The Madison Unitarian: September 2022

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Sara Teasdale, 1914

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the Themaples,wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence Under a moon waning and worn, broken, Tired with summer. Let me remember you, voices of little insects, Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with Letasters,me remember, soon will the winter be on us, Snow-hushed and heavy. Over my soul murmur your mute benediction, While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest, As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to, Lest they forget MidnightSeptemberthem.

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer, Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing, Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects, Ceaseless, insistent.

Cover Image Credit: Brent Haglund This page: Molly Backes


During my first weeks at FUS, I felt the presence of my step-grandma constant ly. Maybe you remember her: her name was Helene Byrnes, and she was a member of this congregation starting in 1953. She passed in 2016, and I have missed her ever since—but I really missed her as I settled into my role here. I missed her insight, her sense of history, and her strong opinions about what kind of a place FUS should be. I didn’t always agree with her, but I loved that she knew her own mind and that she never hesitated to let others know what she thought.


Molly Backes, Communications Coordinator

As the Communications Coordinator, part of my job is to speak for the church—on our social media channels, in the Red Floors emails, in this newsletter—which can be a daunting task, especially as a newcomer. There were moments when I worried that I didn’t know enough about this place, or our history, or the fundamentals of UUism. Luckily, I started in June, when the pace around here was slow enough that I had a lot of time to ask questions and explore the archives. I found Helene’s old FUS nametag, yellowed with age, and hung it over my desk to reassure myself that I belonged here. In some ways, it might seem obvious that I belonged. I grew up in this church. My RE classes, Coming of Age group, and the youth group gave me access to ideas, experiences, and people who helped me to grow into the person I am today. As a kid, I got in trouble for treating the stone walls as my personal climbing gym; as a teen, I sold do nuts during coffee hour to raise money for a Bos ton trip and mixed hot chocolate powder into my coffee while my parents blabbed on about boring adult stuff with their church friends.

But in other ways, I am a newcomer. I have spent the last twenty years in other cities, attending other UU churches. Before this year, I had been to maybe ten services in the Atrium Auditorium, usually while I was home visiting my family. Most of the people I have encountered at FUS this summer have been new to me. This interesting position as both newbie and old-timer has had me thinking about what it means to belong to a community, and I have come to believe that it is not a fixed identity, but one you choose again and again. Every time you show up, you choose belonging. Every time you volunteer to help, and every time you allow yourself to be cared for. Every time you welcome someone exactly as they are, and every time you allow yourself to be honest and vulnerable about what you need.

At the beginning of the summer, when I looked at Helene’s nametag, it helped me muster the courage to speak for this community. It remind ed me that though I was away for many years, my family has deep roots here. Her memory reminds me to be firm in my convictions and unafraid to use my voice. But now I also remember that Helene, too, left and came back. She joined in 1953 but later she moved to other cities for her husband’s job, at tended church elsewhere, raised a family. And when she came back, she chose to belong here once again. She showed up, she pitched in, she revived old friendships and created new ones. She reminds me that belonging isn’t just about who you are or where you’ve been, it’s about who and where you choose to be. I choose to be here, and I am so happy to be back.

Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson , Co-Senior Minister


In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slapstick, the last Pres ident of the United States wins election on the basis of a plan to create a complex web of ran domly assigned cousins and siblings for every citizen, to provide a sense of connection and mutual support. The slogan of his victorious campaign is “Lonesome No More!” The need to be with other humans, to feel a sense of connection and commonality with them, to know and to be known by them, to belong—this drives so much of who we are and how we live that whether or not it is the literal cause of the universe, it might as well be. I will not claim that spiritual community— ours or anyone else’s—can solve this need entirely. It is a big need! It requires a lifetime to address creatively and in-full. But it is one of the chief purposes of our congregation: to come together and risk being fully ourselves with each other. To offer a balm to the loneliness in our neighbors, and in ourselves, and by that balm to be freed from the fear of being alone, enough at least that we might do what the truth of our heart tells us we must. May the knowledge that we are not alone, and that we have a place to belong, give us the courage to do what needs doing.

