The Experience of Transformation

Sunday April 2, 2017 10:45am

Rev. Lou Ness

Join us to hear a favorite guest speaker here, Lou Ness,  explore transformation through the words of Meister Eckhart.

Fire transforms all things it touches into its own nature.
The wood does not change the fire into itself, but the fire changes the wood into itself.
In the same way we are transformed into God so that we may know God as God is.
Acting and becoming are one: God and I are one in this work:
he acts and I become.

How does Meister Eckhert broaden your understanding of transformation?  Inside the idea of transformation how does a spacious and mysterious Presence inform and guide our lives?  What is the possibility that waits for the world in these complex, yet simple words – this is the ever evolving experience of transformation.

Lou Ness is currently a Rockford Police and Fire Chaplain.  Her long, distinguished career includes heading local social service agencies such as Shelter Ministries in Rockford. While there she  walked from Rockford to Washington, DC, 935 miles!, to draw further attention to the issue of poverty and the need for action.

Reflecting on Worship Changes

Worship Changes to Strengthen Community

For this week’s worship service, there will be some small changes with the potential to impact how we are together in community.  As I am fond of saying:  Worship is a celebration of Life and Community.  To understand this, it’s helpful to remember that “community” is not just a word describing a group of people – for people joined in faith, “community” also describes the essence of how we are connected.  …. And in weekly worship we come together for a moment of shared experience – a time of connection.

First:  The worship element of “Joys and Concerns” will be restored to the service, as members will be invited to offer a brief sharing of important personal news.   When such an offering is given within a worship setting, it is an opportunity for honoring the sacred within us and within each other.  For members to feel safe to publicly share sensitive information, we need to offer them our attention with loving acceptance and we need to keep our hearts open to listen to the thread of our humanity.

We also need trust:  when there is occasion for us to individually share what is on our heart and we offer our news just briefly, we demonstrate our faith in others to seek us out for the larger story and to connect with us for a deeper understanding.

…..which brings us to the

Second worship change will include a change in the text of our closing words.  It is hoped that, as we say the words, we will be reminding ourselves of the sacred task of growing community with each other and the larger world.  For growing our hearts, this is a wonderful opportunity to be welcoming to guests, to newcomers, and to those whom we don’t know well.   As we greet one another intentionally and with care, we are spreading the experience of worship into our journeys…..  a celebration of each other’s journeys….  a celebration of community.  This becomes a time to offer and receive care

Part of our statement of purpose, “devotion to each other,” reminds us that we are to be actively engaged in nurturing our understanding and capacity for communal care.  Possibly these new changes will help us reflect on making this part of our journey.

In faith,

M.E. Tanabe

Something Ventured; Everything Gained

Sunday March 26, 2017 10:45am

Dr. Gina Swinney will join us to explore “risk” as she reminds us: Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” If we are to live a daring life, we must be willing to take risks. Risking is scary and offers no guarantees. Some of us are more comfortable at risk taking than others and some of us are more risky at different times in our lives.” The message, explores the ways in which we take risks, what’s at stake and what can be expected as a result of living a daring adventure. Dr. Swinney, is a member of the First United Methodist Church in McHenry and is a Certified Lay Speaker in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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                             


“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

Tree of Life Welcomes New Members

On March 12, 2017 Tree of Life Welcomed our 5 newest members during our service on taking a risk to strengthen our community. These folks took a risk to check us out. Now lets give them a warm welcome.


Barbara Sedgwick

Barbara and her husband, Jon, and fell in love with downtown Woodstock and relocated three years ago from Aurora. They met in Chicago and were married at First Unitarian in Hyde Park.

Barbara is a former member of Second Unitarian Church in Lakeview. They have two sons, Aaron and Alexander.

Last fall, Barbara joined the choir. It’s so much fun singing with talented musicians and having an outstanding director.

She decided to join Tree of Life in order to participate fully in the congregation.

Her interests include current affairs, swimming, yoga and gardening. She looks forward to getting to know all of you.


Dan and Liz Kuhl

Dan and Liz relocated to McHenry from Boston about a year-and-a-half ago.

