this I believe: chuck wells

On Sunday May 5, Chuck Wells gave us a presentation of: This I have Come to Believe. Following is the text of that discussion.

THIS I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE

May 5, 2019

I have struggled and searched during my 93 years to find the beginnings, growth and the Realization that constitutes the ‘essence’ of my spiritual being.

I have enjoyed the wonder of the process in its anxious and disturbing encounters and confrontations with my fellow human and other beings, and of course with mortality.

So here are a few of my observations of ‘The Human Comedy.’

I see no evidence of Divine Creation in this universe as I understand it.

Miraculous, yes, but not ‘Devine.’

There is no evidence of Divinity guiding us in the manner that we, the more sentient

species, have conducted and rationalized our behavior toward one another.

How we have so much fear and hate expressed throughout our various cultural and

religious values, while deeply knowing that, at best, we have one life.

As does every other one of us on this earth.

So how can we in good human conscience exploit others and believe in a benevolent

source?

No matter the range of our religious orientations, we all have the blood of avarice and

conflicting cultural dichotomies on our hands.

On too frequent occasion we have done unto others as we fear they may do unto us. And history tells us that is so, for good evidentiary reason. It happens over and over.

This grim game has existed in every culture, in every faith and under every form of government to a dominant andcontrolling degree ever since we banded together.

The battle cries sound from “Onward Christian Soldiers” to every other cultural faith’s

own version of supplication for security.

Yet within this continuous conflict is the countervailing expression of love and grace

under fire and under suppression.

Nearly all of us have an innate sense of fairness.

And each have needs for the basics of existence, love and self-esteem, and self expression.

Unfortunately these universal human needs have been, and are, the currency of the dominating cultures and egocentric controllers.

I should acknowledge them and perhaps thank them for having demonstrated to me my innocence as to what we are capable of.

Some of these people I have known and still experience some as adversaries.

And so they have contributed to the formation of my calling, my nature and my spirituality.

Socially, what else is there to do other than to retain my dignity, self-worth and capacity to love and enjoy my fellows and our Heaven here on earth?

The dominant culture is unable or unwilling to recognize that by never having put a survival for humanity value on natural resources they have de facto condemned our nature to a slow uninhabability.

They are threatening life’s balance and future existence. Environmentally speaking our economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of nature.

Nature is still here, and so far supporting this blinded human rationalization.

So we wake up each day and confront the same problem. To paraphrase Sally,

Do we celebrate this primal experience of awesome wonder of living in nature or do we once again stand into the life and death fight to save and restore our earthly habitat? We generally are compelled to do both. And then have a Sundowner glass in celebration of the glory of it all.

Primary reverence expression here if time allows.

Education/ Transformation

a performance project in which seven KCC students who have experienced challenges in getting a college education will be performing monologues about their experiences.

There will be two performances.  The first will be in Building Seven, on the KCC campus, on Thursday, May 16th, at 5 pm. The second will be at the First Presbyterian Church, which is at 601 Pine Street, in downtown Klamath Falls, on Sunday, May 19th at 2 pm.

Attendance at both performances is free of charge and a reception will follow each of the performances.

The seven students participating in the project have experienced a range of serious challenges, which have made it difficult for them to consider attending college as well as staying in college.  Among those challenges are physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and asthma, mental disabilities such as bipolar disease, depression and anxiety, PTSD in the wake of service in the military, recovery from substance abuse, childhood and adult experiences involving physical abuse, being a non-native speaker of English and attending college as an older student.  Each of the performers has an inspiring story to tell about making a very real success of college in spite of these challenges.  Each anticipates a bright future. 

Klamath Community College gratefully acknowledges grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and from the Klamath County Cultural Coalition, which have funded the project along with the Klamath Community College Foundation.

The Project Facilitator is Carol Imani, who has been a community college writing instructor for twenty-five years. She has also overseen two similar writing and performance projects, With You on the Journey (in which family members of people in prison told their stories) and Shaping a Future (in which individuals newly out of prison presented monologues about why they went to prison, life in prison, and how they are adjusting to life after prison). 

