Tuesday, December 19, 2017

LIFE OF THE CONGREGATION – Dec 17, 2017

I would like to provide an update on the composition of the Board of Trustees. Bob Ashmore has stepped down from the Board for health reasons. I am sure you will join me in thanking Bob for his service on the Board.

One of our newest members, Elizabeth Shine, has been appointed to complete Bob’s term of office. Elizabeth has been part of our Congregation for more than a year and was previously a member of a UU congregation in Connecticut for fifteen years. Let’s welcome Elizabeth to the Board of Trustees.

The Board held its annual retreat two weeks ago. One of the outcomes of the retreat, approved at this week’s Board meeting, was the formation of an ad hoc Marketing and Communications project team. The purpose of this team is to explore how we can do a better job of marketing and communications. We plan to kick this project off in January. If you have expertise in marketing and communications and would like to contribute to the team, please let me know. I will be leading the team initially.

I will be heading to England on Christmas Day and wish you all a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year. “My theme for the new year is Shaping the future as if you will live forever, while living today as if you may die tomorrow.”

Thank you all for your support of the Board of Trustees and your active participation in the committees and congregational activities. Please reach out if Dan or I can help in any way.

Any questions?

Paul G Ward

President, Board of Trustees

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rev Dan Lambert: White Supremacy Culturally Dangerous, Morally Repugnant

First, I will state the obvious. I am a white man. That you can tell by looking at me. You can determine that by looking at my skin.
What you cannot see is my heart. You cannot know my passions, my sorrows, my fears, my loves, my frustrations simply by looking at me.

You cannot know my heart for bringing people together.
You cannot know my desire to heal hurts and to right wrongs.

Why is this important today? Why does this matter as part of the discussion about white supremacy, white privilege, and the Black Lives Matter movement?

It matters because for far too long white people and black people in America have been talking past each other when it comes to race relations.
It matters because for far too long we have looked at each other with suspicion, with contempt, with fear, doubting each other’s motives and hearts. 

I am trying to be part of the solution. I am trying to help. I am trying to be the change I want to see, but our culture does not make that easy.

Here’s what I know:
I know that I do not and have never owned slaves, nor have I ever been a slave.
I know that untold millions of proud Africans were brought to America against their will and enslaved.
I know that, in the 150 years since the end to legal slavery, blacks have not had equal opportunity, equal treatment, or truly equal rights in America.
I know that I can only empathize in part with the plight of blacks because I am not black and cannot experience what they have experienced.

25 years ago, when my auburn-haired girls were only 5 and 2 years old, and my son was a new born, we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, so I could go to seminary. The large townhouse community we moved into was the best option for us because of its location and because the rent was affordable. It also just so happened to be about 85% black. For the first time in my life I WAS in the minority. My girls had no idea what it meant to be in the minority, and I really didn’t want them to know
In the three years we lived there, we all made good friends in the neighborhood. Alexa, Caley, & Cameron played with the other children, and if there was ever a concern or a problem, the almost entirely black community knew exactly which white family the red heads belonged to. 
Yes, there was crime and trouble. There was a murder just three doors down from us one night as a result of a domestic dispute. The couple was white. 

Many people say that our goal should be to raise our children to be color blind. To see all people the same and treat all people the same regardless of race, nationality, or religion. I disagree. In fact, I think that is a very dangerous idea that ignores the realities with which those who are not white, Christian, and male face every day in America.
Rather than being color blind, the preferred goal is to be aware of the systemic racism, bigotry, and prejudice that is deeply rooted in our government, our society, and ourselves in ways that can be very subconscious and difficult to recognize unless you have been on the receiving end of such discrimination.

As a result of living as a minority in that Cincinnati community for much of their formative years, my kids learned to build friendships based on how much fun other kids were, irrespective of color, gender, religion, or socio-economic status. 

Because of that, my three children who experienced being part of the minority have all become champions for social justice in a variety of ways. In fact, my oldest daughter married a terrific guy who just happens to be black. My other daughter taught ME how she sees people’s souls, not the color of their skins, their gender, their religion, or their relative wealth. Her relationships bear witness to that. My son and his wife both majored in the social work field and are dedicated volunteers with a Court-Appointed Special Advocates for families in need.

These experiences and many, many more help illustrate why I am so deeply repulsed by the idea that any individual or any group of people believe they are inherently superior to any other person or group. White supremacy is one of the most culturally dangerous and morally repugnant philosophies active in America today. 

Allow me to remind all of us again that the number one Principle of Unitarian Universalism is the inherent worth and dignity of ALL people.

While I absolutely strive to empathize to the best of my ability with the realities, prejudices, and challenges that blacks are facing, I know that my understanding will always be limited because I am a white male. I want to understand and be more aware of my white privilege and how that affects my daily interaction with, and advocacy for the black community.

I want to be part of the solution. In order to be part of the solution, I know I need to listen more, to read more, to advocate more, to participate more.
That is why I am here today. To listen and to learn. 
It is my moral obligation as a fellow human. Amen.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

YouTube Video of Rev Dan Lambert's Nov 19 Sermon

The video of Rev. Dr. Dan Lambert's sermon on Nov 19, 2017 can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-quSgz_hfQ7K1tlRqb7_PA/videos

LIFE OF THE CONGREGATION – Nov 19, 2017

The New UU seminar was held yesterday – 13 new and prospective members attended. Thank you to the members of the Membership Committee for organizing the leading the event. We will be welcoming new members during the service on December 3rd.

