Previous Service Topics
Check out our previous services to see the diversity of our programs
PAST SERVICES (2017)
May 7: Rev. Kenton Stone. The Mothers of May. In the 1970s, military dictators ruled many South American countries, killing their opponents and “disappearing” their bodies. Unable to mourn and bury their husbands and sons, women began to march and by 1985 nearly all of South America’s dictators had been overthrown by these peaceful, women-led demonstrations. Now enjoying the longest period of democracy in its 500 year history, South America celebrates its Mothers of May.
May 14: Hey Momma…. written by Rev. Sara Huisjen. Exploring the phenomenon of mothering. What does it take to nurture and encourage others (and ourselves) into a sense of strength and beauty? Who does this? How? This sermon is read with permission of the author, who is the settled minister of the UU Church of Ellsworth, ME.
May 21: Julie Castillo. Evolution and Creationism: Why Can’t We Just Get Along? Evolution vs. creationism, science vs. theology: what’s really at the heart of this centuries-old animosity? Can we reconcile these two radically different ways of knowing? Can we adopt a viewpoint that allows these diverse positions to peacefully, respectfully, co-exist?
May 28: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Honoring Troops, Opposing War. It’s hard to maintain that a war is immoral while honoring those who fight it as upholding the best traditions of our country. Perhaps that’s why religious liberals often are unfairly characterized as anti-military. Rev. Paul’s sermon explores this tension and offers some ways of balancing these competing values.
June 4: Rev. Ron Crawford. To Do or To Be? Have you ever considered what makes life worth living? What really keeps us going? Is it what we are able to do, or who we are able to be?
June 11: Rev. Kenton Stone. Justice in the Jungle. An alliance between a bishop and a philosophy professor brought social justice in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. This is all the more noteworthy since San Cristobal’s founder 500 years ago was Rev. Bartolome de las Casas, who came to Mexico as the chaplain on Christopher Columbus’s ship, protected the town’s indigenous people from slavery.
June 18: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. The Bible and Homosexuality. The Bible is not nearly as clear in its condemnation of homosexuality as many suggest. Yet, when all things are considered, there are some difficult passages on this subject. That does not mean we must throw the whole Bible out, though. This sermon offers a way to read the Bible with integrity while keeping much of its inspiration.
June 25: Rev. Ed Poling. Finding Common Ground Amidst Religious Diversity: Rabbi Arik Ascherman. In this continuing series on peacemaking and interfaith dialogue, we look at another advocate of human rights and nonviolence, from a Jewish perspective. Rabbi Arik Ascherman, a contemporary Israeli citizen, has stood up for Palestinians against Israeli settler violence, worked for social justice for Israelis, and supported the difficult plight of his country’s Bedouin citizens.
March 5: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. The Spirituality of Sexuality. Most religious traditions separate the spiritual from the physical, teaching that so-called physical desires diminish our spirituality. Not so among Unitarians and Universalists. Drawing primarily on the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, this sermon describes how our sexuality is very much a part of our inherent worth and dignity,
A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
March 12: Rev. Ron Crawford. Just What Is a Unitarian Universalist, Anyway? Rev. Crawford has asked this question many times over the years of his ministry. Here is his answer.
March 19: Yvonne Pfoutz. A Momentary Pause in Tilting. A Pagan-style service inspired by the vernal equinox but with a UU message: pausing to consider other views and options can help us find balance and peace.
Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service. Offering in Action.
March 26: Fanny Crawford. Chapman, Water and Spring. John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, inland waterman, pacifist, vegetarian, and religious eccentric, brought books and literacy to the American wilderness. The service ends with a water ceremony to honor him, the return of spring, and our UU principles.
April 2: Rev. Kenton Stone. A Sunday with Morrie. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is part of my death and dying course for nursing students at Allegany College. Sharing Morrie’s wisdom on the meaning of life from his perspective as a dying man has given me a legitimate vehicle for bringing a very Unitarian Universalist interfaith perspective into my public college classroom.
A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
April 9: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Beyond Exodus. April 10 marks the beginning of Passover, when Jews remember and celebrate their liberation from slavery in Egypt. This sermon shows how that story, though likely not at all historically accurate, still may enrich our spiritual lives.
