July Share the plate is for Midwives for Haiti, a small school for lay midwives which is saving the lives of mothers and babies. They are currently struggling with budget to pay the salaries of the Midwife Instructors who work with the students. This is the school Ruth Stanton has taught at. Class 10 has graduated and will be getting ready for Class 11. The program’s graduates are 20% of the obstetric providers in Haiti currently, and providing so much care for women who would go without. Haiti’s maternal and infant death rates are the highest in the Western hemisphere. More info at

We all are good at different things. And some people are really good at knowing what to do and how to do it–not just to get a job done, but to do it well, and to build up everyone involved in the process.

Our speakers this Sunday have that kind of wisdom. Quietly, methodically, and humanely, Natalia Valenzuela Swanson and Keisha Gray walk through our community every day–listening to people, building relationships, elevating what we do well and connecting resources to empower us.

These two leaders traveled far to be with us–from states away, and across continents, these women chose to work here because of the potential they see in our people and our place.

This is wisdom worth hearing.

Come Sunday,


July starts the beginning of another UUCS church year that runs from July 2019 through June 2020. Scott Neely will be out of the pulpit during July preparing for his worship services which begin in August. Never fear, though! Scott and our Worship Committee have lined up some great speakers for the Sundays that he will be out of the pulpit, to challenge you while he is gone.
Work will begin again very soon on the Wilde Hall kitchen, in hopes that we can begin to use our new kitchen within the next few months. Because of strict city code requirements, it has become necessary for us to hire a general contractor who knows how to work with Spartanburg city code requirements. Keep your fingers crossed.
One of the things I heard several times over the last few months is that with our many new members and friends coming to UUCS we don’t know each other. This coming church year we will be trying to correct that problem.
For those who don’t know me—my name is Rick Hahnenberg and I am married to Ruth Stanton, one of our Worship Associates co-chairs. Ruth and I have been attending UUCS for twenty-five years, having moved from Greer back in 1994.
I met and married Ruth at the Greenville UU Fellowship back in 1989 and we recently celebrated our 30th anniversary. We have three children and four grandchildren. Our son Mark grew up at UUCS and now lives in San Francisco. Our two daughters, Laura and Krista, both live in Ohio and each has two boys. Our grandson’s ages are seven, five, four, and two.
Ruth works at Spartanburg Regional as a nurse-midwife and has been employed there for over 27 years. I am a semi-retired independent health insurance salesperson who worked for a major health insurer for several years. Beside being active at UUCS, I am founder and president of the Upstate SC Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Our chapter’s first meeting was held at UUCS in January 2004.

To conclude my bio: I was raised a Lutheran in Ohio and moved to Upstate SC in 1982. I have been a UU for the last 40 years at three congregations in Youngstown, Ohio, Greenville, SC, and now here in Spartanburg. I consider myself a proud Freethinker. Looking forward to a great 2019-2020 church year with you.

Love and Peace,

Rick Hahnenberg, UUCS President

We have a sunstone in our hand: care. It is a trustworthy tool: our care for one another can guide us when light is hard to see, when skies are overcast and storms brew. Even with those who we find difficult, we can act authentically and faithfully by caring for one another.

We have created strong and flexible teams, teams that work well together, teams ready for bigger and bigger seas.

And we have accomplished noteworthy feats: acts of justice and compassion done with excellence; significant resources raised and allocated for worthy causes; friendships built into a community of resilience and joy; realms of the mind and spirit explored with freedom, where few others are willing to go.

We have traveled far, over the decades of this congregation’s existence, and in our brief two years since I joined your team.

I find myself looking out over open water, wondering: what lies beyond? Where might we venture, further out, together?

All through the summer, we will hear speakers share with us on the theme of “The Journey Out”:

– On July 7, Dr. Kirk Neely will speak on his journey as a 17-year-old South Carolinian to Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and what he learned in a place so far from home;
– then on July 14, Natalia Valenzuela Swanson and Keisha Gray, Program Directors at the Mary Black Foundation, will speak with us about crossing the separations and boundaries between diverse communities in Spartanburg, in order to build a better life together here;
– on July 21, Dr. Dave Damrel from USC-Upstate will join us to share about his spring in Sri Lanka as a Fulbright scholar studying pluralism and multi-culturalism in South Asian democracies;
– on July 28, Dr. Allison Pingley, Associate Professor of Political Science at USC-Upstate and niece of UUCS member Jean Hedick, will speak with us about her teaching and research as a Fulbright scholar in Central Europe, on the shift from communism to democracy in Hungary and the Czech Republic, and on the rise of nationalism around the globe;
– and finally, on August 4, our own Rev. Pat Jobe will make us laugh, and then cry from laughing, by reflecting with us on the journey of our lives.

This summer, we are listening to the stories of fellow travelers. We will hear their tales of what it is like to venture out where we have never been before, and of the experience and wisdom we can bring back home from our sojourns.

Our future calls us. Let us prepare ourselves for the coming journey. I can already taste the salt on the air.


