Jul 242017
 
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November 19: “The Art of Hospitality:  A Thanksgiving Reflection” with Rev. Mellen Kennedy  As we roll into the holiday season, let’s pause to reflect on what hospitality means from a spiritual perspective.  The world’s religious traditions have held up hospitality as a sacred act.  Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible says “Who practices hospitality entertains God himself”. We humans long and need to be included in a circle of sharing of home, hearth, food, friendship and story.   How do we learn to be even more gracious in this ancient unifying spiritual practice?  To get in the spirit, wear your favorite apron!

The choir will be performing.  Friends on the Path Small Group after the coffee hour.

November 26: A Basic Call to Consciousness with Sharon Mueller
In 1977, the Haudenosaunee- the Six Nations, or Iroquois- presented position papers to the Non-Governmental Organizations of the United Nations in Geneva. They conveyed the point of view that the destruction by Western Civilization of the Natural World and its peoples is the clearest indicator of humankind’s spiritual poverty, and called for consciousness of the Sacred Web of Life. I read this book when it came out, and was profoundly affected. Forty years later, where do we stand? Have we listened to these wise words? Is there still hope?

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November 5: “Other Ways of Seeing: Insights from Asia”
We often become accustomed to viewing the world from the perspectives that we’ve been taught in our families, cultures and religions; however, the people of different nations have different values, beliefs and traditions, which has created views that may be entirely different from our Western ways of seeing things. In an increasingly global world, can we value and learn from other cultures? Might there be a better balance in our lives, and the lives of people in other nations, if we can be curious and interested in each other’s ways of thinking and feeling?

On Sunday, Nov. 5, at 10 am, Greg Supernovich will lead our service, “Other Ways of Seeing: Insights from Asia.” The service is open to the public. The service will explore the following areas: The deep spirituality that is woven into the lives of many people in Asia; the oneness and interconnectedness of all living beings and the cosmos; the dual nature of everything; the way to live without expectations; and the presence of some animals who exist in parallel and equal societies with humans in Asia. Included in the service will be prayers and thoughts from some of Asia’s major religions.

Supernovich is a Springfield resident and member of this church. He has had the opportunity to visit eight Asian nations in the last ten years, including Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Guam and Singapore, and he has had the good fortune to live for a year in Thailand, where he taught English at Burapha University. He is a part-time faculty member in the English Department at Castleton University. Also, he is a writer and novelist, and a former journalist and carpenter. If there is one thing he says he has learned in his many years of living, it is that the older you get, the less you know, but, he says that he has also learned one should not give up trying to share with others something that we think might be worthwhile.
November 12:“The Spirituality of Imperfection: The Addiction Crisis”  with Rev. Mellen Kennedy This year, we’re exploring pathways to peace, wisdom from the world’s religions, which agree that addiction is fundamentally a spiritual issue.  How do we find our way living in a society where addiction is just about “normal”?  Join us for an exploration of the spirituality of recovery.  Special music and sharing with Matt Meserve.

Souper Sunday
Nov 12, after the service

At our Souper Sunday fund raiser on Sunday November 12,  we will have three hearty soups and several choices of bread available, as well as the usual Sunday refreshments.  The cost is $4 and if necessary, soup can be taken home.  This is a good way to get to know our congregation members in a relaxed atmosphere.  We’re all encouraged to bring a friend – new people will receive a free meal.

