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

Sunlight emerges from clouds… sprouts emerge from seeds… deer emerge from the forest… While these situations are all different, in each illustration of emergence, the unseen has become visible — cloud movement reveals the light that had been temporarily hidden, the expanding life within a seed breaks through the outer casing for growth to continue, the deer move from their place of concealment to a place for grazing.

Sometimes our lives are graced with illumination simply because the “clouds” hanging over us have now moved out of the way.  But often a lot of stuff has grown up around us, so that, like living in a very built-up city, sometimes we need to do the moving if we want to feel sunlight on our faces.  Frequently, inspiration and ideas are just waiting to be recognized, just waiting for us to move into a position where we can see them.

A similar metaphor of personal growth can be found in the sprout emerging from a seed.  Whenever our beliefs and opinions become firmly set, they tend to form a casing around us.  We then face the challenge of breaking open that shell so that we can grow into a larger understanding and a new way of being in Life.   As “seeds” of possibility drift our way, Life is best served by our offering a nurturing space for such seeds to crack open and grow.

All this shifting, moving, and making space happen best when we live in anticipation, when we are welcoming of change, when we bring a mindful appreciation and sense of wonder to our daily living.  In community we can help each other find and hold such alignment…. And together we can offer the world love that is joyful.

The April Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning of “emergence” – as we consider how we experience it in our lives and how it is a part of our experience in community.   The Soul Matters resource packet can be accessed here If you need a printed copy, please feel free to take one 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

Family Movie Night this Friday

Family Movie Night Friday, March 23, 2018, 7:00 pm! 
Hosted by Green Sanctuary we will be showing WALL-E. Kid-friendly and serving snacks and refreshments. We will be watching on our brand new big screen television in the sanctuary! 
Wall-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter  Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth.   He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time.  But during the 700 years Wall-E has developed a personality, and he’s more than a little lonely.  Then he spots EVE, a sleek and shapely probe sent back to Earth on a scanning mission.  Smitten Wall-E embarks on his greatest adventure yet when he follows EVE across the galaxy.

Chili Cook-Off a Success

The competition was HOT at our Chili Cook-Off/ Pledge Drive Kickoff Sunday, March 18th but three emerged victoriously. Winners of the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry Chile Cook-off. From left to right Heather Madaus, mild; Karen Meyers, vegetarian and the trophy for most votes overall; and Patrick Kerin, hot. The Cook-off was the kick-off to the congregation’s annual Pledge Drive. It also raised over $400 for the Woodstock Community Ministry’s Direct Assistance Program, a long time church social service partner.

We will be collecting pledges from our dedicated members and friends for the next couple weeks. On Saturday, April 21st we will celebrate that dedication with a catered dinner and entertainment.

What is a pledge? A pledge is a promise of financial, time, and talent support to the church for the upcoming church year (July-June). All our members are required to pledge and we encourage all who are dedicated to the success of our congregation to also join in pledging. We base our budget, hiring plans, and programming dreams based on the pledge drive results.  If you would like to make a pledge or have questions, contact Judy in the office at 815-322-2464 or

Life in the Balance

Sunday March 25, 2018 10:45am

Celebrating Life with a sense of wonder and humility guides us to appreciate the connection  to life that we all share. Life is a source of mystery: always a source of possibility and at the same time, impossible to measure.  The Worship Arts team will offer readings inviting us to reflect on Life in the Balance.

Journeying Together

Sunday, March 11, 2018, 10:45 am

M.E. Tanabe

Each week we say the words of our congregational purpose and our statement begins by reminding us we are on a journey….. Bringing awareness and an openness to embrace our unfolding path, we set the groundwork to welcome new meaning in our lives. And, as we travel together, we grow a deeper understanding of one another.

Meet Rev. Catherine Erwin

 Meet one of our Pastoral Care Providers

The Board is happy to announce that Rev. Catherine Erwin, pastor at Faith Community United Church of Christ in Prairie Grove has agreed to provide pastoral care to our congregation as needed.  She will come to TOL on March 11th toward the end of our service so that you can meet her.  Rev. Catherine was ordained by The Fox Valley Association of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ UCC in 2010.  She is a 2008 graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary, Hyde Park, Chicago with a Masters of Divinity degree.  She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts/Literature from Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri in 2004.  The Board is very excited to have Rev. Catherine available to you should you have any pastoral needs.  Please come meet her on March 11!

A few words from Rev. Catherine

” While you are on this exciting walk to define your future as a people of faith, I am honored to be walking with the Tree of Life Community as a Pastoral Care provider.  This is a unique situation, and the following, while not a classical Biography, may offer you some helpful insight into who I am and how I might be able to walk with you in this special time.

