Previous Service Topics
Check out our previous services to see the diversity of our programs
Jan. 6: Rev. Dr. Paul Bitner. Personhood and Parenthood. As we approach another anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Rev. Paul attempts a non-political, thoughtful consideration of faith and reproductive loss, which includes abortion, infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth, post-adoption loss, and post-natal loss due to fetal abnormalities.
Jan. 13: church service cancelled because of snow.
Jan. 20: church service cancelled because of snow.
Jan. 27: Rev. Kenton Stone. Presence. Theologian Paul Tillich wrote that many Americans miss out on life. “They are held by the past…or they escape towards the future, unable to rest in the present.” Ancient Buddhist wisdom echoes Tillich’s modern admonition: rest in peace should not be just for tombstones, but for living, too.
Feb. 3: Dr. Karen Gray. Virtue Ethics, whether in ancient or modern form, offers guidance and definition to the complex realm of human morality. Dr. Gray will talk about its presence in her life, especially in terms of Theravada Buddhism’s five precepts and Andre Comte-Sponville’s moral philosophy, and why she prefer it over some of the alternative ethical systems.
Feb. 10: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Spiritual Ecstasy. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Rev. Paul takes us on tour of the varied perspectives different religions have about sex, including some surprising revelations about our Puritan ancestors.
.Feb. 17: Rev. Scott Alexander’s Getting Serious About Unitarian Universalism. Delivered by Marcus Jaiclin. What does it mean to live as a Unitarian Universalist?
Feb.24: Rev. Kenton Stone. Thyself. The gnarly connections between UUism and the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the dude Socrates, and two philosophical aphorisms: “Know thyself” and “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
March 3: Fanny Crawford. T.H. Barnes Talks About Life, Death and History. Storyteller Fanny Crawford will deliver a message from her great-grandfather, Thomas Henry Barnes (b.1849-d.1942) developed from the 100 page family history and autobiography Barnes left to the Barnes-Crawford clan, augmented by the family’s oral history and Fanny’s own research into major events of her great-grandfather’s time. (rescheduled from January.)
March 10: J.D. Stillwater. Befriending the Thief—Remembering Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet revered by many UUs, died January 17. Mary was not one to deny or push off thoughts of her own mortality; death and loss were present in many of her works. This Sunday morning we join her in facing and embracing what will come, what IS coming for each of us.
March 17: Rev. Dr. Judith McLean. Passive Racism. Most white people in the US claim to not be racist, but passive racism is a subtle form of racism in which most of us are unaware of participating. Learn how being born white in America gives immediate privilege and sense of belonging that is denied to people of color. (rescheduled from January.)
March 24: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence in the 21st century represents new technology that may enhance and enrich our lives or diminish them—or worse. Rev. Paul explores the spiritual and ethical challenges of artificial intelligence.
March 31: “Whispering Maggid” Melvin Metelits. Is It All About Love? This discourse will explore the holy energies of creation through the lens of the biblical story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son, Isaac.
April 7: Rev. James Ishmael Ford’s sermon, Already Broken: A Buddhist Perspective on the Season of Spring. This sermon, about a way to see the preciousness of things, is by a retired UU minister, Zen Master, and author.
April 14: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. When Families Hurt. When families experience abuse, addiction, abandonment and other traumas, family members must find ways to sustain themselves and the family. How do you balance family care and self-care?
April 21: Rev. Kenton Stone. After Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen. Although popular in churches now, Cohen’s song took more than a decade to find its audience because his Jewish Hallelujah comes from a humble theology of brokenness, not triumphalism.
April 28: Rev. John H. Buehrens’ sermon, Failure to Forgive. The former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association discusses the nature and value of forgiveness.
May 5: Rev. Kenton Stone. Wikipedia Angel. My hope of heaven is for there to be a Wikipedia Angel there who can answer all of my hard questions about this world. If there is a Wikipedia Angel, what would your questions be?
May 12: Jane Peatling and Marlin Barnes. A Path of Happiness. A mostly musical morning from professional musicians, Jane on cello and Marlin on marimba, interspersed with short readings and words of wisdom.
May 19: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Heroes and Sheroes. Not about any of the Avengers but rather those real-life heroes whom we would hold up as examples of virtue. How do cultural biases shape who gets selected for such honors and how do such selections shape the culture?
