Vespers at 6:30pm, Program at 7:00, October 6!

We’re almost back.  Can’t wait!  If you’re on our email list you’ll get the Zoom link on October 6.  On this return to Wednesday Thing programming we will explore October’s Soul Matters theme, Cultivating Relationship.  Here’s how our Wednesdays will be structured at least through December.

1st Wed (Oct 6) – Soul Matters Theme Conversation – October is Cultivating Relationship – see the full year’s themes below.Two young people with headsvhanging off of a couch, "A friend is one who knows my song and sings it to me when I forget.

2nd Wed (Oct 13) – Liberation Conversations (Anti-racism defines us by what we are against; liberation defines us by what we are for. Let me know what you think of making a name change)

3rd Wed (Oct 20) – Spiritual Practices

4th Wed (Oct 27) – Theology: Exploring Core Theological Themes (During the first session, “Theology 101,” we will discuss which themes we will explore in future months.  Beauty, Evil, God, Peace & Non-Violence, Suffering, Joy, Prayer, Forgiveness & Reconciliation, are just some examples. Our resource will be Theology Ablaze by UU minister, Rev. Tom Owen-Towle.

Contact Rev. Claudia if you have questions or would like to lead Vespers. An outline and support are provided for Vespers leaders.

The Soul Matters Themes for 2021-22:
Oct. – Cultivating Relationship
Nov. – Holding History
Dec. – Opening to Joy
Jan. – Living with Intention
Feb. – Widening the Circle
March – Renewing Faith
April – Awakening
May – Nurturing Beauty
June – Celebrating Blessings

Thank You!

The generosity of our and our partners’ congregants from Faith Communities Organizing for Sanctuary recently completed the funding needed for Maria’s legal fees. Her lawyer will pursue a different strategy requiring character reference letters that humanize Maria. If you know Maria, there is still time to write a letter of support. The deadline is September 30. An Action Alert was sent out with details. Contact me if you have any questions.

Also, please plan to attend the masked gathering on October 3 at UUAsheville from 1:00-3:00pm to dedicate our new outdoor patio. We will also be dedicating the new sculptures in our Memorial Garden. Maria and Esteban will bring their food truck. This is an opportunity to directly support Maria and enjoy her delicious tacos. There will also be a DJ and the possibility of salsa dancing instruction if there is interest. A bailar!

On October 3 during worship we will celebrate Religious Exploration facilitators and mentors with a dedication. October 3 is a busy day! It is also the date for our Coming of Age fall retreat. Since they will not be able to attend service, I want to be sure to recognize our Coming of Age mentors* and facilitators* who will be spending their day with our COA youth. Lots of dedications happening at UUAsheville because there are a lot of dedicated people! Yeah!

Faith Development programs start next month. Volunteers and staff have been planning and looking forward to your participation. Soul Matters and Creativity Matters groups launch with October’s theme, “Cultivating Relationship,” so appropriate to these times when relationships have been stressed and deepened. Contact Venny Zachritz if you are interested in joining a group. We have an “empty chair” for you!

6:30 Vespers and 7PM Programs also resume in October. Each Wednesday there will be a theme:
1st Wed (Oct 6) – Soul Matters Theme Conversation – October is Cultivating Relationship

2nd Wed (Oct 13) – Liberation Conversations (Anti-racism defines us by what we are against; liberation defines us by what we are for. Let me know what you think of making a name change)

3rd Wed (Oct 20) – Spiritual Practices

4th Wed (Oct 27) – Theology: Exploring Core Theological Themes (During the first session, “Theology 101,” we will discuss which themes we will explore in future months.  Beauty, Evil, God, Peace & Non-Violence, Suffering, Joy, Prayer, Forgiveness & Reconciliation, are just some examples. Our resource will be Theology Ablaze by UU minister, Rev. Tom Owen-Towle.

Contact me if you have questions or would like to lead Vespers. An outline and support are provided for Vespers leaders.

I am excited about what this new Faith Development year will bring. Amid the challenge of this moment, it is important we make time to connect and nurture our spirits.

P.S. Next week’s blog will feature our religious educators, Jen and Kim, highlighting our offerings for children and youth Religious Exploration.

Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

*COA Mentors:

Shawn Landreth
Missy Reed
Tony Reed
Clyde Hardin
Maggie Reynolds Poist
Sarah Hargrove
Mame Fleming
Will Smith
Allison Hardesty
Laurel Jernigan
Deanna Banks
Tom House

COA Facilitators
Allen Currens
Brian Daniel
Steve Lapointe

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Sunday, September 19, 2021 11am  Live Zoom  
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
Our congregation’s racial justice initiative invites us to consider our commitment to changing oppressive systems. It can be an uncomfortable and joyful journey to explore how we can each act in ways that disrupt racist practices. Join us to hear personal reflections, music and readings about the possibilities before us.

Interim Ministry, COVID and Community

Now there’s a three-for-one Gordian knot if I ever saw one.  When a staff person writes a blog, I’m pretty sure there’s an unwritten rule that you don’t complain or whine (much) or lay guilt on folks or throw shade (I think I finally got the meaning of that new-to-me idiom right—took a while).  However, there seem to be times……

Without intending to do any of those three, here goes.

We have a new interim lead minister.  She’s pretty darn cool (have you HEARD some of her background stories?).  She has a very specific set of jobs to do to help US prepare for our called minister. One loop of that knot wonders how she can help us if she doesn’t KNOW us?

(Hey, did you know that there are “parts of a knot?”  I looked that up on the way to this metaphor.)

An elbow of that knot is COVID.  THAT turned what could have been a quite lovely meeting among new minister and congregants into a nightmare of Zoom and one-on-ones and lots of people not “tuning in” to either services or events or the website or eNews.  This creates what Rev. Cathy has referred to as her phantom congregation.

And then, how about a little bight that actually starts the knot–the need for community-by all humans as it turns out.

Here’s the kind of headline that scares staff members:  Churches face volunteer shortages, difficulty mobilizing congregants amid pandemic, experts warn.  Now that seems like a no-brainer because how could that NOT be true right now, but it IS a most difficult circumstance when trying to learn about your brand-new congregation.

And then there’s the article from long-time church consultant Lawrence Peers.  He writes,

Talking with another clergyperson recently, we bemoaned the current spike in COVID-19 infections and the Delta variant. Congregations were moving in the direction of “opening up” again for indoor worship and activities. All systems were go, it seemed.

But then many congregations, in an abrupt retreat, slowed down or modified reopening plans. The ink on books about the “post-pandemic church” was hardly dry as we found ourselves thinking about a possible longer arc of this health crisis.

Suddenly my colleague blurted out, “Maybe I don’t want to do this hard thing.”

The hardest thing for many clergy about this current situation is not knowing what to do or when to do it—or whether it will be enough.

When I was feeling overwhelmed by the current situation of reopening, I created a compass to help me channel my feelings of overwhelm into four directions:

  • Reconnect with one another and our wider community.
  • Rebound as we bounce back to increased levels of participation and service.
  • Redevelop all of our offerings as a highly inclusive, engaging multiplatform congregation.
  • Renew our commitment to our mission and our generous support of that mission.

This is what all of our staff are doing right now.  We’re all trying so hard to do all four of those things.  PLUS, as a congregation, we need to help Rev. Cathy help us.

So, here’s what I’m asking:  please, please try to do more with UU Asheville than you have in the past year.  I know it’s hard, you’re in a different rhythm now, who needs to “attend” an 11am service when you can watch it later (or never), I know you planned to come to that in-person event but then you forgot, or it didn’t feel right, or something else came up, but to steal a phrase from Charlie Marks, we really, really need you!

We need you to reconnect, bounce back to increased levels of participation and service, support our efforts as we offer in-person and online programs, and sort of summarizing it all, renew your commitment to our mission and your generous support of the mission with time, talent, and money.

Linda Topp, Director of Administration

 

 

 

Bread For the Journey

Sunday, September 12, 2021 11am Live  Zoom   
Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. ~ Joseph Campbell

UU Asheville is in the midst of a ministerial transition while at the same time coping with the multiple changes caused by the pandemic. All of this uncertainty can feel unsettling, but transition can also be a time that is pregnant with possibility.  We must be willing to dwell in the messy middle for a time, and just like with making bread, things can be sticky for a while. Bread undergoes many transitions and ultimately “dying” in the oven as it transforms into sumptuous aromatic loaves. Campbell famously said, “Follow your blissWe must be willing to give up the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”  What will UU Asheville look like in five years?  Ten years?  Much will depend on how comfortable we can be living in the creative, messy tension of what was and what will be.