Unitarian Universalists from all around the country left General Assembly filled with loving kindness and wanting to work for justice.
Imagine the almost 4,000 Unitarian Universalists who gather in Phoenix. We sing, worship, learn, grow, and keep vigil for Immigration Justice and build Beloved Community.
Beloved Community was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s favored words for the global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth.
At Justice General Assembly we glimpse beloved community as people from identity groups who are often invisible are visible in leadership roles ~ youth, people of color, LGBTQ people, people in scooters.
Beloved Community grows when we hear each other’s stories.
We meet on holy ground whenever we listen respectfully, lovingly with people different from ourselves.
We are invited to be caring in our speech, to speak differences respectfully, give listeners and ourselves dignity.
As we listen with our hearts open, we grow to say, “I see you. I love you.”
So much goes on in each human life. Some people’s pain is visible, others invisible.
We hold all of us in compassion.
Nearly 4,000 UUs sat in silence.
We sang “May I be filled with loving kindness…
may you be filled with loving kindness…
May we be filled with loving kindness,”
and we practiced kindness toward one another.
These messages were given over and over.
To build the world we dream of,
we start when we practice it in our communities,
embody it in our meetings, in our care for one another.
Let go of always trying to direct, lead or solve.
Be willing to follow.
Be willing to partner with others.
Listening is as important as speaking.
At Justice General Assembly UUs partner with and learn from non-Unitarian Universalists who lead work in Phoenix for immigration justice.
As we learn about immigration, the stories are complex; we remember human beings have always moved and migrated for opportunity, some out of desperation.
Moses and his people migrated into the Promised Land. Jesus and his family fled persecution, migrating into another country. We remember the pilgrims and this country’s Thanksgiving story and the migration stories of our own families and the families of our friends.
Investigative reporter and Public Radio host Maria Hinojosa offered the Justice GA Ware Lecture. Maria Hinojosa named facts of detention centers, dormitories without windows, no clean drinking water, no books, no television, poor food and health care, dirty, stained prison clothes, maggots, lice, bedbugs, rats, sexual assaults by guards.
A detained woman she met told her of women forced to strip down and wait lined up for showers.
The woman felt like she was in the movie Schindler’s List.
This in the United States of America.
Our hearts break open to the suffering.
Hinojosa asks, as demographics are shifting in the U.S., as there becomes what’s sometimes called “the browning of America,” should white Americans be afraid of becoming a minority? Only, she says, if minorities continue to be treated as they have been.
Leaders like Starr King School President Rebecca Parker lift up affirmations to ground work for social justice in the goodness of this world. Universalist social justice activist Clarence Skinner called us to “accept the world for the joyous place it is supposed to be.”
Affirm salvation as a possibility here and now. Seek joy in living simply so others can simply live.
Universalist leader Gordon McKeeman, who was a member of this congregation while he was President of Starr King School, said
“Universalists believe all of us are going to end up in heaven so we might as well learn to get along with each other now.” Begin here.
Affirm the interconnection of all life.
Community is where we become whole.
We affirm the possibilities of each person, the inherent worth and dignity.
Each of us has power and gifts to give.
When you feel valued, you want to contribute. We were invited to cultivate kindness and humility, to look around and smile at one another. Let’s try it here, now.
I invite you to rise as you are able and look kindly at one another.
Unitarian Universalists believe in the power of love.
Love grows our capacity to discern what will enable the thriving of life… when to remain silent, when to speak, where to act.
Former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association Bill Sinkford named what you, too, may experience. There is social justice work that is empowering and energizing and there is work that is depleting. Discern where and how to spend time and energy. Give your energy where you also receive.
We must open to suffering. Grieve. “Blessed are those who mourn.”
Feel all you are feeling; moving with it grows our faith. We will come through to a new place, able and ready to act.
We must open to beauty. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Divinity School Address, he affirms that beauty rekindles the fires of religion. Beauty is life-saving, sustains us.
Beauty supports our work for justice, brings to birth Beloved Community.
In the World We Dream About people would not fill their days with shame and guilt, with blame and endless meetings. As people make justice and live in beloved community, they would share meals, sing, dance, play, mourn, laugh, celebrate. It’s not just doing, but being kind, being present. Rehearse Beloved Community now.
