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Upcoming Sunday Services:
A couple of thousand years ago, plus a few decades, Plato taught that everyone seeks the good. Not that everyone finds the good, or enjoys the good, but that everyone seeks it, in their own way. Even those people whose lives seem so futile, or self- destructive, or doomed to failure, even they too are seeking, somehow, the good–think about it. They’re not trying to fail, they’re not looking for sadness, doom or misfortune, at least not consciously. They’re trying to capture the gold ring, make the big score, win the lottery; they’re seeking happiness. The Declaration of Independence says that we have a “right” to pursue happiness, but it doesn’t say that we will always acquire happiness. Do we really have a “right” to be happy? Let’s explore.
Sunday, 7 October 2018, 11:00 am
“The Resurrection as Fact”
Some (most?) members in our congregation do not believe in the literal resurrection of Christ as a real event but rather as mythology arising out of our fear of death. I have researched in detail this subject and found, much to my astonishment, that Christians DO HAVE a rather strong case to make for the resurrection of Jesus Christ being a historical fact in the history of our world. I will be giving their side during this talk.
The Grahams, Richard and Diane, have been Unitarian Universalists for 42 years. They were members of the Charlotte UU’s during the time they built a huge church and, when they moved to Boone, were members of the Boone UU Fellowship. Richard, although a college graduate, said his real education came from reading books about various subjects. He has given 19 talks in Boone on subjects that interest him and two in Black Mountain. He volunteered for Hospice in Boone and gave talks to civic and church groups asking for their financial support; also he is a past president of Crime Stoppers in Boone. His ongoing interest in early Christianity is because we are today very much a result of what they were back then.
Sunday, 14 October 2018, 11:00 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Rev. Dr. James Cone – the Father of Black Liberation Theology”
While attending Union Seminary, I had the privilege of studying Systematic Theology with Dr. James Cone, the founder of “Black Liberation Theology.” He was not a perfect human being, but his passion and love for African American people, his belief that “God” was on the side of the oppressed, and his intellectual gifts were simply astonishing. He also happened to be one of two professors who encouraged me to stay on at Union for a Ph.D. ( This was after reading my Master’s Thesis on the topic of UFO’s and the Bible).
Professor Cone died on April 28th, 2018. You have heard me say on more than one occasion that we as UUs must always remember that the religion of the oppressed is different from the religion of the privileged. Dr. Cone was a privileged academic and intellectual, but he never forgot where he came from. Join me on Sunday September 30th, as I present another “Biographical Sermon” on the life of yet another extraordinary human being–The Rev. Dr. James Cone, Father of Black Liberation Theology.
When Shakespeare put these words, this question, into the mouth of Hamlet (Hamlet is contemplating suicide), this question about existence, Hamlet is asking what it means to live. He is asking whether or not people should even exist. Heavy stuff. In this soliloquy, he is contemplating suicide and he compares death to sleep which he thinks actually wouldn’t be so bad. But then Hamlet begins to wonder if it’s better to put up with the bad things one knows about life than to run off into death’s “undiscovered country.” Life is a mystery and so is death. But what is it that compels us, urges us, to desire to live, to keep going? Is this desire to be (or not to be), this desire to exist, is it sacred? I answer in the affirmative! Out of the primordial desire to exist, everything comes. This sacred force is different from clinging, which is the source of attachment and frustration. Let’s explore.
If you shop for books in a self-help section of any bookstore, you will see that roughly 99% of them are about how to get love; how to find it, keep it, or make it come back. Very few are about how to give love or to be loving. If, and only if, those ideas are out there, they are suggested as another way to get love rather than as an end in themselves. The search for love is portrayed and seen as a never ending self- serving endeavor. Perhaps there is another way to perceive this seemingly insatiable quest for love in relationships. To Be or not To Be—in a relationship, is indeed the question. Perhaps a different, healthier, more insightful definition of “relationship” is in order. Let’s give it a shot. Let’s explore.
Past Sunday Services:
Jeff Jones returns to our pulpit for a sermon about language. He writes, “My wife the English teacher says, ‘Commas matter.'” She asks her students to consider the difference between ‘Let’s eat, Carol’ and ‘Let’s eat Carol.’ If a comma can make the difference between an invitation to lunch and cannibalism, imagine how much difference our choice of words will make. My sermon is NOT about compassionate communication, dirty words, or political correctness. Instead, it will be an invitation, with ample examples, to consider how our language can both reflect and shape our attitudes.
In June 2017, Rev.Jeff Jones left full-time parish ministry (nine years in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and seven years in Marietta, Georgia) to pursue Community Ministry in Compassionate Living, a cornerstone of which is Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg. He and his wife now live in Asheville, and he is creating this new ministry as a student, aspiring practitioner, facilitator, and activist.
An article from the Feb. 16th, 2016 Psychology Today magazine talks about over thinking, or what I like to call living life from the neck up. The article was written by Amy Morin, licensed clinical psychotherapist and social worker. Amy Morin talks about the dangers of overthinking and gives us some suggestions to remedy the problem. She says that whether they beat themselves up over a mistake they made yesterday or fret about how they’re going to succeed tomorrow, over thinkers are plagued by distressing thoughts—and their inability to get out of their own heads leaves them in a state of constant anguish. While everyone overthinks things once in a while, some people just can’t ever seem to quiet the mind. Are you one of those people? Do you constantly worry about things you can’t control? Let’s explore.
It is also our Homecoming Sunday so there is Water Communion. Please bring your water. Its also Rosh Hashanna. Please keep your hearts open. See you then!