May 26: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Was Jesus a Pacifist? For the Memorial Day weekend, a Unitarian Universalist perspective on the life and teachings of Jesus on the subjects of war and violence and how Jesus might respond to violence in our times. Hint: there’s evidence for multiple answers, and, ultimately, it will be up the listeners to decide for themselves.
June 2: Nancy Crawford. Aging? Who, ME?—A lighted-hearted look. Time marches on and we all age, but how do we do it? Nancy has given considerable thought to this topic, and has chosen to dwell on many of the more humorous aspects.
June 9: Rev. Dr. Judith McLean. Inner and Outer Light: The Symbolic and Mystical Attributes of Light in Religion. Since the beginning of time, people have attributed mystical qualities to light, both in outer and inner form. While Unitarians recognize the symbolic forms of light, what about the mystical inner light that so many religions claim leads and guides us?
June 16: Rev. Leslie Becknell-Marx’s sermon Learning the Principles by Heart. How can we apply the Unitarian Universalist Seven Principles to our personal lives?
June 23: Linda Taggart. Gaia Is… An exploration of our planet and our place on it.
June 30: Rev. Ed Poling. Not Finished Yet: Aging, Diminishment and Spirituality. Diminishment is a difficult but necessary path in the aging process. We’ll explore its gifts in handling the ambiguities and limitations of life from a faith perspective.
January 7: Marlin Barnes and Jane Peatling. Music—The Universal Language. Marlin Barnes and Jane Peatling will explore elements in music that make it valuable to our spiritual lives.
January 14: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. The Reckoning. The revelations of sexual misconduct just keep coming, and they present challenges to all of us. We must navigate the tension between believing the accusers while giving the accused the presumption of innocence, and (nothing new here, just the context) we must find a way to love people who have deeply disappointed us with their conduct. Rev. Paul draws on his careers in law and ministry for a unique take on these questions.
January 21: Rev. Kenton Stone. Sex, Power, Meaning. For Freud, the most basic human drive was sex. For Adler, it was power. Freud’s disciple in psychiatry, Vicktor Frankl, put both theories to the test in the Holocaust and replaced them with the drive for meaning. Frankl’s “logotherapy” helped him through the Holocaust and into a long and fruitful life.
January 28: Rev. Ed Poling. Finding Common Ground Amidst Religious Diversity: Part 7 – Liu Xiaobo. In this continuing series on peacemaking and interfaith dialogue, we look at an advocate for human rights and nonviolence from a Confucian perspective. Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese intellectual who became a gadfly for democratic reform, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
February 4: cancelled because of snow
February 11: Rev. Kenton Stone. Frank Talk. Writer, filmmaker, and screenwriter Frank Schaeffer is the son of an evangelical theologian whose book How Then Should We Live is the intellectual bedrock of the Religious Right. Despite his upbringing, Frank has become “a self-described progressive Christian.” His second book, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion, provides deep insights as to what’s next when we figure out what we don’t believe. As his father would have put it, after leaving dogma behind, “how then do we progressives live?”
February 18: Dr. Karen Gray. Thinking About “The Dignity of Man.” Karen Gray reflects on the assignment of “dignity” to our species from Giovanni Pico’s controversial 1486 oration on “The Dignity of Man” to the seemingly endemic violence and oppressions of our time. In the process she traces her personal quest to recover a sense of human dignity and to explore the value of dignity as a personal virtue worth developing.
February 25: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Love Never Ends. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that love never ends. Yet, when relationships end though death, distance, decay, or otherwise, we wonder, “Was the love real and then stopped being real or was it ever real love in the first place?” As usual Rev. Paul has several answers from which you may choose.
March 4: Judith McLean. Patriarchy Through the Ages and Its Influence on Women. The majority of written history shows that most cultures espoused a patriarchal mode of organizing societies and their religions. Looking at the known origins of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim faiths and cultures, one sees a pronounced patriarchal leaning. Originally patriarchy developed either due to the masculine role in a society or due to the culture’s conception of God and his maleness. How did this impact the women in these cultures and religions and their roles in society?
March11: Rev. Kenton Stone. Flaming Chalices of the Heart. Three stories from members of the online PTSD support group Rev. Stone leads, which are examples of light and hope for everybody, not just support group members, but for everyone who lights a chalice flame, too.
