Congregation established 1836
Newsletter of the
First Unitarian Church, Alton, Illinois
Rev. Khleber Van Zandt, Minister
May 3, 2009
“Found in Translation”
Rev. Krista Taves
As Unitarian Universalists, we know that we live in a plural world and we accept this as good. There are many ways we speak of the sacred and we accept the sacred in all religious language. To be Unitarian Universalist is to find ourselves in translation, always meeting religious languages with openness, possibility, and power.
Rev Taves is the minister at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville, MO.
Joe Jencks, a folk musician with conservatory training, will be sharing his music with us during the worship service. He is a songwriter, entertainer, and educator. He plays in concert halls, coffee houses, faith communities, at festivals and house concerts. His sixth, and latest, CD is “The Candle and the Flame.”
May 10, 2009
**Mothers’ Day Flower Communion**
“Living Amidst Eternity”
Rev. Khleber Van Zandt
The founder of the Flower Communion, Norbert Capek, said he had “lived amidst eternity.” Anyone who has mothered another has been there – acting in the moment in ways that last an eternity.
– Please consider bringing a few flowers to share during our annual Flower Communion ritual. –
May 17, 2009
“Doubt and Ambiguity”
Rev. Khleber Van Zandt
John Patrick Shanley’s movie, Doubt (from the play of the same name), focuses on questions of morality and authority as it tells the story of a nun who suspects a priest of abusing a student. Ambiguity is the name of the game as both her accusation and his denial leave room for generous doses of doubt.
May 24, 2009
**Memorial Day Weekend**
“Why do we Remember?”
Understanding and honoring those who have gone before us helps to define community and creates unity with a common bond.
Kristen is a leader in our congregation’s Pagan Group.
May 31, 2009
**Annual Meeting Sunday**
“A Beacon and a Refuge”
Rev. Khleber Van Zandt
The unison words of welcome we offer to our new members include, “May this congregation become for us all a beacon and a refuge, a challenge and a comfort, through all our days.” As a prelude to our Annual Congregational Meeting, this sermon will look at how well we’re living up to those high standards.
May 3rd – Humanist / Non-Theist Roundtable Discussion Group.
– What I learned in
May 17th – “Chalice Circle Review: a road to spiritual and inter-intrapersonal growth in our church community.” This will be an opportunity to learn more about the role of Chalice Circles in our Church. – Marcia Custer.
May 24th – Peacemaking – Ron Glossop.
May 31st – No session today because of preparations
for the Annual Meeting.
Sun. May 3
– Fair trade coffee sale ; Program Council after church ;
Mon, May 4 – UU&You! 7 pm
Tues., May 5 – Mental health film series 6:45 pm
Thurs., May 7 – Anna Ds at Bella Milano 11:30 am ; choir 7 pm
Fri., May 8 – Pagan Group 6 pm ; International Dinner at Mr. Curry’s 6:30 pm
Sat., May 9 – Mental health film series 2 pm
Sun. May 10 – Growth Committee meeting after church ; choir rehearsal after church ;
Mon, May 11 – Sierra Club 7:30 pm
Tues., May 12 – Board meeting 7 pm
14 – Men’s lunch at
Sat., May 16 – Bucket Brigade in Alton; Renegade Women 2 pm
Sun., May 17 – 3rd Sunday Chalice Circle after church; Parents Seeking Peace Chalice Circle after church ; Women’s Drum circle 6 pm ; Green Sky Sangha 7 pm
Tues., May 19 – Tour of single stream recycling plant 10 am ; Mental health film series 6:45 pm
Thurs., May 21 – Care team leaders 6 pm ; choir 7 pm
Sat., May 23 – 4th Saturday lunch 12 noon
Sun., May 24 – Choir after church; Green Sky Sangha 7 pm
Tues., May 26 – Men’s Chalice Circle 7 pm
Sun., May 31 – Annual Meeting after church.
When you die, will you go ‘up,’ or ‘down’? It’s an archaic question, but one that still drives the behavior of many of us. In a worldview that’s a carryover from earlier times, if we misbehave we risk having God the Cosmic Enforcer toss us into Hell forever. If we play nice, though, St. Peter is sure to welcome us in at the Pearly Gates of Heaven.
