.
The third, and most important, opportunity for sharing your stories, thoughts, ideas and vision is at the Minister Start-Up Weekend. On Friday, September 16, 6:30 – 9:00pm. the whole congregation is invited to share stories to help me to know you better, and to begin shaping the next chapter in the story of UUCG. On Saturday, September 17, from 9:00 to 4:30, the leaders of the congregation will meet to begin shaping a vision for our ministry together. I am very excited about this event, and it is important that we have a strong turnout, so please plan to attend! See the weekly announcements for more details.
Three Things: Compassion Circles, Reverend’s Roundtable, and Minister Start-Up Weekend: please join me!
In the spirit of trust, compassion and inquiry,
Every mighty river has a source, often a tiny trickle of a spring high in the mountains that is drawn towards something larger. As it meanders down the mountain it is joined by other streams and grows in breadth, depth, and power as together they become one large body of water. Such is our religious journey as Unitarian Universalists, often sparked by simple questions and new ideas that draw us toward larger communities of people who share our approach to religious inquiry.
On August 14, my first Sunday with you as your new settled minister, we will share in the Unitarian Universalist tradition of the Water Communion at our Ingathering service. This multigenerational celebration of our religious community will honor the sources of Unitarian Universalist religious inquiry through the metaphor of water.
Bring your waters from the east, south, west and north … water from your own tap if you stayed home this summer, water representing tears shed for challenges and heartbreaks experienced, water from travels to new or favorite places. As you collect water, consider not only the source of this water, but also the sources of your spiritual journey: the ideas you explored and the questions you asked that brought you to Unitarian Universalism. What sources of wisdom have inspired you in your inquiries or sustained you during life’s challenges? Which sources do you want to explore more deeply? Explore with the children in your life the idea of different sources of religious ideas and what speaks to them. What questions do they have about life, God, or the sources of water that might invite deeper discussions?
On August 14, we will gather our collected waters into one large pool, representing the rich and powerful collection of questions, ideas, and perspectives that we bring to this shared community of inquiry that give us breadth, depth and power as a congregation.
Bring water that honors the direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.
Bring water that honors the wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life and Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
Bring water that honors the spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Bring water that honors the words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and love, and humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
Bring water that honors our gathering as one strong body, in the mystery, in the struggle, in the power, in the inquiry.
One of my ways of saying goodbye is to draft a letter of ongoing programs and projects that I will not see to completion, but that I hope you, as a congregation, will carry forward. It’s not by any means the first time I have done this. I recall that, when I was a departing city planner for the City of Oklahoma City, I left quite an extensive set of guiding suggestions for carrying out the ongoing programs. I was influenced by reading Margaret Mead, who thought that a process is not over when the proposal is implemented. It needs to be tried and altered and find its own life in the community, inevitably adapting and accommodating along the way. The same holds for innovations we have introduced during this interim ministry. The task is now yours to carry the innovations forward and give them a home in the UUCG community. They are not abstractions; they are yours to use and modify as needed.
The programs and practices that are moving forward include:
I encourage all of you to support your new minister and your elected and volunteer leaders to complete the transition work and adopt the changes as new practices and congregational habits. As Margaret Mead noted, things will continue to change as you integrate the innovations into the ongoing life of the church. Always remember what major work you did in order to arrive at this new moment of congregational maturity. I congratulate you again on this fine work you have accomplished.
Keep up the momentum and enthusiasm as this new era for UUCG unfolds. Support the changes that are still being shaped. They include the following ongoing projects:
Be vigilant, yet patient with one another, and with your new minister. Change is never easy. Be sure to keep a healthy balance among three aspects of your congregational life: Goals, Relations, and the Ground of wisdom and loving-kindness that sustains that balance: your covenant of ‘Trust, Compassion, and Inquiry.’
You have my love. You go, people!
