The Things I Cannot Change May 2 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Online Only
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
Some of us are taught that we are masters of our universe. But there are so many things that happen that we cannot change. Over the last year, in particular, we have often felt so powerless. Some of us are used to this feeling, while others are not. What would it mean to “accept the universe,” as Unitarian poet Margaret Fuller once proclaimed? How might “accepting what we cannot change” change us?
We will Share the Plate with R.U.M. RUM works on social justice issues, supports and initiates programs and ministries for the good of the city. Click Here to Donate
Happy Birthday to: Libby Parker (04/28) & Sue Wilke (04/28) Ruth Penticoff (05/01), Clark Logemann (05/02), Randy Pellman (05/02), Robert Vogl (05/02), Roger Benedict (05/02), Leigh Kuyper (05/03), & Ed Foster (05/04)!
Matthew’s Memo April 27th, 2021
Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken time to let you know about exciting things happening in the church, and about our upcoming stewardship campaign. I’ve shared that we need folks to “move on up” the steps of giving so that we can fulfill our mission. You’ve heard from the board about why they are generous with the church.
We sent out three videos: one with Lindsay Dunn and I talking about Religious Education; one with Tim Anderson and I talking about music; and one with Rev. Joyce Palmer and I talking about her new role as Assistant Minister, and the work of caring and welcome and spiritual growth. I’m very excited about the work we will do together this coming year!
One area I didn’t make a video about was Social Justice. But we also have exciting plans in this area. Before the pandemic, we made a plan to go deeper with our relationships with our key partners and programs. We had ideas about how to engage more of you in the work of justice-making so that we’re not leaning on a few folks to do the “work for us” but we are all “doing the work together.” Now that we can imagine what’s next, those plans will pick up speed. We will have extended foci on key issues, and how you can make a difference. We’ll strengthen our interfaith, multiracial, local, and national partnerships and associations. We’ll build a world of connected love through connection and love – for the method is the message.
We can do this – if we are all together.
Over the next few weeks, I hope you will attend one of the Stewardship Gatherings and meet with other UU’s to share why this place and these people matter to you.
Spring is bursting forth and we are bursting with enthusiasm for starting our Rambles.
We plan to Ramble at 2:00 pm on the second Wednesday of the month. In the event of tornados, incredible rain, or a plague of snakes we will move the Ramble to the following (third) Wednesday of the month.
You must be fully vaccinated to participate!
Date Place Facilitator
May 12 Kilbuck Forest Preserve Francie
June 9 Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve
July 14 Ferguson Forest Preserve Neita
Aug 11 Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve
Sep 8 Francie’s house at Wesley Willows Francie
Oct 13 Downtown Rockford’s murals Neita
Nov 10 Severson Dells Forest Preserve Sue Molyneaux
Library and/or trails
Dec 8 IKEA
We have also proposed a few extras that we might visit on a unscheduled whim:
Nygren Wetland Preserve lookout
Oak Ridge Forest Preserve
Searls Prairie and marsh
Harlem Hills Nature Preserve
Questions?? Ask Neita (815-541-3508) or Francie (815-904-1293)
Are you retired and monitoring your retirement account? Are you a millennial who wonders what it would be like to invest now in your retirement? Are you working for a company which has a 401k plan? Join the Rev. Dr. Sidney Morris on Wednesday night, May 5nd at 7 pm for an introduction to Socially Responsible Investing, or SRI, and its cousin, Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG.
Besides being a life-long UU and a retired ordained UU minister, Rev. Dr. Morris is committed to ethical investment. Her PhD dissertation was on ethical economics. In 1981, she joined 4 men to form the Calvert Social Investment Fund, the first mutual fund using SRI criteria. She is a pioneer in socially responsible investing.
In the UUA, Rev. Morris chaired the Socially Responsible Committee of the UUCEF, or UU Common Endowment Fund. In fact, the name, UUCEF, was established during her tenure between 2004 and 2008.
With this legendary guru, we will learn why there’s so much hype about Socially Responsible Investing — why, today, 1 of every 3 dollars of professionally managed assets is in SRI funds.
Rev. Sidney invites us to prepare for this session with a little homework. The US SIF association of SRI companies has a free, on-line class for individual investors. This program takes about 30 minutes if you don’t click on any of the links along the way. It’s a great introduction to SRI, and it doesn’t try to sell you anything. Take a look:
Then join Rev. Dr. Morris and me on May 5nd at: Zoom ID: 337-267-3668
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot
Clean Air at Church! We need your help!