Chip Massie, who is the Acting Vice President of External Affairs at Klamath Community College, and who has directed community theater productions in Klamath Falls for over twenty years, directs the project.  

“A Work In Progress: Interview with Anya Kawka”

By Carol Imani

When I asked Anya Kawka if she would be my next subject for an interview she tried to persuade me to choose someone else. “Everyone knows who I am, so I think it would be better for you to talk to one of our newer members” she said.  I didn’t agree.  I thought that, although Anya is probably the highest profile person in our fellowship, few of us know much about her other than what we see her doing on Sunday mornings. But I tried to oblige her and scheduled an interview with a newer member. Before I could talk with that person, though, she went out of town for a week and the deadline for newsletter was approaching. So at that point Anya was willing to sit down for a talk with me under a large pink tree in full bloom in her yard and here’s what transpired.

Anya first came to Klamath Falls in 2015, “as the trailing spouse” from The Dalles, where she grew up, because her husband, Michal, had gotten a job running the TRIO program (for students with special needs) at OIT.  At that point, their son, Bogdan, so familiar to us all, was just seven months old, and Anya and Michal visited various congregations to see which might be a good fit.  She had grown up as a Catholic, and although “that was a meaningful upbringing” she’d also had a crisis of faith in high school when she realized that she could not believe in Jesus as the son of God.  “When we went to the Unitarians we met Chuck and Sally and the second week Sally asked me to be the treasurer.  ‘But I hate numbers, I hate math’ I said and Sally’s response was ‘Well, someone’s got to do it’ and after two years of that Chuck asked me if I’d be the president of the fellowship. I really struggled with that, because I felt that I still wasn’t even sure what UU is all about. But Chuck said ‘Oh, that’s okay.  We just need someone to deal with the administrivia.’  So, in 2017 Anya, who previous experience overseeing things was as the Programming Coordinator for the Parks and Recreation District in the Dalles, became the President of the Fellowship, or more accurately called the Chair of the Board.

What enabled Anya to feel comfortable in her new role was attending a UU Regional Assembly in Eugene, especially a workshop about the meaning of “Beloved Community”  in which the facilitator “had us share our various beliefs about religion, which turned out to be quite different and we learned that being in a ‘beloved community’ means not hiding our differences, but embracing them in an atmosphere of acceptance.”

More confidence building came from Reverend Sara Schurr, a Unitarian minister based in Portland, who acts as a consultant to regional UU fellowships of under 75 people, and one of the ways in which she was helpful was in offering Board Development days.  Among the things Anya absorbed were

  1. You can’t please everybody
  2. Don’t pander to the hecklers
  3. In making decisions for the fellowship the first priority should always be “Does this serve our mission”

After being intensely involved in all aspects of the fellowship since then, Anya is now cutting back on her involvement a bit.  Though she won’t be on the board any longer she will still be chairing the RE (Religious Explorations) Committee and still sitting in on board meetings for a while.  She has witnessed a number of key changes in the fellowship over the last few years, and says they were prompted, in large part by how “We’re no longer a congregation in a cupboard, but are now renting the space for our exclusive use.”  That has led to, among other things, more programming, including Art Nights, Family Game Nights, and New Member Orientation.  And that, in turn, has made the process of becoming a member much more clear than in the past.   Another change has been participation in the process of becoming a “Welcoming Congregation for LGBTQ people” which has included putting a “non-discrimination clause” in our bylaws.  And all of these changes “have helped us gain new members.”  In addition, she says that now “I’ll get to focus on things I particularly enjoy such as overseeing the social media page, as well as outreach, marketing.”

Anya runs a small daycare business from her home during the week, and was motivated to start that when she discovered that “Klamath Falls has a huge shortage of childcare options.  I just wanted a place where the TV would not be on all day, and the food would be healthy and that was impossible to find.”  But now that Bogdan will be starting kindergarten in the fall she’ll be phasing the business out since, although it’s been fun, it’s also been “exhausting.”  And she’s started doing an online masters in education from the University of Oregon.

