Welcome to the beloved community of Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church. We embrace this faith, a faith that challenges us to ever do better, to recognize the silenced voices among us, to lead with the creative and redemptive power of love. It is a faith that calls us to imagine a more fair and just world, and encourages us to join together with people of all faiths, to make real, this vision of a world united by love and respect.
We are grateful for this beautiful little church of ours, and for this loving community that comes together each week to share in worship and friendship.
Call to Worship A Place of Belonging and Caring, By Kimberlee Anne Tomczak Carlson
It is not by chance that you arrived here today.
You have been looking for something larger than yourself.
Inside of you there is a yearning, a calling, a hope for more,
A desire for a place of belonging and caring.
Through your struggles, someone nurtured you into being,
Instilling a belief in a shared purpose, a common yet precious resource
That belongs to all of us when we share.
And so, you began seeking a beloved community:
A people that does not put fences around love.
A community that holds its arms open to possibilities of love.
A heart-home to nourish your soul and share your gifts.
Welcome home; welcome to worship.
Prelude In the Bleak Midwinter, Anna Kojovic-Frodl
Chalice Lighting words from Dawn Skjel Cooley
“We light our chalice this morning
grateful for the love we experience in this beloved community.
May the flame light the way for all who seek such abundance.”
Message for All Ages The Invisible Webb by Patrice Karst
Introduction by Andrea Bumpurs
The title and theme of this service is The Beloved Community. While that term can be used to represent groups of different sizes and meanings, it usually describes a group where love and justice guide relationships between people and between people and the other creatures, living things and objects in their environments; where each person is cared about and cared for, where nothing that matters is part of a zero-sum equation. The Beloved Community is a Utopian ideal, one toward which progress is made, but complete success is never achieved.
Lisa and I have focused this service on The Beloved Community in a small, familiar context: Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church – the Beloved Community those of us present today share with each other. To explore what that means, we have invited three participants in that community – our community – to talk about what being part of OBUUC means to them. To get different viewpoints, our speakers have different experiences with OBUUC. Our first speaker, Maria Scott, was raised in this church. Our second, Lee Roberts, arrived here as an adult, but has been part of our congregation for many years. She is also the mother of Hannah Roberts, who, like the Rev. Morgan McLean who spoke here two weeks ago, was raised in the church and has been ordained a UU Minister. Our final speaker, Kayla Matz, is a newer member and a younger member, part of the group that will shape our future.
It is now my pleasure to introduce our first speaker, Maria Scott, speaking on what a lifelong relationship with OBUUC has meant to her.
Speaker: Maria Scott
Good morning, I’m Maria Scott and I was raised in this church. In this church.
I don’t say OBUUC because that’s the third name I’ve known this church by.
My Beloved Church
These are my reflections, 58 years in 7 minutes or less.
I remember construction paper and glue. I remember, juice in little cups and animal crackers. I remember the joy of folk dancing with my friends.
I remember shining wainscoting that breathed the miracle of nature. I remember looking at the stained-glass windows and sensing, “THAT must be what beauty means”.
Also, I remember being afraid, there were big national conflicts that made a lot of people angry and sad, The Women’s Movement, The Civil Rights movement, Viet Nam, Race Riots, Peace Marches, and the still raw wounds from the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
I remember a UU pendant my mom used to wear that read, “War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things”. I remember the chalice
and I remember The Church Covenant… now called the 7 Principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to 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.
I don’t remember being taught how the big scary things and the Covenant could exist at the same time. How the one supported the other. That all the protest and anger was what the Covenant spoke to in action, and that it was ok. I don’t remember being comforted, there wasn’t the idea of something Greater, or God, or Love that I could find safety in. I was 10. I needed safety. I wish I had been taken by the hand told, “It’s ok”.
When I wasn’t much older, the church had an explicit sex-ed course for the youth group – it was the 70’s. The course didn’t include love, or intimacy or relationship. It didn’t teach me about safety or boundaries or that I had the choice of saying yes or saying no. It was the 70’s; it was mostly about saying yes.
In Unitarian Universalism there are 6 sources of UU teachings the first source is:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
The 2nd source:
- Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
They continue with phrases like:
Ethical and Spiritual Life, Forces which Create and Uphold Life, and the Sacred Circle of Life.
In my 20’s I was looking for that – I wanted to feel what those words meant.
But my church only talked about them.
I’d come back every five years to see if we were doing them yet. I was searching for truth and meaning, I had the expectation that church was the place to help me find them. The church said it was the place to at least look for them, but this church, my church, never went there. There was no mystery or wonder, no transformative power of love, or the sacred.
But I’m here again. I was taking my mother to and from church. And I finally surrendered to staying for the service instead of driving back and forth.
It’s been several years now, but I still don’t feel fed. I feel I have a community of amazing people, but no deep sustenance. And I know a church can give me that. I’ve been to other churches, even other UU churches, I know it’s accessible, but Unitarian Universalism, as a whole, doesn’t seem to go there —THIS church doesn’t go there and I don’t know if it even wants to.
And now I come to the reason I come back again and again. It’s the old Covenant. I was raised in this church; to me those principals are self-evident. I don’t just believe it, but I know those things are true. That language is powerful.