March 18: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Poggio Finds a Book, Saves the World. Inspired by the book The Swerve, which tells the story of how one intrepid scholar of the ancient world found a long-lost text that arguably gave rise to the Renaissance. That’s an overstatement, but it does help explain how faith came to be informed by reason, which makes it critical to the Unitarian Universalist tradition.
March 25: Rev. Ron Crawford. Our Father? Oh Brother! Ron introduces us to some of the work and ideas of 20th century theologian Neil Douglas-Klotz from his 2006 book, Blessings of the Cosmos.
April 1: Rev. Kenton Stone. Beyond Bitterness. In difficult times, we tend to stick to what we know, the negative. But in meditation classes, I learned that there are ways to use my PTSD symptoms, incredibly enough, in what Buddhists call tonglen, a training in altruism that can transform bitterness into compassion.
April 8: Marcus Jaiclin. Finding Humanity Among the Robots. How robots and robotic decision-making are used in today’s society and how we can preserve our essential humanity in the future.
April 15: Rev. Bruce Cleary’s sermon, Fuzzy Questions, Fuzzy Answers addresses the common assertion that “Unitarians have no beliefs.” (Rescheduled from February.)
April 22: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. When Prayers Aren’t Wanted. Comforting persons from traditional faith groups comes with a manual of sorts—just read a favorite passage from the Bible, the Gita, the Tao, or other appropriate text. For others, it’s not so easy. This message offers guidance on caring for people all across the spectrum of faith and belief.
April 29: Rev. Ron Crawford. Mysticism and Meaning. Someone once said “Problems have solutions; mysteries don’t.” While most UUs take pride in their rationalism, there is also a strong strain of the irrational in our heritage as well. Spirituality, transcendence and mysticism come to mind.
May 6: Rev. Ron Crawford. Ten Things You Gotta Like About God. Ron introduces us to some thoughts by Rev. Tom Schade of the Unitarian Christian Fellowship. These ‘Things’ sound very ‘UU-ish’.
May 13: Stephen C. Buckingham. Social Justice Work as Spiritual Practice. In modern times, we often think of spirituality as a state of mind that looks inward for deeper meaning and inner peace, divorced from the activities of daily living. But why is spiritual practice something we only do alone, in private, through prayer or meditation. Spiritual practice leads us to recognize our interconnectedness, and this requires us to care for one another. If a group is compelled to speak up when we see injustice, shouldn’t we consider this a spiritual practice as well?
May 20: Rev. Kenton Stone. Universalism Strikes Again. An evangelical megachurch’s founding pastor the Rev. Rob Bell found universalism all on his own and wrote the best seller Love Wins, refuting evangelical beliefs in hell, and resigned. Now his successor, the Rev. Kent Dobson has done the same, as revealed in his new book Bitten by a Camel. Once again, some evangelicals are turning to universalism in a way that should be of interest to any UU who would like to see this message reach America in the 21st century.
May 27: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Pacifism in a Violent World. For Memorial Day weekend, Rev. Paul considers whether pacifism is even possible in today’s world and what that might look like. In the interest of Biblical literacy, he also asks whether Jesus was a pacifist, and some of you may be surprised by his answer.
June 3: Rev. Ron Crawford. The Fourth Quarter. Some thoughts on aging.
June 10: Rev. Dr. Judith McLean. Women and Inequality in the Time of Reason. From the time of suffragettes to the contemporary “Me Too” movement, women have resolved that their voices need to be heard and that equality of gender in our society is long overdue. The resistance against the Equal Rights Amendment for women leaves women unprotected by the United States Constitution. A look at various stages of the women’s movement will be presented and the obstacles along the way.
June 17: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. It’s Hard to Be the Buddha. Rev. Paul will have a special acknowledgement of Father’s Day and then will focus on a topic applicable to all us: letting go of resentments and anger.
June 24: Rev. Dr. Helen Cohen. Talking about Death.
July 1: Rev. Lisa McDaniel-Hutchings’ sermon, Resilience, delivered by Jerry Harness. There is a lot going on now environmentally, politically, and socially that demands our attention. But it also saps our energy and adds to our stress and anxiety. Rev. McDaniel-Hutchings suggests a plan to cope with “disaster fatigue” when prolonged exposure to news coverage or political change causes us to lose motivation.
