From the Minister…

From the Minister…

Of pink hats and clerical collars

“Only when we’re protesting something.”  That’s the answer I have always given when asked if UU ministers wear a clerical collar.  Indeed, when arriving at a protest, many congregants have been startled to see their ministers in such an unexpected garment.  Personally, I have avoided even the sporadic donning of this symbol of religious office.  I resisted, even as I knew that it was a potent symbol that I was resisting.  For many people the clerical collar is a powerful symbol of moral authority.  (Of course, for many it is a symbol of exactly the opposite – more on that some other time.)  It seemed simplistic to reject such an easy boost to the causes I cared about.

And yet.  The truth is, I didn’t identify with the pastor I imagined in a collar.  I see a collar and I see a priest.  While ministers of many Christian denominations wear collars, the collared man in my head is a Catholic.  As a woman, the Catholic priesthood is something that was never an option to me, no matter what my theology might be.  To wear the collar felt like wearing the uniform of people who didn’t approve of me.  People whom I could never be like.  I had my own source of moral authority, and it wasn’t theirs.

And yet.  I go to protests, and I go as a Minister.  I want people to know that people of faith, leaders of faith, exist all over the political spectrum.  When I march for Reproductive Justice, I want people to know that it is not just pro-life demonstrators who are faith based.  I see my colleagues in their collars and prayer shawls, kippas and head scarves, and I realize that their religious witness is mine as well.  The only difference is that theirs is visible.  Every time I go to a protest or rally or public meeting, I think, “Aija, it’s really time to get a collar.”  And then I don’t.  Until finally I did.

In the past few months it has become increasingly clear that our opportunities for urgent political engagement are on the rise.  I marched in the Women’s March on Washington, I will rally in Harrisburg on Sunday, February 5, from 2 – 7 to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being illegally denied entry and/or return to this country.  And I’m sure more opportunities will present themselves.  And so, in anticipation of these and more, I finally ordered myself a clerical collar, only to arrive in Washington to find a new uniform for the protesting left: pink hats.  Did I wear one?  Did it clash with my clerical collar?  Check out this space next week for part two….


February’s Worship Theme Is   “Conscience And Democracy”

February 5 “Losing It” – Francis David, father of Transylvanian Unitarianism is often (mis)quoted as saying “We need not think alike to love alike.”  Whatever the problem with the attribution, this nicely sums up a core tenant of our faith.  But do we really mean it?  Rev. Aija Simpson preaching.

February 12 “Oh shush” – How often do you sit in the silence?  In our modern world we have so many noise making devices that our opportunities for quiet have shrunk.  But if it is never quiet how do we learn how to listen?  Rev. Aija Simpson preaching with worship associate Michele Burton.

February 19 – Service information to be announced.

February 26 “Traditions”What do we choose to do year after year?  What do those choices tell us about ourselves?  Rev. Aija Simpson preaching with worship associate Gisela Roethke.


New Member Ceremony

Please join us this Sunday, February 5 at 10:30 am as we welcome new members into our congregation.  There will be cake following service in the Social Hall.  Come and get to know our newest members a little better!


Change for the World –Community Responders Network

The Community Responders Network (CRN) is a grassroots coalition of local leaders and concerned citizens who seek to build a stronger, more inclusive community by educating, preventing and responding to instances of bias and intolerance in Central PA.

The CRN was established in 2008 following an incident targeting a local Muslim family. A concerned group of individuals came together to stand with the family, and out of this the Community Responders Network was born.

Today their work has a dual approach, focused on both responding to incidents AND working to prevent them.  The Rapid Response Team develops and implements action plans in response to incidents of bias in Central PA while the Prevention Education Team develops and implements programs to address the root causes of bias through education.


Immigrant’s Rights Rally/Immigration Solidarity March



Project SHARE Food Distribution Days – SHOW UP to help on one of following days:

Tuesday, Feb 14th from 11:30 am to 2:15 pmproject share

Wednesday, Feb 15th from 8:30 am to 11:15 am

Thursday, Feb 16th from 3:00 pm to 5:45 pm

Saturday, Feb 18th from 8:30 am to 11:15 am



Brother Outsider – Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30 pm

Join us in the sanctuary as we view the award winning documentary based on the life of Bayard Rustin, a visionary activist and strategist who has been called the “invisible man” of the civil rights movement.



All Welcome To Dickinson College’s Clarke Forum

UUCV member Amy Farrell would like to invite you to attend any (or all!) of the programs and events that Dickinson College’s Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues is sponsoring this spring semester  The theme for this semester is Media, Technology, and Civic Engagement; there are also programs ranging widely, from anti-Muslim discrimination to the rescheduled visit of Native American activist and writer Winona LaDuke.  The performer Sonya Renee Taylor will be particularly interesting to all those interested in bodies and anti-racism and poetry and movement!

Our complete schedule can be found on our Web site under the Schedule of Programs tab.  tab.  For a link to those programs that are focused exclusively on our theme of Media, Technology, and Civic Engagement, click here. There is also a link to a printable copy for your convenience.

All events are free and open to the public.  If you would like to receive timely reminders of Clarke Forum events (along with other updates), become a member of our e-mail list or friend us on Facebook.   Thanks very much!  Amy Farrell clarkeforum@dickinson.edu



Carlisle Cares Coming To UUCV In May 2017

Carlisle CARES (Combined Area Resources for Emergency Shelter) began in 2004, through the efforts of a few Carlisle area congregations and social service providers. Fashioned after a similar program in Harrisburg, churches volunteered to open their doors to homeless individuals during the winter months, starting in November 2004 at Grace United Methodist Church (now Carlisle United Methodist Church). As the program grew in response to area need, it incorporated into a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 2009 and operates 12 months per year. For most of those months, men and families (women and children) are hosted at separate churches. In the winter months, downtown Carlisle churches are used for a combined shelter (men, women and children), so that guests can walk from the Resource Center. During 2016, Carlisle CARES provided the following services:

  • 10,283 shelter beds
  • 4,050 male showers
  • 3,437 loads of laundry
  • Served 813 guests, averaging over 64 per month

In May 2017, UUCV will host the family shelter, which consists of women and children. (Dads stay at the men’s shelter; the family comes together in the morning at the Resource Center.) There are many volunteer opportunities for UUCV members and friends, including van driver, host and overnight volunteer. Of these, the most preparation is required to be an overnight volunteer, so that position will be described in this article. Because UUCV is hosting the family shelter, only women may serve as overnight volunteers at UUCV; male volunteers will be welcomed at the men’s shelter.

Wow, overnight volunteer – that sounds a little scary… When Devon and I began volunteering at the Harrisburg shelter 15 years ago, we and a male volunteer showed up with our sleeping bags and slept on the basement floor of many churches, with about 40+ male guests. We were given basic instructions and winged it from there. Fortunately, the guests were very cooperative and aware of the fragility of the volunteer model. They were helpful and often advised us of what to do. It’s also not rocket science – arrive at 8:30 pm; check-in guests at 9:00; turn off the lights at 10:00; sleep; turn on the lights at 6:15 am; and then leave by 7 am. The guests know the routine. The administration of the Carlisle CARES program is now more sophisticated, providing training and support for the volunteers. Current requirements include a variety of clearances and training, which must be completed BEFORE the volunteer may stay overnight:

  • NCIC (National Criminal Investigation Check) clearance. Go to Carlisle police department to request; generally completed while waiting. Free.
  • PA State Police check. https://epatch.state.pa.us/
  • PA Child Abuse History Clearance. https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS
  • FBI Criminal Background Check. https://www.pa.cogentid.com/index_dpw.htm Finger printing required. This clearance is required only if the volunteer has NOT been a Pennsylvania resident for the continuous 10 years prior to application date. Fee imposed.
  • Mandatory Carlisle CARERS volunteer training – offered each month on the first Tuesday (10:30 – 11:30 am) and the third Thursday (6:30 – 7:30 pm) at the Cyber Center. Volunteers must attend one session. Free.

Wow again, that’s a lot of hoops to jump through. What if I still don’t feel comfortable staying over? First, please be aware that volunteering overnight is not for everyone. Don’t feel obligated. CARES coordinates the overnight volunteers, drawing from a pool of trained people in the Carlisle area. UUCV is not responsible to supply these volunteers. If you are interested and want to ease into the position, here are some options… First, consider staying overnight with an experienced volunteer. You can shadow her activities and learn by observing what to do. Second, two new volunteers could stay overnight together and help each other. Finally, just grit your teeth and do it! The guests are very helpful and most likely can answer your question. Also, help is only a phone call away, as CARES designates a nightly emergency contact. Please chat with UUCV’s experienced CARES volunteers – Dee Lauderbaugh, June Hoch and Devon Hoch.

What else can I do to help?  Future articles will focus on other volunteer activities, such as being a host. A host is needed each night in May and must be a UUCV member. More on that later. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet made a donation, please consider doing so. Several security improvements will be made to UUCV prior to hosting and an insurance rider is required. As these expenses are not included in this year’s budget, the UUCV community is being asked to donate to cover the costs, anticipated to be less than $1000. If your contribution is $25 or more, you will receive a magnetic name tag holder in appreciation for your gift. Make checks payable to UUVC, with CARES on the memo line. Thanks for your support.

Contact June Hoch at 241-3034 or gjunehoch@gmail.com


Mozambique Bursary Project – Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Mozambique Bursary Steering Committee thanks 74 donors from UUCV and the larger community for your generosity in enabling over 75 girls from rural villages in Mozambique to attend secondary school. This year, the project also will support several high school graduates as they enter teacher’s college. These young women ultimately will return to their home villages to teach primary school children and serve as community leaders and role models. We are pleased to report that more donors participated in this year‘s campaign, and donated over $33,000. ALL levels of giving helped to achieve this goal. Thank you for your generosity.

Steering Committee:

Priscilla Laws; Martha Bergsten; Dianne Dusman; June Hoch


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.


UUCV Book Group

Our Book Group will meet on Sunday February 26, 2017 at 6:30 PM to discuss Maia Szalavitz’ book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction. In the introduction Szalavitz writes:  “Only by learning what addiction is—and is not—can we begin to find better ways of overcoming it. And only by understanding addicted people as individuals and treating them with compassion can we learn better and far more effective ways to reduce the harm associated with drugs.”  Szalavitz tells her story and provides a clear and very accessible account of her research and explanations of addiction. I think it is fair to say that almost everyone is close to or knows someone who is touched by addiction.  Join us for a challenging discussion. Questions: Contact richardbronakoski@gmail.com.


The World of Alice in Wonderland Auction Events Still Available

You still have a chance to be part of the fun.  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 – Charge Cards Now Accepted

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 for Giant and Weis and $100.00 for Karns. Beginning February 5, you will be able to pay for your Giant Cards with your personal credit card.  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.

Care And Concern Committee

The CCC seeks to be available for short term needs of our congregation.  We can provide rides to services and medical appointments, emergency meals, requests for help with special needs and home and hospital visits.  If you have a need or know of a need, please call the office or minister and we will be informed.

The Committee is grateful for Angels in the congregation who are NOT on the CCC but quietly serve in meaningful ways.  In light of these Angels, there will be “Angelic Wings” on the committee display table beginning in February.  If you have been served by an Angel, or know of one, you may place a name or names at the base of the Wings to recognize them publicly.  (Blank notes will be on the table.)  Contact Muriel Bronakoski murieldoris@ix.netcom.com  for more information.

RE Childcare Change

The RE Program is happy to provide childcare for scheduled church events as needed.  In order to do so, we require adequate notice of at least one week prior to the event that child care is needed.  We will not arrange for child care without a request to do so.  Contact Mark Harris at re@uucv.net  Thanks for your understanding.


Adult RE Class Schedule

February 6 – 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.

February 7 – Parents as Social Justice Educators 6:30 pm  (Childcare Provided upon request)  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.

February 14 – 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.

February 28 – Spirit of Life 6:30 pm (Childcare provided upon request)

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 February – May 2017

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

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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