What We Learned the Hard Way May 30 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Online Only
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnoson
Since March of last year, in this extraordinary and extraordinarily difficult year, things have been revealed. Some were already known to some, while some of us learned things for the first. What did we learn the hard way? What must we not forget? What does it mean for our lives and our world?
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR JUNE 6TH – IN-PERSON AND ONLINE WORSHIP AT 10 AM. MASKS REQUIRED IN-PERSON.
The Annual Meeting will be on June 13th at 11 am, both online and in-person. More details soon.
We will Share the Plate with Prairie State Legal The mission of Prairie State Legal Services is to ensure equal access to justice and fair treatment under the law by providing legal advice and representation, advocacy, education, and outreach that serve to protect basic human needs and enforce or uphold rights.
Prairie State envisions a community where all low-income, elderly and vulnerable people have ready access to legal services to meet their basic needs and where everyone knows, understands and can exercise their rights and be treated fairly in their pursuit of justice. Click Here to Donate
Happy Birthday to: Gaen McClendon (05/25), Susan Halvorsen (05/26), Jennifer Lavasseur (05/31), Debra Harmon (06/01), & Brooke Garcia-Nettz (06/01)!
From the Berti’s: We have collectable plates from The Bradford Exchange. star trek, princess Diana, cardinals, ships, kittens, and more. For $5 each. Please call Jack and Diana Berti at 815-398-9515
May 25, 2021
We are just a few weeks from our first in-person worship since last March. We had a small group Sunday – Omega’s intern committee members and their spouses, who joined us for her last Sunday preaching as our intern. We look forward to having more of you with us beginning June 6th. Please remember that masks are required, regardless of vaccination status.
Speaking of Omega, it has been a delight to have her as our intern this year. Her strengths in liturgy, organizing, and relating have served us so well in this hard year. I’m grateful to Rev. Marlene Walker for supervising Omega’s internship while I was on sabbatical last fall – I could not have taken the sabbatical without Omega here to “hold down the fort” and collaborate with our sabbatical preachers, Marlene and Mitra. That sabbatical is what means I have the energy, unlike many of my colleagues, to reopen this summer.
I’ve been thrilled to see Omega’s growth as a minister of the year as well – even in this very strange year. She’s going to be a great asset to our movement. If you didn’t watch her sermon on Sunday, be sure to go to our website and find it – it’s great. At our annual meeting on June 13th, we will vote to ordain Omega at a date TBD later this fall. It will be wonderful to be with her in person!
We’ve had many interns over the years, and I hope we’ll have many more. Some will be full-time (like Christe was) while others will be ½ time (like Omega and Michelle Lattanzio, a few years ago). They add so much to our team and learn so much from your steady faithfulness. We don’t currently have an intern scheduled for next year, but we’ll see what happens! The pandemic has shifted things for some people, and we’ll see what happens.
It may be useful to know about the main categories of ministry if you are new to us. That includes:
Community Minister. Someone who serves as a chaplain in a hospital or jail does private counseling or other work that is ministry. Must be affiliated with a congregation. Revs. Linda Lawrence, Linda Slabon, and Joyce Palmer have all affiliated community ministers here.
Minister Emeritus or Minister Emerita. A retired minister who has been designated with this honor; signifies a continuing relationship between the congregation and the minister. Rev. Dave Weissbard is the Minister Emeritus of this congregation.
Settled Minister. Called to serve a congregation, a settled minister might be a “solo”, “senior”, or “lead” minister. They are called by the congregation as a whole. I’m your settled minister.
Interim Minister. An interim serves between settled ministries. Howell Lind was your last interim minister.
Intern Minister. A student or recent graduate still learning the craft. Omega is our current intern.
Associate Minister. An associate is called by the congregation, but with a specific portfolio.
Assistant Minister. Hired by the board with a specific portfolio. Rev. Joyce will become our Assistant Minister effective August 1st.
Lay Minister. A certified lay minister is recognized by the congregation as doing lay ministry. Typically these folks are certified in something like spiritual direction or chaplaincy. Gloria Perez is a lay minister among us and a certified spiritual director.
There you go. Don’t worry, there will not be a quiz later!
Becoming an Anti-Racist Parent
If we do not have sufficient RSVP’s (to Lindsay) by Thursday at 1pm, we will reschedule this. Let her know if you are interested now, or at another time.
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
*Please note: childcare will not be provided by the church. If you would like to have your children join you, they are welcome to play on the playground while we meet.
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 Annual Meeting will take place on June 13th, at 11:00 am. The meeting will be both in-person in the sanctuary, and online on zoom. Stay tuned for the zoom meeting info.
