I Need You To Survive (Homecoming) September 13, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (Online Only atfacebook.com/uurockford) Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson As we have the most unusual homecoming service in the congregation’s history, we focus on our care and love for each other as proof of our commitment to the dignity and worth of all people. We pledge to do our part to care for ourselves, our neighbor, and all people. Because you matter, we say, “I need you to survive.” AFTER WORSHIP CONCLUDES, come on over to the church for Homecoming on the lawn. Bring your own chair and food if you wish. Wear a mask.
Happy Birthday to: Ann Pellman (09/11), Glen Pietrzyk (09/12), Gary Soper (09/12), & Gene Gustafson (09/13)!
Message from Matthew
Have you heard the news? It’s true! I’ll be on sabbatical this fall, from Sept. 21st through Dec. 21st. And it is almost here.
Many of you have experienced a ministerial sabbatical before, but if you have not, let me tell you a little about what will happen. Unitarian Universalists Minister’s earn 1 month of sabbatical time for every year of service; your Board and I agreed that I would typically take three months every four years. This keeps my sabbaticals short, but more frequent. We take sabbaticals so that we can renew, restore, and refresh our ministry. I have found my sabbaticals deeply enriching – I’ve learned new skills, studied topics at depth, and engaged in travel and discovery that’s made my ministry much stronger. It’s also good for you – you stretch new leadership muscles, hear from other preachers, and are reminded that the minister is not the church.
I considered delaying my sabbatical because of the pandemic, but the Board and I agreed to move ahead. We will be online the whole time anyway, and I am, honestly, crispy. I need the break so I can be your best possible minister.
What will I do? I will do a domestic walking pilgrimage – a Universalist pilgrimage from Maine to Gloucester, MA – the site of the first Universalist Church in the United States. I’ve found these long walks – which I’ve done in Israel and Transylvania – to be amazingly powerful experiences. Since I could not do the Camino, in Spain, this year, it is New England, instead. When I return, I’ll be studying some topics that have captured my imagination – archetypes, Tarot Cards, the Enneagram, Jungian psychology. I’ve signed up for some online workshops and have a reading list.
What will happen at the church? We have two great sabbatical preachers lined up for you, who will take turns leading worship online. Omega, our intern, will be able to respond to pastoral care needs alongside our great caring team. Autumn will work with the finance and building committees to support their work – but those teams have highly competent leadership. Chris will support adult programs like touchstones and wonderful Wednesday. If you have a question you’d normally send to me, send it to Autumn at email@example.com she’ll get it to the right place.
I will generally not be doing any church work during my sabbatical. I will record some reflections and greetings to you while I’m away, and be able to consult with Autumn or Omega as needed in an emergency, but I won’t be reading email, answering calls, or attending meetings. If I see you around town, say hi, but let’s not talk about church – deal?
I am excited to be with you for the next week and half before my sabbatical begins, and I know I’ll be very glad to return when the time ends. I hope that the time in between is fruitful, renewing, and powerful for all of us.
P.S. Here is a chart of who to go to when Matthew is on sabbatical.
Worship – Omega Burckhardt (Intern) and Tim Anderson (Music Director). Pastoral Care – Chris Ainsworth (membership manager) or Omega Finance, Building, Administration – Autumn Powell Social Justice – Ellyn Ahmer and Jason Peckles Adult Programs – Chris Board of Trustees – Carolyn Arevalo Denominational Affairs / UU things – Teresa Wilmot or Omega Something else – Start with Autumn
Share the Plate with Eliminate Racism 815
Eliminate Racism 815 is a force for change in the Rockford community. Racism exists and we will no longer ignore or look the other way. Through our shared values, commitment, patience, and perseverance, we strive to eliminate racism in Rockford. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org she can give you the login
The Power of Privilege
General Assembly 2020 focused on decolonization, anti-racism, and indigenous people. Privilege is related to all of these subjects. Privilege can separate “us” from “them.” Colonizers viewed natives as less than human. When slaves were freed, they were not given the privileges of whites. But the video, “The Power of Privilege,” challenges each of us to use the privilege we have to make a difference.
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.
Path to Membership
It’s that time again! If you’re interested in learning more about Unitarian Universalism, there’s still time to RSVP for our upcoming class.
*Due to the pandemic* this class will be divided into two parts–an online session and an in-person (socially-distanced) book-signing.
We will send videos/reading materials prior to a scheduled virtual meeting Wed. September 16th. All members wishing to join the church will then meet on Saturday, Sept. 19th at 10am for the book-signing, which we will record outside (weather permitting) and show on our live-stream Sunday service the following day.
The class covers UU history, principles, and ideals, and is a wonderful way to learn about our church and meet others who are new to Unitarian Universalism. Attendance is required for membership.
To register call Chris in the church office at (815) 398-6322 or email at email@example.com September 10th. We hope to see you there!
Homecoming! Sept. 13th.
