AND REPORTS FOR FEBRUARY/MARCH 2024
Audio Visual Technician
Title Reports to: Minister and works in partnership with AV Tech Team
FLSA Status: Nonexempt
Hours and Schedule: Sunday Mornings between 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM
[Three Sundays a month when Minister is preaching.]
Gross Pay: $60 per Sunday
Audio Visual Technician provides the skills and expertise to ensure an enjoyable worship experience for ZOOM attendees and those on-site.
1. Manages the technical side of Zoom worship services.
2. Ensures any videos to be used are prepared for in-house projection and on ZOOM.
3. Coordinates between cameras for ZOOM.
4. Merges any projections for in-house screen to ZOOM audience.
5. Records worship service.
Proficient in computer video skills
Proficient in Windows 11
Knowledgeable in Audio Visual equipment or ability to generalize skills in other formats to AV equipment.
Experiences in Vlogging, TikTok, ZOOM and other media platforms may be helpful in providing the general skills needed for this position.
We welcome people of all nationalities, disabilities, religion, creed, sexual and gender identity, race or veteran status to apply.
To Apply: Send an email with resume and three references to the email listed below.
Contact: Rev. Fred L Hammond, Developmental Minister
Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Email: Send email
Cell and Text: 205-246-6201
AUCTION 2024 POSTSCRIPT
Our Annual Auction, which is our major fundraiser and an opportunity to do things together, was held Feb. 3 – Feb. 11.
Following the weeklong Silent Auction, the Live Auction was held after the regular Sunday Service on Feb. 11. Attendees enjoyed a buffet lunch and entertainment from our own Joyful Jammers (in photo). Bob Yavis served as auctioneer extraordinaire, assisted by Katherine Knowles, and Robin Marshall ably handled our raffle. Finance folks Tom Ehren, Bill Hayes and Tom Morgan served as cashiers, and Sally Isham handled distribution of gift certificates. Thanks to them and to all others who donated items and volunteered throughout the process!
The Fellowship will be open Thursday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon as well as before and after the Sunday Service on Feb. 18 for anyone who has not done so to pay for and pick up items won.
Please check back here soon for a full report on Auction 2024. Contact Carol Bartz with any questions.
Introducing our new Office Assistant: DENISE SOLOMON
As many of you know, our Office Administrator, Karen Salzinger moved to Chicago late last year to be closer to family but is continuing to work for us remotely. In order to take care of tasks that must be performed locally, we have hired Denise Solomon to work onsite seven hours a week, on Tuesday and Friday mornings. She will be copying the Order of Service, the monthly Update, Board reports, mailings, scanning documents, among other duties.
Denise lives in Bradenton and recently retired from healthcare billing. She has a passion for justice. Please join Rev. Fred and the Board in welcoming her to our fellowship staff.
SOCIAL EVENTS FIRST WEDNESDAY, THIRD FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH
Our next Share a Dish potluck is Friday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. at our building. Bring a dish to share — like the name says! — and join us for food, fellowship and fun. Share a Dish is held on the third Friday of each month. Some months a special speaker or program is featured. This month will feature a presentation by member Gary Chanco.
Our next restaurant outing is Wednesday, March 6, at 4:30 p.m., when we will meet on the patio at Pier 22. located on the Manatee River at 1200 1st Ave W, Bradenton. Plan to join us for a drink, an appetizer or an early dinner. You can check out the venue online at pier22.com. Everyone is welcome; it’s a great, casual way to get to know us!
Please check back here each month for the latest updates and details. And join us for these social events and more.
WITH LOVE AT THE CENTER:
2024 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN BEGINS FEB. 18
What is your highest aspiration for Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship?
Unitarian Universalist theologian James Luther Adams said, “Strong, effective, lively liberal churches, sometimes capable of altering positively the direction of their whole society, will be those liberal churches whose lay membership can say clearly, individually and collectively, what are their own most important loyalties, as church members.” What are our most important loyalties as members of this fellowship?
This is a question that our new member classes have been discussing. It is a question that we are asked throughout the year. What might you invest to help Manatee UU Fellowship fulfill those loyalties?
One of the loyalties that I see manifest in this fellowship is the centering of love. Our Beloved Circles have deepened this love between us. We are looking forward to increasing the number of Beloved Circles. Might you invest in being one of our facilitators in this next round of circles?