At the meeting, we will vote on the budget, resolutions, and officers.
The Nominating Panel has made the following nominations:
1. President: Amanda Tapfield
2. Vice President: Judy Gustafson
3. Clerk. Bob Spelman
4. Treasurer. Teresa Wlimot
4. Trustee: Sarah Greer
Note that Gary Huckstep and Khanh Oehlke continue as trustees.
5. Nominating panel position : Leslie Mahan
6. Conflict Management Panel: Amy Brandon
Note that Matt Menze and Wendy Bennett continue on the Conflict Management Panel.
Our Fair Share
We belong to the UUA, the Unitarian Universalist Association, our denomination. But the UUA isn’t like many other denominations. We are not a hierarchy with the power at the top. Instead, we are an association with the power coming from its individual congregations. We work together to use our combined power to amplify our influence in the world.
The funding of this association also comes from its member congregations. Each year we receive a bill from the UUA which is based on our annual expenses. Our payment is 6.75% of our annual expenses; this year it was $26,917. Last week we made that full payment—we paid our “Fair Share.” We qualify as an “Honor Congregation” for this year. We give to fulfill our covenant as member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The Association’s Annual Report in June will list the Honor Congregations. The report also notes congregations which have paid their Fair Share for 25 or more consecutive years and for 10 to 24 consecutive years. Our Rockford congregation’s record is not that good. Like funding for WNIJ which allows everyone to listen, we can take advantage of the support and expertise of the Association without paying our Fair Share. We aren’t kicked out of the Association when we pay less, but neither are we honoring our covenant.
I look at this year’s payment as the first consecutive Fair Share. May we consider this line item in the budget as a fixed expense.
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot, Treasurer
Who Makes a Difference in Our Community?
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.
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.
Help Wanted on (2) Church Committees
There are openings on two Board appointed committees. Each group is important for safeguarding the church and its finances. Neither position requires much of a time commitment, though both require some background. If you might be interested, please contact Steve Lewis (email@example.com), or Teresa Wilmot (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Steve Blomgren (email@example.com).
This Panel is appointed to supervise and manage the investments of the Church Permanent Funds. Some knowledge or experience with investments is needed, either your own, or professionally. Time commitment is limited, amounting to 3 to 4 scheduled meetings per year.
The church does fund a independent professional “Financial Review” of its accounting and books every 5 years. In between, this three person Audit Committee will perform some sample checks of the books or procedures. What is required is someone with accounting, or bookkeeping experience, and who is not currently serving on the Finance Committee, or the Investment Panel. Time commitment is once per year, spend a few hours sampling some of the accounting records.
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
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.
With the upcoming anniversary of summer uprisings and amazing organizing and action from black and brown youth, in particular, the Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois invites us to sustainable and extended reflection and action through study of Mariame Kaba’s collection of essays, articles, and podcast transcripts in We Do This ‘Til We Free Us. This study, coupled, with grounded calls to action, is a great opportunity to consider the calls of our time while centering ourselves in our own Unitarian Universalist faith. I hope this can serve as a supplement to your robust programming. The series will extend June through February 2022 for ongoing reflection and community building, and folx are welcome to join any or all sessions.
Lunch with Matthew
Each Wednesday, next one on May 26, 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.
Literature Link for May 23 about accepting help
• The Open Door by Helen Keller. These are excerpts from her several books.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” [public library]
“Helen Keller would not be bound by conditions. Rendered deaf and blind at 19 months by scarlet fever, she learned to read (in several languages) and even speak, eventually graduating with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, where as a student she wrote The Story of My Life. That she accomplished all of this in an age when few women attended college and the disabled were often relegated to the background, spoken of only in hushed tones, is remarkable. But Keller’s many other achievements are impressive by any standard: she authored 13 books, wrote countless articles, and devoted her life to social reform. An active and effective suffragist, pacifist, and socialist (the latter association earned her an FBI file), she lectured on behalf of disabled people everywhere. She also helped start several foundations that continue to improve the lives of the deaf and blind around the world.” For a free download:https://archive.org/details/opendoor00kell
• 17 Kind Strangers Who Prove There Still Are Good People In The World – BuzzFeed. This is a departure from the usual “literary” recommendations, but this set of brief testimonials about accepting help just felt right. https://apple.news/AbvhN25m5RtutKz6O5ts_Kg
• “Helping Others “ by Poet: Kate Summers is one of 8 offered dealing with accepting help—and giving help as part of the beloved community.
“So while the times are good for you/ Consider others in all you do” https://www.stresslesscountry.com/receiving/
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.