The UUA anti-racism curriculum Building the World We Dream About, says religious educator Mark Hicks, generates joy and love, not guilt or shame.
The workshops guide us in having conversations without harming another.
The question is always, “What am I learning about myself?”
Each of us looks at our self rather than pointing at others.
We look to what we can do.
Make every encounter sacred.
Move from a thing oriented society to people oriented community.
We build on our strengths.
This last year this congregation offered the curriculum Immigration as a Moral Issue, led by Elisabeth and Katherine Jay. Children participated in the children’s immigration curriculum. Along with those programs, we had a world map where each person could mark their family’s migration stories. We shared a heritage potluck meal.
A group of people read and discussed The Death of Josseline, groups watched the documentaries Lost in Detention and Crossing Arizona and other films on immigration.
Immigration was the topic of Several Sunday services.
The two of us and other members participated in Borderlinks learning serving trips to the Tucson AZ and Nogales, Sonora border.
A group of our members met with Unitarian Universalists in Walnut Creek to explore sharing immigration justice work.
A core group participate in the monthly Interfaith Vigils at the West County Detention Center.
Such a lot of strength to build on.
This coming year Natalie DaSilva and Linda Jackson will lead our UUCB Immigration Justice Group. Such good news!
We want to partner with interfaith and community organizations and other UU congregations in relationship building and justice work.
We plan for learning and serving experiences.
We want to offer the 24 session Building the World We Dream About workshops.
There is so much from General Assembly to share.
Attend today’s forum and hear from Justice GA participants.
In the days ahead, ask them about their experiences.
We also have cards for you this morning with resources for learning, activities, and commitments you can make.
Such a lot of strength to build on.
This week twelve of us, UUs, representatives from the city of Richmond, neighbors, the mother, grandmother, and brother of 19 year old Emmanuel Miranda gathered at the corner where he was shot and killed last Friday.
I do not know the immigration status of the people in the circle.
This was an interfaith, bi-lingual gathering.
We held the hands of the grieving, the angry, the fearful and prayed for safety, the end of gun violence, and the tragic loss of this life.
We are learning how to be present to one another in compassion.
At Justice GA, Rev. Nate Walker playfully asked us to imagine UUs presence at heated city council meetings and rallies. Imagine people breathing a sigh of relief. “The UUs are here.” Picture UUs with the reputation for being kind, being present, offering calm, centeredness, peace, loving kindness. Imagine, he said, your presence as the one to curb aggressive impulses. “Ahhh,” the UUs have arrived.
Last Saturday night thousands of Unitarian Universalists board buses to ride to the outskirts of Phoenix to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City.
We wear golden yellow standing on the Side of Love T shirts, wave love posters and pennants.
On the bus ride we sing, over and over, “When I breathe in, I’ll breathe in peace.
When I breathe out, I’ll breathe out love.”
We sing continuously like you might a chant at a monastery.
We have heard that supporters of Sheriff Joe are at Tent City to counter our vigil.
We want to exit the bus centered in the spirit of love.
We want to be ready.
We talk, look at and move with one another in peaceful and loving ways.
We walk from the buses to outside the barbed and razor wire fences of the Tent City where undocumented people are held.
We walk by people protesting our presence and armed deputy sheriffs mounted on horses. We keep singing. We breathe in peace and breathe out love.
Buses keep arriving and people flow like a river of yellow and gold.
A local Baptist pastor speaks. He says the animal shelter just down the road keeps the dogs in air conditioned, clean rooms and that Tent City keeps people like dogs out in the Arizona heat.
The names of the 129 people who died in U.S. detention centers this year are read.
We let in the suffering and the loss, feel the sadness.
Under the night sky, the stars, and crescent moon, in the desert heat, we lift candles in the air and hold moments of silence.
UUA President Peter Morales tells us we look beautiful, all those tiny lights held up in the night sky.
We sing, we shout. We hear testimonies and speeches. Our hearts ache for the families separated, for the inhumane treatment of human beings.
Inside the detention center, our voices are heard. We shed tears, let out cheers.
We are one body wanting justice and filled with loving kindness.
