General

Tired? Lonely? Bored? Angry? Afraid?

Read this e-mail and turn your despair into power for the good of us all. This is everybody’s business. For even more ways to help, visit https://uucs.org/welcome/help/.

“We should go forward, groping our way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at times, and try to do what good lay in our power.” (Albert Camus, The Plague)

We have work to do—

Scott

Sunday, May 17 @ 1:00PM

Friends,

Throughout this winter and spring, we entered into a Social Justice Discernment Process to study six projects we might choose to prioritize in the coming year. We have planned to select two of these projects, one local and one national or global, at our Annual Meeting this June.

Our third social justice dialogue, focusing on Being a Neighbor and Ecological Action, was postponed this March during the onset of the pandemic. We would like to reschedule that dialogue for Sunday, May 17 at 1:00pm via Zoom. We will send out Zoom credentials for that dialogue next week.

Please plan to join us. Although the pandemic has changed our discernment process schedule, our work has only gained in scale and momentum over the last two months. Join us for the dialogue on May 17 to think together about all we are doing and how we can step boldly into the future.

With awe and gratitude for who we are and what we are doing–

Scott

“The true healers…one doesn’t come across many of them, and anyhow it must be a hard vocation.”—Albert Camus, The Plague

How would you choose to live when faced with your mortality?

This is the question posed by Albert Camus in The Plague—the story of a city under quarantine during a time of pestilence, an analogy for the rise of Nazism and the response of the French Resistance during World War II. The problem he poses is not a simple one of satisfying our desires or achieving life goals, nor of reckless sacrifice and heroism. Camus’s concern is to be fully human—to be responsible & free in the ambiguity, uncertainty, and demands of our lives. His conviction is that, when we awaken to our mortality, we paradoxically come alive to push back the dehumanizing forces that would hasten our end. In the light of our mortality, we live.

“What’s needed is imagination…. We should go forward, groping our way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at times, and try to do what good lay in our power.”

We are in a time of pandemic, and we are in a time of political domination—natural and human forces that each cause suffering, and that combined greatly compound that suffering. More US Americans have now died from COVID-19 than died in the Vietnam War; and as in that and all wars, those most marginalized suffer most greatly in this pandemic. We see this in our state, in our country, and around the world.

In the finitude of our lives, under the pressure of forces of such massive scale: how should we live?

– How do we stand most effectively against oppression?
– How do we build a more livable world for us all?
– What is our power—
what can we do that will make a real difference?
– Where do we find joy, in the light of our mortality and in the demands of our time?

“The tale he had to tell…could only be the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, …by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers.”

Scott

In partnership with Alianza Spartanburg (previously the Hispanic Alliance) and the PASOs site in Spartanburg, UUCS established a fund to provide direct assistance to individuals and families who will not receive federal assistance through the CARES Act because of their immigration status—even though they pay taxes. Even if only one family member is out of status, no one in the family will receive funds—even children who are US citizens.

The outpouring of generosity from our congregation and from the wider community has been unbelievable. In only the last three weeks, we have raised almost $12,000 for this fund. Your leadership in establishing this fund has catalyzed the United Way to set up a comparable fund, which can appeal for support even more effectively to the wider community. We are glad to be working in partnership with them.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing generosity and leadership. A 4-person team of UUCS, Alianza Spartanburg, and PASOS members meets weekly to understand needs and make distributions from the fund.

With unanimous approval from the Social Justice Council, we will continue to Share the Plate on behalf of this cause in May. You may give to this fund here: https://uucs.org/share-the-plate-contribution/. All gifts go to direct assistance for immigrant families in Spartanburg County.

Compassion & Justice

And we can do even more. A bill in the US House of Representatives would correct this wrong and provide direct economic stimulus to anyone with a taxpayer ID number.

Let us join the work of justice with our generous compassion. Call U.S. Representative William Timmons – (864) 583-3264 or click here to complete contact form online – and demand that the CARE Act stimulus checks be sent to all families regardless of immigration status.  Any family who has even just 1 household member without a Social Security Number is being denied these funds – even if they pay taxes.  Ask Rep Timmons to support H.R. 6438 to allow funds to be distributed on the basis of taxpayer identification numbers to extend care to the most vulnerable and no less deserving individuals in our nation.

You are leading our community and our nation.

