A Letter in October
Dawn comes later and later now, and I, who only a month agocould sit with coffee every morningwatching the light walk down the hillto the edge of the pond and placea doe there, shyly drinking,
then see the light step out uponthe water, sowing reflectionsto either side a gardenof trees that grew as if by magicnow see no more than my face,mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,
startled by time. While I slept,night in its thick winter jacketbridled the doe with a twist of wet leaves and led her away,then brought the black horse with harnessthat creaked like a cricket, and turned
the water garden under. I woke,and at the waiting window foundthe curtains open to my open face;beyond me, darkness. And I,who only wished to keep looking out,must now keep looking in.Ted Kooser, 1994
Incollege, I had a friend named Greg who was one of the most energetic activists on campus. I could never figure out how he found the time for it all. While I struggled to balance my classwork, campus job, and social life, Greg seemed to juggle it all easily—with time leftover to attend protests, run meetings, and organize activists statewide. I admired his tenacity and enthusiasm, but I never saw myself in him. In my mind, we were two separate species: Greg belonged to the superheroes, the ones who would save the world, and I belonged to the average people, the ones who had just enough energy to get through the day.
And then, over spring break of our senior year, Greg was killed in a tragic freak accident. When I got the news, my first thought was, “But who will save the world now?” It seemed impossible that someone so brave and full of life could be gone, especially when it was so clear to me that the world needed him.
Later that semester, with finals looming and a case of Senioritis infecting most of my friends, I stumbled into an incident of such glaring injus tice that I couldn’t turn away. Greg would have known what to do, but I didn’t. It was tempting to postpone my ideals and hush the nagging voice inside me until after finals week, after graduation, after we all moved off campus, when I’d have more time—but in my heart, I knew this issue couldn’t wait, and if I put it off, I might miss the window of time in which I could actually make a difference. Plus, losing Greg had taught me that I couldn’t count on tomorrow.
So, even though I was busy, and even though I was terrified of standing up against a powerful
FROM THE EDITORMolly Backes, Communications Coordinator
institution and worried about the consequences of speaking out so publicly, I did it. I found the time, and the courage, and created a petition, collected signatures, wrote an open letter to the college president and published it in the student newspaper, and sent emails to every administra tor and department head on campus. A professor pulled me aside in the mail room to demand who put me up to it, and another professor suggest ed that I might not graduate with my class if I didn’t stop making problems for them. The fall out was even scarier than I had anticipated, and yet I stood firm.
I learned then that there are so many ways to be afraid, but there’s only one way to be brave: you just take a deep breath and do it. You realize that some things are more important than your fear, and you decide that you won’t let your fear hold you back from doing the right thing, and you just... go.
Our theme this month is courage, and in this issue you’ll find references to different kinds of courage: the courage to love someone with your whole self, the courage to create something new, the courage to take a stand, the courage to be honest and vulnerable about your truth, the courage to make good trouble, and the cour age to stay hopeful in a world that sometimes seems determined to suppress that hope. I hope you find inspiration to find your own moments of courage this month. You never know who else you might inspire—and your own acts of courage, large and small, just might be enough to change the world.
FROM THE MINISTERSRev. Kelly Crocker, Co-Senior Minister
Courage is often attributed to acts of bravery, summoning resolve when faced with challenging circumstances, and other almost-superhuman responses to life's unpredictability. We say people are courageous as though it's a trait you possess or not. Courage, it seems, is for the few. Yet courage is required in almost every human endeavor and encounter.
Poet David Whyte writes about courage in his famous book Consolations. In it, he calls us to consider the original meaning of courage. Root ed in the French word for heart, coeur, "courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future." Whyte insists that courage is not an act but a way of living from the essence of who we are.
To allow oneself to love and commit to another takes boundless courage. Committing oneself to the care and nurture of a child is a courageous act. Being creative and daring to bring beauty into this world begins with courage. Taking a stand for something we believe in calls forth the courage that lives deep within us. Getting old demands courage.
