Being repetitive from our December 2020 column:“Now only in memories and archival photos are our manyDecember services with the, “Stone Soup” story, a roaring fire in the massive fireplace (still standing on the property), a Christmas tree, and the excitement of children in December.”
“Stone Soup” has origins in Europe, a folk tale for kids of any age.Variations include hungry vagabonds, or soldiers returning home, enticing villagers to prepare a cook pot for all to savor.The key:SHARING.
Another holiday tradition introduced at Christmas 2016 by Anya Kawka, UUFKC board chair, was TAIZE.The evening gathering met in darkness, but soon many candles were lit.Mainly there was quietness for meditation and reflection.All spiritual paths were welcomed, and a touch of music came from simple chants.At Easter 2017 we hosted anotherTAIZE gathering.Since then, none.
The TAIZE community originated in France, composed of more than a hundred brothers, from Catholic and Protestant traditions, and thirty nations. Founded in 1940 byBrother Roger, he envisioned a community where kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the center of everything.
Short chants, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character.Using just a few words they express abasic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind.As words are sung over many times, this reality graduallypenetrates the whole being.Meditative singing becomes a way of listening to the eternal being.
In the Basin in 2006 TAIZE was celebrated.at Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church.Then five years ago our brief celebrations.Let us anticipate a UUFKC renewal of, ”Stone Soup” and TAIZE for December 2022.
At this Year’s end, and the slumber of nature, always remember, “MERRY MEET, MERRY PART”.
And, ”One kind word can warm three winter months”. (Japanese Proverb)
JOYOUS, SAFE HOLIDAYS ###–Barbara H. Turk, Archivist
UUFKC Board Members Julia Jackman and Jerry Brown want to organize a book group to read and discuss the novel “Ministry for the Future” by acclaimed sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson. The book delves into a near-future scenario that is grappling with intense climate change pressures. It is a challenging and realistic look at world-wide socio-economic and political realities and offers up some provocative ideas for how we might change them. The discussion group might consider some of these ideas and poke at them a bit, and maybe consider how our UU community might be a change agent on this topic. If you are interested, contact Jerry or Julia by email. Jerry: email@example.com Julia: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Solstice night, I realized I’d spent most of my day inside, offering my last worship service with you in the morning, followed by RVUUF’s coffee hour and a Father’s Day celebration at my dad’s house. So I set off for a walk, on the longest day of the year, with the sun still bright even at 8pm.
The first thing I encountered as I stepped outdoors was a small bush of yellow flowers, the kind I had woven into a sun wheel on the first summer solstice I celebrated as a solitary pagan, not yet a Unitarian Universalist, 18 years ago. Those first few times I celebrated the turning of the earth felt joyful and maybe a little silly, like I was playing make-believe somehow, even as I was honoring the very concrete, scientifically demonstrable change of seasons. In the beginning, my pagan practice definitely harkened back to the imaginings of my childhood, and while my logical mind at first found this suspect, I’ve come to see that this simply meant I was tapping back in to a way of knowing that I had left behind. Believing in magic, in the power of ritual, of words, of intention-setting, doesn’t feel silly to me anymore, but rather a return to a truth that has lived in my heart, even when my head was taught to discount it. As I walked this solstice night, I plucked a yellow flower and carried it with me.
Later on my walk, I encountered a blackberry bush, many blackberry bushes, mostly done with their flowering, now bursting with fruit, fruit still as green as the plant’s leaves. I was reminded of the theme of the morning’s service, “Coming to Fruition” and I couldn’t help feeling a certain kinship with those little green berries. Yes, they are berries, but they aren’t ready yet. Yes, I am a minister, but still a green one. To have you receive me and affirm me, in all my greenness, has been a gift and a blessing. I can’t help wanting to hurry the seasons of my life along, because it felt so good to work for my purpose and calling, held by and holding this community of fellow seekers on the quest for truth and meaning and lives that express the fullness of our principles. For the first time in a long time, I felt myself living a life that was whole, a life where I could braid family and community and purpose together into my vocation, my ministry. And yet, it is time now for me to pause in being a minister, so I can finish learning how to be the best minister I can be. I want to be a ripe berry now. But instead, I follow the wisdom of the seasons. To everything, turn, turn, turn… And I am still in the season of my learning.