Physician and researcher Dhruv Khrullar observed “The key to a deeper, healthier life, it seems, isn’t knowing the meaning of life — it’s building meaning into your life.” Work provides a sense of meaning and purpose for some. What is yours? Is it changing? This morning we’ll explore why having a clear sense of purpose and acting on it is perhaps the most life-affirming thing we’ll ever do.
Rev. Terry Davis pursued Unitarian Universalist ministry after a 25-year career in corporate communications. Rev. Davis currently serves as a transitions coach for the UUA Southern Region. She has served as the solo minister of UU congregations in St. Louis and Atlanta, as well as the resident chaplain of the women’s maternity center at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital. A native of Washington, DC, Rev. Davis earned her Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology in Atlanta in 2008. She was ordained at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta in 2010, where she was a 20-year active member.
Marc Mullinax returns for a new angle on an old Christian theme. Using Wendell Berry’s phrasing (Practice resurrection), we’ll discover/recover/uncover practices of hope in these apparently dead and barren days, nearly halfway through President #45’s term. There are things that we can only see clearly when we are at the ends of our ropes. “Ya’ see,” Marc will say, “there are things we need to lose, to save what we love. Practicing the awareness of what needs to die is a good spiritual practice for the living (well) of these days.” Practicing losing is actually a joyous way to live and love again.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes faith as a reliance on trust, belief in a religious doctrine, a system of religious belief, loyalty or sincerity. As UUs we may not always think of ourselves in this way but I believe that we are people of faith. What does this mean? How do we define, and experience, or even respond to, let’s say, a crisis in faith? Many of us have faced this in one way or another, especially if we were not raised UU and left our religion of origin to join a UU Church, Congregation, Fellowship, or Society. For you see, what we put our faith in will influence how we will walk through the world and act out those beliefs; and those beliefs will create behaviors. So what is faith anyway? See you on Sunday!
Our view from the top of the food chain reveals the precarious state of our planet. Can we balance the needs of the entire interconnected web of life against our own needs? Can we find a way to live in harmony with the whole world?
Modern-folk duo Friction Farm is a husband and wife team of traveling troubadours. Aidan Quinn and Christine Stay combine storytelling, social commentary and humor to create songs of everyday life, local heroes, and quirky observations. From ballads to anthems each song is filled with harmony and hope. Aidan and Christine are also mainstays of the UU music scene, often to be found at The Mountain, SUUSI, and offering services in many UU congregations.
Sunday, 29 July, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Handle with Care”
What does it truly mean to care for someone? I’m speaking in the context of being with someone while they are in pain, their so called, “brokeness.” I am very much struck by this etymology of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the haves toward the have-nots. And, in fact, we can sometimes feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone’s pain before doing something about it. Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing or fixing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness—that is the friend who cares. How can we better learn to handle each other with care?
Sunday, 22 July 2018, 11 am
Rev. Irene Gillespie
“The Oneness of Everything”
After a chance encounter a decade ago, the trajectory of my spiritual and vocational journeys were radically altered. In the Sikh religion, a 500 year-old monotheistic tradition from North India, I have found community, a higher power, and my calling to the Unitarian Universalist ministry. Sikhism and Unitarian Universalism share many theological similarities and common values. Come to this service to learn more about the oneness of these beautiful faiths, and what we as UUs can gain from experiencing other religions with openness.
Rev. Ilene Kaur Tompkins-Gillispie grew up in an interfaith Unitarian Universalist family in Alexandria, VA. She is a lover and scholar of world religions and has been a practicing Sikh (a religious tradition from North India), in addition to her lifelong roots as a UU, for almost ten years. Rev. Ilene holds a B.A. in Religion from New College of Florida and an M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology. She has a deep commitment to justice work in many forms, including a long history of work with the UU Partner Church Council in Romania and India. Rev. Ilene has spent seven periods of time over the last decade living and studying in India. She serves as settled minister to the Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County in Brevard, and lives with her spouse in Mills River.
Sharing ones creative work is akin to leaping off the high dive. Naked. In public. So why pursue a creative life? Why take the risk of making art? Because it can save your soul and heal the world in the process. This Sunday we will reflect on taking the risk and inviting the butterflies into your gut.
When Todd’s not being a Nurse at a hospice inpatient unit in Hendersonville, and Meg’s not being a Social Worker visiting hospice patients or managing a State Senate Campaign, they can be found playing music, listening to live music, drawing sidewalk chalk mandalas and pursuing various other creative outlets in the comfort of their home with two curious dogs. To date, Todd’s greatest creative achievement (aside from his 4 CDs) was gluing hundreds and hundreds of beads on a Honda Civic. Meg can’t nail down just one – but she has undertaken some pretty fancy knitting projects.
Sunday, 8 July 2018, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Challenge to Grow”
Spiritual principles do not change, but we do. As we mature through the years, we access more deeply information and lessons we had only abstractly understood before. Life was, or at least seemed much more innocent for many people not so long ago. Today the world seems filled with such sorrow and danger; it’s not so easy anymore to simply spout metaphysical spiritual principles and expect everything to be okay later in the day. These are times that challenge our notion of the Golden Rule; these are times that challenge our spiritual assumptions, as the shadow side of humanity appears to be taunting us, demanding, “How’s that change you wanted working out for ya? “So where’s all of that love you believe in now?” The answer of course is that the love is inside of us waiting to be unleashed. The shadow is an invitation to light, calling forth the best that is in us. Every challenge implies this question—are you really willing to embody what you say you believe?
Sunday, 1 July 2018, 11 am
“Life in Poetry”
Members of UUCSV
Poetry in a few words tries to describe feelings from the poets’ hearts to the hearts and minds of their readers. When it works, poetry brings depth to this human communication. Some of us have been meeting monthly to write and share with each other good poetry. Sometimes we share what we have read, sometimes what we write or compose; all times we share important life moments.
