unitarian society of hartford

50 Bloomfield Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105
Tel: (860) 233-9897 / FAX 233-1333
Email: firstunitarian@ushartford.com
Rev. Katie Lee Crane, Consulting Minister

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USH-Enews March 8, 2012

Rev. Katie Lee Crane's Office Hours

Jump to: Sunday Service; Calendar; What's Happening; Feature Articles; External Events; Further Down the Road; Social Justice Journeys; Community of Caring; Green Topics; A Matter of Opinion

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USH-Enews is a weekly email newsletter produced for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Hartford. The USH web address is:  http://www.ushartford.com/ Check at the end of this USH-Enews for information on submissions, subscriptions and escape from the mailing list or to find past issues of the weekly USH-Enews click here.

Worshipping Together Since 1830 Service 10:30 AM

Please remember to turn you clocks ahead one hour Saturday Night!

Sunday Service

Sunday is Show ‘n Tell – a worship for ALL ages: Often at worship we greet one another with a handshake. We almost always sing together and listen to inspiring words and music. But how often do we have the chance to put our principles into practice right then and there?

Sunday we’re going to practice our third principle: the one that says we accept one another and encourage each other in our spiritual growth. Our children say it this way: Learn about ourselves, others and mystery.

This Sunday we want to talk about something (or someone or some place) that really matters to us and learn something new about each other. The idea is that each of us will discover things for ourselves in the company of one another. Here’s how it works.

Bring something for Show n’ Tell. That means EVERYBODY – kids, teens, grown-ups. Bring something special, something you’d like to share with others. (If your something is too big, too small or too fragile, don’t worry. Bring a photo or draw a picture or just bring it in your heart and plan to tell us about it.

Because we want everybody to have a turn, you’ll have two-minutes to tell about what you brought. Even though we’ll sit together in small groups, there won't be time enough for everyone to tell a long story. (We’ll leave that for a later conversation!)

Like to help? We need some worker-bees to set up chairs on Saturday and put them away on Sunday. Children and teens are especially encouraged to get involved with or without parents.

Does it sound too crazy? It really isn’t. Join us. Get to know someone better. Enjoy being a part of a community like ours. It’ll be different. It’ll be fun. It’ll also be profoundly meaningful. - Katie Lee

Next Services

Reflections on Children's Programming

No regular RE classes this week.

Nursery care is available downstairs after the start of the service.

This Week’s Links

USH Congregational Feedback Last Session Board Meets April 13, You Can Attend!
Our Defining Moment Pledge Drive Off to Fine Start
The Janitors to Speak at USH Fundraising Efforts Work for USH!
Board Notes Opportunity for active USH UUs
How About Some Gardening? Lunch Bunch to Meet March 20
Adult Programs Listed

This Week’s Feature Articles

Last week's sermon, Stewardship Sunday: Our Defining Moment, is now available on the web. If you were not able to attend last week, do read it as it effectively articulates what we have in our community.

Fund-raising Efforts Work for USH! - The Performing Arts Committee is thrilled to share the latest word on the success of our USH fund-raising efforts.  Four events have already taken place, with approximately $2,000 collected.  We have another four performances planned, and $500 is expected as the average profit from each.  By June, we hope to have raised a total of $4,000, which will be doubled by our terrific anonymous donor, resulting in $8,000 more for the USH budget – and you know we need it!

PLEASE support this important effort by joining us on Saturday, March 10th at 7:30 for a wonderful evening of music composed exclusively by women.  We’ll have everything from vocal solos by a counter-tenor (have you ever heard a man sing in the higher vocal register? Fascinating!) to gorgeous piano music played by Pi-Hsun Shih, along with many other pieces including two alto saxophone/piano duets, an unaccompanied trumpet solo, and some gorgeous German lieder written by the other Schumann, Clara.  The entire list of composers and performers can be seen on the flyer linked here.

