Thursday, May 29, 2008

RE Sunday

Spectacular things are afoot for this Sunday!  June 1 will be a special intergenerational service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.  Join us at 11:00 am for a service entitled "Our Active Soul," created by and led by child, youth, and adult members of the Religious Education program.  We will be appreciating this year's RE teachers, dedicating children who were not dedicated in the congregation as infants, exploring what we mean when we talk about "soul" or "spirit", and enjoying music created by some of our youth.  

After the service, the festivities continue.  Valeri McNeal has arranged to lead a special tour of the church for kids and families.  To take the tour, meet Valeri at the back of the sanctuary after the service.

Also following the service, join the congregation in the parish hall for a [surprise...shhhhhh] celebration of Rev. John's birthday, featuring cake and punch.

Be sure to arrive by 11:00 — you won't want to miss a minute!  

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Church Tour for Kids!

Valeri McNeal has offered to host a special church tour for families after the service on June 1, RE Sunday.  Designed to consider the interests of kids ages 6-10, this should be a fun and interesting tour for people of all ages.  I hope you'll join her for this 30-minute tour of our historic church!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


There was rejoicing from sea to shining sea today as the California Supreme Court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in a 4-3 vote.  Chief Justice Ronald George wrote in the majority opinion, "The Califonia Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

The fight lives on, but for today, let us rest for a moment in the fresh breeze of the radical assertion that we are all equal under the law.

Blessed be!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ministerial Search Survey Now Available!

One of the key elements of a ministerial search is to take the pulse of the congregation as a whole.  The Search Committee has created an online survey to get feedback about what members and friends think about the church and what our priorities are.  It is vital for as many members and friends as possible to contribute.  This comprehensive survey will probably take about an hour to complete.  Click here to take the survey.  If you would prefer completing the survey on paper, hard copies will be available at coffee hour.  There is one section of the survey that should be completed only once per household, but the rest of the survey can be completed by each person in your household.  For more information, or to give additional feedback, email the Search Committee at search [at]

Don’t lose this opportunity to put in your two cents!  This is a great way to help make sure our new settled minister reflects the congregation we want to be!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sleeping Soundly

It’s three o’clock in the morning and the hallways of First Unitarian are quiet and still.  It’s not typical for me to be at church at three in the morning, much less be awake at church at three in the morning, but tonight is a special night.  It’s the final overnight for our Our Whole Lives class for middle schoolers and I’m on “firefly” duty.  

The church was far from quiet three hours ago, with a raucous card game going on in one room, teens singing passionately along with the soundtrack to Rent in another and soft piano music floating in from the sanctuary.  Even that was calmer  than immediately after dinner, when squeals of laughter rang throughout the whole building and the pounding of footsteps thudded through the halls.  

I can’t help but watch their enthusiasm with a kind of wonder.  They are children and they are no longer children.  Their child-like selves shine through their growing up and it is evident that they are living in paradox each and every moment.  And in the midst of this confusion, we have this to offer: this class, this night of difficult learning and deep fun.  All for one end, to expose and prepare for one truth, which is that we are not alone.  We cannot act as if we are alone, either to our benefit or to our detriment.  Relationship surrounds us.  Right relationship is work as well as joy, comfort as well as struggle.  

Down the hall the teachers slumber too.  They need their rest.  It takes a brave soul to look these beings of paradox in the eye every week and love their both-ness, always shifting, never certain.  The OWL teachers are perhaps the closest we get to Universalist evangelists: preaching the gospel of right relationship.  

In a few hours I will wake the kids/not kids.  It will take at least thirty minutes to prod them awake, possibly more, despite the lure of breakfast.  But in the meantime, the sounds of the city swim around us in our little building and it sounds like a living prayer, of thanksgiving and of possibility.  

May their dreams and yours be filled with the deep peace of hope, for we are not alone.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Union Sunday Story for All Ages

Each year, on the first Sunday in May, the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore welcomes visitors from other Unitarian Universalist congregations to join in celebrating "Union Sunday" in commemoration of William Ellery Channing's landmark "Baltimore Sermon," of 1819. The following is the Story for All Ages from this year's service:

Opening the Door

by Becky Brooks

Once upon a time there was a teacher named Sophia. Sophia had been a teacher in the town where she lived for so long that the kids she first had in her class grew up and had kids of their own and sent them to her class too. Nearly everyone in the town knew Sophia and loved her because not only was she an excellent teacher, but she was also very kind.

One day when Sophia got to work, she found a note on her desk. The note read:

Dear Sophia,

I will be around tomorrow afternoon.

I wonder if I might stop by your house for tea.

Your Friend,


At first Sophia thought it was a joke. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that if it was a joke, it wasn't a very funny joke. And she couldn't think of anyone who would play a joke on her like that.

Then she thought: what if it wasn't a joke? What if God really was going to come to her house tomorrow afternoon? Sophia thought she should get ready, just in case.

On her way home from work, she stopped by the store and bought one of those mats people put by their door that says, in big letters: WELCOME!

When she got home, she cleaned her house from top to bottom. She brought in fresh flowers from the garden and put them in a vase in the living room. She cleaned and cleaned until everything was sparkly.

In the morning, Sophia realized didn't know what God liked to eat, so she baked bread and made a casserole and fruit salad, and baked some cookies too. And what about the tea? Did God like hot tea or iced tea? She thought she better make both. And what if God's favorite thing in the whole world was lemonade? She thought she should make some of that too.

She was so nervous! She didn't know what to expect.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Sophia's heart went pat pat pat.

She opened the door slowly and on the other side was...the Mayor of the town.

"Hello Sophia! I was walking by and smelled the delicious fresh baked bread!"

Sophia said, "I'm so glad you're here, come in, come in! I am expecting a very important visitor who you might want to meet! Please come in and make yourself at home."

Sophia and the Mayor sat, having a nice discussion about their town when there was a knock at the door. Sophia's heart went pat pat pat. She opened the door slowly and on the other side was...a group of children from her class.

"Hello Miss Sophia! We were walking by and noticed the smell of fresh baked cookies!"

Sophia said, "I'm so glad you're here, come in, come in! I am expecting a very important visitor who you might want to meet! Please come in and help yourself to some cookies."

The children were giving the Mayor some much needed advice about town planning when there was a knock at the door. Sophia's heart went pat pat pat. She opened the door and it was...the entire women's covenant group from church!

"Hello Sophia! We heard the tea kettle and laugher and thought you might be having a party!"

Sophia said, "I'm so glad you're here, come in, come in! I am expecting a very important visitor who you might want to meet! Please come in and join us."

All afternoon people stopped by Sophia's house, lured by the yummy smells and happy sounds. The townspeople filled her house, upstairs and downstairs and overflowed into the back yard and the front yard. As they got hungry, they made dinner together and ate as the sun set and the moon rose.

It was a great party. People were playing games and telling stories and baking and playing music and talking together. Sophia had such a nice time that she completely forgot about her very important guest. Even as she waved goodbye to her friends at the end of the night, she felt only contentment at having such a lovely party.

In the morning, though, Sophia woke up and remembered everything. She was confused. Whatever had happened to God?

All during her walk to work she tried to figure out what had happened. Along the way she smiled and waved to the people she ran into who had been at her party. She thought to herself that she really should do that again sometime.

When Sophia arrived at work she was surprised to find another note on her desk. It read:

Dear Sophia,

I had such a wonderful time yesterday. The bread was delicious, the cookies were divine! Tea mixed with lemonade is my very favorite! Thank you for being such a wonderful host. I hope we can do it again soon!



The end.