In Between Sundays

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,
Robin

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,
Paige

* 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!

February 11, 2017

From the 8/28/16 Question Box service: ‘Is church all about God?’

“… Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be
Where everybody knows your name
You want to go where people know
People are all the same
You want to go
Where everybody knows your name…”
- Portnoy/Hart Angelo

I have a very good friend.
In truth, he is the only high school friend who still remains in my orbit – and the longest tenured (21 years) of the handful of souls in the VIP section of my inner circle.
‘Non-Denominational Christian’, if you made him check a box – but this is more a reflection of his roots (not his reality). Most Sundays, he’d rather be anywhere but church – much preferring a glass of single barrel bourbon to the stained glass windows of a parish. My comrade spends little time (if any) pondering the big questions of life. And he doesn’t delve much into soul matters – though he is all heart. Fluent in family, fiercely loyal in friendship. The absence or presence of ‘God’ doesn’t concern him nearly as much as that of his wife, or his 1 year old, or their next Disney vacation.
He’d tell you that he is not particularly religious or spiritual.
At first glance (or first listen), you might be inclined to agree.

However, I have spent a Sunday or two with him on the golf course. I’ve smiled a secret smile as he is extolling the essence of three woods, the nuances of nine irons, and the soul of wedged chip shots. Not simply his strategy - his philosophy. His artistry.
To be fair – I know almost nothing about golf. He makes meaning of it for me (most reverently), because it is where he finds meaning in life. He attends his club religiously. And he tends to the art, science, history, and mystery of golf as though it is the holiest of holies. It’s where he connects most deeply to himself.
It’s his avenue to the sacred space that is both inside and outside him.
The golf course is his sanctuary.
It’s his church.

The strangest kind of role reversal happens as soon as we set foot on the greens.
He becomes the preacher, and I become a visitor in his pulpit (the passenger side of his golf cart). It’s like every hole is a homily.
His members (everyone from the wait staff to the semi-pro folks) all know him by his first name. They feel, to me, like a family - welcoming him warmly back every time he finds his way to their fellowship. And after games, they all laugh their way to the lounge together – win, lose, or draw. They lament their shared sorrows like a choir (the bunkers, the bogeys). They rejoice in their common joys (the birdies, the eagles).
To be fair – he is not the greatest golfer in the world. None of them are, really. But their club membership isn’t so much about the results of their rounds. It’s community in covenant.
It’s church.

So…
Is church all about God?
For me - not necessarily.

Is golf all about the course designer? Or all about the one who may (or may not) have invented the game?
I suspect my good friend and his golf course congregants would beg to differ…

I also don’t necessarily think church is all about the church building. Or about your particular beliefs, scripture, and/or prophet. Or what name you call God (if you call anything ‘God’).
Many souls are able to dance far more deliberately with the Divine in a worship service – but not all. In my understanding, you don’t need to be in a church to have an avenue to whatever is sacred for you. This you could handle just fine on your own.
But there is something to be said for being known.

For the grace we often find in gathering. The shared experience of worship. Joining together in justice work. For other voices with which to harmonize. For having shoulders to cry on, and loved ones with which to laugh. Hands to hold. Hearts to hug. For making meaning together. For challenging and struggling with each growthfully. For coming together intentionally to explore big questions and contemplate soul matters. For community in covenant.

A goodly amount of we who choose UU pews do not necessarily believe in God - but we do believe deeply in church. In our clubhouse, we are all about each other (even though we may all read the ‘greens’ quite differently).
In my understanding, church is all about Go(o)d – the highest of expression of which many call God.
And while all souls are welcome to find the fairways of their spiritual lives by themselves…
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.
And they’re always glad you came.
You want to be where you can see our troubles are all the same.
You want to go where everybody knows your name.

Cheers,
Anthony

February 3, 2017

Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long, time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

We were talking recently about this line from The Velveteen Rabbit, but with a slightly different twist than usual. I am very fond of this book, especially this particular passage that reminds us that our love – and being loved – matters in our being real and whole in this life.

But in this conversation we were talking about how we bring things (not people) to life by giving them our attention. What are we doing to ourselves if we focus only on the negativity in the news, the hatefulness coming from those who would demonize and deport our friends and family members, the ways we are justifiably afraid for our future? What happens when we neglect to remember the good – to look for the helpers, to make love with our partners and play with our children, to tend to the beauty that our world needs?

I’m too much of a realist, and a justice-seeker, to believe that we can just think positive thoughts and make the world better. But I do believe that we can – and for our own mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, we must – affect our world by giving our attention not only to negativity.

And so, I’m trying to be more intentional about looking at the news and reading an escapist novel. Feeling disheartened by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric on social media and working with PATH leaders to move the Sanctuary County effort forward. Having serious conversations at our dinner table about what’s happening in the world and laughing hysterically about the silly noises our bodies make. Explaining to the 10-year-old the origin of the pink hats (“Why are they square?”) and enrolling her in an age-appropriate human sexuality program in our congregation.

How are you holding it all?

Love,
Paige

January 27, 2017

Stuff my Office - with food donations

I have to admit, I’ve had fun coming up with some great phrases and word plays for “stuffing my office”, but I’ll save those for another time!

You don’t have to be around me for more than a few minutes to know that my social justice passion is to eliminate childhood hunger. Last IMG 0909January, I wondered what we, as a community, could do to help the elementary school closest to us. Our neighbor, the Cradlerock Elementary School (CES) is just across the field from us. I wondered how we could live our values and help our neighbors out?

We met with some of their staff and volunteers to hear if there was a specific need and we learned of their participation in the national “Blessings in a Backpack” program. So many kids rely on the free and reduced lunch programs provided in their schools, but when the weekends come, they simply don’t have enough food to eat in their homes. That’s where the “Blessing in a Backpack (BiB)” program comes in.

CES, like many schools in this country, uses the BiB program to send kids in need home with some staples to eat over the weekend. The staff and volunteers raise money, clip coupons, shop, fill the backpacks or bags with food and then either the parents or the children take the food home.

Our participation in the CES program last year was very successful. From January-June, once a month, our team shopped and then packed bags of food. This school year we have added a second school, Talbott Springs Elementary School. We don’t actually make a “full buy” for Talbott Springs like we do with CES, but we help them with some extra purchases of food.

How many meals have we provided in twelve months? About 2,400 meals so far.

Why is providing food from the list important? It provides consistency for both the school volunteers and the families so they know what food will be provided each week.

How do we pay for it? We rely on the Hands On donations of food and Scrip Giant gift cards, we have a generous UUCC member who made a monetary donation and we use Social Action Council funds to support this active program.

How much does it cost to feed a child for the weekend? Just $8. The child gets a weekend supply of nutritious meals based on the list below for about eight dollars and that also includes fresh fruit.

Here is my impassioned plea part. We need your donations! We need you to fill every square inch of my office space with food.

Because this matters. One meal and one kid at a time, we make a difference. Let’s stuff my office!

In faith,
Kären

 box of macaroni & cheese  box of tuna helper  ramen noodles
 can of tuna  envelope of tuna  can of chicken
 bag of rice  can of vegetables  can of beans
 jar of peanut butter  jar of jelly  box of cereal
 nutri-grain bars  crackers & cheese  box of raisins
 apples (or any fruit)  ziploc bags  reusable shopping bags

Worship With Us

March 5 at 9:00am and 11:00am
Rev. Kären Rasmussen 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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