How to Not Be Evil: Banality June 14, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only at facebook.com/uurockford) Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson In her stunning book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil”, Hannah Arendt argued that totalitarianism and genocide were made possible not by masses of evil people, but by functionaries who did not think, question, or empathize. We’ll consider how thoughtfulness, reason, and compassion are vital to the struggle against evil in ourselves and others.
Zoom Coffee Hour after Service on Sundays
Here’s how this will work. About 5 minutes after the service, join the zoom
meeting, ID: 337-267-3668. You’ll be able to see and chat with other church
folks – ones you know and ones you don’t, most likely. See you there!
Happy Birthday to: Marj Christen (06/05), Julie Parks (06/06), Amy Brandon (06/08), Roger Poznan (06/08)!
Message from Matthew
June 9, 2020
Thank you! You showed up to the ZOOM annual meeting, participated, listened, and voted. Even though we had some tech challenges at the start, you stuck with it, we easily had a quorum, and we did the business of the church. A special thank you to Linda Johnson, who conducted the meeting with love, gentleness, and inclusion. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with her this year as President, and the congregation as a whole should be glad such a warm-hearted and dedicated person has filled that role in this time.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a “both-and” congregation, not just in the short-term but in the long term. As we slowly move to add some in—person options for small gatherings, outside events, and such, we will continue to have a robust online presence. I suspect that that will be true forever. This means that some folks will interact with us mostly in person, some will interact mostly online, and some will interact in both ways. How do we keep the community knit together? How do we have the good conversations in good ways? And how do we integrate new folks and develop and sustain our covenant as a religious community?
I don’t have all the answers to those questions.
One thing I know is that I do not want to import some of the most toxic elements of online culture into our church. I spend a lot of time online, and I appreciate the wit, clap-backs, and inside jokes of Twitter, for example. I also learn a lot there. There are things I really like about Facebook – and things I can’t stand about it. I think it is vital that we be considerate about what parts of these cultures, and the way of interacting online, that we want to adopt, and what we don’t. There is, online, sometimes, a toxicity of name-calling, righteousness, and judgment without knowledge. People create and share memes that are not true or incomplete. People interact with avatars and forget there are real people, with hearts and hurts, who read those comments.
So what should be our rules and expectations?
Let’s keep it simple: Treat all people with love and compassion. Be accountable for your statements and be gracious and kind to both guests and leaders. Be curious instead of judgmental and listen for understanding.
If we follow these guides when we are interacting “in the congregation” – online or in person – then we will do well. And you can adopt them in all the parts of your life, not just the church! That is the kind of people we are trying to be.
These guidelines don’t come out of thin air. They are a summary of our Code of Ethics as a church, which is shared with all new members. They were adopted in 1998, and have served you well for more than two decades. I am reprinting them here. You may find them useful.
Code of Ethics of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford. Adopted 5-17-98
Agreeing and disagreeing in love, making every effort to maintain the integrity of the church community in the bond of peace, we pledge that we shall:
Accept conflict – Acknowledge together that conflict is a normal part of our life in the church.
Affirm hope – Affirm that we can work through our differences to growth.
Commit to a process – Admit our needs and commit to a process to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution.
Go to the other – Go directly to those with whom we disagree; or work with a Conflict Management Panel representative.
In the spirit of humility – Go in gentleness, patience, and humility, and own our own part in the conflict.
Be quick to listen – Listen carefully, summarize, and check out what is heard before responding. Seek as much to understand as to be understood.
Be slow to judge – Be descriptive. Suspend judgment; avoid labeling, name-calling, and threats; and act in a non-defensive way.
Be willing to negotiate – Work through the disagreement constructively.
• Identify issues, interests, and needs of both (rather than take positions).
• Generate a variety of options for meeting both parties’ needs (rather than defending one’s own way).
• Evaluate options by how they meet the needs and satisfy the interests of all sides (not one side’s values).
• Collaborate in working out a joint solution (so both sides gain, both grow and win).
• Cooperate with the emerging agreement (accept the possible, not demand your ideal).
• Reward each other for each step forward toward agreement (celebrate mutuality).
Be steadfast in love – Be firm in our commitment to seek a mutual solution.
Be open to mediation – Be open to accept skilled help. If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves, we will use those with gifts and training in mediation.
Trust the community – We will trust the community and if we cannot reach agreement or experience reconciliation, we will turn the decision over to others in the congregation.
• In one-to-one or small group disputes, this may mean allowing others to arbitrate.
• In congregational disputes, this may mean allowing others to arbitrate or implementing democratic decision-making processes, ensuring that they are done in the spirit of these guidelines, and abiding by whatever decision is made.
Be committed to Shalom – Believe in and rely on the sacredness of the human spirit and strive toward peace, wholeness, health, and security.
We will Share the Plate with Rockford New Hope
Rockford New Hope is a vehicle for assisting congregations in rehabbing buildings and homes. Rockford New Hope has rehabbed fifteen buildings throughout its history and presently owns two apartment buildings. Click here to donate.
Interested in being a Worship Associate?
Matthew is looking for a new group of people to serve as worship associates. Right now, you record and send me a testimony related to the topic. I’m looking for a group of folks who can reflect spiritually about their life and connect it to the theme. I look for folks who can keep in mind the needs of the church as a whole, and who represent parts of the congregation’s wide diversity. The term will begin in August with an orientation. It’s a two-year term, and you will serve, on average, about once every two months. When were return to in-person worship, you will do this in person.
