October 1
“The Omega Conspiracy”

Rev. Emmalou Kirchmeier will be our speaker saying, no one expected to find an explanation for UFOs in Genesis 6! Nor did anyone expect two former U.S. Presidents to explain them further: Carter saw one flying over Georgia, and Eisenhower saw one of the “Beings” in a U.S. Air Force hangar in Colorado. Dr. I.D.E. Thomas wrote to explain the “Nephilim” and the “Flood” in Genesis.  

  October 8 
    “What in God’s Name…….  “

Rev. Thomas Poole   will be our speaker saying, I seek to explore the pitfalls of arrogantly ascribing Divine sanctioning to our respective political ideologies, and thus propose a more constructive way in which we may infuse religion into public discourse.

Rev. Thomas H. Poole, Jr. is the proud son of Thomas Henry Poole, Sr. and Rena Dixon Poole, the father of twenty-six year-old Richard Anthony and twenty-three year-old Taylor Marie. However, he is especially proud to be the husband of his beautiful angel, Rev. Robin Janine Poole—affectionately known as “Rev. Baby.” Thomas was born and raised in Lake County, Florida in a household that mandated education, community service and most importantly a Christ-centered foundation that was developed and nurtured at Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) in Eustis, Florida. Both his father and mother are retired schoolteachers from the Lake County Public School System, of which his sister, Rene, is currently serving as an accomplished nationally certified, high school language arts teacher.

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  Thomas’ parents moved to Lake County Florida in the 1950’s at a time when racial hostility was at its peak and organized African-American civil rights resistance was in its infancy. His father exemplified courage and commitment to public service as well as an unnerving trust in the almighty God by faithfully serving for over forty years as a civil rights leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ultimately retiring as the President of the Florida State Conference of Branches. Following in the footsteps of his parents and sister, Reverend Poole earned his teaching certificate and taught in the public schools systems of Orange, Lake, Polk and Osceola Counties (in Florida) in addition to working stints as an administrator in both the Chicago Public School System and the University of Illinois system. Thomas has served as President of the Seminole (FL) County Branch NAACP and after receiving his call to Christian ministry in 1995, Reverend Poole ultimately served as the Chairman of Religious Affairs for the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches. As is the testimony of many preachers, Reverend Poole struggled with his call to Christian ministry. Albeit unrefined, he had an intense desire and commitment to advance the social welfare of African-Americans but lived in a community where the acknowledged leaders of the Christian faith, blinded by racist ideology, proclaimed and lived out their faith in ways that restricted the full humanity of African-American peoples—–complicating matters even further, those same ideologies were somehow rationalized in the name of our Lord and Savior—Jesus Christ. This fundamental tension fueled the maturation of Reverend Poole’s Christian ministry. After experiencing the sting of divorce and the humiliation of being publicly yet justifiably stripped of ordination, Reverend Poole relocated to Oklahoma City, OK, began teaching in the Oklahoma City Public School System while undergoing an intense period of personal soul-searching under the guidance of his beloved friend and pastor Rev. Lee Arthur Denson (Senior Pastor of Northeast Missionary Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, OK) all in an effort to find firm theological and ethical footing for how his future in Christian ministry was to be carried out in light of his past human failure. It was in Oklahoma City where he married his soul-mate – Robin and through this union, God began to reveal to Reverend Poole a sense of clarity concerning issues of human redemption in the midst of human failure. Reverend Poole’s desire to faithfully explore the various ethical questions that challenge the Christian believer, particularly those of African-American clergy, compelled him to build upon his undergraduate education from The University of Virginia and pursue graduate study in Religious Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Yale University’s (NT Greek) Language Institute and Payne Theological Seminary. His ultimate academic interest lies in the construction of a practical theological ethic(s) for African-American religious caregivers who desire to engage issues of public policy as it relates to the unique concerns of the African-American community. Reverend Poole’s threefold area of scholastic expertise is in the disciplines of theological ethics, political ethics, and the ethics of race & ethnicity—evidenced by his recently published article Stop Snitching: An Ethical Analysis of the Rule of Rahab. Be advised however, that Reverend Poole’s academic pursuits are not relegated to the ivory tower but are grounded in a most practical Christian context; for he now serves as the founding pastor of “Mother” Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church in The Villages, FL. And as one might imagine, all of the social and spiritual challenges of contemporary church-planting provide the very real context in which Reverend Poole seeks to continually refine and sometimes redefine his ministry in Jesus Christ. But, with God as his Father, Christ as his Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as his Sustainer, Reverend Thomas H. Poole, Jr. eagerly anticipates God’s mighty work in the days to come. 

October 15 
“Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

Rev. Keebler Van  Zandt will be our speaker. Since we can’t always know, how shall we prepare our common table for the differences that are likely to surface?

Rev. Van Zandt is serving the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice as its first-ever settled minister. Previously, he served for ten years as minister to the First Unitarian Church of Alton, Illinois, and before that, ran a construction business while raising a family in St. Louis, Missouri.
Reared in Texas, he received engineering degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington, then moved to St. Louis where he was involved in business and the community as well as the local Unitarian Universalist church. His lay leadership in that church led him to enter the ministry and attend Eden Theological Seminary near his home in St Louis.
He and his wife Linda have seven children between us, spread all across the continent in CA, MI, MO, PA, and TX. Despite our geographical remoteness, we are a close-knit bunch and find the time to get together whenever we can.
He and Linda are brand-new to this area, but in our short time here have found the people of UUCOV to be a warm and welcoming a group of folks.


October 22
“Church and State”

Rev. Gary Batey will be our speaker saying, people of genuine faith and spiritual integrity do not inhabit a bubble of sacred isolation, removed from the problems and pains of the secular world; our identity is civic as well as spiritual. But we are not only part of a particular nation or religious fellowship; we are also members of the broader human community that transcends national and sectarian boundaries. That fact mandates us to exercise our spiritual values by discharging our civic duties and shouldering our social responsibilities in ways that secure the welfare of others as well as our own, never seeking to advance our preferred race, gender, religion, or political persuasion at the expense of those who differ from us.

Rev. Batey is a retired minister of the United Methodist Church whose most recent pastorate was at Roser Community Church in Anna Maria from 2000-2014. Prior to that he served various churches in Ohio, and was, for a time, a hospital chaplain and an adjunct faculty member at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. This year Gary and his wife Karen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They have two children and three grandchildren. They now live in St. Petersburg, FL.

October 29  
“Samhain: The Celtic Roots of Halloween”

Charles Allen will be our speaker with a message about what is Paganism and Wicca. There are eight Celtic Holidays including Samhain. How Samhain changed into our modern-day Halloween or Tricks or Treats: How to celebrate the True Sabbath of Samhain. Costumes optional.