Some of us who attended Justice GA say a shift has happened.
We look at people around us differently, with an awareness of our common humanity.
People want to do justice, love kindness and go humbly on the journey and share it with you.
Let us come to know each other’s stories, suffering, fears, joys, names!
Then we can sing, create, build, collaborate, laugh, cry, pray, act.
We will stumble. When we fall short, we can hold each other.
Respond with compassion.
Stay connected even when we let each other down.
Open our hearts. Open our arms.
Be community. Call each other beloved.
Copyright © 2012 Revs. Bill and Barbara Hamilton-Holway. All Rights Reserved.
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Worship at UUCB
Sundays in August
Summer Worship Schedule: 10:00 a.m. (one service only)
Childcare available from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
August’s Theme: Vulnerability
August 3 - We Are…
Who do we mean when we say “we?” Do we mean who we think we do? When does “we” unintentionally exclude? What does inclusivity really look like? Rev. Dr. Sue Magidson preaching; Kay Fairwell, worship leader
Rev. Dr. Sue Magidson is a longtime member of UUCB and one of it’s community ministers. She serves as the Spiritual Care Coordinator and Chaplain at San Leandro Hospital. As a lifelong UU and Jew, she thinks a lot about who we mean when we say “we.”
August 10 - Pieces of the Puzzle
Walking a trail, taking a pilgrimage, and navigating a labyrinth are metaphors for our life’s journey. Folks who are hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail have a similar destination in mind, though many different approaches to getting there are employed. Rev. Sonya Sukalski speaks about the blessings and lessons of the trail. Rev. Sonya Sukalski preaching; Rev. Jay Atkinson, worship leader; Rev. Greg Ward will offer a short testimony.
Rev. Sonya Sukalski is one of UUCB’s community ministers. Sonya serves as the Director of Faith Community Engagement for Specialty Studios and The Video Project, who harness the power of socially conscious media to touch hearts, engage minds, and inspire action. Sonya developed the UU Legislative Ministry of California’s Spiritual Activist Leadership Training (SALT) for young adults from 2010-2013 which graduated 23 activists equipped to lead us into a better future.
August 17 - Perfect Strangers
What is your relationship with trying to be perfect? Have you ever tried to be perfect in order to be noticed... to be appreciated... to be loved? Trying to be perfect may sometimes get us attention, but often it comes with a price: people only know us for what we do and not who we are. And in the process, we become perfect strangers. Rev. Greg Ward preaching; Jay Atkinson, worship leader.
August 24 - Praying to a God that Laughs
Becoming an adult is serious business, so serious, in fact, that many of us lose our sense of humor along the way. When did we lose our mirth? Our imagination and whimsy? When did we finally surrender our playfulness? And how do we coax these essential tools to return? Rev. Greg Ward preaching; Rev. Jeanne Foster, worship leader; Merrin Clough and our 2014-15 team of R. E. volunteers will be charged to service.
August 31 - Flying--or the Story of a Young Trapeze Artist
A circus experience from my childhood growing up in New Orleans and Robert Frost’s poem “Choose Something Like a Star” together provide the stimulus for a reflection on what it means to be daring in life and what it means to have for a safety net below us the “interdependent web of all existence,” which we UUs affirm and promote. Rev. Dr. Jeanne Foster preaching, with Kay Fairwell, worship leader.
Rev. Dr. Jeanne Foster grew up in New Orleans and went to undergraduate school at Tulane University. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Starr King, was ordained by the Monterey Peninsula UU Church, and served as minister of the UU Fellowship in Modesto. She earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in the interdisciplinary area of Religion, Literature, and the Arts. She is currently Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. A published poet, her work has appeared in numerous journals. Her poetry book, A Blessing of Safe Travel, won the Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Award. Among her other books are Appetite: Food as Metaphor, an anthology of poems by women, and a critical work, A Music of Grace: the Sacred in Contemporary.
September 7 at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.
One of the great blessings of this – and so many of our UU communities around the country – is coming back together in the fall to reintegrate our ideals and experiences, and rededicate ourselves to one another and our common calling to make the world a better place. In coming together for this service we are asking you to bring a few things.
