AND REPORTS FOR OCTOBER 2021
FOOD! FELLOWSHIP! FUN!
On Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 4:30 p.m., Manatee UU Fellowship is resuming its monthly social hour at Caddy’s Bradenton, an open-air restaurant on the Manatee River in downtown Bradenton!
The resumption comes from the Leadership Development Committee and the Membership Team thinking of ways where members, friends and interested visitors can meet together, outdoors, safely. If we are vaccinated and exercise some caution, we should be OK.
In pre-Covid days, we would gather at a couple of tables for an hour or so to eat, drink (or not) and socialize. Join us as we do it again!
Caddy’s Bradenton is located at 801 Riverside Drive East, just east of Manatee Memorial Hospital. There’s plenty of parking, and you can find more information and directions here: caddys.com/caddys-bradenton.
KNIT’N CHAT IS BACK ON DECK – LITERALLY
The Knit ’n Chat group returns to meeting on the back deck of our fellowship building at 10 a.m. on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month beginning Oct. 5. We encourage all attending to be vaccinated. It will be exciting to share our hand-crafted projects in person and to bring our 6-inch squares for our communal project.
AJ Wolff will join us as we do a cross country phone call or FaceTime with her. She has been continuing to send her dolls to “Women 4 Peace”.
For more information contact Carol Alt through this website.
— AJ Wolff & Carol Alt
OCTOBER SPECIAL COLLECTION TO BENEFIT MANATEE LITERACY COUNCIL
The Manatee Literacy Council is a volunteer-based nonprofit community organization dedicated to increasing the level of the functional literacy of adults in Manatee County through teaching the skills of reading, writing, understanding, and speaking English. Manatee Literacy Council has served the community since 1978. Go online to manatee-literacy.org for more information.
The collection officially kicks off at our Oct. 10 Sunday service and runs through Oct. 24. Make checks payable to “Manatee Literacy Council” and mail to Manatee UU Fellowship, 322 15th Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205.
MANATEE JUSTICE MINISTRY: “BECOMING PROPHETIC PEOPLE”
Our worship theme for the month of October continues to focus on our second source: Words and Deeds of prophetic people, which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.
Dovetailing with this worship theme is Manatee Justice Ministry’s next phase of development where member congregations would host house meetings for members to share the stories of injustice happening in Manatee County. The goal of these meetings for MJM is to consolidate this information to present at MJM’s inaugural rally in November. Based on what rises to the top as priority, MJM members at this rally will choose what our first justice issue we will seek redress in Manatee County.
In support of this goal and in conjunction with our worship theme, we will be hosting, on Zoom, our own version of these meetings titled, “Becoming Prophetic People.” Carol Bartz, Barbara Ehren and John Isham have agreed to join me in facilitating four meetings in October. They have been trained by MJM to lead these discussions. There will be meetings Saturday, Oct. 9, at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 10:30 a.m.
We want as many people as possible in our congregation to participate in these discussions. Jean-Luc Adrien, our coordinator from MJM, will have trained our facilitators in conducting these meetings. Expect in the coming weeks to receive an invite to attend one of these meetings on Zoom.
These conversations will be rich and informative as many of us have seen firsthand the pain that perhaps we or our neighbors have experienced. When we contact you about joining this meeting, say yes to being a prophetic person willing to challenge the powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.
— Rev. Fred L Hammond
FINE PRINT FROM THE BOOK CLUB
This month’s meeting of the Book Club is Oct. 4 at 2:00 p.m. The selection for this meeting is “In Time’s Shadow: Stories of Impermanence,’ a book of short stories by Marilyn Sewell, minister emerita of the First UU Church of Portland, Ore.
I think Sewell’s own words best describe the book: “ My subject matter is the everyday, the places we live and work, the thoughts we all have, but hardly ever share, though these musings may carry the most profound of our human concerns.”
For November, we will be reading “Ask Again, Yes,” by Mary Beth Keane. This work of fiction tells the story of two neighboring families in suburban New York City. Both are about the same age, and have children and fathers/husbands who work for the NYPD. Yet they develop into two very different families. Wonder why? You’ll have to read the book.
Come join us. All are very welcome.