We depend upon YOU to fill the pews and bring in the funds that will help USH thrive in the next year.  This spectacular performance costs you only $30 for premium tickets and $15 for standard.  Tickets are available at the door.  Do bring your families.  You will be inspired!

The rest of the Performing Arts year includes an April 14th concert at which Doug Burn, our Interim Music Director, will join two small chamber groups, a May 19th violin and piano performance by Anhared Stowe and Carolyn Halsted, and a June 2nd evening of short dramas we’re calling “Jacques Lamarre Plays with UU.”  Put them on your calendar! - Patrice Fitzgerald


Congregational Brainstorming Feedback -- Final Weekend! - Thanks to all of you who have weighed in on the congregational brainstorming feedback posted in Fellowship Hall. Your response has been overwhelming. (If this is the first you've heard about this effort, please check last week's newsletter for further details.)

Last Sunday, we discovered that the Communications topic had not been posted. That panel will be posted this Sunday for your feedback. Apologies for the oversight.

Quite a few excellent suggestions have been added to the original topics. Please take some time this Sunday to take a look at them and give them a red or green--or even orange!--dot as you see fit.

If you haven't seen the instructional video yet, here it is one more time. It's just as informative, but more fun than reading the instructions posted in the hall.

Committee on Shared Ministry - Peter Olguin, Peter Meny, Laurie Kelliher, Edith Savage

Reminder, the Board will be meeting on April 13th in the Meeting House Library at 7:00 PM. Ten minutes or so is set aside at the beginning of the meeting to receive constituent comments. Most of such meetings are open meaning you may attend and listen. At the end the Board probably will have a brief closed session depending on the particular business of the meeting.

Our Defining Moment - Question:  When is a crowded parking lot a wonderful thing to behold?
Answer:  When it’s filled by USH members on Pledge Sunday.

And there were a great number of us at the March 4 service, when we were treated to inspiring personal stories, marvelous music, a bountiful brunch and heartfelt words from our own (don’t we wish!) Reverend Katie Lee.

Worship Associate Zean Gassmann’s welcome set the tone for the annual pledge drive.  He called the Meeting House “a place to be who you are, or a place to find out…Look at this as an opportunity to express how valuable this place is to us as individuals and for all of us together.”

Reverend Katie Lee spoke of the many ministers in our church’s past, saying “We are surrounded this morning by a cloud of witnesses…This space is filled with those present in spirit…

We stand on the shoulders of those who built this house.”

The colorful, vibrant quilt hanging in the chancel was a gift to her by a parishioner in her former Sudbury church.  A dancing, flaming chalice is in the center of what looks like glorious stained glass; the flame is our passion for justice, equity, fairness and compassion.  “We emphasize learning —the kind that grapples with questions.  We are encouraged to ask wondering questions our whole lives,” Reverend Katie Lee said.

On their way to church this morning, the Spector family (Rob, Gretchen, Jonah and Julian) talked about what to say during their “Our Story” part of the service.  They also elected Rob to be their spokesman.  Like so many of us UUs, Rob and Gretchen came from different religious traditions.  She was raised Catholic; his experience as a non-church-going Unitarian was “all about being different.”  His kids don’t realize what a big deal coming here is, he said.  “This place is like a good diet,” Rob commented.  “It gives our kids the good stuff of life that I didn’t have.”

Our about-to-be next President (in July) Peter Meny used his story-telling time to urge members to consider filling the leadership positions that need filling.  Some of the amusing reasons he gave for serving included having a full email box daily, being popular at coffee hour, having to record TV shows due to night meetings, and getting a key to the church’s front door.

Peter said that for 27 years, he has “been grateful I can come to this place every week” and he feels “blessed to be able to work with talented, creative and committed people.”

A covenant between members of the congregation and the seven members of the search committee for an interim minister was made during the service as we pledged, in a responsive reading, to “work together toward a common goal:  our shared mission and ministry.”  Search committee members are John Brancato, Patrice Fitzgerald, Rachel Gibson, Laurie Kelliher, Peter Magistri, Edith Savage and Ron Sexton.