Having the courage to do as Whyte suggests and live from the heart, our soul, is to move in the world with vulnerability. Not in the sense of oversharing personal stories, but showing up as who we are at our core. As Brene Brown reminds us, “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper
and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerabil ity is the path.” Brown goes on to say that the most accurate measure of courage is the level in which we engage vulnerability.
Perhaps the most beautiful connection about courage that both Whyte and Brown make is that it is the core of belonging. To belong is not to fit in but to be embraced for who we are. To show up, in all our vulnerability, as who we are, is to live from courage. Belonging requires us to continuously risk that we will be embraced, loved, and celebrated simply for being us. In community, belonging asks us to offer others this embrace in return.
As we embrace this new program year, as we continue to find our way in a world undone by a pandemic, we invite you to live from courage, from your heart. Belonging is at the heart of who we are called to be as Unitarian Universal ists and as members of First Unitarian Society. We belong to each other. We invite you to find your place here and create a place of belonging for others. May we live courageously, from the heart, together and beyond our walls.
Hello from the Mission and Vision Task Force! This Board-chartered group began meeting over the summer to design a process for creating and adopting congregational mission and vision statements. First things first –what do we mean by mission and vision? A vision statement speaks to our dreams for the future. It inspires us by defining the target we reach for and reminds us why what we do is important. A mission statement articulates who we are and what we exist to do. It grounds us in our purpose and allows us to discern our priorities. These definitions are informed by UUA guidance as well as discussion with our ministers and Board. They also fit into a larger picture of guiding congregational documents that includes the relational covenant we developed in 2021. You can see a diagram created by the UUA depicting how these guiding documents work together on the page opposite.
Congregational input will be very important in creating mission and vision statements. We want these statements to reflect who we are and who we hope to become as a congregation. We want them to be places we turn to guide the priorities of our work as a congregation and to remem ber why that work is important to us in the first place. In order to create statements we can all see ourselves in and stand behind, we need to hear from you! There will be numerous and varied op portunities to shape the statements throughout the church year, starting with the congregation al meeting on October 30. At this meeting, we’ll bring discussion questions to get us dreaming about what’s possible. We will also be collecting feedback in writing over the month of November in the event that you cannot attend the congrega
FROM THE BOARDEmily Smith, Mission & Vision Task Force
tional meeting or find yourself wanting more time to reflect afterwards. Over the winter, the task force will use your input to craft draft statements. In the spring, we’ll ask for your feedback on those drafts. Finally, we’ll vote to adopt our new mis sion and vision statements at the congregational meeting in May. You can see a full timeline on the page opposite.
It’s worth mentioning that many of you provid ed input on who we are and what we hope for as part of the ministerial search process in the fall of 2020. Be assured that the task force has this feedback in hand and will use it as a starting point for thinking about our mission and vision. We’re asking for additional input from you before we begin drafting the statements because we’re in a different place now as a congregation than we were two years ago. To name just a few of the notable events, we’ve gotten COVID vaccines, returned to our building for in person worship services, and we’ve enjoyed a full year of ministry from Team Kelly. The task force is eager to hear what’s on your heart and mind now, in this season of our community.
The level of congregational input we’re asking for is unusual for a congregation of our size. In a large congregation, it would be more typical for a senior minister to write mission and vision statements on behalf of the congregation, ask the Board to approve them, and conclude the process there. We’re doing this differently by design. When we chose to move towards a co-ministry model, we embraced the principle of power with, rather than power over. This is true of the relationship be tween our ministers, and (con’t on page 7)
FROM THE BOARD
(con’t from page 6) it is also true of the rela tionship between the congregation and the ministers. Committing to mission and vision statements that are by, of, and for the con gregation is part of the committment to col laboration and shared power we made when we chose co-ministry. We hope our process can become an example for other congrega tions exploring shared ministry.
The task force members look forward to connecting and dreaming with you through out this process, starting at our congrega tional meeting on October 30!
