AND REPORTS FOR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2022
A special message from Rev. Fred
UUA DISASTER RELIEF FUND
I know firsthand how vital this support of our congregations and members to this fund was in supporting those who lost their homes to an E4 Tornado in April 2011 in Alabama. Many of my members there, while having insurance, did not have the funds to pay the deductible. Without being able to cover this on their own, they would not have been able to replace their roofs, rebuild their homes, replace their cars. It was incredible to know that Unitarian Universalists across the country cared for the well-being of their siblings in the faith. This gift to them supported their healing and resiliency of a horrific traumatizing experience.
The recent devastation south of us is heartrending and for about a day, Hurricane Ian was on track to land here and not the Fort Myers area. Please if you are willing and able, consider making a donation to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s disaster relief fund. You may make a donation by going online to: giving.uua.org/disaster-relief.
NOVEMBER SPECIAL COLLECTION FOR UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SERVICE COMMITTEE (UUSC)
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization advancing human rights together with an international community of grassroots partners and advocates. It focuses its work on intersecting roots of injustice to defend rights at risk due to criminalization and systemic oppression of people based on their identity. The UUSC supports self-determination and defends the rights of people displaced due to climate, conflict, or economic hardships; and it responds to humanitarian crises as partners with people whose access to aid is most limited. Go to https://www.uusc.org/ for more information.
Our Special Collection for UUSC runs from Nov. 13 through Nov. 27. Please make checks payable to UUSC and bring or mail to: Manatee UU Fellowship, 322 15th St. W, Bradenton, FL 34205.
Thank you for your help in supporting this important organization.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: NEW SCHEDULE FOR OUR MONTHLY SOCIAL EVENTS
Our monthly social outing to Motorworks Brewing is moving to the first Tuesday of each month, starting in December.
Join us next time on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 4:30 p.m. at 1014 9th St. W, Bradenton. Come early for a parking place right next to the building. Plan to join us for a drink, an appetizer or an early dinner. Everyone is welcome! You can check out the venue online: https://motorworksbrewing.com/bradenton
In lieu of our usual Share a Dish potluck in December, Rev. Fred L Hammond invites all to a Waffle Breakfast Social on Sunday, Dec. 25 at 10 a.m. at our building. This promises to be a festive follow-up to our traditional Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. the evening before.
Our popular Share a Dish potluck dinners will resume in January on Friday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. and continue on the third Friday of each month.
AROUND THE FELLOWSHIP
OUR PRINCIPLES IN ACTION DURING HURRICANE IAN
As Hurricane Ian approached the last week of September, our fellowship offered shelter from the storm to three Afghan families with 19 children who were ordered to evacuate. Chris MacCormack (pictured below) supervised their stay at our building. She used toys and art materials to keep the smaller children busy. Five older children helped her keep things organized — even when the power went out — including helping with meal preparation and cleanup, even when the power went out. A big thanks to Chris for putting our principles in action.
UPDATE FROM OUR SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
During our September Social Justice Committee meeting, Drew Hensley brought up the possibility of our SJC supporting an environmental issue, specifically related to Protection Against Cruelty of Animals. Members of the committee are looking for the best alternatives in this issue.
Cindy Evans and Bill Hayes gave updates on the Racial Concerns Discussion Group and Chris MacCormack and Carolyn Denison updated us on the Afghan refugee group.
Several fellowship members, along with four of the Afghan refugees, attended the presentation of the movie “Refuge” in Fogartyville on Sept. 20. The movie presentation had an audience of 60 people. One of the refugees, Noman, spoke about his and his family’s experiences as refugees.
The Social Justice Committee meets next on Sunday, Nov. 13, in person and on Zoom right after the Sunday service.
— Mariano Vera
UPDATE FROM OUR RACIAL CONCERNS DISCUSSION GROUP
The Racial Concerns Discussion Group met Sept. 11 to watch and discuss the last hour of the film Green Book. Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to view the movie but engaged in a deep discussion on white supremacy citing several texts on the subject. We also considered UUA workshops devoted to exploration of the topic and the UUA common read Mistakes and Miracles. Our intent is to engage the congregation in a deep exploration of white privilege.
At our October meeting, we were scheduled to discuss James Baldwin’s extended essay The Fire Next Time. Ed Janz graciously offered to lead the group with a report of Baldwin’s provocative insights featured in this 1963 work.
Our next meeting is Monday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. on Zoom. We invite the congregation and interested friends to join us — and on the first Tuesday of each month.
— Cindy Evans & Bill Hayes
EXPLORING IDEAS WITH OUR BOOK CLUB
For its next meeting, Monday, Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. on Zoom, the Book Club will read and discuss The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. (This book was originally scheduled for our October meeting, which was canceled due to Hurricane Ian-related power outages.) Set in Nazi Germany, the historical novel is about a young foster girl living in a dysfunctional home that includes a Jewish man hiding in the basement.