Unless there is a spike in cases, we are planning on a socially distant, outside gathering for Homecoming. Worship will be online only at 10am; after worship drive, bike, or walk to the church. You can bring a lunch (and lawn chair of your own) and join us on the lawn. Or just come by and say hello. Plan to keep six feet of distance and wear a mask when moving around. The building (including restrooms) will be closed, so please make sure you do not need to enter the building. It will be so great to see some of you! Rain back up is the next week, Sept. 20th.
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. 6 Sunday’s message about the dignity of work
• “Shirt” by Robert Pinsky [poem]
Robert Pinsky honors those who died in the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. This piece, new to me, caused a “catch” in my throat. My parents both worked in the garment industry for many years and belonged to the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. In a non-air-conditioned block-long building, they turned out clothing for the Aldens catalog and canvas canteen covers and mosquito netting during the Vietnam war. When you put on clothing tomorrow, look at the seams, the buttonholes, and consider the hands of the assembly line workers who made it. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47696/shirt
• Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is a vivid portrait of life and death in a turn-of-the-century Chicago meat-packing factory. A grim indictment that led to government regulations of the food industry, it is Sinclair’s extraordinary contribution to literature and social reform. Its publication brought a direct reform to the food industry and is why we have the FDA and OSHA. When I read it in high school, one of my many impressions was how very hard the family had to work.
• 7 Reasons Why Dance is the Ultimate Spiritual Experience.
Here is a P.S. from last week about dance. Of course, I found it after I had submitted my piece to Autumn for the Kairos. The “7 reasons why I think dance is the ultimate spiritual experience” is a short article but too good not to pass it along. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/dance-spiritual-journey
Sierra Club Candidate (Virtual) Happy Hour! Monday, September 14th at 7 pm
The Northwest River Valleys Group is hosting a virtual happy hour for fellow Sierra Club members, supporters and constituents. This is an opportunity to connect with the candidates who are the climate champions representing our area. Meet Dani Brzozowski (US 16), Brian Sager (IL HD 63), Maurice West (IL HD 67) and Dave Vella (IL HD 68).
Bring a beverage of your liking and find out more about the candidates.
You can find more information on Facebook,hereand on the Sierra Club sitehere.
Added bonus, if you go to the Sierra Club site, how many people do you recognize?
Register today and see you on Monday!!!!
Submitted by Rebecca Quirk
Social Justice Updates
As our state grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, families and businesses need a bold recovery effort to build a strong, equitable economy and healthier, more resilient communities.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) puts us on the road to recovery by providing long-term answers to the public health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19. CEJA also holds utility companies like ComEd accountable by stopping automatic rate hikes, increasing transparency and public participation, and requiring them to keep costs low for consumers!
CEJA will boost one of our fastest growing industries in Illinois, while safeguarding public health and protecting the planet. That’s why CEJA can’t wait!
WHAT YOU CAN DO: It seems we have been working on this for a long time, but we are nearing the finish line! Join your UU voice with folks from environmental groups all over the state to urge our legislators to pass CEJA this fall!
Help pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act by contacting your lawmakers — TAKE ACTION to let your Illinois legislators and Governor Pritzker know you want them to move the CEJA proposal forward NOW!
Partnering with the Illinois Environmental Council, Prairie Rivers, The Illinois Climate Action Table, and the Sierra Club
UUANI is supported by contributions from Unitarian Universalist individuals and congregations in Illinois, and by grants from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council, and the Illinois Environmental Council. We are grateful for each of these forms of support!
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 8 4pm PT/ 6pm CT/ 7pm ET
Webinar 3: Education: Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People.
Panelists: National Director and Writer Jonathan Stith, Alliance for Educational Justice and Youth Organizers
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
Everette R. H. Thompson
Side With Love
Eliminate Racism 815 recommends a City Community Accountability Board
Eliminate Racism 815 recommended to the Rockford City Council on July 27th that the City of Rockford develop a Community Accountability Board. The Criminal Justice Action Team has studied similar boards for the past year and has spoken with people from various cities of comparable size across the United States. We have learned of their challenges and successes. We listened to law enforcement, members of various city and non-governmental organizations and elected officials. They are sources of encouragement and wisdom, sharing information on achieving our goal of strengthening the relationship between community and police and improving accountability by establishing a Community Accountability Board.
Independent community-led review of the Rockford Police Department would provide:
Transparency and trust
Fair and effective policing
Protection of the civil and constitutional rights of all the people
We want Rockford’s police force to be a model of effective community policing. Therefore, we need to:
Strengthen Rockford’s community policing program
Develop additional educational programs for officers in cultural competency and de-escalation
Eliminate the disparity in stops by race
Review and recommend actions and policies
Establish a review and mediation system for use of force complaints
Streamline and simplify the complaint process
Educate community members on lodging complaints
Improve the culture of the Police Department
Have strong, diverse community representation on the Board