Content Sensitivity: Pregnancy Loss
Over the next few weeks, the Reproductive Freedom Ministry Team will be gathering stories about why Reproductive Justice is important to people in our community. Telling these stories may require courage because it asks us to become vulnerable. Since this issue of the newsletter is about courage, I thought I’d share my story of finding courage.
For me, like many others, having children wasn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be. I bought into the story we’re sold in movies and diaper com mercials of the uncomplicated pregnancy and cooing baby coming home from the hospital. Instead, my experience was a long haul during which I of ten felt betrayed by my body. It was one in which I worked through the deepest grief I’ve known.
My journey began in 1996 with a joyful, positive pregnancy test. Soon, I felt pregnancy symptoms, news was shared with our families, and the weeks were being counted. At 8 weeks along, I had a hunch the baby was a girl. I also started to wonder if there was a problem, so my obstetrician was keeping in touch with me. At 11 weeks and 5 days, I went in for an ultrasound since the problem hadn’t resolved. We were thrilled to see the blinking of a heartbeat on the monitor. The baby looked to be the size of a lima bean which amused me. Still, we didn’t know why I was bleeding. Another higher resolution ultrasound was scheduled.
At 12 weeks pregnant, just two days after the ear lier ultrasound, I went in for the higher resolution scan. The issue was found. It wasn’t a big deal and would likely heal itself. The technician wanted us to be able to see our “bean”. Our bitty one was a
SOCIAL JUSTICEKristi Sprague, Social Justice Coordinator
great size, in the right place, developing well. We were all smiling. A few seconds went by. I realized the technician had gotten quieter. She said, “I know you aren’t expecting to hear this, but I’m having trouble finding the heartbeat.” I felt my entire body go cold. I don’t think I was breathing.
We learned that our baby had died over the week end. I learned that I might have to have an abortion to remove the baby from my womb. I have always been pro-choice and always will be. I didn’t think I would ever be faced with the choice. After a week, I chose to have an abortion. I realize now how fortu nate I was to be able to be in a safe, caring place, in my own city, with my favorite doctors, to have this done. Now, who knows what I would have to do.
I remember the grief being overwhelming. It took a while to be brave enough to try to get pregnant again. The next pregnancy resulted in fraternal twins, double joy! And with as much sorrow as joy, they were born at six months, able to cry, and not able to live. A beautiful memorial service was held for them at FUS, for which I’m grateful. These three children taught me about courage, about showing up for my life when I thought I couldn’t bear the heartbreak, and about the empathy and compas sion that appears in amazing places.
My life was forever changed by these little ones. I owe them gratitude. They taught me how to be more courageous, more vulnerable, more loving, more appreciative, and more present.
I went on to have a lovely biological son. And, three years later, we adopted an amazing baby girl. I’m beyond blessed.Love, Kristi
ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIESJanet Swanson, Director of Membership & Adult Programs
“Often the enemy of courage is not fear but our comfort zones. Yes, those regular routines support and structure our lives, but they can stifle and shrink them as well.”
from Soul Matters
Greetings! As we move into October and the fullness of autumn, consider stretching your mind, engaging your heart, and enlivening your spirit through deeper engagement in FUS. The practice of connection is the practice of being present. And there are many ways to connect at FUS! Step out of your comfort zone and join others in doing the same. Adult programs are set to begin, small group ministry offerings abound, volunteer opportunities await and there is a path for everyone here at FUS. There is much to learn and to do. Join us! Class infor mation and registration will be available on the website, fusmadison.org.
Yours in promise and faith, Janet
The Wisdom of the Golden Girls: a Spiritual Investigation of Four Iconic Characters from American Pop Culture with FUS member Deb Lawrence and Rebecca Malke, Director of Faith Development at Memorial UCC
3rd Tuesday of the month beginning October 18 for 8 sessions; 6:30 pm-8:30 pm; in-person and Zoom
Family-Directed Home Funeral Workshop sponsored by The Threshold Care Circle Friday, October 21, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm; free and open to the public, view the documentary “In the Parlor”; Saturday, October 22nd, 9:00 am3:00 pm Advance registration is required as space is limited. See registration forms in the Commons.