The search for a settled minister continues. Some confusion over the UUA process means that the search will take longer than expected. We will continue the search and, in parallel, search for a possible full-time contract minister. It is too early to know if Rev. Dan could be in the frame. I know you will give us both feedback on Dan’s ministry.

The Village Players of the Palm Beaches will be presenting Mike Harabin’s “A Holiday Tale” here in the Sanctuary in December. Our own Joe Suhrbur is one of the singers. I saw an earlier edition of the show two years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I encourage you to attend. Tickets are $20 and 90% of the proceeds will be donated to our Congregation. Saturday December 2 at 8pm and Sunday December 3 at 2pm. Barbara has the information.

Thank you all for your support of the Board of Trustees and your active participation in the committees and Congregational activities. Please reach out if Dan or I can help in any way.


Paul G Ward, President, Board of Trustees

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Who Do You Think You Are?

Male … White … U.S. Citizen … Able-Bodied … College Educated … Privileged … Gay … Father … Son … Fiancee … Minority … Unitarian Universalist … Spiritual … Humanist … Leader … Organizer … Business Owner … Copywriter … Gardener … Artist … 

I bring all of these identities, roles, and more to a new life in a new town. 

Moving, although a stressful transition that can bring somewhat jarring and traumatic changes such as a new job or school, a shift in economic responsibilities, leaving behind friends, and losing comforting physical surroundings that represent memories made and relationships started … 

... is also an energizing opportunity that offers you the ability to shed roles and responsibilities that no longer bring joy or meaning to your life, let go of unfulfilled plans or dreams, and allow you to finish writing your previous chapter so a crisp, new page can be turned to start the next one.

In a recent Palm Beach Post article about why some people love South Florida and some do not and move away, it was quoted that “moving does not guarantee happiness”, and demonstrates that continually examining how we view ourselves (and others) and repeatedly asking “who do we think we are” is an important exercise in deepening one’s understanding of oneself and crucial to our lifelong spiritual journey.

All life transitions — be it moving, a birth or death of a loved one, the ending of a marriage — push you to take an introspective look at who you have been, who you are at the moment, and envision your future self.

This exercise of self-exploration and reinvention is hardly limited to moments triggered by external circumstances, but accessible from within at any time.

I have found that a very telling way to check who I think I am at the moment is to view the “curated” identity I present via my social media pages. 

It offers a quick visual representation of the “public” me by the things I “like” and “share, how and what I say in posts, and what confirmation biases I am displaying through them. 

This always forces me to examine how I am presenting myself as authentic versus an idealized or contrived self and exposes areas that I need to re-examine and question further.

Examining identities within a wider circle is an invaluable exercise -- and recently, I, along with many other UUs of the Florida Southeast Cluster had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting and the “Thinking -- and Living -- Outside the Bubble” workshop led by Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith at the Treasure Coast Unitarian Universalist Congregation in nearby Stuart.

A healthy number of our Congregation’s members attended and had the opportunity to (respectfully) burst our bubbles of birth-given privilege, protection, and isolation through exploring our roles and identities to develop deeper understanding of others. 

This Congregation has a wonderful opportunity right now to engage in meaningful conversations about how each of us as individuals and as a whole define this religious community as well as examine how the larger community perceives us.

Being new to this Congregation — I have a much different perspective than a member who has been involved for decades. I look forward to getting to know all of you better — and you me — by hearing your experiences, expectations, beliefs, and values and sharing mine with you.

But, by all of us raising our voices to share, listen, and redefine ourselves as a religious community  — we can both illuminate our congregation’s positive attributes and identify its “growing edges” — all invaluable for informing our developing a ministerial road map for our future. 

Much like the brightly colored and patterned strips of fabric that make up the tapestry panels in our sanctuary, all of our unique — as well as shared identities and roles — are woven into a vibrant and pattern that incorporates each individual into one cohesive whole. 

It takes a lot of stitching, weaving, and pricked fingertips to bring the whole forth, but the journey and the results can be magnificent.

This exploration of the mystery, and the movement of the unknown into the light, is one of the projects of our spiritual journeys.  Deepening our understanding of ourselves.  Gaining courage in exposing more of ourselves to others.   This is one of the important ways that we find meaning in our lives -- how we discover our truth.

Creating a safe space for this exploration is one of the important functions of a religious community.  Providing opportunities for people to know themselves better.  Encouraging respectful engagement … that allows us to walk together on the journey…  and to live more fully into the possibilities of human relationship. 

We are here to nurture these important human needs.  To know ourselves and to know others.  

As we move more and more of our lives in the sunshine, we have more light on our path, and more warmth in our relationships, and more energy to give back to the world.

Amen and blessed be.

(With gratitude to Rev. Kathy Schmitz of 1U Orlando for her inspiration in developing this service)

Excerpts from "Who Do You Think You Are", a sermon delivered by David Traupman at 1stUUPB, Oct 22, 2017. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Meditation, by Amy Stauber

In this quiet, still space,
the dust can gently settle.
The sands can softly sift through the glass,
and we can hear the quiet voices.

The voices of Spirit
ever present beneath the buzz and hum of daily living.

We create sacred space here, now, together

for soul to emerge and flower within our hearts.

Words for meditation by Amy Stauber, delivered by the author from the 1stUUPB pulpit, Oct 29, 2017.