AND REPORTS FOR SEPTEMBER 2021
MANATEE PRIDE FESTIVAL UPDATE
We have received the following message from the board of directors of ALSO Youth regarding the 7th annual Manatee Pride Festival:
“I am writing to you regarding the upcoming Manatee Pride Festival scheduled for September 18, 2021. The Manatee Pride Committee (and ALSO YOUTH Board of Directors) met last week to discuss the Festival. We reviewed the recent status of COVID-19 cases in our area as well as the continued increase in hospitalizations and deaths. We also reviewed recent updates in similar events – Sarasota Pride postponed their October 2021 event to January 2022 and the City of Venice announced that they will no longer be issuing event permits for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. As a result, the Manatee Pride/ALSO Youth Board of Directors made the decision to postpone our September 2021 Festival and reschedule it for March 5, 2022. Our priority is the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors, and we appreciate your understanding.”
SEPTEMBER SPECIAL COLLECTION
The Women’s Resource Center (mywrc.org) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency that has provided women (and men) with life skills training, career planning and educational scholarships in Manatee and Sarasota counties for more than 35 years. They assist thousands of women in creating independent lifestyles by identifying problems, enrolling them in programs, and connecting them to appropriate resources they need. This special collection will run September 12-26, 2021.
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE REPORT
Gun Legislation is still our main issue, even though nothing has been done at the local, state, or national level, despite the rise of the gun violence. It looks like the Senate has little inclination to even discuss the matter.
Manatee Children Services, Women’s Resource Center, League of Women Voters and Literacy Council of Manatee are the new organizations that have been invited to participate in the Special Collections. All of them have been thoroughly vetted. At the September meeting, a list of 12 local charitable organizations for the next year’s Special Collections will be presented to committee members.
A Virtual Table was created on the fellowship website. For now, it lists only the 12 Organizations participating in the Special Collections. However it will be a link and will be proactive with Calls to Action and Social Justice news. https://manateeuuf.org/social-justice/#justice
Barbara Ehren sent us a Call to Action regarding Manatee Commissioners Satcher, Baugh, Van Ostenbridge, Kruse and Bellamy, who all voted to award $100,000 of unrequested taxpayer funds, without public input, to two faith-based crisis pregnancy organizations that work to prevent abortions. An email was sent to all fellowship members and friends suggesting a letter-writing campaign to those commissioners.
|Sept. 8||International Literacy Day|
|Sept. 9||Anniversary of the Enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957|
|Sept. 10||World Suicide Prevention Day|
|Sept. 15||National Hispanic Heritage Month begins; International Day of Democracy|
|Sept. 16||International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer|
|Sept. 18||World Water Monitoring Day|
|Sept. 21||United Nations International Day of Peace|
— Mariano Vera
BOOK CLUB UPDATE
The Book Club’s monthly meeting is Sept. 5 at 2:00 p.m. on Zoom. The book to be discussed is “The Ugly Duckling” by Iris Johansen. This will be a departure from our usual studious nonfiction works.
As a young girl, Nell Calder, the novel’s protagonist, is told by her mother how unattractive she is and that she will never amount to anything. Her personality soon reflects this. She attends college and marries a man who becomes a wealthy, international businessman. At a gala soiree on a Greek island, a crime syndicate kills her husband and young daughter, and savagely assaults her with a knife and throws her over a balcony. Every bone in her face is broken.
Aha! Do you get the sense that the ugly duckling could become a beautiful swan? Well, you’ll just have to read the book or. come to our meeting or, better yet, do both. We’d love to have you join us. New folks are always welcome. We’re a low-key, fun-loving group. Why not try us out?
Contact Bill Hayes through this website for more information.
— Bill Hayes
RACIAL CONCERNS GROUP ACTIVITIES
Members of the Racial Concerns Group met this summer to continue exploring the American church’s complicity in racism.