Well, UUCG, you now have a promising ministerial candidate and the mood around the church community is absolutely electric. We were introduced to Rev. Taddeo via video last Sunday after the morning service. (If you didn’t see it you can access it on the church web site.) The Ministerial Search Committee is hopping with excitement, and they should be. They have done swell, and proudly so. They also deserve your personal expression of gratitude. That’s an extraordinary search committee: Chris, Debra, June, Patty, Rob, Martha, and Bob. Now their focus and yours moves to Candidating ‘Week’ – Saturday May 14 – Sunday May 22. Be sure to note the many opportunities when you can meet Rev. Jan Taddeo.
I truly share in your excitement. But my own vocational focus is starting to shift. The week before Easter, from April 18 – 22, I will be at Camp Allen, near Houston, TX, with most of the UU interim ministers. That is the week each year that we gather for our annual seminar, network as professional interims, and learn of the upcoming options for interim ministry in the UU landscape. At this juncture I do not know where I might ‘land’ and start to serve yet another UU congregation in need of what we also call ‘transition ministry.’ Neither do I know whether Jean will be able to accompany me to that new venue. We are also in transition, wanting to sell our own home in Dunwoody, where we have resided since the summer of 1992. So changes are certainly in the wind for all of us.
One way of putting this is that as you ‘gear up’ for your new and exciting venture with a new settled minister, we will be ‘gearing down’ my role and participation. That is how it should be and was indeed how your interim ministry was planned. I have no intention of waxing romantic here. Heaven knows there have been challenges guiding you to where you truly needed to go as a congregation. There was resistance and skepticism that carried through our first year together, notwithstanding the general focus of forward momentum and supportive cooperation. The deep difference came with the adoption of the Covenant of Right Relations at the May 2010 congregational meeting. There you all affirmed UUCG’s spiritual and ethical center as having the qualities of “Trust, Compassion, and Inquiry.”
When the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) was nominated and voted upon, that solidified commitment like nothing else could. It sure helped that the MSC fully represented the needs of UUCG. They have made my job a lot easier, and we are witnessing the results even in the enthusiasm and outcome of the recent Annual Auction: You raised $10K!
My time is nearing for saying goodbye, dear ones. I will be with you through June 2011. On June 18 you will hold a goodbye party for me, and on the 19th Jean and I will conduct a farewell worship service. I will now be stepping back gradually as you step forward. We have three more months together, but they will be devoted increasingly to affirming the wonderful momentum you now exhibit as a congregation. Otherwise, I will continue to serve you as your pastor and part-time preacher until we say goodbye in June. Well, for those of you who are also going to General Assembly that too is something we can celebrate together.
One of the challenges of being part of a congregation in transition is that you keep getting reminded that you are a congregation in transition! Quite honestly, I have leaned from interim ministry colleagues of a helpful way to understand the period of transition. Imagine it extending all the way through the first year of the new called minister’s settlement. Thus your ‘transition period’ will be from August 2008 to July 2012! That way new habits, behaviors, expectations, understandings, protocol, and policies will also have a ‘settling-in’ period.
You see, transition is not just about completing the process of finding a new minister eager to serve UUCG for years to come. It’s also about the congregation adapting comfortably to the changes that have been instituted and agreed upon. Example: There are new bylaws being considered for February 20 congregational meeting. Be sure you learn of these bylaw changes and attend the meeting. They address some further – and very wise - changes that are needed. I condone those changes to which the Transition Team, the Board, and certain other volunteers have brought their expertise and commitment.
Here is another example. UUCG is moving from a congregational identity as a highly volunteer-based, informal liberal religious community to the more formal identity of a full-service, program-style congregation with professional staff. This speaks nothing critical of the past 30 years of UUCG’s life. It just acknowledges that this progressive religious congregation has self-chosen - through Transition Team workshops, dialogues, congregational meetings, Search Committee surveys, and leadership interviews and conversations – to move forward and upward in quality, commitments, and expectations.
