The Sunday Religious Education Program is Almost Ready to Go!

As you learned in yesterday’s email from the RE Council, things are moving right along in RE-Land.  The classes are set (yes, we’re offering Our Whole Lives for 7th and 8th graders and Coming of Age for 9th graders due to popular demand) and nearly all the teachers are recruited.  Good work, everyone!

We have just a few more spots to fill before September and one of them could be yours!  We are actually trying to “over-recruit” classes so that everyone has a bit fewer Sundays to be on duty.  So, pick one!  Then contact Kim Collins to sign up.

  • Let’s say you really don’t want to teach but you wouldn’t mind being “the second adult in the room” about once a month.  We have 4 slots for you at 9:15 and 4 slots for you 11:15ers, too.
  • Or, you like to sing but can’t make our weekly choir rehearsals.  How about a once-a-month gig leading easy hymn-singing for a small kids+adults class at 9:15?  You’d be great at it!  (C’mon, this place is filled with musicians!)
  • How about hands-on stuff, like building or painting or sculpting or creating just about anything?  We have 2 slots for the Art/Maker Space Activity Group after the Spirit Play story at 11:15.
  • Do you just want to come in on your own time to re-organize those cool art kits the kids get on Sunday mornings?  We need 4 of you (unless someone wants to do this more than once a month) because we clean them up every week.
  • This one is mostly just for parents.  We need  greeters both downstairs and upstairs before the services.  There are 4 slots waiting for you but it’s best if you know the lay of the land in RE in order to help newcomers.
  • Food! We all love it, but SOMEONE has to help get it, set up the event and clean up afterward.  We usually have helpers on the “day of” but still need some organizers.  We could use 4 more hospitality folks to share the work.

And last, but perhaps most importantly, we need 2 or more YRUU (senior high youth group) advisors. We have a core group of youth from last year’s Coming of Age class who are actually excited about continuing their UUCA experience and we really don’t want to disappoint them.  This group’s activities follow a 4-Sunday cycle.  Last year they rotated among attending worship, cooking, participating in a small group experience and working with the Spirit Play kids on a social justice project.  This year’s leaders will be involved in setting the rotation for this year.  YRUU will be leading a worship service on Earth Day which will require planning, and we are also encouraging this group to plan and organize a “mission trip” of some sort for themselves.  If you are interested in exploring this special volunteer work, contact Kim Collins for information or an application.  Advisors will need to get some training on working with youth, which will be accomplished on site this year.

As you know, our RE program is growing and kids actually love it. Newcomers are particularly impressed.  This is one of the ways that UUCA changes lives.  Be a part of it.

Linda Topp, Director of Administration



Change is the Only Constant

Change is the only constant.
A time of change is a time of opportunity.

Blah, blah, blah.

So much talk these days. In our congregation, locally, nationally, globally.

I sense there is some change fatigue that people are feeling here and everywhere.  It is true that change can be hard and tiring. It can cause us to react rather than live purposefully.  It can stretch and stress our patience and our caring. Many of us don’t want to feel this way but we do. We go through various stages in various orders: motivation, anger, discouragement, hope.  Sometimes we just put our heads down and try to get through it. Sometimes we hope things will work themselves out on their own or someone else will figure them out.

All of this behavior is normal and expected and can be helpful, even necessary, parts of the process of change.  If you have thoughts or feelings about change in our congregation or in the greater world, I encourage you to share them. Sometimes we shy away from sharing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings because we worry they could be a burden to others or even ourselves, or we want to be “polite.”  However, taking the risk of putting our thoughts and feelings out there, while also importantly being receptive to others’ responses, helps us validate and educate each other.  Doing so can help us live connection, inspiration, compassion, and justice.

Let’s live our emotions, let’s explore our thoughts and feelings.  We can and will get through these and future changes.  Just because a time of change can feel unsettling does not mean it has to end in a place that is worse than where we started.

James Schall, Board of Trustees


RE and Me and Kim and Jen

Since the timeline doesn’t quite allow us to get an interim director of religious education on board before Joy’s departure, the oversight of that area of church life has been assigned to me as of today, June 15. Kim and Jen and the RE Council are more than terrific so I’m hoping that there won’t be “way too much” for me to do, but I will be involved in decision-making and guidance for sure. Joy will be around through June 30.

