From the Minister…

Have you ever been granted forgiveness that you, in your heart of hearts, knew you weren’t worthy of.  Can you conjure up that feeling, that sense of grace that comes from unexpected generosity?  The kind of generosity that is almost frightening to receive, it means so much?

And I don’t mean the grudging kind of forgiveness either.  The kind we extend so that the other person knows what a kind and generous soul we are and how grateful they should be that we are so nobly letting this go…  But rather genuine forgiveness and love extended – a promise that we have accepted what happened and moved on, that we will not bring it up every time we have an argument in the future, that it will not be hovering over every other interaction, waiting to break free.  Have you experienced that kind of forgiveness?

That is the kind of forgiveness that early Universalists talked about.  When they spoke of Universal Salvation, they were calling people to an understanding of how we had to relate to each other that was totally outside of the way people were accustomed to being.

For thousands of years, people had been accustomed to thinking that some people were good and some people were bad, and that they should segregate themselves accordingly.  In death God would separate the sinners and the saints, and reward them and punish them in exact proportion to the way that they had behaved.  Different people deserved different things, and life was ordered around this.

The Universalists had a different notion.  Everyone was going to heaven after death.  Everyone.  In the words of one of our great Universalists preachers, Bucky McKeeman, God would drag the last sinner kicking and screaming into heaven.  This wasn’t the Universal salvation of everyone you liked.  Or the Universal Salvation of everyone who behaved mostly decently.  This was everyone.  Everyone was worth saving, every single human being.

And while humans weren’t aspiring to God like levels of forgiveness, we had to rethink how we dealt with people in the here and now, if we were going to be trapped with them in the hereafter.  No one could be dismissed as unworthy.  No one could be pushed aside.  We were going to have to deal with them someday, the more future looking of the Universalists realized, so we might as well start practicing now.

As many of us moved farther away from the notion that there was a literal heaven, or even a God, this theology became even more challenging.  What does Universal Salvation mean if we are the only means of salvation?  What if there is only us, and we are the ones left to affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every person.  Every person.  Not just the ones we think deserve it, but in fact, the ones who deserve it the least.

Can we drag every sinner kicking and screaming into our understanding of who is worthy of life and of love? Do we want to?

In Faith,

Rev. Aija


January’s worship theme is

         “Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning”

January 1 – “Fireworks”   On this first day we come to remember, mourn and celebrate this past year. Join us in a ritual of fire as we clear the slate and prepare for what is coming.  Rev. Aija Simpson will be preaching in this multi-gen service.  Nursery care will be provided.

If the Facebook community has anything to say about it, 2016 is a year we’re all looking forward to putting behind us. But we are not the first to stand expectantly on the brink of a new year. Music director David M. Glasgow shares service music, and a couple of special vocal pieces, that honor both of Janus’s faces as reflect on the year’s challenges and look toward a hopeful future.


January 8 – “In Process” Many Unitarian Universalists reject the language of creation. We reject the notion that all of the world was made in one moment. But what if we think of creation not as a moment but as a process. And what if the creators were us?  Rev. Aija Simpson will be preaching with worship associate Michele Burton.


January 15 – “What Will You Do” As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr we ask ourselves how we will live up to his legacy. Rev. Aija Simpson will be preaching with worship associate Gisela Roethke.

On this poignant Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the beginning of inauguration week, the UUCV Combo supports congregational singing with a gospel touch; the UUCV Choir shares André Thomas’s setting of Langston Hughes “I Dream a World,” and Harrisburg theatre personality Jeremy Patterson joins the Choir for a powerful re-statement of a timeless gospel classic.


January 22 – “What Story Will We Tell” Just two days after the inauguration, we’ll explore how our personal and national narrative might unfold in the coming months. How will we shape that story as we step forward into this challenging moment in our history?  Guest Speaker Norman Allen will be preaching with Worship Associate Dick Poland.

