Wise Foolishness (and Foolish Wisdom)

The scripture says, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.” Easter Sunday fell on April Fools Day this year which inspired the following cartoon (for good or ill.) I offer it (partially against my own better judgment) in the spirit of wise foolishness.

4.4 april fools

Of course, there are some who will prefer to see the cartoon as simply foolish rather than wise. I can respect that position and even apologize for any offense caused, however, unintentional. We live in an age when a cartoon about religion can lead to violence. I offer it in the spirit of peace. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

On Sunday in church, we invited folks to write down some personal words of wisdom on a paper egg and then we put all our eggs in one basket. Here is some of the wisdom people shared with apologies for the fact that it is impossible to include everything everyone wrote. Consider this a wisdom sampler. Be prepared for a few egg puns (more wise foolishness.)

“Don’t let others extinguish your flame”

“Love your enemies especially at family reunions”

“Be kind to animals”

“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”

“Persevere.”

“One need not be eloquent to be intelligent.”

“Always love one another and give of yourself.”

“Love yourself.”

“Don’t take yourself too seriously, laugh!”

“And the meek shall inherit the earth. Meek translation: A warrior who’s sword is sheathed.”

“To love another person is to see the face of God (Les Miserable)”

“Be excellent to each other (Bill + Ted)”

“Be bold, take one more step than you want to.”

“Always try to give the benefit of the doubt.”

“Forgive yourself.”

“Harmony and dialogue, evolve, adapt.”

“In all things, choose love.”

“Though everything changes, nothing is truly lost.”

“Breathe!”

“Love the earth”

“Kids have power.”

“Be eggceptional.”

“Bloom where you are planted.”

“Be still”

“Sleep is good.”

“Treasure every moment.”

“Live with joy in your heart.”

“Be patient.”

“Be eggstra nice to someone.”

“Do the right thing.”

“Dog spelled backwards is God.”

“We are all one, be kind.”

“Love above all else.”

“Every person deserves respect-find a way to give respect to each person you meet.”

“Being gentle is a strength.”

“Truly love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Together we can change the world with love.”

“If you love more you see the world more clearly.”

“The window of eternity is never closed when the eye of the mind is opened by nature’s miracle.”

“Let’s be intentional in our actions for love, equality, eliminating racism and poverty.”

“Listening.”

“Trust.”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

“Don’t do what you hate.”

“The truth is in the walk.”

“No matter how much you know…there is always another mystery.”

I am thankful for everyone who wrote down some wisdom and tossed it in our basket. I am grateful to be part of a community that contains so much wise foolishness.

IMG_6311

 

 

Advertisements

The Once and Future Ordination

It has been almost 20 years since my ordination on May 3, 1998. This year it will be our congregation’s privilege to host the ordination service for Jon Coffee, our former ministerial intern and chaplain of pastoral care. The ceremony will be here at TVUUC on April 7 at 4 pm.

Jon Coffee

As part of the process of preparing for Jon’s service I have been looking over the order of service for my own ordination and reflecting on the meaning of the ritual. The congregation I served as student minister in Oxford, Ohio ordained me. They literally “called” me to the ministry through a literal phone call, “Would you consider being our minister?” I had preached there a few times as a seminary student but was surprised by the request. I sputtered a reply, “I am not ordained so I can’t be your minister.” The congregation called the Unitarian Universalist Association and in fairly short order I was the minister of the congregation as my official UUA internship site.

Ordination vows are kind of like wedding vows. You don’t really know what they mean until 20 years later or more. The words “for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” are abstract when first uttered. Decades later the same words speak to specific stories and challenges encountered along the way. I was present on Jon’s wedding day and I feel blessed to also be a part of his ordination and look forward to witnessing his vows.

So, as I’ve said, I’ve been reflecting on my own vows in preparation for witnessing Jon take his. In that spirit, I’d like to share with you the words I spoke in Kumler Chapel, Oxford, Ohio. Almost twenty years ago.

