Category Archives: What’s New

RE-Flection:  Called to Volunteer

We are coming to the close of the Religious Education program year.  We have spent a year reflecting on the gifts of Six Sources of religious inspiration that Unitarian Universalists have identified. These six are not all-inclusive of course, but they give a window into the breadth of Unitarian Universalist faith.  The six are areas that speak to many of us – that call us.

A call is an interesting thing.  Ministers and other religious professionals often speak of their ministry as a calling.  Activists urge others to change the world with a call to action.  Children are told to find their calling – what are you drawn to do, to be? Where are your talents?  The expression has been used in both theistic religious ways – to express being called by God to do something, for instance.  It has secular usage to simply describe a powerful draw to action. We might talk about a need to act or being called by love and joy and hope.  I recently found myself in a conversation about the difference between a job and a calling.  Some jobs we do out of duty or necessity, but the jobs we find most meaningful are the once that call us – that we feel passionately driven to go beyond mere job duties.  A person who is called to heal works late into the night beyond their official hours.  A person who is called to create art might spend days absorbed in their work.  A minister or counselor might take calls late into the night, changing a life or two.

I think calling also applies to our church community – we are called to be part of this congregation, to help each other grow, to share our gifts with each other, young and old.  Volunteers have one of the most amazing callings.  Volunteering can be rewarding when you see the results achieved, but just as often, the rewards are unseen.  We do not know the difference we made in a moment spent talking with a child, sharing a story, or feasting together. Thank you to all of you who made religious education classes your calling this year.  Your dedication and commitment are what made this program a success.

Thank you!
Yours in the Spirit of UU,
Heather Cleland-Host

Children’s Circle – May

CHILDREN’S CIRCLE – LESSONS
MAY THEME – LIFE
Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

May 6  Aisha’s Moonlit Walk – This is a series of stories about a girl exploring the pagan seasonal holidays through the course of the year.  We will be reading from the story about spring.  https://www.amazon.com/Aishas-Moonlit-Walk-Stories-Celebrations/dp/1558964851

May 13 A Tree in the Ancient Forest – This story uses a Spirit Play CD story about the ecosystem around an ancient tree. https://dawnpub.com/our-books/tree-in-the-ancient-forest/

Please note that there have been changes to the story schedule due to the cancellation on April 15.

Guest presenters in Children’s Circle include Tony Tienda (UV Artwork – 5th Source), Jon Cleland-Host (Fun with Science – 5th Source), Andrew Schulz (Earth-themed music – 6th Source —  cancelled due to ice storm, but kids still had fun in service!), Judith Hill (woodcarving – 6th Source), and Jessie Parham (gardening – 6th Source).  Thank you!

Elementary Earth Day Overnight – CANCELLED

Friday, April 20- Saturday, April 21 

We are having an Elementary Overnight in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland on April 20 for children in 2nd grade or older!   Youth will be assisting in making this extra fun!

SIGN UP HERE!

Note: April 21 is the Earth Day festivities at Midland Center for the Arts and the Chippewa Nature Center.  So we will be finishing early enough for everyone to go and enjoy the fun!

A Chosen Faith Discussion Group

An exploration of sources from which Unitarian Universalism draws, based on A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism by John Buehrens and Forrest Church.  Suitable for longtime members as well as those who may be new to Unitarian Universalism, led by Rev. Connie Grant.  Our final discussion, on “Spiritual Teachings of Earth-Centered Traditions,” will be held on Tuesday, April 17 at 7pm.

Ministerial Search Update April 2018

This past weekend, the search committee formally began work during a retreat at the summer home of Andrew and Sarah Schulz.  The meeting and discussions were led by the Reverend Misty-Dawn Shelly, a settled minister in Fort Wayne, IN, who is serving as our Regional Transitions Coach from our UUA Mid-America Region.

The process is a long one, ending (hopefully) with a selected minister for our Fellowship coming to join us for a “candidating week” that will end in our “call” to the candidate, most likely in May of next year.

Between now and then, our committee will be working with Reverend Misty-Dawn, with our interim minister Reverend Connie, and with Fellowship members in an effort to determine what that “best candidate” might be based on information we will be asking of our congregation.

In addition to determining what we want and need in a minister, we will put forth information on our website about our Fellowship, our congregation and greater community for prospective ministers to review to help them make an evaluation about whether we would be a good fit for them.

We want everyone to understand how the search process works, and will be posting updates in the Candle Flame about our progress.  Additionally, if you have a question about the process, please feel free to ask me or any other committee member (Maxine Guettler, Mary Johnson, Sasha King, Chris Nakamura, and Tim Wagner) and we’ll be happy to talk with you.

Although the process is transparent, the actual identification of any prospective candidates, their history, background, or planned visits is strictly confidentialand we cannot and will not be sharing this information.

We appreciate the support and confidence you have placed in us for this important task, and are excited to begin the process.