April 16: Rev. Rebekah Montgomery. Light Reborn. Rev. Olympia Brown, the first woman to be ordained a Unitarian minister, reminds us, “to stand by this faith. Work for it and sacrifice for it”. We sit with wonder at how hope and love persist and thrive in the midst of seeming chaos. On this day, we reflect on the ways in which we are called into the world and what is asked of us in terms of sacrifice and faith. Offering in Action collection.
NO Potluck or Booktable. (These will happen next Sunday.)
April 23: Plum Blossom Memories: Celebrating UUCH’s 60th Anniversary. Touching, humorous and inspiring vignettes from six decades of Unitarian Universalism in Hagerstown.
Special Anniversary potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service.
April 30: Rev. Ron Crawford. Falling to Grace. It is important and helpful to learn how to fall, not just physically (and there are right ways to do this), but also emotionally: how one reacts when serious illness, the loss of someone important, a divorce, or the terror of war enters our lives.
January 1: Meditations on Past, Present and Future. Quiet music, contemplative readings and moments of blessed silence create a restful transition from the hectic holidays to 2017’s responsibilities and challenges. NOT a Family Sunday so RE children will be in their classroom.
January 8: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Alt Right or Alt Wrong: A Perspective from MLK, Jr. In anticipation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, this sermon examines how King would have us respond to this new movement that threatens to normalize racism.
January 15: Marlin Barnes and Jane Peatling. Why Music? A musical service featuring their unique cello-marimba duo. They will play interesting pieces, talk a bit about music fundamentals, and discuss why some people use music in worship and some do not. Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service. Offering in Action collection.
January 22: Rev. Rebekah Montgomery. Desperate Times. At times, we often feel that our lives and understanding of the world have become fraught with realities that defy understanding. The old proverb “desperate times call for desperate measures” comes to mind as we wrestle with what comes next. We are called to sit with our spiritual nature and greater purpose as UUs. In sermon, Rev. Montgomery explores the nature of conflict, fear and seeking justice.
January 29: Rev. Ed Poling: Finding Common Ground Amidst Religious Diversity: Part 4—Badshah Khan. In this continuing series on peacemaking and interfaith dialogue, we’ll look at yet another advocate of nonviolence from a Muslim perspective. (Earlier talks focused on a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Hindu.) Badshah Khan, a contemporary of Mohandas Gandhi, struggled and succeeded against British colonial repression in what became the country of Pakistan. We’ll consider his improbable task of peacemaking among the North-West Frontier Pathan people; we’ll learn about the world’s first nonviolent army; and we’ll hear how nonviolence was so natural for this follower of the Prophet Mohammed.
February 5: Rev. Kenton Stone: At-one-ment. In his new book Cultivating Empathy: The Worth and Dignity of Every Person—Without Exception, UU theologian Nathan C. Walker asks the simple profound question: “In this day and age, is it possible to imagine a redemptive theology across faith traditions, a theology of at-one-ment?” Can we express the wonder of those before us who have experienced God’s transcending presence beyond ego and human projection? Where we are one with all who suffer, imagine ourselves as them, and hopefully help relieve that suffering? A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
February 12: Bernadette Wagner. Frank Conversations About the End of Life. This presentation by the Community Outreach Coordinator for Hospice of Washington County is based on Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande, which explores why it is important for family members and friends, as well as physicians, to have frank conversations not only about living well but also about dying well. Appropriately handled, discussions about the end of life can give all involved a sense of control, a sense of purpose and a sense of peace.
February 19: Rev. Rebekah Montgomery: ’Forgiveness Is the Final Form of Love.’ This quote from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr captures the essence of why we seek forgiveness—both offered and being sought, towards ourselves and with others, with words and without. Offering in Action collection. Canvass Lunch and Meeting after the service. Meal provided. No Potluck or Booktable.
February 26: Dr. Karen Gray: An Atheist’s Sense of the Sacred. The theological and common understandings of “sacred” followed by when and why she, though an atheist, uses the term for things in her own life. She’ll also talk briefly about the ethical and moral issues that arise from institutional and individual identification of something as “sacred”.
PAST SERVICES (2016)
January 3: Michael Roehm. Welcoming the New Year. January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was two-faced: one face looking forward and the other back. This sermon reflects on starting the new year. Adapted from a sermon by UU minister Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
January 10: Marcus Jaiclin. Be Who You Are. Based on the work of the famous UU minister, the late Forrest Church, this sermon considers who each of us is for ourselves and in relation to others. Adapted from a sermon by UU minister Rev. Peter Friedrich.