We dig deeply to understand ourselves and share meaningful stories with each other. Join Ann, Bill, Carolyn, Jim, Larry, Mamie and Ruth as we share some of our moments along this spiritual journey. Come and enrich your life with us.
Nancy Gavin and Ginny Moreland will lead us in a celebration and exploration of the seven principles which we, as a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote. This service is modeled on one originally prepared by Amanda Udis-Kessler of Colorado Springs, CO and features a carefully curated selection of readings and hymns which illustrate our much-loved principles. It will be lay-led and highly participatory!
Sunday, 27 May 2018, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Unitarian and Universalists: Why all the Fear?”
The Religious Education Program cordially invites you to join us on May 20 as we recount our travels around the world and over the rainbow and listen to our music. Find out how we have used the rainbow as a mnemonic device for remembering our 7 Guiding Principles. Learn about all the countries (and states) we visited learning about different spiritual practices. Sing with us as we share our songs about the social justice issues that are closest to our hearts.
This Mother’s Day, Robbie Madden and I will be talking about the change this nation is undergoing regarding the role of women in our society. I will briefly note the differences I see in the Me Too/ Time’s Up movement, as well as discussing the plight of women in Western Culture because of the Genesis Story and the Bible. Robbie will “bring it home” if you will, discussing the changing consciousness and roles women have experienced during this country’s recent history. We want this to be a celebrations as well, for the times, they are a changin’. Thank the Goddess! This will also be the Sunday we have our Flower Communion. Please bring flowers!
Rev. Andrews is a frequent visitor to our congregation. He writes, “I am going to use some ideas from a book I read recently by Dr. James Doty–‘Into the Magic Shop’. He is a neurosurgeon who, as a young boy, has the good fortune to meet a woman who teaches him the magic of opening his heart through a series of exercises.The lessons learned as a teenager guide Dr. Doty in his career of medicine. He shares how an open heart brings one to the real magic of accepting others and caring deeply for all.”
The Rev. Chris Andrews has lived in Louisiana for most of his life. Formerly a minister in the United Methodist Church for 42 years, he served at 1st UMC in Baton Rouge for many of those years. He now leads Jubilee Pioneers, an eclectic group of folks in Baton Rouge seeking ways to practice “good religion.” He is not a Christian, but instead calls himself a “follower of Jesus.”
Sunday, 29 April 2018, 11 am
“Peace, Love and Bonobos: How a Great Ape Can Lead Us To A Better World”
Bonobos are endangered great apes, sharing almost 99% of our DNA. Our other closest primate relative, the chimpanzee, is known for its male-dominated, competitive and sometimes brutally violent society. The bonobos, by contrast, exhibit a peaceful, matriarchal, and cooperative culture. At this time in our own cultural evolution as a species, we humans would do well to learn from and emulate the bonobo side of ourselves, in order to save our own species and our planet. An Asheville native, Sally Jewell Coxe is founder and president of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative. She has dedicated her life to protecting bonobos and their habitat in the Congo Basin.
UUCSV Choir will perform
As you read this blurb, take one hand and point to yourself. Where is your hand pointing? Most people (not all) find their hand pointing or touching the area of their hearts. In a society which prizes intellectual acuity, that literally worships the life of the mind, what price do we pay when we neglect our hearts? A heavy price, I can tell you. This morning’s talk focuses on the strongest muscle in the human body and how we ignore it at our peril. Living in a culture that privileges our brains and not our hearts is damaging to us on a personal and sociological level. By listening to the subtle energy and wisdom each of us has within our hearts, we can learn valuable lessons for loving, working, playing, and healing. We may also have a better relationship with our planet and each other. Happy Earth Day!
The Teacher Jesus reminds us that it is not what goes into the mouth of an individual, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles them. (Matthew 15.11) One of the 4 Noble truths of the Buddha includes “right speech.”
Once a person asked the Prophet Muhammad for a description of what kind of good work would admit him into Paradise and distance himself from hellfire. The Prophet began to share with him a list of many good deeds, and then said, “Shall I inform you of the foundation of all that?” He took hold of his own tongue and said, “Restrain yourself from this.” Then Muhammad said, does anything topple people headlong into Hellfire more than the harvests of their tongues?”
Hinduism says that talking too much is like scratching an itch. You talk and talk until somebody changes the subject for you, or until somebody does something else you can comment on or talk about. Let’s talk about the trouble our constant talking can bring us and what is appropriate speech.
Two problems threaten human civilization, climate change and nuclear war. Climate change is a slow moving threat. Nuclear war could begin in a half hour. We need to resist both connected problems. Resisting climate change helps resist militarization because scarcities such as less living space and less food will cause conflict. Resisting militarization starts with painful awareness of militarization followed by persistent creative action. Actions can be centered in individuals, the family, educational institutions, churches (like this one), financial institutions, the political arena, the arts, the United Nations, NGOs and other arenas. Acting benefits creation and benefits the actor as well.
Dot Sulock taught math, humanities, and international studies for UNCA for forty years. Her teaching for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) has included renewable energy, nuclear weapons nonproliferation, ballistic missiles, missile defense, the smart grid, the UN, refugees, Chernobyl and Fukushima. She is involved with many churches and NGOs including Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Women in Black, the World Affairs Council, and the United Nations Association.
As UUs we often find ourselves pondering what exactly redemption means, especially on Easter Sunday. Internationally acclaimed musician and guest speaker Joe Jencks, will explore in narrative and song, why redemption is such a vital and integral spiritual concept for liberal religious traditions. This is no April Fools joke! Learn more at http://joejencks.com and http://brothersunmusic.com)
Sunday, 25 March 2018, 11 am|
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“Your Inner Landscape”
UUCSV Choir will perform
On many occasions you have heard me stress to you the importance of cultivating an inner or interior life; to take the time to self-reflect, to not be so “other aided” where everything is focused on what is happening or going on outside of you. Otherwise you become a mere victim of outer circumstances and the inner life or inner consciousness will produce the outer experience and not the other way around. By cultivating our way of thinking and feeling about life circumstances we develop and cultivate our inner landscape.
