Please join us for conversation, coffee and snacks after the service!

This Week:

 Sunday, 30 April 2017, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Artist as Non-conformist”

This is our Stand Against Racism Sunday Service. I want to share my musings on art and the artist, race, creativity, politics, and life in general from the perspective on what it means to become an artist with our very lives as the canvass.  “ Art is the fundamental living equipment for our existence as human beings,” says Kenneth Burke. “Art is our way of humanizing the world, says Andre Malraux. “Activism helps pay the rent. The rent I pay for being alive,” says Alice Walker.  “ In the best of circumstances, we require an enormous amount of mutually consistent support to be emotionally able to look straight into the face of the powers aligned against us and still do our work with joy. it takes determination and practice,’ says Audre Lorde. This Sunday, while looking at the lives of  some artist of color as well the lives of some European American artist, we will explore what it means to rise above the petty, myopic, and jaundiced perspective of our current American racial lens, and discover what it really means to be not only a creative non-conformist— but  what it means to be an authentic and creative  human being.

Coming Attractions:

Sunday, 7 May 2017, 11 amRobt Hughes
Rev. Robert Hughes
“Living our Inherent Worth and Dignity”

Our First Principle is one that is refreshing and, sometimes, challenging. We will consider some ways to put into practice and live out our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person – including ourselves.   The First Principle is so important that we decided a different  perspective on the topic within a month could be worthwhile!   So even if you heard the April 23rd service, join us May 7th for a psychological approach.

Robert Hughes is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister who emphasizes practical spirituality. He has also worked as a licensed massage therapist, medical social worker, and co-owner of a small business. He taught world religions for several years. In addition to folk music he has an interest in holistic living, enjoys therapeutic narrative, and is a Psychosynthesis Life Coach.  He has been married to Judy for 41 years and they are the parents of two children and four grandchildren. They moved to Matthews, North Carolina to be close to family (especially their 2 grand daughters!)

Past Sunday Programs:

Sunday, 23 April 2017, 11 am

M Carter by H Way (1)Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Dignity: the First Principal”

The first of our 7 principles states that we, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalists Association, covenant to affirm and promote, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.” Sounds wonderful, right?  I agree.  Yet many people have said to me that for them this First Principle was always difficult, and that it is especially difficult to put into practice now that we have a new president and a new administration.  I too struggle with this principle, because it is to be lived and not just agreed on intellectually. Perhaps  you and I can struggle along together on this Sunday morning and see what we can come up with as we unpack what it means not only to have dignity, but not to lose sight of the dignity of others.

Sunday, 16 April 2017, 11 amChris Highland
Chris Highland
“John Muir’s Natural Religion Beyond Belief”

Naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) was raised in a strict religious household in Scotland and Wisconsin before setting off on a lifetime of exploration in Nature’s “heaven on earth.” As the parent of our national park system, Muir opened the trails for all people to enter Nature as a classroom and cathedral. We will hear his words and hike around some of his most radical thoughts on “natural spirituality” asking–what would the resurrection of Muir mean today?

Chris Highland is the author of Meditations of John Muir, as well as My Address is a River and eight other books. He teaches at the Reuter Center on the history of Freethinking in America. A former Protestant minister and interfaith chaplain, Chris is now a Humanist celebrant. His column “Highland Views” is published weekly in the Asheville Citizen-Times. Chris and his wife Carol, a Presbyterian minister, moved to Asheville from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016. His website is

Sunday, 9 April 2017, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Children are People Too”

Rabbi Jesus remarked in the book of Matthew 18:3 of the Aramaic Translation of that book, “…let the children come to me and do not forbid them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”   I’ve always loved that verse. This “Kingdom” and “Queendom” also includes adults as well who may still have that childlike sense of wonder and awe when we look at our world. I believe that The Rabbi was also implying that we are, as much as humanly possible, to retain this childlike, (but not childish) perspective  on our lives to  remain truly alive in a world that is constantly at war with itself. This is one of  the many lessons we can learn from our children, for although they may not vote, children are people too. Let’s explore with the open heart and the open mind of a child on this Palm Sunday.  Please remember to bring a flower for our Flower Communion during the service. Shalom!
Sunday, 2 April 2017, 11 am

pana_columbusPana Columbus
“The Art of Starting a  Movement”

WINDING COUNTRY ROAD IN THE MOUNTAINS SURROUNDING ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – MORNING… Thus begins Pana Columbus’s screenplay, “The Apple and The Radish”. How did movements that have changed history begin? What can we tangibly do that would pull up the root cause of our current environmental and social justice crisis? How can a story mobilize the community into modeling new systems that can literally change the world? Join Pana Columbus, back once again to UUSV, to share the premise, “when a diverse community learns to work together, anything is truly possible.”

