On February 23, 1940, Woody Guthrie sat in his hotel room in New York City. He had spent a decade witnessing the devastation of the Great Depression on his fellow citizens. He had watched fascism spread across the Western hemisphere, the ploy of demagogues to manipulate the despair of people in economic desperation. And he was sick of hearing the popular tune “God Bless America” play ad nauseam on the radio. In protest against an easy nationalism that justifies human suffering with patriotic piety, Guthrie wrote these words:
This land is your land, and this land is my land
From the California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.
He wrote expansively, a vision of the wide and seemingly endless beauty of the North American continent across which he and, by his thinking, every person had a right to wander:
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
And saw above me that endless skyway,
And saw below me the golden valley, I said:
This land was made for you and me.
In truly democratic fashion, he hears the song’s refrain echoing in all those he meets, singing out even from the landscape itself:
I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
And all around me, a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
Laws of ownership threaten to separate us from the wonder of the country we inhabit; but even our walls and borders cannot finally control the freedom of a person striding over the earth:
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
This land was made for you and me.
Whatever our nation’s laws, whoever its leaders,
we belong to this land, as do all who walk in its beauty;
and like every one of us, this land, ultimately, is always free—
Dear Members and Friends,
It’s July, when the pace of church activities slows. But as we begin the new church year, we are in a good position of strength, with a newly ordained minister, and some budget surplus from the past year. We are blessed to have effective staff and committee leadership in areas too numerous to list, and I feel a positive spirit within the congregation.
I am excited about many things from last year which promise to be even stronger this year, for example: A robust RE program; Increasing Adult RE programming; Lots of music and musicians in our services; Progress by the Wilde Hall Task Force; Improvements to our Covenant Group program including a strengthened service component; Live video-streaming of our services on the internet; Another successful Earth Day Festival; A strong share-the-plate program; A new Social Justice Council; A calendar of fun, community-building social events/meals; and of course inspiring sermons. Sooner or later I’ll try the Wednesday meditation!
Here are a few suggestions for interfacing with the church:
- Concerns or input regarding our facilities, including safety, should be brought to the Board of Trustees.
- Concerns or input regarding an area of ministry should be brought to the Committee on Ministry.
- The bulletin boards in the Fellowship Hall are maintained with a lot of information about church resources and activities – take a little time to look!
- The UUCS web site can answer many questions you might have about church operations and activities – take a little time to explore!
- The BREEZE link on the web site (and the BREEZE smart-phone application) gives you, among other things, instant access to member and friend contact information.
- If you are looking for ways to get involved, we will hold our annual Volunteer Fair in September.
In peace and love,
Fred Stoll, 2018-2019 UUCS Board of Trustees President
In times of despair for our country, I often turn to a poem by Gary Snyder—deep ecologist, Beat poet, Zen teacher. In it, Snyder invokes our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance to commit himself anew to something far greater—life, and the right of all beings to thrive, and our responsibility in that Great Circle of life. He speaks of Turtle Island, the indigenous Anishinaabe people’s name for North America—a place unbound by borders and bans, a place over which all beings may roam:
Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.
I pledge allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.
May the Sun over this land shine on us, and embolden us, For All—
The struggle for justice and compassion at the US/Mexican border is centuries-old and immediately urgent. The following organizations support immigrants in our region and at the border. You can assist them by:
- learning about their work
- speaking out about the issues they address
- volunteering in their programs
- giving to support their efforts
Connecting members of the Hispanic community with health care and other resources
Kids In Need of Defense
Providing legal services and advocacy for children at the border, for whom there is no provision of legal service in our justice system
- SC United with Immigrants
Supporting immigrants and their families in South Carolina to advance their full participation in the civic, cultural, economic, and political life of their communities
- El Refugio
Providing hospitality and visitation support for immigrants detained at Stewart Detention Center, the largest private detention center in the US, in Lumpkin, GA
Let us do what we are able to make this country more livable for every person—
OBERON, King of Fairies, to Puck:
“How now, mad spirit!
What night-rule now about this haunted grove?” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, III.ii.9-10)
On the evening of Thursday, June 21, we will gather on the green lawn of UUCS to celebrate the Summer Solstice. This is Midsummer Night, a night of magic and freedom.
At 6:30 pm, a drum circle will form for all who would like to participate. Everyone is welcome. If you have a drum, bring it.
At 7:00 pm, drummers, and wise women will lead us in a circle dance. We will share a brief meditation on the Sun at its height. And then we will drum into the night.
