Go to General Assembly!

What are you doing this upcoming 2014 Jun 25-29? I'll be in Providence, RI, and it sure would be great to have you there with me!

From the CUC parking lot to the Rhode Island Convention Center is less than two and half hours drive. Can you go?

Jane Dixon has a Rhode Island home with numerous bedrooms about 50 mins from downtown Providence. CUC members attending GA can stay there (just contact Jane!) Now can you go?

For a Unitarian Universalist, going to General Assembly is like going to Mecca is for a Muslim. If you’ve never been, it will deepen your faith, gladden your heart, and blow your mind. The experience puts everything we do in our congregation life in a new light – makes everything about being a Unitarian Universalist richer and more meaningful.

My first General Assembly was 16 years ago, and I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long. I’ve now been to 13, and loved each one. Please begin planning your vacation around those four days. Take the kids – they’ll love it too.
  • General Assembly is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association.
  • Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process.
  • Anyone may attend; congregations must certify annually to send voting delegates.
  • Most General Assembly events will be held in the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.
Theme for 2014 GA: "Love Reaches Out"
We believe that our faith provides a path for each of us to unlock our transformational capacity to serve the world with love. We will gather in 2014 to help our association live into a future where Love Reaches Out - to share our faith both within and beyond our congregations' walls.

Outstanding Programming
General Assembly will offer just shy of 200 programming choices over the 5 days of GA. The 2014 Ware lecturer will be Sister Simone Campbell, a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In 2012, she was instrumental in organizing the "Nuns on the Bus" tour.

Providence is a Fitting Place for UUs to Gather
Known as "The Creative Capital", Providence is a vibrant Renaissance city. UUs will essentially take over the compact downtown, where you'll find history, natural beauty and vibrant culture wherever you turn.

WaterFire Providence®
On Saturday, June 28, the UUA will co-sponsor this community event and public art phenomenon. This is an amazing opportunity for us to participate in the local culture of our host city while simultaneously witnessing our faith.

Multigenerational and Inclusive
There is an active youth and young adult contingent at GA. Scholarship and Volunteer Opportunities, Childcare, and Accessibility Services are available.

Check the latest on GA at the UUA's GA page: CLICK HERE.

Books for a Well-Grounded UU Faith

Twenty Books Toward a Well-Grounded Unitarian Universalist Faith
Assembled by Rev. Meredith Garmon

Start with these two, which lay the foundation. If you were to only read two books about UU, and you needed them to be fairly short, these are the two I'd recommend.

1. Conrad Wright, Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism: Channing, Emerson, Parker (Skinner House, 1994). 160pp. Includes the three absolutely essential statements from which everything else in Unitarian history grew: William Ellery Channing, “Unitarian Christianity” (1819), Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Divinity School Address” (1838), and Theodor Parker, “The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity” (1841). Conrad Wright’s extensive introduction is most helpful.

2. David Bumbaugh, Unitarian Universalism: A Narrative History (Meadville-Lombard, 2001). 226pp. A short, easy-to-read overview of our story. The only flaw is that Bumbaugh neglects to mention the Iowa Sisterhood, a cadre of women Unitarian ministers in the late 1800s who led churches out on the prairie frontier. This gap will be filled when you get to book #12 (below). Otherwise, this is a breezy and easily digestible book for beginning to get a handle on what UU is all about.

With the basics of our history under your belt, turn to our theology: our spiritual teachings and the grounding of our values.

3. Forrest Church and John A. Buehrens, A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism (Beacon, 1994). 240pp. The 240 pages are small. This interesting book is organized around the six sources of our UU living tradition, with one essay by Church and one by Buehrens on each of our sources. Buehrens and Church reference our history by discussing how our historical background is playing out in our churches today. A marvelous and important way of getting the grasp on what we are all about. At this stage, the grounding of your UU faith will be deepening, enriched by the heritage and thought of this tradition.

4. Edward A. Frost, Ed. With Purpose and Principle: Essays About the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism (Skinner House, 1998). 128pp. This little book offers a short history the seven UU Principles (adopted in 1985) followed by essays from John Buehrens, Marilyn Sewell, Earl Holt, and Barbara Merritt, and others exploring the meaning and significance of each principle.