January 17: Rev. Ed Poling. Finding Common Ground Amidst Religious Diversity. We see much diversity in current religious beliefs and practices in North America for we live in an increasingly pluralistic society. Yet the governing principle seems to be “live and let live,” rather than seeking to understand and appreciate our differences. In our religious ghettos we still live with fear and anxiety. Fifty years ago in the heart of the Cold War, a Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, reached outside his cloistered monastery and entered into dialogue with a variety of religious leaders around the world. What can he teach us about finding common ground? Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service.
January 24: Services cancelled because of blizzard
Jan. 31: Fanny Crawford. God, Mabel, Rose and Me. Local storyteller Fanny Crawford compares experiences of her paternal and maternal grandmothers, airs a bit of family laundry and wonders out loud about the religious and spiritual legacies of her ancestors.
February 7: Dr. Sahab Siddiqi. Muslim Understanding. Dr. Siddiqi is a member of the Islamic Society of Western Maryland and an articulate presenter of Muslim understanding on many issues. A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
February 14: Karen Gray. Love and Justice: A Valentine’s Day Philosophical Meander. Martha Nussbaum’s philosophy and her works on human emotions, flourishing, and fragile goodness provide the wandering path for this Valentine’s Day meditation. Like a gardener highlighting the beneficial properties of selected plants, she excerpts from Greek thought and Western literature several of the texts that serve as nourishing roots for some of Nussbaum’s distinctive and enlightening views on our morality-seeking life-journeys.
February 21: Marcus Jaiclin. The Infinite Enlargement of the Heart. This award-winning sermon by Rev. Jay Leach builds on quotes from Arthur Miller and Ralph Waldo Emerson. UUCH Book Table open after the service. Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share.
February 28: Rev. Kenton Stone. A UU Saint from 20th Century Spain. “Spain’s most important 20th century philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno, was— like his French counterparts Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre— an existentialist who presented philosophy in story form. Unamuno’s most famous story is that of St. Emmanuel the Good Martyr, the most beloved priest in all of Spain. He was not canonized by the Vatican, however, because of a scandalous secret revealed after his death: he did not believe in God. The Vatican rejected him, but I would argue for him to be a UU saint instead, an example of how a good UU does good in today’s world.”
March 6: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. I’ve Got the Good News. Because we UUs don’t have a creed that’s easy to recite, we often have trouble describing our faith to others. UU minister Paul Britner shares ideas for talking about our faith and sharing the message of UUism without the kind of evangelism that most UUs reject. A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
March 13: Rev. Ron Crawford. Help for Healing. No one doubts the importance of modern medicine, but are there other ways to help us deal with the dis-eases of modern life? Ron suggests some.
March 20: Yvonne Pfoutz. Awakening to the World. Modern communication idolizes brevity—tweets, sound bites, bullet lists—but we UUs also value long form non-fiction and novels. Explore and share the books which helped us awaken to the wider world and understand more deeply another point of view, a challenging issue, or a different culture. Potluck lunch after the service. Bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service.
March 27 (Easter): Rev. Kenton Stone. Heaven? Whether we believe in a heaven or not, our conjecture about the afterlife tells us a lot about how we view this life. At Easter, when many talk about resurrection, let us pause to consider heaven on earth.
April 3: Rev. Ron Crawford. Humanism in Perspective. Many UUs are following the Humanist journey. It works for them. But does this alternative, non-theistic, rationality really provide the comfort, inspiration or motivation that we all need? A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
April 10: Rev. Scott Alexander’s sermon, But Are You Happy? What is happiness? Can happiness be pursued? Are some people genetically more apt to be happy than others? Reflections on these and other questions about the great American pursuit of happiness. Read by Yvonne Pfoutz.
April 17: Rev. Ed Poling. Thich Nhat Hanh. How can this quiet Vietnamese Buddhist monk help us find common ground in the midst of our country’s growing religious diversity? When Thich Nhat Hanh came to the West in the 1960s to encourage the American public to end our military occupation and the war in his country, his message was not well-received and his efforts resulted in his forced exile from his homeland. But in the intervening years his teachings have helped shape a new and growing appreciation for world peace through interfaith dialogue. UUCH Book Table open after the service. Potluck lunch after the service. Bring food to share.