Now, one of the challenges of doing this type of work is to decide just how much of the cultivated self one wants to reveal. Which one of these landscapes do you want to clean up so to speak? Which one of these so called landscapes is the real and authentic you? These landscapes may vary in appearance depending on who you are, where you stand in life and how you choose to present yourself. Choice is very important in life, for life is a series of choices, made or not made. All is choice. Even not making a choice is a choice.
Sunday, 18 March 2018, 11 am
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Sermon on the Amount”
When we as UUs talk about supporting our churches, we are no different from other churches. Any congregation, from the largest Cathedral to the smallest chapel, is always supported by the gifts of those common people who love it and who work for it and who support it as they are able. It is the love of its congregation that ultimately sanctifies a church, or a temple, a mosque, or a meetinghouse and makes of it a sanctuary, a holy place, a community that transcends time. As a clergy person, I am always humbled by the loving loyalty and the stunning generosity of spirit in which people hold their churches and this congregation is no exception. Let’s talk about money.
Do you perceive the energy of trees when you walk in the woods? Are you interested in connecting with various earth-centered traditions? Anne Murray shares her reverence for trees in this service that includes a story for all ages and the words of many sources of wisdom through the ages. Anne Murray has been a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem for over 20 years. Raised, Episcopalian, she sought a liberal religious education for her then 7-year-old daughter. “Came for the daughter; stayed for personal fulfillment.” She also holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a former college professor. She enjoys combining her passion for teaching with her interest in delving deeply into spiritual matters by speaking from the pulpit periodically. Now retired from academia, she is a full-time bookbinder and paper artist. www.annesbooksandpapers.com
Sunday, 4 March 2018, 11 am
Rev. Rob Morris
“Permaculture Prophets: Hipsters in the Scriptures Digging up Dirt on the Divine.”
Rob Morris serves as the Executive Director of Christmount, a retreat, camp and conference center located in Black Mountain. Growing up in the Disciples of Christ denomination and having served as an associate pastor in Raleigh and as the principal pastor in Fort Worth, Texas, his faith has evolved to the point where he views the center of his calling as “compassion for all people and all creatures as a Christian/ Buddhist/ Humanist.”
One hundred years before the Civil Rights era as we know it, men and women of Octavius Catto’s generation were sitting down as did Rosa Parks, challenging baseball’s color line as did Jackie Robinson, and marching for the right to vote as did Martin Luther King, Jr. The person we are learning about this morning, Octavius Catto, was a charmer of ladies, a hard hitting second baseman, a talented teacher, and an advocate of equal rights. He spent too much money on clothes, ate too well at banquets, and reveled in late-summer parties at the New Jersey shore, and he fell in love. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where people of color owned slaves, and where teaching African Americans to read was a crime punishable by whipping and ends in Philadelphia where he was shot and killed. Let’s explore the legacy of this great American.
What the right and the left can teach each other about love, sex and abortion. What if there was an alternative to the polarization and divisiveness we are currently facing in our society as it regards morality, sexuality, and abortion? Both sides of the argument feel morally superior, but is there a third, more enlightened societal model which could incorporate the wisdom from both sides? Join Pana Columbus, author, speaker, filmmaker, community organizer, as she explores what is possible.”
In honor of Valentine’s Day we will explore the language of love. Human beings love to be in love; without the growth and challenges of relationship of course. It sometimes takes many years before we learn that “in love” and the work of love are two very different things. But enough of all that! Being in love is a marvelous thing for love is “the mother of all emotions.” This talk will explore the human capacity to love and to express that love as only human beings can do. Poetry, philosophy, scripture, and personal experience will be used to explore the fact that love is a many splendor thing.
People have been asking the same three questions for as far back as history records. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Actually, the Big Three really boil down to only one – Who am I – really? Once a person KNOWS the answer to that one, everything else is just details. We’ll explore that question, rattle the cages of our consciousnesses, and, hopefully, serve up some food for thought.
Larry Pearlman settled in Black Mountain about six months ago and soon became a member of our congregation. Larry always saw spirituality and practical living as one thing. He combined a successful career in sales, training and public speaking with teaching spiritual classes and acting as a minister for Emissaries of Divine Light. He is also the author of two books, encouraging people to discover and express the Truth of themselves.
Sunday, 28 January 2018, 11 am
Rev. Jeff Jones
A Few of My Favorite Things:
a Personal Journey with Voluntary Simplicity
Downsizing is often seen as a rite-of-passage as we get older. But what if living with fewer material possessions was a way of life? And as I will suggest in my sermon, material clutter is not the only baggage we might carry with us in life. In June 2017, Rev. Jeff Jones left full-time parish ministry (nine years in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and seven years in Marietta, Georgia) to pursue Community Ministry in Compassionate Living, a cornerstone of which is Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. He and his wife now live in Asheville, NC, and he is looking forward to creating this new ministry as student, aspiring practitioner, facilitator and activist.
Its time for another sermon about our history just to remind us that we do have one, as we begin this new year. The following words by the man who brought Universalism to these shores sums it all up. John Murray said,
“Go out into the highways and byways of American, your new country. Give the people, blanketed with a decaying and crumbling Calvinism, something of your new vision. You may possess only a small light but uncover it, let it shine, use it in order to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. Give them not hell, but hope and courage. Do not push them deeper into their theological despair, but preach the kindness and everlasting love of God.”
