The Madison Unitarian: October 2021

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omehow we too sense that our lives seem to go about as well as our relationships. We are about as happy as our relationships are happy. A "human loner" is a contradiction in terms. The existence for a human in isolation from others is like a plant trying to survive without sunlight or water. No new growth can occur and the life that does exist begins to wither and will slowly die. For us to be is to be with another or with others. The quality of our human existence is grounded in our relationships.

Quote from John Powell, S.J. from “Through the Seasons of the Heart”

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


n a store in London, England, many years ago, two friends were walking through aisles of furniture and clothing when they saw something unusual. They saw that the store had a little lion cub for sale. He was young enough then that he was only about the size of a housecat, and the folks who worked in that part of the store didn’t particularly want him there—he’d gotten loose one night and torn up all the carpet in the home furnishing department. So when those two friends made an offer, the store was happy to sell them this little lion. They took their new friend home to their apartment, where their roommates were surprisingly understanding about the idea of sharing their space with a major predator. They named the lion cub Christian and at first, they treated him like any other pet cat. But he kept growing bigger and bigger and bigger. A lion, when fully grown, can be more than half as tall as I am and can weigh as much as you, you, you, and I all put together, and it eats— oh, it eats a lot. In that little apartment in the middle of a busy city there wasn’t much space for Christian to play, but they got permission from a nearby church to exercise him in their churchyard. The three of them would go out together and chase, wrestle, tackle, and hug each other.

lions live. And that’s how it was for a while. Then one day, the two friends were thinking about their lion friend Christian and decided they wanted to see him again, to see if he was happy in his life in Africa. Now lions and humans don’t usually play together. They usually live far apart. So when the two friends started looking for Christian, everyone told them that he wouldn’t remember them or be interested in seeing them again. He had other lions to live and to play with now. But they did find him. They got close enough that he could see them, and then they waited to see what he would do. What he did was to start to move, and then walk, and then run towards his two good friends who had given him a home, taken care of him, and played with him. And he jumped up with his huge powerful arms, and he gave them both a hug, just like he used to when they’d played together in the churchyard in London.

A new congregational year is now underway. With it comes a partial lifting, at least, of the isolation of the pandemic, and the arrival of this long-haired stranger in your midst. It is a good time for us to think together about how and why we cultivate relationships with others; how we can trust in those connections and be trustworthy of them. How we might live our lives so that the first or the thousandth But eventually, the two human friends decided meeting with one another can feel as though that their other friend, Christian the lion, long-lost friends are reunited. I hope you will needed a place where he could be himself and join Kelly C and me this month in reflecting on have enough space to live and to be a lion with the relationships that shape and define us and other lions. So with a lot of help, they found that still can surprise us with their strength him a way back to Africa, where most wild across distance and time.



FROM THE BOARD Alyssa Ryanjoy, Board of Trustees President


nce a year, we dedicate one of our parish meetings to engaging with a discussion question where each member has an opportunity to share their thoughts with each other and the Board of Trustees. This discussion is structured around an open question which Dan Hotchkiss, author of Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, describes as “a powerful tool for facilitating congregational participation.” Hotchkiss says that open questions allow us all to “step aside from the press of daily business and reflect together about the future.” In our September board meeting, we discussed what this process means for our community and what questions still feel unanswered. Our hope for the open question process is not to find an answer but rather to engage in discussion around a long-term issue that is critical to our future. Last year's open question was, "What would it look like to center People of Color at FUS?" (You can read a summary of our conversations on pg. 6 of The Madison Unitarian from January 2021.)

respectful and honor the inherent worth and dignity of each person involved. This is not easy, and yet I believe we can continue to cultivate our capacity to disagree while carefully tending to our important relationships with each other. I believe this because I see the special place FUS holds in your hearts. I’ve heard it throughout the pandemic as people shared how meaningful their continued connection to the FUS community was during a stressful and lonely time. I saw it in the excitement and tears of joy that many brought to our first in-person worship services after a year and a half. I feel it every time we take opportunities to learn and grow together.

We are so grateful for the work that produced our Relational Covenant a few months back. In the coming months, we are also excited to see the Healthy Congregations Team emerge. In addition to helping navigate specific relationships and conflicts at FUS, this team will also be actively bringing forward opportunities for us all to learn more This type of conversation is difficult. While our about healthy relationship building in our values align around our seven UU principles, congregation. there is plenty of room for disagreement and Stay tuned for more information about our conflict. Our theme this month on cultivating parish meeting on October 24 which will be relationships can mean developing the ability held virtually. I hope to see many of you there!" to stay in relationship with each other even during conflict while also ensuring we are






eeping with our October theme on cultivating relationships, Journey Circles return this year to again provide an opportunity to strengthen our connections to life, to others, and to ourselves. Journey Circles invite and encourage the giving and receiving of welcome, of hospitality, and of deep listening.