Pana Columbus is a writer, director, and producer of theater and film. Her film production company, Mystic Blue Films, was founded in 2013 to “foster collaboration and catalyze transformation for the common good.” Her current project, the feature film “The Apple and The Radish”, will be shot in the greater Asheville area. The purpose of the movie is to help catalyze an electric car movement in response to our current environmental/social justice crisis. It is being co-produced with the one-and-only singer/producer Kat Williams.

Sunday, 26 March 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Pearl of Great Price”

In the book of Matthew, chapter 13:44-46, we are told that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that was hidden in a field and a man discovered it, and because of his joy he went and sold everything he had and purchase that field.  Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant who was seeking good pearls. And when he had found one costly pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it. Well, it’s that time of year again, its canvass time.  And so the question I want to raise is this. Now that you have found this pearl of great price; now that you have found this liberal religion, this congregation, The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of The Swannanoa Valley, what would you do without it? And what are you willing to do to keep it? See you on Sunda

Sunday, 19 March 2016, 11 amH Byron Ballard
H. Byron Ballard
“The Luck of the Irish”

Why are the Irish considered lucky after centuries of war, conquest and famine? On the Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll explore history and luck, and the ways communities find both healing and grace in challenging times. Step out of the cycles of despair and grief and find your inner luck.

H. Byron Ballard is a western NC native, teacher, folklorist and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pantheacon, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, Scottish Pagan Federation Conference and other gatherings. She is senior priestess and co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville, NC.

Her essays are featured in several anthologies, she blogs and writes a regular column for Witches and Pagans Magazine. Her book “Staubs and Ditchwater” debuted in 2012 and the companion volume “Asfidity and Mad-Stones” was published in Oct. 2015. Byron is currently at work on “Gnarled Talisman: Old Wild Magic of the Motherlands”. Contact her:

[This service was cancelled due to snow.]

Sunday, 12 March 2017, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Pearl of Great Price”

In the book of Matthew, chapter 13:44-46, we are told that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that was hidden in a field and a man discovered it, and because of his joy he went and sold everything he had and purchase that field.  Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant who was seeking good pearls. And when he had found one costly pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it. Well, it’s that time of year again, its canvass time.  And so the question I want to raise is this. Now that you have found this pearl of great price; now that you have found this liberal religion, this congregation, The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of The Swannanoa Valley, what would you do without it? And what are you willing to do to keep it? See you on Sunday!

Sunday, 5 March 2017, 11 amKitty Richards
Kitty Richards
“Human Revolution:” Antidote to Violence

Kitty Richards will  offer a sermon based on her life experiences as a “Bipolar Buddhist.”  The topic is based on her struggles and triumphs, her work with developmentally challenged individuals, and her spiritual practice.  A Black Mountain resident,  is affiliated with NAMI, a national grassroots organization for mental health awareness, support and recovery. She’s also a published author of memoir, poetry and essays, and has appeared in the WNC Woman Magazine. Her book, Battles of a Bipolar Buddhist, won first place in a Buncombe County library contest and is available on Amazon. In addition, she is an alternative healing practitioner and a Buddhist teacher and inspirational speaker.

Sunday, 26 February 2017, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Politics of Human Nature”


How we see human nature is the most important political question of all.  Have you ever really thought about that? As offspring of the Protestant Reformation, UUs split away from Christian religious orthodoxy by declaring that humanity is always in a state of becoming or evolving and not stagnant and born in sin. We have a higher vision of what human beings can possibly become. Many religious and political conservatives (certainly not all) hold the belief that humankind is inherently bad and born in sin, and that we cannot evolve beyond a certain point because of something within us that is in arrested development.  Just as we can become dogmatic in our progressiveness or liberalism, the attitude (conscious or not) of many religious and political conservatives divides humanity into “us and them” because of this belief. Do you really believe in and trust the basic inherent goodness of humanity? Not just that we pay lip service to it, but what do we really believe deep down inside us. This is an important topic of discussion,  not only for your status as a “card carrying UU,”  but because your theological lives are at stake;   for as UUs we affirm that humanity is always in a state of becoming and not stagnant beings born in sin.  See you on Sunday the 26th!