Let’s now really focus on the Universalism side. The history here is rich and in itself offers us resources for living our faith today. Here, and in the next section on Unitarianism, the books offer diverse perspectives that will strengthen and expand the grasp on our story that you began to get from Bumbaugh (above). This section also includes exploration of Universalism's meaning today.

5. Charles A. Howe, The Larger Faith: A Short History of American Universalism (Skinner House, 1993). 168pp. Howe condenses Russell Miller’s massive two-volume study, The Larger Hope, vol 1: The First Century of the Universalist Church in America, 1770-1870 and The Larger Hope, vol. 2: The Second Century of the Universalist Church in America, 1870-1970.

6. George Hunston Williams, American Universalism, 4th ed. (Skinner House, 2002). 136pp. This began as Williams's keynote address to the 1970 UUA General Assembly, expanded into this classic study of Universalist theological positions. Examines the richness of American Universalism and its many expressions in American life and thought. Williams considers the social reform efforts of Horace Greeley and Quillen Shinn, the ordination of women, the temperance movement and more.

7. Ernest Cassara, Editor. Universalism in America: A Documentary History of a Liberal Faith(Skinner House, 1997). 304pp. Selected writings from some of the most influential persons in Universalism, 1741 to 1961, plus incisive commentaries. Sketches the fascinating course of Universalism, stressing trends in thought and in American society.

How is this Universalist background continuing as a vital and alive source of our identity and growth today? See:

8. Forrest Church, The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology (Beacon, 2010). 216pp. The last book from UU minister Forrest Church, who died of cancer in 2009. This collection of sermons, essays and speeches lays out a framework for a 21st-century universalist faith. Contrary to popular opinion, he says, universalism is the most morally rigorous of theologies because of its call to respect and even embrace otherness, rather than merely to tolerate or, even worse, dismiss it.


We delve more deeply into our European roots and our American development. We’ll then examine two important chapters in Unitarian history: the first wave of women in our ministry, and the emergence of the Humanist movement.

9. Charles A. Howe, For Faith and Freedom: A Short History of Unitarianism in Europe (Skinner House, 1997). 232pp. Howe condenses and makes more readable Earl Morse Wilbur’s magisterial (though some have said "ponderous") two-volume history of Unitarianism in Europe.

10. Conrad Wright, Ed. A Stream of Light: A Short History of American Unitarianism (Skinner House, 2001). 192pp. Five authors, writing one chapter each, provide a survey of Unitarian thought in the US from 1805 to 1961.

11. Cynthia Grant Tucker, Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880-1930 (Authors Choice, 1990, 2000). 312pp. Tucker, an English Professor, has written a powerful history of the women of the “Iowa Sisterhood”: Unitarian ministers in the late 1800s on the prairie frontier who broke through boundaries of gender and brought to Unitarianism a more family-centered and relational style of congregational life.

12. Mason Olds, American Religious Humanism (Religious Humanists, 1996). 237pp. In the 1920s and 1930s, influential Unitarian ministers John Dietrich, Curtis Reese, and others turned Unitarianism into a home for humanism. This is the story of how that happened.

“Polity” refers to how we govern ourselves. Our history of church autonomy says a lot – ultimately everything – about who we are.

13. Conrad Wright, Walking Together: Polity and Participation in Unitarian Universalist Churches (UUA, 1989). 166pp. The insistence that we shall have no popes, bishops, or church hierarchy -- no authority beyond each other, coming together in autonomous congregations -- has radical spiritual implications. Our polity embodies our religious approach in which we have only each other: right here, face to face, walking together as we seek a wiser love and a kinder world.


14. George Kimmel Beach, Ed. The Essential James Luther Adams: Selected Essays and Addresses (Skinner House, 1997), 240pp. James Luther Adams (1901 – 1996) was the most important Unitarian theologian of the 20th Century. This little book collects essays spanning Adams’ long career.

