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DECEMBER 2022

Our mission is to support one another on our spiritual journeys, work for justice, care for the earth, and build the common good. 

In This Issue

Welcome to Windmill Spaces!

Windmill Spaces, one of 3 MVUC newsletters, arrives early in the month and focuses on spiritual life and worship, MVUC ministries, and faith formation.

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November 2022 Windmill Spaces
October 2022 Windmill Spaces
September 2022 Windmill Spaces

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November 2022 Windmill Times
October 2022 Windmill Times
September 2022 Windmill Times

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Worship Theme of the Month - Wonder

"Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved.

And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love.
"  -Valerie Kaur
A Welcoming Congregation and Accredited Green Sanctuary
MVUC is a 10+ year Honors Congregation member of 
the Unitarian Universalist Association, Central East Region

In the Interim

Our monthly theme is wonder, and as part of exploring that I asked our worship committee to brainstorm with me a few weeks ago about that idea. What does wonder mean to each of us? We had a great discussion, and it helped inform what you will see, hear, and experience in worship for the next several weeks. 
 
We use the monthly topics as a way to focus our worship and make sure we’re exploring different ideas – we also subscribe to a UU service, Soul Matters, that both provides us resources on the topic and also a community of other congregations who are exploring the same topics at the same time. 
 
For our worship team, wonder was a fruitful topic. As you might expect from a group of UUs, there was a lot of wonder about nature, the universe, and the insights of science. We talked about the changing of the seasons, the trees on our church campus and all over our region, and about the views of space from the recently launched James Webb Telescope. In this season of the plants going dormant, leaves falling, and the winter holidays, what can we learn from the cycle of life? As we welcome new babies to our congregation – have you noticed all the little ones in our midst recently? – we may wonder at the miracle of life. 
 
We also talked about wonder as a verb: what does it mean to engage in wonder? What role does imagination play in our congregational life and our individual spiritual lives?
 
And what does ancient wisdom from many cultures tell us about wonder? The stories of cultures from around the world are, in some sense, an attempt to wonder at and explain the world around us, something we are still trying to do in today’s world through the mediums of science and art and more. 
 
This month, may you wonder, may you experience something wondrous, and may we explore what it means to wonder together.

In faith,
Rev. Christian

News From a Religious Educators Conference

Report from Ann Richards, MVUC's Director of Lifespan Spiritual Growth:

In mid-October the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) held their annual fall conference.  They have a reputation of always putting on an inspirational event, but this one was especially meaningful and applicable for me.  The theme was “Faith Made Real: Living the 8th Principle.”  I’d like to share some of the notes I took with you, as we consider how to live into the work building anti-oppressive and anti-racist beloved Community.  

The proposed draft of the 8th Principle reads:

“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

Since the conference, there is also now proposed draft language from the Article II study commission that would add the following language, invoking similar values as the proposed 8th Principle: 

"Justice. We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all people thrive.
We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of oppression within individuals and our institutions. We are accountable to each other for this work.
"

Some conference “take aways” that I'll be thinking about and invite you all to consider and reflect on as well:
 
  • When dealing with difficult topics like slavery or lynching, Unitarian Universalists sometimes by-pass the “feeling" part.  They will sometimes head right for the social justice response and want to DO something before they even process the spiritual and emotional impact of traumatic issues.
  • Congregational staff have a responsibility to affirm and promote anti-white supremacy.
  • What would it look like to Center the 8th Principle?  It would change the way we worship, the curriculum we use in Religious Education classes, the Adult Religious Education programs we offer, the language we use, the materials we create about the church.
  • Congregations need equity markers; evaluations, reviews and other instruments to help track progress as we work toward living the 8th principle.
  • There should be antiracism education and conversations as well as accountability markers for the staff team.
  • We don’t need to center worship.  What a church is and does is not limited to one hour weekly.  UU kids can change the world, and sometimes the truly meaningful comes from that quarter.  That may well be true especially when fighting racism.
  • Working against white supremacy can be disheartening.  It’s good to amplify the small wins to help in the long haul.
  • Everyone should watch the 8th principle video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmqcSxhzBMA
  • We can let go of the old “sandwich” worship model that has a prescribed set of elements (e.g. Reading, Offertory, Benediction) and is a legacy of the western European church.  Instead we could use models for worship that are more culturally diverse.
  • As we work toward anti-oppression/anti-racism/multi culturalism, we may discover or even cultivate "divine dissatisfaction."
  • Meeting facilitators, teachers, officiants, and other congregational leaders should be trained in anti-oppression/anti-racism/multi-culturalism for the safety of all participants. 
  • All churches should send delegates to the mini assemblies in January in preparation for GA in June.  Everyone should have the opportunity to speak their piece and have access to the conversations around the 8thPrinciple.

News From Our Music Director, Mark Zimmerman

Hello All, 

Well, it’s that time already!  Who knew this year could run by so fast. It’s great to be with you all at this wonderful time of year.  Coming from Ohio, I’m looking forward to snow if possible.   

Our music for December is wonderful.  I hope you can attend each service or at least tune in via YouTube.  December 4th is our annual Jazz Music Sunday.  With a guest drummer, we present early advent and holiday fun numbers.  Dec 11th will have a “Blue Christmas” theme and we sing "Sure On This Shining Night", and "The Best Gift of All."  