An award-winning playwright, Norman Allen has seen his work produced by the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Kennedy Center, and other venues in the Washington, DC area, as well as at theatres in Prague, Tokyo, Cape Town, and Budapest. His essays can be found on spirit-oriented websites such as OnBeingOnFaith, and Tikkun, and in leading print publications, such as the Washington Post and Smithsonian and Yes! Magazines. He serves as Intern Minister at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD, and is completing his studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.


January 29 – “A Good Lie?”  We affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Is there such a thing as irresponsible truth? What about responsible falsehoods?  Rev. Aija Simpson will be preaching with worship associate Cheryl Parsons.


Change for the World – Carlisle Victory Circle (CVC)

The Carlisle Victory Circle (CVC) is a community based youth organization with a mission to challenge young people to prepare for their future through education and character development. CVC strives to make a difference in the lives of middle and high school students in the Carlisle Area School District.  They continue to address student needs by providing challenging workshops and activities that promote an understanding of educational opportunities.  Programs include: high/middle school club, after school club, sat preparation, mentoring programs, public speaking workshops, technology training, youth leadership program, and career options workshops.


UUCV Small Group Update

UUCV Small Group Ministry will offer a short term small group that will meet 12 noon to 2 PM on the third Sunday of the month from January to June 2017. Rich Bronakoski will lead the group with a designated theme, readings and questions to facilitate the sharing and deep listening.  This program offers a safe place to articulate your beliefs and understandings and to listen as others do the same.

We will need at least 8 participants to proceed.  If you are interested in our small group program, this might be an ideal opportunity for you.  If you have questions, please contact Rev. Aija at revaija@uucv.net or Rich at richardbronakoski@gmail.com


UUCV Social Justice Events

Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr March and Commemoration Service –

Join us as we participate in Carlisle’s annual MLK ceremony.  The event begins at 2:45 pm on Sunday, January 15th at the First Presbyterian Church on the square in Carlisle.


Project SHARE Food Distribution Days

Each month Project SHARE relies on community volunteers to staff the food distribution stations.  This is especially true during the winter months.  If you can share a few hours of your time lending a hand to help those in need, please SHOW UP at Project SHARE on one of the dates listed below.  While it may be a bit chilly in the warehouse, I promise you that you will leave with a warm heart knowing you have made a difference that day.


Tuesday, January 17th from 11:30 am to 2:15 pm

Wednesday, January 18th from 8:30 am to 11:15 am

Thursday, January 19th from 3:00 pm to 5:45 pm

Saturday, January 21st from 8:30 am to 11:15 am


To be announced soon – an opportunity to learn about Islam from a local scholar.


OWL – Our Whole Lives

UUCV will be offering OWL – Our Whole Lives classes for grades 7th – 9th we have scheduled OWL classes for Sundays at 1:00 pm beginning January 8, 2017 in the Yuuth Room at UUCV. Again, Please RSVP to Mark Harris at re@uucv.net regarding the program even if you have told us you were coming before.


Special Thank You

Thank you, to all who furnished the wonderful food, to the angels who cleaned up and to all who attended the winter solstice potluck luncheon. UUCV members are awesome.  Have a very Happy New Year!!!


UUCV to Host Carlisle CARES In May 2017

During a Town Hall meeting, the Board announced that UUCV would again be a host church for Carlisle CARES. Pending was discussion with CARES to determine the best fit for their program and UUCV’s calendar. We are happy to announce that UUCV will host the family shelter in May 2017. The “family” shelter includes women and children. Previously, UUCV hosted the “combined” shelter, which included women, children and men, resulting in a tight fit for our dining room. Our facility is well suited for the families, while the men are hosted by another church.

