Effective Activism with the ACLU

Illinois ACLU Communications Director, Ed Yonhka, invites the public to join us for a briefing of what is going on as well as a chance to discuss ways people can get involved and support the ACLU’s efforts.

This event will give you all the answers you need for any conversation you might have with Congressman Hultgren when he’s home for recess May 8-12 and May 29-June 2.

Wednesday, April 26, 7:00-8:30 pm
Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation
5603 Bull Valley Rd., McHenry, IL

The briefing will cover key issues on the Federal legislative calendar, including:

  •  Continuing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the impact of those efforts on women’s reproductive health and services to people with disabilities
  • The so-called “Religious Freedom” bills, which would effectively sanction discrimination against the LGBTQ community and minority religions
  • Congressional and independent oversight of the Executive Branch, particularly in relation to investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

Please RSVP the number of people who will attend the briefing. Feel free to share this information with anyone in 14th District who might want to attend.


Poets in Resistance Update







Poets in Resistance Reading Mixes Art and Activism

McHenry—The Social Justice Team of the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry. will sponsor Poets in Resistance, a public reading and rally on Friday, March 10 at 7 pm.  Over a dozen poets from high school students to senior citizens, accomplished published writers, poetry slam stars, to fresh new voices will participate with challenging original work.

Poets in Resistance is being organized and will be hosted by long time McHenry County poet and activist Patrick Murfin, the author of We Build Temples in the Heart best known locally as the longtime host of the old annual Diversity Day Festival in Woodstock.

“The event is a response to the many threats to civil liberties, social justice, women’s rights, marriage equality, voting rights, the ecology, and the basic economic security and medical care of millions of Americans are now facing,”  Poets are honoring a time honored tradition of prophetic witness by lending their powerful voices to a growing and active Resistance,”

Prolific Lake County poet and promoter of a vibrant spoken word scene Jacqueline Nichole Harris;  Andrea Hawkins-Kemper, a powerful poet of exploration of gender identity, vulnerability, and strength; Philip Chares Denofriao, the Poet in Residence at the Raue Center; and the Chicago Slam Poets with Mojdeh Stoakley are just some of the varied voices that will be heard.

Poets in Resistance is the latest in a series of programs facilitated by the Tree of Life Social Justice team that engage the arts in the service of Social Justice.  Those events included the Justice for All Ball in January and the enormously popular Rattle the Walls Concert fundraiser for the ACLU in February.

The program is free and open to the public.  A free will collection will be taken to defray expenses and support the social justice ministry of the church.  The building is accessible to the differently abled.

Light refreshments will be served and adult beverages will be available.

Some of the poets will have books, chapbooks, and recording available for sale.

For more information call Patrick Murfin at 815 814-5645, e-mail pmurfin@sbcglobal.net or office@treeoflifeuu.org or visit the Facebook Event at https://www.facebook.com/events/389512158048931/

Hate Has No Home Activists Plan Counter Event to Woodstock Spirit of America Rally

Woodstock—Main Street Patriots, an amalgam of Tea Party supporters, anti-immigrant activists, the new alt-right, and supporters of Donald Trump are planning a so-called Spirit of American Rallies all across the country.  The only Illinois rally is scheduled this Saturday, March 4, on the Square in Woodstock at Noon.  In response a Hate Has No Home in Woodstock counter rally has been organized with the participation of Indivisible Illinois Congressional District, McHenry County Progressives, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Justice Team and others.

Crystal Squires was a principle organizer of the spontaneous response pulled hastily together over the past five days with support of concerned citizens and groups across McHenry County.  “We are coming together as concerned citizens in order to demonstrate that the Tea Party and the ideals that they stand for do not represent us and our community as a whole,” she said, “Hate has no home in Woodstock and we are gathering to make sure that message is heard loud and clear.”