“To the members and friends of the Hopedale Unitarian Universalist Community I say I accept this ministry which you have done so much to nurture, encourage and support. With humility and reverence I accept the joys and responsibilities of this most sacred mission: to make my life’s work a ministry of reconciliation, a ministry which forever seeks the reconciliation of all people to each other, to the Creation which nourishes us and so many other diverse forms of life and to the God in whom we live and move and have our being. And rest assured that wherever I go, wherever I am called to serve I will gratefully carry the spirit and the blessing of this community with me.”

Let me say for the record that I was a young man on that day but I’ve earned every white hair I’ve gotten since then. On April 7, 2018, at 4:00 pm our congregation will ordain another young man. I hope you will plan to be there. We may not even begin to know the full meaning of his vows until 2038 but we can be there in the beginning and we can send him the message that wherever he goes, wherever he might serve, he will carry the spirit and the blessing of this community with him always. May it be so.

 

The Black Panther and the Dark Side of the Force

I don’t think I’ve experienced a film phenomenon like The Black Panther since 1977 when I stood in a line for the first Star Wars movie. Recently I went downtown for the matinee of the new film only to find that the next two shows were sold out. I bought a ticket for the third. The line for my show was so long I worried I might not get in the 300-seat theater.

I am a fan of the Star Wars movies but it is fair to say that The Black Panther gives new meaning to the concept of the dark side of the force.

The Black Panther

I recently heard the Reverend Chris Battle give a presentation on “White Jesus and Black History.” He spoke about how our dominant culture tends to make darkness and blackness synonymous with evil. Because he is adept at audiovisual presentations a picture of Darth Vader appeared on the screen behind him as he said this.

Rev. Battle then showed an image of an anthropologist’s reconstruction of a first century Jew reminding us that the historical Jesus was a dark man. In the Vatican, the Louvre and other museums, Jesus is often portrayed as lily white even though evidence suggests otherwise. The history of Western religious art supports a vision of white supremacy whereas anthropologists remind us that Jesus was an embodiment of the dark side of the force.

Jesus according to anthropology

Sometimes Star Wars seems to reinforce dualism, the idea that light must destroy darkness. After all Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia wear white. The evil emperor and Darth Vader wear black. However, in the latest movie The Last Jedi there was a lot of emphasis on bringing balance to the force, balancing light and darkness, in much the same way that every 24 hours is a balance between night and day. This balance between night and day, winter and spring, is what makes life flourish and all things grow.

Without offering any spoilers let me say that The Black Panther has similar insights into the need to move beyond a strictly good/evil, darkness/light, black/white paradigm. Sometimes the hero does the wrong thing. Sometimes the villain has a valid point. The force is strong in both of them. As Dr. King once said, “There’s some bad in the best of us and some good in the rest of us.” In the 1960’s the Black Panthers was an activist group that many white people feared. Today The Black Panther is selling out in theaters across America and could well be the top grossing film of all time.

In America angel food cake is light and devil food cake is dark. The Black Panther turns the tables by meeting white supremacy with Black Power. Where the dominant culture tells us we must choose between black and white The Black Panther reminds us that we can have our cake and eat it too.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

The prophet Isaiah envisioned a day when, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”

In recent days, we’ve been inspired by the leadership of the young. We’ve seen more leadership coming out of Parkland, Florida, in the last few weeks than we’ve seen coming out of Washington in years.

Where elders have been cautious, the young have been brave.

Where elders have been silent, the young are speaking out.

Where the elders are sitting still, the young are walking out.

Where elders have been evasive, the young have been clear.

Where elders have been bought and paid for, the young have reminded us we still live in a free country.

We may not be able to agree on everything but surely we can agree that thoughts and prayers are not enough. Faith without works is dead.

Thoughts and Prayers

On Sunday February 25th our congregation, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, held a vigil for the 17 students, teachers and staff killed at the Stoneman Douglass High School and for victims of gun violence all over the country who do not garner so much publicity. For the most part our speakers were young including child survivors of the shooting in our church on July 27, 2008, who are now teens and young adults.

We heard from close friends and mentors of Zaevion Dobson, an innocent victim and hero gunned down in a drive by shooting. We heard from activists in the Black Lives Matter movement and grassroots neighborhood activists trying to save lives. After the vigil there was much organizing for action, , signing petitions, sending postcards planning school walk outs and recruiting for the March for Our Lives in Washington DC on March 24.