15. Paul Rasor, Faith Without Certainty: Liberal Theology in the 21st Century (Skinner House, 2005). 256pp. Paul Rasor, a UU minister, further develops the tradition of James Luther Adams. His clear-eyed yet hopeful analysis explores the dynamic tensions of liberal theology, committed to individual freedom on the one hand and community on the other.

16. Rebecca Ann Parker, Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now (Skinner House, 2006). 169pp. Rebecca Parker, president and professor of theology at the UU seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, is moving, original, and heartfelt in the eloquence with which she draws upon and recasts theological resources that direct us away from violence and toward the forces that repair broken life.


17. Richard S. Gilbert, The Prophetic Imperative: Social Gospel in Theory and Practice, 2nd Ed. (Skinner House, 1989, 2000). 191pp. Richard Gilbert, a UU minister, explores the connections between spirituality and social action. The book’s two parts, "Theoretical Foundations" and "Social Gospel in Practice," contain vital advice and models for congregational mobilization for justice work

18. Sharon Welch, A Feminist Ethic of Risk (Augsberg Fortress, 1989). 208 pp. Sharon Welch, Provost and Professor of Religion and Society at the Unitarian Universalist seminary, Meadville Lombard Theological School, proposes a new model for ethics and new life orientation for social justice. In this book, Welch directly addresses American and European "middle-class despair" over issues and challenges seemingly too large to tackle, such as environmental destruction or racism. Her ethic uproots classical assumptions and opens up the possibility of a strong religious vision or "theology of resistance and hope."

19. John Gibb Millspaugh, Ed. A People So Bold: Theology and Ministry for Unitarian Universalists (Skinner House, 2009). Twenty-two prominent ministers, lay leaders and theologians discuss the future of Unitarian Universalist social justice work. Their thoughts and hopes for the future are captured in this inspiring collection of essays. Grounding this mission in an historical context, these voices address questions like: How does our faith hold brokenness, injustice and suffering? and How do we develop a prophetic voice?

This self-guided study course concludes with this new book which will reward the work of your reading up to this point, and offer vital and important additional perspectives on who we are, how we got this way, and where we go from here.

20. John A. Buehrens, Universalists and Unitarians in America: A People’s History (Skinner House, 2011). John Buehrens begins his new history with the observation that "Religion is people." While previous accounts of Universalism and Unitarianism have focused on a few great men, this history shines a light on the contributions of many, both exalted and obscure, whose stories illustrate the texture of lived religion. Both faiths are chronicled in parallel development through their consolidation in 1961. Buehrens weaves a historical tapestry rich in color and meaning.

Epilogue: In the light of all you’ve studied, come full circle and now re-read the Channing, Emerson, and Parker addresses in book #1, above. Much indeed has grown from those roots!


Bird Walks at CUC

Bird Walk
Occasional Sundays (appox once a month)
8:30 - 9:40a
Starting at the Parsonage, back door
466 Rosedale Ave
White Plains, NY 10605

These walks are for nurturing nature -- human nature as we commune with one another, and other species -- and engaging in nature spiritual practice. We also provide scientific information about the birds we see to help conservation and ecological initiatives.

  • Learn to better identify birds
  • Compile a bird list and contribute as citizen scientists by reporting to ebird
  • Get to know others in our congregation and in our ecological communities
  • Share the joy of birds and the rest of nature with one another
  • Engage in nature spiritual practice
  • Get some exercise
What We Will Do:
  • Walk around parking lot and nature trails on CUC grounds looking for and enjoying birds, as well as enjoying silence and stillness at certain points
  • Specifically reflect upon guided meditations offered by facilitator, Rev. LoraKim Joyner
What You’ll Need:
  • Adequate shoes and clothing for the dirt trails (or mud or snow) and weather. We will meet no matter the weather as long as the roads are safe.
  • Binoculars (we will have some extra pairs available)
For more information contact Rev. LoraKim Joyner, DVM at amoloros@gmail.com or 914-948-1696.

Stand Against Gun Violence: Wed Feb 12

Westchester United is focused on a limited number of particularly important local issues. In 2013, Westchester United member communities began exploring ways to reduce gun violence. Westchester United has since joined with sister organizations from a variety of states that are taking a market-based approach to influencing the gun industry. This is part of a national effort asking police departments and the military, the largest block of buyers of firearms and ammunition, to use our tax dollars to request reasonable reform in the gun industry.

