Soul Matters at Tree of Life: Being a Community of Intention

In worship and chalice circles we are exploring the value of holding “intention” – for our community and for us as individuals.   Through the Soul Matters curriculum, we are invited to consider how “intentions” are different from “goals”.  We are offered ideas for considering how intention is a form of alignment.

In Phillip Moffitt’s The Heart’s Intention, we find these words of reflection:

Goal making is a valuable skill; it involves envisioning a future outcome in the world or in your behavior, then planning, applying discipline, and working hard to achieve it.  You organize your time and energy based on your goals; they help provide direction for your life.

Setting intention is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are “being” in the present moment.  Your attention is on the ever-present “now” in the constantly changing flow of life.  You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.

Goals help you make your place in the world and be an effective person. But being grounded in intention is what provides integrity and unity in your life. Through the skillful cultivation of intention, you learn to make wise goals and then to work hard toward achieving them without getting caught in attachment to outcome.  Continually returning to your intentions can be helpful in working on goals.  And this remembering of intention can be a blessing, because it provides a sense of meaning in your life that is independent of whether you achieve certain goals or not.

This month our Soul Matters packets offer materials for us to  come together as a community in exploring the meaning of “intention” – as we think about ways to experience it our lives and as we work to incorporate it in our community.   The Soul Matters resource packet can be accessed here.   If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take a copy from those available in the fellowship room or ask for a copy, if they have all been taken.   You might also like to consider joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying.

Wishing you joy in community,

M.E. Tanabe

Job Opportunity to Grow our Faith

Opening for UU Military Ministry Lay Leader

I am Roger Baron, the Board President of the Unitarian Universalist Military Ministry Great Lakes (a 501c3 non-profit company separate from the UUA).  Ministerial support is provided by Rev. Bret Lortie at the Unitarian Church of Evanston.

I’m writing to let you know of an immediate opening (January, 2018) for a lay leader to provide UU services for recruits at the Navy’s Great Lakes Recruit Training Command (boot camp).  Two additional openings will occur in May and June, 2018.

This is a rare opportunity to introduce young adults to Unitarian Universalism, allow them to explore questions they have about their religious beliefs and life, and provide a place to recover their humanity while immersed in the physically and emotionally challenging training the Navy is putting them through.  Joys & Concerns, where they are encouraged to give their first name, is a highlight of each service.

The recruits we see have chosen us from among the many religious services that go on simultaneously in the chapel on Sunday morning.  Although some come from a UU tradition, for many this is their first exposure to Unitarian Universalism or to religious liberalism in general. They come from all over the U.S. and are surely the youngest and most diverse group of UUs worshiping on Sunday morning anywhere in the nation. We typically see ten to twenty recruits each week, though there can be as many as fifty in the summer.

The Navy allows five lay leaders from each of the 13 smaller faith groups that do not have a commissioned officer chaplain (Buddist, Muslim, LDS, Christian Science, UU, etc.).  Each lay leader gives about one service a month from 9:30 – 10:30 Sunday morning in one of the smaller rooms of the base chapel.  We conduct a traditional Unitarian Universalist service, but each lay leader adapts the service to his or her own style.  Since there is a new class every few weeks, once a service has been developed it can be repeated indefinitely.

A new lay leader will be accredited by the UUA, get Navy security clearance, have a one hour session with the Chaplain about the do’s and don’ts of working with the recruits, and be given a base pass for their car. The new lay leader will receive as much personal support as needed to get started, though after one or two times there will be a feeling of, “Thanks, I get it.”

Lay leadership extends Unitarian Universalism, provides spiritual support for a fine group of young adults who have chosen to serve our country, and offers a unique, personally rewarding experience. It is open to men and women (about a quarter of the recruits are women), regardless of age, race or sexual orientation.

If this sounds interesting and you would like to know more, email rbbaron@comcast.net or call my home: 847-291-1082, cell:  312-560-8382.  Since the Navy takes a month or so for their paperwork, we hope to have someone in place soon to be ready for a January or February, 2018 start.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Roger Baron

Board president,

UU Military Ministry Great Lakes

www.uummgl.org

UUMMGL worship leaders: Roger Baron, Lt. Allen Rotert, Gary Zacny, Gemma Guenther, Kevin DeBeck, Rev. Rudra Dundzila

Being a Community of Abundance

Soul  Matters  at  Tree  of  Life   Being a Community of  Abundance

Almost always the way we think about our abundance is colored by our perceived circumstances contrasted with  our perceived needs.  This month’s Soul Matters  packet encourages us to look for what we appreciate in our lives in or order to give some “weight” to what is already available to us

When we take care to find what has value for us, the realization also carries a natural gratitude. From our sense of abundance  and its accompanying gratitude is a visible line connecting us to our generosity –with our time, our goodwill, our creativity,  and our material goods.  With that in mind,  I’d like to offer a paraphrased excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s poem on Giving.