I don’t often dwell on these issues but as the deadline for this column approached, I realized that I’d had “Heaven and Hell” questions from three different people in three different contexts on the same day.
Many of us were taught in Sunday School, or absorbed from the culture, the notion that Heaven and Hell are real places we would be sent to after we die. Heaven was up, Hell was down, and it was made quite plain by the tales of leisurely strolling on streets paved with gold or being forever dipped in unquenchable fire how we ought to behave and which direction we ought to aspire to go.
We hear many variations on these themes from elements in our culture, fear often being the tool of choice to keep people in line and cleaving to the straight-and-narrow. Our own religious traditions long ago rejected the use of the fear of eternal damnation. We’ve also left behind the promise of eternal bliss as the sort of carrot to use to keep us civil with each other. And still, the language of Heaven and Hell, up and down, may not be as far from our own internalized views as we would like to believe.
Some reflections on what it is I believe about such things:
First of all, I believe Heaven and Hell are real in the sense that the experiences of our lives can be wonderful or horrible. In other words, I think our reactions to the world and to the events of our lives put us in the states of mind of ecstasy or turmoil. Or both.
I have been in Heaven, and I have been in Hell, and I know which one I like better.
I would also say that I believe that I will go both “up” and “down.” Some of ‘me’ will go down, I think, in the sense that the elemental materials that make up the cells of my physical body will return down into the earth to be recycled into other entities. Some of ‘me’ will go up, I think, in the sense that the energy that motivates my cells and feelings and activities will exit my physical body and return out into the universe from whence they came.
I don’t believe the entity that I think of as ‘me’ will continue as a separate consciousness, but I do believe that all of ‘me’ will rejoin the universe and become one with all Creation.
I don’t know about you, but I am comforted by that thought.
You may agree with me in whole or in part or not at all, but I hope that your own reflections on these subjects may (eventually) bring you peace, and that what you find for yourself brings you comfort – whichever direction you’re headed.
See you in church,
April 5th our church had the experience of being host to a workshop
entitled “Gender Identities and Faith Communities” presented by Aidan Dunn from
the Human Rights Commission in Washington DC. Our church has sponsored many
workshops and all are worthwhile, but some have been more significant to me
more than others. There was a wonderful mix of people from our faith community
and then there were people who came from other churches, and still more that
came because we were talking about a subject so many refused to even
acknowledge. We pushed the limits of what defines each of us in terms of personal
description in everything from food preferences to whether we considered
ourselves more religious or scientific. Finally we were asked to choose our
gender identity; which is not as easy as it sounds. Society would like us all
to be defined by an absolute biology, but life shows us in many ways that
absolutes are illusory. There are many
stories of people, real people, whose experience of life is filled with pain,
confusion and not being accepted. I believe that we as a church have pledged
ourselves to be accepting, to be a place for those who long for understanding.
To that end, I have accepted the invitation of the Human Rights Commission for
one of us to journey to
Peace and Love,
John Herndon, President of the Congregation
WYM will no longer be available on Friday mornings. If anyone is interested in starting it up again in August at another day and time, please let Paula Tarbell know.
Church Committee Meetings This Month
Program Council – after church on May 3
Growth Committee – after church on May 10
Pastoral Care Team Leaders – Thursday, May 21 at 6 pm.
Film Series Planned by the Social Justice Committee for Mental Health Awareness Month
An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older
— about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a
given year. This translates to around 60 million people
Films will be shown in the Kate Wuerker Room at the times indicated. Childcare will be available. The films shown may not be appropriate for children and parental discretion is advised. Snacks will be provided and a free-will offering taken to help defray the cost of the church having obtained a movie license to allow us to show movies without infringing on copyright laws regarding the public showing of motion pictures.
Tuesday, May 5 – 6:45 pm – Ruth Maskow will be the discussion leader.
We will be showing the movie CANVAS, inspired by a true story, starring Marcia Gay Harden. It is critically-acclaimed and award winning. http://www.canvasthefilm.com/
It is rated PG 13 for mature thematic elements.
Synopsis: "When Mary's mental illness puts herself and her family in jeopardy, her husband and son helplessly watch as she is torn from her family by the police. Forced to raise a boy on his own and cope with his wife's schizophrenia, father and son learn what it is to truly be a family."
We hope you join us in seeing and discussing this entertaining, educational and inspiring film!
