Sugarloaf Congregation of Unitarian Universalists
May 9, 2010 Service Written and Led by Chris Hager
The Proposed Statement of Conscience (SOC) up for vote at the Minneapolis UUA General Assembly (GA), June 23 - 27
Editor’s Note: For the complete text, see www.uua.org/csw and click on revised Draft SOC ( “csw” stands for Commission on Social Witness)
Also, please, note that I have excerpted and adapted only the ending of Chris’ sermon. Helen PopI’ll be upfront about my own sentiments regarding peace. Although some Unitarian Univeralists may believe that lethal force is sometimes necessary, I believe that we have too many natural disasters that cause untold human and animal suffering, not to mention environmental distress without creating destruction. In fact, one of my favorite songs by Holly Near starts:
“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong? What a Foolish Notion that War is called devotion when the greatest warriors are the ones who stand for Peace.”
Peacemaking is a Unitarian and Universalist Value
I do agree with the proposed final SOC that Peacemaking is grounded in our theological principles. For over 200 years, Universalists and Unitarians have worked to build peace and remove the underlying causes of war. As early as 1790, Universalists gathered in Philadelphia to declare “There is a time coming when the light and universal love of the gospel shall put an end to all wars.” Unitarians Noah Worcester and William Ellery Channing founded the Massachusetts Peace Society during the War of 1812 to affirm that nonviolence is humanly possible and divinely commanded.
In the words of the 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation by Unitarian, Julia Ward Howe:
“Arise then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts.” Julia Ward Howe changed her views after seeing the effect of the Civil War. The Mother’s Day Proclamation continues:
“WE, the women of this country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
We UU’s have, also, called upon the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to prove that peacemaking can be viewed as grounded, not only in our history, but, also, in our values up to modern times.
The Fundamental Unity and Interdependence of All Existence and the Transforming Power of Love
The Background and Reasons for Study of the Peacemaking proposed SOC noted that: as the human population has increased there has been a corresponding increase in contact between groups of people who were largely isolated from one another in the past. This contact, coupled with differences in politics, religions, moral values, and beliefs as well as economic injustices and competition for resources, have led to countless conflicts around the world. Humankind struggles to achieve peaceful coexistence economically, socially, politically, and spiritually.
So – we, and humankind, have a choice – to build bigger barriers, engage in increasingly more destructive conflicts or recognize that as the interdependence of individuals, communities, and nations has become a more apparent reality, we could see everyone as our neighbor and Standing on the Side of Love, as our new slogan attests.
The Inherent Worth and Dignity of All Persons. Many of us believe that this principle is at the core of what we believe. The SOC notes: “All human beings have the right to a meaningful and fulfilling life, including physical safety and economic and social well being. All of us have the responsibility to work on the behalf of the dignity of others.” So, why is it that we kill people who are killing people to prove that killing people is wrong?
It seems to me that making peace takes much greater skill, compassion, and love than making war. And it is far less costly, in dollars, in human lives, in property. Since 2001, we have spent close to $1 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – over $750 billion for Iraq and about $275 billion in Afghanistan, not to mention the more than 5,000 American lives that have been lost or harmed. At the same time that we wonder whether we have the will and the resources to pay for Health Care for All – that doesn’t make much sense to me. We devote so much less attention and resources to developing skills of nonviolent action, conflict resolution [or management], and peacebuilding than building stronger war toys and weapons of mass destruction. And just how many innocent Iraq and Afghan lives have been lost is not at all clear – people who were killed because they lived in harms’ way. We could be committing our resources to protecting the physical safety and the well being of all people if we truly believed in love and the worth of each individual.
Another fundamental value is the rejection of the sharp separation of good and evil. Most of us reject the [dualistic] notion that individuals and nations are either all bad or all good. Examining our own and others’ capacity for goodness and for evil means we have to deal with ambiguity and disappointment. Our trusted leaders, even those who profess to stand for peace, take actions we do not necessarily like or see to be getting us much further toward peace. But what can we do – are we innocent by-standers too, like the lost lives of innocent Afghan and Iraqi civilians? Are we standing strong enough for peace?
The study of peacemaking calls on us to recognize how complex human and international relationships are. Because power can be used to create or destroy, to liberate or to oppress, preventing war and creating nonviolent alternatives requires a commitment to mutual persuasion over coercion. Real leaders, like MLK and Mahatma Ghandi, and at times, Barack Obama, work to make the world a more peaceful place by working cooperatively with others and with other nations, to achieve a mutual commitment to nonviolent solutions.
