Justice Ministry Film Night: The Monarch: A Butterfly Beyond Borders

The monarch butterfly is at once the most familiar and the most mysterious butterfly in the world. It amazes us for what we know about its life and it tantalizes us for the secrets it still holds within its delicate frame – secrets that scientists and lay people in North America have been trying to unravel for decades.

We know that monarchs east of the Rockies travel thousands of miles every winter to specific sites in Mexico, while those west of the Rockies migrate to sites in California. How they find their way to sites they have never seen before remains a puzzle. Today, monarchs face environmental threats at both ends of their migratory route. This beautiful documentary looks at what we now know but more importantly it reveals what we still do not know about this amazing creature.

The migratory monarch butterfly is now classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

YOU can help avert monarch extinction. UU Animal Ministry will provide attendees with a
handout detailing the current status of the butterfly crisis, and master gardener Jennifer Oversmith will share tips on how to create a monarch garden in your yard.

On Saturday, Oct. 7th, a garden area will be prepped on the UUAsheville grounds.
On Sunday, Oct. 8th, children and youth from RE are invited to participate in planting the garden along with the UUAM chapter! Everyone is welcome to participate in creating this special garden!

Note: This film will be shown in person in Sandburg Hall and on Zoom. If you wish to view
the film on Zoom, request a link from Charlie Wussow at mnpopi@icloud.com .

Justice Ministry Film Night Friday, October 6th, 7 PM
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
One Edwin Place, Asheville, NC 28801

Stories in Our Head That Get in Our Way

Sunday, July 2,k 2023 11am
Rev. Dr. Roger Jones, Guest Minister
Human beings live by our stories.  Yet individuals, couples, families and organizations can get stuck in stories that limit our sense of possibility or make us feel bad.  We don’t have to hide anything in order to gain a fresh perspective on who we are–and to appreciate it.

Guest minister Roger Jones (he, him) preached for us in July of 2022 and is happy to return to Asheville.  He is a co-minister at the UU Society of Sacramento, where he has served since 2008.  He has served congregations in Silicon Valley, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Indiana.  He holds degrees from Indiana University, Meadville Lombard Theological School, and Pacific School of Religion.  

The Flower Communion: 100 Years Later

Sunday, June 11, 2023  11am
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
On this 100th Anniversary, join as we celebrate one of Unitarian Universalism’s most significant ceremonies. Unitarian Rev. Nobert Čapek created this meaningful ritual in 1923 to help the people of Prague heal from the ravages of WWI.
Please bring a flower with you as we bless these flowers and the gift of our beloved community.

Pride Returns…September 24!

Procession Gathering from 9-9:30am across from 23 Grove Street, then the Festival begins at 11am in Pack Square. 
Suggestions: If you’re not walking to the parade, meet at UU Asheville’s rear parking lot to CARPOOL (no parking is available in the lot near the assembly site). Wear your ‘Side with Love’ yellow t-shirts and all the rainbow, trans, bi colors you can find. The more flamboyant the better. Balloons, banners, boas and beads encouraged. Some materials will be available to carry in the procession.

6:30 Vespers: Awakening & 7:00 PM Program: Theme Talk- Experiencing Awakening

Vespers  6:30 PM: Join Anna Martin in exploring our April theme of “Awakening” with poems, singing, sharing, and Lea Morris’ story of The Empty Cup.

Program 7 PM:  Welcome to Awakening – Our program will explore Awakening, the theme for April.  Does awakening arise slowly from experience, or is it more like an epiphany that hits us like a ton of bricks?  Are awakenings more apt to happen when you are younger or older?  What is your experience of awakening?  Facilitator: Jim Steffe


Next week: April 13

Vespers Wed April 13 at 6:30 PM: “The God of Our Understanding”

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was highly skeptical of the existence of a personal God. To help make AA accessible to persons of all beliefs (or none), he wrote the 12-step program with the suggestion that we “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand [God].” 