The Hindu tradition has a large body of scripture, and one of its sub-divisions is a collection of books called the Upanishads.

The term “Upanishad” comes from a phrase in Sanskrit—the primary language of Hindu scripture—which can be roughly translated as “sit down near.” The Upanishads are stories and instructions originally passed down from teacher to student by being spoken aloud, in a close relationship—one in which the student sat down near the teacher, close enough that the precious wisdom could be heard clearly. And it is in one of these texts, the Brihadaran yaka or “Great Wilderness” Upanishad, that we encounter one of many creation stories of the Hindu tradition. In this story, the universe began as a single being. This isolated self was all that there was—nothing existed beyond the limits of their body, so that the whole of the universe was exactly one thing. This first being was called Aham, which is the first-person singular pronoun in Sanskrit. It would be like someone saying in English, “My name is ‘I.’” At first, the story goes, Aham was afraid. This is why all other people since Aham have been afraid when they are alone. But Aham quickly realized they should not be afraid, because there was literally nothing else in the universe for them to fear. When this fear passed, Aham found that they were unhappy. This is why all other people since Aham have been unhappy to be alone. But this feeling of unhappiness did not go away on its own. Aham was lonely, and so Aham separated itself into two. And from this separation, repeat ed again and again, everything that exists came forth. So, this story teaches, the vastness of our universe and the diversity of life on our planet are the result of loneliness.



Alyssa Ryanjoy, Board of Trustees President

Joy Stieglitz Gottschalk


Alyssa Ryanjoy, President Lorna JenniferAaronsonSeeker Conroy (President Elect)

After a short summer break, the FUS Board of Trustees has started the new church year. We welcome Joy Stieglitz Gottschalk and Jenny Seeker Conroy as a new members of the board and we are excited to begin working with Broadthem.mission and vision work is being done by the Board-chartered Mission and Vision Task Force introduced in the spring. You will hear more about this and the opportunities for involvement in the coming months. While this broader work is being completed, the Board of Trustees remains committed to the strategic priorities laid out in the last church year, and I would like to highlight two areas of focus for this fall. In September, the Board will do a day-long retreat with the Reverend David Pyle, our regional lead for the Unitarian Universalist Association. We will spend part of the time learning more deeply about our responsibility as a board. This type of foundational training is good to revisit periodical ly as the Board turns over, so that we continue to have a clear mutual understanding of how we approach our work. During our retreat, we will also engage in strategic planning for the 2023-24 church year. While this may seem early, we have intentionally moved this process earlier so that it happens before work on the budget. Collaborat ing with David Pyle on this retreat will also help in our effort to draw closer to the UU religious movement as part of our strategic priority to “show up as authentic partners in collaboration within our local community and denomination.” Throughout the fall, most board members will also be participating in Nehemiah/Justified Anger’s Black History for a New Day course together. Participating in and discussing this content together aligns with our strategic priority to rec ognize our accountability for and commitment to dismantling racism and other forms of systemic Weoppression.lookforward to our shared work with you this year! 2022-2023 BOARD OF TRUSTEES

John McGevna, Secretary Ann Schaffer BOARDTHE

Emily Cusic Putnam Finn Hill-Gorman


This poem was written by the congregation as a creative collaboration during our Poetry Service on Sunday, August 14, 2022. watch the service online, go to:

Eye of the universe Circular ForeverFarWondrousSpinningSoWithinSpectralKaleidoscopebrilliancepinwheelglowandwithoutalonespokesfarawayone,longlongago! SEPTEMBER 2022 7

