From the Minister…
A little over a month ago, I preached a sermon about the shootings at Pulse, the Orlando nightclub. In it I talked about the need to work for change, about the history of LGBT movements and the violence they have often endured. I also did something that I don’t do very often: I talked about my own sexual orientation. I affirmed publicly something that has been true my entire life, that I am part of the LGBTQ community. I was born into it by virtue of my parents’ identities and I doubled down on that group identification with my own. It was in response to this affirmation, I suspect, that you offered me a standing ovation. (I had been under the impression that you were impressed by my sermon, but in retrospect, the first explanation seems more likely.)
I also had a number of people reach out to tell me how glad they were that I had “come out” to the congregation. While I am always happy to receive well wishes and I’m glad that the response to a minister coming out was joy (not surprised, but still glad), there is one small problem. That is not what I understood myself to be doing. I did not consider what I was doing coming out because, as I said in that same service, I have been out since I knew there was anything to be out about. There was no closet for me to stay in.
For most of us, the default assumption is that we are straight. I don’t think this is a useful default assumption, but as in so many things, no one asked me. But for me, and to the other kids I grew up with, that wasn’t the default assumption. It wasn’t assumed that we would be straight any more than we would be gay. There was no default. I have lived my entire life out in the open because in my world there was no other place to be.
When I said that it behooves those of us for whom coming out is easy to do, I meant in the way that we are offered opportunities every day to come out, over and over again. This isn’t something you realize if it isn’t your truth but you are afforded multiple opportunities, every day, to either start a conversation or keep silent and know what the other person assumes about your default. And I was reminding myself, and others, that it is always worth it to have that conversation, over and over.
So you might be asking yourself, OK Aija, that’s nice, but why should we care?
There are two reasons, one is about who we are as a congregation and the other is about the world I hope we are creating. I was told by a few people that they assumed I was finally comfortable enough with the congregation to share. It hurts my heart to think that y’all thought it had taken me three years to trust you. If trust were the issue I’d have told you in August 2013 (my start date, for those of you who weren’t there) not June of 2016. I have trusted you with much scarier things than this and I want you to know I will continue doing so.
There is a reason that is bigger than all of us. My context was not yours. I understand that most people don’t grow up without a default sexual orientation. But I like to think that someday, we will. I like to believe that someday no one will assume that someone is straight unless told otherwise. I like to think that someday my radical experience of starting “out” rather than ending there will one day be normal. I like to think that there will be no more need to come out because there will be no more closets. May it be so.
The Worship Theme for August is
“Words that Unite/Words that Divide”
August 7 – “Doctrine” – Rev. Aija Simpson will be preaching with worship associate Dick Poland.
August 14 – “Evangelize” – Rev. Aija Simpson is preaching with worship associate Gisela Roethke.
August 21 – “Small Group Sunday” – UUCV’s Small Group Coordinators will be leading the service.
August 28 – “Sin” – Rev. Aija Simpson is service leader with worship associate.
Change for the World – Planned Parenthood’s – Fund for Choice
Across Pennsylvania, an increasing number of legislative barriers have been established to limit a woman’s access to safe and legal abortions. It is not just the legal roadblocks that women are facing – it is having to make difficult financial decisions like choosing between having a safe and legal procedure or going hungry, dropping out of school, or even facing eviction.
Fund for Choice, a committee of Planned Parenthood Keystone, has been helping women in our community for over 30 years. Fund For Choice, which exists entirely thought donations, is committed to helping women break down the roadblocks to receiving abortion care by providing critical financial assistance.
New Adult Education Classes for Families
Programs for adults give us the chance to go deeper— intellectually, socially, ethically, and spiritually. From workshops to community service, covenant groups to discussion groups, meditation to marching—all in the context of a supportive spiritual community—Unitarian Universalism as much to offer adults beyond our Sunday services.
I am excited to tell you about a new offering at UUCV, Tuesday night Adult RE. Every Tuesday night starting September 6th we will gather at 6:30 for Adult Religious Education. I hope you will join me for one or more of the following classes!