Another loyalty I see manifested in this fellowship is generosity. The Afghan Christmas gifts campaign provided over 130 presents for children. Our Auction this year will have over 140 items. And our Share-the-Plate program provides over $11,000 annually to local organizations providing services desperately needed in Manatee County.
What new avenues of generosity will we explore this next year? We have workshops coming this spring that will enable exploration of the proposed Article II wording for our denomination. What new ways will we place love in the center of our faith?
Our Stewardship campaign for next year’s budget begins February 18. We will have house meetings again this year for our “With LOVE at the Center” stewardship campaign. These meetings are a place for you to explore the questions of our fellowship’s highest aspiration and to consider how your investment will support this. Look for sign-up sheets in our social room to attend at least one of these meetings. These sessions will be in person and online.
— Rev. Fred L Hammond
THANK YOU, JOHN!
At the December 10 worship service, a surprised John Isham (left) was honored for his years of dedicated service to Manatee UU Fellowship, most recently to the A/V team. Mariano Vera (center) and Rev. Fred L Hammond (right) presented John with a plaque designed by Mariano and a framed poster of well-wishes from our members.
In addition to his recent work as leader of our A/V Team — he is still our go-to when we just can’t solve a complex tech problem — John has served on our Board of Directors, including terms as Treasurer and President. We are so grateful for his years of selfless service to our Fellowship.
SPECIAL COLLECTION FOR FEBRUARY:
OUR DAILY BREAD OF BRADENTON
Our Special Collection for February will benefit Our Daily Bread of Bradenton.
Our Daily Bread of Bradenton was established in 1984 in response to the community’s need to feed the hungry regardless of race, color, or belief. Since then, with extremely limited resources and space, Our Daily Bread is approaching nearly 3 million meals served.
It is a community-driven organization supported by the churches, foundations, numerous other community-oriented organizations, and most importantly, individuals such as you.
This Special Collection begins Feb. 11 and runs through Feb. 25. Please make checks payable to Our Daily Bread of Bradenton and bring to a service or mail to: Manatee UU Fellowship, 322 15th St. West, Bradenton, FL 34205.
Thank you for your help in supporting this important organization. Go online to ourdailybreadofbradenton.org for more information.
LATEST REPORT ON OUR WORK WITH STREAM
Mental Health needs are the primary focus of STREAM (Stronger Together Reaching Equality Across Manatee) this year. This from the Research Kickoff meeting held January 22 at Peace Presbyterian Church. It was attended by about 65 people.
We are still going to be focusing on Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) because while it has started in Manatee County, it is not being utilized nearly as much as in Sarasota. Only 12 referrals to this program were made in a six-month period in Manatee County versus 365 referrals in Sarasota County. We heard firsthand testimony of how being in the wrong place at the wrong time resulted in an arrest for a young man. This arrest caused him to miss out on employment opportunities. He now owns his own business and is thriving, but the stigma of this arrest still haunts him. The APAD program could have kept his options wide open.
This program is for first time offenders of nonviolent misdemeanors like expired tags and registrations. STREAM will be following up with State Attorney Brodsky on how we might encourage Sheriff Wells and the police chiefs to better use this program that will not only save money for the county in court costs but also prevent individuals from being labeled for life with a criminal arrest record.
The gathered justice seekers broke into groups of about 6-8 people and shared their own or friends and family’s stories of mental health. In the group I was in, the focus quickly became mental health services in the school district. I heard how the district had received funds for additional mental health support and instead used the funds to hire truant officers. The social workers have caseloads that are too large to be able to provide the support needed by teachers and students in dealing with mental health issues within the student population. Will STREAM narrow the huge umbrella label of mental health to services in the school district? I do not know at this point. This was only one group’s focus of about 10 groups. A consensus will need to be developed. If you have a story regarding mental health experiences in Manatee County, please see Rev. Fred to share your story so it can be given to STREAM as we discern the direction of this new focus.
STREAM’s next big meeting update will be March 18 at 6:30 p.m. This is our Spring Assembly where we bring forward our discoveries and recommend a focused ask for our Nehemiah Assembly. Please save this date to attend.
