Thursday, March 31, 2011

Needed: Coffee Hour Snacks (April 2011 Newsletter Content)

Our Coffee and Conversation time at DUUF has been supported by several volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity to give much gratitude to all who have provided contributions in way of food; clean-up; as well as monetary contributions.

Currently, no one has volunteered for the month of April, or any of the months following. Should you desire snacks to be provided during the Coffee and Conversation time I encourage you to sign-up; email-me; or phone me.

Any concerns, comments or suggestions are welcomed,
Verlyn Baldwin, Hospitality Coordinator
(940) 453-4822
want2ride247@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just Sayin' - President's Column (April 2011 Newsletter Content)


I am resisting the temptation to write an outrageous column that would seriously annoy many members and friends and end that piece with a simple "April Fools!" Of course, the whole premise of the Just Sayin' expression is to place a fire escape at the end of an incendiary sentence or claim. Either way I have protection if you, the reader, finds offense in what I am about to say.

We have a committee at the Fellowship, which is always chaired by the previous past President. The name of said committee is the "Nominating Committee." John Beckett, being the past President, is this year's chairperson.

John has gathered an impressive cross-section of members to serve on this committee -- Thomas Gonzales, Maggie Dodd and Sean Quinlan. This team is charged with assembling a list of candidates for the 2011-12 Board of Trustees. The election of the new Board takes place at our next congregational meeting slated for May. "No one has approached you yet," you say. I am confident that someone will talk to you soon. And, as a famous coach once quipped, "Don't hide behind anything or anybody, they are going to find you anyway." To be fair, the coach was referring to crisis situations. Nevertheless, our Fellowship does find itself at a crossroads. Many would argue (and I would agree) that we have had a good year despite a tight budget and the loss of some beloved members. The arrival of our new, highly-respected Minister and the influx of several new members and families have put us in a much better place than we were at this time last year. But....

Our current Board has a combined experience of roughly 25 years. Many of us have served more than one stint or cycle as Board members. A crossroad, or fork-in-the-road, refers to the choice that must be made when one cannot see beyond the horizon. As a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, you stand at that fork with the rest of us. One road (the easy road), simply takes us back to where we have been - a tiny congregation with a relatively static core of leaders and members that do a reasonably good job of keeping things together. The other road involves some risk because the ultimate destination is less clear. In my opinion, we are ready to travel down the other road to more exciting destinations if a new generation of bright, energetic leaders is willing to take the helm.

The time has come for those new leaders to step forward. As a Board member, the well-being of this Fellowship becomes more important to you. Your feelings about being a UU deepen. Yes, on occasion the burden of leadership is onerous, yet in the end the experience is very gratifying. Of course, should you choose to hide behind something or somebody and they don't find you...not to worry. You can just follow the same old road with everybody else.

In Faith,
Mark Davis
Congregation President

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pam's Presence Minister's Column (April 2011 Newsletter Content)

Reaching Out

Egypt. Iran. Libya. Japan. Pakistan. Darfur. Israel. Palestine. Uganda. Iraq. SB1070. Haiti. Afghanistan. Is anyone else overwhelmed? I want to offer a few ways to respond to the various crises of our world.

One more obvious and publicized way is to contribute financial support. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is an organization with a long history of providing immediate funding to local, grassroots organizations who are already in the midst of efforts toward recovery, rescue, aid and promoting rights for areas in tremendous need. For more information about what they are doing to help Japan, to promote environmental and economic justice, to support civil liberties and to respond to humanitarian crises across the world, please visit their website: www.uusc.org.

Another way is to stay informed and engaged about the realities of our world. We have a great many news sources available to us and we need informed citizens.
I also want to caution against taking in too much information. Recently one of our wise members told me that she decided to go on a "news diet" recognizing that she had probably taken in enough for the time being. It can be overwhelming to continually read, hear, watch, listen to stories of violence, oppression, and devastation. I like her plan to "diet" from those high levels of input. Part of how we care for others involves caring for ourselves along the way.

Let us also cultivate loving kindness and compassion in all our relations. As Unitarian abolitionist and minister Theodore Parker offered a great many years ago, "be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere." May our actions of peace, our reverence for life and our compassion for family and stranger alike, spread across the land bringing light and warmth into places struck by devastation and violence.

Many of you have been asking me about prayer in a Unitarian Universalist context. What I often do is imagine holding people in light and love and sending them healing energy. It is a form of prayer practiced by both Quakers and Buddhists. We don’t even need words, just imagine someone or some place and surrounded in radiant light and use your imagination to send them loving kindness and compassion.

Sometimes I like to write down exactly what I hope for people (peace, healing, friendship, creativity, etc..). I have a special prayer journal just for those thoughts that a younger (and very creative) member of our congregation made for me. I use it as a centering practice and a way to hold the intentions of our community in my heart.

My friend and colleague (Scottie McIntyre Johnson) likes to "color in prayer." Using different colored markers she will write a person's name or a place's name and then in a quiet, contemplative mood color around it with designs or lines or shapes. I have loved doing that practice with her and it is so good for our inner spirit who needs care too.

Recently I went to Juliet's Jewels and bought a small string of Tibetan prayer flags for the people of Japan. It was an impulse decision after feeling like I needed to do something more. When I was participating in a Tibetan Buddhist group in Berkeley, the meditation room had large spinning prayer wheels that created a peaceful hush in the room and spun all the time in prayer for compassion, harmony and peace. The institute says, "Prayer wheels (also known as Dharma Wheels) contain the words of the Buddha, teachings of wisdom and compassion, printed on rolls of paper glued together and wrapped by hand. Two thousand years ago, the famed Buddhist master Nagarjuna determined that setting the Buddha’s printed words in motion activated the same blessings as reciting them with the human voice. In Tibet, prayer wheels became a part of daily life, turned at every opportunity in order to activate the blessings of compassion, promote harmony and peace, and prevent natural disasters." (www.nyingmainstitute.com/page/prayer-wheels)

In the same way, I feel that these prayer flags blow in the wind and send their blessings to each person in Japan who suffers and to each of us who ache for them. Maybe we could make our own prayer flags—each panel holding a different intention, perhaps including a quote or prayer or image that we wish to send out into the world.

Unitarian Universalist Association staff member, Erik Walker Wikstrom, wrote a book called "Simply Pray" in which he wrote, "Let us think of prayer as an opening of one’s self to the depths of life—your own life and the greater Life of which we are all a part. Whatever else it might be—a conversation with the Divine, an internal dialog with your own inner wisdom, a practice of calming and centering—prayer can be understood as a movement into and through the Mystery of Life."

I look forward to exploring more with you the practice of prayer in our Unitarian Universalist faith. If you have a prayer practice that you’d like to share with our congregation, please let me know. I might include it in a service on prayer. Send your thoughts to me by e-mail at minister@dentonuuf.org or give me a call at 940-381-2457. You could also write a note for me and put it in the church mailbox.

In this time of heightened awareness of suffering and devastation, may each one of us and all around the world find their peace, their healing and their deep connection to the Mystery of Life.

In faith,
Rev. Pam

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Easter Bunny wants to get involved in social action too (April 2011 Newsletter Content)

The Easter Bunny wants to get involved in social action too with the...

DUUF Easter Soup Hunt!
Sunday April 24th

We're taking a cue from our friends at Boulder Valley UU.

This year the Easter Bunny would like us to hide canned and non perishable food for the kids to find. That food will be donated to the area food bank. Children can turn in the canned goods for the wonderful goody bags the Easter Bunny will leave!

Let's start now collecting canned and non perishable foods for a great...

Easter Soup Hunt!

An area for donation drop off will be located in Fellowship Hall beginning this Sunday. For more information contact Linda Sagaribay at dre@dentonuuf.org or call 940-597-3396.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gamenight April 2, 2011 (April 2011 Newsletter Content)

As part of Game Night, the Tweens class is putting on a skit as part of our social action project to save endangered animals. Be sure to bring enough money to buy our homemade bookmarks and notecards. We are trying to raise enough money to adopt an endangered animal from the Dallas zoo. You can adopt animals for $25-2,000. Game Night is Saturday April 2nd at 6 P.M. at DUUF. There will be a cake walk too. If you would like to donate a cake or something to the cake walk you can contact Cindy Jacobson. Her e-mail is mailto:cindy@ccdcounseling.com.

DUUF Game Night
When – Saturday April 6th
Time - 6:00 PM
Where – Denton UU Fellowship 1111 Cordell St Denton Texas

Everyone is Welcome!
Bring your favorite board games, snacks and beverages
Special Entertainment!!!!

"A Play"
Starring the Tween RE Class
Admission $1.00

Proceeds to benefit the Dallas Zoo endangered species project.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adult Religious Explorations (April 2011 Newsletter Content)

Adult Religious Explorations (ARE) has grown substantially in the past few months. As a result, the group has moved into the large RE area. Discussions start at 9:30 AM and conclude around 10:15. The group is currently discussing Islam. Upon completion of Islam, discussions will shift to Christianity in April, followed by Judaism later in the month. The course is based upon a book entitled "Wisdom Walk" and heavily annotated with related readings and materials. Please join us for some great discussions. For further information, contact Bob McWilliams or subscribe to the ADULTRE-DUUF Yahoo! Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ADULTRE-DUUF.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are You CoDependent? (April 2011 Newsletter Content)

Editor's Note: The following article is presented to increase awareness among the members and friends of the congregation about one of the many ways the congregation extends a corporate hand of friendship to the larger Denton community and those in need.


CoDependents Anonymous meets at Denton UUF every Saturday morning 10:30 - 11:30 A.M. in the adult RE room. Look for signs to direct you. At times we may meet in another room.

Meetings are open to anyone in the community. The only requirements for attendance is a desire for healthy and fulfilling relationship with oneself and others.

For more information visit www.coda.org.

The Preamble of Co-Dependents Anonymous states CoDa is a program of recovery from codependency, where each of us may share our experience, strength and hope in our efforts to find freedom where there has been bondage and peace where there has been turmoil in our relationships with others and ourselves.

We attempted to use others – our mates, our friends, and even our children, as our sole source of identity, value and well-being and as a way of trying to restore within us the emotional losses from our childhoods. Our histories may include other powerful addictions, which at times we have used to cope with our codependency.

Co-Dependents Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who gather together to support and share with each other in a journey of self-discovery – learning to love the self. Living the program allows each of us to become increasingly honest with ourselves about our personal histories and our codependent behaviors. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are the principles of our program and guides to developing honest and fulfilling relationships with ourselves and others. In CoDA, we each learn to build a bridge to a Higher Power of our own understanding, and we allow others the same privilege.

*Adopted in 1994 As Amended by the CoDA Service Conference (Edited)

Characteristics and Patterns of Codependents

Denial Patterns: Difficulty identifying feelings. Minimize, alter, or deny feelings. Perceive self as being completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others. Lack empathy for emotions and needs of others. I label others with my negative traits. I mask my pain with anger, humor, or isolation. Express negativity or aggression indirectly or in passive ways. Do not recognize unavailability of people to whom I am attracted.

Low Self Esteem Patterns: Difficulty making decisions. Judge what I think say, or do harshly, as never good enough. Am embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts. Value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings, and behavior over my own. Don’t perceive myself as lovable or worthwhile person. Constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve. Difficulty admitting I made a mistake. Am unable to ask others to meet my needs or desires. Perceive myself as superior or inferior to others.

Compliance Patterns: Am loyal, staying in harmful situations too long. Compromise my own values ad integrity to avoid rejection or anger. I put aside my own interest to do what others want. Am hyper vigilant about the feelings of others and take on those feelings. Afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from others. I accept sexual attention when I want love. Make decisions without regard to consequences. Give up my truth to gain approval of others or to avoid change.

Control Patterns: Believe that most people are incapable of taking care of themselves. Attempt to persuade others what to think, do, or feel. Freely offer advice and direction without being asked. I have to be needed to have a relationship with others. Am resentful when others decline or reject my advice. Adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.

Avoidance Patterns: I judge harshly hat others think, say, or do. I act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward me. I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a means of maintaining distance. I allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract me from having intimacy in relationships.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Will You Stand on the Side of Love?

Last night I had a wonderful experience of attending the Ash Wednesday service at Trinity Presbyterian Church. As Jeff and I emerged from the sanctuary, a friend from Trinity greeted us and proclaimed lovingly, “the Unitarians are here.” Somehow that seems especially funny at a place called “Trinity.” Despite my firm grounding in Unitarian Universalism, I rarely miss an Ash Wednesday service- a day which marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Lent is the forty-day period (forty days if you don’t count Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. For many Christians it is a time of taking inventory. How am I doing in my life? Am I living my faith? Am I letting myself get distracted and off course and, if so, how can I get back on course? Each year I use continue to use Lent to re-ground and get back on track spiritually, emotionally, and physically as I need to.

As a congregation, I invite all of us to get back on track. As a congregation we have had some significant transitions in the last year. We enlarged our building, received a new minister, experienced new members and lots of growth, we have added a Religious Education class for preschoolers and much more. In addition, if you have been here a long time you might recall a period of strain in the congregation from which some are still healing. Some of us have been tending to these challenges and transitions for quite a while. I hope you feel, as I do, that we are entering a new time in the life of the congregation. A time when we don’t have be quite so distracted by what’s going on in the congregation and instead can re-focus on our Mission and Vision and also follow our call to “Stand on the Side of Love” in our community. When we hung the district’s “Standing on the Side of Love” banner on our building I invited folks to do something (maybe even something new) to stand on the side of love in our community. It could be small or it could be huge. And I invited folks to write it down or submit a picture for the poster board that Kati Trice put up in our fellowship hall. Some of you have written down things and submitted pictures…and we are not yet done.

We will continue to have that beautiful banner outside our building until right after Easter Sunday when we pass it along to another congregation at our district’s Spring Conference (4/29/-5/1). This is our last push (forty days if you don’t count Sundays), to get out into our community and change lives, bring peace, enact our faith. I recently read a story about a woman who bought a sheet of shiny foil star stickers and gave them out whenever she witnessed acts of kindness in her day to day life. What a beautiful way to stand on the side of love. We have lots of creative people in our congregation and I would LOVE to hear what creative ideas you have for enacting our faith in our community.

In the coming forty days (not counting Sundays) I invite you to do one or more of the following:

*Read more about the Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) campaign: http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org/ and think of ways we can bring that campaign to life in Denton!

*Go online and purchase some SSL stickers, pins, brochures and/or rally cards and hand them out at church and/or out in the community!

*Volunteer your time and energy to one of our many nonprofit organizations and/or to someone who is in need of your support.

*Reach out to someone in love, even though you might feel prejudice or bias.

*Do something consistently and over time that is good for our planet and our community.

*Lead a group to do something to Stand on the Side of Love in our community.

*Contact our political leaders and urge them to stand on the side of love on an important issue.

And once you have done one or more of those, then POST it on our poster board in our fellowship hall so we can all celebrate with you! Be sure to include your first and last name because after Easter I am going to send an invitation to each and every one of you who posted (children, youth and adults), to come to my home and celebrate together our efforts and outcomes. My hope is that there will be so many people who participate that 1. Kati Trice will have to make more poster boards and 2. that I will fret about how to make you all fit into my home.

Deep peace to all of you as we wind down from winter and make our way toward spring! I am so delighted to be your minister and I am grateful for all the many ways you bring light and love to this Fellowship and to our wider community.

In Faith,
Rev. Pam

Monday, March 7, 2011

One more opportunity to add to the hope!

Dear DUUF Community,

I want to extend my deep gratitude to all who helped with Sunday's special service dedicated to Denton County Friends of the Family!

Linda Sagaribay and Jackie Gibbons started us off in a beautiful multigenerational singing of "How Could Anyone" (How could anyone ever tell you, you were anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you, you were less than whole? How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle? How deeply you're connected to my soul.).

Friends of the Family Board Member, Deborah Cosimo, shared that in 2010, they served over 10,600 women, children, and men, and answered more than 2,400 crisis line calls.

Amber Briggle played guitar and sang the Dixie Chicks song "I Hope" with its strong anti-violence message and reminding us that "our children are watching us/They put their trust in us/They're gonna be like us/So let's learn from our history/And do it differently."

And I shared how my religious beliefs led to my experience of family violence and how my beliefs now liberate me from violence.

If you weren't able to join us this morning, it is not too late to offer your support. Through this week you can drop off or mail contributions to DUUF at 1111 Cordell Street, Denton, Texas 76201. Please be sure to designate that the gift is for Friends of the Family.

Friends of the Family provides a necessary service in our community, literally saving lives by offering services to protect from and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. I am proud to be a part of a congregation who has stepped up so generously to help Friends of the Family to meet their $100,000 shortfall and I know that there is still more dollars to be raised. I hope that they are able to meet their financial requirements to sustain their services so that we all continue to work together to create the reality described in the Dixie Chicks' song, "I Hope":

"I hope, for more love, more joy and laughter
I hope, we'll have more than we'll ever need
I hope, we'll have more happy ever after
I hope, we can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope"

In faith and love,
Rev. Pam