This ‘bump up’ touches everyone and everything in the life of the congregation, including expectations of dedicated members, volunteer leadership, and professional and volunteer staff. This is not an easy process. You will have some ‘bumps down,’ in which conflicts will emerge simply due to the changes that are under way. That is one good reason why the Covenant of Right Relations was adopted. It is also why the whole process began with the creation of a Leadership Covenant. Their consensus guidance remains central to sustaining good, healthy relations. Thank goodness you all chose to incorporate the key ethical phrase “Maintain a loving community through trust, compassion, and inquiry.” That has become the core touch-point of this period of transition: Your Center.
In navigating forward, in aiming higher toward greater coordination and planning, as well as consistently seeking high quality programming and ministries, you will do well to remain centered on that core touch-point of trust, compassion, and inquiry. When the needs of individual committees and programs seem to conflict with other commitments, ‘return to center.’ Then probe more deeply with empathy and inquiry, not only asking of each other, but also of the deeper needs of UUCG and her ministry in the world. This depth dimension of listening and mutual understanding will continually open any feelings of urgency to the promptings of wisdom. It is the truly mature congregation that seeks to master both the horizontal dimension of relations and results with the vertical dimension of wisdom and creative transformation.
Continue navigating well, and remember: ‘Return to Center.’
As the month of November nears I cannot help but think that last November 13th my father died. I don’t mention this anniversary of his death to prompt a conversation on loss or grief. Rather, I mention it because we can never be sure when we make plans, and last year what I had planned for the upcoming Thanksgiving Sunday Service was to introduce all of you to a Bread Communion Service. It’s such a special way to celebrate harvest time.
When dad died Bob Patrick came to my rescue. He developed and, with assistance from others, conducted a service in place of the Bread Communion Ceremony. I was so grateful that Bob volunteered to come forth and lead the service during my time of family grief. Bob’s resourcefulness is one of so many talented and capable leaders in this fine congregation. My gratitude goes out to him and to all of you who dedicate so much to make this a richly diverse, caring, and committed congregation. You are blessed, folks. Something to keep in mind during this special time of UUCG stewardship awareness.
Now, to this notion of a Bread Communion Service. We are going to give it a go; and for the service to be a rousing success it will involve many of you baking your favorite holiday bread. June Warfield and I will be co-lead this fun service on November 21st, and to be clear, the service will end with the sharing of various home baked breads of fond family recipes. That’s the communion part! So please start thinking about what bread you might want to bake and bring for that service. Then tell June or me or leave Laura de Castro an email so we can know what to plan for.
A central liturgy in this intergenerational service is a brief sharing of family stories of those favorite recipes and their cooks. Yes! You can tell a short story about the bread in the service. The music and other elements of the service will enhance this theme. Then, afterwards, we get to taste those delectable delights. It’s kind of like the water communion ceremony only different. The service theme will be harvest, Thanksgiving, and the fall season of indoor fellowship and camaraderie.
This Bread Communion Service may or may not become a UUCG tradition. That is for you to decide next year. But for it to become successful this first time, we need to be intentional about the preparations. I thank you in advance for letting June, Laura, or me know of your interest and bread contribution. Welcome to the holidays.
With Autumnal delight,
I have the honor of announcing that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett will have a part-time intern minister. His name is Jeremiah Gold-Hopton. His full-time commitment is with the Atlanta Medical Center, where he is undertaking a one-year Chaplaincy Residency Program as part of his requirements toward certification to become a UU minister. Jeremiah will be with UUCG from the present through January 2011- essentially a four-month internship. He will be assisting in various ways including Worship, Religious Education, and Pastoral Care.
Jeremiah’s entre to this more official context in his ministerial formation came through a request to me. I have known him since May 2006. He already had earned his Master of Divinity degree from Candler Seminary, and was in transition from active Quaker ‘lay ministry’ to professional Unitarian Universalist ministry. He was a member of the Northwest UU Congregation’s Worship Associate Program and attended a UU Spiritual Retreat at Ignatius House, where we met. When he applied for candidacy with the UUA, I interviewed him and recommended him for UU Ministerial Candidacy. I have known and supported him ever since. He will become a gifted UU minister; of that I am confident.