I will leave you with some thoughts from Jennifer Kitts, a child survivor of the TVUUC church shooting who is now a young adult serving overseas in the Peace Corp “This time feels different. It didn’t at first but as the days passed and the debate became more thoughtful instead of the same re-used arguments I felt my spirit become energized. I watched as thousands of high schoolers dominated the most distractible news outlets for a week and a half. I have seen even the slimiest of politicians begin to lose their grip on the gun lobbies ‘sacred’ agenda. That is something. And most importantly, I have seen parents, teachers, survivors of so many previous tragedies come together to support each other and push forward for change. I see their strength and I feel their energy from 5,000 miles away. I never want to see another human being suffer the way I and so many others have. We must ban the gun that has been used in the 7 deadliest mass shootings in resent memory. The AR 15 has no place in the Unites States of America. I have to believe that this time is different, because it has to be.”

(Below are some links you can click on in order to see and listen to the young speak out.)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YweGJJC41aE&list=PLgup_gL_2CJFKfP9O5QOGJpNXfdDnFf7k

 

http://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/hundreds-gather-to-honor-gun-violence-victims-demand-change/51-523261959?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=5a9386459ebbef0007f593bf&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook

 

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2018/02/25/parkland-shooting-vigil-knoxville-unitarian-universalist-church/367092002/

 

 

The Doors of Perception

My mind is prone to tangents. Recently, I’ve been listening to the music of the 1960’s rock group The Doors and pondering the words of William Blake that inspired the name of the band, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to us as it is, Infinite.” (Well actually he said “man” but I decided to expand it to “us.”)

Perception is a powerful thing. Related to my most recent mental tangent I read the biography of Jim Morrison No One Gets Out of Here Alive. (Apropos of nothing I got a real bargain on it, seventy five cents at a used book store.) Reading this book I couldn’t help but feel that the lead singer of The Doors was a real a$$hole. (I was going to use another word but my computer thesaurus didn’t have one -no results found.) Then I read another book Light My Fire by the band’s keyboardist Ray Manzarek and I came away with the impression that Morrison was sensitive, poetic, polite, witty, wise, prophetic, spiritual, a great friend and also capable of being a real a$$hole.

From these two books I conclude we are saved by friendship. Our friends see the good in us even if others can only see the bad. Our friends appreciate us even when others are repelled. The world may look at us through a glass darkly but our friends see us when the doors of perception are cleansed.

TheDoors_LightMyFire_Digital_Cover

One of the main reasons to join a church is to make friends. We need communities where others see us and value us. For this reason, we all have to do the work of keeping the doors of perception cleansed so that we can see each other and appreciate each other for what we really are, Infinite.

Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception was about mescaline but one does not need drugs to awaken to realization (and the high levels of addiction in our culture suggest need more sustainable and less consumerist paths to experiences of the transcendent – meditation, music, art, creativity, prayer, mindfulness etc.) The Quakers are known for their sobriety, even so, they tell us to look for “that of God in every person.” Many of 19th century Unitarians were teetotalers but they advised us to seek “the divine spark in every person.” The poet William Blake would tell us that we can hold infinity in the palm of our hand and “eternity in an hour.”

My mental tangent about The Doors began in December when I decided a good title for the homily for the Christmas Eve candlelight service would be, “Come On Baby, Light My Fire” as a way of bringing together the nativity story with the fire related traditions of Hanukkah, Advent, Kwanzaa and  winter solstice. If you missed this homily you can check it out on YouTube and sing along with everybody else (see below link.) To paraphrase the words of the religious educator Sophia Fahs, “When the doors of perception are cleansed every night is a holy night and every child a holy child.” That’s a good thought for Christmas eve or any night or day of the year.

My mind is prone to tangents. I like to explore new areas of thought. “There are the things you know about and the things you don’t,” said Jim Morrison, “the known and the unknown, and in between there are the doors.” I suppose every poet/songwriter has an element of pretentiousness. Even so, this should not deter us from walking through the doors of our church, greeting a new person, turning a stranger into a friend and by so doing discover the Infinite.