On July 12, the remaining seven chapters of The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby were presented and elements from the 20th century were discussed, including the rise of Jim Crow laws, the formation of the KKK, complicity in the north with redlining in housing, military segregation, and the evangelical movement. On Aug. 9, the group viewed the last chapters of a video study guide too the book, narrated by the author. His emphasis, that “racism doesn’t go away, it adapts,” was repeated and explored through events up to the 2016 presidential election. In the final uplifting chapter, Tisby outlined a cyclical model, ARC, that comprises awareness, relationships, and commitment to action.
Viewing a video together using a Zoom format was well received. For the Sept. 13 meeting, the group will view and discuss one episode of The Black Church, the PBS series written and narrated by Henry Louis Gates. All interested members and friends are invited to attend.
— Cindy Evans and Bill Hayes
KNIT’N CHAT NEWS
Knit ’n Chat continues to stay connected via Zoom through September. We’re sharing our handcrafts and 6-inch squares folks are creating for a community blanket/throw. And we do a lot of chatting!Keeping our hands and spirits happy: Carol Alt (still in N.Y. through Sept. 30) and AJ Wolff (Zooming from California). All are welcome to join us. Contact Carol Alt through this website.
— AJ Wolff and Carol Alt
MEMORIAL GARDEN UPDATE
In early August 2019, a group of interested and willing people of the congregation gathered to discuss the needs in making the Memorial Garden the place it was intended to be: a place for contemplation, meditation and a place to be interred if desired. The needs for that to happen were listed and planned for. It included inviting master gardeners to advise us in making our plant choices.
We took trips to nurseries and chose plants for each location. Hardy souls worked many hours in clearing out the weeds and dead and unwanted plants. The plants have thrived, but so have the weeds. The need for a team willing to weed was evident and one was set up. Members each have a week repeating every two months to come to the garden, weed each of the areas, trim if needed, and keep the brick walkway free of weeds.
If you are in the area of the church, take a tour of the Memorial Garden between the deck and the walkway to the street. You will be impressed with the space that now invites contemplation and meditation and three more of our members and friends are now residing there. You may wish to make plans for your interment in this lovely place.
The following people have had a part in the process of all that has happened:
- Mary McClendon
- Mariano Vera
- Thomas Brannin
- Richard Kirby
- Bill Hayes
- John Isham
- Sally Isham
- Cori Prout
- Elliot Prout
- Bernie Salzinger
- Chuck Wolfe
- Gary Chanco
- Linda Smith
- Carol Bartz
- Mary Frances Kordick
- Shirley Loebel
- Cindy Evans
A special thanks to Mariano and Tom, who have spent many, many hours planting, mulching, trimming, purchasing, redoing the shell walkway, making the area behind the garage beautiful, adding to the walkway to the street, spending countless hours in keeping the Memorial Garden beautiful.
There are still several projects that were interrupted by the pandemic. They will happen in the near future and include: repair/replace the fountain, a cement table, privacy behind the bench, updated brochure, formation of a committee to oversee the continuing process, determine location of map of plots and Memory Book.
— Mary McClendon
A NEW FLAMING CHALICE FOR OUR SANCTUARY
Early last spring we searched for a replacement chalice for our services. The original chalice, although a familiar sight, was showing tarnish and discoloration from years of use. Our search turned up a chalice-maker in North Dakota who specialized in copper UU Flaming Chalice designs incorporating the dual circles encompassing a pedestal mounted copper chalice bowl all supported on a mahogany base. His name is Donald Paul and he and his wife have a jewelry and sculpture business called Prairie Paul’s Studio in Edgeley, N.D. They write: “Don’s love of working with metal manifests itself in his artistic works which are created by a combination of processes. Each piece he makes is unique, especially when combined with natural materials such as exotic wood, brass and copper. This results in some of his works being purely decorative while others are functional as well.”
— John Isham
WHAT AM I GRATEFUL FOR? WHAT BRINGS ME JOY?
By Shirley Loebel
It’s hard to limit just one thing that I’m grateful for. But if it had to be one, only, I would say I’m grateful for life itself. We, who live here, have outlived many of our friends from school days and our professional lives. I have outlived many friends who were dear to me, and I have many now in different locations who were “best friends” at some time in my life. At present, I am meeting the “best friends” of this stage in life. This is what, now, brings me joy.