In Fellowship,

Tom Bailey
Search Committee Chair

Collection for Midland Emergency Food Pantry Network

On an ongoing basis, we collect canned goods and other non-perishable items for the Midland Emergency Food Pantry Network (EFPN).  The EFPN helps many people in Midland County.  Here are some of the ways they have helped recently:
  • A family living in a hotel had not eaten in 1.5 days. They were desperate for some food.  They were helped that day.
  • A young parent with 4 children is undergoing treatment out of town for cancer.  Doctors are hopeful the treatment will work.  EFPN provided them food for the trip as they had depleted all their resources.
  • A recipient at one of the pantries was overwhelmed with emotion because of the amount of food they received.
  • A father needed Ensure to help gain his weight back after having chemo treatments.
  • A mother with a sick child used her food stamps to buy food that her sick child would eat.  She did not have enough money to buy more food for the rest of the family.
During the month of March, we collected small items for Shelterhouse.   Shelterhouse provides safe houses, shelter, advocates, counseling and more (all free of charge) to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Midland and Gladwin counties.

Drop off your donations in the bin at our new UUFoM Donation Center located across from the office door.

April’s Focus – “Protecting Our Environment”

Hospitality Groups – Update

You’ve seen the faces, shaken the hands, and eaten the snacks. Our 2018 debut of Hospitality Groups is a success!  Sure, there’s a learning curve, but the intention behind this community-wide endeavor is now a reality. We are coming together with a group of specified members to serve our beloved UUFOM family – often in ways we’ve never served before. And with this cooperation, we are building friendships and reinforcing bonds in this spiritual home we share. In other words, we are actively participating in the strategic goals we made for ourselves. Updated Hospitality Group assignments, effective April 1, are posted on the Connection and Exploration bulletin board near the office. Don’t see your name and would like to be in a Hospitality Group? Contact Shannon Sonoras at ssonoras@gmail.com or 989-708-5348. NOTE: The Oak Hospitality Group begins on Sunday, April 1.

~ UUFOM Engagement Team

From the Director of Religious Education – April

Connected: We are them.  They are us.  – A RE-flection
We think we know this one. As we ponder the sixth source, we may find ourselves recalling our seventh principle to affirm and promote “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”  The connection is obvious and natural.

When talking about these two, we tend, however, to focus on the interdependence within the “natural world” – plants, animals, soil, the air, sun, moon, oceans, and breezes.  We speak of these interconnections and the importance of them as something external to us.  We forget that we are part of nature.  We are not them.  They are not us.

Or maybe we tell ourselves that we are one with all… until we are not.

It might be as simple as objecting to the “we” in the paragraphs above. *WE* do not do that.  *YOU* maybe.  NOT me. Not him. Not all of US, anyway.  Or maybe it is how we identify ourselves. We are not black. We are not white. We are not immigrant.  We are not native. We are not female, male, or third gender.  We are not gay or straight or bi or asexual.  We are not Pagan or Muslim or Christian or Atheist. We are not them.  They are not us.

This is part of a very human tendency to focus on our own circle, our own small community. Part of this temptation is that if we see others as “us” then their suffering hurts. We see them as our responsibility, our problem. That hurts.  We cannot ignore the pain.  We do not want to hurt or be hurt.  So, we tell ourselves a truth that is also not truth. We are NOT them.  They are NOT us.

Buddhism would remind us that suffering is an inescapable part of life, or rather to escape suffering we must first SEE it.  The Buddha could not become Enlightened without first seeing suffering, acknowledging it.  We have to see them.  Likewise, in many Earth-based traditions, it is recognized that death is also part of life, and death is to be no more feared than life.  Life and death are not just parts of the circle of life in nature, they are part of being human. The Ancestors or Ancient Gods are called upon, symbolically or literally, because there is power in that.  We are them. They are us.

The issues that affect others are not just their issues.  They are ours.  There is pain in this, but there is also hope.  We are all part of each other, and what affects one, affects all.  The Circle of Life is not just our connection to the cycle of predator, prey, herbivore and scavenger, nor even just to distant Ancestors. It is our connection to each other. Just as the web connects us to the dying child, it connects the dying child to us. The web connects us to the bully, and the web connects the bully to us. We can learn from them, and, perhaps, they can learn from us. We are them.  They are us.

Instead of attempting to sever the threads of the web, let us value those threads and make the web tremble with our love for each other and all life. We are the strength of each other.  Connectivity makes us stronger and more able to help one another.  We ARE them.  They ARE us.

This next month we are exploring life.  We are learning about spiders and webs and dreamcatchers.  We are learning about our Ancestors and celebrating Spring and Rebirth. We are also learning about cycles of life that connect us to all humanity and to each other in this community.  For a child, these are small wondrous things, but ones that remind us the strength in community, and more – that community extends beyond this single congregation.

Heather Cleland-Host

Key Access To UUFoM

Re-keying has been delayed, and will be scheduled as soon as the locksmith obtains necessary key blanks.  

A list of keyholders can be found under the password-protected section of the UUFOM website here.  If you feel you need a key but are not on the list, you may submit a key request form and fill out and return the completed form to the rack outside the Fellowship Office. If you have any questions, please contact office@uufom.org.

Our Sexton, Sandy Hay, will announce hours when keys can be picked up.