Now, some of you may have known or may not have known that John Murray was a trinitarian Universalist. A sense of confidence in both divinity and humanity is a part of Universalism. Murray believed that human courage and the kindness of the Universe were central to the faith of the Universalist.
Each January, we are prodded about our resolutions for the coming year. Some of us ignore it, others reluctantly mutter something bland and appropriate about getting fit or staying in touch with friends. What if we turned this concept on its ear and pondered the possibilities involved in this new revolution of the planet around the Sun? How will we revolve? What will these new vistas reveal about ourselves, our cultures and our journey? Join Byron Ballard for a seriously whimsical look at 2018 and where we can go from here.H. Byron Ballard is a western NC native, teacher, folklorist and writer. She is senior priestess and co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville, NC. Her essays are featured in several anthologies and she writes a regular column for Witches and Pagans Magazine. Byron is currently at work on “Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet” and “Gnarled Talisman: Old Wild Magics of the Motherland”.
Guided by the universal thread of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and aided by gifted members of the congregation, Shelly Frome will facilitate a program consisting of poetry, music and song, a scattering of heartfelt wishes, and a number of unique reports from hither and yon to help usher in the new year. Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also the film columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and author of the monthly profile “Call of the Valley” for The Black Mountain News.
There is an ancillary paradox at work in the kinship between light and dark. We yearn so hard and long to be rid of darkness. Yet without dark, there is no shadow. Without shadow, there is no depth perception. Without any depth perception, we have no sense of direction, no sense of what is near or far. In our need to find our way, we are asked not to bypass darkness but to work with it and through it. This paradox is what lies behind the the Christmas story. Let’s explore.
The season of Advent is about expectation ( the birth of new life), anticipation ( the influence of this new life) and the courage to face life afterwards. We’ve all heard the story by Dan Millman about the little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5 year old brother who had miraculously survived the same disease because his body had developed the same antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The young boy hesitated for just and instant, and taking a deep breath said, “ I will do it if will save Liza.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, seeing the color return to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and ashen and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all of his blood. Expectation…anticipation….Courage.
Sunday, December 10, 2017 (canceled due to snow)
Rev. Michael J.S. Carter
“The Life and Death of Octavius Catto”
One hundred years before the Civil Rights era as we know it, men and women of Octavius Catto’s generation were sitting down as Rosa Parks did, (a woman by the name of Caroline Le Count did almost the same thing as Rosa Parks did, except her streetcar in 1867 was powered by a horse), challenging baseball’s color line as Jackie Robinson did, marching for the right to vote as Martin Luther King, Jr. did.
The person we are learning about this morning, Octavius Catto, was a charmer of ladies, a hard hitting second baseman, a talented teacher, and an advocate of equal rights. He spent too much money on clothes, ate too well at banquets, and reveled in late-summer parties at the New Jersey shore, and he fell in love. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where people of color owned slaves, and where teaching African Americans to read was a crime punishable by whipping and ends in Philadelphia where he was shot and killed. Let’s explore the legacy of this great American
The word “spirit” is often bandied about in UU congregations, but it seem to mean different things to different people. In this service we investigate the concept of spirit from a humanist perspective and discover that the word embodies a core concept that can be meaningful to the humanist. Both independent musicians, Eric Thomas and Helen Wolfson combine their talents in the duo “Constellation.” Helen is also a Certified Music Practitioner who plays therapeutic music at bedside for people in physical or emotional pain. Helen and Eric are both active members of their local Unitarian Universalist fellowship. They have done a number of services at their local fellowship as well as for a number of UU, Ethical Culture, and other liberal religious congregations on the East Coast.
By the time we get to the age we are, we have had numerous reasons to lose, or re-evaluate, or dismiss hope, and even “fuggedaboutit” … Hope’s not worth it. “Been there, got let down, why return to Hope?” In his talk on November 26, Marc Mullinax will address the practice of hope as an essential human and core spiritual practice. Hope is more than a vitamin pill, more than icing on the cake of a good life, more than some religion’s hype. It is at the core of who we are already; hope is the software we are born with, and to lose hope is to lose our humanity. To live out hope is an essential human task. Marc Mullinax is Professor of Religion at Mars Hill University, where he is also the Faculty Chair. He remains an ordained Baptist minister and considers himself a true friend of this congregation and its mission.
Many years ago when I was learning about myself using the tools of Gestalt Therapy, I was trying to learn how to be accepting of not only myself, but the gifts of other people as well as the Universe at large. This was very difficult for me at the time because I was not really sure on a deep existential level if I was “deserving” of the good that would come my way. It was even difficult for me to accept compliments. One day a friend commented and complimented me on a suit I was wearing and my response was that it was old. They immediately said to me, why can’t you take a compliment. I didn’t ask how old the suit was, I just said you looked really good in it. All you needed to say was thank you. That simple statement awakened me. Just say thank you. Meister Eckhart once said that if the only prayer we ever said was “thank you” that would be enough.
This is our annual Intergenerational Thanksgiving Service. Please bring a non-perishable food item to help kick off the RE program’s food drive for Swannanoa Christian Ministries Food Pantry.
This story may drive home the idea of the interdependent web of which we are all a part and the importance of being aware of the web of life, which destroyed, will almost guarantee our destruction as a species. I would like to explore this principle of interdependance as it pertains to our faith tradition.
This morning I want to present another biographical sermon which many of you know that I like to do on occasion. This morning I would like to introduce to you a great American and an even greater human being. She also hails from my hometown of Baltimore, Md. Her name is Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray. The sun rose on her life was November 20th, 1910, sunset July 1, 1985. In between those dates, in those 74 years of life, Pauli Murray was an American Civil Rights Activist, a Women’s Rights Activist, a lawyer, an author, and the first woman of color to become ordained as an Episcopal Priest. She was friends with the likes of Langston Hughes, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Friedan, Thurgood Marshall, and many others. Ms. Murray, was a passionate advocate for women’s rights. Pauli Murray also identified as a man.