July 8: Rev. Peter Friedrichs’ sermon’ Do What You Can, delivered by Donna Catling. The sermon focuses on the late Rev. Forrest Church’s message to focus “our minds on what is possible, no more, no less, thereby filling each moment with conscious, practicable endeavor.”
July 15: Rev. Kenton Stone. The End of Suffering. Is compassion compatible with activism to end sexual abuse, domestic violence, and the wars that lead to combat trauma? My PTSD support group has supported members in their activism of pressing charges and witnessing in court to bring their abusers to trial and conviction, with compassion all the while. They teach us that compassion is courageous, not soft. It’s essential to coming to the end of suffering.
July 22: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Why Be Normal? UUs pride themselves on their radical individuality. Yet, as humans, we want to belong and connect with others. This sermon explores how we navigate the tension between being ourselves and being with others.
July 29: Ginny Cook. A Letter From God. Presented in the first person, this sermon explains what God has meant to different people through the ages. For example, God has taken many forms, e.g., a goddess to some Greeks, a god of war to many ancient Hebrews, and a human being to many others. The common consensus is that God is undefinable, yet most always seen as the source of life.
August 5: Jane Peatling and Marlin Barnes. Mostly Music. Filled with music and meditation, this service will be an experience in listening with heart and soul as well as ears.
August 12: Rev. Kenton Stone. After Atheism. Too often atheism is seen as a destination, not a point of departure for developing a humanist spirituality. In my experience of UUism and 12 Step programs, atheism has been a wonderful starting point for me to develop an adult, mature notion of a Higher Power that is actually my own.
August 19: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Stealing Hope. At its most basic level, hope is the belief that things can be better. Yet, we put many obstacles in the way of our own hope, including inappropriate roles, rigid rules, and unrealistic expectations.
Offering in Action for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Potluck Lunch & UUCH Book Table after the service.
August 26: Rev. Ron Crawford. You Are Like Salt, You Are Like Light! Ron takes a short flight from the King James version of the Bible to present-day UU operations.
September 2: Endings and Beginnings. A UU exploration of the spiritual aspects of endings and beginnings that shape our lives.
An intergenerational service for everyone school-age and older. The nursery will be staffed for younger children.
Followed by our annual end-of-the-summer potluck picnic.
September 9: Rev. Kenton Stone. Losing Our Sense of Humor. Sometimes my love of standup comedy and my job teaching college death and dying courses intersect, as they did with the tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. There are things in life we can’t laugh away, so in this sermon I reflect on Williams and others who face challenges in life for which we need the support.
September 16: JD Stillwater. Complementarity: Coming of Age at 54. JD discovers a scientific approach towards a New Agnosticism, one that fully embraces the mysteries and ambiguities inherent in natural reality. Along the way we meet a cryptic cat, a famous psychic, a woman with a question, and a religious organization for atheists. The exclamation “Poppycock!” also makes a brief appearance.
Offering in Action for the HARC Learning Parties. Potluck Lunch & UUCH Book Table after the service.
September 23: Rev. Dr. Judith McLean. Oral Tradition: Fact or Fiction and How It Impacts Our Belief Systems. Oral tales were used before written records and also in modern times to illustrate teachings and morality points as well as a tribe’s or a family’s lineage. These traditions can be taken literally or metaphorically. However, oral traditions taken as factual can create belief systems that are possibly fiction. As a part of learning critical thinking, we must sort out the source, purpose, and correctness of oral traditions before we embrace them as our own literal truth.
September 30: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Awe. It’s easy for a faith rooted in reason to lose its sense of reverence. Yet, as Rev. Paul suggests in this message, faith begins with a sense of both wonder and dread—or to use one word, awe.
October 7: Rev. Ron Crawford. Thank you, Mary Magdalene. Delving into his “archives”, Ron has rediscovered a story that continues to have relevance in today’s world.
A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
October 14: Dance Alchemy. The Eagle and the Condor. The legend of the eagle and the condor, told by indigenous peoples from Alaska to South America, speaks of the spiritual reunification of North and South American wisdom. Dance Alchemy’s movements and music illustrate this new era of reunification and healing.
October 21: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Love Does Not Insist. After writing that love is patient and kind, the Apostle Paul wrote that “love does not insist on its own way.” Yet, healthy relationships have healthy boundaries, which seems at odds with the apostle’s description. Offering in Action for the HARC Learning Parties. Potluck Lunch & UUCH Book Table after the service.