- A tiny bit of water (to pour into our common well) that symbolizes a feeling you’d like to bring into being at UUCB (joy, meaning, compassion, love, etc.)
- A tiny bit of earth (to place upon our ground of being) symbolizing what skill you add to our wealth of talent (teaching, organization, leadership, communication, etc.)
- An idea (and, if you’re willing, a costume – especially some of our younger members) symbolizing what kind of animal you would be on Noah’s Ark. We will all be given a chance to ‘get on board.’
A tiny bit of water (to pour into our common well) that symbolizes a feeling you’d like to bring into being at UUCB (joy, meaning, compassion, love, etc.)
Sundays in September
Worship Schedule: 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Childcare available from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
September’s Theme: Beginnings
September 7 - Noah’s Dilemma
Noah understood about the need to bring people together. In the midst of a great flood of change, he prepared for people to discover the best of one another. Come to UUCB’s multigenerational ingathering story where we will pour our lives into this community and notice what a blessing each person brings. Rev. Greg Ward, Merrin Clough, and a cast of thousands.
September 14 - Sweet Beginnings
Drawing inspiration from our Jewish heritage and themes of renewal and repair we anticipate the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rev. Kathy Huff, preaching.
The Reverend Kathy Huff is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. She has served congregations in Arlington, MA; Oakland, CA and Santa Rosa, CA. Rev. Kathy grew up on a South Sea island and has lived and worked in a few other super cool places beyond these borders. Rev. Kathy has a Masters of Divinity from Harvard, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University. She’s received numerous awards for leadership, social justice advocacy, and preaching. Kathy shares a home in San Leandro with her spouse of 24 years, their two active daughters ages 12 and 17, a Jack Russell Terrier, a bird called Lancelot, and Miracle, their astonishingly old goldfish.
September 21 - Bird by Bird, Stone by Stone
Come and learn how community is built. How it is built in moments where people are flooded with fear and reasons to distrust one another ... when the alarms and sirens and bells are going off ... there are ways that people find their place together (plug for Covenant Groups). Rev. Greg Ward preacing and Kay Fairwell worship leader.
September 28 - Dragons, Spiders, Webs, and Churches
Certain things scare us. Things that trigger the cascade of mental, emotional and physiological responses to fear are intending to retard our interactions with danger. But preoccupation with fear leaves us spiritually ‘retarded’ - unable to exchange love and understanding at a deep level. Rev. Greg Ward preaching.
About Worship at UUCB
Worship is at the heart of our community. Worship refreshes us and we take a deep breath and rest from our daily lives. Worship refreshes when it comforts us in difficult times, when it celebrates with us our joys, and when it challenges us and names what has been avoided. Worship reminds us of who we are, what we can become, how we want to live, what we hope to give to the community and the world.
In our worship services, we laugh and cry and are reminded of what is deepest and dearest. Worship engages our minds and hearts and bodies with wisdom from the world’s religions, the words and deeds of prophetic and poetic women and men, experiences of life’s twists and turns and transcending mystery and wonder. Together we reverence living and dying, mark joy and pain and promise. We celebrate hope and liberation, recovery and possibility.
Worship strengthens us to live out our Unitarian Universalist principles in our families, neighborhoods, work lives, church, and world. Worship inspires us to create the Beloved Community and live lives of integrity, joy, and service.
Our Sunday Services, held from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to noon, are joyous gatherings of the community in our Sanctuary. Our Thursday Vesper services from 7:00 to 7:25 p.m. in the Fireside Room provide a mid-week opportunity for refreshing your spirit.
Sunday Worship Services
Two Services Every Sunday: 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. (September - May)
One Sunday Service at 10:00 a.m. (June - August)
Worship is central to the life of this community. It reminds us of who we are, what’s really important, how we want to live, and what we hope to give to the community and to the world.
Sunday Services give power, community, meaning and hope. Minds and hearts, bodies and spirits are engaged as we celebrate life together. The Chancel Choir, congregational singing, and music lifts our spirits. Children and adults begin the service together. Children then participate in Religious Education classes. Coffee, tea and conversation follow every Sunday Service. Please note, the church is wheelchair accessible. Large-print Orders of Service and enhanced listening devices are available for our Sunday Service.