The Madison Unitarian: February 2022 Edition

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I live my life in W I D E N I N G CIRCLES


F E B RUA RY 2 0 2 2




t is no longer appropriate to think only in terms of nation or country, let alone village. If we are to overcome the problems we face, we need a sense of universal responsibility rooted in love and kindness for our human brothers and sisters. In our present state of affairs, the very survival of humankind depends on people developing concern for the whole of humanity, not just their own community or nation… Narrow-mindedness and selfcentered thinking may have served us well in the past, but today will only lead to disaster.

from Joanna Macy in Soul Matters

The Madison Unitarian volunteer editorial team: Lari Fanlund and Hannah Lee

FROM THE MINISTERS Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister


After saying all this, the frog invited the turtle, who still seemed unimpressed, to come down into the well and experience its glories for himself. The turtle tried to make the climb down, but he couldn’t get both his Once there was a frog who lived at the front legs to fit into the opening at the same bottom of a shallow well. The well was very time. He was simply too big. small, but he did not understand how small Then the turtle explained to the frog about it was. One day a friend came to visit the his own home. “My friend, I live in a place frog—a turtle from the great East Sea. When so vast you cannot imagine it. The great East the frog looked up into his tiny blue circle of Sea is so wide and so deep and so far across sky and saw the turtle peering down at him, that no one could count all the creatures it he croaked. “Hello, friend. It is good to see holds.” But the frog was unimpressed; he you. I bet you were just thinking how perfect assumed that the turtle must be making the my home is! I think it is, too!” whole thing up. he Ocean Cannot Be Glimpsed from the Bottom of the Well is a story from the Zhuangzi, one of the great philosophical works of ancient China’s Warring States period:

And the frog hopped up to the rim of the well. “You see, when I want to go out, I just hop up to the rim in one jump. And when I come home, I simply hop back down again. My home has water enough to float in and rest when I’m tired and nice cool mud to dig my feet into so that they never dry out.” He was very pleased with himself and his home, but his friend the turtle seemed unimpressed, so the frog continued to boast. “Of all the many creatures that live in this well—the small worms and the little crabs and the tiny tadpoles—I am by far the greatest and most important. I am the lord of this well, which is larger than any puddle or rain barrel I have ever seen. Surely these waters must be the most bountiful in all the world.”



It is common to say critically in these days—of ourselves or others—that we or they live in a bubble: politically, culturally, or ideologically. But we are all finite beings, and the circles in which we live are defined by the limits of our information and relationships. The question is not whether we are living in a bubble—we always are. Rather, the question is, are we working to expand that bubble? To draw in new information and welcome in new connections. To be open to the possibility— indeed, the certainty—that there are facts and experiences beyond our own current understanding. It might be comfortable to stay in our own narrow well, but how much more beautiful to realize that beyond it lies the vastness of the sea?


FROM THE BOARD Alyssa Ryanjoy, Board of Trustees President

he Board of Trustees has developed new strategic priorities that we are excited to share with you! We are working toward settling into a predictable annual calendar for this work that aligns with budget planning. These strategic priorities, forged by listening deeply during our Open Question efforts and conversations with staff, will guide our work until summer 2023. The strategic priorities are not intended to be a comprehensive list of what we care most about or where we believe our congregation should put its focus. Our seven UU principles, along with FUS's mission and vision statements, are where we express our broader community values and intentions. Rather, these are the areas where we believe FUS can grow in order to better carry out our mission and vision of ministry. Our strategic priorities provide direction to staff in the allocation of limited time and resources. They empower staff and leaders to prioritize and wholeheartedly work on those that align while saying “no” or “not at this time” to others. This does not mean that our current efforts in other areas will dwindle, just that we will focus our change efforts through the lens of these three priorities.

questions or comments for the board by contacting me at ——— Consistent with our Relational Covenant, create an atmosphere of trust and respect that encourages dialogue and healthy relationships. During our interim ministry period, the board learned more deeply about covenant and its importance in Unitarian Universalism. We also discovered the opportunity to build a covenant amongst ourselves as a congregation, which resulted in a wonderful team creating our Relational Covenant (click here to read). This year, the Healthy Congregations Team will begin its work to bring this covenant to life. The board and staff will participate in conflict training sessions, followed by opportunities for members to participate in this education as well. We believe it is critically important that the Relational Covenant be woven throughout FUS’s activities and relationships.