As Unitarian Universalists who have many different beliefs (or none) regarding the existence of a higher power, who or what is the ultimate guiding principle, force or being in our lives? What practices do we have to help us cultivate or enlarge the existence of this guiding principle, force, or being in our daily lives? How can our practices help heal our hurting hearts and world? 

Rev. Terry Davis invites us to reflect upon these questions and then share our thoughts and feelings.


Program Wed April 13 at 7 PM: Liberation Conversations. Join us for an update on the final congregational assessment report that will be shared at the end of the month. We will also discuss next steps and brainstorm ways to welcome all levels of experience into the work of collective liberation/anti-racism.   Facilitator: Rev. Claudia


Vespers & Program: Living with Intention

6:30pm Vespers – Join Rev. Claudia to welcome the new year with a meditative service exploring goals vs intentions as we welcome a new year.
7:00 pm Program – We will explore this month’s theme: Living With Intention using the Soul Matters Packet.

January Calendar


Vespers Leader: Rev Claudia

Program: Theme Talk, Rev Claudia 

Zoom Host: Jason Smith


Vespers Leader: Sherry Lundquist

Program: RJAC Liberation Conversations, TBA

Zoom Host: Steve Carter


Vespers Leader: Rev. Cathy
Program: Spiritual Practices – Meditation, Virginia Bower 

Zoom Host: Steve Reines


Vespers Leader: Joyce Hooley-Gingrich

Program: Theology, Rev. Claudia

Zoom Host: Jess Fox

Cookie Fest, Ornament Making, and Tree Decorating, Sunday, December 12, 12:15pm, Sandburg Hall

snowman with yellow and green scarf, carrot nose and small black top hat

Party like it’s Christmas! Full details below, but the short form is:

  1. Share cookies that are packaged in small clear plastic bags.
  2. Make ornaments with all supplies provided.
  3. Add your ornament to our NEW Christmas tree!
It’s also a Soup-er Event. To-go soups will be available on a first come, first served basis. We will not have a pre-order this time. There will be a variety of delicious homemade soups and each quart comes with 2 generous pieces of garlic bread. Please come out and support our youth, thanks!

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

6:30 PM Vespers: Exploring Our Stories & 7 PM Program- Spiritual Practices: Prayer

Join us for Vespers as we continue exploring the theme of Story. We will reflect on the Iroquis creation story of Skywoman and discuss how the stories we tell shape our understanding of the world and our place in it. Vespers Leader: Rev. Claudia

The 7 PM Program will be the final session in the Spiritual Practices series. The topic will be prayer. Do UUs pray? Joins us for what will be a rich conversation. Facilitator: Rev. Claudia

Next week will be our final Vespers. Join Vespers Leader John Bloomer in a final reflection on journeys and voyage sagas. Our program will be an exploration of Mujerista Theology, the final session in this year’s Theology Series. Facilitator: Rev. Claudia

Vespers and Programs will resume in September. Have a wonderful summer!!!

Flower Power Was a Great Success

Thanks to Chief Organizer Marta Reese and her planning team of Margaret McAlister and Connie Silver, upwards of 100 UUCAers gathered in person to join in on a Flower Communion and generally just enjoy the whole in-person thing.  Beautiful weather, Maria’s food truck, HOP ice cream, many flower-arrangers and slime-makers–it could not have been better!

Table showing vases of flowers at a church event

Minister casually dressed speaking at microphone outside church

Masked woman holding flower

Vespers 6:30 PM Exploring Commitment & 7PM Program: Aging as a Spiritual Practice

Join Vespers leader Kelly Wedell in exploring our collective commitment to our messy humanity using a different interpretation of the starfish story.

Our program will be “Aging as A Spiritual Practice: The Five Fears” facilitated by Jim Steffe.