Jeremiah’s first activity with UUCG was to contact me and determine if the board was receptive to his becoming affiliated with the congregation for part of the period of his Chaplaincy Residency, also called ‘Clinical Pastoral Education’ (CPE). The board gave me the go-ahead, and I assisted Jeremiah in building an Intern Committee. That committee necessarily includes people from both his hospital context and UUCG. The full committee consists of Nancy Jacobsen, Barbara Stahnke, Ward Knights (a retired UU minister and CPE Supervisor), Emanuel Williams (a retired chaplain), Carl Bryant (a fellow CPE student), Jeremiah, and me.
What is especially telling is that Jeremiah chose to ‘keep one foot’ in his denomination setting by affiliating with UUCG. This was is not a requirement of the UUA, but it was Jeremiah’s desire. He needed to form an intern committee, and he wanted to assure that his committee would be well grounded in his own progressive (UU) faith family. Going this ‘extra mile’ will not only impress the UU Ministerial Fellowship Committee, it has already impressed me.
As you get to know Jeremiah over the coming weeks and months, you will see as well why I am not only impressed with him, but feel honored for him to be in our midst as a fine minister-in-formation. Please give Jeremiah Gold-Hopton a fine welcome to UUCG.
Have you seen the news that Pastor Terry Jones, of Dove World Outreach Center (a fundamentalist church) plans to hold an “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11, 2010? You talk about madness! That man is crazy and his attitude fuels a dangerous sentiment in the country. Wanna know more? Jones wrote a book titled “Islam is of the Devil,” and his church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase. On the church’s website, a section lists “Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran.” (Source: CNN)
Have you seen the latest Time Magazine? Its feature article asks the question, “Is America Islamophobic?” The initial story is not about the proposed mosque two blocks from ‘Ground Zero.’ It’s about a small Wisconsin town planning commission hearing where a local MD (and land owner) is applying to open a mosque nearby. There the doctor hears comments he would never hear in the privacy of an examination room. People there openly “…pour scorn and hostility on [his] proposal… It’s about [his] faith. Islam is a religion of hate, they say. Muslims are out to wipe out Christianity…One resident says, ‘I just think it’s not America.’” (Source: Time Magazine)
Add to this the insanity that a substantial portion (24%) of the voting American public actually think that our President, Barack Obama, is a practicing Muslim. Quite frankly, it would not matter to me in the least if he was a Muslim. But he is not, and yet this rumor continues across the nation among Americans receptive to being incited by the anger and hatred toward seemingly all people of Islamic faith.
We have here a problem that all Unitarian Universalists can help solve. How would you go about it? My recommendation, especially at the local level of a congregation, would be emphasize our compatibilities with the Islamic faith, and show that simpatico through words and actions that made the Lawrenceville/Gwinnett community aware that we ‘Stand on the Side of Love,’ to use the language of one of our hymns.
Specific action would take the form of open advocacy and support for local mosques and Muslims, hold a ‘Share the Quran Dinner’ and invite local Muslims, sponsor a public forum to build interfaith understanding, consider building interfaith relations through shared projects (eg, Habitat House). We could also teach the Quran in RE. I would ask the Social Justice Committee to take the lead in developing a full strategy, but I would (myself) write public letters of support and be present (if possible) for such events as the above. In Augusta, when I was interim minister there, clergy representatives from various faiths met together, including the local Imam, on a monthly basis. Now they hold an annual interfaith service on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. There are lots of things you/we could do.
In my view, the whole matter centers on loving kindness and mutual acceptance of people of good will demonstrating solidarity through empathy and compassion. Taking a stand against people like Pastor Jones, and the anti-Islam hatred he and his congregation voice, would only fuel more hatred. Our stance needs to always be one that affirms the healing power of love through ever-building the Beloved Community.