Tackling tough issues while being a supportive community for each other can be difficult. Some issues may bring about discomfort. (You may even have discomfort reading these strategic priorities!) Our The board will devise goals that align with hope is that through this work, we develop these priorities, and our Leadership Team deeper relationships that can withstand (consisting of our Co-Senior Ministers Kelly disagreement and missteps with each other AJ and Kelly C, and Executive Director to build a supportive community that is a Monica) will continue to share progress and force for good in the world. activities in these three areas in their monthly As individuals and a congregation, recognize report to the board. our accountability for and commitment Please read on to learn about the three to dismantling racism and other forms of priorities, and always feel free to share systemic oppression.



This theme may look similar to one of last year’s priorities: Dismantling systems of oppression, especially racism. We kept antioppression, centering on anti-racism, work as a priority because it is still a critical issue in our congregation, and because we know that it’s easy to talk about how invested we are in these issues in the midst of a social uprising and then set it aside when it’s no longer making headlines. We heard concerns from members last year that sustainability and the climate crisis were not on this list, with some wondering why we were choosing one social issue over others. The short answer is that due to the amazing involvement of those on the Sustainability Team and other groups that have focused efforts on environmental justice, FUS already does a great job at this. UUs have been passionate about environmental justice for many, many years, leading to the addition of our Seventh Principle in 1984. FUS is not an outlier here. In a progressive and predominantly White congregation, most of us have been steeped in the importance of caring for our earth, but many of us are still waking up to the multitude of ways our culture is embedded with racism and how much harm institutions (even progressive ones) do when we do not challenge the status quo. A significant number of People of Color and folks who are passionate about racial justice have left FUS because they faced racial microaggressions, or felt our congregation was only minimally focused on racial justice. Unfortunately, we are not unique among UU congregations in this way, which is why we also see the denomination focused so heavily in recent years on racial justice. To be sure, there are members of FUS who are devoted to the unlearning of white



supremacy culture. This has led to some fantastic work on racial justice issues. But it will take the entire congregation to ensure that FUS becomes an anti-racist spiritual home. Our strategic priority calls us to be more inwardly focused as a congregation, recognizing that this work needs to start with us as individuals and our congregational culture. We are keeping race at the center of our anti-oppression work because systems of oppression center it. Show up as authentic partners in collaboration within our local community and denomination. We exist in a landscape where many organizations are incredible allies or leaders for causes we care deeply about. How can we support these groups, even when we are not leading? How can we become more familiar with the work of our community allies and make sure they know we care about these issues, too? And how can we show up to help? FUS already has developed strong partnerships with some ally organizations in our community, and building our network of partnerships will help us live out our mission and vision of ministry more fully. This is true of our partnerships within the Unitarian Universalist movement as well. The process of interim ministry often pulls congregations closer to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and other UU congregations. Over the last five years, FUS has benefitted from a closer relationship with the UUA and discovered opportunities to be more active in our denominational community. This deeper connection to our UU denomination brings joy and fulfillment in feeling part of a larger community and seeing the strength of our UU movement.




UPLIFTING BLACK COMPOSERS Drew Collins, Music Director

he FUS music program commemorates Black History Month each year by increasing the number of worship music selections by composers of color. Checking our Euro-centric musical sensibilities is an ongoing process. With this in mind, I offer a listening list of Black composers. Some of these selections have been featured in worship services, some may be included in a Musicale program, and others are for larger forces such as operas and symphonies. All may be found for free online. Oscar Peterson (1925–2007). Peterson is widely considered among the finest jazz pianists to have lived and is a national treasure of Canada. Several of his works have been performed in services at FUS in recent years, including "Hymn to Freedom," "The Gentle Waltz," "Love Ballade," and "He Has Gone." Margaret Bonds (1913–1972). Searching YouTube for "Margaret Bonds" will get you myriad results. I especially recommend the Minnesota Orchestra's performance of "Montgomery Variations," and Samantha Ege's performance of "Spiritual Suite."

symphony. His "Negro Folk Symphony" was premiered by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1934. Scott Joplin (1868–1917). In the first quarter of the twentieth century, self-playing pianos brought "live" music into homes without requiring folks to perform it themselves. Famous pianists played their own and others' music onto piano rolls to widen the audience for their playing and their compositions. Most would not record for the microphone, but piano rolls still allow us to hear the unique playing style of the composer. In fact, these rolls are how we know the tempos they intended for their compositions. Search YouTube for "Joplin Piano Roll" to hear Joplin himself play "Maple Leaf Rag," "The Entertainer," and other compositions. You will even hear some flourishes not in the published sheet music. It's a gas!