I asked why she’s doing the degree, phrasing it in terms of that silly question “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” and she said that actually she might like to found an alternative school someday.  “I think that school is less about kids finding their own strengths than having to conform to one-size-fits-all norms, less about figuring out who you are, than capitulating to standardization.” 

She also told me that her undergraduate major, at Willamette University, had been theater.  But “not acting” she said, “more production: bossing people around, organizing them” and so that might also have a role in what the future holds.  Certainly those skills would come in handy in running a school.

In the meantime, she and Michal try to visit Michal’s family in Poland every other year. So that must add another dimension of experience to whatever comes next for her.  I didn’t get to hear about those trips, though, because Bogdan, who had gone into the house to use the bathroom, left the keys inside and locked everyone out.  So we said our goodbyes, and off they went to climb in a window.

April 2019 announcements

RE Committee 
March 9th, 7:00 pm
Conference call with Grants Pass’ RE team. Contact Anya for more info klamathuu@gmail.com


Inquirer’s Class

Wednesday, April 10th, 6:30 pm
What is Unitarian Universalism and is it what you’re looking for? What does it mean to become a member of UUFKC?
Ask these questions and more at the Inquirers’ class. A light dinner will be provided.
Childcare will be available!  

Camp Latagawa
Retreat from the heat of summer the weekend of August 16-18 , 2019 at beautiful Camp Latgawa. We hope you will join members, friends, and families from Rogue Valley UU Fellowship (in Ashland) to enjoy some of the best parts of summer! We want to get to know other UUs in Southern Oregon and grow a sense of community among our congregations.  Reply to klamathuu@gmail.com if you are interested in attending camp!  Camp rates:

YOU can lead Discussion Hour!
Choose a topic that interests you and come prepared to facilitate a discussion. This means making sure everyone gets a chance to be heard. You don’t have to be an expert. This is more about listening and sharing diverse viewpoints!  More Information and SIGN UP HERE

Choir Practice
Every 2nd Sunday at 9:30 am, downstairs in the ‘chapel’. 

Social Justice Committee
Meets every 4th Sunday. Current projects include “Share the plate” fundraising for PALM community dinners. Also, demonstrations of Love on the street. Also, updating policies on our Social Justice partnerships. Courtney Neubauer neubauer.courtney@gmail.com 

BOOKS FOR COFFEE CREEK – info provided by Barbara Turk
The UU Chaplain at Coffee Creek correctional facility is Rev. Sue Matranga-Watson, who will accept books dropped off in her name at the prison.  (She requests only Wicca/Pagan, newer books on Christianity, self-help, Buddhist/Hinduism/Taoism, mysteries,  and westerns, please.) The other UU Chaplain, Rev. Emily  Brault, doesn’t need books at this time. 
Alliance Member Corbett Gordon suggested Trish Brown is collecting books—from toddler to YA books, and especially picture books and easy readers—for children of women at Coffee Creek.  Trish Brown is collecting these books and donated money, but email Suzanne Kosanke if you’re interested in contributing.  (kosanke@hawaii.edu)   

Annual Meeting

Sunday, April 14th, following the service, approximately 12:00 pm. All members are invited to attend and vote on the future of their fellowship! We need a quorum of 30% of members to stay for the meeting. Agenda includes: 

  • eating pizza!
  • reviewing the budget!
  • voting for board members!
  • updating our bylaws to include a non-discrimination clause! Read the proposed update here.
  • celebrating a fabulous year together with a slide show and cake!

