Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Splash Day!



DUUF Splash Day 2014 was our BIGGEST splash experience EVER
…but that was before

 

 
be part of the fun

on Saturday, August 22nd

from 5:30pm to 8:00pm

 
 

How to participate (choose one or more):

·        Dive in! We will have an inflatable water structure (and kiddie pools) for children and the young-at-heart.

·        Bring a dish/beverage to share for the potluck.

·        Eat.

·        Bring chairs/blankets for sitting on the lawn, or borrow one from inside (or c'mon inside if you prefer air-conditioned seating).

·        Bring a friend.

·        Bring two friends.

·        Have fun!

·        Meet someone new.

·        Reconnect with old friends.

·        Eat.

·        Start a jam session.

·        Start a chicken dance.

·        Take pictures for next year’s flyer.

·        Tweet about your experience.

·        Check-in on Facebook.

·        Eat.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Politics and Religion?


 


As we listen to the debates and prepare for the upcoming presidential election, we hear (perhaps more strongly than ever) the presence of conservative religious voices. Why is the liberal religious voice missing? What would it even sound like? How are politics and religion connected in America? How should they be connected?
Rev. Pam will lead a two-part book discussion on a timely and important book, “Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square” by Paul Rasor. Join us as we explore the answers to some pressing questions of our time.
 
Book Discussion "Reclaiming the Prophetic Witness"

Wednesdays, August 19 and 26 at 7:00pm

at Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1111 Cordell St.



A limited number of books are available for purchase for $15 by seeing Diana Forson at the church office Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 10am and 3pm. Books will also be available after services on Sunday, August 16th. Books are also available at major booksellers.

Hear the author talk about the book:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwQ4xhK4HAM



 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 11th Wedding Chapel and Party a Success!

Here are some of the many photographs that helped to capture the love and joy we experienced at our July 11th Wedding Chapel and Party celebrating the June 26th Supreme Court decision for marriage rights. The photographs from the ceremonies were generously taken by Wesley Kirk (http://thevisionbeautiful.com/). Wesley shared his beautiful photographs with each of the six couples who were married as a keepsake of their special day. In addition to six couples (along with friends and family) joining us to get married, many people came to celebrate the weddings and the Supreme Court decision. Together we teared-up at weddings, blew bubbles, ate cupcakes, took pictures in the photo booth, and enjoyed the day!
 
Read more about the event from the Denton Record Chronicle's coverage: http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20150711-church-hosts-day-of-same-sex-marriages.ece
 
and also from People of Denton: http://peopleofdenton.com/.
 
Thanks to all who made the event memorable for DUUF and for Denton.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wedding Chapel and Party!




Saturday,  July 11th from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1111 Cordell Street in Denton

We are celebrating the historic 6/26/15 Supreme Court decision with a party and YOU are invited!

Ready to tie the knot? Three wedding officiants will be available for a ceremony of your choice (secular, Unitarian Universalist, Christian, or Druid). No religious affiliation necessary. All services are completely free to any couple who has previously been denied the right to marry. We will have a photographer, cupcakes, refreshments, and a beautiful space to make your moment special.

If couples would like to plan a more extensive service at a later date, please come to the party and speak with our minister, Rev. Pamela Wat, who will conduct FREE weddings throughout 2015 and 2016 for same-sex couples who sign up that day.

Even if you aren’t tying the knot, join us to celebrate this historic vote for freedom and for love.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1601058080167610/

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer of Peace at Denton UU Fellowship!



Beginning June 14 and continuing through the summer, this ten week program invites Explorers to consider five different themes, “Imagine Peace,” “Peace Begins with Me, “Peace Between You and Me,” “Peace with Nature,” and “Go Now in Peace.” 

Students will discuss and create around the idea of peace in numerous forms, including meditative practices, conflict resolution, environmentalism, and how we can all be peacemakers within our own lives. Children through ninth grade are invited to participate in this interactive program where they will practice peacemaking and make some new friends along the way.