Leslie Ross, Director of Children’s Religious Exploration

By the time you’re reading this, all our teaching teams will have met to prepare for this year’s Children’s Religious Exploration Program. Once again, our amazing FUS community has stepped forward to provide rich, caring, and creative opportunities for our pre-K – 9th grade kids. We have 57 teachers this year, and 168 kids registered, at the time of this writing. Many of our kids will be exploring the meaning and significance of our UU principles this year. Treasure Hunting (K/1st grade), Free to Believe (2nd/3rd grade), and Com pass Points (middle school) will all delve into our UU principles and history at developmentally different levels. Most important to us is helping our kids learn not only how to recite the principles, but more importantly, how to live them. They’re not always easy! Our Pre-K kids will just begin to learn the language and culture of Unitarian Univer salism and specifically, of FUS. They’ll also have plenty of occasions for exploring their friendships, their feelings, and their creativ ity! We’re excited this year to make a shift in our 4th/5th grade offering. Exploring Our Origins will go from being a year-long cur riculum focused on evolution to being one semester long. The second semester we will offer a curriculum that we first tried out in a virtual format—Toolbox of Faith. We’re ex cited to bring it to the 3-dimensional world! Kids will explore the “tools” that Unitarian Universalism offers for navigating their way through life. The “tool” of paintbrush ex plores the importance of personal expres sion; the “tool” of flashlight explores the search for justice; the hard hat explores resiliency, and so on. We look forward to ex ploring these many important themes with our FUS kids. Our gratitude goes out to our many teachers for complementing our strong curricula with their commitment, humor, compassion, creativity, and curiosity. This year’s teachers are listed on the following page. Don’t miss an opportunity to thank them!



Vance Miller Rudy Moore Emily


EdJaneLoriLindsayFranzLisaMonicaKurtKellyJohnSusenKeldaJohnJacquiTonyKristiJaySylviaBryanLizGwenKristinMorganNatashaAbigailMortensenMusselmanMyersNeumanPendlPinePrestonRaineyRamirezRanneyRatleyReevesRegenbogenRiderRoysSchroederShadleSmithbackStegeSteigerwaldTiedemannMussaredVargaWarrenWendlandtNelsonWorelZapala SEPTEMBER 2022 9

Jamie FlorenceScottDoryKristaMoCindyJaniceFarahVickyRachelKatherineScottBrianTerriShellyVinceReenieSandyVickieLukeMarkEricaBrianHariBeckyRachelJanetMelissaAnnear-FeyrerAplandBauerBennettBurnsCarnesChanasChristensonDuRusselEberhardyEidenEskrichEuhardyFarisFeaverFeltonFreyHarringtonHoeksemaHowardJonesKaiksowKnapp-CordesKoepkeLancasterLealeLightfootMasonEdwardsMiller

Photo credit: Brent Haglund

Visit our First Unitarian Society native wildflow er area. Stroll along the edge. Imagine thousands of plant and animal lives underground. Listen to pollinators’ wings. Watch flowers wave. See but terflies flit from plant to plant. Look up at grasses higher than your head. Lift your eyes to the sky from which comes the rain.

The monarch butterfly was recently designated as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Yet the presence of monarchs and their laying of eggs within the First Unitarian Society na tive wildflower prairie area demonstrates - once again - that active nurturing and management of habitat works. It costs attention but little money. Our work produces an array of butterflies, pol linators and other animals, several dozen native wildflower species, better soil quality as roots grow deeper, beauty, and a lift to the spirit.

Beginning in 1990 children, teachers and parents within our Religious Education Program took on the jobs of preparing the soil, planting native plant seeds, and pulling weeds. In the first decade our children helped to conduct the safe pre scribed fires needed to breath life into the infant Inprairie.“Religion Without Walls” classes and recent ly by younger kids in “Experiences with the Web of Life” our church community’s children are an active force in making our prairie area a richer, more vibrant space. In late fall we guide children so they can stomp like the bison used to do.



Brent Haglund, FUS member

Donations of cash to purchase young plants and seeds are helpful. Already in 2022 individuals have contributed so that we could add several dozen wildflowers. What we do together for our prairie patch - across generations in our religious community – exemplifies our embrace of the Seventh Principle of our Unitarian Universalist Association: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

To manage our living brightly colored patch we selectively remove damaging plants, mow and re move each year’s thatch, spread seeds across the snow, and document with monthly photographs the rise and fall of resident plants. These actions are essential to continue to raise species richness and biotic qualities.



worship services each weekend in September, we will have information available for you. Volunteers will answer any questions you may have and sign up will be offered. Journey Circles begin in October/ November 2022 and meet through June 2023. They are open and welcoming to all, and are held at many different times, day and evening, on weekdays and weekends. Additional information will be available in the Red Floors. Contact Janet Swanson: janets@fusmadi or 608-233- 9774 x124 for answers to your questions



Get information about upcoming services events, see photos and videos, and connect with other FUS folks on our social media platforms!