March 2019 Announcements

Inquirer’s class – an Orientation for Newcomers
Wednesday, March 6th at 6:00 pm
What is Unitarian Universalism and is it what you’re looking for?
What does it mean to become a member of UUFKC?
Ask these questions and more at the Inquirers’ class.
Led by Anya, Dawn and Barbara
Dinner and refreshments provided.
Childcare will be available!!
Join the event on Facebook!
Announcements
Choir Practice
Every 2nd Sunday at 9:30 am, downstairs in the ‘chapel’. 
This month we will be practicing the song “Filled with Loving Kindness” 
Listen to the song here.  All are welcome to come and learn the song!
Contact Franny or Anya with questions.

The Fellowship that plays together… stays together…
See pictures from our February Fellowship Fun Night!  Photo album

General Assembly June 19-23 in Spokane!
Housing & Registration opens March 1.
General Assembly is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist
Association. Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy
for the Association through democratic process. Anyone may attend;
congregations must certify annually to send voting delegates. Most
General Assembly events will be held in the Spokane Convention Center.

The Power of We
What do we want Unitarian Universalism to be? It is a time when we are
asking big questions in our faith, and GA 2019 will be focused on digging
into those questions together. It is a critical chance for congregational
leaders and passionate UUs to set new goals and aspirations for our
religious community. Help begin to reshape our Association and our
congregations in new and powerful ways.

This year’s theme is about collective power, “The Power of We,” as well as
the possibility, the purpose, the struggle and the joy of what it means to
be together in faithful community. In the past two years, Unitarian
Universalism has recommitted to the work of liberation inside and outside our faith community. The antidote to a time of dangerous dehumanization
is a love that connects us to our deeper humanity. Come to Spokane to
experience what our shared faith can become when we embrace the Power of We.

Church Chronicles March 2019

In an early 2019 email I read of a book by Jack Kornfield*, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.   (Ain’t that the truth! )  “…after even the most cosmic and profound  experience, we go back to our daily lives and tend to our chickens or children, or paperwork”  (or all the above).

Recently, UU Church of the Larger Fellowship minister, Meg Riley**, declared, “Looking at the piles of bills, to-do lists & emails, as tiny, petty annoyances to deal with before I do something  fun, OR I can look at them as gift opportunities for connection, for meaningful conversation, for decision making and creative future design”.

She continues, “It’s kind of a cliche and kind of a truism that how we do one thing is how we do everything”.   “…remember to re-center and inhabit one’s life.”

Rev. Meg closed sharing her practice of each morning stepping out her door (in Minnesota) and declaring out loud, “This is the day I have been given.  How do I choose to show up for it?” As Art Buchwold put it, “Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, it is the only time we have.”

AND, we wish rewarding times to DAWN ALBRIGHT in her new position as Coordinator for the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, (dalbright@oregoncounties.org).  

*  J. Kornfield, Vipassana Buddhist teacher

**  Meg Riley, Sr. Minister, UUCLF, Jan 2919

                                                                ###

UU Interview: Eddie Sackinger

Cuddle Puddles, Cluster Cons and Embedded Systems

Eddy Sackinger says that he has a “vivid memory” of leading a meeting of YIC and YAC from a “cuddle puddle” and “I very much miss it.”

“Oh,” I said, feeling totally clueless, until he explained that a “cuddle puddle” was a bunch of kids lying on the floor with their heads on each other’s stomachs, YAC was the Youth Adult Council, YIC was the Youth Involvement Committee, and both were at the Unitarian Fellowship in Corvallis, where Eddy, as a teenager, truly became a Unitarian, and where he led these groups, maybe not always from a cuddle puddle. Listening to this, I was beginning to feel acrynymed-out, but in those days Eddy also belonged to YRUU, Youth Religious Unitarian Universalists, which enabled him to go on trips to places like state parks and participate in “Cluster Cons,” which I think he said were three-day overnights.

Who knew that interviewing Eddy would be so challenging. I knew that, as one of the oldsters at our Klamath Falls fellowship I was always happy to see Eddy, first of all for his warm and gracious self, but then too because, since he’s all of 24, having him around, and knowing that he has been a Unitarian for a long time, made me feel that nobody could accuse our fellowship of not having age diversity. “Yes, I am the token young adult” he said when I told him about those feelings, but “that’s begun to change over the last few months. Now we’ve got Courtney and Brittany.”

