The Work Continues Even When the Building is Closed

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Mar 202020


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March 22: Service with Rev. Mellen Kennedy via Zoom,  Link:

March 29: “In Grief and Love, We Need Each Other” with Charis Boke and Rev. Mellen Kennedy, via Zoom.

In her poem Wild Geese, Mary Oliver invites us: “tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” In this simple line is contained a deep truth, which is that all around us, our companions on this planet are carrying secret pains that we may know nothing of. And that we ourselves might be reluctant to share our own. The other thing this invitation offers is an opportunity-to connect, through a shared understanding that suffering and grief and despair are as intimate and perhaps as necessary a part of existence as anything else. And that in our connections we may be liberated into a gentler way of being together. Today’s service will explore the relationship between grief, connectedness, and thriving.
Jan 272020

February 23: “Don’t Have a Cow, Now.” with Rev. Buffy Boke 

We are all deeply concerned about the effects of a warming planet on our lives – indeed, on all life. A few thoughts on how to go forward from where we are.

The Rev. Beverly Morrison Boke — called “Buffy” by just about everyone — was called and settled as minister to the Canton, Massachusetts congregation in August 2011, from which she retired in July of 2017. Immediately prior to that, she served on the Administration Team as a guidance counselor for three years at the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon. Buffy was ordained at the Unitarian Church of Barnstable in 1985. She has served Unitarian Universalist congregations in Newport News, Virginia; Hartland Four Corners, Weathersfield, and Chester, Vermont; and Andover, New Hampshire, and she has supplied pulpits in many other Vermont and New Hampshire towns. Buffy now lives with Nick, her husband of 39 years, in Providence, Rhode Island.

February 2: “The Art of Blessing: An Imbolc Meditation” with Charis Boke

February 1-2 are the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In northern European traditions, this is a time when lambs are born and the goddess Brigid’s blessing is sought for creative projects for the year–including the seeds that will be planted in the ground. Share the Plate offering to help buy snacks for kids using the library after school

 February 9: “Reclaiming Patriarchy” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy

“Patriarchy is a form of creativity that needs to be rediscovered in our time.” writes Thomas
Moore. Huh? “We have weakened the nobility of fatherhood in our time by mistaking
imperialism in business and government for genuine paternal leadership.” Moore continues.
Wow! This is the last Sunday Rev. Mellen will be with us before she takes off for a two-month
sabbatical. She will leave us with a parting question and challenge. Come join us for an
exploration of how we might reclaim patriarchy and how we individually and collectively might
exercise paternal leadership regardless of what kind of body we inhabit. You’re invited to stay
for a Friends on the Path Small Group Discussion on the topic after the Souper Sunday.

February 16: “Word Service” with Tina Feindel, Sharon Mueller 

At our annual celebration of words this year, a few folks will share what turns them on about a particular word. And we will learn about and play with, color cinquains! Come find out what they are!

Dec 292019

January 26,Cultivating Wisdom and Building Community with Rev. Telos Whitfield 

We will explore the qualities needed to deepen our wisdom, strengthen ourselves and build community in this new year.  Rev. Telos Whitfield serves the Universalist Society of Strafford and works as thrift store manager for the Southeastern Vermont Community Action. Working for peace has been a path she has followed for decades, including a 300 mile peace walk for nuclear disarmament in 1987, managing the Earth Charter Celebration in 2001, attending multiple retreats with Buddhist peace leader Thich Nhat Hanh, and completing his 14 mindfulness trainings program. She has also folded thousands of peace cranes over the years!

January 5, “Labyrinth Service” with Ellen Allman

The sanctuary will be set up with a simple labyrinth.  Ellen will talk about the history of labyrinths.  There will be songs, reading and an opportunity to walk the labyrinth, as well as a lap labyrinth to be used by anyone not wishing to walk the larger one.  All welcome!

January 12,  “Living Love in Turbulent Times:  King the Great Collaborator” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy

One person alone does not a great social movement make.  King expressed and embodied some critical lessons on how to work with others to effect lasting social change, to bring the Kingdom of God on Earth, as King would say.  In these challenging times, King’s legacy is a treasure trove!  Come, role up your sleeves and dive in to the learning the slippery work of collaboration.  A Friends on the Path Small Group Discussion on the topic will follow the coffee hour.   All welcome

January 19, “Health Is the First Wealth” with Dr. Jim Cahill and Rev. Mellen Kennedy

Jim and Mellen will reflect on the spiritual foundation of health.  Each of them made it through difficult health challenges. They both say now, Jim in his 70’s and Mellen in her 60’s, that they have never felt happier or healthier in their lives! They’ll share their thoughts and experiences including reflecting on the saying, “The body is the temple of the holy spirit.”  The service will be followed by Souper Sunday lunch.  After lunch join us for a discussion of the topic of the service and the book, “Younger Next Year: Living Strong, Fit and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond.”  A few free copies of the book are available on the Harvest Table in the Lobby.