Our Nehemiah Action Assembly is April 29 at 6:30 p.m. This is the assembly where we meet with the decision-makers in Manatee County and ask them to support our recommendations to address this issue. We need as many folks to attend this event as possible as it is people power that sways the decision makers.
Let Justice Roll– Like a Mighty STREAM!
— Rev. Fred L Hammond
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE:
2023 Year in Review — and more
The Social Justice Committee and the fellowship at large once again pproved that even though small, we gave big. In addition to the 12 organizations we sponsor during our monthly Special Collection, fellow members rose to the occasion when it was a need for the Memorial Garden planting and maintenance day, when it was a necessity for volunteers at Pride Day, when it was a call for designing flags, banners, and little libraries, when it was a call to offer Friday’s share a dish dinner, and our participation in RECESS and STREAM, seems like everybody in Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is an active participant in all Social Justice actions.
Approximately 33 percent of the entire congregation have participated, during the winter months, in the Social Justice meetings on the first Sunday of the month, which is a remarkable commitment to our fellowship.
• • • • •
Social Justice Calendar — February 2024
Wed, February 1: Black History Month begins
Wed, February 1: World Interfaith Harmony Week
Fri, February 3: National Missing Persons Day
Tue, February 14: Alzheimer’s, and Dementia Care Education Week
Mon, February 20: World Day of Social Justice
It’s here: Great Decisions 2024!
Our organizational meeting was held January 15. At this meeting we set meeting and topic dates and discussed a few rules of the road. The cost per person is $35.00 to cover materials.
The workshops start on February 5 at 10:00 a.m. and usually run about 1-1/2 hours. They will continue on Monday mornings through March 25. We hope tol continue our tradition of having a “farewell “luncheon at Pier 22 on March 25.
The following are topics we have for this year; additional sessions leaders will be announced:
1. Mideast Realignment
2. Climate technology and competition (Paul Carr, leader)
3. Science Across Borders
4. US-China Trade Rivalry
5. NATO’s Future
6. Understanding Indonesia
7. High Seas Treaty – (Robin Groelle , leader)
8. Pandemic Preparedness
Our Fellowship has been a host organization for Great Decisions for nearly 30 years and looks forward to being a host again this year. All are welcome. We ask only that you approach the topics with an open mind and that you are willing to listen to various opinions uninterrupted.
I’m looking forward to welcoming you all again and to sharing in robust discussions.
— Bill Hayes
ABOUT THE PROGRESS PRIDE FLAG
The original pride flag was created in the 1970s by gay activist Gilbert Baker, friend of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. Baker used eight colors and corresponding meanings: hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.
The new Progress Pride Flag includes new colors and a new design that are meant to represent people of color, as well as people who are transgender, intersex, or nonbinary.
The colors black and brown were added to the Progress Pride Flag to represent unrepresented black and brown people.
With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, culture at large began to shift in a much-needed way towards acknowledging the vital roles that people of color have had in our society. The pride movement background is one of many areas where people of color did not receive the recognition they deserved historically. Adding colors to represent them on the flag is one way to change that.
The word “progress” in the new flag isn’t only about adding the new colors to it. It’s also because of the shape, which differs from the original design of horizontal stripes only. The Progress Pride Flag shows the white, pink, baby blue, black, and brown stripes in a triangle shape, with the old six-color rainbow stacked next to them.
The color placement and new shape was done intentionally to convey the separation in meaning and shift focus to how important the issues represented on the left are.
The placement of the new colors in an arrow shape is meant to convey the progress still needed.
— Mariano Vera
[As a Welcoming Congregation accredited by the Unitarian Universalist Association, Manatee UU Fellowship flies the Progress Pride Flag in front of our building each Sunday morning. See next article about our new sign featuring the flag.]
THE SIGNS THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’
See something new in front of our building? We’ve refreshed the design of our sign to add the Progress Pride Flag (see article above), a symbol of our commitment as an official Unitarian Universalist Welcoming Congregation.
On a recent Saturday, members of our President Becky Smith‘s family — including son Beau and granddaughter Victoria, in photo — replaced our old sign with the new one, and it was a job well done. Many thanks to them and to Jody Calder, our webmaster and graphic designer extraordinaire, for her expertise.