Westchester United has organized an event in White Plains to advance this effort.

Wed Feb 12 at 7:15p (doors open at 6:30)
St Bart’s Episcopal Church
82 Prospect Street
White Plains

Attendees: Rabbi Joel Mossbacher.
Leader of "New Jersey Together Against Gun Violence," and of Metro IAF’s campaign, “Do Not Stand Idly By"
Rabbi Mossbacher will brief us on his trip to Europe seeking out international allies and European gun manufacturers to work with us on gun industry reform.

Invitees: Westchester United and Metro IAF Members, Friends and Supporters; Mayors, Police Chiefs, and Officials who will be publicly asked to take steps to prevent gun violence.

What Mayors, Police Chiefs, and Other Municipal Officials Can Do to Prevent Gun Violence

Mayors across the U.S. are beginning to go beyond symbolic gestures and use their taxpayer-funded firearms purchasing power to encourage innovative, responsible leadership in the global gun industry. This will be a long-term effort requiring patience, persistence and attention to detail. "Westchester United," "New Jersey Together," and other affiliates of Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) are leading this effort.

As an initial step, we are asking mayors and other executive-branch officials to initiate a review of their city’s firearms procurement, either by an executive order (such as the sample executive order below), or by a city/town council resolution.

The more cities and towns that take this step, the stronger the signal to gun manufacturers and investors that there is an emerging market for smarter, safer guns and responsible gun distribution practices.

Sample Executive Order to Review Firearms Procurement

WHEREAS the [Township of Mahwah] must from time to time purchase firearms and ammunition for the [Mahwah] Police Department; and

WHEREAS firearms and ammunition are tools used by the police department for the purpose of protecting public safety; and

WHEREAS it is in the interests of the people of Mahwah to ensure that the Township’s purchases of firearms and ammunition contribute to public safety to the fullest possible extent; and

WHEREAS it is in the interests of the people of Mahwah to periodically review and update the specifications and standards used in product purchasing in order to evaluate changes in the marketplace and to re-evaluate the needs of the Township;

NOW, THEREFORE I, ____________________, by virtue of the authority vested in me as _________, order a review by the Township of the Township’s policies, practices, specifications and standards for purchasing firearms and ammunition.

In order to conduct this review thoroughly, and with the greatest possible efficiency and least possible expenditure of the Township’s resources, the Township will seek to work in conjunction with other municipal, state and federal government entities that are conducting similar inquiries.

The first phase of this review will be a scan of the marketplace to gather extensive information from and about manufacturers and vendors of firearms and ammunition in order to determine the following:

  • Technical capabilities to enhance gun safety: Which firearms providers are able to produce weapons that incorporate owner-recognition firing mechanisms (a.k.a. “smart gun” capabilities)? What other safety-enhancing features are available in the current marketplace?
  • Technical capabilities to enhance law enforcement ballistics investigations: Which firearms providers are able to produce weapons that incorporate bullet microstamping technologies? Are there models suitable for law enforcement use that incorporate this capability? What other technologies are available in the marketplace to enhance law enforcement’s ballistics capabilities?
  • Distribution practices and cooperation with law enforcement: Which firearms providers are able to establish well-managed distribution systems for their firearms, and to cooperate to the fullest extent possible with law enforcement in its efforts to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill individuals? Which providers are able to establish the most effective buyback programs and other incentives to minimize the extent to which their products are sold second-hand on the “private” market? What other effective practices are being carried out or considered by firearms providers to assist law enforcement in limiting illegal gun trafficking?
  • Commitment to minimizing the “arms race” between law enforcement and civilians: Which firearms and ammunition providers voluntarily refrain from sales of high-capacity magazines and military-grade firearms in the U.S. consumer marketplace?
  • Overall commitment to firearm safety in the U.S. marketplace: Which firearms providers carry out effective programs to ensure that all of their firearms sold in the United States are equipped with effective trigger locks and instructions on safe firearm storage? What other effective safety practices are being carried out or considered by firearms providers in the U.S. marketplace?