Nov 222019


December 29:  Annual Fire Ceremony with JoAnn Gaffron-Hargrove

Our traditional Fire Ceremony will help us prepare for the New Year. After a reflection on “Our Attitudes toward Time”, we will use the cleansing fire to rid ourselves of those things which burden us and we wish to be rid of for a new start. Then each of us will write a  list of intentions for the New year and seal them is a self-addressed envelope. This will be returned to you in the fall of 2020.  Each person will light a candle of love and hope for the New Year.

December 31: “Words of Hope, Songs of Peace: New Year’s Eve Vesper Service for Peace”  5 pm AT THE CHESTER UU
The interfaith Peace Choir will sing for peace in the coming year at our third annual New Year’s Eve Vesper for Peace – Words of Hope, Songs of Peace.  The candle-light service includes anthems, poetry, meditation, hymns and chants, and special messages by visiting clergy of multiple faiths including Rev. Mellen Kennedy. Held at the First Universalist Parish, 211 North St, Chester, VT. Located on Route 103, 1 mile north of Chester’s village. 802.875.3257

December 1st: “What if? The Power of Open and Honest Questions” with Charis Boke.  None of us get through life without encountering difficulties alongside our joys. When we witness others, or shepherd ourselves along our own life path, one of the most powerful things we can do is to ask open and honest questions. Today we will reflect together on what it means to open to the unknown as a powerful teacher.

December 8th:  “Rumi: Poet for Our Times with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy In preparation for Rumi’s Urs on Dec. 17th, we’ll gather to hear his poetry, sing or chant and listen to stories about his inspiring and challenging life.  Rumi was a 13th century Sufi poet adn mystic.  He grew up and lived in a time of turmoil and his insights speak so clearly to our time. Join us for a celebration of Rumi. You’re invited to bring your favorite Rumi poem to share if You’d like.

December 15th: Creating Holiday Traditions with Sharon Mueller  At this darkest time of year, many spiritual traditions have, over the centuries, provided ways to celebrate. Whether ancient or modern, what traditions have touched your life, brought you joy? Let’s look at those we hold to, those we can let go of, and new ones that create joy and good cheer.
(After the service and Souper Sunday lunch,  everyone is invited to join in decorating our tree, one of our own traditions!)

December 22: Solstice Candlelight Service, 5 pm, followed by a High Tea

This year’s theme is The Children and Youth Will Lead US, and the service will include a holiday skit or two, sharing stories of the season, singing carols and lighting candles.  There will be original music by Bill Brink, a joint performance by members of the Chester and Springfield UU choirs, and demonstration by our Tai Chi class members. A High Tea follows the service. The December 22nd Share the Plate will benefit the World Food Program for Syrian refugees.
Nov 042019

CANCELLED: November 24: “The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go.” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy and Ephraim, two mountain enthusiasts.

Ephraim is the nine year old grandson of Diane Kemble who lives up to being named for Mt. Ephraim. We’ll have special music with Paul Ippolito leading us in a couple of mountain songs. We’ll be singing the Vermont state song, “These Green Mountains”. This is definitely a service for all generations to enjoy together!

November 3: “The Land Loves Us Back” with Charis Boke What does it feel like to belong to a place? Right now in this complicated world, asking this question can help us think about histories of power, and also help us to lift our gaze to the possibility of healing relations with land and reconnecting communities.
As a scholar-practitioner of anthropology, the environment, and health, Charis also serves her communities as a teacher and an organizer. Drawing on her background as an anthropologist of medicine, healing and religion, as well as her long term commitment to building a socially and environmentally just world, she tries to help communities figure out how to analyze issues and work to do better–to move towards mutual thriving with the planet.

November 10: “Visioning Through Collage” with Shannon Aubin and Sharon Mueller Sharon and Shannon collaborate to present the Power of Visioning Through Collage. We will share personal experiences and invite you to try your hand at creating your own!

November 17: “Attitude of Gratitude” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy and Cathy Shidlovsky As we move toward celebrating Thanksgiving, let’s pause to reflect of one of the most powerful forces in the world: gratitude. We’ll share stories, life experiences, poems and challenges. Join us!