This is not an entirely new area for me as I’ve been a director of religious education in three different UU congregations. For 5 years I was the DRE and program director for a congregation in Cleveland, OH, starting at half time and ending as full time, serving a congregation of about 200.

I followed that with an interim DRE position in Shaker Heights, OH, serving a congregation of about 400. And then, in what even seems amazing to me, I served as a 2-year interim DRE in Arlington, VA, which was a congregation of about 1,000 and had an RE program of about 200 along with a very robust adult education program.

However, that was a while back, and I was no Joy Berry, so my point is that I’m pretty OK at this and we’ll figure it all out together, but my grand hope is that we’ll have considerable help from congregants to keep everything going smoothly until (and after!) we get our own interim DRE.

In the meantime, I want to give a major shout out to Kim Collins, Lifespan Religious Education Coordinator, and Jen Johnson, Lifespan Religious Education Assistant. Both of them are over-qualified for their positions (as are all staff persons at UUCA–we’re really good at hiring!) and are highly dedicated to the work of UUCA’s religious education program.

I’ve had a chance to review their job descriptions and I can tell you that the knowledge they have of our programming and the work that they have normally accomplished for us will go a very long way in getting us through the summer and on a great path for the rest of the year.

Here’s my request to you. Please be generous of your time and talent, patient as we work together to do our very best for our UUCA kids, and kind when we miss something. We all have the same goal: great RE for our kids and loving support for our families.

Dr. Linda Topp, Director of Administration

Creating Our Future Together

The future opens.
Many possibilities,
Choices to be made.

This past Sunday, the 4th, our congregation held its annual meeting. (Our next annual meeting will be held on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018—please put it on your calendar and plan to attend.) During that meeting we learned from John Bates, our Sabbatical Convener, a bit more about the evolving plans for our religious education program now that our Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Joy Berry, has taken a position with the Fahs Collaborative Center for Innovative Learning at the Meadville Lombard Theological School. She will continue to be with us until the middle of July.
We also learned about the state of our congregation from our president, Kay Aler-Maida, and vice president, Kate Hartnett. (Rev. Mark Ward, our Lead Minister who is on sabbatical, usually makes this presentation.) The state of our congregation is good, in fact very good. We are an active congregation with an expanding program. You can learn much about it in our 2016-2017 Annual Report.
We do, however, have choices to make as our congregational reach seems to exceed our grasp. That said, are we reaching for what speaks most deeply to us? That is where the importance of a regular, systematic exploration of our congregational values, mission, and ends comes into relief. During 2016-17 we explored our congregational values and identified connection, inspiration, compassion, and justice as the values that spoke most deeply to us. During fall 2017 we will explore our congregational mission and ends. By becoming clearer about what we value, what our mission is, and what our ends are, we will be better able to create our future, together.
As a result of our annual meeting we have a new board of trustees. Its members are: Nora Carpenter, Michele Gregory, Kate Harnett (president), Judy Hunter, Bruce Larson (vice president), Diane Martin, James Schall, Dale Wachowiak (clerk), and Mariah Wright. These are the people who, along with consultant Laura Park for Unity Consulting of Unity Church-Unitarian of St. Paul, Minnesota, will be guiding our discernment of mission and ends. Many opportunities will be provided for small-group meetings during late September and early October for congregants to participate. Please follow the UUCA Weekly eNews and postings in Sandburg Hall for information on the process and engage fully.
Truly the future—our future—is open and there are many possibilities. During this congregational year, let us work with the creative tension between our aspirations and our abilities to create our future, together. I can’t wait to see what we will do!

Bruce Larson, Board of Trustees


When to Call the Minister

As the church year and the school year wind down, as things get somewhat less busy (I know, it’s wishful thinking!), it seemed like a good time to post my annual reminder of When to Call the Minister — or when to contact a Pastoral Visitor. There is a Pastoral Visitor on call every week, and that information is posted in the order of service and our This Loving Community (TLC) email blast. Also, stop by the Congregational Care table on Sundays and you’ll find cards to sign for congregants who may be experiencing a crisis or hospitalization.