December 18th is our Annual Holiday Pageant.  With youth and adult participation, Ms. Ann Richards always presents a wonderful service.  

Christmas Eve, December 24th: Our guest musicians will provide the lovely combination of harp and oboe, along with our choir, Handbell Choir, and Dr. Yee Von Ng. One of the most lovely numbers will be "When the Song of the Angels is Stilled," by Howard Thurman and Elizabeth Alexander.   The theme is:  After all the wonderful things of the holiday season, the actual work of Christmas begins. Here’s a link to a lovely recording and video of the anthem.   



Remember that we will have 2 Christmas Eve services this year:
Family Service at 4:30, and more contemplative Service at 7:00.  Both are multigenerational services.  

For Christmas Day on Sunday the 25th, and the New Year’s day service on Jan 1, our summer pianist Howard Breitbart returns along with other special music.  

So do plan to be with us this December, and I hope you each have a lovely Holiday Season in any fashion you enjoy.

~Mark, music@mvuc.org 

MVUC and Our Partner Churches -
Part 3 - Mawlat, NE India

See previous articles about our Partner Churches in Part 1 of this series and Part 2 of this series.

Unitarians can now be found almost everywhere, but the third largest group of Unitarians can be found in the Khasi Hills of NE India, in the state of Meghalaya, which gained its independence from Assam in 1972. Before the arrival of the Christian missionaries at the end of the 19th century, Khasi people practiced an indigenous tribal religion, animistic is nature. Research has determined that the Khasi people migrated from somewhere in Cambodia and are among one of the few remaining matrilineal societies in the world.
 
There are more than 10,000 Unitarians in the Khasi with about 32 churches and church run schools. Unitarianism in the Khasi Hills was started by a young Khasi, Hajom Kisor Singh. Singh was converted to Calvinist faith, but he had a lot of questions unanswered by the Welsh missionaries. After a long search, he was introduced to Rev. C.H.A. Dahl, a Unitarian missionary of the American Unitarians stationed at Kolkata (Calcutta). Singh’s contact with Dahl turned on the Unitarian fire in Singh and he started the first Unitarian church in 1887 in the region.
 
We were introduced to them in 2007 by Dee Idnani of the Fairfax UU Church who had been trying to establish partnerships between these churches and American congregations. Their needs are very great—the poverty in this region is overwhelming, most people earn less than two dollars a day, living significantly below the global poverty line. Our congregation voted in 2007 to partner with the Mawlat Unitarian Church and school.
 
Most people who live outside of Shillong (the largest city in the state of Meghalaya and its political capital) are farmers or farm laborers like the people in Mawlat. Children often are forced to leave school in their formative years to assist their families in farming or in the burgeoning extractive industries. This area of India, different from the affluent areas where subcontracting of American high-tech work abounds, suffers from a lack of infrastructure, bad roads, lack of transportation and no plumbing or potable water in the homes. In fact, few homes even have outhouses. In Mawlat, there are taps where people can get the water they need for the day. Mawlat continues to suffer from the effects of global climate change with huge amounts of flooding each year and frequent landslides.
 
The Unitarian churches are staffed by ministers or “church visitors” who receive no salaries for their task and often have farms or other jobs in order to make a living. Most of the church visitors are like circuit riders, having responsibility for more than one church. The congregation is very lay lead in most of its activities, including worship.
 
The Unitarian schools are very modest. They don’t have bathrooms or outhouses. Most do not have libraries or computers. The schools are not heated and most close between mid-December and February during the coldest months. The schools function as an outreach of the church and admit children from any religious faith.
 
I have traveled twice to the Khasi Hills, once in 2007 and again a few years later. I had the privilege of staying in the home of the headmaster of the Mawlat school, Recover Sawian. He and his 7 children slept in one room, so I could have a room to myself. I had all the blankets and the home’s charcoal brazier heater. They are generous beyond belief. Jane Nelson, Meagan Henry, and Rev. Kate also traveled to Mawlat.
 
Our support for the school has included teacher stipends, as not all the teachers are paid by the Indian government. We have also shared funds for children’s uniforms, textbooks and exercise books and helped fund the expansion of the school to buy land and building materials. We have shared funds to pay for musical instruments and audio equipment, and other projects. We share the support of the school with the Accotink Unitarian Church.
 
Our committee is always looking for new friends to join us in this work; please let me know if you are interested. Lisa Blair, lisablair5950@gmail.com.

In faith, 
Lisa Blair
MVUC Board of Trustees
Chair, Partner Church Committee

Photo credits: Lisa Blair.

Upcoming Worship Services


December 4 - "Wonder" - Rev. Christian Schmidt & Mark Zimmerman

December 11 - "The Most Wonderful Time? A Blue Christmas Service" - Rev. Christian Schmidt

December 18 - Pageant - Ann Richards

December 24 - 4:30pm - Christmas Eve Family Service
December 24 - 7:00pm - Christmas Eve Service

December 25 - "Lessons and Carols" 


Share-the-Plate contributions in December are for United Community
Be sure to get the complete Windmill Spaces! Many email providers truncate this email due to the length. If you use gmail, AOL, etc, please look for a link to the rest of the newsletter at about this point in the newsletter.

Sampling of Calendar Connections & Links from Soul Matters - December

Windmill Spaces

Windmill Spaces, arriving early in the month - focuses on spiritual life and worship, MVUC ministries, and faith formation.

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