Liz is a Midwest native, having grown up in northern Michigan; Dan is from Queens, New York.  Liz has two wonderful parents, and a younger sister with whom she is very close, all living in Michigan.

Dan’s mother and her husband still live on Long Island, as do his sister and brother, and Liz and Dan’s adorable niece and nephew.

Dan and Liz do not yet have children, although they hope to begin their family soon — they are currently in the process of adoption.

Liz was a teacher for nearly a decade, and loves spending time with kids.  She’s also an experienced seamstress, and spends a lot of time sewing.  In the summer months, the garden keeps her busy.

Dan and Liz are mostly vegetarian, and they grow as much of their own food as they can.

Dan is an engineer by trade, and loves to tinker.  He’s a big fan of power tools, and can build or repair just about anything.  He’s been kept busy on the 100-year-old farm house they purchased in McHenry.

Liz grew up sporadically attending a UU congregation, while Dan grew up in the New Apostolic church, similar to Lutheran Synod.  Dan and Liz discovered Tree of Life shortly after moving to McHenry in the autumn of 2015, and have loved getting to know the people here.  They are excited to become members of such a community grounded in openness and tolerance, as well as progressive activism.

They have felt truly welcomed here, there is a palpable warmth and intelligence to this group, and they look forward to experiencing the spiritual journey with the Tree of Life community.

Sandra Bartholmey & William Stone

Bill and Sandra have  lived in Crystal Lake for the past 20 years.  They have 2 children, one daughter and one son. Their son and his wife gave them  2 grand-daughters. Their daughter has their only grandson, all living in California. So they travel there a few times a year.

Sandra was raised Catholic but retired from the Church when she was 18 or so.  Bill was raised in the Methodist, then Congregational Church but it didn’t take.

They started attending Tree of Life last November when Terry Kappel invited them to a “Coffee with Questions” meeting that he was leading.  They stayed for the service and social time and have kept coming back since then and really enjoy the lay services, the people, the programs and the events.

Sandra was in the nutrition field for 20+ years working for Gerber Baby Foods and then for Quaker Oats.

Bill has been a sculptor most of his life and has a show coming up in Peoria in July and August this year.  His work is primarily in plaster, wood, and stone.  Ask to see his work, and he will invite you to his studio or to his house which has several of his pieces in the living room and dining room.

Bill had a stroke in December 2015 and has recovered in every way except with his speech, so be patient when he cannot find the words he wants.  And Sandra can’t see well, so if she doesn’t recognize you, please, don’t be offended because she doesn’t see faces well and can not read the badges.  Just say, “Hi, Sandra, it’s Sue or Mary or Patrick or whomever”.

Welcome Barbara, Liz, Dan, Bill and Sandra! We are so glad you have joined our community!

Alive with Spring

Sunday March 19, 2017 10:45am

Sam Jones, DRE

Join us for an All Ages Service on March 19th as we awake from the darkness of winter into the light of spring. What new life is awaiting to grow in you? What can you cultivate and nurture to see the results of by harvest? Special guest, Elaine Romanelli will provide the music for our celebration of spring. In all ages services, families are invited to come and worship together as a community with others. Elaine will perform a concert for all who are interested, immediately following service. This concert will be free, however, a free-will donation will be taken to cover travel expenses.

Donating Items to the Rummage Sale

Donating Items to Tree of Life Rummage Sale

Items we want and need: All your clean, working household items and clothing including:

