Halloween Sunday Was Fun for All

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The dog refused to wear his grandma costume.

We had a worship service.  We had a remembrance ritual.  We had soup!  (Sold out, much to a late-comer’s chagrin–not naming any names.) We had Halloween costumes!  We had treats!  Could it have been any better?  See you next time!

Tabletop with printed cloh an photos of people to be remembered.

Holding History

Photo of Rev. Dr. Cathy HarringtonThe Soul Matters theme for November is Holding History, and Scott Taylor shares a rabbinic wisdom story to illustrate the importance of “holding” our history.

A disciple asks the rebbe: “Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon your hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?” The rebbe answers: “It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So, we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in.”

The wisdom in this story reminds us that educating ourselves about our history, personal and culturally, isn’t enough. It isn’t until we willing to accept the past by taking it into our hearts, so we fully grieve, forgive, confess, and redeem the past through apology and restitution.

It is disheartening to witness the overt refusal of so many people in our country to accept the ugly truth of our nation’s history to the degree that books that tell the truth are being banned from school curriculums. When I heard that one of the targeted books is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I was outraged.  The story in her first novel, The Bluest Eye, broke open my heart and continues to drive my commitment to do the difficult work of becoming an anti-racist.  While I was serving our congregation in Chattanooga, I enrolled in an African American Literature class and was introduced to Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and more.  Through these authors, I was introduced to the racist history of America that was not taught when I was growing up. And I know that one college class doesn’t make me an anti-racist.

Yesterday, UUC Asheville’s staff went on a Hood Huggers driving tour designed to teach the past, present, and future history of African Americans in Asheville led by founder, DeWayne Barton whose vision behind this innovative enterprise is “rebuilding Affrilachia through art, environment, and social enterprise.” The history we learned on this tour is a story of resilience and ingenuity while exposing how systemic racist policies and practices closed and bulldozed the all-black Stevens-Lee High School in 1965. Sadly, desegregation of schools did not improve the lives of blacks, in 2019 Asheville city schools ranked fifth in the nation in the achievement gap between whites and blacks and according to DeWayne, this has not improved.

Although you have been doing a great deal of work in this area already, one of the goals of the interim period is to address this issue and is directly stated in my contract:

1.5 Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, and Multicultural Awareness:  The Congregation and the Interim Minister are committed to understanding the ways systems of oppression within and beyond our Congregation are perpetuated and agree to collaborate on the development of a joint process of reflection and growth to ensure progress.  This includes, but is not limited to, the ways in which the characteristics of dominant cultures live in our practices, systems procedures, and our very lives.

Your board of directors will be studying together Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Anti-Racist, in addition to working monthly with Rev Claudia to examine the existing “equity footprint” of UUC Asheville’s system of governance.

The Holding History theme provides an opportunity to reflect on our personal histories as well. Scott Taylor writes, “Remembering who we want to be is tied up with remembering where we’ve come from. Holding on to our roots keeps us rooted. It also keeps us connected to gratitude and humility.”

You don’t have to be in a small group to explore the rich resources and opportunities of this month’s theme. If you would like to receive a copy of the Holding History packet, send an email to minister@uuasheville.org. I’d be delighted to share it with you, and to entice you, I offer this poem from the packet by Jo Harjo: https://poets.org/poem/remember-0.

In faith and love,
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister









Estate Planning Virtual Workshop, Saturday, November 13, 10am,  Zoom

The UUAsheville Legacy Circle Committee is hosting a free estate planning workshop for members and friends of all ages and all income levels.

Every year, tens of thousands of people in the United States die without an estate plan, leaving it to a judge to decide what happens with the assets one has accumulated from a lifetime of work. Smart estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult.
Hendersonville estate planning expert and lawyer, Carolyn Knox, will share with you tips that will be helpful in starting and updating an estate plan and protecting your assets from unexpected expenses that may come later in life.   Click here to learn more. Contact Mike Horak for the Zoom link.

Justice Ministry Film: A Crime on the Bayou, Friday, November 12, 7pm, Zoom

A Crime on the Bayou is the story of Gary Duncan, a Black teenager from Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land photo of swamp with water in foreground and trees in backgroundsouth of New Orleans.

In 1966, Duncan tries to break up an argument between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He gently lays his hand on a white boy’s arm. The boy recoils like a snake. That night, police burst into Duncan’s trailer and arrest him for assault on a minor. A young Jewish attorney, Richard Sobol, leaves his prestigious D.C. firm to volunteer in New Orleans. With his help, Duncan bravely stands up to a racist legal system powered by a white supremacist boss to challenge his unfair arrest. Their fight goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Duncan and Sobol’s lifelong friendship is forged.

‘Vivid…Provide[s] an unusually palpable sense of just how much deeply-ingrained institutional and cultural bias needed to be overcome for the civil rights movement to make real headway…[An] engrossing, flavorful document.’ Dennis Harvey, Variety

‘A Crime on the Bayou never explodes with fury. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel enraged while taking in the maddening series of systematic wrongs committed against Sobol and Duncan.’ Robert Daniels, The Los Angeles Times

Send a request for the link to Charlie Wussow at mnpopi@icloud.com by Wednesday, November 10th for the Zoom link.  There will be a discussion after the screening of the film. Runtime: 91 minutes

There is no charge for viewing the film but donations to cover the license are welcome.  Click DONATE on the left menu and select General Fund or text UUAVL to 73256.