My solstice walk reminded me of the wisdom of my Goddess, the living Earth. She is there for me, as long as I take time to look, as long as I follow Her whisperings in my own heart. She called me outside that night to remind me, yes, I have been on this journey a long time, and yes, there is still a ways to go. Over the next year, as I step away from this community to allow you to take back reigns of the ministry we’ve shared together this church year, I’ll finish my Masters of Divinity at Starr King. I’ll prepare myself to come before the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee of the UUA and receive their blessing on my ministry, which could happen a year from now, or two, or more, depending on how the journey unfolds. I’ll try not to hurry myself, as the Earth never hurries, but turns at Her own steady pace. I’ll tend my family and my studies, my garden and my calling. I’ll miss tending our community together. I’ll miss you. And yet, I’ll trust the process. When we meet again, I’ll be a ruddier berry, less green, pink even, but still not fully ripe. There is a season, turn, turn, turn…
It is hard to say goodbye from so far away. My thoughts, not to mention my physical body, are planted now in Washington State, the lands of the Duwamish, Stillaguamish, Coast Salish, and Muckleshoot, with Tahoma (aka Mount Rainier) out my window, and my father at center of my care and tending. He’s growing stronger with the treatments and pain management he’s receiving for his cancer, and I’m grateful to be a part of his process of healing, though we are told he will not ever be cured. Even in this season of burgeoning life, Death is always present, and I’m learning to dance with Her as well, to savor the moments She gives us before taking it all away. Being unable to deny that Death is waiting, I’m learning, makes the beauty of life stand out all the more clearly. I cherish these moments with my dad, and I’ll always be grateful to you for giving me space to allow these moments to unfold. I can only hope and pray that as I grow into the fullness of my ministry, I will find a congregation that honors my wholeness as a human being as fully as you have done over these last months. I have found ways to hold you, even as I put my family first. I have found the limits of what I could do for you at this time, and you respected those limits and encouraged me to live within them. You affirmed my ongoing ministry even as I didn’t have as much to give as I had before, or as I had wanted to now. A year ago, I did not expect any part of where I find myself today. After another turning of the wheel of the year, I look forward to seeing who we all become.
At the request of the Board, our Intern Minister Alison represented UUFKC at the recent Pacific Northwest District Assembly. Like our upcoming General Assembly, this was an all-online event, but instead of bringing together congregations from across the country, District Assembly brought together congregations from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho to vote on the business of our district.
The major vote taken at this year’s District Assembly was a revision to the District’s bylaws that provide for ways of dissolving the district. While it is best-practice for any non-profit to include such a process in their bylaws, there was another reason that the District proposed and voted on this amendment: the ongoing move toward a regional structure rather than a district structure.
When the Unitarians and Universalists merged in the early 1960s, there were around 20 different districts, each with volunteer boards and paid staff to serve the needs of the congregations included in the districts. Now, 50 years later, the duplication of systems represented by 20 different regions has become unsustainable. As wage stagnation worsens, and families must work more hours to meet our basic needs, many districts are no longer able to find the volunteers to staff their boards or the funds to pay their staff. Regionalization, replacing many small districts with five larger geographic “regions,” is being pursued with the goal of eliminating duplication of efforts, streamlining our organization, and enabling our regions to find the volunteers and staff they need to meet the changing needs of our 21st-century faith. If you’re interested in more details on this process, please CLICK HERE for the explanation of regionalization presented to the district assembly by our Regional Lead Rev. Carlton Smith and UUA Director of Congregational Life Staff, Jessica York.
Currently, UUFKC is part of both the Pacific Western Region and the Pacific NW District. However, as the denomination as a whole moves toward regionalization, our district is one step closer to being able to choose to dissolve and participate in the Pacific Western Region alone with the bylaws revision that was passed at last weekend’s District Assembly. If you would like to participate in a district-wide online listening session on Monday, May 24th at 7pm to share your feelings about the regionalization process, CLICK HERE to register. If you want to read more about regionalization across the denomination, CLICK HERE.
