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

Barbara Kingsolver writes, “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for.   And the most you can do is live inside that hope.”

Sometimes we think of hope as a kind of wishfulness or as an ingredient in optimism….  But when we talk about the power of hope from a spiritual perspective, the experience of hope is fundamentally different.  It is resilient, enduring, courageous, and occasionally bold..  When we have passed through difficulties and hard times, there is a lingering appreciation for how hope strengthens our vision and revitalizes our purpose.

There is also a good chance that many of us have had some occasion to lose hope.  Such occasions can serve as powerful reminders of the difference between living inside hope and finding ourselves in a state of defeat and lacking motivation.  Ultimately, an understanding of hope is only possible because of our experiences of passing through adversity.

Hope is also a measure of our connection: to a life of meaning, to a community, and to a larger purpose of action and Karen Herring identifies this thought by observing, “During the many times I have lost sight of hope from my window, I have felt grateful when friends have invited me to view it from theirs.”

A natural environment for hope is in community.  Kirk Loadman-Copeland writes:   “ The Common Good is affected by our individual and collective experiences and how we view the present and the future. When hopeful, we invest in the Common Good, believing the results will be worthwhile. Our circle of concern extends to include the “Other.” When fearful, our circle of concern shrinks.  We abandon the Common Good, and in so doing, imperil the future.”   As a community, I think it can be helpful for us to consider and remember this.  And to offer encouragement for working towards and holding onto hope, we have this thought from Barack Obama:  “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

This month may we come together as a community in exploring the meaning of “hope” – as we think about ways to experience it our lives and as we work to see it manifested around us.  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.

Wishing you joy in community,  M.E. Tanabe


‘Tis the Season!

Please join us for Tree of Life’s beloved annual holiday concert! The theme this year is ‘Tis the Season. We celebrate great themes of Christmastime. Themes of Winter’s First Snow, Fireside Glow, and Good Friends You Know combine to inspire that special magic that only music of the holidays can! The concert will feature the wonderful Tree of Life Choir, the delightful First Notes youth program, and some fabulous guest musicians who will come together to make an afternoon of beautiful music! Please join us at Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation on December 17th at 3:00 PM to enjoy this concert.

UU Military Ministry Administrator/Lay Leader Job Opening

The Military Ministry conducts UU services for recruits at the Navy’s Great Lakes boot camp.  There is an immediate opening for an administrator to coordinate the work of the lay leaders and serve as liaison with the Chaplain’s office.  This person would also serve as one of the five lay leaders.  The position pays $500/month; workload averages about four hours a week.  It’s open to UU men and women (about a quarter of the recruits are women), regardless of age, race or sexual orientation. Military experience is not required. There are also openings for volunteer lay leaders.  If interested, email Roger Baron at or call 847-291-1082 (cell: 312-560-8382).

Fire Communion

Sunday, December 17, 2017 10:45am

Sam Jones

What parts of our lives-what things, ideas, people, ways of liging-have become obstacles to our becoming the people we want to be, the people we NEED to be? What’s holding you back? What’s getting in the way of you living as fully as you’d like to? What might you want to “burn away”? What troubles, problems, issues, would you like to put in your past, move beyond? Join us, for in this service, we offer an opportunity to burn away what is no longer wanted or needed in our lives, through a ritual that will help to symbolically clear the way for a renewed journey into the new year.

Join us again at 3 pm for our annual music concert.

The World is About to Turn

Sunday, December 10, 2017 10:45am

Hope is radical, hope is dangerous. Hope has stopped wars, toppled tyrants and invited justice into the lives of the oppressed. Join us as we explore the power of hope in this season.
Rev. Jennifer Gray is our speaker. She currently serves as the transitional minister for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb and formerly served UU congregations in Napa, CA, Ottawa Ontario, and Danville, IN. 

What Are Your Hopes for Tree of Life?

Sunday, December 3, 2017, 10:45 am

What are your hopes for TOL? We’re focusing on HOPE for the month of December, and the Board will kick off the month with a service designed to bring us all into closer community through transparency and discuss our vision for the church’s future. Please join us as the TOL Board reviews our year and looks toward TOL’s future with HOPE and how everyone can contribute to our vision.

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 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

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

Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Celebration

Sunday, November 19, 2017, 7:00pm

Join us at the 11th Annual Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration hosted by Faithbridge Interfaith Association.

The celebration will be held at Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple & Meditation Center – 221 Dean Street, Woodstock, IL


Come join neighbors, families and friends as we honor the diversity of faith and culture – and celebrate the Oneness of our humanity.

Sharing community in a variety of musical offerings (our choir will be performing with Tricia Alexander) and messages, we take this time to find joy in connecting with one another.

To share gratitude, an offering will be made to benefit the people of Puerto Rico, local food pantries and the work of FaithBridge.

For additional information, contact:

Tricia Alexander:

M.E. Tanabe:


Turkey Bingo!

Saturday, November 18, 2017, 1pm to 4pm

Here at Tree of Life UU Congregation

$20.00 for every person playing Bingo. Get a 2nd card for $5.00. Kids not playing Bingo, $5.00.

Tons of Turkeys! Silent Auction! Door Prizes! Live Music by NW Highway! Lunch and Beverages! Face Painting!

All proceeds benefit JailBrakers. Jail Brakers is a ministry of Tree of Life UUC and benefits the families of the incarcerated and recently returning citizens to help reduce the stigma of incarceration and end the cycle of incarceration in our community.

A Christmas Memory

Sunday November 26, 2017 10:45am

Carol Alfus, worship leader

“Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years
ago…” Thus begins Truman Capote’s 1956 short story “A Christmas Memory.” Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enjoy this sweet and heartfelt story of a simpler time and an unlikely pair of friends.