“These are the times that try men’s souls” – Thomas Paine
Ruth and I came back from our trip to Mexico City and Chapala, Mexico where we visited David Hudnell and Roy Haynes in Chapala. They have been very active in the UU Church in Chapala; one of three UU churches in Mexico. Both gentlemen are doing well and are enjoying retirement and their decision to move to Mexico. When we were with David and Roy we heard about the serious coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and the plunge in the U.S equity markets.
I want to thank Rev. Scott and Anne Garner for keeping UUCS going in their Virtual and Zoom Worship Services along with several of our members and staff: Andrew Cook, Ed Stokes, Fred Stoll, Amanda Wolcansek, Erin Galloway, Pat Landry, and Linda Leible and others who helped at our March 29th program prior to this writing. Our Board of Trustees will meet at the end of March to decide how long UUCS will remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We will keep you informed.
Lastly, I would like to thank Linda Leible and Brannon Carter for the great job they did on our 2020-2021 “Living Our Mission-Expanding Our Reach” Annual Giving Drive.
Thank you both so much!
Peace & Love,
President, UUCS Board of Trustees
“The prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair.”—Walter Brueggeman
Illusion. Denial. Despair.
Prophets are not future-tellers. They are people who read the economic and political signs of their societies, and summon their communities to care for their most vulnerable members as the highest expression of their civic and spiritual ideals.
The Unitarian Universalist movement originates from the Western prophetic tradition. Our forbearers rejected theological conformity in favor of a spiritual freedom that empowered them to act in solidarity with all who are marginalized and oppressed. Older and deeper than any doctrine or belief, this is the root motivation that created and sustained the best in our Western religious and philosophical lineage:
- In celebration of Passover (April 8-16, 2020), we tell the story of Exodus: how speaking the truth forms a prophetic people, who stand against a despot that would sacrifice a nation of laborers in service to his fragile ego.
- In celebration of Easter (April 12, 2020), we see a band of grieving friends form a new economy of sharing—of material goods, and of love—that reversed the inequities of the Roman Empire.
- In celebration of Ramadan (April 23-May 23, 2020), we witness warring tribes transform a violent religious economy in the Arabian Peninsula by uniting in a vision of justice.
- And in thinkers like Rousseau, Voltaire, Paine, Emerson, Douglass, the Grimkés, Marx, Goldman, Arendt, Vonnegut, Neruda, King, Malcolm X, and Galeano, the prophetic tradition has fought tirelessly against the despair of tyrannical regimes down to the present day.
This is love beyond belief, intimately attuned to every age. Hymn 125 in our grey hymnal, “From the Crush of Wealth and Power”, expresses this prophetic spirit for the very moment we are living:
From the crush of wealth and power
something broken in us all
waits the spirit’s silent hour
pleading with a poignant call,
bind all my wounds again.
Ev’ry time our spirits languish
terrified to draw too near,
may we know each other’s anguish
and, with love that casts our fear,
bind all our wounds again.
To the illusion, the denial, and the despair of our own day, the prophetic church speaks a message in its words and, far more, in its deeds:
Truth. Grief. Hope.
Over the last two weeks, our response as a congregation to the pandemic has been remarkable to witness. Our church’s teams have sprung into action, providing pastoral care, meals, financial support, social justice planning, support for community partners, support for friends and colleagues in the medical field, and ways for us to connect with one another for worship, learning, and fellowship.
These first actions have worked well. But there is more we can do. Here are some next steps we can take to help one another during the pandemic. My gratitude to Betty Koester (Congregational Health Ministry Chair), Alice Sutton (Social Justice Council Chair), Joyce Harrison & Mitch Eisner (Pastoral Care Associates Co-Chairs), and Robin Carter, Mel Fritsche, and Anne Garner for developing the action steps that follow. Visit our church’s webpage, www.uucs.org, for updates on ways we can help.
Give blood: Usual blood donations have plummeted, and blood is needed for medical care. Special procedures have been put in place by The Blood Connection to ensure physical distancing and to sanitize the donation space after every donor’s visit:
- When: Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1, from 7:00am-10:00am or 2:00pm-7:00pm (please skip lunchtime, when they are especially busy).
- Where: North Grove Medical Center, 270 North Grove Medical Park Drive, Spartanburg, SC 29303 / (864) 641-6013.
- Sign up on-line here: https://donate.thebloodconnection.org/donor/schedules/centers
Advocacy: Hold our leaders accountable to act in the interest of all of us:
- Call SC Governor McMaster [(803) 734-2100] and urge him to issue a shelter in place order for SC. The President continues to imply that all will be fine after 15 days of social distancing has taken place, but this is not being practiced voluntarily by many of our fellow citizens and contradicts what public health leaders insist is needed to slow the spread of the virus.
- Call the White House [(202) 456-1111] or write via its on-line comment form [https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/] – to demand the use of the Defense Production Act for the manufacture of needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical workers. Federal coordination to distribute these items is a must. Leaving states to fend for themselves and pay $6.00+ per mask (when the normal cost is $.58) is unconscionable (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-is-the-deal-with-the-defense-production-act/ ; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/for-new-york-58-cent-medical-masks-now-priced-at-7-50-each). Privatized solutions are inadequate for a national emergency. PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS.
Share your actions: Let us know what you are doing to help—making masks, donating supplies, helping neighbors, supporting organizations. We want to create a list of what our congregants are doing to help, as a way to share ideas with one another, to empower each other to act, and to create a narrative of all the ways we are lending a hand individually and as a congregation. Even the smallest acts can have a large impact. Send notes of your actions to Social Justice Chair Alice Sutton at: email@example.com. We will share these on our website to encourage and motivate one another.
DARE: This app, for download on smart phones, has free components to help when we experience anxiety or panic. If news of the pandemic and physical distancing guidance are causing you anxiety, this app has proven very helpful. Check it out, and share it with others: https://dareresponse.com/.
Connect: Check on friends and neighbors, and let us know if you learn of someone in need. We are here for each other. You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org / 864-590-8260 and the Pastoral Care Team through Co-Chairs Joyce Harrison (email@example.com) and Mitch Eisner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We have done much, and there is much more to do. Thank you for being the people that you are. Let’s do it.
Thank you all, and peace—
Last evening, the UUCS Board met to chart a way forward through the coronavirus pandemic. As a congregation, our care for one another and our community only becomes more important under circumstances like these. Our ministry is expanding.
We will take a knowledge-based, humanitarian, measured approach. Until the end of March, the church will remain closed to all in-person activities. At that time, the Board will assess the current situation to decide what next steps should be. Our primary concern is the well-being of our congregation and our community. We are relying on a combination of resources in our decision-making: guidance from the national and regional UUA, the CDC, our school districts and civil authorities, and medical professionals in our congregation and globally.
There is much we can do to help one another and our neighbors through whatever comes. We will utilize digital communications to sustain and energize our life together through our care, social justice, fellowship & learning, worship, and all the gifts we share with one another:
We care for one another:
- Our Pastoral Care team has moved swiftly into action, reaching out to some of our most vulnerable members and friends to check in and establish contact. We are strengthening the lines of communication between us, and this highly organized effort will broaden in the coming weeks.
- If you need support in any way, please connect with us directly. You can reach me at: email@example.com / 864-590-8260. We are here for one another.
We care for our community:
- Our Social Justice team has reached out to our community partners, especially groups like TOTAL Ministries and PASOs, to ask what support would be most helpful at this time and going forward. I have also communicated with our City Manager and District Councilwoman to offer our help at any time. There will be many ways that we can help.
- Please hold in mind and heart those who serve at the forefront of the pandemic–our medical and social workers, our sanitation and food distribution workers, civic leaders, and each person answering the call to serve.
Fellowship & Learning
We love one another. We can do much to enjoy our relationships, and even deepen them, during this time:
- Our Director of Religious Education, Sybil Argintar, is in communication with all of our children, youth, and families, and will provide RE materials for families to enjoy together at home.
- Our Covenant Groups are connecting with their members, and one of our groups will pilot meeting via Zoom this evening.
- Our ministry intern, Anne Garner, and I are creating on-line social gathering and learning spaces through which we may fellowship with one another. Watch for these opportunities over the next few weeks–we will send specific information and links as plans are finalized.
Worship at its best brings together all the parts of our congregational life, to generate meaning, energy, and shared purpose:
- We will Livestream our service every Sunday at 11:00 am on the website, UUCS.org and Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/uucs. Our Music Director Keith Plumley and our Music, Worship, and Communication teams have swiftly moved to make this service beautiful and accessible for us all. Please join us, and share our service with anyone who would find it meaningful.
- We will Share the Plate online to provide support for the Minister’s Discretionary Fund and Total Ministries, in order to support one another through the financial distress of this situation. For those who have already given this week proactively, thank you for your vision and generosity. If you would like to Share the Plate, you may do so here: https://uucs.org/share-the-plate-contribution/
We are entering into a time of financial uncertainty and strain. We share our gifts to benefit one another and our world, not to put any one of us at risk. Please give when and how you can, and never when you should not. All of our gifts–gifts of care, of time, of skill, of resources–have a vital purpose.
- As many of you have already done this week, if you have a gift you feel would be of benefit that you would like to share–skill with technology, transportation, food, and much more–please reach out to me or any of our church leaders. This has already been very helpful.
- Many of you have asked how to give financially to the church during this time:
- You may Share the Plate to benefit the Minister’s Discretionary Fund and Total Ministies here: https://uucs.org/share-the-plate-contribution/
- You may give to the church online here: https://uusptnbg.breezechms.com/give/online
- You may also mail checks (to UUCS, P.O. Box 1942, Spartanburg, SC 29304) or bring monetary gifts to the church office (contact Office Administrator Pat Landry at firstname.lastname@example.org / 864-585-9230; Pat’s usual office hours are now M-F 10 am – 2 pm). All the ways to donate to UUCS, including by text, can be found here: https://uucs.org/donate/.
We are a people of faith and hope. Our love is a love beyond belief. Our ministry is expanding, and already we are rising to the challenge. I cannot tell you how proud I am to serve with you.
Sunday Service To Be Livestreamed
Over the last 24 hours, we have received a number of messages from the national and regional UUA, and from medical groups and professionals, regarding what congregations can do to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The message has been clear: limit all social gatherings to try to stop the spread of the virus. The message from UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray may be found here: https://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/updated-recommendations-your-congregations-response-covid-19. The problem is that the virus seems to spread for a time before it begins to be detected, meaning it is already moving beyond the locale in which it has been identified.
Our first priority is to care for our congregation and our community.
To that end:
- we will not gather as a congregation this Sunday.
- we will Livestream an abbreviated service on Sunday morning–join us here to connect with one another even when we are not physically together: https://www.youtube.com/user/uucs/videos?
- we will cancel all church activities and gatherings until the Board meeting on Wednesday evening, March 18. The Board meeting will serve as a time when we can better assess a fuller plan of action with more information.
Our care for one another and for our community only becomes more important in times of uncertainty and concern. Our ministry as a congregation continues unabated:
- We stand against prejudice and xenophobia, now and always.
- Check on friends and neighbors, relieving anxiety and increasing our connection to one another even when physical contact is reduced.
- If you need support in any way, connect with us–you can reach us at email@example.com / 864-590-8260. We are here to help each other.
With gratitude for the wisdom, compassion, and community spirit that guide us as a church—
On behalf of the Board &Staff,
Scott Neely, Minister
Linda Leible, President-Elect
Pate Randall, Treasurer
Our goal is care, for one another and for our greater community.
Care for One Another
With the spread of the coronavirus, there are several steps we can take to care for each other:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly throughout the day. At church, we will use touchless greetings—we will bow and salute to one another, but no handshakes or hugs please.
- If you are sick, please stay home to help contain the possible spread of the virus. If you feel concerned for your health, please feel welcome to protect yourself by staying home too.
- If you choose not to attend services, stay connected with the life of our congregation through our livestream here: https://www.facebook.com/UUCSpartanburg/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
- If you need support in any way, connect with us–you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org / 864-590-8260. We are here to help each other.
Care for Our Community
We are a people of faith and hope. Through all that life brings, we will build a community of care for all people:
- We stand against prejudice and xenophobia, now and always.
- Check on friends and neighbors, reducing anxiety and increasing our connection to one another even when physical contact is reduced.
- As of now, we do plan to hold our service this Sunday, focusing on how we can serve our community.
- Out of an abundance of caution, we will postpone our bake sale to benefit our children’s social justice projects until a later date.
- Our third Social Justice dialogue will take place immediately after the service. We will be talking about being a neighbor, environmental action, and what we can do as a congregation to make this world more livable for every one of us.
We care, for each other and for our world–
“Roy’s lyrics move beyond poetry and achieve perfection.” – Joni Mitchell
This Friday, March 6 from 7:00-9:00 PM, singer and political satirist Roy Zimmerman will offer a concert in the UUCS Sanctuary. Zimmerman is an artist and an activist, and his music is pitch-perfect for the moment we are living. All are welcome. Childcare for UUCS members and friends will be provided.
