Dear UU Congregation, May 1, 2019
We are writing to you to invite you to submit stories for our collection, “The Every Day UU: Now and Then.” As part the UU History Renaissance Module, we were required to create a final project that would connect with what we had learned in the course. It became evident to us that although we have numerous stories that document the achievements of some UUs, many voices are missing. In addition, we noted that there are certain famous UUs that attract our attention for the huge efforts they made. But we don’t have a collection of stories about UUs, who in living their faith, make small differences every day. Moving forward we thought it would be great to begin this process of sharing stories about our congregants from the past and present.
What are we looking for?
Each submission should be between 300-500 words submitted as a Word Document. You may submit as many stories as you like. Please include details about the person and when and where the story took place.
The deadline for the initial collection of stories will be June 30, 2019. Depending on the interest in this project, additional collections may be requested in the future.
We envision this collection being used in several ways. Church committees may choose to read a story as inspiration at the beginning of a meeting. Religious Educators may find stories that would work for A Time for All Ages. Congregants might read a story each day as a spiritual practice.
Please send all stories and release forms to storiesforUU@gmail.com
We look forward to receiving your stories.
Joanne Dingus Director of Religious Education, Newport News, VA
Twinks Hastings, Children and Youth Ministries Director, Brewster, MA
1. The Author acknowledges that a receipt of a Submitted Work does not guarantee the Submitted Work will be published. Submissions not accepted for a current collection may be included in a later one.
2. The Author grants the exclusive, worldwide permission to publish, reproduce, and distribute copies, reprints, and duplications of the Submitted Work in whole or in part, in any format or media, written or digital including the internet.
3. The Author grants the right to edit, re-write, and reorganize the Submitted Work as necessary. The copyrights to the Submitted Work are retained by the Author.
4. The Author represents, warrants and attests that the Submitted Work is an original creation of the Author(s) listed below.
5.The Author represents and warrants that the Submitted Work does not contain any unlawful statements and does not infringe on any existing copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy, or any other third party right, and does not constitute the defamation or libel of any person, entity or product.
6. The author understands that no financial compensation shall be provided for the publication of the Submitted Work.
By signing below and submitting this Permission to Publish Form, the Author acknowledges and agrees to the above Terms and Conditions and attests to the accuracy of the information contained herein
.Author Signature _________________________________________
Date ______________________ ___
Sample stories from our congregations:
These days when you see a van with the license plate “Drumama” in the parking lot, you know Connie Ralston is in the building. But her drum ministry really began about 30 years ago when she attended a weekend camping event for woman led by Ubaka Hill.
According to Connie, Ubaka taught her that learning to drum gives people a powerful voice to express to the world. She taught that if we could learn cooperation, we would be amazed at what we could accomplish together. Ubaka said, “If the drum is a woman, do not beat your drum, help her find her voice.”
Connie had never done drumming before, but after that weekend, she not only found her voice but also heard the call to help other women find theirs.
Connie started with other UUs as they founded a women’s drumming group in Norfolk. The core group often performed on stage at local events. But Connie realized the value of drumming for non-performers. She learned the power of drumming with women as a way to promote healing from past struggles, abuses and illnesses.
Connie started a Women’s Drumming Circle at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (UUFP) that meets every month. It is open to those who identify as women, of all ages, and all religious backgrounds.
A former minister at UUFP held a course on Native American Spirituality, that and her connection to Earthrising, UUFP’s CUUPS group, added to her experiences in her UU faith.
“One of the most UU experiences I ever had was participating in several yearly Peace Vigils at the foot of the Washington Monument in DC. E weekend was filled with songs and music and round-the-clock ceremony with folks from the world’s religions .” She signed up to drum to keep the sacred fire going all night long. Being able to speak up for peace in the Nation’s Capitol and bring water to the Elder’s were very meaningful ways to walk her faith.
As a child, Connie had polio and spent two long stints hospitalized. Knowing first hand how powerless patients can feel, she decided to create her own business that brings drums to residents in care facilities. She watches as the simple act of drumming makes them feel empowered. Through her work with LINK of Hampton Roads, she has also drummed with people without homes, people who suffer from mental illnesses, and people going through 12 step programs. Leading rhythms and chants gives people from all different places and stages in life a chance to find their voice again.
Connie Ralston lives her UU faith every day with a compassionate heart and a van full of drums.
Your Socks Can Help Shelter Cats!