Saturday, May 9th – 2 pm – Cindy Mayhew will be the discussion leader.
We will be showing the movie OPEN SPACES, released in
This film introduces a diverse collection of recovery stories told first-hand by those managing their illness with an emphasis on what has made a difference in their lives. A sense of belonging to one's community and finding meaning and purpose in one's life are two key principles of recovery that are weaved throughout the stories in this film.
The film will be followed by a discussion of how our congregation can be welcoming and can be proactive in making a difference in the lives and families challenges with mental illness. Resource materials will be available to participants for further education on mental illness and what helps and hinders recovery.
Tuesday, May 19 – 6:45 pm – Dee Evans will be the discussion leader.
The film to be shown on this date is still being decided, but will be a movie related to bipolar disorder. It may be BULWORTH, starring Warren Beatty. This R Rated film depicts a politician with a bipolar disorder. The film received several Academy Award nominations and was recommended by several organizations that review films related to mental health.
Publicity for church events
The Growth Committee would like your help. If you would like public media publicity about an event that is taking place at our Church, would you please let Dee Evans know two weeks ahead of the scheduled program.
The papers that we have contacted
said that they publish at their discretion when they are putting something in
the paper for free. But we can e-mail them event information and it might
Green Sky Sangha
We meet every
Sunday at 7 pm in
The Green Sky Sangha means different things to different members, but we all agree that practicing meditation is what we do.
vary our practice and use walking meditation,
While we practice Buddhist meditation, no prior experience with meditation or knowledge of Buddhism is needed. Please join us. All are welcome.
All women in the church are invited to the May lunch meeting of the Anna D. Sparks Women’s Alliance on Thursday, May 7th at Bella Milano Restaurant, 1063 Route 157, Edwardsville, 62025. Please call or email Pat Moore by May 3rd for a reservation.
A reminder … in June we’ll be discussing Toni Morrison’s new book A Mercy. Take time to check it out of your local library now.
NEW GROUP FORMING
International Dinner Group
on Friday, May 8th – 6:30 pm
Church member Suganya Dhanamitt will be helping to prepare the meal for our group.
Let Cathy Tade know by Tuesday, May 5th if you’ll be coming to Friday’s dinner.
UU Pagan Group
The Pagan Group meets on the 2nd Friday of each month. Join them on May 8th from 6 – 8 pm at the church.
Men’s Lunch Group – all the men in the church are invited to attend.
The Men’s Lunch Group will meet on Thursday, May 14th at the St.
Louis Buffet, 672 Wesley Dr., Wood River, IL. Contact Nelson Shaner for further details.
Sunday, May 17th from 6 to 8 pm. All women in the church are invited to come. You may bring any kind of drum (even children’s plastic drums, maracas, any percussion instrument will do.) No experience in drumming is necessary. For further information contact Layne Simpson.
Please WELCOME our newest member and add her and her children’s names to your church directory.
and phone numbers are not included in the online copy of the newsletter.
The total budgeted income for March 2009 was $10,184.82; this was 7.4% of our annual budget.
The total budgeted expenses for March 2009 were $11,979.87; this was 8.7% of our annual budget.
This month’s deficit of $1,795.05 is within acceptable limits. Our budget surplus still appears adequate to see us through the rest of the fiscal year as long as previously-made pledge commitments are met.
March’s natural gas cost $374.69. This is half of the February natural gas bill. I think that this means that winter is almost over.
Jerry Johnson, Church Treasurer
FAIR TRADE COFFEE PROJECT
Coffee will be available for purchase on the first Sunday of each month. Whole bean, drip grind, regular, decaffeinated and flavored coffee will be available.
Look for Linda Van Zandt at the Equal Exchange table in the Kate Wuerker Room.
Join the Choir!
We’d like you to join us. Come to a rehearsal or two and see if choir is something you’d enjoy participating in. All voices and ages are welcome.
Rehearsals begin at 7 pm on the 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings and around 12 noon on the 2nd and 4th Sundays.
The rehearsal schedule for May is:
Thursday, May 7th ~ Sunday, May 10th ~
Thursday, May 21st ~ Sunday, May 24th
Contact Willis McCoy for further information.
Saturday, May 16th at church
2 to 4 pm.
Contact Marcia Custer for more information.
11:45 am to 1 pm at church.