You are amazing—

Scott

The Grimké Sisters: A Mural at UUCS

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and women’s right to vote this year, the Spartanburg chapter of the League of Women Voters has commissioned a work of public art in honor of the Grimké sisters. Sarah and Angelina Grimké, originally from Charleston and annual visitors to a family farm on the border of Spartanburg County during their childhood summers, became leading abolitionists and suffragists in the 19th century. The League would like to create a mural in honor of the Grimkés and all who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

And they would like for the mural to be at UUCS. The cost of the mural will be fully funded by the League, and it would be placed on our building facing Henry and Union Streets for maximum public viewing. Our Board has worked with the League’s leadership on design and placement, and have approved the mural in principle contingent on a comment period from our congregation.

Local artist and educator Nancy Corbin has designed the mural in honor of the Grimké sisters to represent all who fight for freedom together. The location would be the exterior of Wilde Hall, below our Sanctuary. New landscaping to provide better access and viewing of the site are part of the project.

The following three pictures show (1) the location, (2) the location with a sketch at scale superimposed, and (3) a watercolor sketch of the mural in full color:

Location of Grimké Mural, Henry St., lower level
Location of Grimké Mural
Location of Grimké Mural with sketch at scale superimposed
Location of Grimké Mural with sketch at scale superimposed
Watercolor sketch of Grimké Mural
Watercolor sketch of Grimké Mural

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On behalf of the League and the Board, I would like to ask for your comments on this project proposal. Please submit them by May 15 (prior to our next Board meeting on May 20). You may send these to our Board at board@uucs.org, which all of our Board members and minister will receive.

More information on the Grimké sisters, a summary of this request for comment, and links to the meditations on the Grimkés offered in our services in March 2019 may be found on this webpage: https://uucs.org/the-grimke-sisters-a-mural-at-uucs/

For my own part, I feel enormous pride that our congregation has been asked to display a lasting, public, prophetic tribute to these national leaders for freedom and justice.

With gratitude for who we are, and who we can be—

Scott

Friends,

Over the last few days, we have seen our Governor begin reopening businesses and public spaces following a brief period of quarantine. This is in contradiction to, and apparent disregard for, every credible public health official’s counsel. South Carolina’s rate of infection has not yet peaked, and reopening public spaces is a formula for spikes in infection and mortality. This risks overburdening our healthcare system; jeopardizes our healthcare workers, and puts in danger any of us who may need medical care.

Now is the time to speak. Please: Urge our Governor to not lift the stay at home order until the rate of infection has declined for 14 straight days and widespread testing is available to trace new infections. Reopening schools or businesses now will hurt, not help, our economic recovery.

Call SC Governor McMaster [(803) 734-2100] or fill in this contact form (https://iqconnect.lmhostediq.com/iqextranet/EForm.aspx?__cid=FSL_SC_GOV&__fid=100000) today.

I know it can seem as if we are not heard. I know advocacy can seem hopeless. It is not. Our combined voices speak loudly.

It is time—

Scott

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and women’s right to vote this year, the Spartanburg chapter of the League of Women Voters has commissioned a work of public art in honor of the Grimké sisters. Sarah and Angelina Grimké, originally from Charleston and annual visitors to a family farm on the border of Spartanburg County during their childhood summers, became leading abolitionists and suffragists in the 19th century. The League would like to create a mural in honor of the Grimkés and all who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

And they would like for the mural to be at UUCS. The cost of the mural will be fully funded by the League, and it would be placed on our building facing Henry and Union Streets for maximum public viewing. Our Board has worked with the League’s leadership on design and placement, and have approved the mural in principle contingent on a comment period from our congregation.

Local artist and educator Nancy Corbin has designed the mural in honor of the Grimké sisters to represent all who fight for freedom together. The location would be the exterior of Wilde Hall, below our Sanctuary. New landscaping to provide better access and viewing of the site are part of the project.

The following three pictures show (1) the location, (2) the location with a sketch at scale superimposed, and (3) a watercolor sketch of the mural in full color:

Location of Grimké Mural, Henry St., lower level
Location of Grimké Mural
Location of Grimké Mural with sketch at scale superimposed
Location of Grimké Mural with sketch at scale superimposed
Watercolor sketch of Grimké Mural
Watercolor sketch of Grimké Mural

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On behalf of the League and the Board, I would like to ask for your comments on this project proposal. Please submit them by May 15 (prior to our next Board meeting on May 20). You may send these to our Board at board@uucs.org, which all of our Board members and minister will receive.

About the Grimké Sisters

Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké were important women in the quest for abolition of slavery and women’s rights.

