Minister

This Sunday, Nov. 22 we will celebrate our annual Thanksgiving service, and we will celebrate the ministry of Keith Plumley. Whether in-person outside on the church lawn or via livestream, please join us for a celebration of gratitude even during a time of loss and strife, and of thanksgiving for the more than 10 years of service Keith has given to us all.

With gratitude,

Scott

 

Breathe.

We are part of something much bigger than ourselves: a movement, a history, the interconnected web of all being, the flow of energy through all that is.

Breathe. Feel that energy flow through you.

We have within us the power to transform the world.

Thank you for being the Beloved Community that you are—

Scott

“I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think the end of that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in an article in Christian Century Magazine, July 13, 1966)

The Beloved Community is a vision our tradition holds up as a light to guide us. A fundamental theological concept in Unitarian Universalism, pervasive in our tradition’s thought and literature, the idea of the Beloved Community comes to us from the civil rights movement and the greater struggle for justice in which our religious movement is one proud partner. We strive for a world in which every one of us belongs, just as we are; a world of equity and affirmation; a world of fellowship and freedom; a world more livable for us all.

“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, so that when the battle is over, a new relationship comes into being between the oppressed and the oppressor.” (from The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., March 1959)

The absurdity of this ideal is balanced by the practicality of our method. Our means align with our ends, so that we are actively realizing our goal as we pursue it. By acting as if everyone matters—even those most opposed to us, with whom we most disagree, who would do us harm; even the bullies of the world—we create a community in which every one of us matters.

“There are certain things we can say about this method that seeks justice without violence. It does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding. I think that this is one of the points, one of the basic points, one of the basic distinguishing points between violence and non-violence. The ultimate end of violence is to defeat the opponent. The ultimate end of non-violence is to win the friendship of the opponent. It is necessary to boycott sometimes but the non-violent resister realized that boycott is never an end within itself, but merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor; that the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption. And so the aftermath of violence is bitterness; the aftermath of non-violence is the creation of the beloved community; the aftermath of non-violence is redemption and reconciliation. This is a method that seeks to transform and to redeem, and win the friendship of the opponent, and make it possible for men to live together as brothers in a community, and not continually live with bitterness and friction.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from “Justice Without Violence,” April 3, 1957)

Is this even possible?

“But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” 1956)

It is worth finding out—

Scott

We care, for one another and for our community. As the pandemic enters a new phase with the forecast that it will last many more months, the UUCS Board has weighed carefully how to maintain our physical safety while also providing for the emotional well-being of our congregation.

We continue to practice basic public health protocols to keep one another safe:

  • Wearing masks
  • Social distancing
  • Limiting group size
  • Being outside whenever possible
  • Hand washing

Given our need to continue to balance physical safety with connection with one another, the following steps have been approved by our Board with the support of the COVID committee to continue to provide care for one another during this difficult time:

  • Small groups, such as Covenant groups and committees, are encouraged to gather in-person outside at homes or on church grounds, practicing all of our safety protocols. We will not offer meetings inside the church, as we are not able to clean the church regularly enough to accommodate multiple meetings through the week. Please be mindful of how virtual meetings allow some people to participate who cannot otherwise attend, and consider offering hybrid options (outside in-person with a Zoom or Facetime attendance option) so that those who would like to meet in-person can do so, and those who prefer not to do so can equally participate.
  • We will continue to plan one-off events on the church grounds utilizing careful planning and all of our safety protocols, such as our Social Justice Triple and Quintuple Dips, Grimké mural dedication, and upcoming Stewardship events. If you would like to hold an event like this on the church grounds, please contact the church office so we can keep working in coordination with one another. This has worked extremely well so far.
  • Wednesday evening meditation and social hour will begin gathering in-person with a hybrid virtual option in the Sanctuary on Wednesday, November 11 from 5:30pm-7:00pm. We will mask, socially distance, and ventilate the space. If a large number of people attend, we will move outside.

If you have any questions or concerns, ideas or thoughts that you would like to share, please do not hesitate to reach out to any member of the Board or to me (minister@uucs.org / 864-590-8260 ). The Board continues to discuss further ways we might connect with one another, including on Sunday mornings, and will communicate those steps when they are clarified.

Our work is grounded in our care for one another. Let us move forward together with care, and make sure that we all arrive, fully whole, on the other side.

On behalf of the Board with the support of the COVID Committee, and with gratitude for every one of us—

Scott

Once more let me thank you for the way we are all working together.

We care, for one another and our community. In the furor of an election, conflicting public health directives, undermined data, and pervasive anxiety, our congregation has continued to make a major difference in the lives of many, many, many people. From mask-making to food collections to funds for immigrants to voting justice to care for each other, the level of engagement and service we have shared since March exceeds all expectations.

Please always feel welcome to reach out to me or to any member of our Board with questions, concerns, and ideas. You are a part of this congregation and your perspective matters. You can reach me directly by e-mail, call, or text at minister@uucs.org / 864-590-8260. Your views and your thoughts, no matter what they are, are always welcome.

Thank you for making this such an exceptional community of care and service. I am very proud to serve with you–

Scott

Written in 1949 by Joseph Campbell, the scholar of comparative world mythologies, in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces:

“The figure of the tyrant-monster is known to the mythologies, folk traditions, legends, and even nightmares of the world; and his characteristics are everywhere essentially the same… The inflated ego of the tyrant is a curse to himself and his world—no matter how his affairs may seem to prosper. Self-terrorized, fear-haunted, alert at every hand to meet and battle back the anticipated aggressions of his environment, which are primarily the reflections of the uncontrollable impulses to acquisition within himself, the giant of self-achieved independence is the world’s messenger of disaster, even though, in his mind, he may entertain himself with humane intentions. Wherever he sets his hand there is a cry (if not from the housetops, then—more miserably—within every heart): a cry [to] … liberate the land.”