Sunday, 19 February 2017, 11 am
Rev. Shannon Spencer
Ms. Gwendolyn Wharton
“Ministry of Hope”

The Ministry of Hope is a community-funded  program which provides on-site chaplains at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women (SCCW). The chaplains conduct religious services in the center’s chapel and provide pastoral care and spiritual guidance to the inmates. The women at SCCW are within five years of release or parole.  Rev. Spencer will talk to us about how the ministry offers the prisoners a sense of hope and real-world self-care tools for the future.  Inmate Gwendolyn Wharton will share her personal story.

Gwendolyn is from Greensboro, NC. She has been incarcerated for more than two decades.  Her favorite foods are granola, string cheese, and Oreo cookies.  While in prison she has earned a degree in dental technology and is looking forward to sharing her gifts upon release.  Shannon is an ordained UCC minister serving part time at SCCW as a chaplain.  She is also the Founding Director of Asheville Poverty Initiative and 12 Baskets Cafe, and adjunct Pastor for Missional Engagement at First Presbyterian Church of Asheville.

Sunday, 12 February 2017, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael S. J. Carter

Well, it’s that time of year again and I’m not referring to “ground hogs day.” No, it’s Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers! Tons of money will be spent on flowers, romantic dinners and candy, movies, and other gifts, no doubt babies will be made during this time as well. New romances will begin and old romances will be rekindled, well at least attempted to be rekindled, and it’s usually a fun time for many.  Bars will be filled with people drinking and having fun and most people will be doing the same thing—Flirting.  But what exactly is flirting? Let’s talk about it.

Sunday, 5 February 2017, 11 amMurphy Capps
Murphy Capps
“Unpacking Your Spiritual Baggage”

Murphy Capps will be offering a sermon entitled “Unpacking Your Spiritual Baggage”  The topic is based on the concept that for some religion is a means of releasing one’s burdens and for others it is its own burden.   Murphy Funkhouser Capps is a speaker, author, performer, mother of three and business owner at Kudzu Brands in Black Mountain. She is also the creator of two award-winning one woman shows Crazy Bag and Carry On which have been performed from Denver to Asheville. Her plays reflect on her upbringing in the church, her subsequent rebellion and her eventual return to a deeply spiritual life.

Sunday, 29 January 2017, 11 amKind_Volunteers
Rev. Michael S. J. Carter
“The Church Volunteer”

Ministry could never happen without the faithful service of so many people. From those who teach, to those who set up coffee and those who participate in the worship service, all of the ministry you do is important. It is a shared ministry. When you consider how many people we need to be able to offer this gathering today, it takes more than several volunteers to make this service happen.  So, based on that thought it would be easy to conclude that we ask you to volunteer so that we can function, and on the surface, that is true; however, there are some deeper reasons we ask for volunteers. Join us this Sunday as we talk about the church volunteer. Hopefully, this talk will inspire you for the Volunteer Fair after the service. See you there!

Sunday, 22 January 2017, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael S. J. Carter
“Uncivil War”

Whether you call it the Civil War, The War Between The States, or The War of Yankee Aggression, the American Southland is still fighting the Civil War. Since wars are never “civil” it is an interesting label. Americans were killing each other wholesale; father against son, brother against brother. When I first moved to Asheville from New York City, I was enamored by the natural beauty, the politeness of the people I met. “Yes sir”, and “no sir”. “Yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” “Doin’ well, and yourself.” There was a flicker of hope as I too was raised this way by my parents. Yet beneath the natural beauty of the area, beneath the genteel civility, the overt politeness, I could feel the lingering, seething, unfinished business of race. In order to understand the current cultural and racial situation that we inhabit in our nation today, it is my belief that we must take a look again at this “uncivil war.” Our very democratic experiment depends on it!