~ Rumi

Oct 012019
 October 27, Heritage of Mind and Heart  with Diane Kemble What do we carry from our ancestors and pass on to our children? What is in our carefully loaded ship? How does living our Unitarian Universalist Principles help provide guidance for all generations?
In a house which becomes a home,
one hands down and another takes up
the heritage of mind and heart,
laughter and tears, musings and deed
s. –   Antoine de Saint-Exupery


October 6,  “Music Alone Shall Live”  with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy
Twenty years ago, members of the Meetinghouse had a vision — They created the Music and Piano Fund which resulted in the purchase of the beautiful piano that we now use in the sanctuary.   Let’s celebrate the power of music and the vision of those folks back then. And let’s look ahead to what we would like to see in our musical experience here at the meetinghouse in the next two decades.  Mellen will report on her trip to UU Songleaders Convergence in Denver and share ideas about what we might envision for the future. This service will be a lead up to the workshop the next week on the13th after the Souper Sunday to be led by Rev. Dave Ruffin.
October 13, “Spiritual Homecoming” with Rev. Dave Ruffin and Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy Join us for a service of renewal inspired by the high holy days of the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. Because we humans are such forgetful animals, forgetting our inherent worth and unconditional belonging, we need to support each other in remembering ourselves back into wholeness. And we need space to forgive and be forgiven for the consequences of our forgetting. This Sunday will be such a space.   Stay for the Souper Sunday and the “Sing Out UU’s!”  Workshop.  See Dave’s bio with the music workshop announcement below.
October 20,  “Cooperatives and Social Change” with Debbie Diegoli  We’ll discuss the role of cooperatives in the Civil Rights and other social movements and explore what makes co-ops a suitable model for social justice now and in the future.  Debbie Diegoli has worked in a variety of roles at a number of Upper Valley non-profit organizations, and currently serves as Administrative Assistant for the Meetinghouse. She is a board member of the Upper Valley Food Co-op in White River Junction and is a member of several other cooperatives. Deb lives in Weathersfield.
May 272019

 September 29, Welcoming the Stranger: An Update on the Work of the Community Asylum Seekers Project” with Steve Crofter, 10 am

Steve Crofter, executive director of the local nonprofit Community Asylum Seeker Project (CASP), will share some thoughts on the spiritual commandment to welcome the stranger.  He’ll also report on CASP’s current status and plans for expansion, as well as offering some opportunities to become involved.

Steve has worked at many trades – carpenter, bus driver, public school teacher, household goods mover, and farmer. After living for three years in Mexico, he and his life partner Laurel Green moved to Rockingham, VT. Steve’s interest in cross-cultural relations began as a child when his professor-father hosted international students for Sunday dinner.


 September 1 Annual Potluck & Vesper Service, 4:30 pm

Our annual Potluck/Vesper Service will be Sunday September 1 st . We will meet at 4:30
for conversation and then have our picnic supper at 5:00 followed by the vesper service.
Bring your own eating utensils and plate, along with a dish to share. This is a relaxed way
to connect with each other after many of us have been away for the summer.
This is being organized by the Caring Committee

September 8 “Annual Water Celebration” w/ Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy, 10 am

The foundational truth of our existence is that we’re the blue planet, mostly water.  Water sustains us, feeds us, grows our food, cleanses us, enthralls us and is us.  Join us for our annual ingathering where we come together after our summer wanderings.  Bring some water with You from your travels if You have it.  Share the Plate collection for BRAT, Black River Action Team.  Let’s celebrate in this intergenerational service of interconnectedness and our lives on this blue planet.

September 15, “Blessed Are the Peace Makers” w/Rev Dr Mellen Kennedy, 10 am 

There is more to this Beatitude than meets the eye.  Come be surprised at what’s hidden there.  We can find inspirit on creating community and healing the world. You’re welcome to stay for a Friends on the Path small group discussion on Climate Change after coffee hour.

September 22, “Mauna Kea- Sacred Mountain” with Sharon Mueller, 10 am 

Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest mountain in the Pacific, has long been sacred to the Hawaiian people. Already host to several observatories, there is a plan underway to build a much bigger, thirty meter telescope (TMT) on its peak. Many native Hawaiians and supporters are opposing this effort. Which has priority- science or native culture and beliefs? We will look at some of the history, the current situation, and think deeply about the clash between scientific development and native beliefs. Are they in conflict, or is there a way to honor both perspectives?

July 14 “Art Will Save Us” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy

Spirituality and art are intricately intertwined.  Creating a beautiful, just, kind, sustainable world is the necessity of our time.  Creating.  Creativity.  We exercise our creative capacity when we make and enjoy art and express ourselves artistically.

