Black Lives Matter as Theology September 20, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only atfacebook.com/uurockford) Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson Black and other Unitarian Universalist Theologians have been giving new life and meaning to our first principle, the inherent worth and dignity of each person. Adding a “liberation” lens to our “liberal” theology feels like the next step in our long theological evolution. On Matthew’s last Sunday before his sabbatical begins, learn about this long-overdue vitalization in our faith.
Happy Birthday to: Ann Caskey (09/16), Rich McKnight (09/16), Ed Kuehl (09/18), Eric van Est (09/18), Gary Huckstep (09/19), Rhonda Best (09/19), Ernie Stephens (09/19), Judith Boone (09/20), & Monica Garcia-Nettz (09/21)!
Update from Betsy Urbik: I am still in the hospital – I’ve been here since Friday, with no release date yet. (I developed a major skin strep infection in my left leg.) No visitors or calls, but I would love emails or happy thoughts or cards to my home! And keep Warren in your thoughts. He’s going crazy being home alone.
Message from Matthew
Sept 15, 2020
It was delightful to see some of you last Sunday at our homecoming lawn-gathering. It was no surprise that you all were so good at wearing masks and staying safe, too. I am filled with affection for this congregation – and I can’t wait until we can gather in person again, safely.
During the pandemic, some of the things we normally do have stopped or scaled way back. This includes some of the program teams and activities. We’ve made our ministry to children and families much simpler, out of love, and noticing how much parents are overwhelmed right now. We’ve focused on worship and small groups, and some justice ministry. The Board meets, as does the finance committee and the caring team. We’re trying to keep things simple. That’s a lesson worth holding on to. But if you’d like to get involved, we welcome it! Talk with Chris about joining a Touchstone Group, or with Steve Lewis if you’d like to help plan an online Auction for later this year.
We had a great meeting last week with our staff and our sabbatical preachers. We’re all set for my sabbatical, with great services planned for you. Be sure to keep tuning in. You’ll want to be part of the conversation.
While I’m away, I will not be doing normal church work. I won’t answer emails, phone calls, or FaceBook messages about church work. This is an important way for me to focus on the study, renewal, and creativity that this time is for. If you have a church need, contact Autumn at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will send it to the right person. Please be patient with the staff – almost all of them are part-time, and they have young children they are also trying to manage during this time, who are learning at home. Your continued grace is a gift.
Many blessings during this time. I will be back in the pulpit, preaching, on Nov. 8th, the Sunday after the election. I’ll then return to my sabbatical and return Dec. 21st. But you will see me – and I will be thinking of you through the camera lens – on Nov. 8th (as well as this Sunday of course!).
Share the Plate with Human Library
Human Library is a worldwide movement to allow people to have important conversations and personal connections with others they would not normally meet. These conversations amplify the worth and dignity of every person. The library is composed of “Books” or people with their life stories that involve discrimination, stereotyping, or misunderstandings. The “Readers” are the listeners of the books. Human Library started in 2000 and is in over 70 countries. We have started a Northern Illinois chapter though Covid has significantly reduced the number of events this year. We have partnered with the Rockford Public Library, Rock Valley College, and Rockford University. Money will help us pay yearly dues, print signs and advertising, and purchase nametags and other supplies.
Coordinators: Duane and Shiraz Click here to donate.
WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY – HUMAN LIBRARY EVENT
Please mark your calendar to join us on September 16th at 7:00 to 8:30 for a brief introduction to Human Library and a chance to listen to two of our “Books” (people who tell their personal stories) for a half-hour each. We will have:
· Christopher: Why My Black Life Matters
· Freddy: My Life With Undocumented Parents
· Emmanuel: 21 Years in African Refugee Camps
· Matt: My Life Being Trans
No need to sign up since we have plenty of room.
Here is the Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/3372673668
Questions? Call Shiraz at (815) 519-2949. Duane Wilke and Shiraz Tata, Coordinators
*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
– 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
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
Peace Pole Dedication
This Sunday we dedicated our Peace Pole. On the pole is the phrase, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four different languages. The picture, shown here with master carver Roger Benedict, includes this phrase in Hungarian, the language used by the members of our Partner Churches. The design was inspired by the memorial poles popular with Unitarians in Transylvania (picture below). The pole was included in the new garden design by Carole Hunter. Thanks to the many contributors who made this possible.
