Articles, Reflections, & Announcements

 

Tend the Spark, Carry the Flame

Religious Exploration Programs Keep Our Members Afloat

By Jennifer Carver, Debby Tipton, and RE Families

What a year for Religious Exploration (RE)! Helen, our Religious Exploration Director, has done an amazing job of providing RE opportunities during the pandemic, when families have needed them more than ever.

Just some of the creative activities they have organized are a stuffed animal sleepover (participants received photos throughout the “party” showing the lucky stuffies doing party activities), a socially distanced Halloween scavenger hunt, craft projects on Zoom with craft kits that parents pick up from the church, and more.

In addition to the nearly weekly RE offerings, Helen started new programs to support parents and youth: a social justice-centered parent group and a new middle school group that plays Minecraft (an online game) together. They also have provided ways for our youth and families to be a part of the church community – whether being part of the chalice lightings, taking part in short video clips on Chalica that were posted on Facebook for others to view, or participating in the KINDemic Challenge. With their leadership and Kerry Burner’s unwavering behind-the-scenes support as VP for RE, participation in Religious Exploration has actually increased over the pandemic.

Our UUCT youth group has performed an essential service for our youth, whose lives have been turned upside down in the last year. They have held weekly meetings on Sunday afternoons, occasional movie nights, and socially distanced bonfires. According to members of the group, youth group has provided an opportunity to just hang out with people, meeting up every weekend. They said it’s nice to know there are people to talk to and a way to keep in touch with reality, grounding them. It’s a safe place to talk about things, and Helen (DRE) and Aun-Drey (youth guide) are amazing people.

Our middle school and younger children have enjoyed the RE offerings as well, especially the fun crafts which included a Zoom watercolor lesson from Rev. Robin (UUCT minister emerita)! One middle schooler said it is nice to be able to connect on Minecraft because it’s a mutual interest, and we can’t safely be with each other in person. In fact, the Minecraft gathering is so popular, it is being expanded beyond just the middle schoolers (3 rd -12 th grades)! These online RE activities have helped our children and youth by providing regular fun activities to help them feel less lonely.

It’s not just our kids that have benefited from our RE programs during this time. The Justice-Centered Parenting group provides a supportive space for parents and an opportunity to pause and check in with themselves and their peers. While the general focus is on how we can continue to incorporate UU values, social justice, and anti oppression into our parenting, as the pandemic has continued, the conversation includes general discussion about how families are coping, adjusting, and growing. When the group’s regular meeting night fell on the November 2020 election night, they hosted a Zoom drop-in space for reflection and conversation for the larger UUCT community. The group provides much-needed support and solidarity, recognizing that parenting is especially difficult right now, but we are all in this together.

Helen also organized the KINDemic Challenge, an opportunity for the UUCT community to perform acts of kindness (or kindlets) for each other. These acts included musical concerts, ice cream sundaes, meals, small gifts, cards, and more – a nice way to connect.

UUCT Religious Exploration programs are just one of the many ways that UUCT has tended the spark for our members this year, allowing our members, especially parents and, kids to maintain ties with the UUCT community throughout the pandemic.

 


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou 

By June Noel

Since I was a teenager, I have considered myself anti-racist. A friend began to open my mind. It was the mid-1950’s and we began to talk about racism and civil rights. I chose a career in the field of Social Work, working in mixed race communities. I not only helped black clients, I also made friends with many black colleagues over the years. But since joining Allies for Racial Equity (ARE) at UUCT I have learned a lot about myself.

Weekly our group has been on a journey of self-reflection as we work through the book by Layla. F. Saad, “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor.” This experience has awakened me in a surprising way to my white privilege, white tokenism, my ignorance of unconscious bias. This self-examination hasn’t been easy for me or any of my fellow UU members in the group. It is embarrassing and sometimes deeply troubling, yet because it is important to me, I look forward to each week.

Each of us has been challenged as we dig into our past assumptions, our behaviors, our hidden fears, and admit to our mistakes. The bare honest sharing with other people who have white privilege has broadened my awareness. We each are learning to recognize our ignorance and mistakes and we know this is only the beginning, but we are dedicated to doing better now that we know better.

 


Results of the March 11th Day of Action to Support Climate Justice

By Ed Oaksford

The March 11th Day of Action began with a 9:30 AM online virtual rally featuring Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, State Senator Lori Berman, Representative Anna V. Eskamani, Tallahassee Mayor John Daily, Rev. Latricia Scriven and Charlotte Stuart-Tilley of GenCLEO. Speakers discussed the work being done in Tallahassee to lead on environmental sustainability and climate justice and how we move forward as a city and state toward 100% clean renewable energy.

At 11:00 AM church bell towers in Tallahassee rang out for 15 minutes with green faith alliance activists supporting climate justice by marching with signs at the front of their church grounds. For churches without bell towers like UUCT, green faith activists rang yard chimes and hand bells to show support. Thanks to the Green Sanctuary activists that participated at UUCT including Rod Oldenbury, Steve Urse, Elinor Elfnor, John Whitton, Robert Burgess, and Linda & Ed Oaksford.

The great part about this rally was its international reach, as faith communities around the world joined in to show support and commit to actions alleviating climate change and the injustices that accompany it. Here’s to hoping that the collective energies of everyone on our tiny home planet earth join in to undo the damage that has been done to our fragile planetary ecosystems. It’s something we have to do together, for our future existence literally depends on it.

The challenge is now.

Cooperation is how.

Brighter days ahead.

 


Volunteer Opportunity – Collecting Treasurer

By Dan D’Arcangelis, VP for Finance

UUCT is looking for a volunteer to serve as Collecting Treasurer starting on July 1st. The Collecting Treasurer oversees all incoming money to our church, recording and depositing any payments UUCT receives. The only qualifications are computer literacy and a willingness to learn our accounting software, PowerChurch. Training will be provided by our current Collecting Treasurer, Marty Beech who has done fantastic work for UUCT for many years, as well as other members of the Finance Committee as needed.

If you are interested in serving in this role, please contact our VP for Finance at ddarcangelis@gmail.com.