Reverence for the Land
October 10, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.Onlineand In-Person Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
Potawatomi Naturalist Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her beautiful book “Braiding Sweetgrass,” connects the ancient wisdom of her ancestors to the emerging science of ecology. It turns out that understanding the land and all those who live in and on it requires a certain measure of reverence. Even more so must we have deep reverence for the Land to make a more just and sustainable future. On this Indigenous People’s Day weekend, we will turn to Indigenous people’s urgent plea to attend with reverence to this, our collective home.
Or just email me at email@example.com and let me know and I’ll put you in the system for that day.
Happy Birthday to: Audrey Hart (10/06), Toni Tollerud (10/08), Jon McGinty (10/09), Terry Simmons (10/09), Marvin Smitherman (10/09), & Bill Schuyler (10/11)!
Congratulations to Jack and Diana Berti, who will celebrate their 40th anniversary on October 24 at their new home: Winning Wheels 701 E. 3rd Street Prophetstown, IL 61277
Also, Diana has a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members and friends of the church who live at Wesley Willows are invited to join others and Rev. Matthew on the 4th Tuesday of most months. Our next meeting will be October 26th at 9am. We will meet in the fellowship hall at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
We will Share the Plate with Severson Dells Nature Center Our Mission: To link people to nature through education and research, in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area. We promote awareness of the natural world, fostering respect, enjoyment, and preservation now and in the future. For more information click here. Click Here to Donate
Matthew’s Memo October 5, 2021
Last week, a group of leaders in the church gathered with the Rev. Sharon Dittmar, our UUA MidAmerica regional consultant to have a “start-up” workshop for Rev. Joyce Palmer, our new Assistant Minister. It was a great session, with leaders from the Board of Trustees, membership, caring, and small group ministries, as well as Rev. Joyce, myself, and Autumn Powell, office manager. We discussed roles, duties, and how we wanted this ministry to work. We talked about how the congregation and Rev. Joyce will work together, how Rev. Joyce and I work together, and how to avoid the pitfalls that too many congregations experience.
Given what we discussed, here are key things think you should all know.
Rev. Joyce focuses on membership, caring, and adult programs (including small group ministry.) She is ½ time as the Assistant Minister here, and your expectations should match that. These are the areas of ministry that she is passionate about and a ½ time position fits her life and needs perfectly right now. Rev. Joyce has held this portfolio in congregations in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., and so it’s a great fit.
You can come to me or to Rev. Joyce for pastoral care or pastoral consoling. We are both happy to work with you as needed. We share with each other the names of folks we are working with, and a top-line summary as needed.
Rev. Joyce and I meet weekly with each other, and monthly with a coach who specializes in supporting multi-cultural ministry teams. We are committed to very clear communication and collegiality between us – we are one team, as we are with all the staff.
Rev. Joyce’s portfolio does not include social justice. She’ll be involved occasionally in some witness work, supporting new members getting involved, and might take up a project here and there when it fits – but do not assume that social justice or particularly racial justice work is hers — it is ours, and I am the staff member with that portfolio.
You can reach Rev. Joyce at 815-398-6322 ext. 3 or email@example.com. Her hours are flexing a bit this month for some caregiving, but soon she’ll regularly be in the office on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as Sunday.
You’ve noticed I refer to “Rev. Joyce” and encourage you to do the same. For the sake of consistency and solidarity, you may note I use “Rev. Matthew” more often for myself as well going forward.
Questions? Ask either of us.
Want to help with small groups, membership, or caring ministry? Contact Rev. Joyce.
Ministers and Staff: Duties, Hours, Contact
With the arrival of Rev. Joyce Palmer as our Assistant Minister, with a focus on caring, membership, and adult programs (including small groups), and with the increased hours for our RE Assistant, Lauren Smith, and with us coming back from COVID (sort of?), it’s a good time to let you know which staff member does what, and how to reach us.
Please note that the ministers and staff either have other employment or obligations elsewhere or have school-age children (or both!) and that flexibility is one of the core benefits of working at the church. People’s day-to-day schedule will shift based on other obligations, school holidays, children’s illnesses (especially in COVID, when staff are required to stay home if anyone in their home has symptoms until a negative test is secured, and many of our children are not yet eligible for vaccination). Email is a great way to make an appointment, ask a question, or make a connection.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson, Senior Minister.
Rev. Matthew is responsible for overall spiritual leadership and serves as chief-of-staff. Areas of focus include the strategy and vision, worship, social justice, and wider UU connections. Come to Matthew if you’re not sure where to turn. Rev. Matthew also offers pastoral care and counseling.
Matthew is usually in the office Monday-Thursday from around 9:30 until about 5, but he often has meetings, so please schedule time in advance.
The best way to reach Rev. Matthew is email – at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at 815-398-6322 ext. 4, but email is strongly preferred.
The Rev. Joyce Palmer, Assistant Minister.
Rev. Joyce focuses on adult programs (including small group ministry), caring, and membership. Come to Rev. Joyce if you are interested in joining or starting a group, need or want to offer pastoral support, or are new to the church – or want to welcome newcomers. Rev. Joyce also offers pastoral care and counseling.