Organizers plan a peaceful, non-confrontational witness event.  They will gather beginning at 11:30 am on Saturday, March 4 in front of the Old Court House at 101 N. Johnson Street on the north side of the Square and then march on the outer perimeter sidewalks around the Square in a counter clockwise direction during the rally.  Organizers believe that those who reject hate and division will far outnumber those who gather in the park.

Participants are encouraged to bring signs with positive messages of support for targeted communities and expressions of support for democratic values and American traditions of valuing diversity.  No messages attacking the President or those attending the rally are encouraged and participants will not confront or engage people attending the other event.

Hate Has No Home Here is a national response to episodes of violence, threats, and intimidation.  Its blue placards and signs with a heart emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes have become popular statements in communities around the country.

For more information visit the Facebook Events page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1237688489677970/ .

Green Sanctuary Presents Chasing Ice

2014 Emmy winning film for News and Documentaries

James Balog, a skeptic about climate change headed to the Arctic with a band of young adventurers on assignment with National Geographic. The trip opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history. Balog deploys time lapse cameras across the Arctic to capture the changing landscape, delivering evidence of climate change and hope for the future.

Please join us for a screening of this beautiful film followed by a time for discussion. This is a good opportunity to meet other like-minded folks.

Friday February 24  7:00 PM

Tree of Life UU Congregation

5603 Bull Valley Rd


Admission is free

Rattle the Walls at Tree of Life

Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry, will host the inaugural concert of Rattle the Walls, a Chicago-based group of musical activists, at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 18. The concert will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.)

Founded by Forest Ransburg, Tree of Life’s music director, Rattle the Walls is a new organization of accomplished Midwest musicians dedicated to “bring music to a world in need of music, to give aid to those in need of aid, and to stand tall against those who need to be stood up to.”

Forrest Ransburg: Rattle the Walls founder and Tree of Life Music Director


“Our first concert will feature a diverse group of musicians from and will feature a variety of instrumentalists and genres, including contemporary art music, pop, jazz, classical masterpieces, and more,” Ransburg said. “Our group is about inclusion, and our diverse programming is reflective of that goal.”

Each Rattle the Walls concert will benefit an organization working for social justice.

Donations can be in the form of a personal check made out to the ACLU, a cash donation, or a printed confirmation of an online donation that was made earlier in any amount.

Among the musicians performing will be Jesse Lyons and Jordan Knudson, a voice and guitar duo from Chicago; singer/songwriter Cassandra Vohs-Demann of Woodstock; vocalist Carrie MacDonald of McHenry; classical soprano Dana Vetter of Milwaukee; oboist Jen Gardner of Chicago; jazz and contemporary multi-instrumentalist Devin Fanslow of Chicago; multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Mula of Chicago; Ransburg, a contemporary art music multi-instrumentalist; and the Tree of Life Choir which recently toured in Europe.

The concert is also the second in a series of special events organized by Tree of Life’s Social Justice Team “responding to looming threats to American values of freedom, democracy, and justice with joy and employing the power of the arts.”

The first was the Justice for All Ball in January. On March 10 there will be a Poets in Resistance reading and rally at the church.

There will be adult beverages, coffee, and soft drinks available and baked goods for sale to help defer expenses of the program.

Poets in Resistance

The Social Justice Team is sponsoring Poets in Resistance, a public reading and rally on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7 pm.  Patrick Murfin will host an evening with accomplished poets from around the region, including members of Tree of Life.  A variety of voices will share original work in a range of genres and styles in response to the many threats to civil liberties, social justice, women’s rights, marriage equality, voting rights, the ecology, and the basic economic security and medical care of millions of Americans are now facing.  Poets have historically been prophetic voices.  Now they are lending themselves to Resistance.  The program will be free and open to the public but a free will collection will be taken to support the Social Justice ministry of the church.  Light refreshments and snacks will be available.  Poets will be able to offer their books or CDs for sale.  If you are interested in participating, contact Patrick by e-mail at pmurfin@sbcglobal.net or phone 815 814-5645 to reserve a spot on the program.

