March 2013

The District

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All Souls Church, Unitarian
All Souls Church, Unitarian

Driving into Washington, D.C., is a daunting task at best, but when one is on a schedule it’s even more so for those not accustomed to the city.  Luckily for us last Sunday, providence was on our side as we drove up to the historical All Souls Church, Unitarian, and easily slid into on-street parking directly across from the church’s side entrance–easily arriving on time and on point to our latest location.

Settled in the pews of the sanctuary, we all rose as the choir and Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Hardies, entered the current sanctuary with song–a sanctuary built in 1924, and the third location for this congregation founded over 190 years ago on November 11, 1821.

With an amazing history, and one that is dotted with famous patriots like President William Howard Taft, and founding members President (then Secretary of State) John Quincy Adams, and Vice President (then Secretary of War) John C. Calhoun, the three locations of All Souls Unitarian have been used for a multitude of community and social progress events from serving as a Civil War hospital, to the current Green Souls, and as part of the Washington Interfaith Network.

All Souls Church courtyard
All Souls Church courtyard

On this Sunday, Rev. Hardies’ sermon focused on resilience itself and our personal ability to find faith in those things that we may draw on in times of need.  It is the act of finding beauty, beauty as the Reverend would jokingly describe for himself as “shiny objects,” but more seriously in what brought him to our faith, the ability of UU’ism in finding “human beauty at [the] intersection of our vulnerability and our strength.” A compassionate humanism and a faith that leads us to be able to continue to grow and exist, even after death and pain have altered our lives’ paths and thrown us into the turmoil of the unknown and self-dependence.  It is the ability to draw on the flame within ourselves that keeps us moving forward, progressing and helping those in our community to also find and walk this path of resilience and beauty.

For more information on attending All Souls, visit: http://all-souls.org/

All Souls Archives and History: http://all-souls.org/archives

To learn more about the Washington Interfaith Network’s (WIN): http://www.windc-iaf.org/

To keep reading traveling tUUsome as we continue our adventure, scroll to the bottom of this page and click the “Follow” button on the left!

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The Old Dominion State

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Inside architecture of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists' Sanctuary
Inside architecture of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists’ Sanctuary

Our second Sunday found us in the middle of America’s Historical Triangle and the birthplace of American Democracy, amongst Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, Virginia.  Deeply rooted in charm and nature, we spent our weekend at the home of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists.

Arriving on Saturday, we stumbled into a spring work day at the church.  With our parking lot electrical outlet blocked by winter overgrowth, Austin took a lesson and a hand at the pruning shears, helping a church member to cut our way through the briars to the pole and thus securing our comfort for the stay.

Although I would have loved to meet the sitting minister, Rev. Jennifer Ryu, she was off sharing with another congregation while the Williamsburg UU hosted its own guest minister, the Rev. Barbara Gadon, a far distance from her home congregation at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago.

John 5:8 “Jesus said unto him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk.”

With this simple and short passage, Rev. Gadon spoke of how, when in need, it is then that we search out and find the church, find God, and find the community that we need in order to lift ourselves up and become healed of our ailments.  In the passage above, the man lay waiting by the water for many years, waiting for it to be “troubled,” yet he never rose to its edge, always fearing that he would not be the first to reach the water and therefore would never be healed.  But Jesus told the man to “rise,” to take that step beyond his doubts and do what was necessary to be healed.  With this simple direction, the man found his strength and did what he felt had been previously impossible to him.

Williamsburg UU Sanctuary
Williamsburg UU Sanctuary

Rev. Gadon shared this message with the introduction that by coming together, as a community, with each of us individually seeking what cannot be accomplished by one, we are aiding in our own personal healing and in the healing others within our group–and within society as we reach out to aid and support the struggles of others.

Stressing “Coming together and finding joy,” Rev. Gadon talked about how groups in society use this practice to bring about healing, such as with meetings by Alcoholics Anonymous where members meet, share, and find social cure through joint endeavor.  A joy also found in those that are born again, using the event as a personal step to finding their own personal journey to both physical and spiritual healing within.

To learn more about the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists: www.wuu.org, WUU is a Welcoming Congregation with active outreach programs within the community

For information on Alcoholics Anonymous: www.aa.org

Jamestown Settlement in photos

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Monday we visited the Colonial National Historic Park, Jamestown, Virginia.  The site is home to the first permanent English settlement in North America and was established on May 13, 1607.

We couldn't resist a picture with Pocahantas!
We couldn’t resist a picture with Pocahontas!

To visit this National Park: http://www.nps.gov/jame/index.htm

The Tar Heel State

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On planning our visit to North Carolina, I chose a community early in its roots yet bursting at the seams of the small meeting house it occupies.  What I found was the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fayetteville, eager to grow and ripe with enthusiasm.

Meeting room at the UUC of Fayetteville
Meeting room at the UUC of Fayetteville

A lay led church, this week’s message was presented by UUC Fayetteville member COL (Ret.) Harvest A. Floyd, U.S. Amy, speaking on his personal “Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning.”  Within his talk, COL Floyd used a Power Point presentation to trace his logical and well researched history through the advent of “God” (by all names), from Abraham to the First Council of Nicaea and beyond.

In his search, it was ultimately The Jefferson Bible that led COL Floyd to UU’ism.  Written by a fellow Unitarian, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the Bible is a counting of the life and morals of Jesus of Nazareth, extracted textually from the Gospels, and void of the additions made by the physical writers of the books of the New Testament.

COL Floyd found, through this search, a strength in morals and in the tests of reason, justice, and compassion with, at the forefront, his own understanding of who Jesus Christ was as man and prophet, and Floyd’s view of God (to all) as one Creator and one in being.  With this, he chose the poetry of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273) to illustrate:

“All religions, all this singing, one song.  The differences are just illusion and vanity.  The sun’s light looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall, and a lot different on this other one, but it’s still one light.”

Of course, as Unitarian Universalists, it is this ongoing, lifelong personal search that grows and revives our beliefs as individuals in unison with one another.  With this freedom, and the knowledge of those around us, we are able to find truth and compassion within ourselves and our world.

For information on attending the UUCF, visit: http://uucfay.org/home.html