General

Now is the time for magic.

Snowfall. Nightfall. Memory. Music.

The richness of darkness. The stars.

The one gift
you know will illumine
a person you love,
& you give it,
& it does.

Let this moment overtake you. Let magic come.

Scott

Come join in these winter celebrations with our community:

“Prelude to the Solstice”
Sunday, December 17 @ 11:00am
Prepare for our celebration of the winter solstice by entering the darkness, together.

A Solstice Concert
with folksinger Tom Neilson
Sunday, December 17 @ 6:30pm
A mid-winter concert to benefit the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival in the spring.

“A Celebration of the Solstice”
Thursday, December 21 @ 6:30pm
An evening celebration of the passage through darkness to light.

“Christmas Eve”
Sunday, December 24 @ 11:00am
For all ages, a brief service of stories, music, and Christmas spirit.

“Christmas Eve Candlelight Service”
Sunday, December 24 @ 6:30pm
The beauty of Christmas to fill the night.

Final Service of 2017
with Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz
Sunday, December 31 @ 11:00am
No better way to end the year, than with a friend full of cheer. We welcome our community’s rabbi, a long-time friend of this congregation.

At the heart of human spirituality, in its many forms, is our experience of living on earth. Our stories, our songs, our rituals and symbols, our histories, our philosophies, our explorations: each is rooted in the question of how to live in this time and space. There are many answers through which to think and from which to choose;

but in many traditions, more than an answer, there is a repeated reminder, a simple practice to ground ourselves in the reality of our lives:

pay attention.

We are urged to pay attention to this moment we inhabit, to ask questions of our living even when answers evade us, to value our finite lives as of infinite worth.

This December, we will hold three events to help us pay attention to this moment in our life on earth, celebrating the winter solstice. Come to experience our passage through time and space, our lives turning through the stars together.

Come to remember, in this passing moment, your infinite worth.

“Prelude to the Solstice”
Sunday, December 17 @ 11:00am
Prepare for our celebration of the winter solstice by entering the darkness, together.

A Solstice Concert
with folksinger Tom Neilson
Sunday, December 17 @ 6:30pm
A mid-winter concert to benefit the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival in the spring.

“A Celebration of the Solstice”
Thursday, December 21 @ 6:30pm
An evening celebration of the passage through darkness to light.

A Joyful Winter to Every One,
Scott

Save the Date! Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017: A Solstice Concert: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This special Coffee House, sponsored by the UU Humanist group, features social activist, songwriter, and folksinger, Tom Neilson. Tom has performed in many venues throughout the U.S., but this
is his first appearance in Spartanburg. Check out Tom’s website for more information on him and his music: www.tomneilsonmusic.com.
Suggested donation for adults is $10, with all proceeds benefitting the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival, held at UUCS in the spring.
Attendees are invited to come at 6:00 p.m. to enjoy refreshments and socialization. There will be a break during the concert, and Tom will have CDs available for purchase. Free childcare is available.
To register and pay online, go to 2017.12.17 Tom Neilson SOLSTICE CONCERT at UUCS Tickets. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Nov. 18th Coffee House and then on Sundays before and after the service beginning Nov. 19. For more information, call 864-585-9230, or email humanists@uucs.org.

If you were at our November 19th Sunday Worship Service you heard me announce that we would be having a congregational meeting on Sunday, January 14, 2018, to vote on Scott Neely as our settled minister. This summer Scott was hired as a contract minister by our Board of Trustees, for a term beginning in August 2017. His contract would have concluded on June 30, 2018.

During the past four months, many of you have let me know how much you enjoy having Scott as your minister. In order to have Scott confirmed as our settled minister, we will need 90 percent of our congregation voting in favor of hiring him as our settled minister. You will be able to vote online prior to January 14 or in person at our January 14th meeting. Scott and all our Board members will be available to answer any questions that you may have about the upcoming vote.

Scott grew up in Spartanburg and graduated from Spartanburg High School. After high school he attended Wofford College, graduating in 2000. After completing his Bachelor of Arts, he then went on to attend the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, graduating in 2006 with a Masters of Divinity. He worked for the First Presbyterian Church from September 2006 to August 2015 as their director of Missions.

In September 2015 he started and directed the Project for Community Transformation, a faith-based community development initiative to strengthen congregations to help reduce poverty and racism. His involvement with PCT has been winding down and he will complete his remaining commitments to a couple of Presbyterian churches by April of next year. He will remain active with Speaking Down Barriers, but his involvement there will be reduced. Expect that he will continue to teach a class at Wofford as he is doing at present.

Your Board has been looking into how Scott can become ordained. Becoming an ordained minister would give him the ability to marry individuals as stated in South Carolina law as well as allowing him to use his housing expenses as tax-exempt income. The prestige of earning the title of Reverend would also give Scott more leverage in getting our Unitarian Universalist message out into the Spartanburg community, Ordination through the UUA, our parent organization, may take up to a year or two for Scott to complete. A rarely used policy from our 300-year-old denomination allows individual UU churches like ours to ordain their own ministers. The ability of an individual religious society to ordain is very unusual since most religious denominations require that their leadership or seminaries are the only ones who can grant approval to ordain a person into their faith. We will continue to investigate all our options.

