March 2021 Chronicles by Barbara Turk

To keep up with Peace Readers I continued reading Toni Morrison’s, BELOVED;  also read, TO BE A SLAVE, by Julius Lester; and viewed all OPB’s  BHM programs.

Lester’s book gave me a reality check:  “The ancestry of any black American can be traced to a bill of sale. In many instances that cannot be done.”

He wrote that in the early 19th century the American Slavery Society, and other northern abolition groups, took down stories of thousands of blacks, who escaped the south.  Those narrations swayed northerners’ attitudes about slavery, and the eventual Civil War.  Interest in the ex-slaves stories diminished until 1930’s, when a Federal Writers’ Project interviewed former slaves, still alive & willing to speak.  

In 1963 Lester learned the 1930’s narratives were kept in the Archive of Folksong, at the Library of Congress. The Writers’ Project had verbatim  narratives, preserving speech patterns, language,  giving posterity the “earthy directness communication”. (Lester pg. 14-15)  

In the 19th century the white abolitionists, in many instances, rewrote, “…to conform to literary standards of the time”. (Lester pg. 14)  And they faced  this possibility: If former slaves were quoted verbatim, that provided, “…ammunition for arguments of black inferiority”.  (Lester pg. 14)   

The goal of slave owners’ was to break the spirit of another human. But, such produced a  rampant misfortune,  FEAR—that slaves would rise up.  In a word, owners created their own hell, then had to live in it.

Aisha Hauser, MSW,  of the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Lead Ministry Team (a trio), wrote in a February 26 email she’s reading James Baldwin’s, THE FIRE NEXT TIME.  (Peace Readers, take note for a possible selection.)  She shared, “Baldwin’s stark truth-telling resonated deeply with me.  I have been on a mission as a truth-teller to create a vision of this faith’s potential.”

She closed with:  “I believe that if UUism can be the place where whites live authentically and learn to sit in discomfort and face the realities of targeted communities and take substantive (not white savior) action toward dismantling systems of oppression. For folks living with targeted identities, my wish is UUism offers a place of solace  and care for their spirits.”

–Barbara Turk, Archivist

Kids’ SOUUP Zoom Group Adopts Covenant Using Democratic Process

In our monthly meetings, Southern Oregon UU Partnership kids from Klamath Falls, Grants Pass & Ashland congregations get to practice Unitarian Universalism in community lighting a chalice, sharing joys & sorrows (“roses & thorns”), and practicing living our faith. In creating and voting on our covenant, our kids are learning about what this free faith means.

As we voted over Zoom — thumbs up for yes, down for no, sideways for unsure — the folks with down and sideways thumbs often shared that they were worried that these promises might be hard to live up to. This is the beauty of the practice of covenant: when we fail to live up to our promises, we can use our covenant to call us back into right relationship. The video below is the covenant reminder we’ll use at the beginning of each Zoom session on the first Sunday of the month at 10am. To register your child for Kids’ SOUUP, click here.

Community Care Drop-in Zoom on the 2nd Saturday & 4th Wednesday

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 trauma 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: 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR 2nd SATURDAY 5pm SESSIONS.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR 4th WEDNESDAY 3pm SESSIONS.

Each time we meet, we’ll light a chalice, review and agree to our ground rules, get an opportunity to check in and share 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. 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.

February Chronicles by Barbara Turk

Had a recent, brief discussion with a fellow UU. We are confused by
Christians turning to the Old Testament, when Jesus is the New Testament. In Basic Principles of Christianity my frosh year in a Catholic liberal arts college for women, Sister Catherine Clare shared Jesus was the, “NEW LAW”. Does that suffice for the New Testament as well?

Moving along, Jesus’ teaching—LOVE—-seems most appropriate for the
Valentine month.

In our past some in our fair county wanted the Ten Commandments on a
wall of the commissioners’ chamber in the Government Center. (Still there.)

So, I share a story of a UU and Jew. Both lovers of teaching, respectful of
one another, leaders of their spirit communities. Ben Kerns brought
Unitarianism to Klamath Falls; Paul Warshauer was the rabbi-figure for the Jewish community.