They were raised in Charleston on a plantation owned by their wealthy and well known father. They spent some summers on property near Cross Anchor. They had a typical upper-class South Carolina upbringing, but both became opposed to slavery at an early age.

Sarah moved north first and Angelina followed her in the early 1830’s. Thousands of people walked miles to hear them speak on the evils of slavery. The sisters raised money for the abolitionist movement. They were doing this at a time when it was not considered appropriate for women to speak in public. Both of them came in for criticism for stepping outside of women’s proper roles.

Angelina was the first woman to speak to a state legislature in 1838 when she addressed a committee of the Massachusetts legislature. Because they felt their voices were limited on account of being women, the sisters became suffragists as they saw how women were not treated equally.

After the Civil War, when African American men could vote, the sisters always went to the polls and cast “fake” ballots in a women’s box.

In the 1850’s they found out their father had 3 sons by a mixed race woman. The sisters paid for 2 of them to go to Harvard and Howard. One went to Princeton Theological Seminary and was the minister of the 15th St. Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. for 40 years. The other worked for civil rights, helped found the NAACP in 1909 and in 1914 became the NAACP President in Washington D.C.

Their journey is well documented as they wrote pamphlets, books and many letters. Our library has a biography of them which we recommend. There is a new biography coming out this spring, too.

 

Meditations on the Grimké Sisters

In March 2019, the services at UUCS focused on the lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimké. The meditations may be heard here:

“Your Sister’s Eyes” (March 3, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/your-sisters-eyes/

“Intellect” (March 10, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/intellect/

“Two Voices” (March 17, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/two-voices/

“Peace that Creates Justice” (March 24, 2019): https://uucs.org/services/peace-that-creates-justice/

Earth Day 2020 is April 22, a day when we celebrate the deep ecology of our existence. We are interdependent with all things. In this pandemic, we see this startling truth—boundaries, divisions, nationalities, borders, bodies, and even 6 feet of empty space do not separate us from one another. We are radically interconnected.

This Saturday, April 18, would have been our Spartanburg Earth Day Festival, which has been canceled because of the pandemic. We are living a strange parallel—the beauty of the Earth blooms all around us, while our plans abruptly stop.

May this be a time to synchronize with the Earth, and to renew: to slow ourselves, to feel and think the depth of who we are, to pare down to the essentials of our lives. And in so doing may we breathe with the Earth, and with all beings heal the web of our mutual existence.

This is a good day—

Scott

Litter Pick-Up

If you are taking walks for exercise, consider picking up trash as you walk. You can:

  • Do so as a spiritual practice, caring for yourself and for the ecological community of which we are all a part. Make safety during the pandemic part of your mindfulness practice:
    • Be sure to use gloves.
    • Be mindful of traffic.
    • Wash hands carefully at the end of your sweep.
  • Make this an act of advocacy. Data drives policy change. Become a citizen scientist by joining SC Aquarium’s April Solo Sweep Challenge. A solo sweep is a litter sweep where social distancing is respected. The sweep is conducted alone or with the family group you are distancing with and right in your neighborhood to observe the stay at home rules. How can you participate?
    • Pick up litter as you walk and note it on the Solo Neighborhood Sweep Form.
    • o Download the South Carolina Aquarium Citizen Science app and join the Litter-free Digital Journal project.
    • When you collect and log any litter during the month of April, go into the Litter-free Digital Journal project and click Add Observation.
    • Look for Events, and choose the April Solo Sweep Challenge.
    • Add your litter to the log and select Save.
    • If you like, e-mail Joyce Harrison (jharrison1253@charter.net) your trash count, and she will keep a running tally of total litter collected by UUCS.

Help Our Undocumented Neighbors

In partnership with Alianza Spartanburg (previously the Hispanic Alliance) and the PASOs site in Spartanburg, UUCS has established a fund to provide direct assistance to individuals and families who will not receive federal assistance through the CARES Act because of their immigration status—even though they pay taxes. Even if only one family member is out of status, no one in the family will receive funds—even children who are US citizens.

You may give to this fund here: https://uucs.org/share-the-plate-contribution/. All gifts will go to direct assistance for these families. Thank you for building a more livable world for us all.

When we feel discouraged, when we feel afraid, when anxiety overtakes us, when loneliness weighs us down—

return again to our vision of a more livable world for every person.

We have a job to do: to care, for one another and our community.

Brave, into the future—

Scott

“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.

–Scott