Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Party 2009

Our annual Halloween Party was another smashing success.  Thanks to all the ghosts and ghouls who made it all possible!  Board President Nancy West was the hero of the day for delivering the pizza; Laura and Zoe arrived early to decorate, Andre, Idalee, Michael, Karla, Lyn, Carrie, Mike and the whole youth group staffed activity tables; Gina was our emcee for the evening and Uri was our official photographer. So many people helped clean up that there isn't room on the internet to list them all.

Thanks so much for making First Unitarian's annual Halloween Party a monster hit!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Building Your Own Theology Class, Week 3

The topic for Week 3 of Building Your Own Theology was Human Nature. Participants were asked to read a selection of quotations and choose up to three they agreed with and up to three they disagreed with.  After some brainstorming activities (like completing the sentence "Humans are _____" with one or two words) we spent some time working on composing a statement to answer "What do you believe about human nature?"

Next week's topic is Ultimate Reality: Creating An Honest God. We'll be completing a worksheet that follows a survey about personal beliefs among Unitarian Universalists and doing an art activity where we will draw or write about four different concepts of god we have held at different times in our lives. We'll also work to identify and clarify our own thoughts about god. What are ten words you might use to describe your idea of the source of life?

Next weeks readings can be downloaded here.

Super-Hero Auction Adventure is Underway!

Momentum is building! The menu is planned and all is ready for a fun-filled evening of auction fundraising. Bid on more than 200 different auction items in our silent and LIVE auctions. Early bidding has already begun. Check out the incredible selection of items here and make your bids online. Auction-master Scott MacLeod has pounded the pavement and reached out within and outside our church community to solicit an amazing diversity of items. You won't believe the selection!

You'll find a wealth of delicious edibles like a gift basket from the Waverly Farmers' Market, Betty Townsend's fabulous homemade cake, a gourmet dinner from Nicholas DiGregorio and several donated gift certificates to outstanding downtown restaurants.

Revel in the skills of your fellow congregants, including Sign Language or French lessons, babysitting, an introduction to the Folk Harp, carpentry or gardening work.

Don't miss the great opportunities for out-of-town getaways at Murray Grove or Ocean Isle Beach or in-town getaways at the Tremont Suites or Peabody Court.

Not to mention all the fantastic art, antique and other treasures to be had!

Reservations for the big night can also be made online.  Dinner, dessert and an evening of madcap auction mayhem can be had for just $20 per person. Choose from Laurel and Helen’s famous Sauerbraten or Vegetarian Goulash.

Big Questions Letter Exchange begins Nov. 1

Sunday, Oct. 25 will be the last day to sign up for the "Big Questions Letter Exchange," a mystery-buddies style pen-pal program for adults in the congregation.  Each participant will choose a special code name and will be matched with another. The following four Sundays (Nov. 1-22) adults will exchange letters they have written on a particular suggested topic of the week (while keeping their identity shrouded in mystery.) On Nov. 22, we'll have a meet-your-pal reception after worship where folks can come to enjoy coffee and refreshments and you'll have a chance to meet your pal in person.

Any adult from First Unitarian is invited to participate.  Whether this has been your church community for a week or many decades, consider this an opportunity to learn more about your fellow First Unitarians!

To sign up, simply register online or contact Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Becky Brooks.  Matches will be made on Tuesday, Oct. 27 and participants will be contacted with the code name for their pal and instructions, including the topic for the first Sunday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Christian History Adult RE class begins Oct. 21

Christian History, the first 300 years: from Saul of Tarsus to Augustine of Hippo

We will be examining the first three hundred years of the Christian movement and its struggle for survival. We will study the various practices, beliefs and doctrines and the nature of faith tempered with reason, which was the essence of the faith of the Jesus movement and subsequent pre-Nicene church. Class will be led by Doreion Colter and will meet each Wednesday evening, 7:00 - 8:30 pm from Oct. 21 through Dec. 9 (except for the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25) Childcare is available on request.

Register online or contact Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Becky Brooks to sign up for the course.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Party, Friday Oct. 30

Make plans to join in the fun at First Unitarian's Annual Halloween Party for All Ages, Friday, October 30, 6-8 pm. We'll have all the biggest hits from previous years, plus some new adventures like the Goo Table sponsored by the youth group! Also new this year, instead of rushing to prepare a potluck dish, simply raid your cupboards for some quality non-perishable food items to bring for our collection to benefit the Maryland Food Bank.

We'll feast together on pizza and salad, paint gourds, create goo, make potions, write mad-lib spells, make masks, decorate cookies, play games and—of course—show off our costumes in a parade for all ages.

If you'd like to help with decorating, clean up, or staffing an activity table, contact Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Becky Brooks.

All are welcome, you won't want to miss it!

Explorers Celebrate Diwali this Sunday, 10/18!

The Explorers class will be learning about World Religions all year, using the Holidays and Holy Days curriculum. This week's study of Hinduism will feature a celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Though there are many different perspectives on which gods Diwali honors, it is commonly thought of as celebrating renewal.

The Explorers will be making lamps and enjoying sweets, right along with their global neighbors.

Happy Diwali!