Sunday, 15 January 2017, 11 a.m.
Lyndon HarrisLyndon Harris
“9/12: Moving From Victim to Victor through the Power of Forgiveness”

Lyndon Harris’ journey to forgiveness began while standing at the foot of the South Tower of the former World Trade Center as it exploded into an apocalyptic fireball on September 11, 2001. As the priest in charge of Saint Paul’s Chapel, directly across the street from the WTC site, for 8.5 months he coordinated the efforts of over 15,000 volunteer to provide over 500,000 meals to police officers, fire fighters and other rescue workers at “ground zero.”  But like many traumatized first responders, Lyndon’s service came with a tremendous price. This is the story of his personal journey to forgiveness which began on September 12, 2001, and continued to the war-torn city of Beirut, Lebanon, to post-genocide Rwanda, to Jerusalem, and to a series of personal new beginnings, and why forgiveness is vital for us all.

Lyndon Harris is the Co-director of Tigg’s Pond Retreat Center in Zirconia, NC, where he is developing a Journey to Forgiveness Institute. Harris is also a forgiveness coach, and an inspirational and motivational speaker.  His work at Ground Zero as priest-in-charge of Saint Paul’s Chapel (located directly across from the World Trade Center in New York City) has been written about widely, including the NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Christian Science Monitor. His work in forgiveness is featured in the award winning documentary, “The Power of Forgiveness” (Journey Films 2006).  Harris is also the Executive Director of the Gardens of Forgiveness, an educational non-profit dedicated to teaching the way of forgiveness as tool for conflict transformation and peace making.

Due to the weather conditions, UUCSV was closed Sunday, January 8
Watch for this service to be rescheduled!
Sunday, 8 January 2017, 11 a.m.M Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Law and Order”

This Sunday I want to talk about law and order from the perspective of Universal Laws. As we enter this new year, perhaps an alternative view, a different perspective, may help us or at least remind us so we can achieve a little less stress, a little less frustration, a little less suffering in our lives. In a cosmos which means “order” are there really random events? In a world of constant change and impermanence, we suffer because we want to hold on to things that by their very nature are subject to change. Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh says that when we learn to suffer correctly, we suffer less. If “death and taxes” are the only things in life we can count on, how do we live? A wise man once said we should learn something everyday. A Zen master once said, we should let go of something everyday. Happy New Year!

Sunday, 1 January 2017, 11 a.m.Hoke-Both
Meg and Todd Hoke
“The Act of Being”

We welcome back Med and Todd Hoke, who presented a service entitled “Five Happy Things” a few years ago.   This service builds on the themes Todd and Meg have spoken on before – paying attention to the world around, deciding how you will relate to it, and then sharing and connecting with it.   In this presentation, Meg discusses her experiences in “BEING” through her work with inner city kids and hospice and how the experience of the very personal and profound connects us to the “Universe”.   As Meg talks, Todd plays music echoing these sentiments.  It’s a little bit of a quieter, more poignant presentation than their last service, but they hope you will find it to be uplifting and powerful as well.

Meg and Todd met in the early 90’s while serving as full-time volunteers at a residential hospice for people with AIDS in Baltimore. They have worked in health-care related fields ever since.  The daughter of a Methodist minister and of a teacher/community worker, Meg holds a Master’s degree in Social Work. She currently works for Care Partners Hospice in Asheville and is also available for private home consultations for people wanting to prepare for their health future or struggling with difficult health situations now. Todd grew up in Conroe, TX.  Besides being an RN at a hospice house, Todd is a singer-songwriter with 3 CDs under his belt and is working on his 4th.  He donates 100% of the money from CD sales to Feeding America.

Saturday, 24 December 2016, 5:30 pmM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“A Christmas Eve Service”

Come join us for our Christmas Eve Service on Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm. There will be music from the choir along with your favorite Christmas Hymns, and with a slightly different take on the Christmas story.  This is the first Christmas Eve Service that I can remember us having since I have been serving you for the last 4 years, so it’s a very special event. Bring a friend. Hope to see you there!

(Note: UUCSV will be closed Sunday Morning, December 25th.)

Sunday, 18 December 2016, 11 am
Linda Metzner and Rebecca Williams
“The Dark Goddess in Winter”

Rebecca Williams and Linda Metzner are long-time devotees of the Old Religion of the Goddess. In this service, we will relive the odyssey of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna into the dark underworld of her fearsome sister Ereshkigal, and ponder what lessons the ancient tale might hold for us. We will look at faces of the Divine Feminine in Her dark aspects, both feared and respected as the Crone and the Ancient One.   The Sahara Peace Choir will sing.