Our principles: To affirm and promote Justice, Equity, and Compassion in human relations and The Goal of World Community with peace, liberty, and justice for all speak directly to “the fair ordering of human relationships, including social and political relationships." War signals the breakdown of fairly ordered human relations. Peace is a process, not a stagnant state. Lasting peace rests on just relationships. It also calls on us to remain open-minded, humble, and to deal with uncertainty. Peacemaking certainly calls on each of us to persevere, be diligent, and to deal creatively in our relationships.
In reverence for all life, we covenant to practice peace at all levels of human interaction. Shalom. Amen. Blessed Be.
Editor’s Note - In 2006, Delegates to the General Assembly were presented with this issue for study till June of this year:
Should the Unitarian Universalist Association reject the use of any and all kinds of violence and war to resolve disputes between peoples and nations and adopt a principle of seeking just peace through nonviolent means? Now, at this upcoming GA the delegates from all UU congregations will vote on this issue. In a meeting of local UU movers and shakers, Chris learned there’s an organized effort to defeat this proposed SOC. The peacemaking statement challenges us to think about whether our principles and actions are in agreement. Our principles are models for peacemaking. But, have we UU’s acted as if violence is more effective than nonviolence in certain situations? Should room be given for this allowance? Or should we stand strong like Quakers? Helen Pop (along with excerpted thinking of Chris Hager)
Chris' May 9th service Opening Words:
Reading: The opening words and this reading are from Unitarian Universalist
Statement of Conscience on Peacemaking (which will be voted on at the General Assembly (GA) in Minneapolis June 23-27
First - Our commitment to creating peace calls us to the work of peacebuilding, peacemaking and peacekeeping.
Peacebuilding is the creation of institutions and structures that address the roots of conflict…
Peacemaking is the negotiation of equitable and sustainable peace agreements, mediation between hostile parties and post-conflict rebuilding and reconciliation.
Peacekeeping is early intervention to prevent war, stop genocide and monitor ceasefires. Peacekeeping creates the space for diplomatic efforts, humanitarian aid, and nonviolent conflict prevention through the protection of civilians and the disarmament and separation of those involved in violent conflict.
Second - We advocate a culture of peace through a transformation of public policies, religious consciousness, and individual lifestyles. At the heart of this transformation is the readiness to honor the truths of multiple voices from a theology of covenant grounded in love.
Third - We affirm the right of individuals and nations to defend themselves, and affirm our responsibility to protect our neighbors from aggression.
Fourth - We repudiate aggressive and preemptive wars, the disproportionate use of force, and the targeting of civilians. We support international efforts to curtail the vast world trade in armaments and call for the ultimate disarmament of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Fifth - For Unitarian Universalists, the exercise of individual conscience is holy work.
Conscientious discernment leads us to engage in the creation of peace in different ways. We affirm a range of individual choices, including military service and
conscientious objection (whether to all wars or particular wars), as fully compatible with Unitarian Universalism. For those among us who make a formal commitment to military service, we will honor their commitment, welcome them home, and offer pastoral support. For those among us who make a formal commitment as conscientious objectors, we will offer documented certification, honor their commitment, and offer pastoral support.
Sixth - Our faith calls us to create peace, yet we confess that we have not done all we could to prevent the spread of armed conflict throughout the world. At times we
have lacked the courage to speak and act against violence and injustice; at times we have lacked the creativity to speak and act in constructive ways; at times we have condemned the violence of others without acknowledging our own complicity in violence. Too often we have allowed our disagreements to distract us from all that we can do together. This Statement of Conscience challenges individual Unitarian Universalists, as well as our congregations and Association to engage with more depth, persistence and creativity in the complex task of creating peace.
Final Editor’s Note – As inspired by Carol Lee Flinders’ Rebalancing the World (a resource for facilitating “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven”), peacemaking is more basic than a responsibility for all humans to follow. Peacemaking is a natural human urge prevalent in the days of the Belonging Values before the human will to control kicked-in. -- Helen Pop
Remember your first women's retreat? Decades ago it was a huge deal to get away and attend...because it was the only chance you had to gather with like-minded women. These days we are gathering all over!