FUS Community Virtual Gathering Space (FB Group):


FUS Journey Circles are theme-based cov enant groups of six to eight members that meet once a month during the church year. These Circles invite and encourage the giv ing and receiving of welcome, of hospitality, and of deep listening. New to FUS? Longtime member? Participation in a Journey Circle allows all of us to meet new people, become reacquainted with others, and con nect in new and meaningful ways within our faith community. Our large First Unitarian Society community becomes a bit smaller, and we feel a richer connection to the whole as we gather. In a format that encourages deep listening and meaningful discussion, the gatherings pro vide new perspectives and understandings of the monthly worship themes. Resource materials are provided for each theme and include readings, poetry, discussion ques tions, bibliographies, films to consider, and Followingmore.


Instagram: Twitter:

Janet Swanson, Director of Membership & Adult Programs

FUS Facebook Page:


If you were going to plan your own Coming of Age ceremony today, what song or reading would you include?



Dear God, sorry to disturb you but I feel that I should be heard loud and clear We all need a big reduction in amount of tears

See them fighting in the street Cause they can't make opinions meet about God They can't believe in you Who would you like to meet in our community? Other artistic and musical people-guitar players, es pecially, and people who like to sit around campfires.

And all the people that you made in your image

What is your favorite spot in the building or on campus and why? The space upstairs above The Atrium, where the cozy chair and loveseat are located. I can look out the big windows. It’s peaceful and reminds me of a forest.

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” Who would you like to meet in our community? I’m excited to meet people who share my love of nature, fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and all of the families!

Social Justice Coordinator


What’s the last great book you read? A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I’ve read books since reading this, but none have touched me with the honesty, depth, and the glimpse into another culture like this book. The strength of the women in this novel has stayed with me and came back to me when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan again last year.

What is the least (stereotypically) UU thing about you? I dislike potlucks, but survive them by choosing one main entre, a salad and dessert. : )

What is your earliest memory of UUism? I grew up going to James Reeb, and I remember singing hymns and lighting candles was my favorite part of Sunday Whoservices.isyour favorite UU in history? James Reeb inspired me as a UU kid because of his dedication to interfaith organizing and the Civil Rights movement. What is your favorite spot in the building or on campus and why? I really enjoy sitting with the gi ant boulder in the Atrium Courtyard, because it’s so peaceful and beautiful. If you were going to plan your own Coming of Age ceremony today, what song or reading would you include?

Favorite ways to fill your time when you’re not at FUS? Being outside, biking, walking, hiking, sailing, neighborhood festivals and markets, friends, family, live music, and drum circles.

XAN ProgramHENDRICKAssistant

What pets do you have and why are they the best? My Rescue Cat, Bala. She’s an orange tabby without teeth! She is a healer, a snuggler, and a clown.

favorite UU in history? Pete Seeger

XTC “Dear God”

What is your earliest memory of UUism? I attended a concert at Eau Claire’s Unitarian Church, grabbed some literature, and found it spoke to me. I think I was Who22.isyour

What’s the last great book you read? The Myth of Surrender by Kelly O’Connor McNees. It’s about two young women who meet at a maternity home for unwed mothers in the 1960s, and it’s such a beau tiful and heartbreaking look at what life was like for millions of women before Roe v. Wade. I wish I could send a copy to each of our Supreme Court Justices. Favorite ways to fill your time when you’re not at FUS? The pandemic helped me realize how much I love live theater, so I’ve been trying to be more intentional about seeing local and touring produc tions, and I also try to learn a new (to me) musical every month or so. What pets do you have and why are they the best?