Lastly, our Board for the last two months has been working on security. We are now locking all doors at UUCS prior to beginning Sunday services and we will have members available to open the doors if you are late. Don’t be too late though; after fifteen minutes our members will return to the Sunday morning worship service.

Peace and Love,
Rick

The stars shine so brightly in the winter darkness, all the brighter the colder it is.

And so with us: in this cold season, when grief we have suffered and differences from those around us can darken our minds and hearts, a brilliance within us nonetheless shines. Our thoughtfulness, our kindness, our resolve, our fellowship

illuminate the world.

This December, join your light with this congregation’s; where hope, and joy, and tenacity, and freedom constellate

brilliant in the darkness.

Join in the beauty and light of these events all month:

Annual Auction
Saturday, December 2 @ 5:30pm
Come to the festival of gifts in support of our congregation’s life and work.

“The Divine Child”
Sunday, December 3 @ 11:00am
Feel the deep truth of your life, echoed in the stories of this season.

“All The Light We Need”
Sunday, December 10 @ 11:00am
In the spirit of Hanukkah: to fight for a better world, even when we are exhausted.

“Prelude to the Solstice”
Sunday, December 17 @ 11:00am
Prepare for our celebration of the winter solstice by entering the darkness, together.

A Solstice Concert – with folksinger Tom Neilson
Sunday, December 17 @ 6:30pm
A mid-winter concert to benefit the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival in the spring.

“A Celebration of the Solstice”
Thursday, December 21 @ 6:30pm
An evening celebration of the passage through darkness to light.

“Christmas Eve”
Sunday, December 24 @ 11:00am
For all ages, a brief service of stories, music, and Christmas spirit.

“Christmas Eve Candlelight Service”
Sunday, December 24 @ 6:30pm
The beauty of Christmas to fill the night.

Final Service of 2017
with Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz
Sunday, December 31 @ 11:00am
No better way to end the year, than with a friend full of cheer. We welcome our community’s rabbi, a long-time friend of this congregation.

You are the light. Come.

Scott

Christmas bells with red ribbon isolated on white background

Join the church family as we celebrate the joy of the December holiday season with an abundance of music during all six service opportunities. The Adult and Children’s choirs, ensemble, and soloists join with instrumentalists to offer traditional favorites and exciting new works. Come as you will and enjoy our gift of music.

Keith

The December 2017 Unison is now available.

Submittals for January 1, 2018 Unison are due December 23rd, before 11 pm. If you would like your article published in the January 2018 Unison, please email it to unison@uucs.org by 11 pm, December 23, 2017.

Ice cream.

Broiled rosemary potatoes, tempe bacon, berry pancakes, salsa, salsa, salsa.

Crab Imperial, shrimp, mussels, corn, sausage, chocolate mousse.

Meatloaf, corn casserole, roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese.

3 pound cakes, flavor of your choice.

Authentic Indian. Authentic Italian x 2. Authentic Vegan x 5 ½.

This Saturday, December 2 beginning at 5:30 pm, we will gather in Wilde Hall for our Annual Auction. The list of donations reads like a global culinary adventure—and that is just the food. From films to astrological readings to healing and wholeness sessions, from vacation rentals and travel guides to jewelry, home repairs, interior painting, and even an electric fence—members and friends have offered a world of gifts for us to raise support for our congregation. You can read the whole list here: https://uucs.org/auction/

Please come. This is our congregation’s major fundraiser each year—and as we might expect, what would be a job for most is a party for this church. The evening of December 2 will be a festival of gifts, a banquet of food, and above all a celebration of friendship. This is a night to open our hearts wide to the season and to revel with one another.

Because that is what we are building—a community of deepest joy, a place of hope for every one of us.

Come, to support our church, to enjoy the feast.

Scott

From the vision of Black Elk:

“Then I was standing
 on the highest mountain
 of them all,

 And round beneath me
 was the whole hoop
 of the world.

 And while I stood there
 I saw more than I can tell

 And I understood
 more than I saw.

 For I was seeing
 in the sacred manner
 the shape of all things
 of the spirit

 And the shapes
 as they must live
 together like one being.

 And I saw that the sacred hoop
 of my people
 was one of many hoops
 that make one circle,
 wide as daylight and starlight,

 And in the center grew
 one mighty flowering tree

 To shelter all the children
 of one mother
 and one father

 And I saw that it was holy.”

May we bear this vision into the circles we enter this week—

Scott

“Contemplating Persephone Days as I tend my tiny patch of Earth helps me appreciate the seeds and roots, confidently holding a place for future life, in their small and fragile constructs, in the dark.”—note from a UUCS member

It has been a joy to listen to many of you this fall reflect on the meaning of seasons. A number of you have shared with me what you feel within yourself as days darken and winter comes; and of how much the warmth and light of this congregation offer you energy, renewed each week, during the colder months.

Persephone Days, as one friend calls this time: this time of quiet, Spring waiting in the Winter earth.

This month in worship we will Share the Plate in support of the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival, begun and hosted by our church. This year’s festival will take place on Earth Day—Saturday, April 21. That is seasons away from us now.

But during these Persephone Days, we can place a seed for Spring itself, holding a place for future life in the dark.