The personal stories continued.  Zean Gassmann started visiting UU churches in 1996, wherever he happened to be. He discovered the USH about three years ago and “it immediately felt right.”  He cherishes the love and the relationships he has developed here.  Both of his children were christened in a UU church in Charleston, West Virginia, as that congregation sang the song Zean always sang to his kids:  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  And we did a reprise right here Sunday, as the USH congregation joined Zean in singing that charming little song, which, he told us, has been attributed to Mozart.

Busy member Diana Heymann’s wish to be in two places at once was fulfilled Sunday:  while she was downstairs teaching second and third grade, her story was read by your reporter.  One of the USH’s early and continuing participants in Small Group Ministry (beginning 11 years ago), Diana wrote that practicing the SGM method helps her to “find unexpected corners of myself upon which I’ve not reflected…Listening to the feelings and needs of others provides me with a precious jewel of renewed connection…I learn new things about old and new friends alike with each session.”

Doug Williams, a relative newcomer to the USH and a choir member, asked that the order of service be reversed, so that his story could come after the choir’s anthem, “Bonse Aba,” a rocking Zambiah foot stamping (hooray Music Director Doug), hand clapping folk song.  We soon learned the reason for the reversal.  Doug discussed similarities between Zambians and UUs.  Both have blended religions and both are a melting pot to provide a spiritual home for all members.

Doug said his personal journey led him here, and he has been given wonderful support during transitions in his life.  Our music program gives him the opportunity to participate, and he feels the transitions he is going through parallel what the congregation is going through.  “I’ve been raised in this tribe,” he said.

Reverend Katie Lee continued the transition theme in her “Our Defining Moment” Reflection.  She said she feels the swirling chaos and knows we are “yearning to move on, feel settled, know what to expect and what we can count on.”  This is a “defining moment in the history of this congregation” she said.  We are called to go forward, but this will require time, talent and treasure.

“Most of us don’t like to talk about money,” she admitted, but money is a practical meaning of exchange with deep spiritual implications.  We must stretch beyond our comfort zone and open our minds, our hearts and our wallets.  Today, Reverend Katie Lee told us, we must look at our assets, decide what matters most, listen to the stories and the values we have here.  She urged the congregation to “do what you can, do what is possible…Stretch your pledge as much as you dare to show how much you care.”

We must think beyond 2012, pledge our commitment to future generations and “dare to create a changing ministry for the next decade.” As we sang in our closing hymn: “Stand we now upon the threshold, facing futures yet unknown.”  Kayla Costenoble (Editor's note, this sermon is posted on the web.)

Our 2012 / 2013 Pledge Drive is off to a fine Start!  Stewardship Sunday (March 4) was an inspiring day.  Kayla Costenoble's "Our Defining Moment" article above describes the emotional power of the service.  We are thankful to the many folks who answered the call and went the extra mile with their pledges.  Our pot-luck brunch was a nice time to celebrate together.

We received approximately $168,000 pledges from 78 pledge units (as compared to $145,000 from the same group last year).  We are immensely grateful for the 16% increase.  We understand how far so many folks stretched to achieve this result.  About half of the pledge units increased by 25% or more.  

We now hope that those of you who could not be with us on Sunday will join in as well.  We still have a very long way to go to meet our Budget needs.  Please try to make your pledge today.  A fair pledge is 2% - 5% of gross income.  You can make your pledge by mail, by email to bmullen(at sign)ushartford.com, or by voicemail to Brian Mullen at 860-233-9897 x 102. To discuss your pledge, call or email Mike Winterfield, Zean Gassmann or Joe Rubin.

The Stewardship Committee sincerely thanks you! - Mike Winterfield

The speaker for the Lunch Bunch - meeting at noon, Tuesday, March 20,  at  Carmen Anthony's Fishhouse in Avon will be Fred Louis who will discuss "The Great Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912".  Attendees order independently from the lunch menu.  Newcomers are welcome! 