First Tuesdays – Parents as Social Justice Educators
As we live in a world that seems to be increasingly engulfed in violence, we ask ourselves, how do we talk to our children. How do we give them the information and tools that will allow them to feel empowered to work for change without overwhelming them with the sheer amount of work there is to be done? Join Rev. Aija and other parents as we discuss tools to help us be the social justice educators our kids need.
Second Tuesdays – Hindsight, Humor & Hope: Who, Me, An elder?
Unitarian Universalist congregations are actively intergenerational. We value and encourage interaction between the age groups. But, sometime after the age of sixty, adults begin to sense having moved over a threshold into older folk territory. That can be startling to the soul and the ego! They may wonder, “How did I get here? … I can’t be that old!” In six two-hour workshops, this program invites participants to develop deeper understanding and appreciation of their elder stage of life and the path they traveled to reach it.
Third Tuesdays – The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit & Life
The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life is a program that gos far beyond “Financial Literacy 101” to include such topics as personal and cultural money stories, economic justice, classism, and the impact of our financial decision making on our ability to live lives of meaning and purpose. Their hope was that such a program would free congregations, families, and individuals to speak openly about a subject that is often fraught with unstated presumptions and unacknowledged tensions and would allow the creation of spiritually healthy approaches to money, generosity, economic justice, investment, and stewardship.
Fourth Tuesdays – Spirit of Life
Spirit of Life workshops offer participants space, time, and community to explore their Unitarian Universalist spirituality. Each focuses on a different aspect of the spiritual life, framed by the lyrics of Carolyn McDade’s song “Spirit of Life.” Like the song, the workshops are designed to be welcoming to Unitarian Universalists of many spiritual and theological persuasions. Participants are invited to claim an inclusive definition of spirituality and recognize the spiritual aspects of their lives. Reflecting, speaking, and listening are core activities in each workshop.
I look forward to exploring these ideas with all of you. In Faith…Rev. Aija
UUCV Social Justice Events
Project SHARE Distribution Days – Sign up to help on one or more of following days:
Tuesday, August 16th from 11:30 am to 2:15 pm
Wednesday, August 17th from 8:30 am to 11:15 am
Thursday, August 18th from 3:00 pm to 5:45 pm
Saturday, August 20th from 8:30 am to 11:15 am
Sign up in August to join the list of UUCVers volunteering a morning of their time at Pine Grove Furnace State Park on National Public Lands Day, September 24th. Sign up at the Social Justice table in the Social Hall. This is a great family event!
New Membership Classes
Classes will be held for anyone interested in becoming a member of UUCV or if you simply have a desire learn more about UUCV and the meaning of membership. Please contact Pam in the office at 717/249-8944 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the classes. Dates will be determined after we have a full class.
Remaining Open Auction Events
Local Harvest Dinner – Friday, September 9 at 7:00 PM Wine, beer, and a harvest dinner made with food all grown and raised locally at the home of Amy Farrell and John Bloom. Cost $50/pp
Fall Campfire – Saturday, October 1 at dusk Gather ‘round a campfire at the Washingers and toast marshmallows and s’mores. Campfire dinner included. This is an all-age event and pets are also welcome! Cost $15/pp
Oktoberfest and Volksmarch – Saturday, October 15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Celebrate this traditional German event at Walhaus, home of Michele and Jim Burton. It will start with a six-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail beginning at 9:00 am. The ‘Fest with bratwurst and bier will begin at 1:00 pm for those who don’t hike. Ther will also be an opportunity to take a guided walk of the POW camp nearby. Cst $30/pp
Contact the host to sign up for their event. Payment should be made to UUCV with “Auction” in the memo line and sent to Pam in the office.
Members and Friends Directory Available Online
You can now access a directory of our UUCV members and attendees on our website under the heading “About” This directory is password protected so please contact Pam at 717/249-8944 or email@example.com for the information you will need to access the directory. The directory will be updated online quartery. Next update will be the first week in September.
