Friday Update November 17, 2023


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Friday Update

On Being Human
November 19, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.
 Online and in-person
Rev. Leslie Mills
It can be argued that religious community is where we come together to figure out what it means to be human. What does it mean to be in relationship with the world around us? How do we know who we are as individuals? Drawing on both Eastern and Western philosophy, we will explore a few options to bring depth and meaning to our understanding of our essential nature, perhaps even elevating our experience of our daily life from mundane to mythic.

Raised a third generation Unitarian Universalist, she grew up playing outdoors, reading lots of novels, singing, and making art, before becoming a science educator at a children’s hands-on museum – that being the Discovery Center right here in Rockford, IL, when she was part of this church. Her years in seminary sparked her passion for social justice and for travel, while also encouraging her exploration of indigenous shamanism and Japanese martial arts. She holds rank in Ki-Aikido, the Japanese martial art of peace, and has traveled around the country and even to Japan to attend seminars. She has served congregations in Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  Welcome back, Leslie!

Order of Service

We will Share the Plate with Angelic Organics Learning Center
Angelic Organics Learning Center builds sustainable local food and farm systems through experiential education and training programs in partnership with rural and urban people.
Click Here to Donate

Volunteers for Sunday, November 19
Greeters: We Need 2 Volunteers
Guest Table: We Need 2 Volunteers
Ushers: Dick Lake & Myrna Lake
Coffee Hosts: Lia Gima & We Need 1 More Volunteer

Please note that if you volunteer for coffee host you will need to clean up afterward and run the cups through the sanitizer. Spitty and others are happy to help you become familiar with how to handle this easy job.
Sign Up Here

Out of the Office

Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson will be on study leave starting November 13th – November 19th and on vacation from November 20th – 27th. In that time please contact Office Manager Autumn Powell at if you need anything.

The office will be closed November 22 – 24.

Office Manager Autumn Powell will be on vacation from November 27th – December 3rd. 

Kairos articles for the November 21 and 28 Kairos are due November 20 by 8:00 p.m.

We will be holding our annual holiday collection to support Rockford MELD again this year.  Look for the small MELD tree near the stairs in the narthex.  You are invited to choose an ornament from the tree with an item requested by a family listed on the back of it.  You may choose more than one ornament.  Once you have purchased the items listed on the ornament, place them in the bin in the narthex designated for MELD donations.  Please do not wrap the items that you donate.
Thank you for supporting Rockford MELD, a non-profit social service agency started in 1981.  The organization provides programs and services for young parents and their children in the Rockford community.  MELD offers emergency shelter and housing, parenting information, life and job skills training, support, resources, and prevention education.
Donations will be collected through Sunday, December 10. 

We celebrate the life of The Rev. Cynthia Barnes Johnson.  Rev. Johnson did a sabbatical ministry for us in Rockford in the 1990s and remains beloved for this work.  She was a treasure.  – Rev. Matthew. 

Cynthia Barnes Johnson, May 30, 1942 – November 13, 2023.

Cynthia had an amazing life.

She was born in Rockford on May 30, 1942. Her parents were Phoebe and Bill Barnes. Her older sister is Caryl Barnes and younger brother is Peter (Linda) Barnes.

Cynthia had an outstanding marriage to Albert Johnson for over 60 years. They started dating in high school, but had casually known each other their whole lives. She was a wonderful mother to Bruce Johnson, Tad Johnson (Beth Von Ohlen), and Ellen (Charlie) Willmore and a wonderful grandmother to Alexander, Lucinda, Netta and Wyatt.

Cynthia had a life-long love of words, writing poetry beginning in the second grade. Cynthia published two books of poetry and has hundreds of unpublished poems. Her favorite part of ministry was preparing a meaningful sermon for every Sunday service.

She loved learning. Cynthia was a voracious reader. At Grinnell College she pursued her own reading interests, not always compatible with her required reading as an English major. She took religion classes at Lawrence University, earned an MS in Curriculum and Supervision from UW-Oshkosh and a Masters of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at SMU. She was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1991 by the First Unitarian Church of Dallas.

She taught 5th grade in Grinnell, IA and Berwyn, IL. Cynthia was a community leader in Appleton. During her 16 years there, she was president of the League of Women Voters twice, served on various boards and commissions, briefly ran a daycare center and worked part-time at UW-O and Lawrence. After ordination, she held several ministerial positions in Dallas and was called to be the minister of the First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City in 1995.

In 2000, Cynthia and Al retired to Door County where she continued to periodically preach, teach classes and perform weddings and memorial services. In Door County, she took up painting and was active at the Peninsula School of Art and in various poetry groups.  It was a life well lived!

Her family is grateful for many friends and caregivers who supported Cynthia and Al throughout her years with dementia and for Unity Hospice for their care and guidance during her final five months of life.

Memorial gifts may be given to Unity Hospice, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County, the Door County Land Trust or your favorite Door County cause.

A memorial service will be held in December.

Casperson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Sister Bay is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Cynthia may be shared with her family through her tribute page at


Church is More than The Big Picture
There are also small things.

  • Who answers the phone with a smile when you don’t know how to get into the church database?
  • Who takes a bunch of 2-year-olds outside Monday – Friday at Woodsong Nature School rain or shine? Not me.
  • Who finds musicians to spice up our choir’s special music?
  • Who cleans up after Sunday service? Even if there is no coffee hour.

During this holiday season, would you like to remember the staff for the small details that make this church run? Add to the “Holiday Gift Fund”  before December 14. Two ways:

  1. Drop off a check to the office, or the Sunday offering, labeled “Holiday Gift Fund”.
  2. On-Line. Go to Donate and make sure to select “Holiday Gift” as the fund.

Taste of Soul
Sunday, December 3
11:45 – 1:00

Are you curious about our Soul Matters Groups?
Experience a Taste of Soul Matters to learn about the process 
and reflect together on December’s theme “Mystery”.

We will have soup and bread and a brief session.

No sign-up necessary. 

for  Adults

Do you people do anything but talk about sex? No. Not really. The Unitarian Universalist Association has developed a stellar comprehensive sex education curriculum known as Our Whole Lives. As the title suggests, it is not a one and done, but rather a topic to be revisited as we grow and mature. Join us as Wendy Bennett and Leah Krippner facilitate an adult exploration of sexuality in the 21st century. Anyone 18 and up is welcome to join. 

This month we will Explore Gender focusing on gender roles and stereotypes, sex vs. gender, transgender, and the queer umbrella. Folks are welcome to join for a single session or sign up for all six. 



Click Link to sign up


Wednesday Jan 17 6:30pm

Sexuality & Aging

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Wednesday Feb 21 6:30pm

Experiencing the Sexual Other

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Wednesday March 20 6:30pm

Sexuality & Relationships

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Wednesday April 17 6:30pm

Sexuality & Spirituality

Sign up!

Wednesday May 15 6:30pm

Sexual Pleasure

Sign up!

Past Sunday Services

Did you know you can watch past Sunday services anytime? We have them on our website under past worship services so you never have to miss a Sunday! Click here to find a service that you haven’t seen yet! You can also always go to our Facebook and YouTube pages.

The Board of Trustees: 
President: Spitty Tata 
Clerk: Kim Lowman Vollmer
Vice-President: Matt Menze
Treasurer: Steve Blomgren
Trustees: Clark Logemann, Sarah Greer, & Rebecca Beneditz

The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL  |   4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107   |   815-398-6322    |  |

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