Cast Announced for the Word Players Reader’s Theater Chatting With the Tea Party

The Word Players, the new Reader’s theater company at the  Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry has announced the cast for its upcoming presentation of the acclaimed play Chatting With the Tea Party by Rich Orloff on Friday, November 10, at 7 pm at the church, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry.

Sue and George “Kaz” Kazlusky are retired educators with many years of performing and theater experience in McHenry County.  They both appeared in several editions of the Paradise People and Dille’s Follies revues and are longtime members of those seasonal favorites the Dickens Carolers.  Sue directed the annual Woodstock Children’s Theater production at the Opera House for nearly 30 years.  She also participated in a Reader’s theater production of 400 Years of Unitarian and Universalist Poetry conceived and directed by Patrick Murfin. Kaz is well remembered as the P.A. announcer of Woodstock High School games. They are also long time members of the Tree of Life Adult choir.

Daniel Pegarsch is a veteran of community theater productions including performances at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake.

Ron Relic has been a professional actor with stage credits in summer stock and regional theater as well as community theater productions.  He sings with Kaz in the Frothy Boys a cappella group with which his turn as Elvis Presley’s lesser known brother stops every show the ensemble does.

Director Patrick Murfin is returning to theater roots stretching back to his high school and college days when had leading in such productions as Damn Yankees, Pygmalion, Inherit the Wind, Oliver!, A Man for All Seasons, Little Murders, and The Rivals.  He also directed John Millington Synge’s Riders to the Sea, and Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood.  More recently he created and directed two reader’s theater plays including Thomas Jefferson Still Survives.  Murfin is also an amateur historian, blogger, and published poet in addition to being a well known local social justice activist.

Chatting With the Tea Party is about one person’s journey across America exploring the question, “Who are these people?” It’s a documentary style play about a New York liberal playwright who decides to travel around the country interviewing leaders of local Tea Party groups, to get to know people whose political beliefs are diametrically opposed to his.  For a year playwright Rich Orloff attended Tea Party meetings and events in cities large and small in every region of the country. The play shapes the highlights of over 63 hours of interviews plus notes from the events to go beyond sound bites and stereotypes to show the people behind the politics. In a journey that’s at times disturbing, humorous, moving, and always thought-provoking.

The program is part of an on-going series highlighting the arts in Resistance.

Tickets will soon be on sale for the program $10.  Proceeds will support the social justice ministry of the Tree of Life Congregation.

For more information call Murfin at 815 814-5645 or e-mail

Come Join Us on an Uncomfortable Journey

Sunday September 17, 2017 10:45am

Led by the Tree of Life Social Justice Team

This spring, the Unitarian Universalist Association was rocked by the realization that white supremacy is seen even within our liberal religion. Join us as we tackle this uncomfortable reality and look forward to change within each of us. If you want to gain some insight ahead of the service, we suggest starting here . On this third Sunday of the month, we will take our Second Sunday offering for Black Lives UU.

Jail Brakers hosts The If Project at Woodstock Public Library

Proudly providing support to children and their families who struggle
with the stigma and challenges of incarceration

The If Project Film Screening & Community Discussion
SAVE the DATE! Tuesday September 19th, 2017 6:30 p.m.
Woodstock Public Library
414 W Judd St, Woodstock, IL 60098
In 2008, Seattle police officer Kim Bogucki walked through the
gates of the Washington Corrections Center for Women, intent
on asking a group of mothers for permission to work with their
school-aged daughters in a Girl Scouts Beyond Bars troop for
girls with incarcerated parents. On that day, Bogucki asked the
mothers a critical question: “If there was something someone
could have said or done that would have changed the path that
led you here, what would it have been?” Join us for this
encouraging film.
Refreshments, discussion and resources.
Jail Brakers offers opportunities to connect with the community

Click on the link below for more information. Jail Brakers is a ministry of Tree of Life UU Congregation.

The If Project Woodstock w date

A Vigil for Charlottesville – All Creeds, All Colors, All Caring

Monday August 14, 2017 8pm-9:30pm

As Unitarian Universalists dedicated to democracy, peace, and equality the violent demonstrations by  Supremacists in Charlottesville last week were disheartening. Tree of Life Social Justice Team invites you and the McHenry County community to join us tonight for a candlelight vigil as we remember the victims and speak for the values of this country that we hold dear. We will gather outside on the grounds of the church outside the sanctuary for spoken words and then move toward the street for the candlelight portion of our vigil where we will gather in silence and song. Our Facebook event page can be found at
Please invite anyone you feel would like to join us and bring bug spray as we will be outside at night.
For questions, please contact the office or use the contact us form on this website.

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 or or visit the Facebook Event at

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 .

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 or phone 815 814-5645 to reserve a spot on the program.