Come get your social justice on–
(UU Retreat Center about 5 miles west of Highlands, NC)
Retreat Theme: Community
When: May 29-31
What: Come for the whole weekend or for a fun-filled Saturday day trip to our intergenerational church retreat this Spring. Our theme is “Community”, and we will spend our time making music, hiking, crafting, playing games, and connecting more deeply with one another. This will be a time to grow closer as friends and as a congregation at our beautiful UU retreat center in Western NC. Visit https://www.themountainrlc.org/ for pictures and information on what the retreat center is like. Link for Mountain Retreat Schedule.
Who: This retreat is for all church members & friends, and any interested guests.
– Whole Weekend Rate:
- Early bird price: $170 for double occupancy; ends 6-weeks prior to retreat (April 17)
On April 18 the price goes to $190 per person.
- Kids 0-7: free
- Ages 8-12: $40 weekend
- Ages 13-17: $70 weekend
- 18 & over: Adult rate
– Commuter Rate (Saturday only, includes all Saturday meals):
- Adults: $50
- Ages 8-12: $20
- Ages 13-17: $35
– Registration: Each adult must register separately; one parent registers children. https://www.themountainrlc.org/uu-church-of-spartanburg-mountain-g. Paper registration is also available; please see Scott or Sybil for information.
– Scholarships: Partial scholarships are available to help with cost. Please see Scott or Sybil for a confidential conversation to request scholarship support. If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund for the retreat, please make your gift to UUCS designated for “2020 Retreat Scholarship Fund”.
February was an extremely busy month at UUCS. We had just kicked off our 2020-2021 “Living Our Mission-Expanding Our Reach” at our January 26 Luncheon and work has been done throughout February and concluding in early March on our Annual Pledge Drive. Much thanks goes to our Stewardship Chairman Brannon Carter and our President-Elect Linda Leible for all their hard work to support our Beloved Religious Community. I would also like to thank Alice Sutton, Ruth Stanton, Deb Williams, Mel Fritsche, Mary Underwood, Joyce Harrison, Pam Stoll and Bernie Kakuse for their Sunday Testimonials in support of UUCS and why they support our Generosity Giving Campaign. We hope to raise $235,000 or more in this year’s Annual Fund.
February 2020 will be remembered for the Tornado Storm that went through Spartanburg. Luckily our building suffered very little damage but we had several trees down as well serious damage to our Playground and the its fences. I really appreciated the fast responses from our Building and Grounds Committee members for contacting our tree removal company, talking to our insurances claims adjuster, and getting estimates for new fencing and playground equipment. Thank you Deb Williams, Karen Mitchell, Rob Gettings and John Phifer for all you did.
February also saw the conclusion of our Death and Dying Monthly fourth Sunday Adult RE Classes put on by Dr. Garry Snipes and Lisa Mowery. Thank you both for your great and informative classes on such an important topic. Unfortunately, I was able to only listen to parts of your lectures but I gained a lot from what I heard. Thanks again.
Lastly, I would like to thank one of our Board Trustees, Pegg Hamrick, for willingness to take on a yearly fundraiser on Sunday, February 23 when I could not find any group or individuals willing to chair this annual event. Peggy then recruited her daughter, Mary Underwood and Stacy Jackson and they came up with the Stone Soup Fundraiser. It was another great event at UUCS. Thank you so much for everyone who donated their favorite soup recipes, breads, and desserts. Our Stone Soup Event raised over $1,000 which goes into our operating funds.
Ministerial Duo The Cap & The Collar
Headline March 28 Coffeehouse
Temple B’nai Israel’s Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz has been a friend to UUCS for many years, sharing his wit, wisdom and musical talents from our pulpit on numerous occasions. He is a proponent of interfaith dialogue and uses music and humor as conduits to richer connection.
Methodist Pastor Dr. Paul Harmon, of Washington Street United Methodist Church in Columbia, is a folk singer and guitar picker. The two met in 2003 at a Rotary Club meeting and hit it off. They teamed up for a Rotary Club gig and The Cap & The Collar duo was born.
For more than three decades Rabbi Yossi and Pastor Paul have served their respective congregations with devotion and enthusiasm, bringing their musical talents, charm, and humor to their pulpits. As The Cap & The Collar Duo they have entertained hundreds at churches, synagogues, charity events & service organizations. With a mix of traditional folk, country & original songs, their inspiration serves as a bridge between faiths & peoples. If you are looking for a delightful evening of song & comedy then The Cap and the Collar is for you!
The show kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. Please remember to bring a non-perishable food item for our TOTAL Ministries Food Barrel. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 or more. You can learn more about this duo by visiting capandcollar.com.
For questions, email email@example.com.