Not familiar with the program? Carlisle CARES (Combined Area Resources for Emergency Shelter) was established in 2004 to address homelessness in the Carlisle area. The program provides comprehensive services to facilitate the individual’s journey from being homeless to a state of self-sufficiency. The Resource Center is open seven days per week, 365 days per year. When individuals are enrolled in the program, they must have a state-issued photo ID and are vetted through NCIC, Megan’s Law, and a judicial site for any pending charges. A case management plan is developed, requiring 15-20 hours per week of “proactivity.” Clients meet weekly with their service coordinator. Compliance with all aspects of the program is a must; a progressive series of corrective action steps are initiated if problems arise, with removal from the program being the ultimate consequence. Clients who graduate from the Carlisle CARES program are eligible to receive post-discharge case management services for two years. The overnight shelter services, which offer a warm and safe place to sleep, are provided by participating area churches, rotating on a monthly basis. Guests are transported by CARES to and from churches that are not within walking distance of the Resource Center.

Bravo to the Board for taking a leadership role in carving a path to enable UUCV to participate in this vital program, while balancing the church’s needs. More updates to come on our progress and how you can help. Questions in the meantime? Contact June Hoch at 241-3034 or gjunehoch@gmail.com


Church Parking

UUCV has very limited parking spaces in our church lot.  We encourage people to leave these spots for those who attend with mobility issues, parents with small children and our visitors.  The school parking lot is now open as well as the gas station across the street (park on the side spots only) There are also a few parking spots across the street at Gerald Putt’s studio.   Please refrain from parking along the side streets, along Forge Road, or in our neighbor’s parking spots in front of their homes.   Thank you for your help.


The World of Alice in Wonderland  –  Our 2016 Action is over and it was a “Wonder – full – Land” Success!!

Thanks to all who participated! 

You still have a chance to be part of the fun, however! Open Auction events are posted here: click here.

ALL scheduled events can be found on our UUCV Calendar http://www.uucv.net/events/month/

Contact the office at pam@uucv.net or the event host if you are interested in attending one of them.

For those of you who are 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! Stay tuned for news about next year’s auction (already in the planning stages).

For further information, please see our list of Auction FAQs, or contact Rita van Alkemade at tim.rita.zoe@gmail.com or 480.620.6921.


UUCV Grocery Cards

Remember to stop by the Grocery Card table after the service and purchase cards to Karns, Giant and Weis. We have $50 and $100 cards available. UUCV receives 10% of the face value of each Giant card and 5% of the face value of each Karns or Weis card. This is an amazing fundraising opportunity for UUCV! You can also purchase cards at the office Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 am – 1:30 pm and on Wednesdays from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.


UUCV Book Group

Join us on Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 6:30 PM in our Yuuth Room to discuss Roz Chast’s book, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant.  In this graphic memoir Chast describes her parents’ final years. Her father died at 95 and her mother at 97.  Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home, writes: “The lines between laughter and hysteria, despair and rage, love and guilt, are quavery indeed, and no one draws them more honestly, more . . . unscrimpingly, than Roz Chast.” Although the death of parents is never easy, we can benefit from Chast’s disclosures and observations as we examine our own relationships to our parents and those around us.  This is an amazing book and our discussion will be very interesting. Questions: Contact richardbronakoski@gmail.com


Adult RE Class Schedule

January 9 – 1st Mondays Drum Circle! – DATE CHANGE The first Monday of the month join your community in rhythm! Monday, November 7, we’re hosting a free, all levels, community Drum Circle facilitated by Dani Fiore. A limited number of drums and percussion will be provided but please bring your own if you are able. Didgeridoo? Flute? Bring those, too! All acoustic instruments welcome! We will gather in the main RE classroom on the lower level of the church beginning at 6:00 PM.  Reduce stress, improve health and focus, learn something new, connect with others, breathe, relax, laugh, HAVE FUN!  Participation is FREE but a love offering will be gratefully accepted; a portion of which will be donated to the UUCV.


January 3 – Parents as Social Justice Educators 6:30 pm  (Childcare Provided)  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.