Tuesday, May 26th – 7 pm at church.
Contact: Khleber Van Zandt.
CRISIS FOOD CENTER DONATIONS
Susan Jolley is the new director
The items that are needed most by the Food Center now are: canned vegetables (corn, green beans); canned pork & beans; macaroni & cheese; chicken noodle and vegetable beef soups; instant mashed potatoes; peanut butter; canned fruit; tuna; grape jelly.
People who receive food at the
Maud Davona Paul passed away peacefully on Monday,
April 13 at the age of 98. Davona joined
our church in March, 1950, and was active on church committees and in the Anna
Ds for many years. She was educated in
Davona was proficient at lip reading because she was nearly deaf for most of her life due to a childhood illness.
She is survived by a niece and two nephews. Donations in Davona’s memory may be made to the First Unitarian Church of Alton or to the Elijah P. Lovejoy Scholarship Fund.
Davona asked for no special memorial service but a time for remembrances of her is planned during the worship service on May 3rd.
Tour a Single Stream Recycling Plant
Tuesday, May 19 at 10 am
Mary Johnson is organizing a tour of the
Resource Management Company’s single stream recycling plant for her Friendship Force Club.
There is room for others to join the tour.
The Company is located at 4375 Ryder Trail
In single stream recycling,
consumers mix all bottles, cans, and paper together in their recycling bins and
a single-compartment collection vehicle is used to collect the materials. Lunch is planned following the tour at
Gingham’s Restaurant in nearby
If you are interested in the tour and lunch please contact Mary before May 12th and she will give you directions.
Bring a dish to share and plan to stay after church to join in food and fellowship! If possible please bring a dish that serves at least 6 to 8 people.
When at all possible, in an effort to be more conscious of the environment and to reduce the trash that our church might add to the ever growing area landfills, we are using the church’s china plates instead of disposable ones.
A-Mc will do Table Set Up
M-Z will do Clean Up
Everyone needs to help. Please do your share in setting up and cleaning up. Kitchen camaraderie helps you know someone better.
ROAD CLEAN UP CREW
Thanks to everyone who came out on April 4th for the trash pickup! We set new records for bags of trash and tires. In all we collected:
80 Bags of trash
1 Gas tank
1 Computer monitor
1 Sofa cushion
WE HAD A GREAT DAY AND A GREAT CREW!
THE CHURCH DISHWASHER
After some weeks of problems with the dishwasher, a repairman was called. His diagnosis was that the dishwasher worked fine … we just haven’t been taking the necessary steps to allow it to work properly. When running a load of dishes please do the following.
Reminders about how to use the dishwasher are posted in the kitchen.
And Speaking of Cleaning Up …
In preparing for a recent church event, a member was putting tablecloths out and found two that had been put away in the drawers with encrusted food on them and another two that had mold on them from being put away while wet. She makes the following suggestions:
4th Saturday Lunch –
A Social Justice Venture
Saturday, May 23rd is the date of our next 4th Saturday Lunch for those in need of a hot meal. A signup sheet will be available so you can decide what you would like to bring.
Our lunch buffet line opens at 12 noon. We ask that if you are bringing food that you arrive at least by 11:45 am. Set-up help is welcome anytime after 10:30 am and cleanup help is always needed after lunch is over.
If you have questions contact Mary Johnson.
Most people enjoy getting a card or email or phone call on their birthday. Below is the list we have of church members and friends celebrating birthdays this month. If you don’t think the church office has your birthday on file, please contact Becky Green (firstname.lastname@example.org) and give her that information.
1 May – Patrick Rebmann
9 May – Andrea Gross (1999)
9 May – Nancy Sakalauski
11 May – Diane Thompson
13 May – Mark Tade
13 May – Chris O’Steen
14 May – Khleber Van Zandt
16 May – Rose Hoshiko
16 May – Sharon Johnson
26 May – Audrey Wiseman
26 May – River Johnson (2002)
28 May – Willis McCoy
28 May – Mark Antieau
General Information: One-half of the cash collection and one-half of any undesignated checks put in the collection on the 2nd and 4th Sundays are given away to charitable causes. The entire amount of checks designated for a specific cause is donated to that cause. The money donated does not include pledge checks or money otherwise earmarked by the giver. In March $243.50 was given to the Poetry Correspondence Program at SIUE.