In 1997 Ben wrote a Letter to Editor. From our Archives:
“Recently a letter appeared in these columns stating that Thomas
Jefferson’s addition of freedom of religion to our Constitution did not mean that he would not allow prayer in the schools or the Ten Commandments on the walls. Jefferson was a Unitarian, as were four other of our presidents, and believed firmly in separation of church and state. He would not condone one religion’s prayers or the Christian Ten Commandments on the wall of a government building.”

Ben concluded quoting some Jefferson writings on the issue.

Paul responded, and was published September 4th:
“With great respect to Ben Kerns in his letter of Aug. 28, the Ten
Commandments are not Christian. They were given to the Hebrews (Jews) at Sinai by God and brought down the mountain by the great Jewish sage and leader, Moses. In point of fact, Moses delivered the commandments and the rest of the Hebrew Bible called the “Old Testament” by some for all humanity to learn from and utilize. So, Moses was one of us. For the record, Ben did call many of us in the Jewish community to apologize. Now that’s being a mensch (a good person who does good deeds). The rest of the letter was OK.

(signed) Paul Warshauer”

“NO VOICE WITHOUT ALL VOICES”
(That from the late William Stafford, Poet Laureate of Oregon and the USA.)

–Barbara Turk

Aspirations by Alison: Beloved Community in Southern Oregon

Above: The first meeting of the Southern Oregon UU Partnership

One of the goals I held for my ministerial internship since it was only a glimmer in my eye is that we would find ways for all three of our Southern Oregon UU Partnership (SOUUP) congregations to share in worship together, worship not as in bowing down before anything, but from the Old English root weorthscipe, which means lifting up what is of worth, “worth-ship” as Franny, the board chair at UU Fellowship of Klamath County (UUFKC), referred to it in our December service together. I’ve been so grateful to the people of Rogue Valley UU Fellowship (RVUUF), who have already stepped out of their usual Sunday morning routine to join me for Zoom worship with UUFKC as well as UUGP. Today, I am excited to provide details of a plan for three weeks of shared worship between our SOUUP congregations in February 2021, focusing on the theme of beloved community.

Like UUFKC, UUGP offers a Zoom worship service at 10:30am each Sunday. On Sunday, 2/14, all three SOUUP congregations will join UUFKC’s Zoom, and RVUUF and UUGP will have the opportunity to experience Sunday morning with UUFKC. The following week, 2/21, UUGP will open their Zoom sanctuary to the people of RVUUF and UUFKC. Then, on 2/28, for something completely different, we’ll join RVUUF for their pre-recorded worship service (available to watch on YouTube at your convenience) followed by “Coffee Hour” fellowship time via Zoom at 11:30am, where we’ll be able to share together in small-group discussion and do the work of relationship building that is the foundation of beloved community.

So, for the last three weeks of February, two of your Sunday mornings will be a bit different from what you’re used to. On the 21st, you’ll still log on to Zoom at 10:30am, but the service will be managed by the folks at UUGP, using the readings and worship elements that are part of their liturgy. On the 28th, the whole flow of the morning will be different, as I’ve described above. I want to ask you to enter February with an open mind. In addition to building beloved community, my hope is that we will be able to learn from each other, to see what we appreciate most from the different worship styles our communities have, what we can bring back that will work in our individual congregations, or what we really appreciate about our own ways of doing things. I also hope that as we invest our time in small-group sharing with our SOUUP siblings across the region on the 28th, we’ll reinforce the connections that already exist between us.

One of the great joys I’ve found in my internship so far is making connections: connecting local organizers to folks doing similar work on a national scale; connecting individuals in one congregation to counterparts doing similar work in another SOUUP community; connecting Southern Oregon UUs with opportunities to learn, act or worship with our larger denomination and affiliated organizations. I see our coming together for these three Sunday mornings in February as one more piece of the work of “empowering connection,” as RVUUF says in their mission statement. I hope you will accept this invitation to experience new ways to worship and connect with our faith siblings in Southern Oregon next month.