Explorers is a youth faith development program of Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. As Unitarian Universalists we do not tell children what to believe, rather we support one another on a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Drawing on Christianity, Judaism, world religions, humanism, science, direct experience, nature, and wisdom from one another, we practice principles of justice, compassion, respect, fairness, and community.

Questions? Contact the Director of Lifespan Faith Development (dlfd@dentonuuf.org) or call 940-566-1286.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Religion: Do You Take it With or Without? by Rev. Annie Foerster

A sermon preached on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

When people find out that I’m a Unitarian Universalist minister, their first question if often, “Is it true that Unitarians don’t believe in God?” Up until now I have given the wrong answer. Actually, I have had a number of wrong answers that I used.

My Non-Authoritarian response has been, “I can’t speak for all Unitarians.” My Equalitarian response was, “Some do and some don’t.” My Teleological evasion was, “Everybody believes in something.” My Ontological come-back was, “We understand the concept.” Finally, there was my Ecumenical response: “Which God are you asking about?”

But, as I said, up until now I have given the wrong answer. After due deliberation and calm consideration, I have decided that the next time I’m asked the question, “Do Unitarian Universalists believe in God or not?” I am going to give the proper response, the right answer. I’m simply going to say, “Yes.”

Now that might surprise many of you. You may be thinking, “She certainly hasn’t talked to me about this.” According to recent surveys about half of Unitarian Universalists on their own would answer, “Definitely not!” But I’m still going to say yes, and I will tell you why: It’s the wrong question.

If others have to ask that question of any person with a stated religious affiliation, you can bet they’ve already assumed the answer is no. If they heard that Unitarian Universalists are a sect, or believe we’re part of a Humanist conspiracy to bring evil into the world, as some people do, they are going to hear NO, no matter what I say. And, if they believe that their God—their single, unimaginative concept of God—is the one true response to the question, the only maker and shaker of the universe, they have to hear YES, no matter what I say, because that is the only answer that makes sense to them. That’s why it’s the wrong question.

From experience, I have come to realize that what is really being asked is, “Are Unitarian Universalists religious?” The Western mind, in the traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, without God, or without Allah and Mohammed, or without God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, there is no religion. If there is even a rumored suggestion that some Unitarian Universalists do not worship someone or something called God, then how can we be a church, a religious community? To the Eastern mind, this dilemma is not so obvious. The Buddhists do very well with a god; we’re all gods, they teach.  The Hindus do very well with hundreds of gods.

Now, if I were asked the real question, “Are Unitarian Universalists religious?” I would have no second thoughts, no hesitation. From my belief that religion is an inborn facet of humanity, and that how you consciously live your life, how you order your life, and how you celebrate your life, are your religious responses to that fact, I would answer, “Yes, Unitarian Universalists are religious. They are reflective, thoughtful, compassionate and kind.”

Having dismissed the original question, I would like to go back to it. This God business still gives some of us a great deal of trouble; it makes us very nervous as a group. For many it smacks of the I’m-going-to-tell-you-what-to-believe school of religion, which stands against our belief in freedom of religion and the individual response to religious experience. For others, it hits at superstition and the supernatural, which stand against our belief in rational thought as the basis of faith.

In the traditional, Western Judeo-Christian comprehension of religion, it could be said that I am an atheist, although I do not label myself that way. One Sunday, a visitor of another faith took me aside during coffee and said, “You never once spoke of God. Is this common in your church?”

It’s true I don’t invite God into the sanctuary every Sunday that I preach. That is primarily because of my training as a semanticist, not as a theologian. I know that the word ‘god’ is loaded way beyond the concepts it points to. There is an excellent chance that you would not know what I meant—would not understand my intention. There is a strong possibility that you would not respond to my use of the term in harmony with its intent until we have had more conversations about it.

In other churches and synagogues, my Christian and Jewish colleagues speak freely of This house of God and address their congregations as God’s people. This is a kind of shorthand for a symbolic concept that already has agreement among them. We don’t share such an agreement, you and I, so we don’t use or respond to the symbol.