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de SaintGeorges (1745–1799). Known widely in his day as both a military leader and musician, John Adams called Saint-Georges “the most accomplished man in Europe.” He excelled Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912). A at fencing and military strategy, as well as favorite of our own Linda Warren, Coleridge- violin, harpsichord, conducting, composing, Taylor wrote the suite "Twenty Four Negro and directing operas. He composed string Melodies," in which he arranges spiritual quartets, symphonies, operas, sonatas, melodies, preceding each with an incipit of concertos, and more. a West African folk song from which that Space does not permit a discussion of spiritual may have derived. His "Ballade for all the composers of color whose music Orchestra" is gorgeous and moving. is outstanding. You might also enjoy Salli William Levi Dawson (1899–1990). Dawson is Terri, Julia Perry, William Grant Still, Valerie known today primarily as an arranger of Negro Capers, Godwin Sadoh, Lena McLin, spirituals. However, he holds the distinction Moses Hogan, Jester Hairston, and Harry T. of being the first Black composer to have Burleigh, and there are many others as well. had a work performed by a major American Happy listening! THE MADISON UNITARIAN


Listen I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it. I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?


by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy



COMMUNIT Y BUILDING Cheryll Mellenthin, Project Coordinator


mbracing the role of Project Coordinator has always meant there is a project plan for every happening, replete with objectives to measure success. Creating these planning tools is part of my work at FUS that I truly love. I’m sure it is no surprise that useful reporting of “how we did” involves metrics and details, learnings, and those ah-ha moments that create opportunities for future endeavors. As many of you also know, measuring “how we did” for me always starts with community and member engagement objectives. I strongly believe that by providing meaningful opportunities that build on the strength of our entire community, the financial resources needed will follow. Join me on a journey from these last few months as we created unique ways to be together as a community and embraced what we learned for future planning.

Our estimated attendance was over 160, including many first-time families to Cabaret. We enjoyed live music in the Landmark Auditorium, our two auctions, kiddo and adult raffles, and the generous food and gift donations to those in our community. Thank you to all for helping us meet our financial and community-building objectives.

Cabaret Winterfest's success provided the spark for our next event, the Valentine Jazz Soiree, on Saturday, February 12. Knowing we would be apart once again, being creative with how we can safely connect meant leaning into the resilience of our community. The pandemic has shown us there is no lack of imagination for what community looks like in practice. This event focuses on extending support to the wider Madison-area community. We're partnering with Isthmus Eats to provide locally-sourced meal kits to Weekend hospitality was the first opportunity make at home before the concert. (Order to use our outdoor campus more creatively. your meal and dessert kits by Wednesday, New firepits and heaters provided a warm February 2.) Our Cabaret Winterfest jazz ambiance, a space for gathering between pianist, Michael BB and his trio are serving services, and most importantly, our beloved up a 3-set jazz concert recorded in the coffee hour. We are grateful for our coffee Landmark Auditorium. Learn more at www. volunteers who took on this work. We were also able to support our partner, Just Bakery, Finally, the Valentine Jazz Soiree supports through your generous purchases. our 2022-2023 Stewardship Campaign, The weekend hospitality success was which is just around the corner. Our belief foundational for Cabaret Winterfest planning. that stewardship at FUS is all parts time, We used what we learned to include more talent, and treasure is an enduring concept activities including food carts, firepits, you all know so well. The objectives for our holiday decorating, and craft-making for all. Stewardship Campaign, as with seasonal In the end, we widened our usual Cabaret events, are centered on our members and participation to truly include families, friends, the strength of our entire community to and staff. Thanks to the amazing volunteers provide the answer to "how did we do?" who made our day event day magical.




A MESSAGE FROM TIM Tim Cordon, Social Justice Coordinator

t is with some sadness, as well as some excitement, that I share my intention to leave my position as FUS’s Social Justice Coordinator as of February 28, 2022. I am grateful that this short month will give many of us a chance to say goodbye, but even beyond the 28th, I hope to deepen many of the connections that have come through my service within and beyond the FUS community.

I am grateful for the many growth opportunities that FUS has given me; there is much that I will miss by leaving my position.