“…there are those who give and do not feel loss in their giving, nor do they seek fulfillment, nor are they thinking of their virtue;  they give as blossoming trees breathe fragrance into space.   Through the hands of such givers, the Divine speaks……     ….although some say, I will give, but only to the deserving, the trees in the orchard and the flocks in the field believe otherwise:  they give so that they may live; for them to withhold is to perish.

….reflect on your ability to be an instrument of giving – for in truth, it is life that gives to life.  While you think of yourself as a giver, you are only a witness….”

This month may we come together as a community in exploring the meaning of “abundance” – as we think about ways to experience it our lives and as we work to see it manifested around us.   “Abundance”  is the theme for our worship services.   The resource packet can be accessed here If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take a copy from those available in the fellowship room (or ask for a copy, if they have all been taken).   You are also invited to join discussion through one of our Chalice Circles – you can find details about these circles here  and there are also flyers next to the other packets.

Wishing you joy in community, M.E. Tanabe

Exploring Soul Matters

Exploring Soul Matters

        and Growing Community

                at Tree of Life

Within UU congregations, the “small group ministry” is a widely accepted format for adult programs.   Sometimes the groups are known by the name of the curriculum being used, but often the name “chalice circle”  is chosen because the chalice is the UU symbol of the sacred aspect of worship and also because listening to one another is a sacred act of community…..so  Chalice Circle  is the name we are using at Tree of Life.

In one form or another, this type of program has been ongoing in our community since 2011 .  Since 2014 we have been using the Soul Matters curriculum for our circles and in the past year we have expanded to 4 circles meeting every month.   When we gather, we come to know the joys and challenges of each other’s lives and we hear the deeper thoughts and questions that we all share as human beings  — the stories of others help make our own stories appear to us with more clarity.

In September our circles resume and will explore the topic of Welcome.(click here for packet)   All circles meet once a month with a maximum of 10 persons.   Below is a list of the ongoing circles, but we are eager to start new ones as well.  It’s possible to have a circle meet in someone’s home if there is enough interest in a general location – such as Woodstock.

If you would like to hear how people feel about this program,  Marc Stettner, Sue McCowin, Irene Raven, or Judy Stettner would be happy to share their experiences.   If you’re unsure if this is for you, you are welcome to attend and then decide if you would like to continue.

Exisiting Circles meet monthly  (for Sept, the 2nd Sunday is being moved temporarily)

2nd  Wednesday   10:00 – 11:30 am

2nd Sunday  9:00 – 10:00 am                                          New Circles proposed:

2nd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                             1st  Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                

3rd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                                 and we’re open for requests

If you have questions, comments, would like to sign up for a circle, or propose a different circle time, we would love to hear from you, so feel free to use our contact information or talk to us in church.

 

In faith,

  1. E. Tanabe Ph. 815 337 9895            and                                    Janet Burns     Cell  847 542 7678               m.e.tanabe@comcast.net                                                                      janetrugi@yahoo.com

 

“Listening solidifies relationships and is a foundation for community.  Listening with undivided attention and without interruption moves us beyond differences and shows deep respect; the speaker is valued.  Paying attention and being paid attention create a community which embodies our UU principle of affirming and promoting the worth and dignity of each person ….

            Having others attend to your personal story affirms your journey, and having others listen to you encourages you to take yourself more seriously.  Trusting yourself to speak your truth to a group strengthens your ability to speak your truth wherever you go” 

— Rev. Barbara Hamilton-Holway

 

“I suspect the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention… When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them”

 

— Rachel Naomi Remen

Growing Community, Connecting More Deeply

It’s no secret that the resilience of a strong community, like a strong family, holds up under challenges, the unexpected, and change.  It’s equally true that in the midst of difficulties, growing closer to one another is fundamental to helping the whole community develop confidence and trust in one another.  And when we open ourselves to allow the vulnerabilities of becoming closer to others, we also grow our understanding of what it is to be human and from that knowledge, we also gain strength.

Last fall at Tree of Life, we expanded our small group ministry program – Chalice Circles – which uses the UUA curriculum of Soul Matters. I believe all those who have been participating have found it a rewarding experience and an opportunity to get to know others more deeply.  If you would like to hear personal testimony, Marc Stettner, Sue McCowin, Irene Raven, Judy Stettner would be happy to share their experiences with this program.