The first phase of this review is to be completed by 2014 Dec 31.

The second phase of this review will be to evaluate the findings of the market scan and to develop new standards and specifications to be used by the Township in future purchases of firearms and ammunition. This phase will be completed by 2015 Jun 30.

What you can do to help this event be a major success:

1. Come out and take a stand with us. Be there at St. Barts on Wed Feb 12 and bring others: family members, other congregants, neighboring congregants, to learn more and show support.

2. Reach out to your local municipal officials and ask them to sign onto to our efforts, and come to event on Wed Feb 12 to publicly commit to working with us, or at least to hear about our strategies.

3. Show up at 5:30p to help set up.


Shermer: "The Science of Good and Evil"

The "Science and Spirituality" group meets at CUC every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.
11:30a - 1:00p

On Thu Jan 23, the group will be concluding its read of:

 Michael Shermer, The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule (2004).

For Jan 23, the focus will be on the concluding two chapters -- chaps 7 and 8.

About the book:
'From bestselling author Michael Shermer, an investigation of the evolution of morality that is "a paragon of popularized science and philosophy" The Sun (Baltimore)

'A century and a half after Darwin first proposed an "evolutionary ethics," science has begun to tackle the roots of morality. Just as evolutionary biologists study why we are hungry (to motivate us to eat) or why sex is enjoyable (to motivate us to procreate), they are now searching for the very nature of humanity.

'In The Science of Good and Evil, science historian Michael Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates; how and why morality motivates the human animal; and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence.

Along the way he explains the implications of scientific findings for fate and free will, the existence of pure good and pure evil, and the development of early moral sentiments among the first humans. As he closes the divide between science and morality, Shermer draws on stories from the Yanamamö, infamously known as the "fierce people" of the tropical rain forest, to the Stanford studies on jailers' behavior in prisons. The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth.'

Join us!


In The Spirit of Truth with Stuart Perrin: Sun Feb 2

Stuart Perrin writes:
"In 1992, with my colleague Kristina Jones, I co­founded a safe house in Kathmandu, Nepal. We ran this organization from 1992 to 1996. The goal was to find children that were prime targets for the sex trafficking industry and convince their parents to place the children in the safe house instead of selling them to traffickers. We worked closely with doctors and NGO’s to find these children. But, this wasn’t easy. People living in the hinterlands of Nepal earned about $15 to $20 a year. A girl had less value than a water buffalo. If she didn’t get married, she was a disgrace to her family. To marry her, the family had to give a sizeable dowry. When a trafficker offered $200.00 (in rupees) to a family, it was a virtual fortune. Each family had between four and twelve children. They were told that the girl would work as a nanny or as a factory hand in Bombay. She would be able to send money home. Of course, this wasn’t true. The child was sold to a brothel in Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta or somewhere else in India and never heard from again. Kristina and I also had women and children in the safe house that had escaped from or were thrown out of Bombay brothels because they had AIDS. At the time, there were about twenty girls living in the safe house. Today there are many more.

"In 1996, because of personal illness, Krisitna had to leave Nepal. She and I spoke with Dr. Aruna Uprety who ran RHEST (Rural Health and Educational Trust of Nepal) and asked her if they could incorporate their organization (called Bahini) under the auspices of RHEST. Aruna agreed to do this. Bahini was the first organization of its kind every started in Nepal. About a year and a half ago, Aruna telephoned Kristina and I, and told us, that because we started the Bahini Foundation it had saved the lives of about 10,000 Nepalese children.

"The stories I heard from women who had lived in Bombay brothels were so dark and inhuman they forced me to write my book titled “Little Sisters.” I wanted people to see what actually happens to innocent twelve­year old children when they are sold to brothels; I wanted people to see how they are stripped of their souls and transformed into machines that service a score of men a day. If I tried to make a documentary film like this, I would probably have gotten myself killed. Fiction was the only means I could use to get at the truth. If people actually see what goes on in a dramatic and digestible way, I believed that laws would change and more attention would be paid to the problem. Little Sisters was published about eight months ago. Members of the FBI and police detectives I have done panel events with in New York and other cities have told me that what I wrote about in my book is a mirror image of what goes on in the United States.