Vespers Leader: James Cassara
Program: Theme Talk – Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: Rev Mark
Program: Anti-Racism Conversation: The Gardener’s Tale
Facilitator: Kay Aler-Maida

Vespers Leader: Kelly W
Program: Spiritual Practices – Aging II;   Jim Steffe, Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: Joyce-Hooley Gingrich
Program: Creation Theology, Joyce-Hooley Gingrich31
Vespers Leader: Jeff Jones
Program: Do Animals have Rights? Jeff Jones

Vespers 6:30: Knitting and Meaning-Making & Program 7PM

Join Vespers leader Rev. Claudia to explore knitting and meaning-making. Service to include a video reflection shared by UUCA member Elizabeth Schell.

The 7PM Program will be led by Rev. Terry Davis.
 “UU Theology Series: Unitarianism — Boldly Claiming the Pejorative”
When the Boston-based Rev. William Ellery Channing laid out an unorthodox Christian theology in a sermon in 1819, he did something unimaginable: he proudly called it “Unitarianism,” a label that his fellow liberal ministers had shunned. What did Channing preach? How was he able to create respectability for a distinctly different brand of Christianity? Join Rev. Terry Davis as we explore the events that led to Channing’s breakthrough sermon, and what it offered liberal religion then and offers our faith today. 

March – Commitment

Vespers Leader: James Cassara
Program: Theme Talk – Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: Rev Mark
Program: Ignorance of White Identity, TBA

Vespers Leader: Kelly W
Program: Spiritual Practices – Aging II;   Jim Steffe, Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: Joyce-Hooley Gingrich
Program: Creation Theology, Joyce-Hooley Gingrich

Vespers Leader: Jeff Jones:
Program: Do Animals have Rights? Jeff Jones

Vespers 6:30 Exploring Beloved Community through Song & 7 PM Program

Vespers leader Mary Alm invites us to consider the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (found in our hymnal) as we continue exploring this month’s theme of Beloved Community.

The 7PM program will explore “Power at Work in Your Congregation” Facilitator: Anna Martin

Vespers Leader: Anna Martin
Program: Theme Talk, Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: Mary Alm 
Program: Power at Work in Our Congregation, Anna Martin

Vespers Leader: Rev. Claudia
Program: Spiritual Practices – Aging I;   Jim Steffe, Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: TBA
Program: The Theology William Ellery Channing, Rev. Terry Davis


Holiday Vespers, December 16, 6:30pm

Join Vespers leader Rev. Claudia for a meditative holiday Vespers. Come prepared to share a favorite holiday memory during breakout groups.

7 PM Program: Everyday Life Spiritual Practices Featuring Living Compassionately – Jeff Jones will be sharing his everyday life spiritual practice of living compassionately. Participants in breakout rooms will be sharing what spiritual practices we each will carry forward and integrate into our everyday lives. 

Vespers resumes January 6 welcoming the New Year and the monthly theme of imagination.

Our Wednesday Thing 2021 Programs will focus on:

  • 1st Wednesdays, the Soul Matters Theme (or a congregant suggested topic)
  • 2nd Wednesdays, Anti-racism work
  • 3rd Wednesdays, Spiritual Practices
  • 4th Wednesdays, UU Theology

During February through April, Jim Steffe and Rev. Claudia will offer a series on “Aging as a Spiritual Practice” based on the book by Lewis Richmond.

January – Imagination (Soul Matters Theme)

6       Vespers Leader: Rev. Claudia
Program: Theme Talk- Imagination, Rev. Claudia

13     Vespers Leader: Joyce Hooley-Gingrich
Program: Discerning Race/ Discerning Power, Facilitator: Mary Alm

20     Vespers Leader: MaryAnn Somervill
Program: Spiritual Practices: Paganism, MaryAnn Somervill

27     Vespers Leader: Linda Topp, “Can You Imagine?”
Program: Introduction to UU Theology, Rev Claudia

Thanksgiving Vespers 6:30 PM (No program Wed. evening)

Join Rev. Claudia for a meditative vespers Wed., Nov 25 6:30 PM using the story “Giving Thanks” based on words from the Peoples of the Six Nations. It has been a complicated, challenging year and we are invited to consider the everyday gifts around us despite the challenges we face. Below is prompt to share with a young person in your life and, that you can draw or journal about. Enjoy!