This I Believe with Rev Kelly Asprooth-Jackson Thursdays, October 27, November 3, 10, 17; 6:30 pm-8:00 pm
Women’s Autumn Retreat: Time to Tend and Harvest with Rev Kelly Crocker and Janet Swanson
Women’s Gathering with Rev. Kelly Crocker
3rd Saturday of every month, 9:30 am-11 am
Writing to Awaken: Monthly Writing Group (virtual) with Rev. Kelly Crocker
1st Tuesday of every month, 6:30 pm-8:00 pm on Zoom, begins October 4, 2022
How to Plan a Memorial Service with Rev. Kelly Crocker
Sunday, October 16, 2:00 pm on Zoom
Friday, November 4, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm and Saturday, November 5, 9 am-2:30 pm $40 per person (to cover food and supplies)
Second Saturday Potlucks return (can you hear the cheers?)! October 8, 2022 following wor ship. Watch the Red Floors emails for details. Contact Janet Swanson to volunteer janets@ fusmadison.org
Questions? email firstname.lastname@example.org
The events I’ve planned over the past four years have a few things in common: make it fun, use a great deal of imagination, do the unexpected, and follow the lead of our dedicated FUS volunteers. In planning recent Cabaret events, community engagement and creating an event for members of all ages have become priorities.
Our 2022 Cabaret will be a full day of autumn-themed activities for all! We’re gathering on the Landmark Campus, Saturday, Nov 12th, 11AM – 4PM. We’ll have:
• Outside games, gatherings around our fire rings, and food trucks.
• Animal guests from Havens Petting Farm.
• Inside crafts and music.
• A food drive for families in need.
And mostly we’ll have each other—catching up with familiar faces and meeting new friends.
CABARETCheryll Mellenthin, Project Coordinator
Of course, Cabaret is still our largest fundraiser of the year. It wouldn’t be Cabaret without our well-loved silent auction, a bevy of live auction favorites, and raffle opportunities for all, includ ing kiddo treasures.
The success of our 2022 Cabaret relies on you— community engagement is the heart of this event. FUS has many long-established groups and volunteer teams. What you can do to sup port our event this year is to use the strength of your group.
Here’s what your group can do:
• Create an auction basket with your group’s specific skill/interest area.
• Plan an event, learning opportunity, or other items for our silent auction.
• Of course, join our Cabaret volunteer team.
I’m looking forward to seeing you on this funfilled day!
WHEEL OF LIFE
We send our love to Larry and Pamela Johnson as they remember and celebrate the life of Lar ry’s mother, Letha Ione Akers Johnson. Letha passed away on September 7th at the age of 98. We are grateful for her long and loving life and hold her family in our hearts.
A memorial for Eva Wright will be held on Saturday, October 1 at 12:00 pm. Eva was our As sistant Music Director for many years and graced our services with her gifts of music. We hope you can join us to remember, to celebrate, and to mourn.
A memorial for longtime FUS member Karen Jaeger will be held on Saturday, October 8 at 11 am. Karen passed away June 1 of this year, at home in Missoula, Montana, surrounded by her family. Our love is with Karen’s husband, Jim, sons Jesse and Andy, and all their family and friends. Please gather with us to remember her gentle and loving soul and celebrate all she brought to our world.
If you have a life transition you’d like to share with the readers of this newsletter, please send it to email@example.com.
A MONTH OF SERVICES
In-person worship services: Saturdays @ 4:30 pm & Sundays @ 9 & 11 am
Online worship service: Sundays @ 9 am
OCTOBER 1 & 2
A VERY NARROW BRIDGE
Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister
Courage is often imagined as the absence of fear—a spirit which presses forward, heedless of any consequences. But fear can also be viewed as something to live with or even appreciate—so long as we do not let it overwhelm us. On this weekend between the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—the Days of Awe, traditionally a time of critical introspection and even a potentially healthy sort of fear—join us for a service about living with our fear and acting anyway. Linda Warren will play piano solos by Marvel, Cotter, and others.