Thanks to the FUS leadership, past and present, who offered me guidance and encouragement in my social justice endeavors. Thanks also to staff, the lay leaders, and community partners who have warmly welcomed me and supported my work in these past few years. You have all I am immensely grateful for the talented touched me deeply, and I am a much better team of collaborators, the enjoyable work person for having worked with you. You have environment, and the guidance of brilliant inspired me, and the compassion that you and compassionate servant leaders that I have shown will stay with me as I continue to have enjoyed in this position. Serving as walk the path of a social justice worker. FUS’s Social Justice Coordinator has been Please feel free to reach out to me—I’ll be more than a job for me—indeed, FUS is happy to discuss with you my aspirations and among my spiritual homes, and this position to hear about yours. has profoundly guided my personal path as a social justice worker. With thanks, This path now leads me to aspirations that are Tim beyond what is consistent with my position 608-630-3633 at FUS, and so I humbly face that it is time for me to move on.




It is with deep sadness that we share the death of Lillian Tong, who passed away on Sunday, January 16. We send our love to her husband, Tom Yin, and their daughter Laura as they grieve her passing and remember her brilliant mind, compassionate heart, and creative spirit. She is deeply missed. We send our love to Karen Matteoni and her family on the passing of her father, Louie Mitroff, on January 3. Louie, a very familiar smiling face at our 11 am service, would have been 100 years old on February 7. We will hold a memorial service for Louie in celebration of that big day and honor of his life, on February 7, at 7 pm on Zoom. If you would like to attend, please contact Rev. Kelly C at for the Zoom information.

VALENTINE JAZZ SOIREE Join us for this virtual community event on Saturday, February 12. There are several ways to participate and support FUS and our local community: Purchase a meal or truffle kit from Isthmus Eats, join Rev. Kelly C & Sam for an interactive truffle-making cooking show, and/or join us for a free virtual jazz concert with the Michael BB Trio! Go online to learn more at



A MONTH OF SERVICES Online Service on Sundays @ 11 am • In-person worship services are suspended through February. Please check the Red Floors or our website for updates.


with Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister How many people do you think you can share a meaningful relationship of some sort with at any given time? There is at least one theorized scientific answer to this question. But for a faith grounded in valuing every single person and expressed through communities of mutual support and encouragement, the question becomes a spiritual one as well.


with Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister Our lives are largely defined by the boundaries and barriers that separate us from the larger, unbounded world. Circles of insiders and outsiders, determined by the arbitrary meanings of “family,” “neighborhood,” or “nation.” In this service, we will peer through the cracks in those walls and scheme over how to open them just a bit wider.



with Rev. Kelly J. Crocker, Co-Senior Minister We live in a world that feels increasingly fragmented, and we wonder how we can even begin to piece it back together. One thing we know is that it would require widening our hearts to include those we may not feel connected with and those whose experiences we cannot understand. We’ll explore the practice of empathy and see what may be possible if we can widen our lens and try to see the world through another’s eyes.


with Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister So much of the way religion is understood in the contemporary world involves division— between one faith and another, between one sect and another. Yet, the religious impulse can also be a reason to dissolve those boundaries rather than build them up again. In this service, we will share and reflect on some stories about just that.





Rev. Kelly J. Crocker, Co-Senior Minister x.112

Alyssa Ryanjoy, President

Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister x. 113

Emily Cusic Putnam

Monica Nolan, Executive Director x. 115


Janet Swanson, Director Membership & Adult Programs x. 124 Leslie Ross, Director Children’s Religious Exploration x. 119 Tim Cordon, Social Justice Coordinator x. 125


Dr. Drew Collins, Music Director x. 121

Lorna Aaronson Tom Dulmage John McGevna, Secretary Ann Schaffer Creal Zearing


Our lay ministers provide a confidential, caring presence to congregants undergoing stressful life challenges or joyous occasions. Under the guidance of our called ministers, they promote the spirit of community through direct service in visiting the ill and healing, facilitating support groups, and more. Contact a lay minister at 608.233.9774 x. 126

Heather Thorpe, Children & Youth Choir Director

Linda Warren, Assistant Music Director


Cheryll Mellenthin, Project Coordinator x. 130 Tom Miskelly, Facilities Manager x. 120

FUS MADISON 900 University Bay Drive Madison, WI 53705 608.233.9774

Dan Carnes, A/V & Event Specialist

Steven Gregorius, Event Specialist Brittany Crawford, Communications Director x. 117



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