The great news is that St. Lawrence District women have formed a W&R group and will be hosting a retreat this fall...and the Florida District W&R which just disbanded has discovered a whole new group of women willing to start it back up! I know we'll be hearing more from both regions. Revitalizing UU Women's Groups: A How-To Manual created by The Association of Universalist Women of Minneapolis some years back, is still available online. CMwD W&R and SWUUW publish conference guidelines on their websites.
Here are some of the upcoming retreats:
Central Midwest District Women and Religion
August 6-8, 2010
You are invited to join us for our annual Summer WomanSpirit retreat held at Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center in Watervliet, Michigan! Workshops, woods, walking, worship and more.
“Sowing Seeds of Gratitude” is our theme. We all have so many things for which we are grateful, and each one is a viable seed to plant and nurture allowing others to share in the labors which created the seeds. During this retreat we will take a special look at the gratitude we have toward the Earth and all she provides. We will also look at things for which we are grateful on a personal level, sharing what we are comfortable sharing and learning how those around us perceive their own gratitude.
Register online: www.regonline.com/SWS2010
Thomas Jefferson District
Womenspirit Fall retreat will be held September 15-19 at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands NC.
Womenspirit gathers each Spring and Fall and offers two sessions: The Institute and The Gathering. Each session focuses on sharing sacred time together through worship, learning, and individual and group activities. Women may choose to attend Institute or Gathering or both. E-mail: Membership@uuwomenspirit.org More information: www.uuwomenspirit.org
Northern New England District
October 1-4 The Theme Within: Intuitively access your inner wisdom through the process of collage. Friday Dinner through Sunday lunch. Meet and explore with other UU women in a peaceful suburban retreat house. Ample free time; close to a lovely nature trail (45 minute walk) at Haverford College. E-mail: slater.anne[at]gmail.com More information: www.jpdwr.org
St. Lawrence District will be holding its First Annual Women's Spirituality Conference October 15th & 16th, at May Memorial UU Society in Syracuse. Registration starts at 5PM on Friday and is followed by dinner, vespers and a concert. Saturday starts with breakfast followed by a panel of speakers who will be discussing "How I put my spiritual beliefs into action." There will be workshops in the morning, then lunch, followed by two additional workshop times with topics including Sacred Movement, Art & Spirituality, Journaling, Healing, Bodywork, Yoga and many others. We'll close with worship. For more information please contact Planning Committee Chair Jody Brown at email@example.com or (315) 476-0447. Information will also be on the SLD website. Here's the Initial Brochure. Visit our Facebook page: http://www.slduuwr.org Visit our Facebook page: www.slduuwr.org.
Plans are afoot for this year's event which will be planned again by the Connection Council. Stay turned for news as the program develops. Save the date and meet your sisters there again!
You are invited to share a weekend with other women of Florida's Northeast Cluster. Our goal is to share, learn, laugh, reflect and generally strengthen our connections to one another. This time together will take place at the Canterbury Conference Center in Oveida Florida February 4th, 5th and 6th 2011. One of the activities, for those interested, will be to discuss reactivating the Florida chapter of UU Women and Religion. There will be structured time as well as time to just hang out alone or with friends. Final program details to be determined; your input is welcome. Cost: $220.00 per person which includes double occupancy accomodations, six meals, hospitality bar (coffee, tea, water, soda fountain, whole fresh fruit) and use of the conference facilities. The grounds are lovely and will offer the opportunity to enjoy the natural surroundings. Check out the facility online at www.canterburyretreat.org.
Please email Allie by Friday June 18th if you are interested in attending.
A nonrefundable deposit of $20 is due by July 1st with final payment due October 1st, 2010. Checks are made out to Northeast Cluster with UU Women's Retreat on the memo line. Checks to Allie Gore 8062 SW 81st Loop, Ocala, Fl 34476
Central Midwest District Women and Religion
February 25-27, 2011 at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart, IN -- Balancing our Power: Spirit, Self and Earth, featuring Margot Adler
Margot's keynote address will have the same title. She'll ask:
How do we use our power for good?
How do we relate to people who have more or less power, status or resources than we do?
How do we negotiate the power in our own lives?
How do we use our power to preserve and protect the Earth?
How do we build a sturdy spirituality in the face of these issues?