Let us work together, for the liberation of us all–

Scott

You may have heard that our current President has banned racial sensitivity and diversity training for federal employees and contractors, calling these trainings “un-American”. So let’s have one!

Please join in our first Congregational Anti-Racism Dialogue this Sunday, October 4 at 12:15pm via Zoom.

At our Annual Meeting in June, our congregation voted on a powerful new approach to Social Justice:

  • Once/quarter, we will gather as a congregation to do the work of consciousness through workshops and dialogues on becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppression, multicultural congregation. From this commitment to consciousness, four teams will work on four distinct projects in the areas of Immigration, Voting, Ecology, and Being a Neighbor.

We will host four congregational dialogues this year on becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppression, multi-cultural congregation. These will take place following Sunday services from 12:15-1:45pm. These will be in a virtual Zoom format:

  • Oct. 4
  • Dec. 6
  • Feb 7
  • May 2

These sessions will strengthen how we work together and how we serve our community. They are for all of us as a congregation; they will change us all. Please plan to attend:

Thank you for striving for a world for us all—

Scott

“Are you exercising all of your power—all of your power? It can be scary to acknowledge your own power.” (UUCS member Karen Mitchell, in her meditation on voting rights today)

Alianza Spartanburg leader Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche speaking at the vigil in support of Latinx immigrants at UUCS on Sunday, September 27, 2020
Alianza Spartanburg leader Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche speaking at the vigil in support of Latinx immigrants at UUCS on Sunday, September 27, 2020 (Photographer, Mike Corbin)

We are more powerful than we know.

All year we have thought together about social justice; about immigration, voting justice, the work of consciousness, ecological action, and being a neighbor; about the power of dialogue; about the prophetic tradition and superheroes; about tyranny, plague, and resistance; about UU women heroes who show us the liberating potential of the liberal religious tradition; about the suffrage movement and the relentless fight for democracy; about mysticism and our deep interconnectedness with all things.

We have practiced breathing, teamwork, dialogue, and care for one another and for our community.

And we have done the work to prove what we have said: creating murals; serving tirelessly; fundraising in support of our most vulnerable neighbors; protesting racism; standing in solidarity; practicing democracy even when it hurts; and always, always, always—caring, caring, caring.

In this time of anxiety and bullying and enablers and struggle, we will pull all this together in one word—

power—

and we will claim it, we will claim our power as our own,
in service to every being with whom we share this world.

We are ready.

Scott

Vigil in Support of Latinx Immigrants

This Sunday, September 27 at 7:15 pm
In front of the Grimké Mural at UUCS
Masks required; social distancing will be practiced.

Dear friends,

This week, our partners in the Latinx community reached out to our church asking if they could hold a vigil on the grounds of UUCS. They turned to us after being turned away by a number of other locations.

Our Board has carefully vetted this request, weighing health risks and the importance of showing solidarity with our fellow community members during this historical moment. With great care, and with strict public health protocols in place, we will host the vigil this Sunday evening. Please feel welcome to attend.

On Sunday evening, September 27 at 7:15 pm, we will host a vigil in partnership with Alianza Spartanburg on the grounds of UUCS. We will gather in front of the Grimké mural. The vigil will witness to the treatment of Latinx immigrants by ICE, the separation of families by immigration authorities, and now especially to reports of forced sterilizations of women in a detention facility in Georgia (https://www.npr.org/2020/09/16/913448209/whistleblower-in-georgia-claims-high-number-of-hysterectomies-at-ice-facility). Here is the message from the organizers:

“Families Belong Together. We invite you to come together with others as a community of hope and care this Sunday evening. We will gather outdoors at sunset for a vigil to remember and honor our immigrant neighbors, and especially families and children seeking refuge, asylum, and safety together in the United States. We are asking attendees to wear white, and encourage you to bring toys, stuffed animals, or other symbols to uplift children and families. Collectively, with our voices and lives, we join together in sorrow, in solidarity, and in hope for a world in which all families can live safely and together.”

As you know, our congregation is being extremely careful in planning and coordinating use of our building and grounds during the pandemic in order to keep everyone safe. We have suspended all regular in-person church activities for the time being. The Board reviews all requests for building use. We are a congregation and we must work together. Our highest goal is our care for one another and for our community. If you desire access to the church building or grounds for any meeting, please contact the church office so that the Board can vet your request to help you find the best and safest way to proceed in coordination with our whole congregation.

Thank you for being the people of science, compassion, solidarity, justice, and care that you are. We show up in the world in ways that matter for us all.

With gratitude,

Scott

At our Annual Meeting in June, our congregation voted on a powerful new approach to Social Justice:

  • Once/quarter, we will gather as a congregation to do the work of consciousness through workshops and dialogues on becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppression, multicultural congregation. From this commitment to consciousness, four teams will work on four distinct projects in the areas of Immigration, Voting, Ecology, and Being a Neighbor.

We will host four congregational dialogues this year on becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppression, multi-cultural congregation. These will take place following Sunday services from 12:15-1:45 pm. These will be in a virtual Zoom format:

  • Oct. 4
  • Dec. 6
  • Feb 7
  • May 2

These sessions will strengthen how we work together and how we serve our community. They are for all of us as a congregation; they will change us all. Please plan to attend via Zoom.

Thank you for the congregation we are, and for the congregation we are becoming—

Scott