Let me know if you are interested, and why you’d like to do it. Not all who self-nominate will be selected. If you know someone you’d like to see do this, encourage them to let me know.
*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. Matthew and Chris will
– Wonderful Wednesday. 337-267-3668. The next one is June 10, see below for more info.
– Nursery/Preschool children and parents – contact Lindsay for meeting
ID. Sundays at 11:30 a.m.
– Youth Group – contact Lindsay for a meeting ID. Sundays at noon.
– Garden Group – contact Allyson Rosemore for a meeting ID. Wednesdays at
– Touchstones: contact your touchstones group facilitator for the time
and meeting ID, if you don’t already have it.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org she can give you the login
Wonderful Wednesday, June 10, 7pm
Meeting ID: 337 267 3668
Action in Defense of Black Lives: A Community Action Circle
Join the Rev. Allison Farnum, executive director of the Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois, in a virtual Community Action Circle to learn how to support justice and freedom. Allison will share how to get connected to the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the UUPMI, and how to engage in this worldwide moment for Black Lives and justice. Allison led our Board Retreat last year and is a wonderful facilitator, so don’t miss this chance to engage.
We have offered to host a blood drive at the church on July 1st. We need a congregation member to help promote this, and let the staff at the RRVBC into the space. They have protocols for social distancing and cleaning. Are you willing to be this person? Let Matthew or Chris know asap. Thanks.
For Sunday, June 7 message about integrity vs evil
•www.poemhunter.com/poem/if Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “IF,” instills a sense of positive forthcoming, but within these verses, Kipling spells out the requisites for a virtuous existence in the way he challenges us to be our best selves.
•If there is any character in literature who so strongly demonstrates a life of integrity and fighting for what is right, it is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (by Lee Harper).
• All of the Harry Potter books portray a young boy growing to manhood while fighting enormous, life-threatening evil yet somehow never giving in to it. His own virtue gives him strength.
If you’d like to follow up with the idea of Victory Gardens, and growing food in this time, join Allyson Rosemore and other church folks in conversation, each Wednesday at 6pm. A chat about our gardens- showing them off, troubleshooting, etc. Of course, anyone is welcome to join us. Details are:
Topic: Garden chat
Time: Apr 29, 2020 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada) https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77166791480 Meeting ID: 771 6679 1480
Social Justice Updates
In the current reality of the response to the murders of our sisters and brothers of color we must demand change. From the death of Eddie Patterson near our church in Rockford to George Floyd, choked to death with a knee, Bree while sleeping in Louisville, and a Black jogger, the WHOLE WORLD is responding . . . because this racism knows no borders!
I’m hoping my Unitarian Universalist friends, in the spirit of all seven principles we hold dear, will embrace and support two pieces of legislation designed to apply some “fixes” to the problem of the deaths of our sisters and brothers at the hands of law enforcement personnel, often without consequences. The first is the longstanding HR 5779 – the “Grand Jury Reform Act”.
Background: it’s well known that “it’s easier to indict a ham sandwich than a cop”. States Attorneys rely on police and they’re friends; BBQ/beer/bowling /birthday party buddies. We saw this with the failure of Sen. Amy Klobuchar as a States Attorney to prosecute the cop murderer of George Floyd though in 19 years there were some 15 complaints about him and more than one death.
Georgia’s Rep. Hank Johnson’s bill, HR 5779 puts the Grand Jury assignment for prosecution in the hands of an appointed judge rather than the local prosecutor, among other things. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Robin Kelly and Bobby Rush are Illinois co-sponsors.
The second is HR 7085 – the “Ending Qualified Immunity Act”.
Ending Qualified Immunity Act – Wikipedia The Ending Qualified Immunity Act is a proposed United States Act of Congress (bill H.R. 7085), introduced by Justin Amash (L-Michigan) to end qualified immunity in the United States. Qualified immunity shields police officers and other government officials from legal actions by victims and families, even if their civil rights were violated. en.wikipedia.org
for a fuller explanation. Introduced just this past Thursday, June 4th by Michigan’s Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, it already has 17 co-sponsors. Notables co-sponsoring this bill include “the squad”! There are NO IL co-sponsors yet!
What we need to do is urge our congresspeople to co-sponsor these bills, then RECORD/SHARE their responses.
Let’s be clear, and this doesn’t have to be stated publicly, we have NO ILLUSIONS these bills will pass the U.S. Senate and be signed into law by the sitting president.
Voters must know where their legislators stand on legislation related to issues where Black Lives Matter! This will guide their vote in November.
Join us this coming Sunday on Zoom or in a social-distancing circle on the grounds of the church at 11:45 AM for an important discussion and update. I’m expecting to hear from a number of legislators’ offices in the next few days about their perspectives on both bills.
Submitted by Bob Babcock
Notes About Worshiping Online We stream at facebook.com/uurockford. If you are not on Facebook, you can also find the Streaming on your computer atuurockford.org/streaming-worship. From there, you can click on the “Facebook”, or click on the video window displaying the sanctuary. We will be going online about 9:50, with Tim playing prelude music until about 10.
And, here is how to turn off comments, if they do not enhance your experience. On a computer, hover over the video with your mouse, and you’ll see this icon: . Click on it, and you will move it to “quiet mode.” You won’t see comments or reactions. On a phone or tablet, swipe right to hide comments (and swipe left to bring them back.). If the comments are distracting for you, use quite mode to experience worship without them. You can go back and read them later if you want to – or not.
The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL | 4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107 | 815-398-6322 | uurockford.org |