Justice for All Ball

Are you as excited at these two for our next President? Are you concerned about the hateful rhetoric and resulting violence against Muslims, Latinos, and the LGBTQ community? Let’s take that concern and begin the work of healing our world.

Join us Saturday January 28, 2017 at 7:00pm for the Justice for All Ball!!!!

Family Friendly. Come in glitter, boas, tutus, costume or whatever your heart desires. Celebrate diversity and express yourself!

Featuring The Red Garage a blues, rock, and soul band with a touch of jazz

What is the price of admission? An at-the-door donation to a social justice organization of your choice.

Suggested donations: Non-perishable food pantry donations, diapers for all ages for Diaper Bank, monetary donation to PADS, Environmental Defenders, ACLU, Amnesty International, McHenry County Citizens for Choice, ICDI, Habitat for Humanity, etc.

For more information call 815-322-2464 or office@treeoflifeuu.org


Green Sanctuary presents Gasland the movie

green-sanctuaryWhat is Hydraulic Fracturing, “Fracking”? When Josh Fox was offered $100,000 to frack his land he went on a nationwide quest for answers. His inquiries resulted in an eye opening film, GASLAND.  Can you light your water on fire?

Your Green Sanctuary Committee will be showing this film with open discussion and comments to follow, on Saturday November 19th at 7:00 PM at Tree of Life.

Price Free, knowledge priceless.

Click Here to read more about Gasland.

Jim Scott in Concert October 28, 2016

jim3Pete Seeger calls him “some kind of a magician”. Jim is a composer and musical activist.

For more than three decades, Jim Scott has made it his business to create and perform music that celebrates the earth. His songs and poetry have inspired and educated audiences around the world. He has developed presentations for every age group and crafted songs that sensitize his listeners to the beauty of the earth, teaching principles of ecology in memorable verses.

“The Earth and Spirit Songbook” is an anthology of 110 songs of earth and peace, arranged and edited by Jim, including songs by many contemporary songwriters with some of his own.  From his work with the Paul Winter Consort where he co-wrote the celebrated Missa Gaia – Earth Mass and many other pieces, including his “A Song for the Earth,” recorded live at the United Nations on the album Concert for the Earth, Jim has gone on to create an extensive body of work.  His recordings “Earth, Sky, Love and Dreams” and “Sailing with the Moon” include many of his eco-anthems.

In songs, choral music, instrumental soundtracks for several documentaries and the PBS series “Body and Soul”, Jim continues to make music with a depth of artistry and craft that separates his music from that of many other singer songwriters.  Jim has also ventured into musical theater. His musical “The Tree and Me” has been given full cast productions in Jamestown, New York, and Albion, Michigan, and its songs have become anthems for activists and educators. “The Rainforest Song”, written in a workshop with elementary students, has been published by Hal Leonard Publishers. “Plant More Than You Harvest” was included in a Sony Kids CD “Put On Your Green Shoes”.

As Co-Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle Project, Jim helped to create the “Green Sanctuary” program and accompanying handbook for building an ecological/spiritual awareness in church congregations. He performs many benefit concerts and often appears at events, supporting environmental causes with his music.

And now Jim Scott is coming to Tree of Life to perform a Pete Seeger tribute! Friday October 28, 2016 7:30pm. Tickets are $12-$20 on a sliding fee scale and can be purchased at the door. We ask that you be as generous as possible. Contact for questions or more information: 815-322-2464 or office@treeoflifeuu.org

Bridge to Hope (AIM)

Sunday June 12, 2016 10:45am

Please join the AIM Committee and Intern Minister Michelle Lattanzio as we explore the role of faith communities in building “Bridges to Hope.” In this service, we will examine the ways in which our faith can help hold people dealing with mental illness and their families and friends in grace and love, and the sources of hope and healing we can extend to our beloved community. We hope you will join us for a supportive and informative worship experience! We will also take our Second Sunday offering for Environmental Defenders.