Sunday, 11 December 2016, 11 amKwanzaa
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

Its been awhile but its time to explore the African American holiday know as Kwanzaa. For some folks (like me) December 26th is just the day after Christmas when I recuperate from the festivities and celebration of the day before. But for many other African Americans, Kwanzaa is a holiday to reaffirm a commitment to themselves, family, community, and to a shared sense of collective struggle.  From Umoja (unity) to Imani (faith), the seven principles of Kwanzaa provide a blueprint for many African Americans to reaffirm heritage and commitment.  We will have a special guest artist, Mr. Steve Townsend as our drummer that morning. Join us as we explore the holiday that Dr. Maulana Karenga began back in 1966— Kwanzaa.

Sunday, 4 December 2016, 11 amBRAD
Dr. Brad Rachman
“The End of Suffering”

UUCSV String Band

So many of our thoughts, words, actions, and character are driven by an attempt to either avoid or reduce suffering. Whether recognized or not, the human condition is often driven by the avoidance of suffering and an attraction to bliss. It is there a path to achieve this goal more consciously and easily? Are we able to more consciously control our response to circumstances, the words of others, our own thoughts and feelings in a manner that reduces not only our own suffering, but also the suffering of humanity?  We will explore  the key concepts, and practice  together, varied techniques which uncover the true root cause of suffering in each of us. We will create a path personal to reduce and eliminate our individual and collective patterns which have been  unconsciously motivating us-  establishing freedom from suffering…forever.

Sunday, 27 November 2016, 11 am
M Carter by H Way (1)Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Acceptance, Letting Go, and Thanksgiving”


After our LUUNch Bunch discussion on Tuesday, October 4th, I decided to rework this sermon. Our topic that Tuesday afternoon was on the “Fear of Death.” The vulnerability expressed during that hour, the courage to lay bear feelings about life and death; sharings about grief and loss, inspired this new look at what it means during this season of giving thanks, to learn the lessons of acceptance, letting go, and thanksgiving. My own personal reflections will be my sharing of the story of two patients I had the privilege of ministering to when I was a staff chaplain in a major New York City Hospital, serving on an AIDs unit.  Join us!

Sunday, 20 November 2016, 11 amBecky Stone
Special Guest: Becky Stone
Annual Thanksgiving Service

UUCSV String Band

This is an intergenerational service (the children remain in the Sanctuary) and we’ll again welcome to our pulpit the exceptional storyteller Becky Stone, who will share stories and legends about nature, especially plants and animals.

Sunday, 13 November 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Moving From ‘Me vs. We’ to ‘Me and We’ “

For the past year or so I have been myself immersing myself in eastern thought and philosophy. It’s been quite a challenge for me in many ways but I am enjoying it very much. Part of the difficulty is that I must keep reminding myself that I am part of a whole and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Now, it’s not as difficult as I am making it sound but it is in my consciousness. I am talking about something that I am calling individualism and collectivism. I have come to the conclusion (and I am not alone in this nor original in the thought) that compared to individualistic cultures (aside from First Nations people here in this country), people in collective cultures tend to pay more attention to the groups they belong to rather than the individual. Yet they can also be more bigoted and narrow minded when carried to the extreme. Individualistic extremism is equally as dangerous as it can lead to no acknowledgement or respect for others in a society. Let’s explore the middle road between these two worldviews and perhaps move from Me vs. We, to Me and We.

Sunday, 6 November 2016, 11 amTayria Ward
Tayria Ward
“Remembering the Dreamtime”

When we access altered brain states, we open our hearts and minds to hear the whispering of the divine. We spend most of our waking life in a hurried, beta mind state. How can we access the alpha and theta brain waves which are known to bring peace, healing, and insights?  “An uninterpreted dream is like throwing away an unopened letter from God.” (quote from the Talmud) When we dream, we access a unitive field of consciousness full of hidden meanings and symbolism. How do we begin the journey of working with dreams? How do dreams intersect with daytime life? And which is the true reality: Your waking life, or your dreams? Learn how indigenous dream cultures answer this question.

