Ask Yourself Where You Want to Go
May 23 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Online Only
Intern Minister Omega Burckhardt
Paths, pilgrimages, journeys–all metaphors for how we move through our lives and difficult journeys. Sometimes what we learn from the journey is how to accept help from others along the way, and other times we learn that the end of the journey is only the beginning. Join us for an exploration of helpers and healers, of explorers and those who stick to the map, for seminaries and internships and some of the ways we nurture our spirit even when we feel a little lost.
We will Share the Plate with Get Connected 815 Our mission is to equip men, women, and youth, with physical tools, emotional cognition, and life sustaining resources to eliminate real-life barriers due to former incarceration. Click Here to Donate
Happy Birthday to: Susan Molyneaux (05/19), Linda Johnson (05/19), Jay Swanson (05/20), Dave Lantz (05/21), Tom Sandquist (05/22), Rose Kruchten (05/23), Craig Shaver (05/24), & Gaen McClendon (05/25)!
Matthew’s Memo May 17th, 2021
Wow! What a treat Music Sunday was yesterday. A huge thank you to Martha, Teresa, Kathy, Jesse and Libby, Kay, and Dave for their gifts. And to Tim, our intrepid Music Director who has managed this strange year with such skill. We are very blessed.
This Sunday is Omega’s last time preaching as part of her internship – but don’t worry, she’ll come back to meet folks in person and I’m sure we’ll have in in the pulpit again down the road. Be sure to tune in. On May 30th, I’ll preach on “what we learned the hard way.” Then we open the doors – and look forward to seeing many of you on June 6th or a Sunday after that at 10, at the church. We’ll still be online, of course – join us either way.
Speaking of May 30th, if you have a reflection of something you learned in this COVID year, please send it along to me. I welcome your thoughts as I craft the message.
Despite the abruptly released CDC guidance, we will continue to require masks for large groups in the building, including Sunday worship. A small group can remove their masks if everyone is vaccinated, but we will not ask for vaccination proof on Sunday, and we know we have a small number of folks who are medically counter-indicated for vaccination at this time. So – wear your mask on Sunday. We’ll make that optional eventually, but not yet. One thing at a time.
We’re busy planning for next year – I’m working on both the draft budget and the draft worship schedule. It’s exciting to think about being back together and all we can do together. I’m thrilled that Rev. Joyce will be on staff with us. And I’m thrilled that the response to our pledge campaign is so strong so far. If you haven’t made your pledge yet you can do so here:https://uurockford.breezechms.com/form/20b2b4. Please do so right away.
P.S. I’m more or less on Study Leave this week, preparing for next year’s schedule. Autumn is on modified personal leave this week and next and will be working limited hours from home. So be patient with us as we “do what must be done” for a bit – this enables us to be fully present when we return. Thanks.
Omega graduated last Sunday and gives her last sermon to us this Sunday. Being our intern during this last year has not been easy. Frequent contact and interactions with us were not always possible. Friends and members of the congregation are encouraged to email their comments, reflections, feedback and congratulations to her at: email@example.com.
The Ministerial Internship Committee – Sandra Locke, Neita Webster, Joyce Palmer, Heather Gunnell, and Duane Wilke
Join us for the next Prison Ministry meeting on June 6th at 12:30 pm. In May, the Social Justice Council met to decide on the next steps for many of our groups, events, and collaborative relationships. Now is a great time to get involved with the Prison Ministry group as we prepare for pulpit guest Rev. Allison Farnum, Executive Director of Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois (UUPMI) in July.
Topic: Prison Ministry June Meeting
Time: Jun 6, 2021, 12:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
The Social Justice Team is seeking nominees for the Connolly Community Service Awards for 2021. A bit of history of the awards and the nomination procedures follow. If you know someone – or a group of people — you think should receive one of these awards, please turn in nominations to the church office.
History: In 1993 the church initiated a community service award to recognize a member of the congregation for significant contributions to the community. The award was named for Dr. Charles Parker Connolly, minister of our congregation from 1913 to 1942, and a recognized community leader.
To date the award has been presented to the following individuals: Walt Lewis, Marky Caskey, Martha Logemann, Pat Tollefsrud, Sandra Locke, David Weissbard, Lynn Liston, Pat Lewis, Jon McGinty, JoAnn Shaheen, Leigh Lakey, Roger Oehlke, Lola Gustafson, Allen Penticoff, Colleen McDonald, Jackie Dehler, Bob Arevalo, Dave Black, Myrna Lake, Dave Lantz, Barb Giolitto, Duane Wilke, Ellyn Ahmer, Dale Dunnigan, Nikki Ticknor, and Bob Babcock.
More recently an award was established to recognize a young person, 8th grade through high school, for service to the church and community. Recipients to date are Emma Stocker, Katie Whitworth, Sandra Hill, Jackie Whitworth, Emily Pfleiderer, Max Freund, and Ari Almonaci.
For the second year, the Social Justice Council has decided to have a “group” award. This award will be for a group of people, formally or informally organized, who has done the work of justice in our community. Last year the award went to the Cornucopia Group.