There are many forms of the term to which I don’t respond. To the jealous and vengeful entity, who chooses sides and pre-selects the winning team, whom the Ancient Hebrews called God, I certainly do not respond. To the creator, who has today and all eternity already figured out, who operates me like a puppet, and who punishes me for my pre-ordained transgression, who the Calvinists called God, I do not respond. To the builder who set up a universe the way people set up model railroads, and then walked away, who the Newtonian deists called God, I do not respond. To a super Daddy or heavenly Mommy who expects a compliant and eternal child, or to a supreme Ruler who demands a kneeling and humble servant, whom many call God, I do not respond. I can imagine these symbols, by they are not in my imagination, indicative of the sacred that I find in life.

Out of personal experience, out of rational thought, out of intuitive understanding, out of creative imagination, out of spiritual sensitivity and out of moral imperative, I do respond to many aspects of life religiously—that is: morally, reverently, thoughtfully and compassionately—but I choose not to name them God. Konstantin Kolenda, in his book Religion Without God, wrote: The idea of God is our recognition of our own longing to take our highest ideals seriously. The idea of God is our recognition of our own longing to take our highest ideals seriously. To that I respond. It is your own response to life, your own highest ideals, that I would have you consider this morning as I continue to discuss the concept of God.

Some detractor of a God-concept would have us believe that the primitives created God out of ignorance, to explain all that their lack of knowledge and understanding could not otherwise explain; or out of fear and smallness. Rather, we should be astounded that their sophistication. Dostoyevsky wrote, “What is astonishing is not that God should exist, but that such a noble idea should enter the head of such a despicable creature as humanity.” This evolutionary smugness we possess belies the fact that after new knowledge is gained and new moral attitudes accepted, we will be the primitives to future generations. I prefer to think that we all, at whatever age or evolution we exist, confront certain human questions, and that our response to them can be framed in a symbol, a metaphor, that we relate to religiously, not out of ignorance, but out of our need for deeper meaning than mere words can express.

When Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers made a series of video programs on religion some years ago, many Unitarian Universalist were transfixed before their television sets. We were allowed into these religious questions without the discomfort of standing too close to the familiar, and possibly once rejected, religious answers. And when Campbell turned to the camera and said, “But, Bill, God is a metaphor,” and smiled that smile that seemed to say, “Don’t you get it?” some of us breathed a little easier. We got it. Throughout religious history, God has stood in metaphor for the human response to the eternal questions. And what are these questions?

Where did all of this come from? Who hasn’t wondered where and how it all began? In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu wondered when he wrote:

Something mysteriously formed,

Born before heaven and earth,

In the silence and void,

Standing alone and unchanging,

Ever present an in motion,

Perhaps it is the mother of the world.

I do not know its name.

Call it the Tao (the Way).

For lack of a better word, I call it Great.

 
Lao Tzu did not choose to call his understanding of the beginning of the world God, but Tao, the Way, saying there is a beginning, let us call it the mother. This all we know, he said. The rest is the nature of things. Don’t look for other answers Just seek the Way. Others have chosen to respond to the question of beginning with the metaphor of a creator, of a build, or shaper, planner or parent. Whether the response chooses the metaphor or the metaphor suggests the response, is not always clear.

What happens when I cease to be? All of us, at one time or another in our lives, face that terrible aloneness, the confrontation with our own mortality, the knowledge of death. Keats wrote, as if writing for us all:

When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain, . . .

When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows with the magic hand of chance:

Then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

How we respond to the inhospitable universe and to the finiteness of existence often depends upon our personalities, our experiences and our successes or failures in life. The metaphors we choose to acknowledge or explain death are either ones of companionship, strong support, or the extension of time beyond knowledge. The metaphors say: I am not alone; I have something to lean on; there is time enough and space. The metaphors say whatever is required to respond to the question. The metaphor is the response and the response is the metaphor, because the question is no universal, so underlying, so overarching, that an intellectual response I not sufficient.