For the December meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. on Zoom, we will read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This book is also about a young girl, Kya, who is abandoned by her mother in the North Carolina swamplands. She lives alone until the need for human companionship tugs at her and her life drastically changes. The book has received much acclaim, and a movie version was released this summer.
The Book Club meets the first Monday of each month at 2 p.m. on Zoom. Come join us; everyone is welcome, and discussions are low-key and congenial. Contact Bill Hayes directly or though this website for more information and to receive the Zoom link.
— Bill Hayes
KNIT FUN, CHAT TOO
Welcome Fall !! A great time for knitting and crocheting!
In October, Knit ‘n Chat will meet on its regular 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month — Oct. 4 and Oct. 18 — at 10 a.m. in person at the fellowship.
We are asking members to bring their 6-inch squares for our blanket project which we hope to begin formatting.
Also, several people have made scarves to send to Knitting for Peace, a national and international service organization with which we are affiliated. AJ Wolff has already sent several packages of scarves from her home in California.
And of course, there’s chatting!! All are welcome.
Contact Carol Alt directly or through her contact form under “Contacts” on this website for more information.
— Carol Alt
BUILDING SIGN REFRESH
In conjunction with our re-opening to in-person services this spring, Manatee UU Fellowship commissioned new signage for the front of our building. Set within the original frame, the new printed sign provides essential basic information that is easily seen from the street. You can see it for yourself in this photo and, even better, when you next visit our building.
Thanks to all who were involved in this project, especially to Bill Denison, who was instrumental in making this happen, and to our webmaster (and graphics expert), Jody Calder, for her clean, readable design. And extra special thanks to Bernie Salzinger for rehabbing the sign’s frame — and painting it to match our building. We couldn’t be happier with the result of these folks efforts!
As Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), said, “We continue to join in solidarity with so many around the world and pray for the people of Ukraine. Our hearts go out to those who are enduring devastating loss of life, violence, instability, and upheaval due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Our UU faith calls us to remain committed to justice and we believe we have a moral responsibility to support the creation of peace and the equal rights of all people.”
Follow this link, then click on “Donate Now”: https://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/supporting-ukraine.
RENEWING OUR LEGACY CIRCLE
Anyone can join our Legacy Circle and make meaningful gifts to Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in their will. Regardless of the amount, your bequest is a statement of faith that our UU movement and our voices for compassionate justice, democracy, and religious freedom are heard long after we are gone. When you demonstrate that you care enough about this fellowship to support its future, others will follow your generous example.
No matter what your age, you can designate Manatee UU Fellowship as the beneficiary of all or a percentage of your IRA and it will pass to us tax-free after your lifetime. It’s simple, just requiring that you contact your IRA administrator for a change-of-beneficiary form or download a form from your provider’s website.
Join the Legacy Circle at our fellowship by stating your gift plan on your personal intentions form available in our office. Your name(s) will be placed on the Legacy Circle plaque in the sanctuary. Because most popular retirement plan administrators assume no obligation to notify charities of their client’s designations, the intentions form is an important document to us and will be held in a confidential file.
Please contact our treasurer, John Isham, directly or via this website to join or for more information.
— John Isham
A GIFT FOR US ALL
For our 2021 auction, Peg Green offered to create a flaming chalice fabric wall hanging “to hang in your home or give as a gift.” The winner would get to choose the flaming chalice design and color scheme. and then Peg would create the piece.
During the live auction held in February 2021, Bill Hayes kept raising his bid and finally outbid everyone. Over the summer he generously gifted the lovely quilt to our fellowship.Because we have not been meeting in person most of our members have not yet seen it, but it is bold and beautiful and is patiently waiting for our return for all of us to enjoy!
Peg’s artwork can be viewed on her website www.peacepeg.com and one of her works is on the cover of the UUA Pocket Guide for new members.
Thank you, Peg and Bill, for being so generous!
Reverend Fred L Hammond
The other night I had a dream. I drove into the Manatee UU Fellowship parking lot and there were about six youngsters playing in and around the playground. Another group of slightly older youngsters were playing tag around the oak tree. Several adults were chatting at the fence keeping a watchful eye.
I walked up the walkway towards the screened in deck. A group of adults were engaged in the morning forum topic. The whirl of a fan overhead kept the space cool. Inside the choir was rehearsing the morning’s anthem. I could hear the director and choir having fun with one another as they prepared.
In the corner of the library there was a small group of adults talking about their latest school district project with the NAACP. In the kitchen several people were plating food and getting coffee ready for after the service.