January 10 – Hindsight, Humor & Hope: Who, Me, An elder?  6:30 pm (Childcare provided upon request)  A Work in Progress – Join us as we explore the idea of elderhood as a creative and important time of life, a time to search inside, integrate experiences, and cultivate wisdom. Rituals and activities for the program, such as journaling, sharing blessings, and allowing for silence between speakers, will be established. Participants will begin to get to know one another and to create a community of elders learning together.

January 24 – Spirit of Life 6:30 pm (Childcare provided)

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.

This introductory workshop gets participants in touch with spiritual moments in their lives. Rather than offering opportunities to discuss or debate the existence of something external called “spirit,” the activities help participants recognize and claim their own internal experiences of wonder, awe, and connection.


Adult Re Topics of Interest Agenda January – May 2017

All classes will be held beginning at 9:00 am in the Board Room

January 8 – Chanting in the Hindu Tradition  We will examine some of the Sanskrit chants used by Hindus to enhance their worship experiences. The class will provide an opportunity for listening, with an option of actively participating in some of these chants. We will also explore some of the research that has been conducted on the physiological effects of chanting in an effort to understand the physiological impact of chanting. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

January 22 – Chanting in the Sufi Tradition    In our second session on chanting we will delve into the world of Sufi chanting and note how its style and usage contrasts to the Hindu tradition. Additionally, we will continue to discuss research on the emotional significance of individual specific speech sounds, and the overall emotional impact of chanting specific words or phrases. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

February 5  – Sufi Yoga I   The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the spiritual practices of Sufis both aspire to a mystical state that resembles a state described as the goal of mindfulness meditation by Buddhist-leaning/atheist Sam Harris in his book Waking Up. We will take a look at the ancient text of Patanjali and the somewhat guarded secrets of the Sufis in the light of modern psychological science to see what these two distinct spiritual approaches share and how we can benefit from their fusion. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

February 19  – Sufi Yoga II   We will continue the investigation of how Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras complement Sufi practices within the framework of western psychological science. We will explore additional specific practices that one can easily apply to enhance everyday mindfulness or mindfulness meditation practices. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

March 12  – Spirituality With or Without God I  We will review and discuss some of the traditional Christian practices of prayer and meditation and then transition to what this may mean for us as members of the UU faith tradition, particularly for those of us who can no longer accept a theist view of a divine being. Rich Bronakoski will lead the discussion.

March 26  – Spirituality With or Without God II  We will continue the discussion, begun in the previous session, of how one might adopt or develop spiritual practices that do not necessarily depend on a theist viewpoint. Change is never easy and sometimes we need an opportunity to articulate what we believe and to discuss how our views have evolved. Rich Bronakoski will lead the discussion.

April 9  – Swedenborg, Emerson, and the Deep Dimension  We will explore how some of the profound metaphysical concepts of Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth century European philosopher, inventor, and mystic compare with the metaphysical ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson an nineteenth century American transcendental philosopher. Prepare to “go deep” for this one. Don Hoffman will lead the discussion.

April 23  – The Story of Christ: What is Myth and what is Reality?  We will focus on the myths of various religious groups that existed during the time frame that Christians believe a man called Jesus lived in the area of the world some call the Holy Lands, and compare the myths of these religious groups with the story of Jesus that appears in the New Testament as Gospel. Don Hoffman will lead the discussion.

May 7  – Process Theology: Christ as a Vedantist   We will take a look at Process Theology, a theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead’s Process Philosophy, and see how it relates to Christianity. This theology takes as its starting point the refusal to accept any supernatural events. This single rule has a dramatic effect on how to interpret the Bible and New Testament. We will compare a process theology view of Christ to Vedanta philosophy. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.

May 21 – Be Here Now   We will take as a starting point the book Be Here Now,the seminal work of Ram Das, aka Richard Alpert. We will explore the impact of Ram Das and his ideas on our culture and manner in which mindfulness has moved from a counter-culture “far out” idea to become the zeitgeist of much of the academic world today. Brian McPherson will be leading the discussion.




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