A COVID Carol by Sally

O come all ye sinners

            but only up to six feet

                        and smile

            behind your mask

It’s the festive season

            see the traffic

                        and the mobs out shopping    

            don’t go there

Retreat to Zoom

            and look your best

                        lipstick and earrings

                                    sweatpants and slippers

Send your love

            across the airwaves

spread it into cyberspace

            podcasts and YouTube

                        let it go viral

O listen all you citizens of

            right here on earth

                        can you hear the stirrings

                                    can you smell the ozone

it’s time, it’s time, it’s past time

No chance to go back now

                        =this just in=

                                    it’s a new morn, a new day

Embrace the change, be the change

                                    Glory, hallelujah

This COVID Carol was shared at our December 27th Discussion Worship by fellowship member Sally. We are pleased to share it here with her permission.

Klamath Falls UUs: Putting our values into action at the City Council

Big gratitude to those from UUFKC who continue to side with love by bringing our Unitarian Universalist principles into the public square. We’ve seen many letters to the editor by members and friends over the last few months. Most recently, at the December meeting of the Klamath Falls City Council, our Social Justice Chair Courtney and Board Chair Franny both spoke in support of the resolution, recommended by the Council’s Equity Task Force, “condemning racism, prejudice, and bigotry in any form and recognizing the individual, societal, and economic harm caused by these inequities.”

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.

Aspirations by Alison: Celebrating Thanksgrieving

WHY THANXGRIEVING?
for years, i had a hard time conceptually giving thanks on a holiday when the major players in the holiday had been massacred and their lands had been invaded and occupied: whoa! how to give thanks for that, dude?! i mean, just sit with that for a moment: if you look at it from that perspective, other than commemorating it so that no one would forget what had happened, would you really want to celebrate that day? […] Part of my main purpose in writing about WHY THANXGRIEVING? is that doing this is part of my assignment in the world to REMEMBER THE “FORGOTTEN”, especially those who lost their lives in the HIV pandemic.”

— Ibrahim Baba Farajaje, of blessed memory, former Provost & spiritual ancestor to Starr King School for the Ministry

Nearly a month out from Thanksgiving, my words have been slow to come, but no less necessary to be written and shared. Baya Akomolafe, Nigerian poet, philosopher, psychologist, and professor, shares an African saying with his audiences: “The times are urgent, let us slow down.” I’m embracing the slow path, and hope you will join me here. 

Ibrahim Baba’s words above are part of a longer piece where ze explores the Thansgrieving ritual ze adopted after a friend who had hosted their community’s epic queer Friendsgiving celebration lost his life to AIDS just before the holiday. The holiday season can be a time of deep grief for many of us, remembering those who are no longer here to celebrate with us, or being unable to go home to our family of origin because of ruptures there. This year, we also grieve the ways we are used to celebrating that are not safe right now because of the global pandemic. 

As Thanksgiving came and passed, I felt deeply the grief that came with the holiday. Just weeks before, the Southern Oregon UU Partnership community learned from Monica YellowOwl about the experience of land seizure and genocide that the Klamath, Yahooskin, and Modoc peoples, on whose lands UUFKC makes its home, have endured. Our training brought home the reality of what we celebrate at Thanksgiving: indigenous genocide at the hands of my ancestors. This Thanksgiving, I also felt the grief of watching as the media portrayed the white murderer of a young black man in Ashland as a loving father fallen on tough times, sharing the murderer’s GoFundMe page before any information on the victim or ways to support his family. (I won’t link to those news articles, but you can learn more about this incident from the perspective of local black activists HERE.) I felt grief this year as I confronted these layers of the meaning of whiteness in Southern Oregon. 

But I didn’t honor Thanksgrieving. Instead, I tried to push the grief away and press on. What right do I have to take time to feel the pain of systems of oppression that I benefit from? I asked myself. But that wasn’t helpful, and it wasn’t possible to avoid the grief. My better self knows this, and I’ve even preached it. Our service in October, drawing from Resmaa Menakem’s text My Grandmother’s Hands reminds us to use the tools of settling our body to stay with even the hard feeling, so that our pain can be metabolized instead of living inside of our bodies as trauma. I’ve included a video of that worship service below, in case you need the reminder too. 