Donating to NPR
Do you count on Northern Public Radio as a trusted source of news, music, and entertainment? If so, you probably know that the annual pledge drive for the local stations – 89.5 WNIJ/NPR and Classical WNIU 90.5/105.7) – is underway. But did you realize you can contribute to Public Radio and benefit our church at the same time? Here’s how it goes:
Working together, we can pool our tax-deductible donations and enable the church to air underwriting messages (Public Radio’s version of ads) informing the community about our church, its programs, and events. Once you decide on the amount of your gift, write the check to Unitarian Universalist Church, with “NPR” in the memo line. The office will send one big check to Northern Public Radio, and soon listeners throughout Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin will start hearing about Rockford’s UU Church on their favorite radio programs.
The result? Much-needed revenue for the stations and valuable publicity for our church. Questions? Contact the church office.
I’ve been leading a book discussion for the League of Women Voters, Greater Rockford, of White Fragility by Robin Diangelo published by Beacon Press, the independent publisher of the UUA. The target audience of this book is the same as its author, Robin Diangelo; white, middle-class, liberal people who know they aren’t in any way racist. But we have a lot to learn. I consider Robin’s book the perfect introduction to anti-racism for our congregation.
Once I finish the book discussion with the LWV next week, I’ll be planning a book discussion for Unitarian Universalists. You might want to buy the book, which was on backorder from Beacon Press last month. I bought a Kindle version from Amazon.com, which doesn’t require a bookshelf and has features like highlighting in 4 different colors.
If you find statistics to be convincing, this video will open your eyes to a side of health care in the US that is hidden.
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot
If you are feeling disconnected and missing your fellow UU’s, now is a great time to join a Touchstone group! We are starting up some new groups, some with old friends and some with new ones.
Touchstones Groups are groups of about 8-12 people who meet to explore the monthly theme. Some will choose to meet online and some will gather in-person to share insights, laughter, tears, discovery, and connection. They generally meet twice a month, for 1-2 hours, depending on the size and group preference.
If you choose to join a group, please plan on participating regularly through the Spring, in respect of your fellow group members.
Ramblers’ Walk on Wednesday, September 16, 10 am, Forest Preserve Headquarters:
Everyone is welcome to join the Ramblers at 10 am on Wednesday, September 16 for a walk at the forest preserve by Winnebago County Forest Preserve Headquarters, which is off Bauer Parkway, between the bridge and Route 2 (North Main Street). (Look for the Winnebago County Headquarters’ sign on the north side of Bauer Parkway near the bridge.) We’ll walk around the lake and then wander other preserve trails or walk the bike trail south toward Sportscore One. Please wear your mask. Park in the first parking area. Questions? Text or call Neita (815-541-3508) or Sue M. (815-543-2223).
For Sept. 13 Sunday’s message about how we need each other to survive.
• Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher. I can’t say enough about this young adult novel. Sarah Byrnes and Eric Calhoune have been friends for years. When they were children, his weight and her scars made them both outcasts. Now Sarah Byrnes—the smartest, toughest person Eric has ever known—sits silent in a hospital. They need each other to survive. This is a great read. All of Crutcher’s works feature teens with real-life problems who face them with courage. For a free download or to read online: https://blindhypnosis.com/staying-fat-for-sarah-byrnes-pdf-chris-crutcher.html
In collaboration with UUSC, Side With Love is offering an exciting new webinar series to deepen our collective activism and participation in the Movement for Black Lives.
We invite you to participate in Taking A Collective Breath: Deepening our alignment with the Movement for Black Lives, a five-session series built around the elements of the BREATHE Act. The webinars will explore the components of the BREATHE Act and utilize its structure as a way to focus our energies to effectively support ongoing racial justice work. Come learn and build with local and national partners who are shaping conditions to make liberation possible. This is an invitation to locate yourself in this moment as well, we each have a role to play.
The BREATHE Act seeks to reform federal laws and eliminate funding for federal programs that criminalize Black, Muslim, and immigrant communities, reinvesting our resources in community solutions for education, health, and the environment.
September 22 4pm PT/ 6pm CT/ 7pm ET
Webinar 4: Environmental Justice and Public Health.
Panelists: Environmental Justice Advocates and Directors Roundtable
October 13 4pm PT/ 6pm CT/ 7pm ET
Webinar 5: Holding Officials Accountable & Enhancing Self-Determination of Black Communities.
Panelists: Minister Sheena Rolle, Deputy Director Faith In Florida; Nicole Pressley, National Organizer UU The Vote and Let My People Vote Campaign