"Suggested reading: “LITTLE SISTERS” by Stuart Perrin (available from Amazon.com in kindle and print formats; also available from Apple e­store, Sony e­reader; Nook, Smashwords, etc. in a digital format). If your local bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, it can be ordered from their distributor.

"A Brief Synopsis: “Little Sisters” is a multicultural family and love story that’s set in New York City, Nepal and Mumbai, India. The underlying theme is child trafficking into prostitution. It takes you on a journey from the world of vast New York City wealth to the hinterlands of extreme poverty in Nepal to brothels in Mumbai, India. Gita, an extremely beautiful Nepalese dancer is married to Daniel Gold, an A­list lawyer who was born to parents that are fabulously wealthy. They plan a trip to the hinterlands of Nepal to see Gita’s family, a second honeymoon of sorts that eventually leads them into the heart of darkness. Though set in New York and Asia, the plot line of Little Sisters has a strong influence from classical tragedy. The most sophisticated characters turn out to be the most innocent and the darkest characters become tragic heroes. A Saga­like family story, Little Sisters takes the reader on an incredible journey.

"Bio: I have spent much of my life teaching meditation at centers I helped to form around the world. In 1992, I opened a meditation center in Kathmandu. That’s how Kristina Jones and I discovered the sex­slave industry in Nepal. The Bahini Foundation (safe house) was an outgrowth of our spiritual practice. It was a way that we could give something back to the world."

On Sun Feb 2, in the Fellowship Hall after the service (11:45 - 1:15p), Stuart will join the In The Spirit of Truth gathering to share his experiences and passion. Don't miss it!

For the Amazon page for Stuart Perrin's novel, Little Sisters, CLICK HERE.


CUC Bird Walk Report: Sun Jan 5

Bird Walk Results
Sunday Morning Jan 5 (National Bird Day)

Report filed by:
Rev. LoraKim Joyner, DVM

Time of observations: 8:30am - 9:30am EST
Site: Grounds of Community Unitarian Church, 468 Rosedale Ave (approx. 8 acres)

Rusty Blackbird
The weather was great for our bird walk on Sunday. I mean, really. It was warmer than 10 degrees F, and there was no snow or freezing rain. As a recent transplant from Florida I’m pleased to see how mild the winters are here. To prepare for the walk we had beach blankets and coolers in hand.

Though a temperate clime, we couldn’t go on the trails due to the snow. Flip flops tend to get lost when there is more than 4 inches on the ground. So we stuck to the pavement for most of the time. Beginning at the parsonage we went up “on top” and went behind the church to enjoy the memorial garden. There we saw a mature red-tailed hawk fly over and observed many deer tracks. We also noticed a couple of robin nests on the beams outside the church, although no robins in the air. Blue jays staid in the tops of the trees and juncos stuck to the ground. In between were cardinals, a downy woodpecker, and mourning doves.

After the walk we went to the parsonage to enjoy good company and a warm fire and beverage to heat up. Poems were read and friends made. There we could see many of the birds up close at the new feeders installed on the outside porch. In total there were only slighty more humans present than species of birds - 16 of us, observing 14 species (see list below). It total, we have seen 23 species of birds on CUC grounds since the start of the year.

The bird species and numbers will be compiled for a running bird list for the year, and were also entered on ebird (www.ebird.org - a great place for citizen scientists to contribute to understanding and conserving birds).

Please join us for our next walk, Sun Feb 9 at 8:30am at the parsonage. Dress according to what the ground hog sees the week before.

Red-tailed Hawk
Species Seen Jan 5

1 Red-tailed hawk
2 mourning doves
1 downy woodpecker
2 blue jays
1 American crow
5 rusty blackbirds
2 tufted titmice
2 black-capped chickadees
1 white-breasted nuthatch
2 song sparrows
3 white-throated sparrows
4 dark-eyed juncos
4 northern cardinals
1 house sparrow

Subsequent Bird Walk Reports (click on date)
Sun Mar 2
Sun Feb 9