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October 1: “Restoring Our Resilience: Addressing the Pain Crisis” with Rev. Mellen Kennedy
Life deals us traumas and challenges.  That’s a given.  It’s how we respond that defines us.  Let’s explore how we can become even more resilient in the face of life’s adversities.  You’re invited to continue the conversation in a Friends on the Path Group discussion facilitated by Rev. M’ellen after the coffee hour.
October 8: Food Justice & Kids’ Garden with Becca Polk
Becca Polk, a middle school teacher and adult leader of the Lettuce Grow Food summer camp will come speak to us about the summer camp and why she decided as a social studies teacher to begin focusing on food and gardening.
October 15: “Finding the Way Home: Through a Scripture We Do Not Read and Through Words We Too Often Say” with the Rev. Kitsy Winthrop. Kitsy was our full-time minister from 1984-1996 and loves this congregation still.
October 22: “The Freedom of Forgiveness”  with Rev. Mellen Kennedy
Autumn is a perfect time to mimic the natural world and just let go! The wisdom of the world’s religions teach us the folly of demanding permanence in this ephemeral world. The lesson of impermanence is all around as our gardens die back and the leaves fall.   Let’s welcome in the Autumn and practice letting go and forgiving.The choir will be singing “And When I Rise” with words by Buddhist teacher, Thick Nhat Hanh.
October 29: “The Last Harvest” with Kali Fyre
Come explore together the agrarian and folk tradition origins of the festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). Samhain marks the end of the harvest season, introducing the beauty of darkness, the winter, and a spiritually reflective time of the year. This is a time when we honor completion in the cycle of life and death, honoring the lives lost over the year. But it is also a beginning, as the wheel of Life, the wheel of the year continues to turn. We have, hopefully, filled our stores for the coming months. We take this time to rest and refuel, to reflect on the blessings and lessons of the cycle past.
Kali Fyre is a candidate for Unitarian Universalist ministry living in Weare NH (outside of Concord & Manchester). Kali and her partner cultivate a vintage farm using natural and permaculture techniques, raising poultry and vegetables. She is currently a consulting R.E. Coordinator at Peterborough (NH) UU Church.
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September 10: Annual Water Communion In-Gathering with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy

We commence our church year as we reconvene our community after the summer months when we’ve had less gatherings.  Each of us is welcome to bring water collected from our summer excursions and combine the waters together as a symbol of our community reassembling.  We’ll explore water as a symbol of spirituality.  Join us as we embark on a year- long exploration of the world’s religions and take a dive into the depth of our souls
September 17: Dances of Universal Peace with Sandra Walia Guilow
We’ll continue exploring the world’s religions, this week through dance.  The Dances of Universal Peace are simple, meditative, joyous, multi-cultural circle dances that use sacred phrases, chants, music and movements to touch the spiritual essence in ourselves and recognize it in others.  No musical or dance experience of any kind is required.  And everyone is welcome (but not pressured) to join in.  The Dances focus on PEACE — creating a sense of solidarity and community, while celebrating and understanding the unity of all spiritual traditions on the Earth.  Come and be a part of the circle that connects all of humanity. Sandra Walia Guillow is a seasoned and enthusiastic dance leader from Connecticut who will help us find ease and grace and will be accompanied by her musician husband Shems WIlliam Guillow.  For more info www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org
September 24: Peace Pole Re-Dedication with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy
Twenty years ago, on Sept 28, 1997, the Springfield UU Congregation dedicated the Peace Pole on the patio outside peace-pole-sep-2017-copy-363x500the sanctuary.  We’ll commemorate this event and rededicate the Peace Pole in our intergenerational worship service on September 24.  If the weather permits, part of the service will be outside on the patio.  Learning how to live peacefully in the world, with each other, with the Earth, with folks of all religions and races, is the aim of religions.  We’ll tie this event in with our theme for the year, “Exploring the World’s Religions – Paths to Peace.”  The choir is preparing some special music.  In the service on September 24, we’ll re-dedicate not just the pole, but more importantly ourselves, to this crucial work of being instruments of peace in our beautiful and broken world.  In this fractious time, peace-keepers and peace cultivators are critically needed.

August 2017 Services

August 6, Picnic and Vesper Service

It has become a tradition that we gather once during the summer for a picnic and then a vesper(evening) service.

The date for this year is August 6th.  We will begin gathering at the church at 4:30 P.M. with time to catch up on how our summers are going.    Please bring your summer picnic favorite to share.  The Vesper Service will be after we have finished eating around 6:00.  All welcome!

The picnic and Vesper Service is organized by the Caring Committee.

Prior to the Vesper Service and Picnic, at 3:30 pm, there’ll be a walking tour of the Food Justice Summer Camp gardens and trails from Riverside School to St. Mark’s next door to us.

August 13:  “To Live Deliberately: Celebrating Thoreau” with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy

July 12th marked the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, author of that great work, “Walden or

Life in the Woods.”  “I went to the woods to live deliberately”  is a quote

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from “Walden,”  Thoreau is imploring us to wake up!  Let’s draw inspiration from Thoreau and look together at how we can have the courage to live with purpose and power.