Tayria Ward has a Ph.D. in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California. She worked for 20 years as a minister in an interfaith community in Los Angeles and, later on, as a professor at undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2004 she moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina to found Bridging Worlds Mountain Retreat Center before moving to Asheville to begin a private practice working in dream analysis and depth psychology.  She also conducts dream groups,and offers lectures, retreats and workshops on topics related to Jungian thought, with a special passion for recovering Indigenous perspectives.

Sunday, 30 October 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“UUs, Saints, and Souls”

Halloween is October 31st and we all know a bit about that “holyday,” but November 1st is All Saints Day and Nov. 2 is All Soul’s Day in the Roman Catholic Church Tradition. There are a few UU congregations across our country with the name “All Souls,” but in my research I have found none named “All Saints.” Be that as it may, I will argue this morning that we as UUs can also benefit from the sentiment of these two holy days of our Catholic brothers and sisters by perhaps looking at them in a slightly different light. For instance, by replacing the start of the word “Saint” with a small “s” instead of a capital one, we too can honor our heroes and sheros who have inspired us and accompanied us along life’s journey. After all, Unitarian Albert Schweitzer reminds us that “one does not have to be an angel to be a saint,” and C. S. Lewis tell us that “we don’t have a soul. We are a soul. We have a body.” Let’s explore!

Sunday, 23 October 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“UUism and the Atheist Revisited”


A few years ago I wrote a sermon entitled The Spirituality of The Atheist. I was the new minister here and as a Theist, this was my attempt at letting the humanist, agnostic, and atheist members know that they were not invisible. Lately, I’ve been reading and re-reading the works of the Dalai Lama, and Bishop John Shelby Spong, I began to think more deeply about why a secular ethic is needed only with religion in our culture today, as well as whether or not UUism is really a religion in the traditional sense and use of the word.  Without a so called elevator speech to tell folks, when asked, what it is that we as UUs believe,  it has been difficult, but perhaps we don’t need one. UUs have always  seemed to know that the world was more complicated than we thought; and we always knew that a more inclusive perspective was needed. It certainly appears now that perhaps religion, as well as a secular ethic was always the way to go. Let’s explore.

Sunday, 16 October 2016, 11 amEric-Bannan-9621 (683x1024)
Eric Bannan
“Weavers and Threads: a Faith Journey in Story and Song”

UUCSV String Band

When we tell a story, we weave together the threads of our personal experience and beliefs; we express our values, even sometimes unintentionally. When someone hears our story and they are moved or inspired by it, a little strand from that thread connects the teller and the listener at the heart. We will explore how our personal stories connect us as families and as a community.  Eric Bannon is a musical storyteller whose songs travel the bleak desert highways and lush mountain hollows of the heart.  Eric is based in Pittsboro, NC. His home congregation is The Community Church of Chapel Hill U.U.

Sunday, 9 October 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Hunger, Home, Righteousness”

This sermon is partly inspired by volunteering and witnessing other volunteers serve community residents and the homeless for the “Open Table” located each Wednesday at the Black Mountain United Methodist Church. It has been a thing of beauty to behold and to be a small part of. Many of the volunteers are from our UUCSV. I want to discuss what hunger, home, and righteousness can mean when we put our faith into action with others, regardless of our theological differences, for all religious traditions call us to share our blessings and to provide faith, hope, and charity for the less fortunate among us.  We are all hungering for a sense of home and righteousness that flows down like water from a mighty stream. We as UUs and perhaps more importantly, we as human beings are in our true essence, what some would call– love beyond belief.

Sunday, 2  October 2016, 11 amCecil Bothwell
Cecil Bothwell
“Woo-Woo Versus the Bunny Hug”

Are we saved by faith or intellect? People who might describe themselves as liberal or progressive tend to fall into two camps, those who embrace belief in the supernatural and others the un-super.

Cecil Bothwell is an artist, musician, organic gardener and author of ten books. He is serving his second term as a member of Asheville’s City Council and his other car is a raft. He believes one can never be too blasé about the possibility of another Genesis flood.

Sunday, 25 September 2016, 11 amLewis Latimer
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Lewis Latimer – Renaissance Man”


Lewis Latimer was born on September 4th, 1848 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He was the youngest of four children. He died December 11, 1928. Lewis Latimer was an American inventor and draftsman, as well as being a highly accomplished engineer and a pioneer in the development of electricity. He was also a poet and musician. He worked with two of the leading inventors of his time, Alexander Bell and Thomas Edison, to help bring about the 20th century’s technological revolution, (which will be the focus of our talk this morning) and yet so many know so little about him. Lewis Latimer was one of the most brilliant people this country has ever produced. Lewis Latimer was an African American — he was also a Unitarian. Join us for another “Sermon In Biography,” as we celebrate the life of Lewis Latimer—Renaissance Man.