Board Notes - Here’s a reminder of the next USH Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, March 13, 7 PM in the library. Did you know that, generally, the first ten minutes of each meeting are open to comments from the USH community? Your input is sought and welcome during this “public comment” period. Much of the following business session is open to all as well, excepting a brief “board-only” segment at the close of the meeting.

So — we’ve been asked, “what are you doing in all these “executive sessions”? And we hasten to assure you that nothing nefarious is happening… far from it. There have been several personnel issues to contend with, and good HR practice suggests these are best dealt with in closed session. The primary reason, though, harks back to last summer when we first gathered as a Board, and recognized the challenges we’d be faced with during this year. In order to deal with these, we determined, while maintaining our personal and group equilibria, we needed to set aside some time each month to take care of ourselves, individually and collectively. Thus, the final 15 minutes (or so) is dedicated to exploring how we’re feeling… about ourselves, each other, the Board, USH… almost like Small Group Ministry in format, though we don’t have the benefit of Bev’s insightful readings and questions. We listen to each other, we honor diverse opinions and perspectives, and we support each other’s intention for the best at USH. Our challenges differ somewhat from those we’d visualized back in August, but they exist nonetheless. By taking care of ourselves, we can better care for the Society, and that’s what the closed portions of the meeting are all about.

That still leaves… oh, about 100 minutes of Board meeting time open to members and friends, and we cover a lot of ground in that time. Stop in and observe “the use of the democratic process within our congregation” — particularly if you might be interested in Board service this coming year or farther in the future! - Tina Davies, Secretary

The Kingswood-Oxford Janitors Speak!  The Unitarian Society of Hartford is pleased to host a forum and pot-luck dinner (Sunday, March 11 at 6:00-8:00) to support worker and immigrant rights at the Kingswood-Oxford School and in the Greater Hartford Area.  Nine cleaning workers at Kingswood-Oxford School (under contract with ServiceMaster of Hartford) were recently fired from their positions under discriminatory conditions.  Workers were told that they could not speak Spanish on the job.  They often worked overtime without pay.  They also earned minimum wage with no increases for seniority or experience - even after 10 years on the job.

The workers have asked for a sit-down meeting with Kingswood-Oxford representatives.  They are asking ServiceMaster to pay all back-wages and unpaid workers compensation for injuries sustained on the job.  They are asking Kingswood-Oxford to directly rehire them and provide a living wage with health benefits.  Thus far, Kingswood-Oxford's Director of Communications has issued a public statement indicating that it "is now in the process of deciding which janitorial contract we will use going forward".

Come hear the workers' story in their own words and why this struggle matters to every working person and every immigrant in Connecticut.   -   Mike Winterfield

What Else is Happening

Leadership Development/ Nominating Committee Needs You! - More 

Water Series to Continue March 18 and April 22 (More)

Adult Programs - Stop by the Programs Table this Sunday during coffee hour for information and/or to sign up for Dinner with the Buddha in April. The SAP RISING retreat last Saturday was enjoyed by those who attended. If you’ve been looking for a book about Unitarian Universalism, you might find what you’re looking for at the Book Cart located next to the Programs Table.
The winter/spring programs  are now available on the web. For more information about the programs
you may call Janice Newton (860.677.1121) or email her at dcnewton(at sign)snet.net).

Upcoming Programs:
Friday Dinner and Movie, April 13, featuring “The Ghost Writer”.
Dinner with the Buddha, Friday, April 20, beginning at 5:30 PM. More

Ongoing Programs:
USH Meditation and Dharma Gathering, Wednesdays, 5:45 – 7:00 PM.
Nonviolent Communication Practice Group, Wednesdays, 7:15 – 9:00 PM.