August 27:  “Our Local Food Coop” with Lucy Georgeoff and Julie Jones.  Let’s explore how we can take back our lives by shopping locally, consuming local foods and eating foods that support our physical, emotional, social and spiritual well being.

Weekly Services resume on September 10th!

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July 23: “Looking at the World Through a Gender Lens” with Joya Taft-Dick

joya-taft-dick-profile-photoThe daughter of a UN humanitarian agency employee, Joya Taft-Dick grew up primarily in the developing world. Six formative years spent in Pakistan, between the ages of 12 and 18, solidified her interest at a young age in the particular challenges faced by women and girls around the world. She has spent the last 11 years working in the space where gender meets development, advocacy and human security. While her focus has largely been international — her work has taken her to Sri Lanka, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal — last year’s election here brought that focus home, where women and minorities are nothing short of under attack by the policies of the current administration. She will be sharing highlights from this professional journey during her remarks, as well as the ways she maintains community, and self care, in the face of what can often feel like a relentless struggle for justice.


July 9: “Civil Disobedience: Thoreau for Today” with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy
Henry David Thoreau is the author of an essay entitled, “Civil Disobedience”, which has much to say to our current social and political environment. The 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth is July 12. We’ll continue a celebration of Thoreau by looking at the relevance of civil disobedience in our contemporary world. We hope You’ll join us as we explore taking back our lives from tyranny and injustice. Friends on the Path/Social Action Circle discussion facilitated by Rev. M’ellen will follow the coffee hour. All welcome..

May 292017
 

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June 11, Parker Hill Service, 11 am
Our annual Parker Hill Service, at 11 a.m., will have a short service based on chants and readings of our love for Mother Earth. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy a potluck picnic. Please bring a folding chair, a hat, and if you can, silverware, plate, cup. Let’s help the Earth by not using paper and plastic. (We’ll bring some for those who forget, no worries). This cemetery is on the sight of our first Universalist building, back in the 1790s. There’s lots to explore! Please be respectful of the gravestones, as they are quite old, and might tip over if pushed. Enjoy reading the inscriptions. Let’s celebrate spring in this beautiful setting! If you don’t know where it is, we’ll have a caravan leader at the church, leaving at 10:40 a.m.


June 4, Annual Flower Communion and New Member Sunday with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy, 10 am
At the end of each church year, we celebrate the power of community with our Flower Communion. You’re invited to bring a flower with which we’ll create a beautiful bouquet together symbolizing our spiritual community. We’ll also welcome new members, new blossom in our bouquet. The choir will perform a short piece for us. After the service we’ll have a reception to welcome our new members and to celebrate the completion of our kitchen renovations!

May 012017
 
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May 7, Seeds of Hope, with Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy
Regardless of what is happening in the larger world, we can choose to sow seeds of Hope.  What do You personally want to funnel your energy into?  What seeds of Hope have You already planted?  What do You intend to plant now and in the future?  We’ll also have a seed swap.
May 14, To Grow Old or To Grow Up?  How to Age Gracefully, with Sharon Mueller and Jeff Taft-Dick.  Sharon and Jeff reflect on how do we best cope with aging in a society that favors youth over the elderly.
May 21, Taking Back Our Lives with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy
“A human life when truly seen is briefer than a kiss” says one of the hymns we’ll sing on this day.  This year we have engaged in taking back our lives from influences that are not worthy of us and our spiritual calling. In this service, we’ll reflect on what we have gleaned from exploring how we can live our lives in line with what we know in our heart is good and right and true in terms of habits, diet, our stuff, exercise, facing fears, learning to fall, covenanting and treating each other with respect, cultivating interfaith harmony and racial amity.  Join us for a deeper exploration of how we can live our lives with purpose, vitality and joy, so that we may grow and prosper individually and as a community. The choir will be performing special music this Sunday. It will also be New Member Sunday; in this part of the service the new members will be formally welcomed and introduced and sign the membership book.
May 28, The Gift of Remembering with Rev. William Charles Freeman, Ph.D.
On this Memorial Day weekend, we will remember and honor Vermonters who have served our country and who have died doing so.  And in remembering them, we will have a conversation about what it is to live a conscious life, filled with vitality and spirit in active engagement and in quiet moments of stillness and reflection as we begin to re-member ourselves.  To live consciously is to be in the present moment and in doing so, we exonerate ourselves from the dictum “an unexamined life is not worth living” (from Plato’s Apology as he recollected a speech of Socrates). Then, as John McQuiston II suggests, we can “. . . use the light of life to live fully in our time.”  The gift of remembering is that going forward we can live our lives with greater awareness, appreciation and love.