Come for joy. If rain joins us, we will circle inside the Sanctuary. No matter the weather, we will celebrate.
“Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, III.ii.120-121)
And if you know fairies, encourage them to come with their wings—
Each Sunday, the children of UUCS light a chalice while saying the words: “We are the people of the open hearts and the helping hands.”
This Saturday, June 9th we have a chance to live up to that high calling.
At UUCS we will work with our neighbors to make our corner of the world a little better. Come join the South Converse Neighborhood Association to pick up trash in our neighborhood.
We will meet from 8:00-10:00 am on Saturday, June 9th. Gather at the small park located near the corner of South Converse Street and East Park Avenue.
If you need to leave early due to other commitments, no problem: come for the length of time that works for you. Bring work gloves and a pickup tool if you have one. Trash bags are provided.
This is a meaningful, hands-on social justice project with a big goal in mind: to build community by working together. Let us change the world, beginning right where we are.
Open hearts, helping hands—
PUCK: How now, spirit! whither wander you?
FAIRY: …I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green…
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2.1.1-13)
On Thursday, June 21 at 7:00pm, we will celebrate the Summer Solstice. This is the festival of the Sun at its height, the fullness of summer, Midsummer Night.
It is a night of fairies, and of magic. It will be a night of drums.
On the grassy lawn at UUCS, a drum circle will gather at 6:30 for all who would like to join in. We will have extra drums for any who would like to try their hand.
At 7:00 we will share in a brief meditation on the Sun at its apex and the world full of energy and light. And then the drums will take us into the night.
Come celebrate. If rain accompanies us we will circle inside the church under our skylight. Either way, it will be a night for ecstasy, and joy, and life.
It will be a night of fairies—if you know any, encourage them to come and to bring their wings. Happily, this will not be a school night.
It will be a night of drums. Bring yours.
OBERON, King of the Fairies:
Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.
TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies:
…Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 5.1.408-417)
This Sunday, June 3 we will celebrate our annual Flower Communion. Bring a flower with you to the service. We will gather these into a congregational arrangement, and then we will each take a flower another has brought back home with us, into the summer. This is a practice of creating and sharing the beauty of our lives with one another.
This celebration, which feels so light and free, was first observed by Maja and Norbert Čapek, founders of the Czech Unitarian movement. Separated by WWII, Norbert was arrested by the Gestapo, his books and writings confiscated. He was tortured and gassed in Dachau in 1942. In the uniqueness and impermanence of each flower, the Flower Communion reminds us of the value of every life, and of the resolve required to resist that which would devalue and destroy any life, any where.
There is a weight to the flowers we bring.
After the service, we will hold our Annual Meeting. We will celebrate our year together in the beauty of flowers; and we will look forward to the future, mindful of what the world is and who we choose to be in it.
This will be a day of beauty and resolve. Come.
For your generosity and welcome,
for your tireless encouragement and endless striving,
for the gifts you poured out this past Sunday,
for a celebration that welcomed the world through our doors,
for this remarkable circle you have drawn over years and decades, a home for us all,
for all we have shared this year,
This Sunday at 11:00am, our children and youth will lead our service. They will present our congregation with a gift of their own making, a peace quilt they have created for us.
Many months ago, these young people chose as the theme of this Sunday’s morning service “Return to Peace.” This would be meaningful and appropriate at any time. But given all that has unfolded this week in Israel, Palestine, and on the Korean Peninsula, their choice of this theme seems prescient, even prophetic.
This week marked the beginning of Ramadan. To move the US Embassy to Jerusalem—a city whose name is rooted in the word “peace”—on Monday, on the eve of Islam’s holiest month, is not only politically provocative; it instigates fatal confrontations at a moment of heightened tension, summoning an adversarial image of Muslims as violent—when the very root of the word Islam itself is also “peace”. (This beautiful interview of Egyptian-American scholar Leila Ahmed—a feminist, realist, and person of vast learning—by Krista Tippett powerfully articulates the peace of Islam: https://onbeing.org/programs/leila-ahmed-muslim-women-and-other-misunderstandings/).
This is the world we live in, one of noble ideals and eternal aspirations, and of the craven calculations to break them.
Thank goodness our children lead us to return to peace. I am honored that they have asked me to share a meditation during the service this Sunday; I will speak about children I knew in the Gaza Strip and in Israel, many years ago.
Join us this Sunday morning. The time is right.
Shalom. Salam. Peace–