In Between Sundays

March 15, 2017

If I had to identify a precise moment when I “heard” the call to professional Ministry, it would be Sunday, October 15, the year I was 24... in worship at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Georgia. I began looking at divinity school applications the following week, and was enrolled a year later.

But the seeds of that call were planted much earlier – more than 10 years earlier, when I was a pre-teen in the Wilmington Island United Methodist Church in Savannah, Georgia – when church leaders first began inviting me into the ministry of the church.

When I was still in elementary school, Mrs. Herrington invited me to be an acolyte – it was such an honor to don the white robe and carry the flame into the sanctuary at the beginning of worship, and to extinguish the altar candles at the end. As an acolyte, I helped serve communion occasionally, too. Around that same time, I began singing in the Junior Choristers (and later the Youth Choir), through which Mrs. Roth, the music director, cultivated a love of liturgical music. We understood ourselves to be an integral part of the church’s worship experience. Once I entered middle school, I joined the youth group (there were two – Junior High and Senior High), which soon became the center of my adolescent world. In high school, Rev. McAfee invited me to serve as youth representative on the church council, and occasionally I did the scripture reading in worship, and I was asked to be an assistant teacher in the preschool Sunday School class.

Throughout it all, it was clear that I was a member of that community – one whose presence mattered, not merely as a child who needed to learn the ways of the church, but as a contributing and valuable member who had gifts to offer.

Every year as we approach the Sundays when our YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists) or Quest (Coming of Age) groups are going to lead worship at UUCC, I think with great fondness and gratitude of those early days of my life, as the seeds of ministry were being planted and nurtured in me.

I hope to see all of you in worship this Sunday, March 19, for our YRUU services, and again on Sunday, May 21, for the Quest credo services – not because these youth are our future, but because they are our present; not (only) because they need us, but because we need them. They have much to offer, and we are wise to listen and to hear.

See you there,

March 8, 2017

Many of us wore red at today’s gathering of DC/MD/VA-area UU religious professionals – an expression of solidarity and visibility for International Women’s Day: “International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” *

I am a woman, and yet I’ve been insulated from a lot of the oppression that many other women around the world have experienced, and still do. The white feminist movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s made the way much easier for me as a high school student in the ‘80s and a young adult in the ‘90s. My parents’ fiscal conservatism, whiteness, work ethic, and frugality allowed me to get a formal education. I’m cisgender, married to a cisgender man, able-bodied, white, an American citizen, and fully employed by a healthy organization that pays fairly.

Mine is not an oppressed existence.

And yet, I know that my colleagues who are men and are serving in similar positions are, on average, paid more than I am. And I am likely more at risk outside alone than my spouse is. And despite the fact that ours is a two-full-time-careers family, I am the default parent who monitors and manages most of the routine household and child-related needs. And in meetings with elected officials, I am called by my first name while the men are referred to by title.

Mine is not an oppressed existence, but it’s not an entirely equitable one, either.

And now, as the parent of female children, I’m also much more aware of how they perceive the world – and are perceived by, and treated in, it. There are already signs of self-consciousness about how they look. And I notice that grownups often comment on how beautiful they are before anything else. (They’re also strong and funny and clever!) I want desperately for them not to be constrained by ridiculous and misguided expectations about what they’re supposed to do and be because they’re girls.

Ours is not a post-feminist world any more than it’s a post-racial world. There is much progress still to be made for women and all gender-oppressed people. So, may each of us, as the International Women’s Day website suggests, Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

In love and community,

* If, like me, you don’t know much about the history of International Women’s Day, which has been observed since the early 1900s, I encourage you to read the About page on the IWD website.)

February 28, 2017

Barb and I went on a cruise a couple of weeks ago. We like to vacation with Olivia, which is a lesbian travel company. Olivia started out 45 years ago as a “women’s music” company. We couldn’t really say a “lesbian music” company back then, it’s remarkable how time has changed at least some things.

The cruise was entitled “Caribbean Festival at Sea” and when we booked it last May, it was meant to be a celebration of the election of Hillary Clinton as our president. The President and founder of Olivia, Judy Dlugacz, has been a human rights activist for decades and was also a major fundraiser for Hillary during this last election.

Of course, for many of us, the election didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. But this cruise had already been packed with comedians, music and all kinds of entertainment to celebrate our nation’s first woman president. After last November, I wondered, “What will happen on this cruise now?”

I didn’t want to be on a cruise where everyone is angry and upset! Honestly I went feeling tired and needing a break from social media. I needed some fun, laughter and to not be scrolling through my phone on Facebook every few minutes to see what was happening next.

How wonderfully surprised and inspired I was after even just a few hours on the ship. I found I got the break I needed and I so enjoyed the comedians and terrific music.

And I was inspired by SHEroe’s. Not Heroes, Sheroes.

My longtime idol, Billie Jean King was on the ship as a guest speaker. As a teenager I followed her matches, read every article in Tennis magazine about her and read her book. Do you remember her match with Bobby Riggs in 1973? I still can see myself sitting in front of the TV chanting “1 set, 2 sets, 3 sets to none-hang up your racquet Riggs you’re all done!” She won $100,000 in that match, an unheard of sum for a woman then and demonstrated her grit and skills as an athlete.