I can’t fathom a life that doesn’t see the truth of those principals. It is completely ingrained in my being. They are the air that I breathe. Lens through which I see the world. But what I have got to figure out how to get the profound things our SOURCES discern–
IN my body – I don’t just understand them, but I want to feel them — own them.
I still hope this church will help me with that.
Hymn #318: We Would Be One, The Community Church of Chapel Hill
Speaker: Lee Roberts
Good morning, I am Lee Roberts
My first encounter with Olympia Brown Church took place in a hospital room, soon after I gave birth to my first child, Benjamin. Without giving it much thought, I’d listed “Unitarian” as my religion on my hospital admission form and, when the Rev. Tony Larsen became aware that there was a new UU mother “in the house,” he came to congratulate me. I hadn’t met Tony before that visit, and I wondered how he knew I was there. He said it came to his attention because it was unusual for someone to list Unitarian as their faith on that admission form.
Having been raised in a Unitarian church in New Jersey, I understood how “unusual” my faith was. I had one close friend growing up whose family attended my church. But most people I knew had never even heard of the Unitarian faith. And, although we lived in a fairly heavily populated area, my family had to drive 40 minutes to attend the closest UU church. Yet, that congregation and the faith it instilled in me were an essential part of my and my family’s life throughout my childhood and young adult years.
When I moved to Racine as a young married woman, I didn’t know anyone aside from my husband. And while we didn’t join OBUUC right away, just knowing that there was a UU church here gave me comfort. When we did start attending, we were welcomed with open arms and I soon felt at home.
I am especially grateful for having had the opportunity to raise my children in this church, which – in my opinion – has one of the best RE programs anywhere! My own religious education, as well as my spiritual journey, have also grown considerably during my time here, through experiences including everything from attending worship services and teaching Sunday school to serving on the board and various committees, taking part in discussion groups, social functions and so much more.
Perhaps what I value most, though, about OBUUC, is the sense of loving community that I have felt here for 30 years. Some of the most joyous moments of my adult life have taken place in this faith community, including my daughter’s journey to becoming a UU minister, and my own opportunity to attend the General Assembly where she was honored as a new minister – both of which were made possible with help from OBUUC’s beloved community.
Some of you know my daughter, Hannah, and have witnessed the strong connection she felt with this faith even in her early years here at OBUUC. It was Hannah, in fact, who inspired our family’s consistent attendance at Sunday services, as she always looked forward to Sunday school, and other opportunities to take part in OBUUC’s congregational life – even on those occasional Sunday mornings when I might have chosen to stay home in my robe, with my coffee and newspaper. I realized just how deep those connections were for Hannah when she was a freshman at Arizona State University in Tempe, and would travel by bus each Sunday morning to attend services at the UU Congregation of Phoenix. As Hannah became more involved with that congregation and its work fighting for immigration rights, her connection to her UU faith grew even deeper.
Hannah didn’t set off to college planning to be a minister, but by the time she earned her bachelor’s degree, the seeds that were planted many years before here at OBUUC had grown into that possibility. Seeing her pursue her passion for our UU principles – and working for justice in every community she’s lived – makes me incredibly proud – not only of Hannah, but of our UU faith. I only wish that my father – who strongly believed in the importance of a faith that strives for justice and equity, as well as the freedom to search for truth – was alive to hear her give a sermon. He, too, would be SO proud of his granddaughter’s work in carrying those values forward.
Our faith’s values, as well as the people of this congregation, have also given me the support I needed during the most difficult times in my life. No matter what I was going through, I knew that I could find solace, peace and love here at OBUUC. This truly is a community of good faith – one that not only welcomes and supports all, but that serves to enlighten, inspire and expand one’s universe. I feel both fortunate and proud to be able to call OBUUC my religious home.
The Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church is a community of generosity and abundance. Especially now, in this challenging time, your generosity is what keeps this church vital, both within our 4 walls and in our surrounding community.
For the month of February, we share the generosity of our Collection Plate with the Racine Interfaith Coalition.
RIC is a non-profit organization made up of 27 congregations sharing the vision of a Beloved Community. They believe in the inherent goodness of every human being, and in respect for the cultures and beliefs of others. Their mission is to inspire action to address issues of economic and social injustice through education, advocacy, and community organizing.
When we give to this church
We give to ourselves,
and our gifts create a vibrant, thriving community
When we give to this church
We give to our children
We sustain a home that will nourish their souls, encourage the free expression of their beliefs, their values, and their questions about life.
When we give to our children
We give to the world
We foster a new generation that will use love and imagination to create a Beloved Community.
Our generosity to each other continues into the community, and into the world around us.
We receive your gifts today with an open and grateful heart
Offertory Music Bind Us Together, Diana Pavao
Speaker: Kayla Matz
Benediction and Chalice Extinguishing words from the Rev. Hope Johnson
We are one,
A diverse group
Of proudly kindred spirits
Here, not by coincidence –
But because we choose to journey – together…
Learning to love our neighbors
Learning to love ourselves.
Apologizing and forgiving with humility
Being forgiven, through Grace.
Creating the Beloved Community – Together
We are ONE.
Postlude Chopin Op 67 No 4 F, Anna Kojovic-Frodl