This Sunday, June 30, Kelly Thorvalson of the SC Aquarium in Charleston will join us at UUCS to speak about the Sea Turtle Rescue Program. Thorvalson, who manages conservation programs at the Aquarium, has led a major expansion of the Sea Turtle Rescue efforts there. This program is designed especially for adults, an in-depth look at work that touches each of us who travel to the SC coast.

All summer we will hear from speakers who will consider what it means to journey out, to go beyond. The effort to help turtles survive and thrive on their way to the sea symbolizes how we can support one another as we each seek our future in the wide world.

Come to hear about this vital ecological work in our state, and to reflect on the care and support we can offer each other in our own journeys out.


“the sun and stars burst through
clouds, risking all
to shed light

and who are we that we don’t?” (“sun & stars”, by Marlanda Dekine)

This Friday evening, June 21, come to the joy of the Summer Solstice Celebration at UUCS. We will drum, dance, and revel in the shortest night of the year. Midsummer Night is a time of mischief and magic, when the veil between this world and beyond thins and opens. Come enjoy the pulse of light in your veins.

6:30pm Drum Circle
7:00pm Solstice Celebration
Gather on the back lawn of UUCS if weather permits
Gather in the Sanctuary if rain and storms



On Sunday, June 23 immediately after our Sunday service, we will celebrate our annual picnic. Come for fellowship in the cool indoors and for games within and without. Bring a dish to share in our potluck, and marvel at the bounty we create together. It is good to stop and be together–come share and enjoy the richness of our community.

With gratitude,


In April, I shared a meditation about how painful the work of transformation can be, especially when we are the change agents in close proximity to it (audio link): “When We Don’t Belong Here” Rev. Scott Neely.

But the work of transformation can also be full of joy. This article documents the extraordinary LGBTQ Theologies event Anne Garner helped lead this May, and which is now being shared across the Southeast via LGBTQ advocacy and partner networks: What You Can Learn from LGBTQ+ Community When You Listen (June 4, 2019,

We have seen this in our Covenant Groups all year, which time and again have reached out to engage works of service and social justice in myriad ways. And this Saturday is another opportunity: NAMIWalks Upstate South Carolina will be held Saturday, June 8 on the Furman University Campus. The Walk is to raise awareness as well as funds for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Team UU Spartanburg originated with the 4th Sunday Morning Covenant Group and all are welcome. We plan to carpool as needed from the church parking lot Saturday at 9:00M sharp. Questions? Contact Al or Pate Randall. And come.

Our congregation is doing the work of transformation multi-directionally. It is hard to keep up with it all. And it is only beginning. We have been at it for many decades, and it is only beginning. The report I shared during our Annual Meeting tries to communicate the power of this: UUCS Annual Minister Report, June 2, 2019, Rev. Scott J. Neely.

We are doing this work. When it is painful, and when it is joyful, thank you for doing it.



“Democracy is a form of government only because it is a form of moral and spiritual association.” (John Dewey)

Our country is already in a contentious election cycle, with more than a year to go. Today and for many days into the future, we will see and hear things that we know are wrong, and we will fight for what we believe is right.

Never forget: for whom do we fight?

Pro Omnibus,



UUCS is a very special place. For me, it represents a community of open-minded people with whom I can share ideas without worrying about a hostile response. Many people have found it to be the first place where they could openly display who they are, and be appreciated for it. And through Scott Neely’s Sunday meditations, we are shown that we each have strengths and capabilities that we might never have imagined. No wonder we choose to congregate here and share our time, talent, and treasures.
The affirmation we receive at UUCS creates a pitfall. It is similar to that faced by a couple in the wonderful throes of early love, wherein you feel one with your partner, and as if everything will naturally be wonderful into the future. Anyone who has had a long-term relationship knows that “what comes naturally” is woefully insufficient to make the relationship successful.
So it is with our beloved community. We have just had an incredibly successful year: inspiring Sunday services, increased membership, a vibrant RE program, the most successful pledge drive in UUCS history, numerous high-visibility social justice activities, and so forth. Yet painful and even damaging conflicts and misunderstandings still occur. I attribute this in part to the fact that because so many of us feel at home here, feel supported, empowered, “in love” with this place, we slip into doing “what comes naturally,” forgetting the hard work it takes to be in harmony with our family of a couple hundred people.
I attended the UUA leadership school two years ago. My strongest take-away was the fundamental role of Covenant in our faith, and its power as a blueprint for right relations. Here at UUCS, we recite our Covenant every Sunday, and it is the task of each of us to use it to instruct the way we live. Nothing in our Covenant is easy. It challenges us to: “Strive to become our better selves” by aspiring to things which we will never fully achieve; “Honor both the critical mind and the generous heart,” which means practicing conscious appreciation and patience as we work side by side with others possessing a diversity of personality types and natural skills; “Show that diversity need not mean divisiveness”, the first step in which is to realize that those around us may have very different life histories, life situations, levels of affluence, needs, strengths, sensitivities, and communication styles than oneself.
There is a phrase in relationship counseling: “Conflict is growth trying to happen.” Something we can each do when we sense a conflict is to question our part in it, and consider how we might be better in covenant.

In love and peace, Fred Stoll