Eddy started out in Tualatin, a suburb of Portland, and moved to Corvallis at age eight when his dad, who is a mechanical engineer, got a job there. He didn’t arrive in Klamath Falls until 2013, to attend OIT and major in “embedded systems” something which, for me, also required an explanation. Embedded systems, I learned, are computers in other devices, such as cellphones, digital cameras, and cars, for instance. Eddy anticipates graduating from OIT in 2020 and wants to write software for companies which make the hardware for those devices.

His academic career, however, hasn’t been all smooth-going. He dropped out of OIT for a while in 2015, feeling that he just wasn’t prepared for the challenge of some of the courses he was required to take, in particular calculus. He got a job for a while with Klamath Technology Services and then, “wanting to explore the world” enrolled in an Americorps program called City Year, where he was placed at San Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas, as a tutor in a math class. Talking about that experience his face lights up and “It was wonderful” he says. There was a great deal of ethnic and racial diversity at the school and “For the first time in my life I was interacting with people truly different than me. I realized how much I valued diversity, and so that experience involved values clarification in many ways.” Also, he says, “The food in Texas is amazing, particularly breakfast tacos.”

Back in the Northwest Eddy spent a year in Portland, going to Portland Community College and working at Best Buy. Then a vacancy at the house which his parents own in Klamath Falls opened up and Eddy decided to tackle OIT again. Things went better than had the first time around, in part, says Eddy, because “In San Antonio I had to be a role model, advocating for others, and that taught me how to advocate for myself.” So, when things got rough again in math classes and other classes, Eddy was no longer afraid to ask questions and work out the issues.

“Also” he says “I came back because I was missing the fellowship here. It’s a welcoming community, a place where I feel morally grounded and personally valued, and you guys make me feel older than my age suggests that I am.”

“At the end of the day life is about people.”

–Carol Imani, February 26, 2019

Fellowship Fun Night

Wednesday, February 13th
6:00 pm  at the UU Fellowship Hall


Join us for an all-ages extravaganza as you get to know your fellow Unitarians in a whole new way! Compete at valentine’s-themed relay races, Minute-to-Win-It games,  make a craft, or just eat heart-shaped candy!
Pizza dinner provided; bring a side to share, if you can!
No cost.

All ages welcome, 1 to 101
Hosted by Franny and Anya  Join the Event on Facebook

Julia Jackman: Immediacy and connection

As someone who has been involved with the Klamath UU Fellowship for many years, I’ve known Julia Jackman for a long time.  But interviewing her for our newsletter turned out to be a joy as I realized that, in a sense, I’ve hardly known Julia at all and was so pleased to be getting better acquainted.

Julia grew up in Santa Barbara, California and attended the University of California in Santa Cruz, majoring in environmental studies and minoring in politics.  It was in Santa Cruz that she met her husband-to-be, Bob Jackman after they had both graduated from UCSC. Bob was then accepted to medical school at George Washington University in Washington D.C., and wanted Julia to come along. However, when she was uncertain that she wanted to make that commitment, having known him for only six months, he just waited, another year as it turned out, until she was ready and they took a two-and-a-half month journey across the country to D.C., where they’d be for four years.

In Santa Cruz Julia had developed an interest in massage therapy, and completed a massage certification program.  In D.C. her primary goal was to work in the environmental field, but the first job she got there was working part-time at a massage therapy business. She then also got a job with a consulting company which worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, looking at ways to reduce greenhouse gases through increasing energy efficiency, and then after that at the International Institute for Energy Conservation, which sought to interest other countries in adopting more efficient technologies.  However, worthy as those jobs were, Julia realized that she really wanted to work one-to-one with people and so thought she might do a masters degree program in nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle.  Bob was in the Navy, though, while in medical school, and the Navy decided to send him to Pensacola, Florida to do a residency in Family Medicine, (not exactly Seattle) and while there, Julia became pregnant with their daughter, Rowan, who was born in 1995. Fascinated with the process of pregnancy, Julia shifted her focus to pursuing becoming certified as a childbirth educator.