How we respond to the mystery of life—to our very existence; to the awe that awakens in us a sense of a power outside ourselves; to the feeling of harmony that sometimes envelopes us—the oneness with time and space; how we respond to revelational insights; to that which is transcendent but connect us; or to that which is imminent but separate from us, is a part of our religious identity. Our response both shapes us and defines us, and out of our response comes the metaphor for life that symbolizes and directs and anticipates our future responses.

Our response to life is made in celebration and in mourning; in acknowledgement and in gratitude; in transformation and in renewal. It sustains us in the search for what is good and the struggle with what is evil; it widens and deepens the self and connects us with that beyond ourselves. Our responses are infinite, and so are our metaphors.

Maybe it would be neater to imagine all our responses as one God, but I prefer the playful and imaginative response of the Brihad-Aranyak Upanishad that claims knowledge—Knowledge!—of 3,306 Gods and also 33 Gods, and 2, and 1 ½ and 1 God. The 3,306 Gods are their Powers—the things they can do, like sunrises and sprouting seeds. The 33 Gods comprise eight excellences: fire, earth, wind, atmosphere, sun, sky, moon and stars; plus 11 laments—which are ten sighs and the self; plus 12 months of the year, which carry the whole world along and around; plus thunder; plus animals. The 2 Gods are food and breath.  The 1 ½ are the Wind that purifies and the World that prospers from the purification, so close are they that they cannot be counted as two. The 1 God is Life itself. And all of them are metaphors.

Often, in religious institutions, we are taught the metaphor before we experience it. That is when it is most convenient to have a sing name—God. But when our personal experience is not the same as the teaching, we conclude that we do not believe in the metaphor. By extension, we do not believe in the concept. And, when we allow ourselves to create new responses, new metaphors, we are understandably reluctant to call them by the old name, the old metaphor we rejected.

That is why the question is wrong. It should never be, “Do you believe in God?” It should not even be, “Do you believe?” The question, if it must be asked, should be, “What is at the center of your experience and faith, and know and response? Can you tell me just one of its 3,306 names?

From the pulpit, I do not speak of God, except in the intellectual sense, as I have today. But I do speak of Life, as the great and transcending mystery, and as the wondrous and terrible gift. I speak of the enigma, the blessing and the curse of Life. I could, if pressed, call that God, but I choose not to. I speak of the power and the empowerment of Love—of the gift we give of accepting on another as we are, while challenging each other to become more than we are. I could, if pressed, name that God, but I choose not to. I speak of Grace—of gifts from the universe, unexpected, undeserved, unexplainable—gifts like happiness, treasures like friends. And I could, if pressed, imagine these as God. But the name and the metaphor seem too small. And so I struggle with language that will never be sufficient for meaning, just as you do. And I believe what I have come to believe and try to share the best of that, just as you do.

And that is why, when I am asked if Unitarian Universalists believe in God, I know the real question, and I will say, “Yes, we are a very religious people.”

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Build Your Own Worship!

Friends,
Who would have suspected that my first church snow day would come in March, in Texas of all places?  If you’re anything like me, your first thought was “What do I do now?”  I would encourage you to take this Sunday “off” as an opportunity to worship in your own home, either with your family or in solitude.

There are lots of ways to do so!  If you’re on your own, find a quiet moment to consider that big question you've been pondering, to appreciate the beauty around you, or just to meditate.  If you have a house full, maybe this would be a good morning for gathering together and singing your family’s favorite hymns (I can tell you I’ll be rocking my own rendition of How Could Anyone pretty soon), telling stories from our 6 sources (you can find lots of them here), or having a conversation about what you are grateful for or what it means to you to be a Unitarian Universalist. 

If you really do prefer a more traditional observance, there’s always the Church of the Larger Fellowship, which streams services online at 7 PM (Central Time) on Sundays and 1 PM on Mondays.  You can find lots of sermons and music on youtube as well—try building your own worship service!

Whether you find yourself alone or with others, consider spending some time in observance of our faith and traditions today.  Explore what faith means beyond the walls of our sanctuary, and above all, stay safe and warm!
Blessings,

Meredyth

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Meet Our Teachers: Carol Higbee Iannuzzi

Dear Ones,
I cannot express how lucky we are here at DUUF to have the amazing team of dedicated women and men teaching our youth.  This week, it is our privilege to introduce Carol Higbee Iannuzzi, and let her tell you a bit about her role with our Explorers!


What class do you teach? 
Fire Breathers
 How long have you been teaching?
I started teaching with this past summer UU Evolution classes.
 What does an average Sunday look like in your classroom? 
We usually have on average 5-7 teen youths, however we had as many as 10 show up on a Sunday. We start out with donuts and go around the class with brief introductions and any shared joys and/or sorrows. We have interesting discussions over a world religion and usually try to have an artistic activity incorporated into the time together.
 What is your favorite part of teaching that class? 
The interesting questions and exciting participation that the teens bring to the discussions.
 Was there anything that surprised you when you started teaching? 
Yes, I was surprised how much enjoyment I would get from the interaction and enthusiasm that the youth bring to the discussions in class.
  How has teaching helped your own spiritual journey? 
I feel I have more meaning in my life with teaching and the classroom interaction with the youth versus having previously worked in a corporate career that I did not feel fulfilled in at all.
 What is one thing you’d like the congregation to know about your students and about being an RE teacher? 
The students are always eager to learn, insightful, and bring so much fun energy to the classroom. As an RE teacher, you not only learn from the preparation for the class activities but also from the thought provoking questions and insightfulness that the students bring to the class discussions.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Something New is Starting!


What is a covenant group?

Covenant Groups or Small Group Ministry programs exist in many Unitarian Universalist congregations as a way for people to explore their deepest understanding of life in the midst of a community of faith.

Here at DUUF, they are groups of 6-10 people, DUUF members and friends, who gather twice a month to connect with each other and discuss a predetermined topic. The sharing and deep listening that take place foster intimate connections and a sense of shared community that are often difficult to achieve in a large congregation such as ours. While they are not support groups, members do support each other by listening with empathy and caring for and helping each other when the need arises.

Why are they called covenant groups?

Because each group creates its own covenant or agreement which outlines the guidelines they choose to abide by in their meetings. Covenants usually specify when and list communal expectations such as listening respectfully, speaking one at a time, practicing kindness, and maintaining confidentiality.

When do they meet?

Groups meet twice a month on a regular day, such as the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Some meet in the evening, while others meet in the morning or afternoon. Starting in January 2015 groups will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, the 2nd and 4th Saturday from 10:00am to 11:30am, and the 2nd and 4th Tuesday from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Groups will continue until the summer 2015. Childcare is available.

Where do they meet?

Groups meet at DUUF in one of the classrooms.

What happens at the meetings?

The way meetings go varies from one group to another, but they follow the same general pattern. First, opening words are read and a chalice is lit. Then members check-in with a brief update on how they are doing. The majority of the time is spent on reflection and discussion of the predetermined topic. In some groups, members check-out with their final thoughts on the topic. To conclude, closing words are read and the chalice is extinguished. Some groups take turns providing refreshments; others do not.

Who leads the meetings?

Each group has a trained facilitator, and most have a co-facilitator as well.

Tell me more about the topics.

Topics are selected by Lifespan Faith Development staff and vary each week. Up to a week before each meeting, participants receive an email about the topic, any related readings and/or pertinent questions for discussion. A sampling of topics includes:

Prayer                       Pilgrimage 
Balance                     Science and Spirituality
Forgiveness               Aspects of Islam
Ethical Reasoning     Gratitude
Aging                         Home
Peacemaking            Money
Play                           Grace

How do I sign up for a covenant group?

Forms are available through the first week in January both online:  http://dentonuuf.webform.com/form/14661/ and in paper form in Fellowship Hall. You may also email covenantgroups@dentonuuf.org with questions or for more information.