Here’s a chance to to explore emerging cultural views on death and dying, including such phenomena as midwives or doulas for the dying, the revival of home funerals, and more sustainable approaches to burial. Music will be offered from the tradition of Threshold Choir, people who sing quietly in small groups at the bedsides of those nearing the end of life. Nancy Gavin and Ginny Moreland are the Sunday Service Associates.
Michele began her journey in Death Care in 2004 as a Therapeutic Music Practitioner with training through the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP). She trained in End of Life care and as a Home Funeral Guide with the Center for End of Life Transitions (CEOLT), a service project of the Anattasati Buddhist Sangha in Asheville, NC, and assists area families with body care and disposition. Michele is currently pursuing a professional certification as an End of Life Doula through the University of Vermont. She is on the board of the WNC chapter of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a national advocacy organization and teaches workshops on “Creative Deathing”. Michele is passionate about bringing death back into the circle of life.
With all that is going on in the world today it is easy to lose sight of the goodness and sweetness in our lives. This Sunday I want us to focus on one blessing that many of us have enjoy — that is the blessing and the gift of having a friend. The old adage is that a true friend is rare indeed. A friend who loves us at our worst as well at our best. It’s been said that in order to have a friend we must learn how to be a friend. I personally know many people, I have many acquaintances, yet I have very few people I would label a friend, for friendships take time to cultivate. All love does. This is why they are precious. Exploring the ideas of the late Celtic poet and scholar, John O’Donohue, as well as the words of C. S. Lewis, Cokie Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, and Jesus of Nazareth, we will embrace a bit tighter the notion of friendship.
Proverbs 31: 10 tells us that a wife of good character is “a price above rubies.” That may be true. But if one cannot find that wife or partner, a good friend will fit the bill as well.
When Shakespeare put these words into the mouth of Hamlet, this question about existence, Hamlet is asking what it means to live. He is asking whether or not people should even exist. Heavy stuff. In this soliloquy, he is contemplating suicide and he compares death to sleep which he thinks actually wouldn’t be so bad. But then Hamlet begins to wonder if it’s better to put up with the bad things one knows about life than to run off into death’s “undiscovered country.” Life is a mystery and so is death. But what is it that compels us, urges us, to desire to live, to keep going? Is this desire to be (or not to be), this desire to exist — is it sacred? I answer in the affirmative! Out of the primordial desire to exist, everything else comes. This sacred force is different from clinging, which is the source of attachment and frustration. Let’s explore.
Many, but not all, therapists treat shame as a pathology—an unhealthy low opinion of yourself that prevents you from being all that you can be. It’s not difficult to understand this general reaction against shame, for the feeling that you don’t look good in the eyes of others can be a powerful one. But shame is not something to be abolished, for there are two kinds of shame: there is toxic shame or the shame that’s the opposite of self–esteem; and then there is the healthy shame that’s the opposite of shamelessness. You see healthy shame lets us know our limits. It lets us know that we’re not god. Using our President as an example, I want to explore the difference between a healthy sense of shame, and the toxic shame that if left unchecked produces sociopaths and extremely damaged individuals who present a clear and present danger to our society and way of life.
An agreement is a belief that we accept as true. Who we are as human being is determined by our belief system. It is the combination of all the things we accept as true—our agreements—that define us. Elizabeth and Katherine will share with you the ideas of Don Miguel Ruiz on how to change our agreements in order to create change in our lives.
Elizabeth Braun is an associate professor in the English department at Catawba Valley Community College. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education at Gardner Webb University. Elizabeth enjoys many outdoor activities as well as reading, crafting, and spending time with family and friends. Katherine Farris is a family physician who specializes in women’s reproductive health. In addition to medicine, her passions are cooking, reading, and spending time with her husband Steve and sons, Zack and Kyle. Elizabeth and Katherine have been Unitarian Universalists since 2008 and Lay Ministers for Worship at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Catawba Valley since 2012. However, their collaboration started almost 45 years ago – they are sisters!
A few months back I came across an interview cultural critic Curtis White, who is Professor Emeritus of English at Illinois State University, a novelist, and the author of several non-fiction books. In his 2013 work, The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers, White takes on the topic of what he labels “scientism.” White identifies scientism as an unwarranted triumphalism based on unproven premises—such as the claim that science has got the world nailed down (or soon will, anyway), that the answer to all of our human problems lies in the discovery of natural laws, or that submitting to a scientific perspective is a choiceless imperative dictated by impersonal facts. White says that this attitude is wrongheaded, dangerous and wreaks social, cultural, and political damage. Just remember, Professor White, is not anti-science, but anti-scientism. Not for the faint of heart.
History does so often repeat itself until we learn its lessons. This is where we find ourselves today as a species. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order that began the largest migration in American History. During this period, over a hundred thousand Japanese American families were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to internment camps across the western United States. What many do not realize is that religious affiliation played a great role in the days after Pearl Harbor, with many Buddhists deemed a national security threat by the FBI and sent to high security camps—a year before non-Buddhist Japanese Americans were arrested and sent to the camps en masse. As our nation toys with the idea of a “Muslim Registry,” racial and religious persecution looms large and there are quite a few parallels between what our nation did to the Japanese and what our government is proposing to do to our Muslim brothers and sisters. History may repeat itself yet again in our lifetime.