A NEW YEAR FOR KNITTING ‘N CHATTING
Knit ‘n Chat is continuing regular meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of each month — 10 a.m. at the fellowship. We enjoy meeting on the back deck in good weather. Sadly, inside with hot tea has been our recent alternative!
We are discussing if we should we change our name. One suggestion is “Tea ‘n Chat.”. New ideas for how we can support the annual Manatee UU Auction next year are also in our conversations. Our recent baked goods sale seems to have been a big success.
All are welcome to come bring your ideas to these fun and always interesting meetings.
— Carol Alt
LATEST FROM OUR BOOK CLUB
Due to scheduling conflicts, the Book Club did not meet in January, postponing our selection for that month until our February meeting, which was held on February 5 on Zoom.
The book we discussed was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, the story of two very different sisters during the German occupation of France during World War II. Which of the sisters’ personalities reflects your own? Would you have made the same decisions? Why does war seem so inevitable?
We also need to choose books to read for March and for a few months ahead. Here are a few which have been suggested. We try to select a variety of genres and subjects.
1. Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney. This book about the January 6th insurrection is now No, 1 on the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers list.
2. Prequel by Rachel Maddow, a story of authoritarianism.
3. Enough by Cassidy Hutchinson — also about the January insurrection and told by an insider.
4. Barbra Streisand, A Memoir.
5. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, a story of Appalachia.
6. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander— how discrimination in our justice system hides under various names.
7. How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell – how to avoid the cult of efficiency.
The Book Club meets the first Monday of each month at 2:00 p.m. on Zoom. Contact Bill Hayes or John Isham for more information and to get the Zoom link. All are welcome to participate. In fact, if you are sly, you may even get by without having read the book. Come find out what we are all about.
— Bill Hayes
WARMINGTON FREEDOM TINY LIBRARY IS NOW OFFICIAL!
On Sunday, Nov. 19, members and friends of Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship gathered in the front of our building to dedicate our Warmington Freedom Tiny Library as an act of resistance to the book bannings that are taking place nationally and in the state of Florida.
As Florida leads the nation in banned books, more than 1,400 so far, this is one way to provide encouragement for those who are being targeted. Rev. Fred L Hammond shared the legacy of earlier members Ruth and Carl Warmington, who in leaving an endowment for expansion of our fellowship’s library, made this possible. Our tiny library gives us an opportunity to expand into our community and let others know that justice, equity, and inclusion are values we hold in our hearts.
As we listened to the voices and percussion of the Joyful Jammers, we felt a sense of oneness and pride in the books we are providing to whomever is interested. Each book has a bookmarker and sticker beginning with “Enjoy this book …”
Thank you to Bernie Salzinger who skillfully refurbished a cabinet to serve as our tiny library and to Chris MacCormack who painted the illustrations on the sides. The books that have been selected by Rev. Fred, Becky Smith, Barb Ehren and Carol Bartz include banned books as well as books that embrace social justice themes or align with our UU Principles. More than 50 books have already been shared through the tiny library during the past month and we will continue to add more books to those two shelves.
We encourage each of you to order one book from the list being offered by Boston-based philanthropists found at BannedBooksUSA.org. This allows Florida residents to order banned and restricted books for just the price of shipping: $3.99. Please have it delivered to your home address and then give the book to Becky, Barb, Rev. Fred or Carol so that we can catalog it first.
May all be valued for who they are and may all accept differences and unique abilities of others.
— Carol Bartz
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.
SOMETHING FOR OUR SANCTUARY
This beautiful banner, made by fellowship member Klara Weis, was carried by her during the banner parade at the UU General Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pa., in June 2023. It currently hangs in front of the media booth in our sanctuary.
Thank you, Klara!
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 that summer he generously gifted the lovely quilt to our fellowship. It is bold and beautiful, and can be seen in our Sanctuary on Zoom as well as in-person during our Sunday services.
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
I am writing this the night before Tu B’Shvat (begins sunset January 24), a Jewish holiday that celebrates the trees’ rebirth and honors the tree of life that was placed at the center of the Garden of Eden. Celebrated in winter at a time when the sap is beginning to run when the temperatures rise above freezing during the day. All that the tree will produce is being prepared when all appears lifeless. It is a holiday of hope. The holiday has regained importance as climate change is increasingly in the foreground of our concerns. And rightfully so.