April 24: Rev. Kenton Stone. The 21st Century Universalist Revival. In recent years, several well-known evangelical ministers have rejected the doctrine of hell, a bedrock of conservative Christianity, preaching instead about universal reconciliation and love. Universalism, a theology we shared with many other denominations in the 1800s, is once again winning over hearts and minds in America. Why not invite them to a church where love has been winning all along?
May 1: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Eve Was Framed. For many, the source of all sin in the world begins with Eve’s tempting of Adam to eat an apple. Rev. Paul, who is a former lawyer, offers both a theological and legal defense of Eve, showing how UUs may find meaning and inspiration in sacred texts while keeping our commitment to a faith guided by reason. A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
May 8: Rev. Dr. Elizabeth M. Strong’s sermon, A Theology of Evolution. Some of our Unitarian and Universalist ancestors were among the first religious people to accept the scientific theory of evolution. Citing the work of Universalist minister Dr. Marion D. Shutter in 1900, Rev. Dr. Strong discusses the influence of science in general and evolution in particular on religion.
May 15: Rev. Wayne Arnason’s sermon: From the One, Many: Prospects for a New Universalism. In the 20th century, Rev. Clarence Skinner was the great Universalist social prophet who proclaimed “a mystical optimism that the unity of creation would manifest itself in the advance of humanity towards greater justice, compassion, and knowledge.” Is the vision still relevant, and what is the “unity” in the Universalist message today? Adapted and presented by Michael Roehm.
May 22: Rev. Kenton Stone. Hope After Hope. Faith is one of the hardest things for humans to define. Faith in what? In God? In humanity? Interesting questions, but they often lead us into abstract discussions that have little to do with everyday reality. What if instead of veering off into the larger questions concerning faith, we started small and pinpointed our moment of need as the starting point for defining faith? Maybe faith begins when all hope is lost. Maybe faith is how we find hope after hope.
May 29: Rev. Ron Crawford. Reflections on Ministry. Just who is a UU Minister, and just what does or should that person do? Rev. Crawford’s research draws interesting parallels between current UU Ministers and Jewish Rabbis. He also discusses the many activities shared jointly by our laity and our clergy.
June 5: UUCH Players. The Quarrelsome Quails, a Buddhist wisdom tale about a covey of quail who learn a painful lesson about the dangers of bickering and benefits of co-operation. An intergenerational service for everyone school age and up. Nursery will be staffed for younger children. The Secret Pals will be revealed after the service. (This service was rescheduled from January)
June 12: UU minister, Rev. Jonalu Johnstone’s sermon: Lessons Learned from a Culture of Pride, read by Bill Pike. This month of Pride days and parades is a good time for our Welcoming Congregation to reflect on the lessons learned from LGBTQ culture and community.
June 19: Rev. Ron Crawford. The Gospel According to Fulghum. In honor of Father’s Day, Rev. Crawford will pay homage to one of his personal heroes: author and UU Minister Robert Fulghum, author of the 1986 beat-seller, All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten, which contains a lot of valuable fatherly advice. UUCH Book Table open after the service. Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share.
June 26: Rev. Kenton Stone. The 21st Century Universalist Revival, Part 2. A deeper exploration of a small but growing shift within evangelical Christianity toward “universal reconciliation” (another name for Universalism) and its implications for Unitarian Universalism. Special music by cellist Jane Peatling and Marlin Barnes on marimba.
July 3: Musician Michael DeLalla and Mindfulness in All Things: Spirituality and the Creative Process. Composer/guitarist/author Michael DeLalla discusses the connection between his creative process and his spirituality. Where does that initial “spark” of an idea emanate? How should it be honored and cultivated? What is the spiritual connection between learning/unlearning, action/inaction, creation/destruction? Finally, how can these principles be manifest in one’s day-to-day life: one’s “practice”? A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service and a special story.
July 10: Will Willis. Green with Envy. Explore the ways in which our daily environmental actions are definitively social justice choices with worldwide ramifications and benefits. (rescheduled from June 12)
July 17: Rev. Ron Crawford. Beyond Spirituality. People often speak of spirituality but struggle to define it. This morning Rev. Crawford shares what spirituality means to him. Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service.
July 24: Rev. Rebekah Montgomery. Digging Within: The WellSpring of Good. Our worship theme for this Sunday is “Wellspring”, where we are inspired to seek the original and bountiful sources of our spiritual path. This morning we will reflect on turning within fearlessly to harness the good, despite the challenges of the world around us.