Social Justice Journeys (From the UUA)

UUA Activism Opportunity --   Explore your faith with your denomination at a couple of levels:  1. Attend the April 28  Clara Barton District Annual Meeting (no cost ) as a voting representative of the USH . More. 2. Attend the Phoenix , AZ General Assembly.  Details at  UUA.org; send a memo to the USH Board indicating your interest and complete an application form to be an official voting delegate  (available in mid-March).

SJ Quarterly Reports Available for Your Study - Various councils make quarterly reports to the Board. SJ has two available for reading now.

UUA Annual Meeting is in Phoenix this Year - Applications for the UUA General Assembly delegation will be available shortly. For more information.

Jean Petty and Steve Shepard Memorial Fund for Social Responsibility- Request Forms and Associated Information for Project Funding are now available. You may download the application form and associated information as a Microsoft Word document.

Urban and Community Studies Opportunity - One of the goals  of the Urban and Community Studies program at UConn is to help facilitate the bringing together of scholars, practitioners, students, and the interested community from across the area to learn from and share with one another.

On March 7 (7- 8:30 PM), we will host a multidisciplinary panel of scholars to discuss economic inequality and social activism (on the Great Hartford Campus).

 On March 8 (7-8:30 PM), community organizers and activists will be on the Greater Hartford campus to share their insights and offer instructions to attendees. All events will be open to the public.

Mike Winterfield to speak at peace conference

Three FREE  Panel Discussions - Poverty, Peace, Planet Earth and the Prophetic Voice


Green Topics - Did you Know? - Like gardening? Think urban kids who are experiencing very difficult life situations would benefit from learning where food comes from and digging in the earth? Join us as a garden volunteer this year! Minimal commitment 1x/wk, great rewards.

Please find the volunteer application on the Green Sanctuary bulletin board downstairs on way into Fellowship hall, fill it out and send it in. You will be glad you did.

Bev and Garden Any questions, call Bev Prager 860-550-5089 or email bev_prager(at sign)hotmail.com.

Water Series to Continue March 18 and April 22. The Second of our water series continues on 3/18. Aimee Petras of the Farmington River Watershed Association will speak about the dangers of fertilizers and pesticides and how to create "natural lawns" to help keep our water clean. The event will begin at 12:00 PM and the Youth Group will be serving soup. (More)

On the Calendar - Please notify Brian Mullen of all additions or changes to the calendar. Follow this link to all our scheduled events.

A Matter of Opinion

The Caring Corner

Caring Network - We grow in time to trust the future for our answers. - Ruth Benedict

If you know of any member experiencing some difficulty, please contact Janice Newton or call the office so we can provide some assistance. A wide range of community services is also available to those in need by calling InfoLine at 211. Please contact Janice if you are able to volunteer your services.

Transitions-The Transitions group meets the first Thursday of every month at 11 AM in David’s Den. Our next meeting is Thursday, April 5. Any and all friends and members of USH undergoing life transitions and challenges (moving, care giving, loss and grief of any kind) are welcome. If you have any questions, please contact Carolyn Cartland at crcartland1 at Comcast.net or Diana Heymann at heydiana42 at gmail.com

External Events and Educational Notes

Further Down The Road (About 30 Days)


Dinner with Buddha Planned for April 20th. Mark you calendars now. Register by April 13th More


noteFrom the Editor: Suggestions for Contributors.


Nuts and Bolts: The member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association covenant to affirm and promote: the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth in our congregations; a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process, within our congregations and in society at large; the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.

Generally, USH-Enews will be posted on Thursday.  Send email related to the USH-Enews to dcnewton at ushartford.com  If you have announcements or articles you wish to be published, send them along  with the subject line USH-Enews by 4:30 PM Wednesday evening. Comments are always welcome. If you wish to have your name removed from the distribution list or have learned of the electronic publication and wish to have your email address added, just ask. © Unitarian Society of Hartford

Let us know of any comments, errors and corrections - thanks (revised 3/07/12 9:04 PM)