I take a risk in sharing with you a column on something as complex and important as empathy and as troublesome as bias toward other groups of people. Obviously I cannot give this a full treatment in a short column. I increase my risk even more by revealing that my renewed interest in the importance of empathy comes from participation in spiritual retreats with Robert Sardello and his spouse and partner, Cheryl Sanders Sardello. I have now attended two four-day retreats with them in rural Benson, NC. Their approach goes by the name “Contemplative Spiritual Psychology.” I feel compelled, however, to offer some observations and insights. What I have recently realized can help the UUCG community better navigate the core tenets of the new Covenant of Right Relations: to maintain “a community of love through trust, compassion, and inquiry.”
As UUs we profess to “affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” That’s the first principle (or value) stated in the UU Principles and Purposes Statement. Yet there are times and circumstances (maybe at a church social or in a small group setting) when we may forget our ideals while the more pervasive American habits of individual freedoms creep in and crowd out the respect and worth we wish to practice as UUs. This is only natural, and hard to even notice, because American society has more power over our habits than do our UU ideals.
I have witnessed this occur in every UU church with which I have been associated. Out of habit we ‘slip’ and find ourselves ‘othering’ people and beliefs that we think are silly, naïve, less intelligent, or flat-out wrong. The most common UU habit of ‘othering’ is judgment toward mainstream Christians. It is quite typical to hear slurs towards Christians in UU churches. Oppositional thinking is another name for this. In a non-UU setting, I was present with someone recently who talked repeatedly about “them,” when I knew clearly that he was talking about “all black people.” After I realized he wasn’t going to stop that discrimination, I asked him to cease making those insinuations. Such overt discrimination is not frequent in UU churches. But we do come across expressions of religious, political and intellectual bias and opposition. I am personally convinced that those slips arise especially because we lump whole groups of people into categories toward which it feels okay to speak derisively. UUCG has lost members due to this. I have witnessed it.
What does ‘othering’ have to do with empathy? Quite a bit. When we slip and speak judgmentally about a whole group of people, we show that we do not feel empathy for them. We have put them in some cognitive box and dismissed them and the box from our feelings of respect, empathy, and compassion. We toss them out of our hearts.
I realized something important about this last weekend while attending a spiritual retreat. In fact, the place I came to that realization was while contemplatively walking a labyrinth. It came to me clear as a bell. There were associations and memories and feelings of people important to me that preceded my insight. Those laid the intuitive groundwork. Then a whole pattern of awareness washed over me and bathed me in feelings of love. Out of that came the insight: “We are in this world to give birth to each other, and to ourselves.”
The sense of birth was a metaphor. We are here in society and in nature, so I felt, to serve each other by creating safe spaces that invite forth heart-felt yearnings and hopes and interests of others into the world. We are mid-wives, I felt. The feminist Nelle Morton, said it differently. She said, of women in their quest for self awakening, “Our purpose is to hear each other into speech.” We cannot do that without the profound relational power of empathy; without listening with empathy. Something to remember.
I am so proud of you people! I am writing this column five days after the congregational meeting of Sunday, May 16th. One of the triumphs of that meeting was the adoption of the new ‘Covenant of Right Relations.’ There were several other things from that meeting for which you can feel proud - your financial stewardship, your ongoing strength of leadership, and more. I choose to highlight the covenant because I think it serves as tangible evidence of how well you dedicated members have cultivated the soil within which your fine gifts of community grow. As I view it, UUCG has now become a mature congregational community with a deepened sense of integrity and stability.
This is no flimsy compliment. I mean it. On Sunday President Marina Peed presented in PowerPoint fashion the proposed Covenant of Right Relations that was crafted by the Task Force of Louise McKinney (chair and principle author), Karl Adams, Martha Dyer, Steph Mabie, and Deb Millette. I led us all in reading the covenant in unison. Then, following brief Q&A discussion, the covenant was adopted by the assembled membership (well over a quorum) in a unanimous vote to approve that wording as a guide to member relations and accountability.