From 24/7 news cycles driven by partisan politics both local and global to climate change, mass migration, and rising nationalism, these times aren’t for the faint of heart. But neither paralyzed by despair nor hiding our heads in the sand, we engage the world with empathy and integrity while knowing that even the end of the world may not be the end after all, for every ending is a new beginning. These are tough times and we are called to find a clear path through them. The old adage says that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Let’s talk about the tools and outlook we will need to survive the challenging, exciting, and yes—the tough times ahead!
*Just a reminder that this is our Homecoming Sunday and we will be having our Water Communion Service as well.
You are changing the world whether you like it or not! Inspired by David LaMottes’s book and work for social justice, we will explore how the choices we make can make more difference than we realize. We will take a look at how big change can be made up of small changes. Eric Bannon is a musical storyteller whose songs travel the bleak desert highways and lush mountain hollows of the heart. He has been called to share his art and craft to inspire, motivate for positive change and build community. In that spirit, Eric has completed a preaching practicum under the guidance of Rev. Thom Belote at his home church: Community Church of Chapel Hill U.U.
The prolific African American writer James Baldwin was once quoted as saying that he had to leave home in order to preach the Gospel. The notion of “home” and what it really means has always intrigued me (especially since Baldwin was an expatriate in France) however, that is another subject for another time. Yet his statement resonated within me on many levels because of my leaving the African American Baptist tradition of my youth, and the so called good news of the gospel at that time being the “good news” of someone being a savior to and for me. Let’s explore the many ways we each have to at one time or another swim against the tide of society, family, loved ones; let’s discover the pearls of wisdom we gather when we have the courage to go against the grain.
In a wonderful book written by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams, entitled, The Book Of Joy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that ultimately, the greatest joy is the good we seek to do for others. Now many people will wonder if the way to lasting happiness is really that simple. Yes, that masses of humanity lead lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau famously wrote. But Tutu says that the joy or happiness that we are seeking is much more than just a feeling. And he is correct as feelings change from moment to moment. The “pursuit of happiness,” enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence, is a worthwhile endeavor only when considered within the context of other pursuits— the search for meaning for instance, acts of service, the following of conscience. And yes, suffering is involved, including that of relinquishing the ego for happiness is not something that can be corralled and fenced in. But happiness can be cultivated. Indeed, research suggests that cultivating your own joy and happiness has benefits not just for you, but for others in your life. When you are able to move beyond our own pain and suffering, we are available we are more available to others; pain causes us to be extremely self -centered or focused, and leaves us with very little attention for others. Psychiatrist Howard Cutler wrote a book along with the Dalai Lama, and shared these findings: “In fact, survey after survey has shown that it is unhappy people who tend to be most self-focused and are socially withdrawn, brooding, even antagonistic. Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative, and are able to tolerate life’s daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. And, most important, they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.” ( The Book of Joy) p.62-63. Let’s search together this morning for a lasting happiness.
Shakespeare reminds us in his play Romeo and Juliet, that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Why do we name anything? Why do we give a label to a rose for example? Why must we always label a person, or even a feeling? We do this either to communicate one’s feelings, (for instance if I say, I am angry) or to describe a flower, or to identify oneself with that feeling, and let’s face it, by giving something a name, we think we have understood it. Many times (but not all of the time) there is a sort of mental laziness that comes over us. Yet by giving something a name we have merely put it into a category, and we think we have understood it but we sometimes need to go deeper. By not naming something, we can look at something with fresh eyes; we look at it as though we are seeing something for the first time. The same is true when we label not only ourselves but other people. In his poem about six blind men experiencing an elephant for the first time, John Godfrey Saxe writes about how each man had a different opinion of what an elephant is; a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan, and a rope. Yet they were all wrong. Is there a better way to view this world of ours?
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Rev. DiAnna Ritola
Fanning the Fires of Desire: Passion, Transformation, and Sustenance
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman. DiAnna Ritola feels that desire and passion often get relegated to the back burner when it comes to religion and spirituality. For Unitarian Universalists, there can also be the fear of “losing our cool” or “not being rational”. Yet, it is from our passions that we come alive, that we find the ways to change ourselves and change the world around us. Let’s get passionate and find what we can transform and what can sustain us on the journey!Rev. DiAnna Ritola is a minister and teacher of Sacred Embodiment. She believes we are most connected to the Divine when we are intimately connected with our embodied human experience. She’s been living in Asheville for 16 years and will be moving to New York City to live and work.
Chris Highland was an Interfaith Chaplain in the SF Bay Area for over 25 years. He will share a small selection of the true stories from those years, drawing images and ideas for reflection. Author of My Address is a River and other books, Chris teaches Freethought at the UNCA Reuter Center and writes a weekly “Highland Views” column for the Citizen-Times. He and his wife Carol, a Presbyterian minister, live in Asheville. For more information see www.chighland.com.
We need your questions for God! You read that correctly. On July 23, Jeff Hutchins, a friend and regular speaker at UUCSV, will present “A Press Conference with God,” which he calls “a bit of theological theatre.” Jeff has led this service at many other UU churches and societies, and is bringing it back to the Swannanoa Valley. The premise of the service is that Jeff will portray God’s press secretary, come here to answer your questions for God. So… what would you ask God if you had the chance? Your questions may be serious, silly, or anything in between, and UU’s of all ages are encouraged to join in. Jeff will pick about a dozen questions that he will “submit to God” before the service. This service is meant to be satirical and thought provoking, but not blasphemous or offensive. There will be an opportunity for discussion for those who wish to comment or continue the dialogue.