 

All for One, One for All

Hatred can come out of nowhere.

I was once camping on an island in the middle of Lake Ocoee when someone sped by in speedboat shouting a racist slur at my friend Alex who was sitting right next to me. Alex did not seem surprised or alarmed. As the boat sped off into the distance he turned to me and said something he clearly did not really mean, “Now there goes a brave man.”

On another camping trip a group of us were swimming in a swimming hole near a waterfall in the middle of the Cherokee National forest when an old man came out of nowhere and went on a racist diatribe against my friend Creed in an effort to run us all off. He forgot to factor in that he was outnumbered.

Hatred can come out of nowhere

In the Unitarian Universalist church we often speak about the beauty of the earth and the wonders of nature but the truth is we can be camping on a island in the middle of a lake or swimming by a pristine waterfall in the wilderness when hatred comes out of nowhere.

There’s no escaping it.

A friend recently told me about his wife who was working as a nurse in a hospital when a patient insulted her and demanded a white nurse. Such outrages happen daily across the country.

When the President recently referred to Haiti and African and Central American countries as shitholes (that’s one word I though I’d never say from the pulpit) his behavior was shocking to some of us but not surprising to all of us. As the Reverend John Butler says, “The problems in the White House are symptomatic of the problems in every house.”

Call me naïve but up until recent times I thought we were making some progress in this country. However after careful reflection I am coming to understand why Malcolm X once said that when white people talk about racial progress its like a mugger who pulls the knife halfway out and calls it progress.

Now as a white person it is tempting for me to get defensive about such comments but then I remember how hatred can come out of nowhere. I remember that day on island or that afternoon by a waterfall or that nurse who has to figure out how to heal someone who hates her.

Malcolm X said if black people feel wary of white people it might be because , “If all of your ancestors have been snake bitten and you have been snake bitten then you just might want to teach your children to be wary of snakes. “

Over my sabbatical I reread The Autobiography of Malcolm X with special attention to the Epilogue by Alex Haley. I also read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, a book about racism in the criminal justice system. Both books are good books but anyone who has ever read them can tell you than can be some heavy reading and so I decided to read something light, fun, escapist so I picked up a copy the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

I’m told that my choice of an escapist book says something about me-as 19th century literature is not everybody’s idea of escapism. Nevertheless, I picked up the book in the same way someone might go to see a blockbuster action movie. I was hoping to be immersed in a rollicking tale of swashbuckling adventure-and it worked- at least for a little while.

For a little while I escaped into the world of imagination in the company of the musketeers D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramas as they defended the honor of the Queen of France from the Machiavellian maneuvering of Cardinal Richelieu and the fierce vengeance of Milady de Winter.

The book is a good read. Strictly speaking, the musketeers are not paragons of virtue. Many of their choices do not measure up to contemporary ethical standards. The musketeers have a puppy dog quality to them, overly eager and overly energetic and hormone driven. They bumble into each other and other people with testosterone-fueled dreams of fame, honor, glory and romance. Their unity has a sibling like quality full of mutual adoration and mutual competition nevertheless we all know the oath that binds them together, “All for one and one for all.”

I enjoyed the Three Musketeers so much I decided to read the next book in the series and then the next book and then the next book and then the next book and finally finished the series with The Man in the Iron Mask.

 

Over my sabbatical I was in France serving as minister in residence and guest preacher to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Paris. During that time I decided to take a pilgrimage to The Chateau de Monte Cristo, the historic home of the author of the Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas.

This chateau is named after another one of Dumas’ famous books The Count of Monte Cristo which is a story of revenge about a man who is falsely imprisoned in an island fortress with disastrous consequences for him and eventually for the people who put him there.

In the Chateau de Monte Cristo there was an exhibition where I learned something about the author that I did not know before. During his lifetime Alexandre Dumas was a constant target for racist attacks.

