unitarian society of hartford

50 Bloomfield Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105
Tel: (860) 233-9897 / FAX 233-1333
Email: firstunitarian@ushartford.com
Reverend Barbara Jamestone, PhD

Home Page-
Link Central


WHY are we having ANOTHER Congregational Dialogue on Worship?

We have gathered a great deal of data on your preferences and opinions in worship over the last two years. You can see the results of the congregational conversation in April 2007, and of the congregational Charette in Spring of 2008 at BJ’s blog.
You can also see examples of "moving moments in worship"  written by congregants at the 12/14/08 worship service at this link: “Green Slips from our Greening Sanctuary

The dialogues this weekend (jan 16, 7 pm; jan 17, 10 am, Jan 18 4 pm) will focus more on broader issues of incorporating your preferences within the context of our congregattional vision of being a greenhouse for our growth in spirit and in service. Here are examples:
1.  How can we broaden   the society’s  high standards regarding ‘professional level quality’ of music performed by musicians and singers, such that our reputation for being a performing arts enclave is preserved AND such that the limits of  perceiving ‘quality in music’  in this way are reduced? An example of this ‘limitation’ is that active participation is allowed to only  a few select persons, while  most of  the congregation is limited to a listening role and the singing of a hymnody from the ‘traditional sacred church music’ repertoire.’
2.  How can we bring understanding and respect to other equally important ‘qualities’ of music in worship;

  1. the participation/performance of  singers and musicians (children and adults) who are at beginning or intermediate levels of skill competence—providing place for them to develop their confidence before a loving community, and providing a way for congregants to grow in knowledge and appreciation of the interests and the ‘spirit’  of more congregants.

  1. The enjoyment of music sung or performed which may be deeply meaningful to some congregants, and  which is not in the professional level range of performance  and/ or not  in  the ‘great sacred church music’ tradition before the 20th century?  Examples include the screen play composition from the film  ‘The Mission’ recently performed by a guest musician, a Beatles song arranged by John at the piano, jazz Christmas music on the piano,  simple arrangements for non-trained voices either in a ‘joyful noise’ choir or from the pews, freedom songs from the 60s led by Edith Savage.

3.  Can we find resources such that we have one ‘traditional’ service that does not reflect this restructuring, and if we did, how would we avoid becoming  2 separate congregations-one with children and more diverse worship, the other without children or diversity in worship?


Green Slips

Green Slips From our Greening Sanctuary
During worship on December 14, the congregation was invited to take a moment and write down, on a green slip of paper, a memborable experience during a worship service at USH.  Rev BJ instructed that these notes could be a congregational gift to the many people who help to craft and carry out our worship services.  
Today, you can revel in these heart warming memories, which will surely recall your own.  If you are one of the people who make our services happen, relish these gifts gratitude. (Thanks to worship associate Laurie Kelliher for compiling slips.)