What’s the last great book you read? The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (and the books that fol low). An exciting and unexpected fantasy adventure. What is the least (stereotypically) UU thing about you? I don’t know how to answer this! UUs can look so many different ways and I love that about us. Favorite ways to fill your time when you’re not at FUS? I love to rollerskate, explore in nature and work on art with friends. What pets do you have and why are they the best? Comet is my 12 year old desert kingsnake. He’s cu rious and adventurous, and reminds me to embrace the unknown.

What is your earliest memory of UUism? I think my earliest UU memory is of Max Gaebler coming out to our house so my dad could sign the book. I was probably five years old at the time. Who is your favorite UU in history? Last summer I read a biography of Sylvia Plath (Red Comet by Heather Clark) and learned that a) Sylvia was raised Unitarian and b) she described herself as “a pa gan-Unitarian,” and c) Max Gaebler was a friend of the Plath family, so I’ve been excited about her ever Whatsince.

is your favorite spot in the building or on cam pus and why? There’s a door that used to open to a classroom—it’s where I took Church Across the Street as a kid—but now opens to a hallway. I have a magi cal Narnia feeling every time I go through it. Who would you like to meet in our community? Fel low history buffs, amateur archivists, readers, nature lovers, and—of course—greyhound people. If you were going to plan your own Coming of Age ceremony today, what song or reading would you include & why? I love the idea of a Coming of Age ceremony for the transition into middle adulthood! At my COA ceremony as a teen, Anne Kosseff, Mea ghan Gustafson, and I sang “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which would still work today, but I would add “You’re Aging Well” by Dar Williams. What is the least (stereotypically) UU thing about you? I recently spent the day at Angell Speedway in Sun Prairie, and though car racing isn’t the best way to show respect for the interdependent web of all existence… I had a blast.



My dog Alfie is a galgo, or Spanish greyhound, who was rescued off the streets of Spain by a group called Galgos del Sol. He’s been living with me for about four years and was recently promoted to a role as Junior Communications Associate here at FUS. He really is the best.

MOLLY CoordinatorCommunicationsBACKES



As autumn beckons, and we enjoy the last carefree days of summer, we welcome the new church year and our annual homecoming. To kick off our 2022 – 2023 program year together, we are offering an evening of fun and fellowship on Friday evening, September 16, 2022. Join us, 5pm – 6:30pm, for activities, conversation and ice cream! We will have an ice cream truck right here at FUS. May this be an opportunity for us to be joyfully reminded of the power in joining together and sharing as one, and what that means for our community. The summer has brought many new faces to our doors, curious and interested folks looking for open minds, kind hearts, and a sense of belonging. It has been a reminder to celebrate who we are and how we grow into the vision of FUS. As we build on this energy, the church year will be punctuated by unique community events that continue, on a regular basis, to bring us together in fellowship. It is because of you that FUS is a welcoming and nurturing place. Our doors are open wide, and our arms are welcoming. The beginning of a new church year is always full of promise and possibility. Let this Welcome Back story begin with you!


to Olivia Mote and Trent Koerner on the birth of Jack Wallace Koerner-Mote! Jack was welcomed into the world on July 27. All are healthy and well and happy! We can’t wait to meet you Jack!



John Main Volunteer Fair Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25, 2022

Eva Wright, former FUS Assistant Music Director, passed away on August 2 surrounded by family. Eva was a bright light in our world, sharing her musical gifts, her warm smile, and her larger than life heart with all of us. A memorial service will be held in the Atrium Auditorium on Saturday, October 1 at noon. We send our love to Bob, their children, Larry and Dannika, their grandchildren and all who loved our dear Miss CongratulationsEva.

