Sunday, July 31, 2022 11am In-person and YouTube
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
Sunday, July 31, 2022 11am In-person and YouTube
Saturday, August 20, 9am-1pm (SH)
Click here to register.
Rev. Keith Kron, Director of the UUA Transitions Office, will lead us in a workshop and then in our Sunday worship service. Beyond Categorical Thinking (BCT) is a highly recommended part of the search process for our congregation. In finding the person who would be the best match for our minister, we could potentially overlook or even let biases keep us from knowing what a particular person would be the best match for us. The selection of a minister is important, and this workshop is another opportunity for everyone in our congregation to be part of that process.
In these post-Roe times, the importance of medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education cannot be understated. Access for all to sexuality education is a component of reproductive justice alongside access to healthcare, living wages, safe neighborhoods, abortion healthcare, and other factors that allow women, trans, and non-binary people who can give birth the ability to decide when they are ready to be parents. And to be clear, men also need comprehensive sexuality education to prevent disease, protect their partners, and make responsible decisions about their behavior and paternity.
The opportunity to support families as primary sexuality educators and their children in developing a sex-positive, consent-based, value-centered, and justice-aware understanding of sexuality is something that happens in many UU congregations that use the Our Whole Lives Program, known as OWL. When I was planning for the Justice Ministry Council retreat a few months ago, I reached out to one of our congregational life staff with concerns about how difficult it is to determine which causes to pursue as a congregation. One of her comments was that there are many opportunities for interfaith work or to take the lead of community organizations that already lead in justice work. She invited me to explore what UU Asheville had to offer the community that was unique. OWL immediately came to mind.
OWL was developed in partnership with the United Church of Christ. It offers life-span programs (K-adult) that engage key issues of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice, and inclusivity. Facilitators are trained and undergo a background check. I am grateful for all the trained, active OWL volunteers in our UU Asheville community. Your commitment is needed now more than ever!
When I served the UU congregation in Vero Beach, FL, as Director of Religious Education (DRE) our program was open to the community and word got around as parents shared with friends. These non-UU families often made sure all children in their family participated in the program. Parents from diverse religious backgrounds understood how comprehensive sexual education was crucial for their children. I established a relationship with the local health department and worked to expand the presence of OWL in the community. Such partnerships with UU congregations that benefit the larger community should be more common.
One reason I said “yes” to becoming your Minister of Faith Development four years ago was your strong commitment to religious exploration that offers OWL to children and youth. I have often thought that if I had sufficient resources, I would start an OWL Institute. I believe OWL saves lives. Education about healthy sexuality helps improve decision-making about relationships and sexual behavior. It can help avoid unhealthy relationships, misunderstanding about gender identity and expression, and minimize unintended pregnancy. In these times when federal dollars are still used to fund abstinence-only programs and states are passing laws such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, sexuality education is crucial. Only 11 states mandate sexuality education that is medically accurate. We cannot leave it to government or social media (!) to educate our children about sexuality.
I may not have the funds to begin an OWL institute, but I wonder if OWL could be a ministry that reaches beyond our walls. What is the state of sexuality education in Asheville and Buncombe County? Can we build relationships in our community and through those relationships, explore wider implementation of OWL programs? What grants or partnerships might be available to finance community OWL programs and train facilitators? I’d love to hear your thoughts and invite you to consider becoming a trained OWL facilitator. Post-Roe, that would be an excellent way to serve our community.
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development
Sunday, July 24, 2022 11am In-person and YouTube
Tobias Van Buren, Guest Speaker
Some octo-wisdom about how we can be too hard on ourselves, UUs in their own unique way, and some suggestions for taking better care of our most valuable asset: our selves. Original Blessings. The Titanium Rule.
Here we are in mid July! The long hot days have me fantasizing about the fall – which means I am also thinking about the launch of our 2022-23 Religious Exploration Program. RE staff is currently busy recruiting volunteers, creating calendars, as well as imagining all the amazing things that we will do this year with our children, youth, and families. The best way to help us plan is to register your children and youth for Religious Exploration as well as signing up for a role in our cooperative program. You can find out more about what we’re offering and sign up via our registration form here:
Religious Exploration will kick off on Sunday, September 11. Beginning on that day, we will return to our pre pandemic schedule of everyone beginning together in the Sanctuary for the chalice lighting and story for all ages. Children, youth, and volunteers will leave the Sanctuary to go to their classes together after the story.
We are also meeting on most Sundays this summer for fun (and sometimes dirty!) play and serving our earth and congregation with small service projects. This Sunday, July 24th we will all begin in the Sanctuary to hear a special story from our worship leader, Tobias Van Buren. Children and youth who attend are encouraged to bring a toy or stuffed octopus if they have one. We will head downstairs after the story to have an indoor play day. It is forecasted to be in the 90’s on Sunday, so for everyone’s safety and comfort, we’ll play inside this week.
On Sunday, July 31st we will begin downstairs in RE Commons for a campus litter clean up and a visit to the Little Free Pantry on Charlotte St. to restock it for our neighbors and friends. If you’d like to bring some items to go in the pantry, we are needing the following items: Canned meals / food with pop tops, bottled water, socks, sunscreen, first aid supplies, and dental hygiene items.
As many of you already know, we lost our beloved, recently retired minister, Rev. Mark Ward suddenly on Wednesday, July 13th. While our newer families didn’t have a chance to get to know Mark, we know that some of our children and youth very much remember Mark. We wanted to share some resources for you from our friends at the UU Trauma Response ministry, in addition to the resources already located on our website (https://uuasheville.org/family-ministry/). You can find more resources for children, youth, and adults here: https://www.uutrm.org/resources/
We will celebrate Mark’s life and gifts to the congregation on Friday, July 29th at 3 pm. This past Sunday in RE we created a grief altar for Rev. Mark as well as others that we have lost. We will leave it up for the next few weeks, and any children or youth who would like to contribute is welcome to do so on Sunday mornings. There are small candles, stones, and shells available to be added to the altar.