His father, Thomas Alexandre Dumas, was the child of a Haitian slave and a rebellious French nobleman. Although his father was mixed race all existing portraits showing him to be a very black man.(Picture of Thomas Alexandre Dumas below)

The Black Count

If you look closely at photographs of the author Alexander Dumas you can see that his hair is approaching what we might now call an Afro. Because of his heritage he became a target for bigots. The exhibit contained racist broadsides that had been printed in the press and repeated in salons. There were also cartoons depicting Dumas as a cannibal with exaggerated lips and hair and savage-like appearance. The attacks were so constant that sometimes Dumas found ways to deflect them with a witty comment. When someone told him that his family was descended from monkeys he replied, “Yes my family starts where yours ends.” (Picture of the author below)

Alexander_Dumas_père_par_Nadar_-_Google_Art_Project

One of the more interesting things that I’ve learned since the visit to that home is that many characters in Dumas’ novels are patterned after his father Thomas Alexandre-Dumas, who left Haiti and made his way to France where he got military training in fencing, swordsmanship and combat. He came of age in the comparatively egalitarian era of the French Revolution and was able rise from a new recruit to a brigadier general in the French army and commander of over 50,000 men. He was the first person of color to become a brigadier general in France and the highest ranked military person of color in the Western world until Colin Powell surpassed him in rank in the late 20th century.

If you are interested in learning more about him I highly recommend the book The Black Count by Tom Reiss. Reading the book I could see how Thomas Alexandre Dumas helped inspire his son to create such vivid characters and write such good stories. He had the courage approaching foolhardiness of D’Artagnan, the gravity and brooding nature of Athos, the romantic spirit of Aramis and the brute strength and appetite of Porthos. Indeed, Thomas Alexandre Dumas was such a larger than life human being that his son had to create 4 different fictional white characters to try and capture the essence of one black man. (In the BBC series The Three Musketeers the character Porthos is black as a tip of the hat to this history.)

porthos

General Dumas was like one of those action movie heroes who can fight off five or six people at once only he actually could do it in real life. Incidences of him defeating multiple assailants are well documented. He was constantly volunteering for the most dangerous missions and defying the odds to achieve victory. Napoleon saw him as a rival. He was also once falsely imprisoned in a military fortress so not only was he D’Artagnan and Aramis and Athos and Porthos he was also the Count of Monte Cristo.

So by now you may be wondering why I am telling this story about an immigrant from Haiti, an immigrant from Haiti that fought bravely for the revolutionary ideals of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” , an immigrant from Haiti who inspired his son to write some of the most widely known and celebrated works of literature the world has ever known. Here’s why.

February is Black History month but I am here today to tell you that there is a lot of Black History hiding in the middle of supposed White History. And along those lines let me tell you about another book, one of the hidden gems of world literature, a book by Alexandre Dumas that is rarely if ever mentioned Georges.

 The story is set on the Isle of France, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa now known as Mauritus. Dumas describes Georges as a mulato, “one of those unfortunate colonial beings that cannot be forgiven for their color no matter how much success or wealth…they attain.” He writes about the sense of inferiority Georges feels in the presence of whites. He feels robbed of his self-respect.

Georges is a man who is tired of feeling like he must spend his entire life apologizing for his own existence. Eventually he becomes angry not only at his oppressors but at those who accept their own oppression. He is able to affirm his own worth and dignity. All of this leads up to Georges’ decision to lead a slave insurrection against the French colonial powers. As he launches this violent revolution he declares, “I have a prejudice to fight. Either it must destroy me or I it.”

One cannot help but feel that the author of this book Alexandre Dumas is working through some of his own emotions about what it is like to be on the receiving end of hatred and racism. The thoughts of Georges seem to offer us a window into his soul.

Because I am a good person I am not going to tell you how this story ends #nospoilers. However I can tell you that this book is an adventure story that could compete with any Spielberg movie. The story has battles at sea, shark attacks, sword fights, hand to hand combat, armies clashing, dramatic rescues, narrow escapes, separated lovers and romantic reunions. Our hero is often in peril. Alexandre Dumas is nothing if not an entertaining storyteller.