We are planning to install 16 “Ion Generators” for our 16 HVAC units, which will keep the air in our building clean. These devices reduce the amount of dust, allergens, VOCs, and pathogens – including COVID – in the air. They are part of our way to keep us safe. Each until is $800. So, if you don’t need all of the $1400 American Rescue Plan payment many of you will soon get, and want to donate that to the church, we would be grateful. Send a check and mark it in the memo line, or give online and email us to let us know.
Drop-In Coffee Hour with the Intern Minister
Join us for informal conversation and community on Friday mornings! Can’t make that time? Contact Omega to set up another firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like to make a direct difference in the life of an incarcerated Unitarian Universalist? Are you looking for a way to volunteer on your own time from home? Do you like to write or receive letters? Would you like to learn more about prison ministry through the lens of relationship-building? The Church of the Larger Fellowship in partnership with UUPMI organizes the Pen Pal Program for incarcerated UUs. From their website:
Correspond with a fellow UU who lives in a United States prison
Bring a message of hope and make a big impact in someone’s life
Be one of hundreds of free-world pen pals who are at the heart of the CLF Prison Ministry
Get the support you need for this safe, easy, and rewarding letter writing ministry
Requires only a small commitment
Most CLF members in prison are new to Unitarian Universalism and learned about the CLF from friends or cellmates. With no access to the web or UU Sunday services, people who are incarcerated can only learn about Unitarian Universalism from the mailings we send them and the letters they exchange with our staff and other Unitarian Universalists like you!
Meeting ID: 337 267 3668
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Opportunity & invitation to help with community gardens
1. build friendships with folks who are different from us
2. grow real food
3. learn & teach gardening
4. enjoy time outside with others while accomplishing worthwhile goals
5. dirty hands, face & clothes – be in touch with the earth
6. identify bugs & perhaps overcome fear of them
– Spectrum School garden on church property
– Beautiful Beginnings @ Fairgrounds (Rockford Housing Authority family site) – Beautiful Beginnings K-8 21st Century One Room Schoolhouse @ Rockford Community Church, Auburn & Meridian
Beautiful Beginnings is a free private school which serves high-risk children who have been removed from or have abandoned public school. It pushes innovation envelopes by bringing learner-centered best practices and community support to children the system has failed. These include GED prep, apprenticeships, entrepreneur opportunities, and project-oriented, multi-age instruction. Community participation and wellness are critical to this mission, and I believe growing food and flowers will change children’s lives.
Beautiful Beginnings develops skills and self-reliance to successfully return to school or to enter into meaningful work. The children we serve often have no place to go other than the streets, gangs, or juvenile homes. Continuing to provide them opportunities to develop life skills, education, and hope has been imperative throughout this pandemic. We are a school and community center that gives young adults and adolescents a place to be, a place to hope and to believe in themselves when no one else does.
Lunch with Matthew
Each Wednesday, next one on April 28, you are invited to join Matthew and other church members at noon, at the church, to chat, catch up, and reconnect. We’ll talk about whatever is on our minds. Bring your own lunch if you like — and bring a lawn or folding chair, because we’ll be outside for this. (Vaccination encouraged but not required). If the weather is bad, we’ll skip that week, so check in with the church’s Facebook page if you’re unsure.
Around 12:45, those who are interested are invited to join Matthew on a walk through our neighborhood, as part of the “Faith Leaders ‘Walk the Neighborhood'” challenge. We’ll see what’s going on in our neighborhood — to celebrate and connect folks.
Do You Have Church Keys?
We want to make sure our records are correct and do a bit of “spring cleaning” on our security system. Please email Autumn at email@example.com with which keys you have, if you have a front door key we will need the number stamped on it and your security code. If you have lost any keys, it is ok! Just please let us know. If you do not need your church keys anymore you can drop them off in an envelope with your name written on it in our mailbox located outside the office doors.
Join us for a discussion about Intended: A Marriage in Black and White featuring author Sharon Nesbit-Davis on Saturday, May 15th at 11 am outdoors on church grounds. If the weather does not cooperate we will meet in Deale Hall. Social distancing and masks required. Intended is a memoir that explores race and relationships throughout the author’s life including her lived experience as a white woman marrying a black man. You won’t want to put this powerful and thought-provoking book down!
Sharon is a resident of Rockford and has been involved in the community in a variety of ways, including serving as the executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.
We hope you can join us for this meaningful event. To RSVP contact Office Manager Autumn Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copies are also available at Womanspace and through Amazon.