We welcome back David Roth for his second visit to UUCSV. This morning David will speak and sing about how the power of simple action can make a remarkable difference in the world. David Roth is a songwriter, singer, speaker, and advocate for the human spirit, and 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 davidrothmusic.com
This morning we will be discussing Law & Order from a slightly different perspective than that of President Trump or our 84th Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions. Perhaps an alternative view of what Law & Order means will make our lives a little less frustrating, a little less stressful. The question I want to pose is that in a cosmos( which by the way means “order” or seeing the universe as a well ordered whole) can there really be such a things as random events? In a world of impermanence where everything is in a constant state of change, 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 two things we can count on in this life, how do we live? A wise Zen master once said, “ an intelligent individual learns something new every day. A wise individual will let go of something everyday.”
Ordained to the UU ministry in 2007, Ernie completed a BA in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a Master of Religious Education from Duke Divinity School, and a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He began his ministry in the United Methodist Church, serving as director of education, assistant pastor, and minister, and eventually Chaplain and Instructor at Brevard College. In 2002 he resigned his position at Brevard College and became part-time minister to the small congregation of Unitarian Universalists who are now known as UUTC. This is Ernie’s first visit to UUCSV. His talk this morning is inspired his journey from Methodism to Unitarian Universalism.
UUCSV Choir will sing
We are often told to get in touch with them. We are often told to keep them in check. We are often told and taught to repress them. In certain schools of Eastern thought we are taught to just be aware of and to observe them as they are impermanent and ever changing. There is truth to all of this, yet however one looks at it, we cannot really become a healthy human being without them. Obviously, I am referring to our feelings. How do we get over this Western notion, this love affair with the intellect, to balance heart and mind, to become the whole, authentic, and integrated people we are meant to be? Let’s explore this balancing act of what it means to be human; let’s talk about feelings.
The idea: On Father’s Day we honor our dads, obviously. Some of us do that with joy, others with misgiving, and others don’t have a dad around to connect with. But, good dad or not-so-good dad, this day is an opportunity to take stock, to reflect, to look around and realize that we are all blessed by the gift of life—everyone of us got started because a father connected with a mother and here we are. It is the gift of life that we have been given, the greatest gift there is or ever could be. In this sermon we will celebrate that gift and remember the fathers, good and bad, who gave it to us.
The Rev. Chris Andrews is a lifelong resident of Louisiana except for stints in graduate school and a work assignment in England. Formerly a minister in the United Methodist Church for 42 years, he served at 1st United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge for many of those years. Chris now leads Jubilee Pioneers, an eclectic group of folks in Baton Rouge seeking ways to practice “good religion.” He is not a Christian, but instead calls himself a “follower of Jesus.
Do you have good manners? I’m not speaking of the etiquette of meeting and greeting people, or the way we conduct ourselves at the dinner table (knowing what knife, fork, and spoon to use at just the right time.) I’m asking about the etiquette we use in our day to day living while experiencing life on this wonderful planet of ours. We are merely guests on this planet while in this incarnation, and yet if we look closely enough, we have many of the tools we need to survive. Most of us have our health or have had it. Many, but not all, of us have or have had some sense of stability and support in our lives. With these tools at our disposal, are we minding our manners? I’m talking about spiritual manners; the manners that assist us in excavating and cultivating our inner lives.
Sunday, 4 June 2017, 11 am
“The Crack in Everything:
The Theology of Leonard Cohen”
Of the great songwriters of our time, Leonard Cohen was perhaps the most spiritual. He spent five years in a Zen monastery. His songs are cryptic koans, about the contradictions of seeking light, love and justice in a dark and fallen world, while holding onto humor and hope. Songwriter Steve Brooks sings and unravels several of his favorites, while he explores their lessons for surviving the New Dark Age.
A longtime member and former board member of Austin’s Wildflower Church, speaker and singer-songwriter Steve Brooks has performed at more than 30 UU churches around Texas and beyond. His services are an entertaining and thought-provoking blend of sermon and song, in which he integrates homilies, hymns and special music. A master of words as well as music, he was featured on TV’s “I’ve Got a Secret” as six-time World Pun Champion. His seventh CD, “I’ll Take You Home,” was released January 29. http://www.stevebrooks.net/
UUCSV Choir will perform
The springboard for this sermon is Nancy’s recently published non-fiction book Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987) It is described as ” the story of an independent white woman, a talented black man, and the times in which these two remarkable people lived.”
After decades of career hopping—from educator, editor, Realtor, communications consultant, back to educator—Nancy discovered a passion for writing. Her political opinions frequently appear in the Op-Ed section of the Asheville newspaper and on her blog: www.nancypoling.com/blog. Nancy lives in Black Mountain with her husband, Jim Poling, a retired seminary teacher turned avid bird watcher.
As we come to the end of our program year in children’s RE, we celebrate the wonders of growth and the many bridges we have crossed. This year, crossing bridges will be a little more tangible for 2 of our UUCSV youth who are graduating high school and crossing the bridge here from the children’s & youth’s classrooms to the exciting world of adulthood. Teacher appreciation will also be part of our service as we recognize, thank, and celebrate the dedication of all of our wonderful teachers & other volunteers for their service to our younger members.
One of the legacies of our free, progressive faith tradition is social action. Many UUs are drawn to this social justice ministry as an avenue whereby they can put their faith into action. Many times I as your minister have said that if one wants to change the world, one must begin by changing oneself, for as within so without. For some, but not for all, this is a hard saying. Yet, it is not an either/ or premise but both/ and. I am a mystic and by that I mean that I draw my spirituality from encounters that I have had with at times visible and invisible energy. I do not say that everyone has to but I do. I believe that genuine transformation, of the society and the individual must occur from within. We have a choice how to channel this energy. Let’s explore!
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!
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.
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.
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 www.chighland.com.
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
“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.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
[This service was cancelled due to snow.]
Sunday, 12 March 2017, 11 am
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.
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!
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.