Rev. Joyce is ½ time at the church. She will usually be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-4. She often has meetings or other responsibilities, so make an appointment ahead of time.
You can reach Rev. Joyce email@example.com call her at 815-398-6322 ext.3.
Tim Anderson, Music Director.
Tim is responsible for music for worship and leadership of the choir, the Unicantors.
Tim is ½ time at the church. He mostly works from home, other than Thursday evening choir rehearsal and Sunday worship.
You can reach Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lindsay Trank, Director of Religious Education.
Lindsay is responsible for ministry for children and youth and their families. She is also the Co-Director of Woodsong Nature School. Come to Lindsay if you want to engage your children with our program or want to volunteer with our children and youth.
Lindsay is full-time; half her time is devoted for Woodsong. She is usually in her office after Woodsong (around noon) until about 3pm, M-F; though this can vary.
You can reach Lindsay at email@example.com 815-398-6322 ext. 5.
Lauren Smith, Religious Education Assistant.
Lauren assists with our religious education program, with a special focus on our 0-5 year old children, and our Our Whole Lives sexuality education program. She is also the Co-Director of the Woodsong Nature School.
Lauren is 4/5 time at the church, with ½ her time devoted to Woodsong.
Her hours vary, so please make an appointment if needed.
You can reach Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you interested in the Woodsong Nature School for a two-year old in your life, you can reach the Co-Directors email@example.com 815-324-3282. Please use these for Woodsong matters only.
Autumn Powell, Office Manager
Autumn is responsible for the day-to-day office, communications, finance, and building areas of the church. Come to Autumn with announcements for the newsletter, questions about pledges, building reservations, and similar administrative needs.
Autumn is 38hrs/week. She is usually in the office Tuesday-Friday from around 10:30am to around 4pm, and Sunday after church, but that can vary. She does some work from home as well.
Reach at Autumn firstname.lastname@example.org 815-398-6322 ext. 2.
Justice For All and Widening the Circle of Concern
We will meet this Sunday at 11:15 in Deale Hall to discuss the second chapter on Governance (ending on page 44). We are planning on a one hour discussion. You may want to bring a drink and/or a snack.
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? Join us on Oct. 13th at 7 pm exclusively on zoom. Professor Brian Wagner from Rock Valley College, an expert in this field, will join Rev. Matthew for the second class, to explore interfaith responses.
Help NLI Save Our City’s Remnant Prairie Last Sunday our congregation shared its offering plate with NLI, the Natural Land Institute, which, with its start in 1958, was the first organization in Illinois to preserve natural land.
One of those pieces of natural land is an original prairie remnant, Bell Bowl Prairie, located on land owned by the Chicago-Rockford International Airport. NLI has been responsible for maintaining this prairie, culling invasive species to keep the prairie pristine, since 1977.
Of Bell Bowl’s 21 acres, 4.9 acres are the highest quality prairie, which took 9,000 years to evolve. Illinois, the “prairie state,” once had 22 million acres of prairie; now only 2,300 acres remain, 0.01%, a virtual museum, but consisting of over a thousand tiny remnants across the state. The reason Bell Bowl exists is that it is a steep, gravelly bluff that was inefficient to farm.
In September, NLI noted bulldozers encroaching on Bell Bowl Prairie. The airport authority was starting an expansion program, adding a road and a building for Amazon that would increase package capacity. That building would cover the middle of the prairie.
When naturalists found the endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee in this remnant prairie, the airport authority stopped construction activity, but only temporarily. They plan to resume work on November 1st. By that date, the endangered bee would be finished feeding and the queen bees would hibernate. The Authority plans to move some of the endangered plants to other sites.
Naturalists, however, estimate that only 7 – 15% of transplanted prairie plants would survive, that the survivors would not be the rare species, and that the soil disturbance would invite invasive species to gain a foothold. The Rusty Patched Bumblebee perpetuates only through its queens, which wake in the spring to lay eggs of the new generation. However, those queens would not find the plants they need to feed their offspring in the surrounding area or even miles away. That colony of bees would not survive. NLI wants the airport authority to seriously consider some alternatives sites.
Existing law doesn’t preserve habitat for endangered species of plants or animals. Only governmental intervention prompted by a loud public outcry has any hope to save this prairie. If you want to join that outcry, check out these sites:
The Gift of Eating
Wonderful Wednesday, October 20 at 7pm. Session on Zoom
Food is the gift of life and so much more. This engaging book is for those seeking a deeper and more authentic approach to eating and food, In today’s culture, we are frequently bombarded by negative food messages and rules. Our workbook will guide you on your personal journey of discovering the positive aspects of food and appreciation for the gifts of eating. During the presentation we will explore highlights of the journey, including the spiritual gifts.
Eating Experts was founded in 1993 by Barb Kaney Ferry, RD and Kathie Buchmann Mattison, MS, RD. We shared a passion for food, eating, family meals, and dietetics. Both of us grew up in culturally rich food traditions, Barb was immersed in rural farm traditions and Kathie experienced the food of her Italian, Polish, and German ancestors. We each valued delicious family meals, produce from home gardens, and cooking experiences with our mothers and grandmothers. As Registered Dietitians, our foundations of meaningful food histories and love of cooking paired beautifully with a desire to help others find health, enjoyment, meaning and peace of mind through satisfying eating.