 July 28: “The Creative Process” with Toni Streeter.

The creative process we all possess, like a spiritual journey, is intuitive and experimental. Following the clues one step at a time can be a magical trip. Let our souls delight in wonder as we find the hidden treasures within us.  Toni is a sculptor, artist. She lives at Tree Farm Campground in Spingfield and with her husband was the former owner of the campground.  She is a member of the Springfield Meetinghouse and her paintings are frequent beautiful additions to our services.

August 11 “Art and the Civil Rights Movement” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy

Artist like civil rights activist, Faith Ringgold, helped birth and shape new views of the world.  “It’s a visual image of who you are.  That’s the power of being an artist!”  said Faith Ringgold.  This summer and fall as we’re reading, “March (Book One) by civil rights activist, John Lewis, let’s broaden our understanding of civil rights by taking a look at the power of art in that time.

August 25 “Revolution of the Heart: Truthtelling & the Imaginaria” with Betsy McCall  

Art can free the heart and call the soul home. For a work of art to so deeply resonate with a viewer, every aspect of the work must be authentic. Art must speak the truth, a truth that the viewer can feel. To be truly transformative, an artwork must also offer a new perspective, a new angle, a new way forward. Betsy McCall is a painter, video maker, social sculptor, and founder & abbess of the Art Monastery. The Art Monastery, located in Springfield, aims to cultivate personal awakening and cultural transformation through contemplation, creativity, and community.

There is no childcare or Religious Exploration during the summer.  Children are welcome during services.

“Green Living, Green Loving, Green Burial” our annual Parker Hill Service and Picnic with Rev. Mellen Kennedy, June 9, 11 am.

Join us for this service out of doors in Parker Hill Cemetery.  We’re in the midst of significant cultural shifts in terms of the environment, politics, technology, the environment and so much more including how we die and how we bury our dead.  Just 4 years ago, Vermont passed significant changes in the legislation.  The new approach is sometimes called “green burial” because it employs “land management practices that are more environmentally sensitive than those used by traditional cemeteries.”  What is the spiritual significance of the green burial movement and what can we learn?  Come stand among the grave markers of those who have gone before and contemplate together green living, green loving and green dying.  A potluck picnic will follow the brief service.

Held at at  797 Parker Hill Road , Springfield, VT, the site of  our first Universalist building, back in the 1790s, and is maintained as a cemetery to this day.

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). 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! 

This is the last service of the church season for the Springfield Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse.  We will hold four services at the Meetinghouse throughout the summer, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of July and August.

“Flower Communion” Service with Sharon Mueller, June 2, 11 am

Our annual Flower Communion service, our final regular Sunday service of the church year, commemorates the original Flower Service held in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek, who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia.  He developed the service to bring people in his church  together during a time of tension and strife in that part of Europe.

As fascism arose in Germany, Norbert Capek spoke out strongly against Hitler and the Nazis When Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during World War II, he was tried, found guilty of treason, and imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp. He continued his ministry within the camp.  In 1943 he was executed there.

The service was brought to the United States by his wife, Rev. Maya Capek, and the tradition continues today in UU congregations throughout the country.  At the Springfield UU, and many others, it is celebrated each June..

You’re invited to bring a flower with which we’ll create a beautiful bouquet together symbolizing our spiritual community. All welcome!


Apr 302019

May 26: “The Zen of Gardening”  with Sharon Mueller 

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. We’d like to hear from you as well. What deep thoughts have you had in the garden?  (Note: the originally scheduled service with Frank Nobile has been cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control.  We hope that Frank will be able to join us at a future time.)

May 5: “Everyday Spirituality” with Rev. Patience Stoddard

The service is about noticing those small, everyday moments that can open our hearts and touch our souls. Patience was the minister here from 1998-2006 and most recently served the UU Congregation of the Upper Valley.


May 12: “Faith of Our Foremothers”  with Rev. Mellen Kennedy 

In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s turn to the lives of some of our feisty foremothers. Like Julia Ward Howe who wrote the Original Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870 as a protest of war.  And Olympia Brown, the first woman in the US ordained in a Christian denomination.  These and other Unitarians and Universalists fought the good fight in their time and offer insight to us today that we may be powerful agents of hope and courage in our own time.   A Welcoming of New Members will be part of the service.
A Small Group Discussion on the theme of the service will be led at noon by Rev. Mellen.
All welcome.

May 19: “Wabi Sabi – Wisdom For A Perfectly Imperfect World” with Steve Shama. 