Many people think there are two different Margot Adlers. One is a 40-year veteran of public broadcasting, who is currently the New York correspondent for National Public Radio and a frequent voice on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition. The other is a chronicler and spokesperson for the contemporary Wiccan and Pagan movements, the author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today, and a Wiccan priestess who gives workshops in ritual and song. Shush! Don’t tell anyone. It’s the same person!
Adler started in radio in 1968 as a newscaster, reporter, and later the host of three talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s. She pioneered live, free-form talk shows that dealt with spirituality, feminism, ecology, and the interface between politics, religion, and culture. Adler is also the author of Heretic’s Heart: A Journey through Spirit and Revolution, which deals with her experiences as a student at Berkeley, a participant in the Free Speech Movement, a civil rights worker in Mississippi, and an activist and journalist during the Vietnam War.
A longtime Unitarian Universalist, Margot keynoted WomanSpirit 2000 in Milwauke Wisconsin, has led and participated in panels and rituals at the UUA General Assembly, for the Continental UU Women and Religion and Covenent of UU Pagans, and was one of the keynote speakers at the International Convocation of UU Women in February 2009. Adler resides in New York.
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org More information: www.womenandreligion.org
Rev. Chris Buice of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church will join UU filmmaker Janet Fitch for discussion following each screening. Help lead the Faith Community as conveners of a new conversation- reframing discussion of gun violence to a public health focus on prevention.
SCREENING & DISCUSSION TIMES
Thursday, June 24 - 1 to 2:45p.m.
Friday, June 25 -1 to 2:45p.m.
Hilton Minneapolis (connected via skyway to the Minneapolis Convention Center), 1001 Marquette Avenue South. Board Room 1 is located on the third floor.
We will also collect signatures to add gun violence prevention to the Peacekeeping Study/Action Issue - please stop in to sign!
Learn more at
Changing the Conversation: America's Gun Violence Epidemic.
We had a grand celebration of Margaret Fuller’s 200th birthday on May 23, 2010. Many congregations and women’s groups celebrated that Sunday or at another time with a special service, conference or other program, and/or by hosting the traveling display, “Why Margaret Fuller Matters.” And we’re looking forward to continuing the celebration through the remainder of the year.
There’s still time for you to be part of this great celebration. Check out www.margaretfuller.org for resources and for upcoming events. You can also make a donation online, if you feel so inspired.
Consider bringing the traveling display to your area. “Why Margaret Fuller Matters” is a series of 10 colorful 24-inch x 18-inch foam core panels with text and images designed to answer the fundamental question of why this great nineteenth-century figure remains important two centuries after her birth. The display introduces audiences to Margaret Fuller’s life, her ideas, her writings, and her vision of a just world.
Just in case you are still not sure who Margaret Fuller was, here’s a very brief statement of why you might want to join in this celebration of her bicentennial. Margaret Fuller was a writer, activist, and futurist who changed the way people viewed the world. One of the guiding lights of the first wave of feminism, she helped educate the women of her day by leading a series of Conversations in which women were empowered to read, think, and discuss important issues. She inspired generations to follow (including those who called the 1848 first women’s rights meeting at
Many thanks are due to UU Women & Religion for generously serving as fiscal agent for the two grants we have received from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism. Additional funding has been received from the UU Historical Society, Mass Humanities, and numerous individual donors. Without financial support we could not do this work. We know Margaret, who struggled financially during her life, would be pleased with the support being given to this Bicentennial effort.
Most of all, though, we hope you will join the celebration—and let us know what you are doing to bring Margaret Fuller to life in your community. If you don’t have an internet connect, you may contact Dorothy Emerson at 339-206-0829.
The curriculum is designed for women who are entering or have passed through menopause and would like to mark this passage or deepen their understanding of what it means to be a wise older woman. The program opens the participant to the power, wisdom, and insight of the mature self.
Imagine entering the labyrinth of your psyche, slowly following its turns in and out as you weave yourself toward the deep center of your essential knowing. As you make your way forward, you will remember the past, integrate its lessons and shed its excess baggage, until you come to the present moment of possibility and transformation. There you will claim the beauty and truth that can be yours and begin your walk out of the labyrinth integrating your new found knowledge and the thirteen guiding principles of a crone as you retrace your steps. Before you reemerge into the world, you will celebrate your new state and assume the crown and mantle of the crone. As a mature woman of action and compassion, you will claim your power as a woman of wisdom.
For more information, contact Dorothy at 781-391-6455 or RevEmerson@aolcom.