Princess Hyacinth

(The Surprising Story of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide

In this All-ages service, we will hear the story of Princess Hyacinth. The princess has a problem: she floats. And so the king and queen have pebbles sewn into the tops of her socks, and force her to wear a crown encrusted with the heaviest jewels in the kingdom to keep her earthbound. But one day, Hyacinth comes across a balloon man and decides to take off all her princess clothes, grab a balloon, and float free. Hooray! Alas, when the balloon man lets go of the string . . . off she goes.

Say Your Devotions

Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson, Guest Minister

Growing up as a Unitarian Universalist in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I was raised with no daily devotional practice. If I had been a Unitarian or a Universalist a hundred years ago, daily devotional practice, (in particular, prayer) would have been important and learned as a child. In our times, UU’s are exploring a variety of devotional practices, from Pagan, Christian, Buddhist, and other traditions. We’ll explore the what, the why, and the how of being a “people of devotion” to the spiritual life.

Naming the Goodness, Naming the Brokenness

Rev. Erika Hewitt, Guest Minister

Where does the good stuff in life come from? What does Unitarian Universalism have to say about brokenness, whether it’s messiness, pain, or oppression? The way we explain goodness and brokenness reveals a lot, sometimes surprising, about what we have faith in. Join us to (re-) discover new reasons to be proud, comforted, and enlivened by our UU theology.

Haystacks Open Mic and Jam Night

Open Mic Night – Friday, February 6,  7 – 10pm

On Friday, February 6, from 7 – 10 pm, Haystack’s Coffee House will present another Open Mic Night. The evening will feature local performers showing their skills as folk, R&R, jazz, classical musicians, comedians and poets. All are invited to attend. Bring your friends!!

Please contact Tom Steffens at for information or to make an early reservation to perform. There will be a limit placed in the amount of performers.

Admission to Haystack’s Coffee House Open Mic & Jam night is free.There will be a “free will” offering taken to cover expenses.

See everyone February 6!!


Pledge Drive 2015

Achieve the Dream in 2015 – Pledge from Your Heart

This is our theme for Pledge Campaign 2015-16

Our dreams are many and varied. Not pie in the sky, but real, achievable dreams that are ours for the taking. We all know what we love about our church, but we tend to take for granted that it’s always going to be there. Let’s be reminded of what we have now and will have in the coming year:

Reverend Sean presents inspiring, thought-provoking sermons, and clearly, they will continue. How many times have we heard someone say something like: “He really nailed the theme today”!

An all-encompassing Religious Education program for children and youths of all ages includes:

*Certified facilitators present Our Whole Lives program

*Montessori based curriculum Spirit Play

*Coming of Age program for 10th and 11th graders

*Joyful Journey program for 4th and 5th graders

*Field trips to other religious places of worship and Summer Camp

A music program that gets better each year; our choir is second to none. This year, they will be performing at other UU Congregations in the area. Open mic nights, special music during worship services, and concerts round out our exceptional music experiences at Tree of Life.

Our kitchen has been certified by the McHenry County Board of Health. We can now use it for food preparation for ourselves and we can lease it to outside organizations.

We have a reactivated Tree of Life Endowment Fund. Since its reactivation in May, 2014, one bequest has already been received. The future of our church is heavily dependent on the health and growth of this fund.

Almost every week we have first-time visitors to Tree of Life UUC. Many visitors are looking for an alternative to their current religious experience. Some are just curious. Our presence in the community is being noticed. We welcomed nearly a dozen new members to our congregation in 2014.

Tree of Life volunteers are major contributors to the work of PADS and Compassion for Campers. These programs MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF PADS CLIENTS!

A program is in the works to coordinate transportation for those needing it to get to and from church.

Cabaret Church will take place on May 31, 2015. This innovative worship service will consist of music, art, inspiring and spiritual messages, and fun!

Our church was founded on October 24, 1865. A Sesquicentennial celebration is planned to mark this historic moment in our congregation’s life.

Tree of Life provides a meeting place for McHenry County PFLAG, Pride, Odyssey, and Parents of Transgender Individuals.

Social groups provide opportunities for exploring new avenues for individual growth, enrichment, and life experiences. Included are: Men’s Group, Women’s Circle, Women’s Book Club, and classes in Philosophy and Poetry Writing. Each Sunday morning, Coffee With Questions provides lively conversation on a wide range of topics that are selected by participants.

These “dreams” and the work of our ministries, our board, our committees, and church groups are what make Tree of Life UUC the dynamic community that it is.

Your pledges from your HEART will enable it all to continue to grow and prosper.

A Message from Carol Alfus

“There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
~Margaret Wheatley

Dear Friends,
You are invited to join in a Congregational Conversation on Sunday, January 18, right after church. This is an opportunity for you to engage in discussion with Board members on various issues. This month we will be talking about our upcoming Pledge Campaign, and sharing what we learned from the Ministries Feedback survey. So grab a cup of coffee and join us in the sanctuary!

Notes from the President

From The President, Carol Alfus

For those of you curious about what was discussed at the most recent Board meeting, you’ll find “Items of Note” in two places: on the Board Board in the Social Room, and on our website. In these notes I do my best to summarize the discussions from our Board meetings. If you have questions about anything you read, don’t hesitate to ask me or any other Board member (And if you can’t remember who they are, you’ll find their pictures are on the Board Board, too!)

Also, I want to let you know that directly after the service on Sunday, January 18, we will resume our Congregational Conversations. Grab a cup of coffee and join us in the sanctuary. We’ll be sharing what we learned from the recent Ministries Feedback survey, and talking about the upcoming pledge campaign.

Items of Note
Tree Of Life UUC Board Meeting, December 16, 2014

Shopping card sales                                                                   

Paula Yensen presented her thoughts and a document she prepared entitled “Ethics in Fundraising.” Paula spoke to the Board to voice her objection to the inclusion of Walmart shopping cards in the fundraising cards we offer. Paula expressed her view that Walmart business practices are not aligned at all with the value we as UU’s aspire to and say that we are committed to following. The board had a very short discussion after Paula’s presentation and will engage the stewardship to consider how to move forward on this request.

Architect contract                                                                     

Randy Rapp and Annette Jasiota have been in communication with the architect regarding our current contract. While there has not been progress to moving forward with the building, the church has spent a lot of time and money, and Randy recommend we keep the contact open. Randy also recommends we keep Annette as our point person with the architect to remain in contact 2 or 3 times annually.

TOL Hiring Policy

Randy Rapp, on behalf of the personnel committee presented TOLUUC hiring policy. Some changes to the language were made, and the policy was approved.

Ministries Feedback responses

There were 26 responses. Many people said they valued Sean’s sermons, his leadership, vision and creativity. The work of our committees, especially the Community Care Committee was widely praised, and people were pleased with the variety of activities available at TOL. The area of growth for Sean that was most frequently expressed was increased interaction with members on a more personal level. For the congregation as a whole, the two areas of growth that were most frequently mentioned were more financial support, and wider participation in the work of the church from more of the membership.

Pledge campaign

The Board will provide direct support and be the voice for the 2015 pledge campaign. The idea is that Board members will include testimonials during worship announcements and guest appearances at pledge socials.

Staff bonuses

Rev. Sean reported that the staff bonuses were much appreciated. Sam Jones sent a thank you card to the Board.