I look out the window at the sunny sky, the water, the pelicans, the birds, the ducks, and the sunsets. Who can help but find joy in the beauty of this setting? We are so fortunate to have been born in America; none of us ever did anything to deserve the freedoms that we were born to. Our freedoms came because someone in our past left their home and family to make a new life or fought to maintain that life. We have lived through World War II; many of the men and women who live here, served in that war, or in Korea or Vietnam.
What brings me joy, today, is the opportunity to play a piano, something I had not done for 40 years until retirement. I enjoy playing it for the people here who like to hear some of the “goldie oldies” and some quiet music while waiting for a meal; it brings me joy to be able to play a song someone remembers from their younger years. We all have a life “before,” and a life “now.” I am grateful for this “now life” and the people who share it with me. I try to find some joy today, whether it’s winning a game of bridge, or getting a decent score in Wii bowling! We are all at the last stage of our lives, but we are still learning, growing and “becoming;” we still have beauty surrounding us; we have warmth, we have people who act on our behalf to make us safe. Joy can be found here. I hope you find a bit of joy in each and every day.
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.
It’s happening! After 14 months of having our building shut down we are making our moves to return to the building and moving forward with our reality of partnering with technology to offer services. The vast majority of our members are fully vaccinated and CDC guidance has given the go ahead to being able to gather again.
We recognize that not everyone will feel comfortable coming back to a large group of folks yet, so we will continue offering services online. We will be doing what is being called hybrid or multi-platform ministry. Our services will continue to be aired on Zoom even as we begin to gather in the sanctuary.
The worship tech team will be working out a few things first before
our doors will open for in-person. So, starting in June we will begin hosting our online zoom services from the building. And then July 11 we will open our doors for socially distant in-person worship.
We are still working out whether we will take reservations for attendance or if we will use the social hall and TV as an overflow room. We especially want to welcome back our members who have not, for one reason or another, been able to attend online services. We will also begin having some small group sessions in person. There may be some meetings that simply work better online.
New Small Group offerings! Our worship theme for this next year will be our Six Sources. To accompany our worship theme, I will be hosting small group discussions pertaining to our sources. These small groups will begin
in July so stay tuned. The first source we will be examining will be “Direct Experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit.” If you want to prepare
ahead, two of the sessions will be examining the sermons of Ralph Emerson, specifically his Divinity School Address; and Theodore Parker, specifically his sermon “The Transient and Permanent in Christianity.” Both
sermons and excerpts can be found online. We will also explore our own spiritual stories and our own direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder.
Stay tuned for more information on these small group offerings.
Reverend Fred L Hammond
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!
By John Isham, President Emeritus
The latest CDC mask requirements rollback lit a fire under Rev. Fred and the Board and new things are on a roll at Manatee UU Fellowship. The Worship Team is practicing procedures to Zoom from the sanctuary. If we are successful with all the new logistics, it will mark the beginning of a gradual transfer over to hybrid services which will include Zoom as well as in-person, in-sanctuary services ultimately leading to include live streaming on You Tube and Facebook.
The end result will be to have our services available to all members and friends and potential new members and friends no matter where they are or what their immediate situation is. This, of course, is where we
thought we were headed last February (2020) just before the pandemic hit.
In addition, this marks new discussions of a return to many of our popular events of the past including pot luck suppers, in-home dinners, adult RE programs involving spirituality, UU history, social evenings, and small
group discussions about a variety of intellectual, personal, social and political topics. Included will be social justice events, and films and discussions in the sanctuary.
We want to actively reach out to the community and have events which involve more than just the membership, such as musical artists and interesting speakers. We will start small but gradually open up over the next few months as we learn and grow and acquire new equipment to facilitate the growth.
We plan to have a discussion and presentation of these plans at the Annual Meeting coming up. We want all members to attend the Annual Meeting (on Zoom) after the service on June 6 because we want everyone to be part of and be available to take part in these future plans at and for
our fellowship. Imagine a grand opening affair sometime in September or October complete with a barbeque on the deck and live music by the Manatee UU Players. (Who are they? Wait and see! We are taking volunteers now.)
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