July 31: J.D. Stillwater. Super. Natural: Science Beckons the Faithful. A superficial look at the history of modern science might suggest that “the supernatural” is superstition, and everything is just mere reality. But there’s another way of looking at it. Scientific discovery reassigns godlike powers from supernatural gods to Nature herself, but expanded to include wonders far beyond the imaginings of our faithful ancestors. Natural, yes, but ever more “super” too. There’s nothing “mere” about Reality.
August 7: Rev. Kenton Stone. Hope from St. Anthony, MN. Rev. Stone responds to the spate of recent shootings, inspired by a recent visit to friends in St. Anthony, where the police officer fatally shot Philando Castile. In St. Anthony, Rev. Stone saw protest marches, paid his respects at the Castile memorial, and attended a “soul-searching” service. (The church service was described in a New York Times article about churches responding to the violence, which also included a photo with Rev. Stone partially visible in the background. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/us/slain-officer-michael-smiths-church-in-dallas-calls-for-healing.html )A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
August 14: Rev. Paul Britner. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Physics of Families. Generational transmission describes attitudes, values, and behaviors that run in families. These may be well known to us, but that is not always the case. Rev. Paul will use the family dynamics of the Biblical patriarchs to illustrate family patterns in ways with which every family can identify.
August 21: Rev. Ron Crawford. Growing Old Graciously and Other Nonsense. We are all aging, whether we realize it or not. What’s it all about, anyway? Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service.
August 28: Ginny Cook. Being Alive and Having to Die. The biography of Rev. Forrest Church, one of the most influential and prominent UU ministers of the 20th century, presents an instructive spiritual odyssey.
September 4: Remembering the Labor in Labor Day. Words and vintage images remind us of the struggle for “worth and dignity”— and fair compensation!— by blue collar Americans. A shortened intergenerational service for everyone school-age and older (with special activity packets for the children). The nursery will be staffed for infants and pre-school children. After the service, enjoy our annual End-of-the-Summer Picnic. Bring food to share and games to play. (Lawn chairs too!)
September 11: The DeMasi Brothers and Living In A World of Kindness. Join these award-winning UU singer/songwriter/ humorists, as they take us on a musical tour of the seven principals of UUism. Their takes on such subjects as finding spiritual fulfillment, inner peace and equality for all are insightful and will leave you with a feeling of optimism and satisfaction. Their presentation is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a song in your heart!
September 18: Rev. Paul Britner. The All-American Revolution. This non-partisan message explains how our political process today, for all its good bad points, evolved from Unitarian and Universalist values shared by our nation’s founders. There’s a little history, some politics, and a touch of theology in this message timed for our election season. Offering in Action collection. Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. NO Book Table after the service; next book table Oct. 16.
October 2: Rev. Ron Crawford. We and Other Religions. As we UUs grow in religious beliefs, we value investigating other religious traditions. But how much of the “smorgasbord” should we incorporate as our own? A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
October 16: Rev. Ed Poling. Finding Common Ground Amidst Religious Diversity: Part 3 — Mahatma Gandhi. A look at this gentle Hindu saint of the Twentieth Century—what he had to say about nonviolence and how he put it into practice—in this third presentation on peace and interfaith dialogue. Peace and justice in the world today will not be found by relying on one particular religious tradition, but by discovering common ground in the midst of our diversity. Potluck lunch after the service. Please bring food to share. UUCH Book Table open after the service. Offering in Action collection.
Nov. 6: Rev. Ron Crawford. A Reason for Being. Leo Buscaglia’s inspiring allegory for children, The Fall of Freddy the Leaf, illustrates the delicate balance between life and death. One is deeply touched by the thought provoking treatment of so sensitive a facet of true life. But it is the warm and wonderfully wise focus on one’s life purpose, a reason for being, as explained by the learned leaf, Daniel, which draws my attention to this simple story time and again. It is truly a story of life for all ages. A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service. Faith in Action meeting after the service.
May 7 –
Rev. Kenton Stone and The Mothers of May
In the 1970s, military dictators ruled many South American countries, killing their opponents and “disappearing” their bodies. Unable to mourn and bury their husbands and sons, women began to march and by 1985 nearly all of South America’s dictators had been overthrown by these peaceful, women-led demonstrations. Now enjoying the longest period of democracy in its 500 year history, South America celebrates its Mothers of May.
A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.