Sometimes the small group ministries are set up using a sharing template but we have found that a listening model is a more powerful means of growing understanding and developing deeper inter-personal bonds.  We like the name “chalice circle” (which is often used by UU congregations) because the chalice is a symbol of the sacred aspect of worship and listening to one another in silence is a sacred act of community.

We are now beginning an expansion of the program by inviting increased attendance for existing circles and by proposing new times and possibly new locations.  All circles meet once a month with a maximum of 10 persons.

Existing Circles                                                                    New Circles proposed:

2nd Sunday 9:00 – 10:00am                                               1st Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm

2nd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                                                1st Wednesday   7:00 – 8:30 pm

3rd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm (full)

 

There is also the possibility to have a circle meet in someone’s home if there is enough interest in one area – for example, we have an offer to meet in Cary in a morning if there are others who would like to also gather there.  ….possibly there are enough people in the Woodstock who would like to form a home meeting group.  If you would like to see different times offered, please let us know.

Please consider joining a circle as the gift of yourself to the community.  Although regular attendance is most beneficial, no one is discouraged from attending even if they have to miss meetings.  If you’re unsure if this is for you, you are welcome to attend and then decide if you want to continue.

If you have questions or comments, we would love to hear from you, so feel free to use our contact information or talk to us in church.

 

In faith,

M.E. Tanabe   and                                                   Janet Burns

Ph.  815 337 9895                                                   Cell 847 542 7678

m.e.tanabe@comcast.net                                       janetrugi@yahoo.com

 

“Listening solidifies relationships and is a foundation for community.  Listening with undivided attention and without interruption moves us beyond differences and shows deep respect; the speaker is valued.  Paying attention and being paid attention create a community which embodies our UU principle of affirming and promoting the worth and dignity of each person ….

            Having others attend to your personal story affirms your journey, and having others listen to you encourages you to take yourself more seriously.  Trusting yourself to speak your truth to a group strengthens your ability to speak your truth wherever you go” 

— Rev. Barbara Hamilton-Holway

“I suspect the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention… When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them”

— Rachel Naomi Remen

The House That Music Built

By Rev. Sean Parker Dennison

Once upon a time, there was a congregation. It had been around for many years, 150 to be exact, and in that time it had a lot of names and did a lot of work, and sometimes it thrived and sometimes it struggled. In the times that it thrived, buildings were built and good works were accomplished, and sermons were preached, and people were happy.  And in the times that it struggled, there were always people who kept on, doing what they could to keep the building from falling apart, helping with Sunday services, and holding onto hope. And every time the congregation struggled, it also grew stronger, more tenacious, and eventually, more loving.

Through all this, there was one constant. The people of the congregation loved music. They sang and they played and they listened and they learned and they loved the music that came from their own hearts and they loved the music that they made for each other. Not only that, they offered whatever music they could to those outside the congregation, and they did it in a way that spread music and love and justice beyond their own walls.

They became a Paradise people, committed to bringing a little bit of heaven right down to their tiny corner of this earth. They worked hard, they practiced hard, they had fun, and music held them together. The walls of the congregation rang with music and the hearts of the people were full of music: from the saddest songs that made them cry to the ones that made them laugh and shout and smile and dance together through times of folly and times of fantastic success.

When nothing else was going well, they relied on music to restore them, to keep them connected and to keep them going. They found amazing musicians to lead them, to teach them new songs, to show them how to practice, how to lay aside their differences and sing together, to create harmony.

They learned that music was not just something for fun, not just an extracurricular activity, but was the core of who they were when they were at their best, a way to build relationships that sustained them all, a way to BE the congregation they wanted to be. In a real way, the congregation was made of music: of the songs, but also the singing; of the way they worked together, even when things sometimes went wrong.

Together, they sang. They played. They listened. They learned. They composed and arranged and soloed and jammed and invited everyone to come, be a part of the music. Come to the coffee house, to Cabaret Church, to choir practice, to the concerts, and come every Sunday, to sing the hymns, to listen to the offertory, to soothe and encourage and uplift the soul.

In each generation, the congregation learned a new song. A new leader came forth and showed them the way. In a very real way, music held the congregation together and helped it thrive. Today, we are not the house that only one person built. We are the house that music built. So when you see someone here that has made your heart sing, has built this congregation with their commitment, talent, and hard work, who has played an instrument, or run the sound system, or sung a song, remember that they are part of what built this congregation, they are a part of the house that music built.  Take a minute and tell them thank you.