Eliminate Racism 815
Thursday, April 29, 2021 6:00-7:45pm I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
An eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, she writes that she had to learn what it means to love blackness
Friday, May 14, 2021 6:pm
“They Came to Stay: A World of Their Own” 116 min.
In the 1700s, a small number of Jews came to America, struggling to hold fast to being part of the emerging nation. They were tolerated & shunned.
We will meet on Zoom until it is safe to meet face to face.
Book for May 25: Critical Race Theory-An Introduction by Delgado & Stefancic
CRT provides a radical and challenging perspective that reveals how racism shapes the everyday reality of the world from law courts, and prisons, to the economy, schools, media and health care.
• See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. Hardcover, – Illustrated, by Valerie Kaur. Here is the book from which the Reading was taken, with a link to Amazon’s reviews “How do we love in a time of rage? How do we fix a broken world while not breaking ourselves? Valarie Kaur—renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer—describes revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves.” https://www.amazon.com/See-No-Stranger-Manifesto-Revolutionary/dp/0525509097
“DealBook: How to Fix America” an article from the New York Times. [non-fiction] “As we face so many challenges, we asked top experts for one idea we could act on right now to make the country a better place. Here are their answers. This year we undertook a special project. We canvassed a cross-section of leading thinkers and asked them: If you could do one thing right now to help fix America — no matter how large or small — what would it be?” https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/fix-america-economy-climate-health
An In-Person and Online Future
The staff and board have created a draft plan of how we welcome in-person participation in church programs, including worship. This plan is for your feedback, questions, concerns, and suggestions. This is a community process, and we want everyone to have lots of time to consider these matters. We are planning for a future where we have both online and in-person programs, including worship. We are planning for a future when we can hug – if both people want. Where we can see each other’s faces, hear each other’s voices, and be in each other’s presence – and where robust online options, safety measures, and other steps keep everyone connected and safe.
Our general principles remain:
Inclusivity and justice: We will not exclude people and will take special care that equity and anti-oppression are centered in our decision making.
Safety: We will do our utmost to keep our people and the community safe. We will not contribute to community spread.
Community matters: We value our community and being together. As soon as it is safe to gather in an inclusive way, we will.
Pro-science: We support vaccination for those who are able as a scientific, reasonable, and loving decision. You protect yourself and others. We believe that vaccines are effective and trust the scientists who have worked on them.
Here is our plan:
We are in Phase 4. Matthew will be 10 days past his second dose on Feb 22nd, and at that point in person pastoral care with other vaccinated people will begin in earnest. Beginning in March, small groups can choose to meet in person or stay online. We will always continue to have some online-only small groups. However, worship will remain an online only experience.
When three criteria are met, we will plan to begin hybrid worship – online and in-person – for six weeks following the ascertainment that the criteria are met. Those criteria are:
1. Illinois has entered the Bridge phase between Phase 4 and 5, or has entered Phase 5.
2. On CovidActNow, Winnebago County’s Infection Rate and Test Positivity is “green.” (meaning below .90 and 3%, respectively). These numbers may fluctuate, especially if the number of people getting tested drops. We’ll look at the longer trend.
3. The vaccine is widely available to adults. Widely available means free to patients, at multiple accessible locations in the County, with a same day appointment. We’ll know we are at this point when the “Appointments Available” is green all the time on the Walgreens site, and/or the WCHD allows same or next-day appointments at the mass sites.
Once these criteria are met, we will select a Sunday, at least six weeks out from that date, to welcome in-person worshipers. The first Sunday may be an outside service, before moving inside the next week.
Assuming this date is in the summer, we will have outdoor-only children’s programs through at least Sept 5th. If the weather cooperates, children’s programs will be outside as long as possible. It is important to note that we cannot begin hybrid worship until we have enough RE volunteers to staff the program, including when Lauren and Lindsay are off. These volunteers cannot be anyone – they need to be able and willing to be out in the woods, on the grounds, being active with children during Summer Sundays. Vaccines are required for volunteers who work with children, for so long as children cannot be vaccinated. If you know you will be vaccinated by mid-summer and are ready and able to be a regular RE volunteer, please contact Lindsay.
Only people who have been vaccinated should volunteer as greeters, ushers, and hospitality hosts. Contact Chris if you are interested in these roles when we return.
We pledge that we will be transparent, responsive, and deliberate about how we go about this. Below is our beginning list of questions and answers. If you have a question, please ask – it will help us think through all the aspects of this process. You can email or call Matthew at email@example.com or 815-398-6322.
What about masks?