Sunday, 18 September 2016, 11 amKatie Player
Katie Player
“An Accidental Awakening”

UUCSV String Band

Katie Player shares the journey of her accidental awakening after being a lifelong atheist, when she and her husband made major dietary changes in 2010 because of health problems. Katie is a PhD Economist, blogger, mom, founder of The Equilibrium Diet, and author of Atheist to Enlightened in 90 Days (forthcoming October 2016).

Sunday, 11 September 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Homecoming 2016”

Join us for our Homecoming Service and Water Communion on Sunday, September 11th, 2016. We will explore the theme of homecoming and what it means to assist others in finding their way back home as well, remembering that all who wander are not lost. Some of us choose not to return home. For us as UUs, we gather to affirm and to live our principles, to have fellowship, to nurture one another, and to strengthen each other for the road ahead. At times the road seems rough and meandering. At times it may feel as if we are taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. But just try to remember these 4 words which may help to make the journey a little less cumbersome— I Am Still Learning.

Sunday, September 4, 2016
Mamie Hilliard
“Mysticism with a Southern Accent”

Our own Mamie Davis Hilliard spent her early years living and learning about life’s mysteries on a farm in eastern North Carolina. After college, she and her family lived in nine different states and one foreign country. Today, she is a great-grandmother, aspiring poet and Mountain Woman. She received a Master of Divinity degree, from The Church of God School of Theology, a Pentecostal Seminary in Cleveland, TN and was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in Chattanooga. She worked as a hospital chaplain at Erlanger Medical Center in that city and the Veterans Hospital in Asheville. She also served as interim associate minister at Hillyer Memorial Christian Church in Raleigh.

Sunday, August 28, 2016
M Carter by H Way (1)Rev. Michael J.S. Carter


What is it about human life that motivates us to greater and greater heights and accomplishments? Can this inner desire or longing be a blessing as well as a curse? Is it the search for authenticity within ourselves and others, and with the entire planet? Is this really the desire for inner peace?  My desire to find the real me, “the pearl of great price” as it were, stubbornly persisted, in spite of all of my best efforts to ignore it. I believe it is a universal human longing, yet I could be wrong. As usual, there may be more questions than answers. Let’s talk about “Desire.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016
Hilary ChizHilary Chiz
“Civil Liberties in North Carolina:
the General Assembly, the Courts, and the ACLU.”

We are delighted to welcome to our pulpit Hilary Chiz, who has graciously agreed to speak to us on very short notice!  Ms. Chiz is a specialist in human and civil and rights training, and currently serves as president of the Western North Carolina Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sunday, August 14, 2016M Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Bending Towards Justice: Theodore Parker & MLK, Jr.”

What does a 19th white Unitarian Christian Minister and abolitionist have in common with a 20th century African American Baptist Preacher and social activist? You guessed it—plenty! In fact many people do not know that the quote that King used in many of his speeches was first coined by Theodore Parker. That quote is that, “… the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Rev. Parker was not without his own patriarchal racism but he walked his talk. This man kept a gun in the pulpit with his bible just in case any slave catchers attempted to take members of his congregation back to slavery! Talk about putting your faith in the “Good Book.” Let’s talk about these two champions of social change and justice.

Sunday, August 7, 2016Ken Lennington
Dr. Ken Lennington
The Spaciousness of Compassion – A Meditative Exploration

In this experiential service, Dr. Lenington will explore this topic, including periods of guided meditation.  A meditator in various traditions over the past 40 years, Ken Lenington, MD has been practicing in the Buddhist tradition over the past 15 years, and was ordained in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing in 2007. He has led classes and workshops in meditation and mindfulness for mental health professionals and the general public over the past few years, and currently leads an open weekly meditation and mindfulness group.  He is an active member of Mountain Mindfulness sangha in Asheville.  Prior to retiring in 2015, he had a psychiatric practice, specializing in addiction medicine and health care administration.