New Members Welcomed!

On May 22, 2016 we welcomed five new members to our congregation during our Sunday service. They have all completed the New Member Orientation class and decided they wanted to make a commitment to the mission of our congregation.

Linda Kress20160522_112124

Linda is still a resident of Clinton, AR until she sells her house, then she will be permanent at her condo in Fox Lake, where she lives 6 months of the year for now.  Her best canine companion friend is Mollypolly, a three year old white terrier-mix rescue. Her daughter and two grandchildren live in Wauconda.

Linda started coming to the Unitarian church in 2005 but it was in the basement with Blue Lotus. She has been Buddhist for 10 years but has also gone to Countryside church with her daughter sometimes and liked it.

Linda then decided she wanted to try to come to Tree of Life last fall. When she is in Arkansas she doesn’t have any church, so she goes to Peace Lutheran and also belongs to their Women’s mission group, making quilts and lap robes for families in need, retirement centers and to send overseas.

Linda is a nurse, a Master Gardener, and enjoys Ballroom and line dancing, bird watching, clogging, Zumba, movies, hiking, and cooking. Linda has traveled a lot including to Sri Lanka in 2005.

 

Helen Lindquist 20160522_112151

Helen lives in Crystal Lake. Her immediate family includes her daughter and 4 year old granddaughter who she spent 6 weeks with over the winter (instead of going to Transylvania with the choir).

Helen has been attending Tree of Life for about 2 years and joined the choir right away.

She quit her first church in 7th grade, a bible based church, because they didn’t allow dancing or going to movies, which, along with all of the bible stories that didn’t make sense to her.  Linda then went to several others that didn’t make sense either. The closest to her heart was the Unitarian Church in Bannockburn and now the Tree of Life in McHenry which makes sense to her.

Linda sings and plays guitar at various venues including senior communities and nursing homes and is known as the Singing~Realtor, selling real estate with Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell in Crystal Lake.

 

Lori Kyriak

Lori just moved to Algonquin from Crystal Lake. Her immediate family includes her husband Steve, two sons age 20 and 18. She also has one three-year-old grandson.20160522_112306

Lori has been coming to Tree of Life since September of 2015. She was raised Jewish, and became a counselor through the head of the Jewish Council.

Lori was a family service counselor for memory Gardens Cemetery, until she went into private practice specializing in grief and loss, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and compassionate release. She is also a licensed interior designer and still enjoys working on residential and commercial projects. She was an alternate for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in gymnastics and has traveled all over the world competing. Lori trained with the infamous Bella Caroli. Her hobbies include fashion, art, and photography.

 

 

 

 

Julie Petscher 20160522_112215

Julie currently lives in McHenry with her husband Yehudah and three spunky kids, Jacob 9, Lilah 5 and Gwen 4. Julie was born and raised in a very small town in Vermont.  She have three amazingly kind, smart and strong sisters that constantly inspire her. She moved from Tampa, FL two years ago when her husband’s job promoted him to a position located in Chicago. They chose McHenry as it felt most like home/New England to them. Yehudah was born and raised in New Hampshire.

Julie has been going to churches on and off again for ten years or so and has felt very welcome here at Tree of Life. Before this they had mostly attended Christian based churches.

Julie loves having the opportunity to be a stay at home mom for now and spending time with her family. Before this she met my husband while working together at Raymond James Financial in Florida. After having her first child she ran a small at home daycare. She is now so blessed to be able to spend time at home to guide and watch her kids grow and learn while they are still young.

They love making the best of the seasons they are so blessed to now experience. She loves cooking. Julie is going on 22 years as a vegetarian. They watch movies, spend time with friends and are discovering their new home here in McHenry and here at Tree of Life.

 

Makki Linda Turner 20160522_112247

Makki resides in Lake Geneva and is a native Wisconsinite, having grown up in Wauwatosa, WI. Makki Linda is a mother to Alma Maria and new grandmother to Benicio, now 5 months.

She was raised a Presbyterian and became a Ba’hai at age 15 yrs. Makki lived and worked in Mexico and Southern CA, as a young adult, where she became fluent in Spanish, 35 years ago. She recently became a UU member – 3 years ago – of UU Church West, near Wauwatosa, where she joined after 45 years of being Bahai.  Linda now describes her spiritual affinities as “Sufi & Buddihist, Ba’hai, and shaman”. The latter referring to pagan affinities. These were always her affinities and so the UU church was really where she has felt most at home! This is especially true because Makki has a passion for social and environmental justice and engaged “spiritual activism”.