I come from a predominately non-churched family. Following the cultural norms of the time, my siblings and I were all baptized, eventually … (I was five years old), but in retrospect our family made it clear to me that “church” the institution, and God, the Creating Force of the Universe, were not one and the same.  My parents moved across town the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years. To help me stay in touch with my best friend from our old neighborhood, I asked my parents to take me to my friend’s church on Sunday Mornings.  They had a great children’s choir, and my friend and I had been singing together at school, making it a great way to stay connected during this transition.

The friendship faded, as young friendships can, but my love of church remained.  With my parents help, I continued to attend, and I voluntarily added 2 years of Confirmation classes with my peers to my schedule.  My parents produced the required proof of Baptism, but cautioned me that this Missouri Synod Lutheran church probably would not understand or approve of the fact that my Godmother was Catholic and my Godfather was Jewish.  As I knew my Godparents had taken their vows to care for me seriously, and both had exposed my siblings and I to the ideas and customs of their individual faith traditions, and I knew them to be kind, loving people, I did not share this additional information.  I learned early that there are many pathways to God, and I decided that, while all of them had some to much validity,  I was sure that none of them had it “quite right”. This is God we’re talking about. I don’t think we humans do, nor perhaps are supposed to, fully understand this core Mystery of the Universe, but that we are all called to try.  In voicing this, my reality, Lightening did not strike, and my walk with God continued, in my still unchurch family of origin, and with my loving mixed religious influences, all strongly underpinned by the beauty of the music of the church.

Music continued to be my linchpin to the church, and through music I stumbled into the UCC.  It was magical to find this denomination that ordained Women and Gays.  One that had the most liberal and open official theology and policies I had ever encountered.  Open and Affirming, the UCC’s program and policies of full, open declaration of the member churches embracing of all of God’s children regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification was an additional huge step in what I saw as the just and Godly direction. I got even more involved. Due to my increasing level of participation, I engaged in the denominations advanced Lay Leadership education programs. This eventually led to my call to seminary and Ordained Ministry.  I was excited to be on staff when First Congregational Geneva went through the discernment process of declaring themselves as Open and Affirming.

I love to read, especially Science Fiction/Fantasy and Mysteries. I confess to watching too much TV when time permits. In juxtaposition, my favorite exercise is walking. A mile plus daily, weather permitting. Music is a huge part of my life, and I have recently taken up the piano.  I will admit to missing being at school, in the educational forum, having spent many of my adult years back at school while working, and I continue to look for learning opportunities.  I feel it is imperative to continue to grow and challenge ourselves.

I have a professional background in Sales and Manufacturing (General Binding Corporation, Northbrook, Il), Commercial Lines Insurance (RHI Insurance, Lake Zurich, Ill) and worked as a Church administrator (First United Methodist, McHenry) and as an Instructional Aide and Substitute teacher (McHenry High School District) while obtaining my undergraduate and seminary degrees.”


Medicare for All Forum

Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 7:00 pm

Join the Tree of Life Social Justice Team as we screen a 40-minute documentary on our failing health care system and a possible fix. Following the film, we will have a panel of experts present their thoughts and take questions and comments in a moderated format.

Click Here to view a trailer for the movie.

Panel featuring:

 Dr. Peter Orris A founding member of Physicians for a National Health Plan and professor and chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine for the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. Dr. Orris has served as an adviser to many labor organizations, corporations, and nonprofit groups.

Dr. John Perryman A board certified pediatrician living in St. Charles, Ill. and practicing in Roscoe. IL.  With a keen interest in business Dr. Perryman is committed to reaching out to community and political groups, businesses, farmers, and labor organizations.

Ms. Donna Griffin-Lego With over 20 years of entrepreneurial and corporate experience in management, Ms. Griffin-Lego understands what it takes to run a business. She has also been a licensed in-Person counselor for the Affordable Care Act and will share stories of how Americans have been suffering because of our healthcare crisis.

Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Equality and dignity in living are necessary toward that goal. The skyrocketing costs of healthcare in the United States have forced many families into bankruptcy and even homelessness. We are, therefore, called to question the viability of our current system and look for solutions.

Chili Cook Off Lunch

Join us for this fun and yummy kick off for our annual pledge drive. Everyone is encouraged to attend even if you are brand new to Tree of Life. Here is how it works:

1. Have a great chili recipe? Enter to win the golden ladle trophy! Let Dave Dreyer know the name of your chili (the more unique the better) and what category you are entering it in (mild, hot, or vegetarian). or at church. Bring your entry with you Sunday morning in your crockpot. All toppings will be provided.

2. Stay after the service to sample chilis of every variety. You can vote for your favorites by purchasing beans. $1/bean, 6 for $5 or 12 for $10. The proceeds will go to Woodstock Area Community Ministeries (WACM) and their direct assistance program which provides monetary emergency assistance to those in need. There will be winners in the mild, hot and vegetarian categories and a grand prize winner for the most beans overall (People’s Choice).

3. We will hand out materials for this year’s Recommitment Drive to all members and interested friends. There will be a short 10-minute introduction of the drive and its theme.