OCTOBER 8 & 9
THE COURAGE TO HOPE
Rev. Kelly Crocker, Co-Senior Minister
The poet Ellen Bass writes, “The thing is to love life, to love it even when you have no stom ach for it....” In a world that is messy, full of contradictions, and which routinely breaks our hearts, how do we hang on to hope? Living with a sense of true hopefulness for what can be, not with a pollyanna sense of ignoring what is wrong or what needs change, yet not becom ing hard or cynical, takes a great deal of courage. We will see how we can hang onto hope, together. On Saturday, Teen Choir will sing. On Sunday, Choristers and Cherub Choirs will sing.
OCTOBER 15 & 16
THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT NOTHING
Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister
Zygmunt Baumant wrote, “Most fearsome is the ubiquity of fears.” Sometimes the hardest sort of courage to recognize or to summon in ourselves is the courage to move beyond fears so common that they have become accepted. In this service, we’ll continue to explore the interplay between courage and fear, reflecting together about what fears have power over us and what we might wish to replace them with. Sacred Breath Choir of James Reeb UU and Meeting House Chorus of First Unitarian Society combine forces to sing music of Eric Whitacre and Rollo Dilworth.
OCTOBER 22 & 23
COURAGE: NEARLY 23 YEARS A UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST, IN COMMUNITY
Rev. Chris Long, Guest Worship Leader
As we all continue to make sense of the world before, during, and now as Covid lives with us for some time to come, what does “courage” mean in your life and living, and here in Madison during these ever-uncertain times? Join Reverend Chris Long, and our other worship leaders, as he shares of his nearly 23 year journey being a Unitarian Universalist—a journey which began here in Madison at the James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church.
Rev. Chris Long was born in Memphis, TN, in 1968, and became a Unitarian Universalist in 1999, here in Madison. Within five years of becoming a UU, he was called to ministry, and graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley in May 2009 and ordained by the First Unitarian Church of Oakland in June 2009. He currently serves as Minister of Congregational Life at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge in Louisiana.
OCTOBER 29 & 30
THE DEAD WHO LIVE IN US
Revs. Kelly Crocker & Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Ministers
On this weekend of remembrance, when we honor All Souls Day, we reflect on those lives which, though ended, continue to shape our own. They are the stories which our own journeys serve as sequels to. This weekend we will call the names of all those members of FUS who have died in the past year and remember the names of members’ loved ones. Music for solo harp by Berkey, Kirchoff, Bligh, and Hasselmans.
STAFF LEADERSHIP TEAM
Rev. Kelly J. Crocker, Co-Senior Minister firstname.lastname@example.org x.112
Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister email@example.com x.113
Monica Nolan, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org x.115
Janet Swanson, Director Membership & Adult Programs email@example.com x.124
Leslie Ross, Director Children’s Religious Exploration firstname.lastname@example.org x.119
Kristi Sprague, Social Justice Coordinator email@example.com x.125
Xan Hendrick, Program Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org x.116
Dr. Drew Collins, Music Director email@example.com x.121
Heather Thorpe, Children & Youth Choir Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Warren, Assistant Music Director email@example.com
Molly Backes, Communications Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org x. 117
Cheryll Mellenthin, Project Coordinator email@example.com x. 130
Tom Miskelly, Facilities Manager firstname.lastname@example.org x. 120
Dan Carnes, A/V & Event Specialist email@example.com
Steven Gregorius, Event Specialist
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Alyssa Ryanjoy, President
Jennifer Seeker Conroy (President Elect)
Joy Stieglitz Gottschalk
Emily Cusic Putnam
John McGevna, Secretary
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