May's Community Outreach Offering
will go to the
Adventure … misadventure … car problems … emergency room visits … hard physical work … music … good food … camaraderie … new friends … birthday ice-cream desserts … mud floors … gas leaks … lunch on the grass in the sunshine … pry bars … power tools … warm weather … and the birth of 5 kittens, sums up our work week in New Iberia and Franklin Louisiana.
For selected photos of the work week activities go to:
Commentary from one of our newer members, Dick Blanton, about GROWTH
Dee Evans, our Growth Committee Chair, has asked each of us on the committee to give our views on Church growth.
A Google search for “How to grow a Church” brought up 31,600,000 entries. I didn’t look into very many of these, but the focus seemed to be selling programs or books on how to increase the number of butts in the pews. Declining church membership is a large problem all over the world.
I’ve been to a few church growth workshops, and the message was: If you have a good preacher, are friendly, have good music, and have good programs, your church will grow. Our church has all of these attributes plus more, many more.
The First Unitarian Church of Alton is a vibrant growing church. It’s amazing to me how many programs are in place, and the efforts put forth by this congregation to attract, and make visitors feel welcome once they are here.
My views on the preacher: His talents are too numerous to mention, and his sermons are good too.
Our church is a “Welcoming Church” officially and unofficially.
The music: What other church could you hear a prelude named “Boogie Gospel,” an instrumental piece named “Til I’m 64,” a beautiful moving vocal version of “Old Man River,” an outstanding choir and pianist, visiting professors from Wisconsin performing and giving a sermon on music, and two beautiful piano and flute pieces during one service? We enjoyed all this and more, in a period of about six months.
The programs: The leaders and the many active committees have developed programs to make this church a special inclusive place for the congregation, and visitors.
Dee and the rest of the growth committee are committed to growing this church. I will personally strive to be more receptive, to smile more, and to make visitors feel more comfortable while they are here. I will also ask friends, acquaintances, and anyone else that I think could be interested, to join me at First Unitarian on Sunday morning.
Dear Parents and Friends,
Summer vacation is quickly
approaching. This means that soon our RE
Summer Sunday Sessions will be
starting. This involves a few procedural
changes. Starting the first Sunday in
June the children will be in the sanctuary at the beginning of EVERY
service. They will not have a separate
Children’s Chapel. Also, all age levels
will be together and meeting in the
As you may have already heard the church is putting in a community garden. It is my sincere hope that it will be in place by the end of the month. This is so that when our RE Summer Sunday Sessions start we are able to go out and participate in this project during RE time. This will be a wonderful activity that can lead to all sorts of lessons about ethical eating and our interdependent web of existence. If you are interested in gardening and/or teaching RE this summer please let me know. We will need to have all the Sundays in June, July and August filled.
We are also planning on having a week-long Vacation Chalice Camp on diversity. The dates and times of this will be announced once they are set. If you are interested in volunteering to help out in this endeavor, please let me know.
Thank You, Jamie Gross
to bring in your ink jet cartridges for recycling.
The Church Youth Group and Advisors are
coordinating our church’s participation in
When?: Saturday, May 16
What is it?: The Bucket Brigade, co-sponsored by Pride, Inc., The Telegraph and Brod-Dugan/Sherwin Williams has been painting homes for area residents since 1988. The program matches volunteer teams with homeowners who are no longer able to maintain their homes without assistance. In order to qualify for the program, homes must be one-story, owner occupied residences. Most of the homeowners that benefit from this program are seniors who simply cannot handle such a huge job alone. Other recipients are those with physical or financial limitations that prevent them from doing the work. Volunteer teams complete the painting at no cost to the homeowner.
More Details will be provided when we get them. But keep May 16th free for some painting!
The UUA Social Justice Action for May is
Immigration Justice. For more information and resources go to http://uua.org/socialjustice/actioncenter/131207.shtml
The 2009 UU Women’s Connection Spring Conference will be June 5 - 7
Request from your
Church newsletter editor:
If possible, if your newsletter submissions are more than just a few sentences please send them as Word documents using Times New Roman, font size 11. It will save me a lot of time not having to reformat the submissions. We have a lot of happenings that need to be included in the newsletter and it’s taking a lot more time than it used to. Receiving your articles already in the newsletter format will be very helpful. Thank you.
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