  • When you don’t know your minister, but would like to…
  • When you are facing a problem with your job, children, parents or anything or anyone else where a sympathetic conversation might be helpful…
  • When you’ve lost your job…
  • When you’re considering a new career…
  • When you’re having trouble in your relationship or marriage…
  • When someone you know is interested in the church…
  • When you’d like to invite a friend to church but you’re not sure how to go about it…
  • When there is illness or hospitalization. Remember that hospitals can no longer legally notify a church when you are in the hospital. We won’t be able to visit and offer support if you don’t let us know you’ve been hospitalized…
  • When someone close to you has died, is critically ill, is struggling or is facing an operation…
  • When there is a wedding planned…
  • When you are considering a divorce…
  • When you must make an important decision…
  • When you are pregnant and glad you are or wish you weren’t. When you would like to have children but can’t.
  • When you feel ready to join UUCA…
  • When you are unhappy about UUCA…
  • When you are delighted with UUCA…
  • When you need someone to talk with in confidence…
  • When you are facing a religious struggle…
  • When you have religious questions…
  • When you want to have your child dedicated…
  • When you are feeling joyful and want to share your joy…

Remember, we are a congregation that cares for one another, and these are some of the ways we do that.

See you on Sunday!

Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Associate Minister





Thoughts On Inspiration

The Board of Trustees recently wrapped up our Values Project. With the help of the congregation, we identified UUCA’s core values. Connection, Inspiration, Compassion, and Justice express who we are and guide what we do. Wow! We are such an awesome community! I love the fact that we value INSPIRATION!
What does it mean to be inspired? Where do we get inspiration, and how can it guide what we do? The sermon and worship service each week is one source of inspiration for a congregation. Here at UUCA we are blessed with gifted ministers and talented members who get us thinking and engaged. The music and readings can motivate us with the beauty and wisdom imparted. Sitting together, in community, can be inspiring. Knowing that there are like-minded people that we can lean on and learn from is energizing!
By volunteering in our congregation, we can gain inspiration from and encourage others. Have you ever worked with youth in RE or served on a committee at UUCA? If so, you know how these things can strengthen your spirituality beyond belief. If not, I certainly hope you will feel INSPIRED to do so. You don’t have to be “good” at these things to do them. Your community needs you, expert or not! And you will be pleasantly surprised by how much more you receive than give.
Most of us are also inspired by the natural world. The sense of awe and wonder that a sunset gives can be moving beyond words. The circle of life, with its beauty and pain, can give rise to a greater understanding of our world, and ourselves. And while we are inspired BY Mother Nature, we are also moved to care for our environment, to protect this amazing planet for our future generations. In this way, our value of inspiration could very well save the world!
Figure out what inspires you and how you can be an inspiration to others. Share it. Teach it. We have decided that this community values and needs the creativity, insight, and vision of each of us in order to strengthen us as a whole. Let’s really live this value and give the gift of inspiration to each other and the larger community.

Mariah Wright, Board of Trustees

Thank You For “What’s Happening”

In my role of Sabbatical Coordinator, one of the things I do is to put together a report for the Board of Trustees on all the work that staff has been doing with the Congregation over the past month. Although I had received these reports from Mark when I was on the Board in the past, I now realize that he has always had to really distill what is happening since there’s so much great work going on in our Congregation. As I put together the “What’s Happening” report over the past week, I was struck that sometimes as we are so busy that we need to pause, smile at how lucky we are and say Thank You to everyone who helps out in the work of the Congregation. You folks are amazing.

So go ahead and indulge and reward yourself. Go outside, sit in the grass and take in the beauty of the Asheville spring. Mara and I are particularly thankful to the Pastoral Visitors who, a year ago, came and sat with her as she was dealing with a brain tumor in Mission Hospital. I’m sure each of you has a story of thankfulness for acts of kindness or compassion, inspiration or insight, someone going out of their way to help. Take just a moment out and feel good if you’ve been on either the giving or receiving end. Feel better? Good, you deserve it!

John Bates-Sabbatical Convenor