Building Your Own Theology Class, Week 2

Participants discussed significant life experiences in this week's class, discerning how the terms "religious" and "spiritual" may or may not apply to them. Last week's readings* included brief excerpts from a number of writers who considered "peak," "plateau," and "valley" life experiences and class participants had the homework assignment of writing their own versions of these three types of experiences. In class we also discussed which of the readings were the most significant for those in the group.

Next week our class topic will be "Human Nature: Some Self Understanding." This week's readings include a series of quotations. Students are asked for next time to select between one and three that most closely resemble their own beliefs about human nature and between one and three that they most disagree with. One of the quotations is from Virginia Satir's People Making:

I am convinced that there are no genes to carry the feeling of worth. It is learned. And the family is where it is learned. ... Feelings of worth can only flourish in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible-the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family. ... Since the feeling of worth has been learned, it can be unlearned, and something new can be learned in its place. The possibility for this learning lasts from birth to death, so it is never too late. ... There is always hope that your life can change because you can always learn new things.

Do you agree with Satir that "worth" is learned? If so, how do we learn our worth? What do you do in your life to communicate worth to the people you care about (or anyone you meet)? Leave a comment below in order to continue the discussion.

Readings are taken from Richard S. Gilbert's Building Your Own Theology and are available online only for the limited duration of this class and for educational use only.

Anne & Emmett

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6-8:30 pm, RESPECT (an Annie E. Casey Foundation project) will present Anne & Emmett: An imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till.

"Anne & Emmett" is based on an imaginary conversation between Holocaust victim Anne Frank and Emmett Till, a Black teen whose murder sparked the American Civil Rights Movement, and explores how Jewish and African American communities have worked to achieve racial justice and equality. Following the performance of this groundbreaking play, a discussion will be led by playwright, Janet Langhart Cohen and representatives from the Black/Jewish Forum of Baltimore (BLEWS). This presentation is free and open to the public at the Baltimore School for the Arts, 712 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201. To RSVP, contact or call 410-685-7664.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Explorers Celebrate Sukkot

Each week our Explorers class will learn about a particular holiday as they work their way through a year of world religions study with the curriculum, Holidays and Holy Days.

This past Sunday the kids studied the Jewish holiday of Sukkot ("sue-COAT") Sukkot is an eight-day "Festival of Booths," one of three agricultural celebrations in the Jewish calendar. Celebrating God's forgiveness, it is considered a mitzvah ("commandment") to be joyful during Sukkot. In advance of the festival, one builds a shelter outdoors called a "sukkah" (rhymes with "Book-ah"). Throughout the festival, families "dwell" in their sukkah, eating meals, studying, playing and even sleeping outside in the sukkah as long ago families lived in their own fragile dwellings in the desert. Decorated with items from the harvest, the sukkah is both practical and beautiful.

Driving around parts of Baltimore, one can see these temporary shelters dotting the landscape of some neighborhoods. The last day of Sukkot this year will be Friday, Oct. 9.

Building Your Own Theology Class is Full

Thanks to everyone who has signed up for this Fall's Building Your Own Theology Class! Class will begin Wednesday evening at 7:00 with our first session: Your Religious Odyssey.

Though the class itself is full, those unable to meet with the group needn't be left out. Stay tuned here at RE-Connect for readings and conversation starters on the same topics we'll be exploring in class.

Week One:

So long as human beings change and make history, so long as children are born and old people die, there will be tales to explain why sorrow darkens the day and stars fill the night. We invent stories about the origin and conclusion of life because we are exiles in the middle of time. The void surrounds us. We live within a parenthesis surrounded by question marks. Our stories and myths don't dispel ignorance, but they help us find our way, our place at the heart of the mystery. In the end, as in the beginning, there will be a vast silence, broken by the sound of one person telling a story to another.
— Sam Keen and Anne Valley Fox, Telling Your Own Story

At our first class on Wednesday, we will begin to articulate our own religious histories and journeys. As we move through our lives, our hearts and minds struggle to make meaning from our experiences. Whether spoken or unspoken, this meaning-making often takes the form of stories. What are the stories you tell yourself that help you create meaning from your experiences? What do the stories of your own childhood tell you about the nature of good and evil in the world? How do the stories of your family history inform your identity? What stories do you create to help you achieve your goals?

One of our activities will be to create a timeline of significant religious moments in our own history, identifying the moments in our own lives when our theologies formed, broke apart, re-formed, struggled or blossomed.

Leave a comment below to discuss, share a story or ask a question.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Contemporary Strings Concert, Fri. Oct. 9

There will be a very special concert happening soon at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, and it is sure to be of interest to children, youth, parents, and other lovers of music.

First Unitarian of Baltimore's 2009-2010 Concert Series opens Friday, Oct. 9 with Peabody Faculty member Courtney Orlando, violinist, leading other faculty and students in a performance of Contemporary Strings featuring Arnold Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht for string sextet, and Lisa Bielawa's piece for singing violinist, "Kafka Songs." Admission is free. There will be a free will offering to benefit the fund to restore the Niemann Organ. Suggested donation, $10. Friday, October 9, 2009 at 8 p.m. in the Enoch Pratt Parish Hall, 514 N. Charles Street. Contact: