Book Study

Beginning January 27th at 7:00 pm, Lou Ness is hosting a group for anyone interested in studying Karen Armstrong’s new book, “The Lost Art of Scripture.” The Armstrong book has been highly reviewed, well researched and offers a new way of considering the history and intention of the Scriptures. In the first meeting members will outline a working structure for the group, create agreements that will allow for healthy and hopefully edgy conversations, and set out future dates and times. 

For more information please call Lou at 815-404-7246 or simply attend the first group (weather permitting) on

January 27th, 2020

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

466 W. Jackson, 

Woodstock, Ill 60098

Climate Change/Climate Justice comes to Religious Education in 2020

Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry, IL is pleased to announce that our 4-12th grade students will be studying Climate Change/Climate justice in 2020. Topics will include: Food Supply, Human Health, Immigration, Energy, Transportation, and much, much more. Using curricula from the Unitarian Universalist Association and Alliance for Climate Education in combination with many guest speakers to share their experience with local climate concerns in McHenry County the congregation hopes to increase awareness and empower youth to take action. Classes will be held on Sunday mornings from 10:45 to 12:15. Parents may register their new students at

Please email with any questions!

Please share widely! Climate Change and Climate Justice impacts the world!

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

No matter how much turmoil might be present in our lives, there almost always is enough order for us to hold an amount of expectation for how life will unfold:    we turn on the faucet and water will pour out, the arrival of dawn will begin each day with light, sugar will taste sweet, and ice will feel cold.   In a way, we could say that orderliness is a natural creator of our expectations.   So it’s not surprising that when changes and upheavals disrupt the order, we can find ourselves spinning and filled with doubt… and not knowing what to expect next.  This is particularly true when we have come to rely on circumstances or people as central to our well-being, and suddenly there are changes beyond anything we can fix.   And, indeed, should we think about  how we hold expectations for friends and family?   Is it possible that the order they bring to our lives – upholding our expectations – is at times a burden we unthinkingly ask them to carry?  Do we place this kind of expectation on ourselves?

I’d like to share some quotes from Soul Matters that might stir your reflections:     

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21.  Everything since then has been a bonus.     — Stephen Hawking

Remember that you are always allowed to quit.  There’s nothing real about expectations.  Their strength comes only from your consent.   — Rev. Scott Tayler

Act without expectation.  — Lao Tsu

The September Soul Matters packets offer materials to explore the meaning of “expectation” – as we consider how we experience it in our lives and how it is a part of our experience in community.   We use this theme for worship and for faith formation in our RE program and chalice circles.  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’re gone.   You might also like joining a chalice circle to share your insights and hear what others are saying – you can find information about the circles  here and there are flyers in the fellowship room with information about this program.

Wishing you joy in community, M. E. Tanabe

Flower Communion

Sunday, May 19, 2019, 10:45am

Flower Communion is a celebration of Unitarian Universalism honoring the differences we all bring to the congregation and the gifts that we receive from the congregation. On this day we will also honor our RE volunteers and our high school graduates.

Please bring a flower to share. Wild flowers from your backyard or cultivated flowers from the store are all welcome- as are all people.

Joyful Journey

Sunday, April 14, 2019 10:45am

Put our statement of purpose into action and join us as we celebrate journeying as a family. This rite of passage has become a Tree of Life favorite over the years; our Joyful Journey students will share their first Faith Statements! Come see what our 7 principles mean to our students and take the opportunity to reassess and reaffirm your own relationship to the 7 principles of Unitarian Universalism.

What My Daughter Has Taught Me

Sunday, September 23, 2018 10:45am

On the occasion of his daughter’s 15th birthday, the Not Yet Rev. Kevin DeBeck talks about the lessons he’s learned from her and how they apply to society as a whole. On this Sunday, our Religious Education program begins again for the church year. We will honor the children moving up to new classes with a bridging ceremony during the service.

Growing In Community – Soul Matters at Tree of Life

Because the chalice is the UU symbol of the sacred aspect of worship and because listening to one another is a sacred act of community, Chalice Circle is the name we use at Tree of Life for this circle format of adult programming.

This type of program has been ongoing in our community since 2011.   We use the Soul Matters curriculum for our circles and Soul Matters themes now also guide worship services and RE programming.   Each month’s theme is our starting point for reflection, and then we gather to hear each other’s thoughts and questions.  The silent listening is a dynamic which enables the speakers to find empowered voices.   We often see that our own thoughts, questions, and journeys have much in common with our fellow human beings — and hearing the stories of others helps our own stories to appear with more clarity.   We develop the skills of holding others in awareness and of becoming  good listeners.

Irene Raven shares these thoughts about her experience:   “For me Chalice Circle is the most deeply spiritual practice available to us as UUs. Monthly engagement with a small group encourages me to love myself and to show love to others by engaging in the practice of deep listening. When I am heard without interruption or comment, my sense of worth increases. When I listen to others, giving them my full attention without comment or judgment, I show my love for them as well”   [i]full quote at bottom


In September our circles resume and will explore the theme of Vision.    All circles meet once a month with a maximum of 10 persons in each circle, and a minimum of 6.   On the back page is a list of the ongoing circles, but we are eager to start new ones as well.  It’s possible to have a circle meet in someone’s home if there is enough interest in a general location – such as Woodstock.

If you would like to hear how other people feel about this program, Sue Rekenthaler, Irene Raven, Marc Stettner, Sue McCowin, Leah Mikkelson, or Lisa Messinger would be happy to share their experiences.   If you’re unsure if this is for you, you are welcome to attend and then decide if you would like to continue.

If you have questions, comments, would like to sign up for a circle, or propose a different circle time, we would love to hear from you.   Feel free to contact us or talk to us in church.

  1. E. Tanabe Ph. 815 337 9895            and                                    Janet Burns     Cell  847 542 7678                                                             

Existing Circles meet monthly ,  some time/day changes are possible

2nd Sunday 9:00 – 10:00 am      

2nd Wednesday   1:30 – 2:30 pm

3rd Sunday 6:30 – 8:00 pm                     

                                      and we’re open for requests


“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


[i]  Irene Raven’s full quote:    For me Chalice Circle is the most deeply spiritual practice available to us as UUs. Monthly engagement with a small group encourages me to love myself and to show love to others by engaging in the practice of deep listening. When I am heard without interruption or comment my sense of worth increases. When I listen to others, giving them my full attention without comment or judgment, I show my love for them as well.


In addition, the monthly Soul Matters curriculum packets can act as my spiritual reading for the month, allowing me the opportunity to read and reflect and incorporate the theme and various suggestions throughout the month. I find it exciting and challenging to make this a part of my day.


Just as the practice of meditation hones our skill so we can be mindful in our daily life, the practice of deep listening in Chalice Circle helps us to develop and use the skill of attentive listening.  We are better able to give our family, friends and acquaintances the precious gift of our full attention in daily conversations. That is a precious gift to both the giver and the receiver.


Chalice Circle together with Soul Matters has made a very positive difference in my life, in my daily living, giving me better tools for engaging with my “neighbor” and with myself. I believe I am a much better person because of it. I believe I touch the “divine”  “



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.