Letters, Words, and the Book of Life
September 5, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.Onlineand In-Person Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson We begin our exploration of “reason” on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We’ll reflect together about the power of letters and words, the spoken and written language, to create, bind, break, and restore us and each other. The New Year is spoken into existence, and the Book of Life is composed of names, and of letters. We’ll explore the power of speech to make, unmake, and remake our world.
Or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know and I’ll put you in the system for that day.
Happy Birthday to: Barb Giolitto (09/01), Dale Dunnigan (09/01/), Donna Ducharme (09/03), Carly Vollmer (09/05), Jerry Brickey (09/06), & Don Northrop (09/06)!
Please keep the Carter family in your thoughts and prayers. Vern’s sister died this past Sunday.
Mardie Blomgren Memorial Service
Saturday, September 18th, 1:00 pm Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, 4848 Turner St., Rockford IL 61107
With the current surge of delta variant COVID cases, we are being extra cautious with this event. We invite those who are vaccinated to join us in person if you are comfortable doing so. We will gather outside behind the church with a canopy available for shade/ rain protection. Bathrooms will be accessible inside. Unfortunately, the canopy will be somewhat challenging to access for people with mobility issues; the Livestream may be a better option if mobility is a concern.
We request that attendees also wear a mask during the service. Following the service, we will offer light refreshments and guests can choose to wear a mask or not at that point, once it is easier to socially distance.
We will Share the Plate with HIAS
HIAS stands for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and opportunity.
OUR MISSION: Drawing on our Jewish values and history, HIAS provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers around the world and advocates for their fundamental rights so they can rebuild their lives.
For more informationclick here. Click Here to Donate
Matthew’s Memo Aug 31, 2021
I had a wonderful vacation. My partner Kari and I, and our three combined children, went to California. We hiked, swam, walked, explored, rode, and got away before school started back up.
While I was away, the UUA released new suggestions for congregations in light of the fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19, and the State of Illinois reintroduced an indoor-mask mandate, in light of the same numbers.
These measures are disappointing, to say the least. Our exhaustion at this is palpable. Our grief for the lives lost is hard. Our dismay at those who can take steps to protect others, and do not, is intense. Our worry for our unvaccinated children and for immune-compromised people is very real.
Please, if you can be vaccinated and haven’t been vaccinated yet, get vaccinated. It is free, and you can get it at any Walgreens or other drug store or health clinic in town.
What does this new guidance and rules mean for the church?
For worship, we will continue to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Our children will continue to do RE outside. We will discontinue the “masks optional” viewing of the stream in Deale Hall (I don’t think anyone used it, anyway). But the biggest change is that we will not sing together. We did this Sunday, and it was painful – we really felt the loss. Of course we did. There’s no minimizing it, it is real. Tim and I will work together to see what we can do, but this is just a painful reality of the way this virus spreads.
This also means that all meetings or groups at church that have more than 2 or 3 people need to include masks – even if everyone is vaccinated. Over the summer, we let groups choose. If you are inside, you must wear a mask. Groups are free to meet outside – hopefully the fall weather will be accommodating. For all small groups, please also plan to provide an online option – use a laptop or phone with zoom to allow folks to attend who cannot come in person.
These changes are hard, and make clear that this is not a linear process. There may be additional set-backs or delays.
Other than encouraging vaccination, wearing masks, and so forth, what can we do? Be flexible, loving, and compassionate. We thought it was a sprint, then we thought it was a marathon, and now it may be a triathlon. Don’t give up. Take it slow. Be kind. We’ll figure it out together.
Faith and the Climate Crisis
Confronting the climate crisis will require our faithfulness and our religious values, and to form interfaith coalitions. How does our UU Faith inform our approach to both reducing climate change and building resilient just responses? How can we make cross-religious coalitions for this vital work? This is a two-session Wonderful Wednesday program on Sept. 29th and Oct. 13th at 7pm. Mark your calendars for both. Both sessions will be exclusively on zoom. The first session will focus on UU approaches to the climate crisis. Professor Brian Wagner from Rock Valley College, an expert in this field, will join Rev. Matthew for the second class, to explore interfaith responses.