"The essence of communityis recognition of anddeep reverence for the other." What better time than this beginning of promise and possibility to show our understanding and appreciation of stewardship—the collective responsibility for something bigger than ourselves— and commit to extending ourselves in new and bold ways? There is strength in this holistic practice of stewardship, the giving of talent, energy and resources. It supports intentional, spiritual community. It is in community that we create the space for growth in shared vision, commitment, and focus. And as we deepen this sense of community, we learn the significance of our collective efforts. We have the opportunity for you to take your own bold steps! With resources available, and seasoned volunteers in tow, FUS volunteers and members will be available to answer questions, direct you to something that may be of interest, and offer guidance in the ways that each of us can be of service to our faith community. We have many important and valuable volunteer needs at FUS, small and large ways in which we work to gether to feed and nurture the life of this con gregation. Join a volunteer team, or two, connect with old friends and new. The list is long, the work is rewarding and the sense of community that volunteering creates is wonderful. Support FUS in one of the best ways possible—the gift of YOU. Let our promise to support one another on our journey, and to work for what is possible, be a compelling reason to serve this faith community as a volunteer. We all provide support by being an integral part of church life in our own and unique ways.


Jeannine Nusbaum passed away on August 12 with her family by her side. A memorial will be held on Saturday, September 10 at 11:30 am in the Atrium Auditorium. Jeannine was a gracious and loving soul and is deeply missed by all who knew her.

If you have a life transition you’d like to share with the readers of this newsletter, please send it to

Rev. Kelly Crocker, Co-Senior Minister Creating a sense of belonging within communities happens slowly, one connection at a time. For those of us in the world of fiber arts we like to say that magic is created one stitch at a time. In a community such as ours, where we live with care and concern for one another, we know the blessings that giving and receiving can bring. This weekend, we reflect on those blessings as we honor the work of our Shawl Ministry program.



SEPTEMBER 10 & 11**


In-person worship services: Saturdays @ 4:30 pm & Sundays @ 9 & 11 am* Online worship service: Sundays @ 11 am*


*In-person and online services will be at 10 am on this Sunday.

**Saturday services in the Landmark Auditorium will resume on this weekend.

Rev. Kelly Crocker & Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Ministers Water Communion is our annual ingathering and welcoming of one another back to community at the start of a new congregational year. We invite you to bring water to share from some place where you feel you belong--whether collected from a far-off location or your own kitchen sink. For part of the ritual we will share during this service, you are also invited to send a note about your water’s origin and the reason you feel belonging there to Rev. Kelly AJ at kellyaj@



Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister Labor Day Weekend is a time to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of working people and the circumstances under which they labor and live. In this service, we will participate in Worker Justice Wisconsin’s Labor in the Pulpits program, as we are asked to reflect on this question: “As people of faith, what is our role in ensuring that low-wage and immigrant workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve?


The human yearning to belong is very deep, and the bar for what it means to belong is very high. There are many ways to be adjacent to a group or a place, to be half in or half out, to be partially a part of something. But to belong is something greater. us for a service about what it means to truly belong, how we can help one another to reach

Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister




that all-too-rare-state.Photocredit:

Molly Backes


Steven Gregorius, Event Specialist

BOARD OF TRUSTEES Ryanjoy, President Lorna JenniferAaronsonSeeker (President Elect) Stieglitz Gottschalk Cusic Putnam Hill-Gorman


MUSIC STAFF Dr. Drew Collins, Music Director x.121


Monica Nolan, Executive Director x.115


Janet Swanson, Director Membership & Adult Programs x.124 Leslie Ross, Director Children’s Religious Exploration x.119

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


STAFF LEADERSHIP TEAM Rev. Kelly J. Crocker, Co-Senior Minister x.112 Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister x.113



Tom Miskelly, Facilities Manager x. 120 Dan Carnes, A/V & Event Specialist

900 University Bay Drive Madison, WI www.fusmadison.org608.233.977453705@fusmadison


Kristi Sprague, Social Justice Coordinator x.125 Xan Hendrick, Program Assistant x.116



John McGevna, Secretary Ann Schaffer

Heather Thorpe, Children & Youth Choir Director Linda Warren, Assistant Music Director OPERATIONAL STAFF Molly Backes, Communications Coordinator x. 117 Cheryll Mellenthin, Project Coordinator x. 130

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