 

Please join us in welcoming them to Tree of Life!

New Member Orientation

Date: Saturday, May 14th 9am-12pm

As Unitarian Universalists we believe that learning is a never ending process.  Whether you are new to the Tree of Life or have been coming a while we want to offer you the opportunity to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and more about how the Congregation works

Childcare is available upon request

  • To register. Send an email to stettner.marc@gmail.com.  Or call the church office at 815-322-2464 10am – 2 pm M-F.  Or sign up at the visitor information table in the front lobby area.

Minister’s Mind: Resistance

I had to laugh when I saw that the Soul Matters theme for January was resistance. So much is changing–in the world, in our lives, and at Tree of Life–and resistance is so often our response to change. It’s a good thing, I think, for us to take a look at resistance and try to see how it helps and hinders us in this changing world.

So much of the media is full of fear-mongering, scapegoating, and even hatred as politicians, parties, and ideologies jockey for power. It seems like many in our nation and in the whole world are afraid and keep looking for ways to keep things the same. It’s hard to admit that the old systems are beginning to fail us. It’s scary to wonder what will happen if we cannot trust the way things have always been. It’s what we know.

The new movements for social and environmental justice that are emerging are both a cause and effect of these changes. Climate change is real and people are beginning to wake up to the possibility of devastating consequences. Social media makes us aware of the brutality with which police have long treated Black people. We see the faces of refugees in ways we did not just a few years ago. We see them and we are changed. And that can be uncomfortable, even painful.

Some people are motivated by these changes to try to make a difference. We’re seeing new efforts–at the grassroots and beyond–that call for a more just, equitable, and compassionate way. As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize that call. But we may also be uneasy with the anger behind it or the lack of clarity about how to get from here to there. All of this is resistance.

At Tree of Life, we are working hard to understand and respond to the changes all around us. We are looking at the research, asking a lot of questions, and trying to respond to the trends and the needs in our world, including us. We are creating new ways to be together and new ways for our Sunday service to uplift us. We are also creating new systems that acknowledge that people’s lives are changing and are often so full that they don’t have the time to volunteer. We’re trying to adapt, and that means we have to experiment with new ways of doing things.

The Church of ______________

Tom Steffens and I are excited to begin collaborating on a new kind of worship service that we’ve been dreaming of for years. Four times between January and May, you are invited to explore the power of music with us during our Sunday morning Service. On January 24, we kick off our “The Church of _______” series with The Church of Jazz: Duke Ellington In February, we’ll have The Church of Folk, featuring Joe Jencks.  In April, we will celebrate classical music and in May, we are hoping to unveil The Church of Rock.

At each of these services, music will take center stage. Professional musicians will share their talent, interwoven with readings, quotes, and commentary on the artist, the genre, and the message of the music. We know that music touches a deep place in us and we hope that this new way of worshiping together will be moving and inspiring, as we look at all the changes in the world and hope to be transformed as well.

Our New Year-round Pledge Process

The next big change you’ll be seeing is to the way we ask you to support the congregation financially. Instead of relying on volunteers to create, manage, and implement an Annual Pledge Drive, we are creating a year-round system. (Click here to read the proposal the Board approved.) Our administrator, Mila Brinker, and I will take the lead to set up the new system. Each month a group of members, friends, and other donors will receive information about the congregation, our financial needs, and the possibilities of growth through generous giving. A volunteer Pledge Captain will help follow-up by paying thankful attention to our givers: expressing gratitude, answering questions, and hosting an event for that month’s givers.

We hope this new way of doing fundraising will free up much of the time and energy of our volunteers, as well as ease anxiety. Instead of the past process that started each year from zero, we’ll start with the idea that our givers are going to continue to support the congregation and will give a little more each year to absorb rising costs and grow our programs and mission. After all, this congregation has been around for 150 years so far. We’ve decided that trust and gratitude are a better way to start our fundraising! We hope you think so too.

As we continue to adapt to a changing world, we hope you will continue to be involved at Tree of Life however you can. If you are interested in the way congregations and their leaders are learning and growing together, you’re invited to join us for Reinventing Church Leadership–a cluster-wide workshop hosted by our congregation in Elgin on January 30th.  The day will feature workshops, projects, and a keynote address by Rev. Nancy Bowen, Regional Lead of the Pacific West Region of the UUA, called Making Meaning while Evolving and Adapting. The cost for the day, including lunch, is $15.

Love Will Guide Us,

Rev. Sean

P.S. Here is this months packet of resources on Resistance.