— Bill Hayes
RACIAL CONCERNS DISCUSSION GROUP NEWS
For our September meeting, we watched and discussed a one-hour segment of “The Black Church,” written and narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates. The episode focused on the Great Migration beginning in the early 20th century and the internal and external conflicts as people brought their churches with them to cities in the North and West Coast. In addition to our viewing, we discussed further projects as a group. Films and books were discussed, as well as the ACLU series on racial policing policies.
In October, we will finish the PBS-sponsored series, with an episode focusing on present-day uprisings and goals of the Black church.
All are invited to attend our next Zoom meeting Oct. 11 at 2 p.m.
— Bill Hayes & Cindy Evans
UPDATES FROM OUR SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Due to the current events, especially in Texas, Mississippi and Florida, where women’s right to choose had been severely assaulted, the SJC unanimously decided to concentrate on women’s constitutional rights at our September meeting. The goal is advocacy, education, calls to action, and the search for allies during this struggle.
Some changes were made on the Social Justice page of the Manatee UU Fellowship website. A “Social Justice Virtual Table” was created, and the goal is to make it as interactive as possible. At some point, the Virtual Table will have its own link within the Social Justice menu.
The committee approved a motion to invite the following organizations to participate in our monthly Special Collection:
|Sep 2021||Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice|
|Sep 2021||Women’s Resource Center Manatee|
|Oct 2021||Manatee Literacy Council|
|Dec 2021||Manatee Justice Ministries|
|Jan 2022||Turning Points|
|Feb 2022||Our Daily Bread|
|Mar 2022||Coalition of Immokalee Workers|
|Apr 2022||Planned Parenthood|
|May 2022||Hope Family Services|
|Jun 2022||ALSO Youth|
|Jul 2022||Manatee Children’s Services|
|Aug 2022||Healthy Start Manatee|
|Sep 2022||League of Women Voters|
RENEWING OUR LEGACY CIRCLE
Contribute to the Future of Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship — to a place in Bradenton where Unitarian Universalists can gather and share their individual meaningful searches; to a place where social justice can be practiced and brought to the needs of the surrounding community.
We are renewing our Legacy Circle. Members who join intend to provide a donation to MUUF in their estates. It is commonly called legacy giving. Such a group was formed about 15 years ago at the fellowship and the generosity of our members has added much to our longevity and financial health.
Contribution amounts are private and reflect the wishes of the member. We will soon have a Zoom gathering with an expert who will describe some of the innumerable ways to set up legacy giving in your estate.
We have adapted a member interest form from one used by UU Long Beach and will be sending it out soon and ask that you give it your attention and return it to us.
— John Isham
I, like many of you, I presume, am baffled by the stances that folks are taking in dealing with this pandemic that is now 18 months in duration. Our governor has placed our children’s health at risk by preventing the only means of protection (mask wearing at the moment — Pfizer vaccines being approved for children at time of writing but no mandate for vaccination will be allowed) in schools and just placed another barrier by mandating that quarantining exposed children is optional. He and many others have refused to allow businesses to mandate vaccines for their employees or for their customers. He has encouraged the use of the expensive monoclonal antibody as a treatment for early onset Covid infection, but he has refused to recognize that prevention is better than treatment — it costs less, it places less people at risk, and it reduces overtaxing the hospital system. All of which is currently happening in our state.
I am reminded of the Christian scripture where Jesus is asked, “What are the signs of the end?” and Jesus in his reply includes as one of many signs: “The love of many will grow cold.”
Now I am not suggesting that these are the end of days in an apocalyptic sense, but I do sense that love has grown cold in this nation. The cavalier way people respond to the welfare of their neighbors on many fronts is disheartening. Their refusal to get vaccinated and/or to wear a mask because of some misguided sense of personal entitlement places all of us at risk. The entitlement is that we as a wealthy nation have access to vaccines that can prevent the spread and mutation of this virus. But we need to be willing to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves to put an end to this pandemic. But the love of many has grown cold.
There are many stories of people who refused the vaccine becoming ardent vaccine advocates when they have ended up in the hospital with this virus or have lost a loved one to this virus. Then they find the muster to speak up, because they have been personally impacted by this virus which has now killed more people than the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Would it not be better to develop love for your neighbor as you love yourself and seek to protect one another from this virus before contracting the pain, suffering, and grief of losing loved ones? Or even our own lives?