When Martha Daniels left a substantial bequest to the church, we set some of those funds aside for a scholarship, which we run through Rockford Promise. Each year, the scholarship committee selects a scholar for us. Given Martha’s passion for languages and her work as a teacher and therapist, we ask they select bilingual students who want to be in the helping professions. This year, the committee let me know they selected Lah Paw for the 2021-2022 Martha Daniels/ Unitarian Universalist Church Scholarship. Lah Paw is a bilingual, low-income, SouthEast Asian/Thai refugee student who plays three sports. Lah Paw is attending RVC to study Nursing in order to help children one day.
We try to provide a mentor to our scholar as well. Mentors get training from Rockford Promise and meet regularly with the student to provide support and connection. If you are intersted in being Lah Paw’s mentor, please let me know as soon as possible.
Fair Maps for Redistricting Illinois
The House has released an updated proposed map with accompanying data for review by the public reflecting changes from the House boundaries enacted in June. This proposed map is filed as an amendment to SB 927. The map and data can be viewed on the House Democrats’ redistricting website atilhousedems.com/redistricting.
You may submit written testimony to the Committee atRedistrictingCommittee@hds.ilga.gov.
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot
Path to Membership Class!
Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford is pleased to announce the 2021 PATH to Membership Class will take place on Saturday, September 11 from 9:30 – 2:00 at UU Church, Rockford. Library. Rev. Matthew, Rev. Joyce, and members of the Membership Team will provide an overview of the church and ways to connect. Come out and meet other newcomers and get your questions answered.
When: September 11, 9:30 – 2:00
Where: UU Church Rockford Library
Who: Anyone interested in learning more about Unitarian Universalism, membership, and meeting other exciting newcomers
Next Meeting September 5, after service in the Library
At our August meeting members of the Prison Ministry Team discussed goals, direction and hopes for our work together. There are members interested in working to reform the prison system, others looking to support returning citizens in their adjustment, and others looking for opportunities to connect through the CLF Prison Pen Pal program. This group continues to welcome new members to join us as we seek to learn more about the ways we can have an impact. Please join us. If you have questions, please contact Rev. Joyce Palmer
Literature Link for Aug. 29, 2021-What is Unitarian Universalism?
• “Earth Prayer” by Mark Nepo. [poem] This piece affirms how we are part of the sacredness of life. “Let us, when moving with the music, / become the music…” https://marknepo.com/poems_earthprayer.php
• Gifts from the Sea. In this beloved classic Anne Morrow Lindbergh – mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator – shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. If you can find the “old’ version, it has beautiful photos of shells that enhance the text. “Gift from the Sea is like a shell itself in its small and perfect form . . . It tells of light and life and love and the security that lies at the heart.”–New York Times
• The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Granted, this is an old classic but its gems are worth a revisit. “The short booklet revolves around a prophet that arrives at a city and makes many observations about the nuances of everyone’s day-to-day activities.” An example quote: “Work is love made visible./ And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, / it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.”
• Mysticism in Wordsworth’s Poetry. Author anonymous. 15 min read. I hesitated to put this piece in because it is a student essay from the UK. Therefore there are some errors in usage, grammar, etc. However, [her] understanding and explanation are well done and appropo to Matthew’s message. “And even the motion of our human blood,/ Almost suspended, we are laid asleep/ In body, and become a living soul:/ While with an eye made quiet by the power/ Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. From “Tintern Abbey.” https://www.ukessays.com/essays/english-literature/mysticism-in-wordsworths-poetry-english-literature-essay.php
Social Justice Updates
Demand immigrant release not transfer at Pulaski Detention Center
Earlier this month, immigrant communities across Illinois celebrated being the third state in the country to eliminate ICE detention when Governor Pritzker signed the Illinois Way Forward Act.
This action will close the detention center at Pulaski. ICE is now trying to move detainees quickly, without giving them a chance to make a case for release – they have no criminal reason for continued detention! With ICIRR, we advocate that immigrants in detention to be reunited with their communities and families.
Send a message NOW! individuals may be denied release and transferred to other detention centers as soon as THIS WEEK.
TAKE ACTION now: send an email to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to demand a fair process for detainees at Pulaski Detention Center and narrow enforcement priorities nationwide.
Allied with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)