Next came a move to Mystic, Connecticut for four years, where Bob trained as an undersea medical officer, and their second child, Rylan, a son, was born in 1998.

In 1999 the family moved to Klamath Falls, where Bob did three more years of a residency at Cascades East. But, in considering the possibility of becoming a childbirth educator Julia realized that it just wasn’t practical. Bob was frequently on call, and as a childbirth educator, as well as a mom with two young children, she’d have to be on-call too, and so she decided against it.  The idea of pursuing a massage therapy career began to appeal to her again and “Four nights a week for nine months I went over the hill to classes in Ashland at The Ashland Institute of Massage and got my license.”

These days, “Bob is Associate Professor at Cascades East Family Medicine, so he is doctor to his own patients and supervises and teaches young doctors, oversees the clinic, and lots of other stuff. Rowan is in Portland now after a year living in Australia, and is trying to find work. Rylan is living in Salt Lake City and works as a cook/chef-in-training at a high-end restaurant called Table X. And I am a massage therapist. I love my work. I love the immediacy of it, and the true connection to people it gives me. I love being able to help people learn about and connect to their bodies, and of course it is so satisfying to give people some measure of relief from pain and discomfort.  It is almost magical at times.”

Julia finds a similar sense of “immediacy and connection” through “Spending time with my two doggies, Poppy and Bella (especially hiking with them, pretty much a daily activity!), and my horses Luna and Jojo. Animals are so basic, honest, uncomplicated in their motives, and so loving,” and other activities which give her a sense of connection to the physical world, such as gardening, walking/hiking, and cooking.

Her involvement with the Unitarian Universalist Church has been long and rich, beginning in Connecticut and continuing here in Klamath Falls as soon as the family arrived. “I was roped into being greeter for a future service by our founder Ben Kerns the first time I attended. He was charismatic and it was hard to say no to him! Over the years, I have served as religious education coordinator, secretary, president and treasurer (at the same time), briefly groundskeeper (I gave that up quickly as I could barely keep up with my own yard!), newsletter editor, and general board member. Periodically I tried to escape from these duties, but some crisis or another kept pulling me back in: after the fire, I couldn’t help but ask Rev. Patt and Phil if help was needed; Patt asked me to take on communications. Then more recently, when the great and honorable Sally Wells asked if I might take over her role as worship coordinator, I HAD to say yes…a person doesn’t say no to Sally!

“I have been both active participant in and observer of our Fellowship. I have seen it grow and diminish, and loved it and its people, and been frustrated by it. I don’t have a favorite sermon, but one of the best memories is of when we had the Tibetan Monks come and create a mandala in the center of our sanctuary. It was the most amazing and beautiful experience watching these souls praying, chanting and creating a beautiful and very intricate sand mandala, and then deliberately demolish it after blessing it with prayers of peace. That was a very meaningful lesson about the impermanence of all things. More recently, I have really enjoyed hearing Bill Martin’s services. Thanks Phil for bringing him in initially! 

“While I loved our old site and building, the fire was a blessing in disguise. We had become, in my opinion, more attached to the building and location than to the reality and potential of our fellowship. Caring for that building was ultimately a restriction to our growth; it was a lot of work and required more time and money than we could provide. Relocating to downtown has opened a lot of doors and opportunities for us. I like that we are sharing space with another faith community but I would like to someday see us have our own building again (an easier one to maintain, hopefully!). I have really enjoyed having Anya as a “leader” these past couple years. She has been so good for the Fellowship in terms of improving organization and professionalism. I am excited that we have finally made a solid connection to our southern Oregon fellowships. I have hopes that we will continue to grow and become more and more relevant and active in the community as a whole, both as a spiritual source and a place of hope, sanity and positive change.”

                                                                                                Carol Imani

                                                                                                January 29, 2019