The love of many will grow cold is sadly the response our society has towards so many pressing issues today. May we Unitarian Universalists be the example of how witnessing the pain and hurt in the world can break our hearts open to love one another with a love that will not let go. May we choose to side with love and do what we can to bring this pandemic to an end — wear masks when out, get vaccinated, receive the booster shot when available, and keep our love warm for one another.
If anyone was to tell me back in March 2020 that we would still be dealing with an out-of-control pandemic in September 2021, I would have laughed in disbelief. And yet, here we are.
The virus has mutated into something even stronger and more deadly than what initially shut us down in March. It may mutate again as such a small percentage of the world’s population has not been able to access the vaccines that are available. And even in the United States, which in my opinion has shown itself to be as uneducated and illiterate to the sciences as any of the poorest of nations, still is barely 50% vaccinated. This means 160 million of us are unvaccinated and at risk of being hospitalized or dying from this virus. We are seeing the results of being unvaccinated with the highest rates of infection and hospitalizations in Manatee County seen in the history of this pandemic.
There is now evidence that those of us who are vaccinated may have waning immunity as the months away from vaccination increase. Breakthrough infections are increasing and fortunately the vaccines have thus far made hospitalizations a rare outcome. This could change if the vaccine potency wanes further or if the virus mutates to circumvent the vaccines used. As I am writing this, our government is advising folks to receive a booster shot eight months after being fully vaccinated with the two shots of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines beginning on September 20. At the time of my writing this, the data is still being collected on whether the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will require a booster shot.
I encourage all of you when it becomes time to receive the booster shot, that you do so.
As a fellowship, we have taken the conservative approach to close our building once again to worship and groups. This is painful and requires us to be adaptive in our responses by using online technical strategies to remain in touch with one another. Please wear your masks correctly (this means tightly covering your mouth and nose) when out in public; the positivity rate in Manatee County is approaching 25%. Wash your hands frequently, and stay safe. Please call on another to check in to provide support to one another in these difficult times.
I have heard from several of you wishing for a copy of the chalice lighting words I wrote a few Sundays ago. Here it is:
In the beginning,
if there was a beginning,
or so we have been told—
In the beginning there was
the great radiance
into stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, dust, solar wind,
— and LIFE.
We light this chalice candle,
to honor that which we cannot fully explain,
we try to explain,
but words fail us
— and yet —
the light still casts its radiance into the universe.
© 2021 Rev. Fred L Hammond
This cartoon was a post on Facebook. We have had a hard 16 months being cooped up in our homes. The sermon I shared on June 20 included the following reflection that I had after reading the above cartoon. Folks seemed to enjoy it and so I include it here for us to further reflect upon.
UU Theologian James Luther Adams is quoted as saying “church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.” I think there is an error in this quote. Being human we have down pat. Every time we express anger, frustration, annoyance, hurt towards others we are being human. These are natural human responses. We don’t need church to practice being human. Being human is easy. We need church to practice being HUMANE with one another. I need church to practice being present with one another, to show tolerance and compassion, to offer and receive corrections done with love and patience towards my own and other’s very human responses in order to not cause further harm. We covenant to practice being humane with one another. And because we are human, we will continue being human in our responses and reactions as well, unless we practice being humane.
Be well and gentle with yourself and others.
Reverend Fred L Hammond
As I write this, I’m getting ready to go to a reunion, which I call my kindergarten reunion because a few of us went to kindergarten together. Many of us went to elementary school together. All of us went to high school together. There are 10 of us and we have known each other for a long, long time. About half still live in the Maryland area where we grew up. The rest are scattered around the country. Over the years we have gotten together at different places — Colorado, California, Maine, Outer Banks, Rehoboth Beach. This year we’ll be on the Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland. Each time we have gotten together we have learned more about each other, we’ve gone deeper in our lives, shared some dark secrets.