However, as I bring this sermon to a close, I want to say that my point this morning is not to recommend good literature to you, even though I do recommend these books to you. Instead today I want to remind you what was true then is true now, the wealthy and the successful are not spared the viciousness of racism. Bryant Gumbel, a wealthy, successful, famous television broadcaster has talked about his own experiences with racism saying, “You can’t buy your way out of it. You can’t educate your way out of it…this is nothing to do with the victims and everything to do with the culture of demeaning a person of color.”

Hatred can come out of nowhere. There is no escaping it. We have yet to create a culture where the knife of racism has been completely withdrawn from the body or where every child is free from the danger of snakebite. And yet the fact is that racism is a lie. Bigotry is a lie. Prejudice is a lie and this is important for us to know because it’s the truth that sets us free.

And the truth is that there is a unity that underlies our diversity. Nothing disempowers the bullies of the world quite like unity. The best way to address intolerant is to be sure the forces of fairness always outnumber them. As Rumi wrote – all of the people, all of the religions, all of the singing is one song. As the Haitian flag tells us “L’union fait la force.” Unity makes strength. Or as Dr. King used to say, We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.  Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” No one is free until everyone is free. There are truly global implications for the oath made famous by the three musketeers, “All for one and one for all.”

(The Reverend Chris Buice delivered this sermon at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday January 28, 2018)

 

 

 

The Courage to Love: An Invitation

elandria

Clear your calendar because the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is coming to you. As you may know the headquarters for our denomination is in Boston. Our faith has occasionally been accused of being a bit Boston-centric. In the 19th century it was said, “Unitarians believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Neighborhood of Boston,” although we have expanded geographically, theologically and in our understanding of gender identity since then. In the 1960’s it was said, “You can tell if someone is a Unitarian if they spell god with a small “g” and Boston with a capital “B”.” This is a statement was probably more true then than it is now due to the decline in influence of the poet e.e. cummings. Nevertheless, from January 19-21 Boston is coming to you. The President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, and the Board of Trustees for the Unitarian Universalist Association will be here in Knoxville.

There are many ways you can be a part of this weekend (see below for a complete listing) but I would like to highlight one because it is your opportunity to have your voice heard on important questions of the day. The President and the Board are meeting in different parts of the country to get outside the Boston Bubble and learn how our faith is working around the country

On Saturday, January 20, I invite you to come to an event called “Courage to Love: a Values and Vision Conversation with the UUA Board” from 3-5:30 pm here at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Those paying close attention will know our denomination has been rocked by controversy lately. In March Peter Morales, the first Hispanic President of the UUA resigned over a controversial hiring decision for the lead the Southern Region that involved accusations of white supremacy. There is no short or simple way to summarize all the issues involved here except to say that our denomination is in an intentional listening, learning, healing time with the goal of transformation to a more just and equitable UUA. Your voice and your vision can be a part of this process. This is a chance for your questions, concerns and suggestions to be heard and honored. So do your homework, reread your old World magazines (or review articles online at www.uua.org) Seek out the universe of UU blogs to get a feel for the issues under discussion right now (some of which can be found through this link https://www.uua.org/connect/blogs).

board_of_trustees_102017

An important question that looms large is, “What will our faith look like 50 years from now?” I will not claim to have the gift of prophecy. When I started working for the UU church in 1990 someone donated a computer to the church and I thought, “Why would we need one of those?” Now everyone has a computer on their phone and my days are filled with emails, messengers, social media posts and Zoom meetings. So if you are more farsighted than I your participation will be very important for this discussion about our future.

This meeting will also be a chance to meet the new President of the UUA and to see TVUUC’s own Elandria Williams in her role as co-moderator of the UUA alongside her colleague Barb Greve, the highest volunteer positions in our denomination. Some of the most important challenges of our times may have as much to do with process (the moderator’s job) as it has to do with product.

Let me close with an interesting fact: Gordon Gibson who once served as minister of a church in the neighborhood of Boston regularly reminds us. “Per capita there is a greater percentage of Unitarian Universalists in the Knoxville area than there are in Boston.” Which goes to show you that we have been doing our part to help our faith expand geographically, theologically, spiritually and numerically. So let’s keep up the good work and be a part of the conversation that helps move our faith forward.

-Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

 

 A Complete Listing of the Weekends Events

WHAT: The Courage to Love: Sustaining Our Souls in the Work for Justice

            Dinner and program with the UUA Board and Highlander staff

The UUA Board is holding its January meeting at the Highlander Center in East Tennessee.  You are invited to join in for dinner and a program led by Highlander Staff, including UUA Co-Moderator Elandria Williams.

You are welcome to arrive earlier than 6pm and sit in on the UUA Board meeting.  Please allow ample time to arrive, as part of the drive is on narrow country roads.

WHEN: Friday, January 19th, 6-9pm

WHO: for UU congregational social justice leaders and high school youth

  • Renew energy within and connections between congregational social justice leaders—adults and youth.
  • Learn about the history of connections between Highlander and UU’ism in East TN
  • Learn from Highlander’s model of long-haul grassroots organizing that centers partnership and cultural work

WHERE: The Highlander Center, 1959 Highlander Way, New Market, TN

RSVP by January 11 HERE: https://goo.gl/forms/XSZZVWZ0tpn0XFZY2

$15 donation for dinner requested.

If you have questions, please contact Rev. Laura Bogle at lbogle@uuma.org

WHAT: Courage to Love choir rehearsals to prepare selections for Sunday’s cluster worship

WHO: anyone who likes to sing!

WHEN AND WHERE:
Saturday, January 6 from 10-12 (Westside UU Church, 616 Fretz Rd., Farragut)

Saturday, January 20 from 1-3pm (Rothschild Event Center, 8807 Kingston Pike)

Sunday, January 21: choir call time is 9:30am at Rothschild Event Center, 8807 Kingston Pike)

To join the choir, contact: music@westsideuuc.org

 WHAT: Courage to Love: A values and vision conversation with the UUA Board

This is an opportunity to participate in helping the Board understand the values and visions that shape our faith tradition here in East Tennessee. The Board is intentionally meeting in different parts of the country to learn about the needs and concerns, differences and similarity in many different regions. In the 19th century they said, “Unitarians believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Neighborhood of Boston.” We have expanded geographically, theologically and in our knowledge of gender identity since then. The board is waiting to learn from and with you – don’t miss this chance to be in conversation with the board.

WHEN: Saturday January 20th, 3-5:30 pm

WHO: Congregational leaders (childcare provided)

LOCATION: TVUUC, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville

RSVP to: secretary@tvuuc.org

WHAT: Courage to Love Party: Dinner and Coffeehouse

Gather for catered dinner and informal conversation with our UUA Board. Stay for an evening of entertainment by talented performers from our local congregations.  All ages welcome. The dinner will be from 6-7 followed by a coffee house review featuring members and friends of the Knoxville, Farragut, Maryville and Oak Ridge congregations.

WHEN: 6-9pm

WHERE: TN Valley UU Church, Kingston Pike, Knoxville

            REGISTER and reserve your spot for dinner by Jan. 12.

http://www.oruuc.org/courage-to-love-dinner-and-coffeehouse/

Cost for dinner: $8 ages 10 and up, $4 ages 5 to 10, no charge for children under 5

To volunteer with set-up or clean-up, contact: tandyscheffler@oruuc.org

To perform, contact: lesliegengozian@tvuuc.org

 

WHAT: The Courage to Love: Worship and Fellowship

This will be a special worship service for all area congregations to come together. It is also a great time to invite a friend who would like to learn more about Unitarian Universalism. We will focus on “The Courage to Love,” telling stories of hometown faith, when sometimes simply showing up at church, and living boldly in the places we live, asks great courage of us. The Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray, president of our denomination, will be the preacher.

WHEN: Sunday January 21st, 11am

WHERE: Rothchild Event Center, 8807 Kingston Pike, Knoxville

WHO: All four Knox-area UU congregations, plus open to the public – invite a friend!

UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray preaching, Rev. Jason Shelton leading music

Worship with hundreds of area UUs.  All-ages worship *and* childcare available.

Share food and fellowship, and check out informational exhibits following worship.

 To volunteer on Sunday morning, contact: revcarol@westsideuuc.org  

To participate in the choir, contact: music@westsideuuc.org