 

Apr 242017
 

The new statue Fearless Girl was placed in front of Wall Street on International Women’s Day to make a point: ” There’s a dearth of women on the boards of the largest US corporations.” True! Yet Fearless Girl represents so much more. Kitsy was our full-time minister from 1984-1996 and loves this congregation still.  She’s eager to be with us again!

Mar 232017
 

Apr. 2 “Are We Going to Be OK?” with Rev. Peter Miller
In a world of increasing polarization where those with whom we disagree are characterized as villainous thugs, how can we move forward? Where can we find serenity? Can there be justice and peace? How do we effectively stand up for our principles and bring about positive change?

Apr. 9 “A Humorous Look at Us and Our Stuff” with Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy
For some of us, taking back our lives (the theme for this church year) includes reflecting on our relationship with our stuff.  We have been in inculcated with a false idea that stuff makes us happy.  Beyond the basics for our survival, health and well-being, how much stuff is enough, how much is too much?  How do we restore the sense of connection, harmony and wonder with our material world.  In this post-April Fool’s Day sermon, join us as we look at our selves and our stuff with humor and compassion.
Apr. 16 “A Celebration of Easter and Spring” with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy (and Choir)
When things are tight or desperate, there is something in us that grasps for a way out, for hope. Around us a the natural world begins to awaken, breaking out of winter’s grasp, let’s open our hearts for spiritual renewal as well. Join us for a celebration of the glory of Spring, includgin special music by the choir.
Apr. 23 Creativity – Tina Feindel and Lynne Wolf
What does it mean to be creative? Where does it come from? What is your outlet for your creative urges? We will explore these questions and more. Feel free to bring your favorite creative endeavors to show and tell.

Apr. 30 “Fearless Girl Faces Charging Bull” with the Rev. Kitsy Winthrop
The new statue Fearless Girl was placed in front of Wall Street on International Women’s Day to make a point: ” There’s a dearth of women on the boards of the largest US corporations.” True! Yet Fearless Girl represents so much more. Kitsy was our full-time minister from 1984-1996 and loves this congregation still.  She’s eager to be with us again!

 

Mar 092017
 

March 5, Building Bridges with Laurel Green and Steve Crofter
How do we set up our lives to reach across divisions, allowing us to connect with the humanness in others and find it in ourselves?  Through stories from their lives, Laurel and Steve will recount some of the opportunities they’ve found to build bridges.

March 12, The Best of Our Abilities with Rev. Telos Whitfield

We will explore the ordinary and extraordinary lives of people who have overcome a variety of “disabilities” to lead inspiring lives, and will reflect on how we can use our own abilities and talents to create positive change in our community and the larger world.  Rev. Telos Whitfield currently serves the Universalist Society of Strafford, VT and also works for Southeastern Vermont Community Action. She loves poetry and stories of the very young, our elders and everyone in between!   Souper Sunday lunch after church.
March 19, “Extinction of Experience”? with Hallie Whitcomb

A recent article about the on-going proliferation of robots stimulated many questions around the role(s) of technology in our lives.  In what ways does it stimulate and enhance our overall well-being and what/how does it tend to overshadow and destroy vital life connections?  This will be an interactive service with reflections from the congregation.
Note: “Extinction of Experience” is the title of an essay by Robert Michael Pyle

March 26, Word Service with Tina Feindel
For well over ten years, we have had an annual ‘word’ service. Several people will speak about the special meaning a word has for them. We hope You’ll join us.