Sunday, 31 July 2016, 11 am
Cathy Holt

This service explores how gratitude can benefit our lives, and ill include wisdom shared from Rumi, Eckhart Tolle, Jung, and others. Learn about what neuroscientists have discovered in the “science of happiness,” and what gratitude does for our hearts and our relationships.  Make gratitude a daily practice to increase your joy!  (NOTE: Cathy will offer a follow-up workshop for us on August 14th – see this page for details!)

Cathy Holt studied NonViolent Communication with Marshall Rosenberg. She has been teaching “HeartSpeak” and Communication for Connection for over four years. She is author of HeartSpeak: Listening & Speaking from the Heart and The Circle of Healing. She is also a biofeedback therapist and works with guided imagery for sleep induction as well as preparation for surgery.

Sunday, 24 July 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“A Life of Service: Dorothy Day”


During the Pope’s speech to congress on September 24th, 2015, he singled out four great Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day. As is so often the case, the woman in the group is the least known and celebrated. Catholic Nun Joan Chittister, OSB, said that Dorothy Day led, “ a revolution of personal responsibility.”  She was a maverick in life and her legacy still resonates down the corridors of time. We need leaders and activists like her because, like Dorothy Day, we can become the kind of leader for social change, if that is our choice or calling, not by changing other people, but by changing ourselves.  I believe we as UU’s can learn something from the life of this great human being and generous soul known to us Dorothy Day.

Sunday, 17 July 2016, 11 amDiAnna-030515-149-200x300
Rev. Dianna Ritola
“A Sabbath Wholly Kept”

How do we unplug from the demands of daily life and reconnect to that which we deem most sacred? Is there a magic formula for finding ways in which to slow down and breathe into the space of wholeness? Indeed there is—well, sort of. Many faith traditions have spiritual practices that allow us to find our centers and the tradition of Sabbath is a good place to start.

Rev. DiAnna Ritola received her ordination as an Interfaith Minister from The New Seminary for Interfaith Studies. Her ministry centers on spiritual counseling for sexuality and intimate relationships. She is a professional speaker on the integration of spirituality and sexuality. She has lived in cities large and small, explored her inner Earth Mother in rural Vermont where her two children were born, and moved to Asheville, NC in 2001 and immedately joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation where she is still a member. DiAnna is also on the clergy team with The Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville. DiAnna is available for counseling sessions in person, or via phone or Skype, as well as weddings, commitment ceremonies and other rites of passage. Her website is

Sunday, 10 July 2016, 11 amM Carter by H Way (1)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter

What is it about human life that motivates us to greater and greater heights and accomplishments? Can this inner desire or longing be a blessing as well as a curse? Is it the search for authenticity with ourselves and others, with the entire planet? Is this really the desire for inner peace? My desire to find the real me, “the pearl of great price” as it were, stubbornly persisted, in spite of all of my best efforts to ignore it. I believe it is a universal human longing, yet I could be wrong. Religious Scholar Houston Smith says it this way in his remarkable book, Why Religion Matters: “There is within us—in even the blithest, most lighthearted among us—a fundamental dis-ease. It acts like an unquenchable fire that renders the vast majority of us incapable in this life of ever coming to full peace. This desire lies in the marrow of our bones and the deep region of our souls. All great literature, poetry, art, philosophy, psychology, and religion tries to name and analyze this longing. We are seldom in touch with it, and indeed the modern world seems set on preventing us from getting in touch with it by covering it with an unending phantasmagoria of entertainments, obsessions, addictions, and distractions. But the longing is there, built into us like a jack-in-the-box that presses for release.” Let’s talk about “Desire.”

Sunday, 3 July 2016, 11 amDavid Roth speaking
David Roth
“The Power of Yes”

Saying “yes” to an inquiry when a “no” is almost reflexive can yield great surprise, growth, and change. On July 3rd David will speak about what happens when you say “yes” when “no” seems to make more sense. Opening a “doorway of discomfort” can lead to great things if you’re willing to consider a response other than the one that first appears.

We are delighted to welcome to our pulpit the gifted songwriter, singer, speaker, and advocate for the human spirit, David Roth, who will offer us a “Sermon in Song.” David is a frequent guest at Unitarian Universalist congregations. It’s been said that “David Roth strikes many chords, hearts, and minds with his unique songs, offbeat observations, moving stories, sense of the hilarious, and powerful singing and subject matter.” See and hear more at

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