Sophia Wasilausky is fourteen years old, in the Girl Scouts and attends programs at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (UUFP.) She comes to Sunday school classes, sings in the choir and has helped as a layleader during services.
This year Sophia created a service project that gave our members a chance to get involved. The project is part of the Silver Award program through the Girls Scouts. This program requires scouts to do 50 hours or more of service for their community. Sophia decided to connect with the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter to focus her efforts on helping cats. Her goal is to make 500 cat toys out of used socks.
“I love animals and I wanted to help cats because I have two of my own. I wanted to do a project where I made something. I liked the idea of using old socks that would just get thrown away if they weren’t donated to the animal shelter.
So far I have made over 300 socks! My goal is 500 or more if I have the supplies. I have also visited the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter to deliver the toys and learn more about their cat programs.
I am making a difference because Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter is a government owned shelter so they don’t get a lot of funds. They depend a lot on donations from the public. Also, the toys make the cats really happy and excited! A happier cat is more likely to get adopted because they aren’t depressed and shy when people come to look for a pet to adopt. It’s a small way to help but it feels good to be making a difference.”
The mission of UUFP is Grow in wonder, connect in love, engage in service and inspire generosity.
Creating this project has helped Sophia grow as a young leader. She had to figure out how to promote her project and keep herself motivated. She has made more than 300 toys already. She has been able to connect in love with our faith community by sharing her enthusiasm for animal welfare. She is engaging in service by finding a cause that speaks to her and is putting months of effort into it. She has inspired generosity by giving others the opportunity to donate socks, stuffing and catnip.
Sophia Wasilausky is an every day UU, connecting to our principles by taking action to care for others.
Wilderness Sarchild is a social justice activist, poet, grandmother of 6 and author of Wrinkles, the Musical and a collection of Poetry titled Old Women Talking. Wilderness has been a member of First Parish Brewster for over 40 years where she currently serves as a worship associate and was previously the chair of the Right Relations Team.
For many years Wilderness has created art around social justice issues, from movement pieces to visual art, to creative art therapy groups designed to foster empowered, compassionate, politically aware citizens. She believes in the arts as a vehicle for healing and recently created an arts ministry at First Parish, which aims to infuse the Arts in all we do. She has led a couple of inspiring worship services on the power of art which incorporated many forms of expressive arts.
When Wilderness turned 60, she took a month-long silent retreat. During her retreat Wilderness wrote the poem Hags and Crones as a gift to her friend and Wrinkles co-writer, which then became the basis of the play. Through both her poetry and her play Wilderness is taking on ageism and breaking down the stereotypes that we often hold, ultimately empowering people as they age. Over the course of 8 years she and her writing partner interviewed over 100 local woman and turned their stories into dances, skits and monologues which ultimately became Wrinkles, the Musical which turns the stereotypes of aging on their head. The play has been produced the past two summers to rave reviews and will be having a third run this fall.
Wilderness is an every day UU, using her voice and talents to lift up the inherent worth and dignity of all people at all stages of life, but most importantly, as people age, she will not let them become silenced or dismissed.
Liz Libby is a mother of three, 11 year old twin boys and a 7 year old boy, who keep her busy and running hard. Liz had a traumatic birth and hard first year with her twins which opened her eyes to the world of birth and lactation, and she saw the many ways in which woman are not being served, listened too, or respected in this field. From that time, she has been a fierce advocate for woman during the birthing process and became an IBLC certified lactation consultant.
Liz hosts an open, no cost, Breast and Chest feeding group weekly and is fiercely protective of the non-judgmental space she creates for these birthing parents.
“Being a parent to a baby is isolating, hard, and one of the most difficult things we do, so often the struggles of the first years with baby are not talked about honestly. It’s hard to admit that you are falling apart and resenting your baby because you haven’t slept for two weeks”
Liz aims to create space where the struggles of parenthood can be expressed in real ways, and where you will not be judged for turning up un-showered, crying with a cranky baby in tow.
Liz is also acutely aware of trans woman and men who are experiencing birth and parenthood. Often mother and baby groups can be exclusive to trans parents, and in a field where Cis woman are being unheard it is hard to imagine being a trans parent navigating birth and parenthood.
Liz is an every day UU who is working hard in the field of reproductive justice, birthing and lactation to lift up the voices of women and trans men as they navigate the precious but precarious world of birthing and raising children.