Not only is Billie Jean a 39-time Grand Slam event winner, she has spent her life working for human rights and equality for women. President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is the first woman athlete to be honored this way.

Her work, her fire and persistence inspired me as a teen. Even now, as she spoke to a packed house on the ship, she inspires me. “Don’t sit there and bemoan what happened,” she would say. “Get out there and do something.” “Run for local office, campaign for those running locally, in your state and nationally” was her message, loud and clear.

I hear ya Billie Jean and you are still my Shero. Who are your Sheroes? Tell me about them, I’d love to hear from you.

In faith,

February 21, 2017

Talking about Sex at Church?

I’ve had sex on the brain for the last month….

No, I’m not about to share Too Much Information (TMI). It’s because we started the Elementary levels of Our Whole Lives (OWL) last month, I’ve been writing about my experiences as a sexuality educator for my portfolio for credentialing, and we’re about to start two Adult levels of OWL, including a brand new field test of OWL for Older Adults!

You may be wondering, why do we talk about Sex at Church, anyway?

For many of us, that would have never happened in the faith tradition of our childhood. For many of us, we might not have had that conversation at home, either. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a human sexuality class in college. We had to have a personal interview with the professor before we could register, but that course changed my life. It helped me understand myself, my friends, and opened my eyes to a much wider world than I would have ever learned about through my parents or through my childhood faith.

The first time I went to a UUA-sponsored human sexuality training, I was in awe. This was powerful work, and our children didn’t have to wait until college to learn about healthy sexuality. Our adults could have fun and gain information and learn about ideas that are changing our world.

Teaching OWL for Adults at a summer camp brought it home for me. We had an 80-year-old person ready to date for the first time in over 60 years. She had questions about dating and consent and safety, and she was coached in all those ideas by a 20-something-year-old in class who was also newly single and also ready to start dating again. The conversations were amazing!

Rev. William Sinkford, former president of the UUA, had this to say about teaching human sexuality in church: “This truly is a religious calling. We all come into this world as expressions of the great creative force that shapes the universe, the force that many call God. Theologically, UUs see sexuality as one of God’s greatest gifts. We express our sexuality best when we’re ethically and morally grounded, so responsible sexuality education is about much more than just biology and rules: It is about values, including self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity, and communication.”

Adult OWL teaches so much more than what we do beneath the covers. Human sexuality is who we are as body-selves who experience the emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual need for intimate communion, human and divine. During Adult OWL, we talk about Mind and Body and Pleasure, Gender and Orientation, Communication, Relationships, Love and Commitment, Sexuality and Family, Boundaries, Fantasies, and more. This is your chance to have deep conversations with other adults, learn about ideas you would like to know more about, and have FUN!

If you are an adult ages 19-119, interested in a conversation with other adults across those ages, please join us Wednesday evening, February 22nd, 7:00-9:00 pm in Room 150 for the Orientation. Workshops will be held on five Saturdays, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, from March 4 to April 1.

Older Adults OWL will run Thursdays, 1:00-3:00 pm, from April 20 through June 18. This class is recommended for ages 50+ and will specifically address issues and ideas for older adults, including Attitudes about Aging, Sex and Disabilities, the Sexual Body, Diversity, Safer Sex, and more.

To register for either class click here. Or please email Robin Slaw, DRE for more information.

In faith,

February 15, 2017

I am sitting in my office, weeping. Just arrived in my inbox is a report about a refugee family that has just been settled in our area, complete with photos and stories describing their arrival. A number of UUCC members have contributed to helping make a home for this family, and I am touched by the generous love that has been expressed in the effort.

Earlier today I shared time with UUCC President Rae Millman, who has been traveling, and I found myself surprisingly invigorated as we reminisced about all she has missed at UUCC in the past month – dozens (hundreds?!) of you at the Women’s March on January 21; a memorial service for founding member Dave Haykin; an inspiring PATH action in favor of Howard becoming a sanctuary county ; a full house at OBIC for the Columbia premier of the documentary film Walking While Black; consistently full attendance at worship on recent Sundays; and so on.

Next up: The inaugural Conversations for Change event – Thursday evening, March 2, 2017 – with Jamelle Bouie of Slate Magazine and CBS News, and including special music by Navasha Daya and friends. Reserve your (free) tickets now, if you haven’t already!

When we chose several years ago to invest in an expansion of UUCC’s physical space*, we said that we saw our building as a tool for having a more positive and powerful impact in the world. It is exciting now to be living into that vision.

In loving community,

* When you’re next at OBIC, be sure to notice the colors in the stairwell windows and the curtain wall – they’re even brighter and more beautiful than before!

Worship With Us

March 26 at 9:00am and 11:00am
Intern Minister Anthony Jenkins will preach
More info

General Information:

  • Academic Year: Two identical services at 9am and 11am.  
  • Summer (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend): One service at 10am.
Location: Owen Brown Interfaith Center (Directions), Sanctuary C, 2nd floor, East end of the building.  Read more about worship.

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