  • Baby items such as toys, high chairs (if newer and not recalled), yard toys that can be lifted by one person, clothing, feeding items.
  • Bedding/Draperies including sheets, bedspreads, quilts, comforters, blankets, chair or sofa covers, curtains, rods, and drapes. It is helpful if you label dimensions or bed size with masking tape. We cannot take mattresses or bed springs.
  • Books/Toys like Fisher Price kids, bicycles in good working order, board games (labeled if all parts are there), books (hardback and paperback for all ages and genres), games, stuffed animals, all toys, puzzles (all pieces must be included), Little Tyke Toys (that one person can lift) and strollers (fairly new and not recalled).
  • Clothing if you put it on your body we want it. This includes hats, purses and shoes. Please be sure what you are donating is clean, has no stains or tears and the elastic is in good shape. You must label all clothing except purses with a size tag. Due to time constraints, if you donate clothing without the size label we are unlikely to be able to use it in our sale. If you can put it on a hanger that will be a big help. We also need hangers donated.
  • Electronics such as T.V.s (27inches or less and portable), DVDs, tapes, VCRs, DVD players, cameras and video equipment. We cannot accept pianos or organs. Please label all electronics as to their working order.
  • Furniture including chests, coffee tables, desks, end tables, kitchen table and chairs, folding lawn furniture, love seats, night stands, office furniture, overstuffed chairs, patio furniture (no glass or marble), decorative pillows (please put these in a clear plastic bag), wood rocking chairs, trunks, wicker furniture, wooden chairs and couches (not sleeper sofas).
  • Household Goods like antiques, artificial flowers and plants, artificial Christmas trees (please have in original box with all its parts), card table and chairs, clocks, box fans, fireplace sets, floor lamps, ironing boards, lamps and shades, light fixtures, tools, pictures and paintings, rugs, picture frames, stereo cabinets that can be lifted by one person, suitcases, throw rugs, unopened toiletries, towels, stainless steel vanity/sink sets, wall decorations, and window blinds/shades.
  • We want our sales to be known for offering good, clean items so please keep that in mind as you go through your closets, basement and garage. We will have a special boutique area for those truly exceptional high quality items.

Please Note:

  • All items must be in good, clean, working condition. Remember: It costs money to throw out unacceptable donations and that money could be going to programs.
  • Give us your pant and skirt hangers! Better yet, donate your blouses, dresses, coats and suits on hangers. This will save much needed time. We also need paper and plastic grocery bags.
  • Put size tags on all clothing. Label clothing by actual size. Example: Mens Large, Girls Xsmall, Womens 10. This will help sell more items quicker. Attach provided size tags (separate document) using stick or safety pins. Here is a link to the size tags you can print out and attach to the clothing Size tags
  • Label all electronics with masking tape as to its working condition and other needed information. We will provide electric outlets to allow buyers to try out items.
  • Label linens with dimensions or bed size (use masking tape or size labels)
  • Do not price items yourself.
  • Failure to follow these guidelines may result in your items not being offered for sale.

Here is what we cannot accept:

  • Baby swings, bassinets, car seats, changing tables, crib, crib mattresses, playpens
  • Adjustable beds, Waterbed frames, all mattresses and box springs
  • Encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers
  • Outdoor toys that need more than one person to lift safely
  • Console stereos, console TVs, computers, portable TVs over 27”
  • BBQ grills, charcoal grills
  • Screens, windows, wood paneling, stain, doors, glass recyclables, carpet, carpet padding
  • Pianos and organs
  • Sleeper sofas
  • Hazardous waste of any kind

Questions? See Judy Stettner (815)322-2464 or

Rummage Sale 2017 is Coming!!!

Thursday April 13, 2016 9am- 2pm Regular Price on all items

Friday April 14, 2016 9am-2pm Regular Price on all items269446715-rummage1

Saturday April 15, 2016 9am-noon  $2 a bag for clothing(we supply the bag) and half off everything else.

If you have come to our previous sales, you know we offer great deals on clean, well-organized home goods, tools, clothing, toys, furniture, books and more. This is a very popular sale with thousand of items donated by about 100 families. We will not open the doors for early birds but we encourage you to line up early.   We end all sales promptly at noon on Saturday so don’t wait for the last minute. 10% of the proceeds go directly to a Direct Assistance and WACM,  the rest goes to pay for church programming. All leftovers are sent to Savers to benefit The Epilepsy Foundation. For questions, call the Rummage Queen (Judy) at 815-322-2464.

What Are We Willing to Risk to Strengthen Community?

Sunday March 12, 2017 10:45am

Karen Meyer, Marc Stettner and M.E. Tanabe

Join us as we welcome new members into our community – this is always a joyful celebration. For our morning message, speakers from Member Care, Membership Development, and Worship Arts will offer us thoughts on the strengths of our community. And they’ll explore ideas for helping us to become even more connected and strong.