What an impressive accomplishment this is for UUCG! I obviously don’t just mean the technical accomplishment. I mean the heartfelt desire you exhibited in choosing to relate with one another and conduct yourselves in a healthy manner, mindful of the importance of communal civility, and with all sincerity to maintain collaborative and compassionate communications. Of course you know, and we all know, that we fall short at times. There will be times of conflict and disagreement. Human differences surface in dialogue where opinions are expressed. We bring these acknowledgements into awareness, while emphasizing the importance of forgiveness as well as accountability. This is no panacea. It is a guide.
Here are the words you affirmed:
UUCG Covenant of Right Relations
We, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, in covenant with each other, honor this entire congregation, its spiritual growth, and mission.
It is our deeply held belief and commitment that this be a community of love.
We sustain our community through trust, compassion, and inquiry.
To live our commitment…
Yesterday UUCG marked a major step forward in the congregation’s momentum toward full-time settled ministry. I speak, or course, of the visit by the Mid-South District’s Ministerial Settlement Representative (MSR), Dick Creswell. You could not have asked for a better overview of the search process, the steps involved, and the important role of the Ministerial Search Committee. The attendance was very good, and the questions revealed not only the attentiveness of the congregation, but also the savvy, experience, and commitment of those who engaged Dick in open dialogue. You can now say, without reservation, that UUCG is immersed in the ministerial search process.
What comes next? What might you expect as this process unfolds? I will not offer you an exhaustive list of steps. I want to highlight certain junctures in which you will have good opportunities to help shape the ministerial search results between now and the early fall 2010. Two key steps: 1) Selecting the Search Committee and 2) Participating in the Congregational Self-Study.
Selecting the Search Committee
An eventful moment is coming soon for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett. At the Annual Congregational Meeting, May 16th, the Nominating Committee will put forth a slate of seven members to be voted on as the Ministerial Search Committee. I recommend that you attend this important meeting and cast your vote as an active member of the congregation.
Participating in the Congregational Self-Study
This vital aspect of the search process is open democracy in action. This self-study process will offer you several opportunities to make your thoughts known to the Search Committee. It will also give you various ways to engage in key conversations with your fellow members regarding the qualities of ministry you would like to see in your future minister, as well as the qualities of ministry you would like to see cultivated in the life of your congregation.
The questions and learnings that have emerged during the past (almost) two years of transition ministry can find their place in helping you formulate a vision of ministry for UUCG. The soil has been well tilled, and now it is your turn to give voice to your hopes and desires as this church community moves forward into a new phase of its congregational life. To paraphrase Dick Creswell (MSR) with my own words, UUCG is poised to move intentionally into the fullness of its promise. You are almost there, and it is clear that you are headed there. That must feel good; I certainly sense it.
You will be given opportunities for input into the process through a survey, through cottage meetings, and possibly through personal interviews. Take full advantage of all of these opportunities so that not only is democracy in action, but also that the conversation regarding UUCG’s emerging ministry (its shared ministry of professional and lay people alike) can animate your ethic, your spirit, and your love of this vital community for you and the youth of UUCG.
I am deeply touched by the earnest commitment you have made and are making to build and sustain exemplary liberal religious community. I will companion you through this important next step as you journey forward.
In trust, compassion, and inquiry,
Dear UUCG Members, I write you today with great pride and appreciation for the collective wisdom and congregational maturity you demonstrated at your recent Congregational Meeting (Dec. 13th). Your vote to enter the ministerial search process was almost unanimous, and you also voted approval of the new half-time position of Church Administrator. You did this with a very high turnout of the membership present. That meeting, in my view, will become an important moment in the life of UUCG. Not only the democratic decisions made by the church-as-a-whole, but also the thoughtful questions and respectful yet earnest discussion were indicative of a congregation truly ready to move forward. Congratulations UUCG!
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