  1. Draw something that makes you happy.
  2. Draw something you couldn’t live without.
  3. Draw someone who helps you.
  4. Draw something that makes you smile.
  5. Draw something you love to do.
  6. Draw something you are thankful for.
  7. Draw someone you love.
  8. Draw something you think is fun.
  9. Draw something that makes you feel good.
  10. Draw something that makes you laugh.

December – Theme: Stillness

2       Vespers Leader: Rev. Mark
Program: Human Rights Day Discussion, Deb Holden, Rev Claudia

9       Vespers Leader: Rev. Terry Davis
Program: Navigating the Landscapes of Power, Joy McConnell

16     Vespers Leader: Rev. Claudia
Program: Spiritual Practices III: Heart/Creativity Practices

23 & 30     No Vespers – Winter Holidays

Vespers: Will it matter? + Program: Beyond the Partisan Divide, Part I

Vespers this Wed., Sept 30 at 6:30 PM: Will it matter?
Join Rev Claudia in an exploration of building community amidst the challenges of ideological divides.
The after Vespers Program “Beyond the Partisan Divide, Part I” begins at 7PM. The session is “Will it Matter? Considering Partisan Bias in Congregational Life.”

October Calendar
Soul Matters Theme: Deep Listening 

Vespers Leader: Rev Claudia
Program: Beyond the Partisan Divide II, Bob Gingrich

Vespers Leader: Joy McConnell
Program: You Are How You’ve Lived: Exploring Individual & Group Identity, Carol Buffum

Vespers Leader: Ruth Christie
Program: Spiritual Practices II: Contemplative Body Practices, Nancy Bragg

Vespers Leader: Anna Martin
Program: Exploring Your Multiple Identities, Mary Alm

Vespers: The Autumn Equinox + Program: Building the World…

Join CUUPS, the Covenant of UU Pagans on Wed., Sept 23 at 6:30 PM as they co-lead Vespers with a focus on the autumn equinox which happens the day before. Join in a celebration of the harvest with a focus on balance. 

The 7PM after Vespers program continues with the UUA anti-racism program Building the World We Dream About. Joyce Hooley Gingrich will facilitate Session II- Our Stories: Multiple Truths, Multiple Realities. Contact Rev. Claudia faithdev@uuasheville.org if you would like the materials from the first session. 



Vespers Leader: Joyce-Hooley Gingrich
Program: Theme Talk- Renewal, Rev. Claudia

Vespers Leader: Rev Claudia
Program: Telling Our Story: Multiple Truths and Realities I, Rev Claudia

Vespers Leader: Rev Jeff Jones
Program: Spiritual Practices I: Contemplative Stillness, Nancy Bragg

Vespers Leader: TBA
Program: Telling Our Story: Multiple Truths and Realities II, Joyce Hooley-Gingrich

Vespers Leader: Rev Claudia
Program: Beyond the Partisan Divide I, Rev Claudia


Thanks for all the kudos you’ve been sending to us as we on staff have completely and totally changed almost everything we do for UUCA and where we do it!  Your appreciation means a lot.

Now that we can see that this state of affairs will continue for quite some time, we need YOUR help!  We know that many of our groups are still functioning, be they spiritual deepening groups, covenant groups, social groups, or committees (Board, Leadership Development, Auction, Finance Advisory Committee, RE Council, Justice Ministry Council and more!).  But there is a need for more, and the UUCA staff is unable to attend to it.

Just a little aside here, quoting someone recently (and if it was you, tell me!), “Staff supplies support and the congregation owns the programs.”  It’s true!

Our highest priority need is to identify more covenant group leaders.  What is a church if it is not a locus of relationships?  And where is that locus when there is no there there?  It’s in small group ministries!  We want everyone to be in a small group this coming year, but there’s no way to offer that without more leaders.  If you can spend about 2 hours a week reviewing materials and   Contact Rev. Claudia to learn more.