The book may be purchased from Kathie or Barb for $27.19, Please contact Kathie if you wish to buy one before October 20. (email@example.com)
Literature Link for Oct. 3, 2021-Telling our stories
• “To a Skylark” by Percy Shelley. [poem] In this ode, the poem’s speaker hears the skylark’s song on a beautiful summer evening. Unlike the human poet, the skylark doesn’t need to compose and revise—its song comes out joyous, natural, and pure. The bird doesn’t worry or feel sadness or regret, which the speaker in the poem seems envious of as he makes comparisons to other things the skylark is like.
“We look before and after, /And pine for what is not: /Our sincerest laughter /With some pain is fraught; https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45146/to-a-skylark
• “Change Your Story, Change Your Life” by Jenna Arak | TEDx PasadenaWomen. Writer, seeker, storyteller, Jenna Arak, finds healing by writing a letter to a father she never met. This gifted writer eloquently retells how, through the use of her pen, she was able to shift her personal narrative about Who She Is. 9 minute video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPPMc35XmXs
• “How a 13 year old changed ‘Impossible’ to ‘I’m Possible’ | Sparsh Shah | TEDxGateway. This youngster’s reverence and passion for life is so inspiring I had to share. Sparsh Shah wants to show people how they can transcend every difficulty that comes their way in life and how they can start a chain reaction to be a guide for other people who want to turn their life around as well. 14 min.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC0hlK7WGcM
Social Justice Updates
The Rockford NAACP Branch is hosting a meeting by Zoom and Facebook to explain the timeline for implementation of the SAFE-T Act (commonly known as the “2021 Criminal Justice Reform Act”) with Carlton Mayers II, Esq., the prime consultant in the crafting of this epic legislation. Trailer bills and issues will also be discussed and includes State Representative Maurice West of the Black Caucus. Former State Representative Litesa Wallace will conduct a treatise with her sister Ivy on the impact of this law on our community.
Access to this event on Zoom and Facebook live will be available via Kairos on the week of October 10th.
R.U.M. Updates 35th Annual Rockford Area CROP Hunger Walk
WHEN: Sunday, October 17, 2021
2 pm: Virtual Step off
WHERE: From where ever you are
Because of Coronavirus, this year’s Rockford Area CROP Hunger Walk will be mainly online and virtual. The “walk” will be held on Sunday, October 17, 2021, and can be completed at the individuals’ speed. It is hoped that people can raise $45,000 to help support the local hunger programs and overseas relief.
Last year the Rockford Walk raised an astounding $44,000 online! There were some congregations that walked around their neighborhood, and other individuals that used Rockford’s bike paths.
Donations will be raised through cash sponsorships solicited by the walkers themselves. Volunteer walkers can call 815) 964-7111 for sponsor sheets, or contact one of 41 congregations and businesses that are walking
Local food banks and pantries will receive 25 percent of the money raised to help feed hungry people. The remaining 75 percent will go through Church World Service and other international relief agencies to provide food and disaster relief in more than 70 countries.
You may join RUM’s team if you wish: https://events.crophungerwalk.org/2021/team/rockford-urban-ministries
WE NEED YOUR HELP to support these efforts. Please support the local CROP Walk, or send your contribution to:
CHURCH WORLD SERVICE
P.O. Box 968
Elkhart, IN 46515
Rockford Urban Ministries, the Rock River Valley Pantry, Food Pantry Coalition, and Church World Service sponsor the CROP Hunger Walk. This will be the 35th annual Rockford Area Hunger Walk, this year with over 30 congregations and organizations participating.
Call David Jones for more info: 815-540-3703
Eliminate Racism 815
Film Discussion Friday, October 8. 2021 6pm How Racism Harms White Americans- Lecture by John Bracey: This film focuses on the high price that white people, especially working class whites, have paid for race-based policies. Join Zoom Meeting here:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81211275487 The film discussions are presented in partnership with Tony Turner of Conscious Coaching, The Baha’i Community of the Rockford Area, and Rockford Public Library.
-Justice for All Meeting will meet on October 10th at 11:10 a.m. in Deale Hall
-Social Justice Committee will meet on November 17th at 7:00 p.m. in the Library
– Touchstones: contact your touchstones group facilitator for the time, if you don’t already have it.
– Caring Team Meeting – The first Tuesday of each month
The next one is Tuesday, October 5th at 6 pm in the Library
– Membership Team Meetingsare on the 1st Thursday of the month at 7 pm. Meeting ID: 980 2780 4780
– Green Sanctuary will meet on the 4th Sunday of each month at 11:45 a.m.
-Wesley Willows Members and friends of the church who live at Wesley Willows are invited to join others and Rev. Matthew on the 4th Tuesday of most months. Our next meeting will be October 26th at 9am. We will meet in the fellowship hall at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL | 4848 Turner St., Rockford, IL 61107 | 815-398-6322 | uurockford.org |