October 28: Rev. Kenton Stone. Remember Me. The Oscar-winning movie Coco matches the theme of the death and dying courses I teach at Allegany College. Going against the grain of US culture which divorces the dead from the living, Mexico’s Coco builds a bridge between the living and the dead. Remembrance, it shows us, is true immortality. Heaven is counting on us. (Rescheduled from June 24)
Nov. 4: Linda Taggart. Our Spirit’s Harvest. Each year’s harvest is more than food for the body. It is also a time for spiritual reflection. What was grown? What was learned? What must be let go? A Pagan-style service.
A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
Nov. 11: Rev. Edward Poling. Jesus of Nazareth: Contemplative Activist.
Nov. 18: Rev. Kenton Stone. Your Quest. A quest is “a journey toward a specific mission or a goal.” What’s your quest?
Offering in Action for the Heifer International. Potluck Lunch & UUCH Book Table after the service.
Nov. 25: Rev. John Morehouse’s sermon, All at the Table, about transcending our differences for a day to share our common humanity, and much more.
Dec. 2: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. When Life Isn’t Fair. Forgiveness is important for spiritual well-being, but it’s pretty hard to do when the wrongdoer is unknown to us, some faceless bureaucracy, or simply acts of nature. There are some things we can do even in those situations for our peace and serenity.
A Family Service where the children join the adults in the sanctuary for the first part of the service.
Dec. 9: Rev. Sarah Campbell’s sermon, Moment of Truth. It is probably in our nature as religious liberals to seek the spirit and resist it at the same time. How some experiences bring us to our knees, figuratively if not literally.
Dec. 16: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. The Prosperity Gospel. A look at the kind of faith-based materialism personified by many Sunday-morning televangelists—although there may be a lesson in there for holiday shoppers, too.
Offering in Action for the Heifer International. Potluck Lunch & UUCH Book Table after the service.
Dec. 23: Memories of Winter Lights. Readings, holiday songs, and shared reminiscences of traditional winter celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Yule. An intergenerational service for everyone school-age and older. The nursery will be staffed for younger children.
Christmas Eve Service, Monday, Dec. 24, 7 p.m. Generous Hearts in Hard Times.
An intergenerational service for everyone school-age and older.
Celebrate Christmas Eve with familiar carols, the soft light of candles, the warmth of fellowship and a holiday story set in the Great Depression, when a young boy discovers the joy of generosity.
Our UUCH Players bring the holidays to life with dramatic readings of the first Christmas story and an illustrated holiday tale, An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco.
Dec. 30: Marlin Barnes. The Ebb and Flow of Empathy. An exploration of the influence of empathy; what happens when it flows outside the normal, easy range; and what guidelines the Unitarian Universalist principles offer when we attempt to deal with a difficult relationship.
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”.
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,
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.
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.
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.
July 2: Rev. Ron Crawford. The Essence of Being Interesting.
July 9: Rev. Wayne Arnason’s sermon. The Care of the Soul.
July 16: J.D. Stillwater. Active Love, an Antidote to Anthropocene Angst.
July 23: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. What Makes Us Who We Are?
July 30: Michael Roehm. Transcendental Practices for Today.
August 6: Rev. Marilyn Sewell’s sermon. The Moral Demands of Climate Change.
August 13: Jerry Harness. In Other Words, the Golden Rule in World Religions.
August 20: Rev. Kenton Stone. Committed to Social Justice.
August 27: Marlin Barnes & Jane Peatling. Let’s Talk about Communication.
September 3: Donna Catling & Yvonne Pfoutz. Our Jobs, Ourselves. On this Sunday before Labor Day, explore how your family’s labor history and your own work experiences helped mold the person you are today.
This is an intergenerational service for everyone school age and up. The nursery in the Martin House will be open for younger children. Annual End-of-the-Summer Potluck Picnic after the service. Bring food to share. Lawn chairs and outdoor games are welcome additions also
September 10: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. The Red Badge of Reason. A UU said to the universe “Sir I exist.” Drawn from the writings of Stephen Crane, whose “naturalist” genre helped shape Unitarian Universalist humanism.
September 17: Rev. Ron Crawford. Religion, Need or Nicety? Science and technology march on, helping to explain our world; but Religion is not going away. Religion matters because it is our collective response to the mystery of the cosmos. Re. Crawford expands on these two statements.