Our second-most (desperate) need is for more participants for our worship services.  Both Wednesday Vespers and our Sunday service would benefit from more, different voices.  You will get lots of help and advice from the ministers and you will show your fellow congregants that you are still alive(!).  (OK, maybe not the best selling point.)  Contact Rev. Mark for Sundays, and Rev. Claudia for Wednesdays.

And finally, our third most important need (only because it’s not immediate) is for RE program facilitators.  We’ll be doing RE differently this year, with fewer classes adapted to online interactions, but we’re not doing any of it without volunteers.  Really.  So, if you can volunteer on a teaching team with three other congregants to learn with a small group of youngsters, contact Kim Collins or Jen Johnson.  (And you can’t use, “But I don’t want to miss the service,” as an excuse, can you?)

Thanks for your help.

Dr. Linda Topp
Director of Administration

General Assembly: No Vespers June 24

There will be no Vespers June 24. Go to uua.org/ga to see what’s happening at General Assembly this week. General Assembly invites UUs from all over the country and abroad to gather virtually to learn and do the work of the association. Join us for vespers again on July 1 as we continue with our summer theme “Beauty that Moves Me.” Michelle Reines will be our Vespers leader. See you then!

Orange bug chomping on a green leaf.

Resources for Our Current Times

This past Saturday, our RE Family Email included resources for parents that I want to share again with everyone here. Like all of you, I am again heartbroken over the killing of black and brown people by police officers all over America. I have spent lots of time over the last week feeling at a loss for words or action. I have to remind myself frequently that this is my work. My work is to empower you to raise anti-racist, compassionate, and justice oriented children. RE staff will continue to work to bring you more resources. Please know that you can reach out for us if you need further support, we are here to help you.

Talking to kids about riots: https://redtri.com/how-to-educate-your-children-on-riots-protests/ &

Resources for talking to kids about race, identity, and equity:

Please also consider what actions you and your families can take now. Donate to a bail out fund or patronize a local black owned business. This is a list of bail out funds, I do not currently have a good link for an Asheville bail out fund (if you know of one, please let me know!): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X4-YS3vFn5CLL9QtJSU0xqmTh_h8XilXgOqGAjZISBI/edit?usp=sharing and here is a list of black owned businesses in Asheville: https://avltoday.6amcity.com/black-owned-businesses-asheville-nc/.

Summer Vespers Begins June 3, 6:30 PM

Mindfulness for All Ages
Our first Summer Vespers will be hosted by the Martin family: Anna, Langdon, Eliza, and Lucille. We will be thinking about mindfulness. How do you stay grounded and present in these challenging times? Look for the ZOOM link in the Worship eNews, Monday, June 1. Vespers will continue into the summer. Please contact Rev. Claudia if you would like to facilitate a future Vespers. 

Photo: Melissa Askew, Unsplash.com

Music Sunday

Sunday, June 14, 2020 Video link arrives at 9am
Dr. Leslie Downs, Music Director

Just because we’re worshipping online doesn’t mean we can’t hold our annual Music Sunday. The service will feature fine music from guests and our own talented crew, as well as reflections from choir members on how music is helping through these COVID times.

Music provided by Hillary Trumpler; vocalist, The Sandburgers, Lorelei Goodson, and Dr. Leslie Downs, Music Director.

Animal Blessing Vespers May 27, 6:30PM

Our first Animal Blessings ZOOM Vespers will be at 6:30 PM, May 27. Mary Ann Somervill.

will be our Vespers leader in partnership with co-host Rev Claudia. We look forward to meeting your pets. We are aware that new pets have been welcomed into some UUCA homes, and we look froward to meeting them. If you would like to remember a beloved pet that has died, you are welcome to share a picture with the group. See you at Vespers!

Vespers will continue during the summer.Yeah! Our focus will be “Art & Spirituality.” Vespers leaders will be invited to share and reflect on art that inspires them. It may be original or not, and can include music, poetry, painting, dance or other artistic expression.
Contact Rev Claudia if you are interested in participating at faithdev@uuasheville.org

Inspiration: When This Is Over by Laura Kelly Fanucci

When this is over, may we never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.

When this ends
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way — better
for each other
because of the worst.