Today, the Amazon is facing another severe man-made drought. The Amazon rainforest is having a severe drought because we have cleared 20 percent of the rainforest and degraded another 40 percent. Degraded means there are still trees, but their health is failing making the area ripe for fire and drought. More than 150 river dolphins in Lake Tefe have died because the water temperature rose to 104 degrees. We have also robbed the earth of life-giving oxygen that these forests produce from the carbon dioxide they take in. If we continue at this frenzied pace for more and more lumber, more and more carbon dioxide producing fuels, then we are creating a world that has asthma because it is no longer able to breathe in the spirit of life.
Here is poem I found titled “Mother Earth on a Bad Day,” by Rabbi Geeza Rayzel Raphael:
and I’m grouchy.
I labor long and hard to feed you all
trying to keep it all in balance
the right amount of wind and rain, sun, cold and warmth
and what thanks do I get?
you pull the oil out of me for your pleasure.
Don’t you know a woman looks older when she is dry, hard and wrinkled
when her oil glands are less active?
How do you think I will feel when the oil is sucked out of my being?
ANGRY! that’s how!
for when I shrivel, I will shake,
and my belly will move and I will throw things around,
howling and raging with the biggest tantrum you have ever seen.
So let it be known I am already out of sorts,
a sad mother is no fun,
but an angry one is dangerous.
I’d much rather play with you than fight, so think about it.
Happy New Year!! I for one am glad to have gotten through 2023. It was not an easy year on multiple fronts — globally, nationally, locally, and personally the year has left many of us with new challenges as we face 2024.
Many of my ministerial colleagues were sharing what their focus word for 2024 was going to be. I am choosing Resilience. For those of us participating in Beloved Circles, this word is our focus for our discussion this month. I will be preaching on this topic on the 14th of January to invite all of us to reflect on this word and its importance for us. I believe it is going to be a word that will aid us moving forward into 2024. There is so much happening in our nation that being able to be resilient, to have the ability to bounce back from the assault on democracy, on civil human rights, on diversity and inclusion is going to be vital for our survival as a community. To be resilient when the forces of fascism and authoritarianism are seemingly gaining a strong hold in our nation and world is going to be key for our ability to remain steadfast in our faith values.
We are also going to need to be resilient in our own personal experiences. So many of us are facing health concerns that require interventions be that physical therapy or intense treatment regimes. Some health concerns may require changing our living arrangements to ensure we have the support to live as independently as possible. All of these experiences require us to be as resilient as possible to enable us to move forward into our new realities. We are going to need to be able to lean on one another even more in the days and weeks to come. Being present, listening from the heart without offering unsolicited advice is part of this journey with developing resilience as a community of faith.
Rev. Erin Carvill Ziemer writes, “Resilient should be a verb, a thing we do. To be resilient, we need spaces to tell our stories; to feel safe enough to feel all the ways we’ve been impacted; to rebuild healthy safe social connections; to grieve. This doesn’t require a therapist (though therapists are great!), but it does require supportive relationships and supportive community and it does require time. Time to feel what our bodies really feel. Time to slow down and rest. Practices that help us shift out of hypervigilance and into grounded safety, like yoga, meditation, walking, music. And when I say ‘time,’ I mean the twenty minutes you took last week is valuable. But we all need more. Time over months. Pauses between meetings. Staring out the window. Slow sips of water or coffee or tea.”
I don’t have a crystal ball as to what will happen in our nation, our state, our county or even in our own lives but I can with confidence say that what currently appears on the horizon is going to require our ability to be resilient, so our hearts do not harden but instead remain open to love, remain open to the possibilities.
Welcoming Congregation vs. Welcoming Community
Every Sunday, I read our mission statement as part of our welcome words. “We are a welcoming community supporting religious freedom and spiritual growth while working for social justice with compassion and love.” As a mission statement, it is part aspirational of how we want to be identified and it declares what our purpose is in the world as Unitarian Universalists. The phrase “welcoming community” is akin to the desire to be the beloved community that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke about. We show ourselves as welcoming by how we invite individuals to participate in our activities beyond the worship service. There is a warmth in how we greet one another. We are indeed a warm and inviting fellowship.