On Wednesday, March 31st, we gathered together for an interfaith worship service to celebrate the lives, work, dreams, and contributions of trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming siblings in Klamath Falls and around the world. UU Fellowship of Klamath County & Klamath Falls Friends Church hosted Rachel Crandall, founder of TDOV, to share the origins of this holy day. Pastor Anthony of the Friends Church will led us in the ritual of Waiting Worship. In this sacred space, we honored the image of the Divine in which trans people are so beautifully made.
Our worship on Wednesday was a testament to trans joy, made all the more powerful by the fact that the US president recognized Trans Day of Visibility for the first time on that very day! Rachel shared with us her excitement that a project she had started because she couldn’t wait any longer for it to come into being grew so broadly. One participant in our worship service Zoomed in from Indonesia, and shared that they too had held an interfaith Trans Day of Visibility service, emphasizing the global impact of this sacred day and Rachel’s important work.
Thanks to all who attended and shared. Our hearts are filled with joy.
UPDATE: While there were some technical difficulties during the UUFKC-sponsored performance of OUTDance Project, prerecorded performances are available to view via YouTube HERE (scroll down till you see the video stills, and click to watch). Thanks to all who came out to support this project, in spite of the tech challenges! We appreciate you, and the youth and mentors of Citizens for Safe Schools appreciate you too!
UU Fellowship of Klamath County Social Justice Committee joins our partners at Klamath Falls Friends Church in sponsoring OutDance, a virtual performance of queer stories and dance from rural Oregon. To learn more about the project and purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.
While the performance can be viewed via live stream for free, we encourage folks to buy tickets to the 1pm performance on 3/28, as proceeds from this performance support local Klamath Falls non-profit Citizens for Safe School (CFSS) who says:
“We are a grassroots, positive youth development, non-profit organization. Our main focus is on a one-to-one, community-based mentoring program for youth in the 4th-8th grades. We pair a child with a volunteer mentor and they spend at least one hour per week together for one year. The match is focused on having fun and developing appropriate social skills, but significant positive impacts are made on the youth’s school attendance and academic performance as a result of the relationship with their mentor.” UUFKC Social Justice Committee chair Courtney serves as a CFSS mentor.
The performance draws from stories and songs submitted by queer people living in rural Oregon, weaving words and movement together to remind ourselves and our communities that we are here, queer and fabulous, enriching our rural communities every day. There will be multiple performances, but to support CFSS, please purchase tickets to the 1pm performance on 3/28. Following the performance, there will be a facilitated conversation prioritizing the voices of queer, rural Oregonians as we reflect on our own experiences and how they relate to the performances of OutDance.
On February 10, 2021, our Archivist Barbara Turk attended a conversation on the proposed 8th Principle held via Zoom through 1st Unitarian in Portland, OR. Barbara has prepared this report on the conversation to help introduce this community to the proposed 8th Principle, which has been passed by UU congregations across the country, though not yet by the UUA:
For this special Feb. 10th ZOOM, the speaker was Paula Cole Jones, of All Souls Unitarian in Washington, D.C. A member of All Souls since 1969, she described it as a “multicultural” congregation. (Having visited it, I concur.)
Jones has been a “Principle Originator” of the proposed 8th Principle since 1999. That brings me to a long-ago story shared by UUFKC founder, Ben Kerns. Ben spoke of a fork in a road: One direction has a sign, “TO HEAVEN;” the other has a sign, “DISCUSSION ON HEAVEN.” Ben said that UUs always take the road to ‘Discussion,’ meaning that change is often a long time coming.
In contrast, Jones asserted UUs can be a vanguard of social momentum, and shared that over the past four years 29 UUA churches, from PA to HI, have given approval to the proposed 8th UUA Principle, which reads:
“We covenant to affirm and promote journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse, multicultural beloved community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
Jones opened with, “WORK EQUALS GROWTH”. (Amen to that!). Next she explained the following visual:
A: Dominant Cultural Paradigm *White men *White traditions
B: Multicultural Paradigm
Under A, we have our history, our principles, our documents and our structure. This is our history, but what’s our design for B? Jones is hopeful that the 8th Principle will act as “a bridge” between A and B.