Offering in Action (to support more world religions and inter-faith resources for the Washington County Library System).
Potluck lunch and UUCH Book Table after the service.
September 24: Rev. Kenton Stone. Love Beyond Belief. Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most famous modern UUs. In his collected essays Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, he speaks directly to being an atheist and a very committed humanist.
October 1: Andrew McKnight. The Gifts in Our Genes: a Special Music Service. An appreciation for the stories doubly-twisted into every cell of our being, and the odd and eclectic collection of saints and rogues who helped create them. Family Service. The children join the adults for the first part of the service.
October 8: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Religion and Domestic Violence. All of the world’s religions have texts that affirm loving, caring relationships based on mutual respect and also those that seem to sanction male dominance in the home. How can religious institutions can move from being part of the problem to being part of the solution.
October 15: Rev. Ron Crawford. Toward an Understanding of Ministry. What is meant by “The Priesthood of All Believers.”
Offering in Action (to support more world religions and inter-faith resources for the Washington County Library System).
Potluck lunch and UUCH Book Table after the service.
October 22: Rev. Ed Poling. Finding Common Ground Amidst Religious Diversity: Valerie Kaur, American Sikh Activist. Valarie Kaur is a filmmaker, civil rights lawyer and media commentator who focuses on storytelling for social change. This will introduce us to the values and beliefs of Sikhism among the recent American immigrant community.
October 29: Rev. Kenton Stone. A UU Book on Christ. UU minister Scott McLellan’s book, Christ for UUs, shows how UU “love beyond belief” can be approached from a UU Christian perspective as well. I learned of that perspective from a seminary classmate, UU Rev. Naomi King, a UU Christian and author (who is also Stephen King’s daughter.)
November 5: Rev. Ron Crawford. UU Christianity, Contradiction or What? As the season of both national and religious holidays approaches, Ron shares an explanation of his particular brand of UU-ism. Family Service. The children join the adults for the first part of the service.
November 12: Dance Alchemy. The Art of Giving and Receiving. Giving and Receiving are the twin tides of the endless flow of life and love that nourishes and sustains us all. These dances are about giving and receiving from ourselves, others, and our planet.
November 19: Rev. Kenton Stone. The Gospel According to U2. One of the advantages of being a religious liberal is the permission to draw from scriptures of all faiths and cultures, including our very own pop culture. No one sermon could encompass all of the bands who’ve written spiritual songs since the 60s, so this one will focus on one, U2, in hopes that in turn it inspires U2 with U2.
Offering in Action. Potluck lunch and UUCH Book Table after the service
November 26: Thanksgiving Sermon by UU minister and author Scott Alexander. “[w]hat makes that first American harvest festival so nobly instructive is our remembering the profound depths of misery which preceded the Pilgrims’ decision to celebrate and share. Somehow they were able to choose gratitude over bitterness, generosity over greed, thanksgiving over self-pity.”
December 3: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Saints, Sinners and Santa Claus. As a young child, I believed in the literal existence of Santa. As I grew, I rejected Santa not only as false but a fabrication of merchants just trying to take my money. As an older adult, I came to peace with the idea of a real but intangible Santa, something closer to the true meaning of Christmas: peace, goodwill, and generosity. This sermon asks, “Why can’t all religion be like that?”
Family Service. The children join the adults for the first part of the service.
December 10: J.D. Stillwater. This Is Not My Beautiful House. One of our culture’s foundational myths is about ownership, security, and permanence. JD offers a bit of science, some personal experiences, and a Talking Heads song as puzzle pieces toward a new, more vulnerable humility.
December 17: Rev. Dr. Paul Britner. Jesus in Other Traditions. Jesus was a real person whose image is not “owned” by Christians. Other traditions have formed their own response to his life and ministry. This sermon looks at the many ways Christians and others understand Jesus.
Offering in Action. Potluck lunch and UUCH Book Table after the service.
Christmas Eve Service, Dec. 24 @ 7 p.m. Christmas Wishes. Our UUCH Players tell the first Christmas story and a modern holiday classic, The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, to illustrate the power of good tidings and Christmas wishes to touch hearts and change lives.
Bring cookies to share after the service. Hot drinks provided.
December 31: Letting Go and Moving Forward. A casual and contemplative service wrapping up of the old year and anticipating the new.
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.