Is life more complicated than it needs to be for you?   Are you a perfectionist wishing for a simpler way to be?
Are you facing a life challenge that is stopping you from finding  creative solutions?
Explore the power of Wabi Sabi in the clarification of life and uncover for yourself a simpler, more accepting, more fulfilling way to be.

Apr 012019

April 28 “The Hidden Life of Trees” with JoAnn Gaffron-Hargrove
Trees, trees, trees!  They are everywhere!  We admire their beauty and majesty.  They give us shelter, shade from the hot sun and help clean the air we breathe. But there is something mysterious about trees: Do they have feelings? Do they communicate? Do they have a life we know nothing about?  Let us explore the hidden life of trees.  Come early for the Stewardship Breakfast beforehand.  See details below.

April 7: “Sacred Instructions: Wisdom for Living Spirit-based Change as We Leap into the World We Need” with the Rev. Kitsy Winthrop. For me every day has become Earth Day as everyday has become Thanksgiving.  Think beavers, quantum physics and a magical ring.

April 14: “Healing and Hope: More on the New Research on Psychedelics” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy  We are in the midst of a Psychedelic Renaissance brought about by the loosening of government research restrictions in recent years.  Researchers are demonstrating that these medicines hold great promise addressing PTSD, depression, anxiety, end-of-life angst and many other conditions, by helping folks find meaning, hope and peace in themselves. Let’s explore this cutting edge development and the hope it holds for alleviating suffering.

April 21: “Easter Easement: Die before You Die” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy  The Spring season brings us through the mystery of dying, death and resurrection.  Around us the Earth, after winter dormancy, is beginning to awaken.  In the Christian tradition, at Easter we contemplate the mystery of Jesus’s dying, death and resurrection.  This year Earth Day happens to fall the day after Easter.  Let’s gather to celebrate the mystery of the Earth cycles and the Spirit’s cycles.  Fear of death characterizes our contemporary world. Yet facing death is the doorway to rebirth, joy and ease!  We hope You’ll join us.

Feb 272019

March 31 “The First Step Towards Peace – Being Peaceful Within.” With Richard Czaplinski. 

Using his personal experience as a veteran, Richard is seeking a way out of suffering and toward a more harmonious world.  He’ll share what he has gleaned from his decades of internal work as a mediator.  And he’ll share ways that Veterans for Peace is motivating people and the planet toward a more peaceful world.  You’re invited to stay for a small group discussion and conversation with Richard from 11:30 till 12:30.

March 3 “Celebrating Shivaratri” w/Angie Follensbee-Hall and Rev. Mellen Kennedy.

March 4th is the feast of Shiva, Lord of the Dance in the Hindu religion.  We’ll celebrate with traditional Hindu music, called kirtan.  Our musicians,  Angie Follensbee-Hall and Josh Hall are from Jai Studio in Brownsville.  They’ll share their story of one year celebrating Shivaratri in India on an Island dedicated to Shiva.  Come join us for uplifting, sacred music and chant from India.  All welcome.

This is a Share the Plate Sunday.  We’ll be collecting donations (cash or gift cards) for people who are homeless or in other desperate situations.  See below for details.

Unfortunately we have had to cancel this service again!  March 10.  “Healing and Hope: More on the New Research on Psychedelics” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy 

We are in the midst of a Psychedelic Renaissance brought about by the loosening of government research restrictions in recent years.  Researchers are demonstrating that these medicines hold great promise addressing PTSD, depression, anxiety, end-of-life angst and many other conditions, by helping folks find meaning, hope and peace in themselves. Let’s explore this cutting edge development and the hope it holds for alleviating suffering. Reminder: Daylight Savings Time begins; remember to set your clocks ahead on Saturday night so you won’t be late!

March 17: “The Mystery of Sleep” with JoAnn Gaffron-Hargrove

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Sleep is the state in which we renew our energy and heal our bodies from the stress of the day.  There is much research on sleep, yet so much we have yet to understand. What happens to our brain during sleep: where do dreams come from and do they serve a purpose? Since we are partially absent in this state, we do we go?  In this service we will delve into the mystery of sleep.

March 24 “How Did We Do with the Meditation Challenge”  with Sharon Mueller and Tina Feindel.

March 24th marks the start of Springfield Wellness Week and our service is on this theme.  From early February till about the Equinox a bunch of us from the congregation have taken on the challenge to meditate every day with the hope of experiencing the wellness benefits that a regular practice can provide.  We’ll share with You what we did, what we learned and particularly the insight we got from our six weeks experiment.