Jones continued with the following points:
Our (USA) system has been damaged by segregation
Jones stated current UU Principles are basically, “feel good statements”. So we must ask: “Is this how we live, or do we just work toward it?” She added that the Principles don’t hold us accountable—not one, “Thou shall / shall not.”
Do we truly relate with, affirm, covenant and coordinate our Seven Principles?
We have a Mission Statement, we have a vision of our community, we covenant and basically promise one another.
We have history. Jones asserted, “That’s not by chance. History is who we are”.
“And overall we have accountability–definitely not to be overlooked. History and accountability go together.”
Jones shared that the 8th Principle is for “spiritual wholeness,” emphasizing that passage of the 8th Principle, by a congregation or by the UUA as a whole, doesn’t mean much if the principle is not then embodied by those who have passed it.
Basically, Jones shared, UUs need an identity change. The old stance of, “Beloved Community” is fine, but we need to find ways to broaden who is included in these beloved communities, and become a “community of communities.”
Folks may be kin, but think very differently. How does each fit in? How are we living diversity in our cities? Can we become part of a community of communities, beyond our own beloved community? Can/will we truly become a “JUUST Community?”
Giving us an abundance of questions, Jones ended as she began:
Did you ever wish for a chance to share more deeply during Joys & Sorrows? The SOUUP Community Care Group might be just what you’re looking for.
When the SOUUP communities gathered with the UU Trauma Response Ministry last October to help us debrief the experience of living through last September’s wildfires, many of us expressed our desire to see some similar, ongoing space for sharing and holding our collective joys and sorrows in community. Growing out of that conversation, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and new UUGP member Jerry Allen and SOUUP Intern Minister Alison Duren-Sutherland are pleased to announce a new project open to members and friends of Rogue Valley UU Fellowship, UU Fellowship of Klamath County and UUs of Grants Pass.
Alison & Jerry will facilitate a Zoom Drop-In Community Care Group twice each month, on the 2nd Saturday at 5pm and the 4th Wednesday at 3pm. Registration is required, which means you need to enter your name and email address to be emailed a link to the meetings. This helps us track interest and participation, communicate with participants by email, and also keep our Zoom room a safe place for open-hearted sharing. You are welcome to attend both Wednesday and Saturday meetings, so if you think you might like to come on both days, make sure to register for both session by clicking each of the two links below and following the prompts:
Each time we meet, we’ll light a chalice, review and agree to our ground rules, get an opportunity to check in, sharing our joys and sorrows with the gathered community, and as time permits, we’ll share a practice you can take home with you to use in daily life to help withstand the impact of the ongoing traumas of these difficult times we are living through. Feel free to attend this group regularly or whenever you are able.
One of the key ground rules is that we will create a safe space to share. All sharing will be confidential to the group present. Everyone will agree not to share other members’ words or stories with anyone outside the group. Kindness will prevail and no one is required to share. It’s all voluntary, and there is no cost for this gathering. We hope to see you there, to give and receive support from this beloved community of Southern Oregon UUs.
Drawing from her experience as an educator, Franny spoke about institutional racism, where strict rules are created, but selectively enforced based on the race of the rule-breaker. She also spoke about how our Unitarian Universalist faith, and specifically our first principle affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person, informs her anti-racism.
Courtney’s testimony drew a clear line from the founding of Oregon as a state for whites only, built on native genocide and removal, to the militia movements that we see today. She shared the everyday racist education that she experienced growing up in Klamath Falls, and highlighted the disproportionate impact of COVID on black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in our communities. Her message was hopeful; by learning our history and addressing the inequities, beginning with the passage of this resolution, we have the power to change this community.
We are excited to report that this resolution was passed by the city council! We will continue to hold our elected officials accountable to upholding the resolution that they passed, and look forward to seeing the positive shifts in Klamath Falls that may grow out of this resolution.