Mental Health Workshop
UUCV is excited to be working with the Mental Awareness Association in providing an all day workshop designed for college age youth and adults on Mental Health Issues. The course gives an overview of understanding mental health issues such as depression, bi-polar, substance abuse, anxiety, and schizophrenia, The workshop will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 8:45 am until 5:00 pm in the Board Room. The class size is limited to 30 people, so please contact Pam at 717/249-8944 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the class. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided
Book Group’s August Selection
Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.
Join us on Sunday evening, August 28, 2016 at 6:30 PM in our Youth Room to discuss The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Michiko Kakutani, writing in The New York Times has called it “a daring and remarkable novel, a novel that not only opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea, but one that also excavates the very meaning of love and sacrifice. Published in 2012, The Wall Street Journal called it the “single best work of fiction published [this year] . . . The book’s cunning, flair and pathos are testaments to the still-formidable power of the written word.” The novel was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Everyone is invited to join the discussion of this amazing story. Questions: Contact Richard Bronakoski at email@example.com.
The World of Alice and Wonderland
Join us at UUCV’s 20th Annual Auction
Saturday, November 5 from 6:30 – 9 P.M.
Admission just $5 *Bring a non-UUCV Friend for FREE!
On this magical night the UUCV Meeting House Social Hall will be transformed into Alice’s fantasy land filled with food, music, fun and a chance to bid on everything from participation in fabulous dinners, hikes, workshops of all kinds, game nights, bicycle rides, and much, much more.
For those of you new to UUCV, our annual auction is a highlight of our church year. Not only is it our biggest fundraiser, it’s also a fun-filled evening. Here’s a preview of how the evening will unfold:
* 6:30 P.M.: Hors d’oeuvres, Desserts and Beverage Bar: There will be plenty of hors d’oeuvres and desserts donated by UUCV members and friends (included in the $5 admission fee) along with a cash bar of soft drinks, wine and beer.
*Sign-Ups from 7 – 9 P.M.: A favorite for Auction-goers, Sign-Ups have always been the most popular and fun way to fill up your social calendar for the year. Everyone has an equal chance to attend events – from the first to the last one to sign up. Come and check it out!
**Think about coming up with an event or two that you can offer for this event. Themed dinners are always popular, or do you have a vacation home you could offer for a weekend, or a museum trip, art tour, or a day trip of any kind. Let’s think outside the box!
*Silent Auction from 7 – 8:30 P.M.: If you’re looking for that something special check out the Silent Auction area to bid on a variety of high quality items for your family, friends or to splurge on yourself! **Do you have any business connections who might donate a service, offer a membership or restaurant gift certificate? Ask them or let us know, and we’ll do the asking!
What you can do to help make The World of Alice in Wonderland our most successful Auction ever?
*Donate: Be sure to submit your Donation Forms by October 9th.
Need ideas? Check out the suggestion list on the Auction table in the Social Hall.
Donation forms can also be submitted electronically through www.uucv.net/auction/.
Donations can be brought to the UUCV Social Hall and dropped off on the stage.
*Volunteer: If you would like to bring non-peanut finger food hors d’oeuvres, desserts or wine or help out at check-in/check-out or during the Auction; please complete the volunteer section on the Donations and Volunteers Form.
*Attend! Come on your own or bring your family, neighbors and friends. If you need a ride, we can help, and if you cannot be there, sign up for a bidding buddy and check-out buddy. If you cannot be with us but want to support the Auction, you can just send a check to UUCV designating the Auction.
So, whether you come to bid, to help out, or just to enjoy the evening with UUCV members and friends, mark the date on your calendar now, and be with us on
November 5 in The World of Alice in Wonderland!
Themed costumes are welcome but not required.
For further information, please contact Rita van Alkemade at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480.620.6921
At UUCV, Everyone goes to the Auction! See you there!