It was about a week after Thanksgiving when I realized I had no choice but to pause and feel the grief. And as I wept, I remembered a promise I made to you in September in the covenant I shared at my first worship service as your intern minister: I promise to serve as a conduit through which the Spirit of Life may flow into our midst. To fully live into that promise, I had to stop and feel the grief. Grief flows from the Spirit of Life in the face of life made disposable, life desecrated, love nowhere to be found. Sometimes, the Spirit moves us to grieve. So even if you’re celebrating late like me, I encourage you to celebrate Thanksgrieving this holiday season by allowing yourself time and space to feel the grief so many of us are holding right now for so many reasons. 

In Faith, 

Alison Duren-Sutherland
Intern Minister

CHALICE CRAFTING WITH THE SOUTHERN OREGON UU PARTNERSHIP

The flaming chalice is the symbol of Unitarian Universalism. At UUFKC, we light a chalice at the start of every Sunday worship service. By making your own chalice, you can join in on Sunday and light your own chalice at home!

Southern Oregon UU Partnership Intern Minister Alison is offering three different chalice crafting options for your family. Watch the video above to learn how to make a Candy Dish Chalice, visit the Children’s Program page of the Rogue Valley UU Fellowship (rvuuf.org/worship/childrens-program/) and click on the picture to learn how to make a Plastic Egg Chalice, and visit UUs of Grants Pass on Facebook (www.facebook.com/UUGrantsPass) to learn how to make a Wine Glass Chalice.

All the materials for these crafts can be found at the dollar store, but if you would like materials provided to your family via postal mail, please email intern.minister@rvuuf.org with your mailing address. You do not have to be a kid to make a chalice! They also make great gifts. Happy crafting, and happy chalice lighting!

December Chronicles by Barbara Turk

Now only in memories and Archives’ photos are the many December Sunday services and the, “Stone Soup Story”. Also, a roaring fire in the big fireplace, and the excitement of children in late December.

THANKS to Monica YellowOwl and Sally Ann Palcovich for their recent sharing with us.

—Former and late Gov. Tom McCall said our heroes are not only the statues in parks, but the individuals working in their community, for the community.—

THANKS to Faith Leith for stepping up as a candidate for the Oregon legislature.

CONGRATS to Phil Studenberg on his election to a second term on our City Council.

CONDOLENCES…to Dr. Rand Hale and family, on the recent passing of his mother. Pre-retirement Dr. Hale served many of us as PCP.

…to the family of Dr. Sharon Melnick. She, too, had a lot of history with many of us. Physician and psychiatrist, Sharon was also a shaman. With her late husband, Robert Chinook, also a shaman, “They established a community of healers and performed innumerable rituals for community members at times of grief, celebration, and solstice.” (H&N obit)

UUFKC HISTORY TIDBIT: HOW KIN FOUGHT THE OCA

In the 1990’s progressive ministers formed the Klamath Interfaith Network, having left the Klamath ministers’ group, which supported the Oregon Citizens Alliance. The OCA put anti-LGBTQ on our Oregon ballots, over three election cycles. The OCA’s ballot measures passed three times in Klamath County, but failed, state-wide, three times.

KIN activists included Robert Chinook, Ben Kerns, Lou and me, along with liberal, mainstream ministers. We asserted the OCA’s hate messages were not a part of every Klamath County heart. That was quite a gift to our community, our churches, the UUFKC.

Tho KIN no longer exists, an off-shoot is the Peace Readers, vibrant and active. A number of us, along with, “friends” of UUFKC are involved.

Lastly, Julia Jackman broke her ankle; Terri Horn is my, “sister” in breast cancer recovery. HEAL!!!

JOYOUS HOLIDAYS!

–Barbara Turk, turkiyebabs@charater.net