We will require all people to wear masks until Winnebago County reaches a “herd immunity” threshold of at least 70% of the total population vaccinated. (Staff may remove their masks when working in their own office, and Matthew and Tim will remove their masks when speaking or singing, with adequate distance.)
After we reach the 70% vaccination threshold, people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or because they are children for whom the vaccine is not yet approved, should continue to wear masks. Other people are more than welcome, though not required, to wear masks, whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. People with any COVID or flu-like symptoms should worship online, and not in person. We may adjust these requirements based on CDC and IDPH guidance.
Will we require proof of vaccination?
We will only require proof of vaccination for RE volunteers. Hospitality volunteers should be vaccinated, but that, and our encouragement for everyone who is able to be vaccinated, is on the honor system. We did not feel it was appropriate for the church to ask or keep track of this information. However, if we find that we have a large number of unvaccinated people whose choice to not get a vaccine puts those who cannot get one for medical reasons at risk, we will reevaluate this. The Board and staff agree that you can be trusted to get your vaccine – please do so.
Why don’t we worship outside all summer?
Outside worship, though lovely on a mildly warm day, is not accessible. It is hard to make audio work well outside, it can be too hot for many people, and, if we are on the lawn, folks with mobility challenges cannot access it.
What happens if new variants or slow vaccine uptake changes things?
In all cases, we’ll follow the most conservative advice of the WCHD. That includes how we might respond to a new strain, to rising case numbers, or other measures.
What happens if we have an outbreak in the church?
If an outbreak occurs among our people (5 or more cases that may be linked), we will pivot immediately to online-only worship while we assess what happened and what steps we should take.
What happens if we can’t get enough RE volunteers?
If we cannot secure sufficient RE volunteers, we will have on-line worship only that week. Under no circumstances will we have in-person worship without an RE option.
What about singing?
When and how we begin to sing at worship is an open question. We await the science on this. It may be that we can begin to sing when we return, or it may be that we wait for a herd immunity threshold. At the moment, we are leaning towards having instrumental, vaccinated soloist, and/or pre-recorded music only until we get to 70% vaccination.
What if lots of non-vaccinated people are coming and putting folks at risk?
If we become concerned that a large number of unvaccinated persons is putting the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons at risk, we may require vaccination (or proof of ineligibility) to attend. The Board will make this decision. Please, plan to get vaccinated if you can.
I know this is driven by metrics, not dates, but what’s your best guess for when we will start in-person worship again?
The key measure is when vaccine supply outstrips vaccine demand. Folks have been guessing that this happens in May, which means it is possible – but by no means for sure – that we will have an outdoor informal worship on July 4th and begin in person worship on July 11th. That’s a reasonable guess, but it could be a few weeks later or earlier, since some are now estimating that supply could outstrip demand as earlier, as production increases. A fourth surge would delay our opening. We’re preparing for everything from June 6th to July 18th as first days for indoor worship.
What about Staff who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons?
Staff who are contraindicated for a vaccine because of a history of medication-related anaphylaxis or another similar reason will be offered a reasonable accommodation when possible, and in accord with our staff policies. That might mean limiting their exposure to crowds though shifts in duties (but not a reduction in hours), providing social distance space around their work area, or other measures. We will not generally disclose which staff are contraindicated for vaccination, and we strongly encourage congregation members not to pry into the medical status of employees. Staff who are not medically contraindicated may receive some accommodations, but there are no guarantees. They have chosen to take that risk.
How do I submit a question?
Email Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 815-398-6322.
*ZOOM Church Calendar*
Most “all church” events will be 337-267-3668. This is the Personal Meeting
ID for “Thomas Kerr,” our online identity (and the minister from 1870-1900,
who used all the new technology of his time to reach those he
served). Generally, there will be a waiting room and the host will need to
– Coffee Hour on Sunday. 337-267-3668. 11:10 am. Chris will
– Touchstones: contact your touchstones group facilitator for the time
and meeting ID, if you don’t already have it.
– Caring Team Meeting – The first Tuesday of each month at 6 pm. ID 337-267-3668
-Membership Team Meetingsare on the 1st Thursday of the month at 7 pm. Meeting ID: 980 2780 4780
Want to have a group – a book group, a parent group, a “circle supper”, or
whatever you like? You can create a free Zoom account (40-minute limit,
though often waived by zoom at minute 35). Or, you can use “Thomas Kerr’s”
– just email Autumn email@example.com she can give you the login
and password. Please make sure to tell Autumn if you are having a meeting so we can put it on the calendar.