The awards are presented at the annual meeting of the congregation.
The nominations should include:
A detailed description of volunteer and/or professional involvement and accomplishments, tasks, performed and issues addressed impact on others, and other relevant information.
A signed statement that the nominee is willing to be nominated.
A nomination should include the name of the nominator and is due in the office (Send to Autumn firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 7th. The nominations will be reviewed and a selection made by the Social Justice Team before the annual meeting on June 13th.
Wonderful Wednesday: Transforming Hearts
Please join us on Wednesday, May 19th as we promote “Transgender Inclusion in Congregations”, a 6-session course, offered to individuals, groups, and congregational teams who want to take their knowledge and skills to the next level in terms of trans identity and how to create congregations that are fully inclusive and affirming of the full breadth of gender diversity.
We will watch a short video and then Zr. Alex Kapitan will join us for a short Q&A. 7 pm Zoom ID 337 267 3668
For more than 20 years, a group of men from the church has been meeting once a month for breakfast. Our next get-together is tentatively set for June 5. If you are not already receiving men’s breakfast emails and would like to be included in the invite list, all you need to do is send me an email.
Are you one of the many members who are making investment decisions for your personal portfolio, either through a broker or financial planner? Or maybe you would be interested in learning about investing. Either way, the investment panel is looking to fill two positions to get us to six voting members. The panel is a sub-group of the finance committee. We meet once each quarter and possibly more depending on if the need arises. This is an exciting time for the panel members as we are exploring the option of moving a large portion of our portfolio to socially responsible funds to reflect our UU values. Our portfolio has grown substantially in the last few years due to generous donations, market growth, and wise investment choices, which makes the panel a very important function of the church.
Please contact me if you are interested or have questions,
Steve Blomgren, chair
Becoming an Anti-Racist Parent
Mark your calendars! We hope you will join our Senior Minister, Matthew Johnson, and our Director of Religious Education, Lindsay Dunn, for our Becoming an Anti-Racist Parent discussion group. We welcome parents and caregivers of children ages 0-18 to join us for some discussion, resources, and time to share with peers. Sessions will be held on the church playground from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm on:
Wednesday, June 2
Wednesday, June 9
Wednesday, June 16
Wednesday, June 30
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 May 19, 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.
Eliminate Racism 815
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.
• “A Poem for Ella Fitzgerald” by Sonia Sanchez. Try reading this outloud to hear the musical rhythm of the lines.
“her voice pouring out /guitar thickened blues, /her voice a faraway horn
questioning the wind, /and she became Ella, /first lady of tongues” https://poets.org/poem/poem-ella-fitzgerald
• Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan
“A biography that reads like a novel. . . . Kaplan does a nimble, brightly evocative job of tracing the development of Sinatra’s art, and his remarkable rise and fall and rise again.” —Michiko Kakutani, “Top 10 Books of 2010,” The New York Times . For more reviews, see https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/89713/frank-by-james-kaplan/
• Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, an award winning young adult author. [novel, grade 11-adult] is a story about perseverance, acceptance, tolerance, love, and sacrifice. “Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school’s less popular students. The Cutter All Night Mermen, a group of seven misfits who are members of a makeshift swim team, come together to challenge their high school’s sports culture and fight for dignity in a world where a moment’s inattention can bring lifelong heartache.” I strongly recommend this. For more reviews, go here.https://www.amazon.com/Whale-Talk-Chris-Crutcher-audiobook/dp/B0081LLAC2
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
*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
-Social Justice Committee will meet on July 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the Library
– 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.
We’re coming down to the wire for the spring legislative session in Springfield. Several of the bills that we have been following have passed the Illinois House and are now being considered by Senate committees for recommendation. Here are opportunities to voice your vote by witness slip:
HB3564 Strongly limits the use of solitary confinement in detention facilities, including jails, prisons, and refugee detention centers. Hearing by Criminal Law Committee TOMORROW Tuesday May 18 5:15pm
File a witness slip HERE
HB3821 The Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare Act gives attention to the targeting of black and brown families, whose children are taken into foster care for “neglect,” spelled poverty. This act works to remedy the disruption of black and brown families leading to involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Hearing by Health Committee TOMORROW Tuesday, May 18 at 3 pm
File a witness slip HERE
HB2784 The Community Mental Health Services Act is another response to mass incarceration. It mandates that every local emergency response service provide mental or behavioral health services in emergency situations where individuals do not present as a threat to responders and are not involved in criminal activity.
Hearing by Behavioral and Mental Health Committee TOMORROW Tuesday, May 18 at 5 pm.
File a witness slip HERE
HB3739 Eliminates lead water service lines in Illinois.
Hearing by Executive Committee Wednesday May 19 2:30pm
File a witness slip HERE
Witness slip instructions:
Fill in your info
For Agency, use “self” or UUANI or UU Prison Ministry of Illinois (UUPMI)
Same for representation
Select “proponent” and “Record of Appearance”
Agree to ILGA terms on the left and create a slip on the right
So many initiatives supporting the health of our most vulnerable families! Thank you for standing with us.