This time we don’t have the luxury of looking forward to the next time we’re together. We have all reached the age when life isn’t so predictable. One of us has a progressive neurological disease that will take her from us soon, not sure when. One has a husband who was just diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer. Another’s husband died a couple weeks ago from Alzheimer’s. Life is fragile now which makes this reunion all the more precious to me. As the date for our reunion got closer, I became more conflicted: Should I be doing this now? Should I get on an airplane? Should I be spending a lot of time indoors with people who aren’t ‘in my bubble’? We are all vaccinated, but still …
I know I am not alone with my fears and anxiety. All of us are wrestling with these questions every day. How we answer them is up to each of us. I have decided I will be as careful as I can possibly be, especially in public places. I will social distance, wash my hands, wear my KN95 mask. I haven’t yet decided how to behave with my lifelong girlfriends. Will we hug, touch, hold hands? I’ll bet we do. I’ll let you know.Some months ago, pre-Covid, Rev. Fred L Hammond arranged a workshop, held in the sanctuary, where we were asked the question: What are Manatee UU Fellowship’s core values? Lots of words were written on easel paper. Finally, three words led the list: Gratitude. Connected. Love. I think of those words when I think about my kindergarten reunion. Do you think about them when you think of our fellowship? I hope so.
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
This quote is by Dorothy Day, journalist, social activist, converted Catholic, who devoted her life to working with homeless people. Another of her quotes: “The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves, to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them.” This one speaks loudly to me. To me she is saying, we can’t change people, but we can choose to love them. But I would ask Dorothy, “What if they make it really hard for me to love them?” I imagine she would say, just try harder.
This line of thought takes me right to our UU first principle: … The inherent worth and dignity of every person; I don’t know about you, but I find this the most challenging of our principles. Many times, I have found myself repeating a chant in my head, “the inherent worth and dignity…” over and over, after witnessing a disrespectful remark or angry outburst.
I try to remember to ask myself: What might have caused that behavior? Are they ill? Have they lost a loved one? Are they afraid? That last one, fear, could explain a lot of angry words. Certainly, in these times of COVID when we simply do not know what’s around the corner, we have reason to be fearful. On a walk this week with a friend, I became aware of the number of times she used the word “fear” in her conversation. And later while listening to the radio, I heard the word several times again. Same thing on television later that evening. I began listening for the word ‘fear.’
Fear. Loneliness. Undeniably strong and very real emotions, and they often go hand in hand. Every Sunday morning Rev. Fred reminds us that we belong to a beloved community and asks us to notice an absence, to listen carefully to words, call, write a note. Even if you only have the energy to reach out to one person, do it. Make a difference in their life. Dorothy Day said, “ … the only solution is love and love comes with community.” Let’s all be someone’s community.
By Sally Isham, President
Thank you for your confidence in electing me as your Board President. I will try my very best to do a good job for you and for Manatee UU Fellowship in our community and beyond.
July begins our new fiscal year and changes on the board. We thank outgoing Board President John Isham for his service and welcome him in his new position as Treasurer. Bill Hayes, who has served ably as Treasurer, will remain on the board as a director and Ted Medrek will serve as Vice President. Huge thanks to Carol Bartz who has served on the board for years as President, Vice President, and President Emeritus. She will now serve as a member of the Leadership Development Team, which is responsible for raising up new leaders in our Fellowship to serve on the board, on committees, as event chairs, and as delegates to the General Assembly in June. We also say thank you and farewell to AJ Wolff who served out her final term as board member even though she had relocated to California. And we welcome Mariano Vera to the board. Mariano has been an important player in the success of our Zoom worship services during the COVID shutdown of our building.
Your Board of Directors for FY 2021-22 is: Sally Isham, President; Ted Medrek, Vice President; Randy Coleman, Secretary; John Isham, Treasurer; Sharon Chofey, Ass’t Treasurer; Directors Bill Hayes, Sandy McCarthy, Pat Rohrer, and Mariano Vera.
The coming two years will be a busy and important time in the life of our Fellowship. We are beginning this new fiscal year with our eyes focused on reopening our doors to members and visitors on Sunday mornings. This needs to be thoughtfully and carefully done to ensure everyone’s safety. The Board and the Worship Team are working closely with Rev. Fred to make certain we are doing this right. Or as “right” as can be determined at this moment.
At the same time, we need to be thinking about what happens on June 30, 2023, when Rev. Fred’s contract as Developmental Minister comes to an end. Do we consider hiring him as a settled minister? Do we begin a search for an interim minister? Do we want to be lay-led? These questions must be in the forefront of our minds as we work together over the next two years to reach the goals this congregation set forth when Rev. Fred was hired in the fall of 2018. We will focus on the three objectives (goals) which came out of the Cottage Meetings held in March 2021 and were described by Rev. Fred at the June 6 Annual Meeting. We need to continually ask ourselves: “What can I do to turn these objectives into realities?”
Lots of work to do. Let’s begin together!
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