Feb 012017
 

February  5,  Countering Islamophobia with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy Although we are being whipped up into fear of Islam and Muslims, what do we really have to be afraid of? M’ellen has learned as a Sufi (the mystical tradition of Islam) and an active participant in the national grassroots effort to counter Islamophobia.  Drawing on her participation for several years in the Islamic Society of North America Conference and the Emerging Faith Leaders Seminar, the speaker will share stories, data and experiences to help us gain insights into this complex issue.  Let us bridge that gap of misunderstanding and do our part to create a more peaceful, harmonious world.  A discussion will follow the presentation.

February 12,  Celebrating Interfaith Harmony: A Tribute to Huston Smith, with Rev. M’ellen KennedyIn 2010 a UN resolution declared the first week of February as a time to promote understanding and harmony among all people regardless of their faith. What better way to celebrate than by honoring Huston Smith, one of the greatest leaders in interfaith understanding?  Huston Smith passed away in December at the age of 97 and was a significant inspiration to many of us working on interfaith dialogue, including for Rev. M’ellen.  In these times when religious tolerance is a national and international issue, what can we learn from the life and teachings of Huston Smith to enhance national and global harmony?  Join us for a special celebration. Souper Sunday lunch after church.

February 19, The Zen of Gardening  with Sharon Mueller and Lynne Wolf
Lynne and Sharon have been gardening together off and on for several years. We will reflect on some of the things that we’ve learned along the way, not only about how (or how not!) to grow vegetables, but about ourselves. We know that it is good to get your hands in the dirt. It is good to work hard. But it is also good to stop in the shade and rest, drink water, and reflect. Being in the garden roots you to a particular spot on the planet. It is good therapy for troubled times. This past year, we’ve also found how we can make connections around the globe as well. We’d like to hear from you as well. What deep thoughts have you had in the garden?

February 26, The Music Right Under Our Noses with Lynne Wolf and the Choir
The choir is exploring our hymnals and finding so much great music that for this year’s Choir Service we’ve decided to do another installment of last year’s theme, The Music Right Under Our Noses. We will be presenting songs that have always been there in the hymnals but that we never sing in services. Come sing with us and discover even more wonderful music!

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Upcoming Worship Services: Sundays at 10 a.m.  (New Year’s Service is at 5 p.m.)

January 1st, Candlelight New Year’s Service with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy, the Choir and the Children’s RE Program 5 PM This is our annual holiday celebration with music, stories, traditional carols, children’s involvement, and good cheer. The service is followed by a High Tea. We really hope You’ll join us!

January 8, Labyrinth Service, 10 AM
Ellen Allman will be leading our annual labyrinth service.The sanctuary will be set-up with a simple labyrinth.  Ellen will talk a little about the history of walking labyrinths.  There will be songs, readings  and an opportunity to walk the labyrinth.  There will also be a lap labyrinth that can be used by anyone not wishing to walk the larger one.

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Due to predictions of freezing rain and ice, this candleight Solstice Service has been cancelled for today. The service will be held on New Year’s Day; watch for more information
Happy Holidays, and Peace on Earth, Good Will to All
December 18, Candlelight Solstice Service 
with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy, the Choir and the Children’s RE Program,  5 PM  
This is our annual holiday celebration with music, stories, traditional carols, children’s involvement, and good cheer.  The service is followed by a High Tea.  We really hope You’ll join us!
December 4, Find a Stillness  with Rev. M’ellen Kennedy 10 AM

In the natural world, stillness grows as winter arrives, inviting us to explore the spiritual significance of stillness and silence.  As we take back our lives, let’s discover the need for and the healing impact of silence. A Friends on the Path Small Group discussion on the theme of the service will follow the coffee hour.

December 11, Restoring the Soul with Rev. Patience Stoddard  10 AM
What happens when the soul is injured?  When that deepest, truest part of our self is denied, or dismissed, bullied or rejected?  One common reaction is to protect it.  To tuck it a way where no one can access it, hurt it;  to keep it out of the sight of others… and all too often to keep it out of the sight of ourselves.  Patience will preach on ways in which we might re-connect with and heal those parts of ourselves in order to live a fuller and more authentic life.
This will be a Souper Sunday. Soup for Syria cookbooks will be for sale after the service, and a soup from the book will be featured.

There will be no service on December 25.