We are also designated as a “Welcoming Congregation” within the Unitarian Universalist Association. This phrase has a distinct meaning for Unitarian Universalist congregations. It is a specific program that Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship went through to earn this designation. It is specific with our covenant to be intentional in our relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. The rainbow flag is a symbol that signifies to the LGBTQ+ community that this fellowship is a safe place for them to attend.
In order to be designated as a Welcoming Congregation we had to offer a variety of programs to our fellowship to bring sensitivity to the issues that LGBTQ+ individuals and communities face. This program was developed by the UUA in 1989. It was revised in 1999 to add Transgender concerns. A lot has changed in our society since that time and the UUA has adapted the program to reflect the changes in our society and in our congregations. Currently of the 1,100 congregations nationwide, 800 are listed as designated Welcoming Congregations. What this means today is that these congregations have done the work to understand homophobia and transphobia, the challenges that LGBTQ+ are facing today, and ensured that LGBTQ+ concerns have a place at the table in making decisions and shaping the direction of the faith community—even in their absence.
A few years ago, Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship went through a renewal process for Welcoming Congregation designation. There are five aspects that a Welcoming Congregation are expected to fulfill every year in this process.
Become a Welcoming Congregation: We have done this.
Welcoming Worship Services: This refers to incorporating LGBTQ+ services in our ordinary calendar of worship every year. We do this with a Pride service and the Transgender Day of Remembrance service. This would also include transgender naming services, marriage ceremonies, other rites of passage. There could be other services throughout the year.
Welcoming Days of Observance: We do this through participating in ALSO Youth’s annual Pride Festival. We have read stories for all ages that honor LGBTQ+ individuals at various times throughout the year. The UUA has a poster listing 14 Days of Observance that congregations might consider highlighting. There is an expectation that Welcoming Congregations would make note of six of these observances annually.
Welcoming Religious Education: We have held workshops and book club discussions on LGBTQ+ concerns. Our Transgender Day of Remembrance service included a TED talk to provide some religious education on transgender lives. It may be time to repeat the Transgender Inclusion seminar we showed a few years ago; those who attended this may recall the focus was on inclusion in the broadest of terms.
Support a Welcoming Project: We hold a special collection for ALSO Youth, Manatee County’s only LGBTQ+ service agency.
The work to be a Welcoming Congregation is an ongoing process. It is the work of the board and every committee in the fellowship to be attuned to the intentionality of being a Welcoming Congregation. The Social Justice Committee might want to have a subcommittee ensuring that we are active in our Welcoming Congregation designation by organizing workshops for the fellowship.
Are we having fun yet? I hope your answer is an enthusiastic YES! If it isn’t, get involved. This Fellowship has so much more to offer than the dynamic Sunday morning worship service and the coffee and snacks after.
There are committees to join that are doing wonderful work in the community and in the fellowship. If you have technical skills, the AV committee is looking for you. Taking care of a 100+ year old building and the grounds takes many hands. Social justice is a very active committee. They have many events and causes they support and spearhead the special collections we have each month. The Stewardship campaign is about to begin. Last year was the first time I was involved and found it a very rewarding and fun activity. Our theme of “Love Beyond Belief” resonated with us and inspired us to exceed our $100,000 goal. This year’s theme is “With LOVE at the Center” and we’ll have a higher goal, we need a team to help us do it again!
There are so many events throughout the year to get involved with. Our annual awesome auction is in February. Beloved Circles meet every month, we’ll be starting them up again after our next two sessions. Toastmasters meets on Tuesday night, with the slogan of “Better Listening, Thinking, and Speaking.” Join them and develop your public speaking skills in a fun atmosphere. Joyful Jammers and Joyful Noise have joined together for double the joy, add your voice and instrument. Knit ‘n Chat members make the Peace Pals and other cozy knitted crafts. Come to our monthly Share a Dish dinner. Savor the offerings of our fellow members and enjoy an interesting program, in January we heard from End-of-Life Doulas. Great Decisions is a discussion group that follows the materials provided by the Foreign Policy Association, a group fostering informed opinions for over 100 years. By the way, Toastmasters International has been around for over 100 years also. Join us on the first Wednesday at 4:30 for happy hour at Pier 22. We had 12 people in January, there’s room for more.
These are just a few highlights of all the committees and activities happening at the Fellowship. If one or more of them piqued your interest, speak to any board member or the minister and we’ll put you in touch with the right person to tell you more about it.