I reviewed the week’s announcements. Several activities were coming up that might be of interest. We wanted to be sure to attend the 2,000-strong Nehemiah Assembly where STREAM was going to be requesting the Bradenton Police Department to adopt a new mental health response for individuals in crisis. Instead of police responding, qualified mental health counselors would respond to de-escalate the situation. The partnership with STREAM energized the congregation to assist in creating justice solutions for the citizens of the county.
The Peace Choir was meeting at the courthouse gazebo to sing at the lunch hour. This small choir has given Manatee UU renewed recognition in the community. Several new members have joined the congregation because of this one simple community effort.
There were several activities coming up — a trip to the Family Heritage House Museum to learn about the contributions of Black Americans to Manatee County; the children’s religious education program was going to the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature to learn about the habitat of our Florida coast. The seniors were continuing their luncheon series of local faith groups responses to current issues in Manatee County with the rabbi giving the address.
The worship service began with a small jazz ensemble performing the prelude. The worship services often would have a variety of musical styles presented, jazz, classical, reggae, hip/hop to appeal to the multicultural multigenerational congregation present. People are still talking about the youth group’s powerful liturgical dance ensemble. The messages delivered by lay members and clergy alike are inspiring.
The congregation, with other UU congregations in the region, hosted a delegation from the Kenya Unitarian Church and there are plans for some of our members to visit their congregation.
The whole congregation has a golden aura of joy and anticipation of all they could be. It is warm and welcoming on multiple levels. It was not an easy journey to reach this rejuvenation, but Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is a fun, exciting place to be.
I knew that I could retire knowing this merry band had a bright future ahead of them. I awoke with a smile on my face and a dance in my step.
It may seem that this vision of some future date is too fantastical for it to become reality for Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Visions often seem beyond the reach. We do not have families here now, so it may seem impossible to envision families here. We do not have a choir at the moment, so perhaps having this reunion of the Family Singers will aid us in seeing the possibility of a choir again. If we have a vision of where we want to be, then we can develop a roadmap on how we might make that vision a reality.
May it be so.
(This was originally offered as part of a sermon on Oct. 16 titled “Mission: POSSIBLE.”)
After the fears, unfounded and founded,
After the adrenaline rush,
vacant eyes stare
into the vortex of nothing
Where something else once stood.
We start the slow-paced walks
through the thick black strap molasses of time.
Was it this morning — last week — yesterday?
that I — that you — that he — that she
asked, Is there life after all this?
Beneath convoluted rubble
is there hope of returning to
The birds sing songs of life’s affirmation.
The flowers offer a rainbow’s promise.
Still some things take more than three days
to resurrect to their glory.
Tell me the songbirds’ song is true.
Tell me the flowers
are honest in their beauty.
I have been thinking about a statement that Gov. DeSantis made a few days ago: “We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in governmental agencies. We can never surrender to woke ideology.”
We have much to be thankful for during this season of gratitude. Hurricane Ian spared Bradenton from its most fierce and destructive winds. And we exclaim, “Whew, we dodged that one!” But then we mourn for all the humans, trees, plants, and animals who weren’t so lucky, who suffered catastrophic loss of life and habitat.
As I write this I am looking out my window and seeing an amazing Florida sunset framed by intact palm trees, healthy oak trees, green grass. I have to shake off the thought of our friends to the south of us who might be seeing the amazing sunset but the rest of their view is horribly different from mine. I think, “What do they have to be thankful for?” And then I think of the newspaper articles I’ve read and the stories of those who survived. Maybe their homes didn’t but they did and their stories are filled with words of gratitude for family, for neighbors, for strangers who have reached out to help in any way they can.
Resilience, grit. Story after story about grit and resilience. And what keeps those with grit and resilience from collapsing into despair? Knowing they are not alone. They are supported. They are loved.
I’m starting to lose my train of thought as my mind wanders to the truth that all living things respond to love. I have a plant that I touch gently and whisper words of love to every time I walk past it. I truly believe that plants and animals respond to words of love. Why not? We humans do so why don’t the rest of the world’s living beings?
My theme for this message started out with thankfulness and it’s ending with love. Which is OK, right? To love is to be thankful. I am thankful for this congregation, for your generosity, for your sense of justice and fairness, for your caring of this planet and for each other. You have faithfully stood by Manatee UU Fellowship during the COVID shutdown. Thank you for your loyalty. There’s spirit and joy in the room on Sunday mornings. I love being a part of our fellowship’s family.
Finally, I will say how thankful I am to be surrounded by people who share my values. Nov. 8 will be a test of our resilience and grit. We are not alone. We will support one another. We are loved.
Happy Thanksgiving, with love,
Transparency. We hear that word often. Usually, the context has something to do with governing on any level — federal, state, county, local. When someone mentions transparency, or lack thereof, they are often referring to an action taken by policymakers behind the backs of the people who are most affected by that policy. So usually, some baggage comes with the use of the term.
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