Thanks to the Worship Associates who serve each Sunday.  Theirs is a SPCEIAL GIFT to all who come here.
Thank you for the mental disabilities service which opened my husband’s eyes to the power and strength religious community offers.
I am grateful for the stunning chancel displays particularly the current one with twin angels in their burgundy robes.  My spirit lifts every time I see it.  The artistry behind this display is awesome.
I tend to always notice the way the sanctuary is decorated—how it mirrors the season and/or the sermon. THANK YOU for taking such pride in how things appear—it truly makes a difference for me.
I am loving how Rosie is making  eye filling art on the bulletin cover  which points to the soul of the service of the day.
I was affected by the service which had testimonies by our members/friends who have suffered psychological /mental impairments.  
When beautiful music touches my soul.
What a glorious community of searchers.  Thanks.
Every time you remind me that I am “held” I feel that it is true and I find deep reassurance.
Transformative moments—only two out of too many to count:  Ann Stowe’s playing of Ashokan Farewell after 9/11 and Karl’s service.  The music brought me back to the Isle of Skye and inspired one of my favorite poems.
Children’s message about the Druids and the trees.
Prayers that bring me to the depths and raise me to great heights.  Chances for joyous singing.
BJ’s Martin Luther King sermon.
Every time we do candles of memory and hope.
When we sing “Spirit of Life” and I watch the congregation move through the sanctuary, I feel an intimacy with others’ lives—connections not always made in day-to-day living.
The candles of memory and hope “ritual” lifts me up every Sunday—especially the end when the bowl of candles is lifted up.
Spirit of Life candle lighting.
With gratitude for :
The first time BJ hugged me.
The first time I lit a candle of hope.
For my tears when I heard music from “The Mission”.
Thank you for the music that lifts my spirits and the opportunity to release my sorrow when lighting a candle.
Candles of memory and hope
Soaring choir
Today’s sermon
Personal, affective, uplifting sermon and prayers.
I love the candle ritual—the readings—thank you!!  You help my spirit grow!  I love you all—and I love this sacred place.
Transformative experiences here come through deep sermons delivered at the end of a carefully crafted service. Specific sermons with long term effect:  Jon Luopa’s sermon believing in God, his interpretation of the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.  Teresa’s sermon on the High Holy Days re: reconciliation with one’s god.  These and a few others made the Great Ineffable accessible.
Thanks for the words of our minister.  “Light and joyful noise dispel the darkness.”
The Sunday service during the week of Veteran’s Day:  When BJ turned to us (after looking at our flag for a moment) with tears in her eyes, she said, “How can we not be patriotic?”  I felt much moved by that and will always remember it.
Rev BJ Spring 2006: G.O.D.  Good Orderly Direction
Thank you for the musical call, offering and postlude music + the sermon + a few silent moments to reflect.
Felt connected, not alone, yet not losing myself, accepted, oneness, understood.
Thank you for BJ.
Often tears emerge in worship here—time of “meaning but not understanding”—generally I don’t remember what triggered it—maybe it’s not one thing, something in the sacred peace created here in worship—freedom and support to go deeply inside.
I appreciate the simplicity, the direct spiritual connection.  I contrast this experience with the Catholic services I recently attended in Europe.  Large church, small congregation and lots of ritual.
Thanking you for the energy I get on a weekly basis from our service to bring to my clients…to share the love.
As I worked through some significant personal challenges this past year, the peace and strength from Sunday worship provided needed healing and support.
The quiet moments among the words and music of inspiration.
Being warmly received at the door, then wrapped in silence after recognizing other worshippers, and feeling the heavens opened.
Thank you for providing a wonderful environment to recharge and connect to the Spirit which gives us strength and courage.
All relations of thoughts, emotions, sounds and actual generosity…
The Blessing of the Animals blessed my little pet a week before she died.  She had lived a full life and had comforted me after my mother’s death five years ago.  She left this world blessed by our Faith.
A significant rite for me was the blessing of the animals.  Bringing my grand dog to this sacred space was a special moment which felt like a strengthening of community connections.  I think it was transformational for my grand dog, too.
Thank you for organizing the remembrance Sundays when we can bring pictures of loved ones no longer here and share their names with the congregation.  It touches my heart that I can do this.  It makes me feel like I can bring them to church with me and share this very special place with them.  Thank you for this.
 A walking, moving and touching meditation where we touched and sent energy to infuse all parts of the sanctuary.
The service on Veteran’s Day brought back warm memories of my father who had been on a cold part of my heart for many years.

BJ weaving meaningful metaphors into serious sermon.
Mattie playing the organ.
Bill and Peter in a duet.
Hymns (today’s by Shelley Jackson Denham)
The Magnificat last Sunday with its profound textures transported me; I found myself spread out, my energy truly becoming one with all of the molecules in this space.
The music!  So often it will bring a tremble up my spine as though a moment of heavenly.  It comes sometimes with the choir, a soloist, and today’s oboist! Mattie and crew are a gift.
And then there is our minister, the match to all my dreams and wishes for a spiritual leader and model.
John Mattie
The Choir
*BJ and the UU All Stars
Clapping for Ann and Fran’s marriage
The harpsichord!
Instrumental music—recorder, oboe, flute (in addition to piano and organ).
I was quite moved by the solo singer who had just joined the congregation in September, about the same time I started coming.  I believe his name was Miguel.  But I may be mistaken.  His solo struck a chord in me, that I lost my mother two years ago, and I somehow felt closer to her.  Thank you!  The variety of beautiful music and wonderful musicians and singers—always transports me.  
Thank you for musical gifts—old, new, traditional, different.
The music opens my soul.
Just about every solo that Katie has sung.
A Meeting House filled with voices singing together gives me goose bumps.  Thank you.
Music—especially “Spirit of Life”.
Increased participation in music by using rounds, etc—makes an emotional impact.
Music Sunday 12-7-08
The music always lifts my spirit. Any music.  Hymns, choir, special performances.  Thank you all.
Experiencing “the vertical” during services at USH:  During many organ postludes.
Bill and Peter:  Thank you very much for the music.
So may moments—the first time I heard and sang Hymn #1, “May Nothing Er’ Cross This Door”
The music—both choir and instrumental.

Let us know of any comments, errors and corrections - thanks (revised 12/04/09)