Get involved: It’s a fulfilling and fun thing to do and it’s all right here at the Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
With Love Beyond Belief,
Becky Smith, MUUF Board President
Happy New Year!
It’s the time of year when we look back on the past year and make plans for the future. I’ve been president for six months and when I look back at those six months, I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot. It began with our “Love Beyond Belief” stewardship campaign and we’ve exceeded our goal. We launched Beloved Circles with four groups and we’re already halfway through the 6-month agenda and planning to start up again. Let us know if you’re interested in joining or even facilitating a group. We have our “Hate Has No Home Here” banner that was designed by Chris MacCormack proudly hanging on the front of our building. Our Tiny Library is out front and is a very successful program already being embraced by both the community and the Fellowship. We have had over 70 books distributed already and members have been contributing books and so has the community.
We have done wonderful things and we still have a lot to do. We were dealt a blow when we lost both our office administrator and custodian when Karen and Bernie Salzinger moved to Chicagoland. Karen is working remotely, and members have stepped up to do the hands-on work but both of those positions will need to be filled. We also need to have a Building and Grounds chairperson and a working committee. We also need to have members step up and into leadership roles. Many board positions are coming open because circumstances have disrupted the regular flow. We also are starting a right relations committee to deal with conflict resolution with co-chairs of Doris Sutliff and Tom Ehren.
Our first Wednesday social has moved to Pier 22 at 4:30 beginning on January 3rd and we have an Earth Day Sunday event to be held at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island on April 21st. The annual auction is in the planning stage and items are being donated as well as gift cards from local merchants, but we need help with the luncheon that day.
As we begin 2024, we are looking ahead with anticipation of great things to come. Get involved, it’s an enjoyable experience and you are needed. I also want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the board of directors, Rev. Fred, and Karen who from a thousand miles away is still keeping us on track. They have all stepped up time after time when needed and I’ve come to rely on them. We are entering 2024 strong looking forward to great things together.
With Love Beyond Belief,
Becky Smith, MUUF Board President
One of the goals of our Unitarian Universalist faith is to be in right relations with each other and we are fortunate that it also gives us tools to accomplish this.
One is the first principle, to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person, that includes each other. I find this principle very useful in my daily life. If I’m having an issue with someone I stop to think; am I respecting them? That includes assuming they have motives or beliefs they may not actually have. I’ve had that happen to me and I sure did feel disrespected when it happened.
The next tool to keep in right relations is our new graphic of the values in the new proposed Article 2 of our UUA bylaws, the flower with values on each of the petals with love in the center of it all. If we can keep love in the center of everything we do or say we will be in right relationship with each other.
Another tool is our mission statement that uses words like welcoming, supporting, working, compassion, and love. Read it again and see if we can work on living that mission not only for the outside world but for each other and our Fellowship.
We also have a congregational covenant. The first four pledges we make are: to practice care-filled speaking, to listen carefully, to appreciate diversity of opinion, and to be accepting and nonjudgmental of each other. There is a very good reason that way back in 2013 when that was written and adopted by our Fellowship that those four pledges were put first. They are at the very core of how we can successfully work together to accomplish our mission together. Think about it: If we don’t listen, judge each other, speak carelessly, and don’t appreciate diverse opinions, we are out of covenant and we are going to have terrible relationships!
On Sunday morning our minister says, “May we seek to not harm one another with words or deeds. When we learn that we have, may we be willing to hear with grace the harm done. Promise to seek to do better so we may also receive forgiveness for not living up to our ideals. May we seek to continue to be gentle with one another because we may not know the wounds or traumas experienced in living in this unjust world. May our gentle word bring comfort and hope at the right time to be received as a refreshing spring of water on a blistering hot afternoon.”
Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal religion. We make a promise to each other about how we are going to be in community together. We are human and sometimes promises are broken. That’s when we really put our religion to the test as we forgive each other and invite each other back into covenant when it is broken. I believe this is possible because I know that the people who come to this faith are good people who will work together for good. We are people who want to put love at the center of our lives, we not only want to be respected we also respect others. It’s a beautiful way to live and wonderful to see it work in our lives and in our world.
With Love Beyond Belief,
Becky Smith, Board President
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