Participants have said they feel more connected to FUS, newcomers feel a greater sense of welcome, and long-time members appreciate the opportunity to meet newer members in a format that encourages a strong new bond. The gatherings provide new perspectives and understandings of the monthly themes, and participants enjoy focused discussions on New to FUS? Long-time member? Participation topics meaningful to our faith community. in a Journey Circle allows all of us to meet new Registration is available at fusmadison. people, become reacquainted with others, and org/adult-re. Journey Circles will begin in connect in new and meaningful ways within November 2021 and meet through June 2022. our faith community. Our large First Unitarian They are open and welcoming to all, and are Society community becomes a bit smaller, and held at many different times, both day and we feel a deeper connection to the whole as we evening hours. Contact Janet Swanson janets@ gather in these Circles. or 608.233.9774 ext. 124 for As theme-based covenant groups, Journey answers to your questions. Ministry Team Circles are small groups (6-8 individuals) members are also available—don’t hesitate to that meet once a month virtually or in email or call! person* at FUS for 90 minutes to two hours. The groups are led by trained facilitators who are also FUS members. Reflection and discussion at each gathering focus specifically on our congregational monthly theme. Worship themes for the 2021-2022 church year are: embracing possibility, cultivating relationships, reason, reverence, living with intention, widening the circle, renewal and renewing faith, theological reflection, nurturing beauty, prophetic imperative, circle of life, and ambiguity/paradox. Resource materials are provided for each theme and include readings, poetry, discussion questions, bibliographies, films to consider, and more.



*In-person status will be determined by public health decisions and by our FUS Medical Advisory Team and the UUA. In-person groups will become virtual if necessary due to Covid.

There is a place Where people see with their hearts And breathing is the common language Where no mandate for sameness exists And that place is here If we so desire by Ken Haynes

WHAT CABARET CAN TEACH US Cheryll Mellenthin, Project Coordinator


s we begin the often short and always winding path to our 40th Cabaret night, we know there are unique challenges and remarkable opportunities for this year’s event. We have much to celebrate, and the yearning to be together again, connecting to something familiar can be a powerful attraction for many long-time members. We also know that others in our community have felt limited in their ability to participate in this community event. I consider the latter as a welcome opportunity to unravel this year.

the fun raised. It is also about leaning into community engagement, welcoming extended families, guests of all ages, an engaged volunteer team, and FUS staff participation as fun ambassadors. This month, I invited long-time Cabaret volunteer Dorit Bergin to share her Cabaret memories with you.

I invite you to join the volunteer team in creating a Cabaret remembered for how it supports our community and represents the very best of FUS. If you would like to learn more, please call 608.233.9774 ext. 130 or email me at This is the third Cabaret I have had the great privilege of planning. My joy is not in the funds Save the Date: Saturday, December 11, 2021 raised, although that is important, it is always

CABARET MEMORIES Dorit Bergin, Member & Cabaret Volunteer


have so many memories of Cabaret over the years. From the creation story: The very first idea for Cabaret came one evening before a Board of Trustees meeting when then-president George Zografi looked around the Landmark Auditorium with the triangle tables and said, "This would make a great nightclub or cabaret." And we took the idea and ran with it. I remember pacing in the driveway at FUS before that first Cabaret, wondering if anyone was going to show up. (They did.) The enormous garage sale section of the first Cabarets which were so much work. Selling wine and beer tickets to attendees, everyone in a festive mood. Enjoying the look of the Landmark Auditorium and then the Atrium Auditorium lit up at night. Hosting a stone soup luncheon at my house one year. Being

so impressed with the creativity and skill of our members as I viewed the silent auction items. Circling those tables, hoping I was still in the running for an item I really wanted. (There are some Cabaret classics I am still looking forward to winning someday!) Trying to distribute items to their owners as fast as Steve was reading out the winning raffle tickets. Admiring the commitment of the core planning team and enjoying the camaraderie of working intensely with folks on a common project. The bounce house in the Landmark and the kids having fun. Watching Prudy and her team work their magic in the kitchen. Cleaning up after Cabaret, giddy with both exhaustion and happiness that it went well. I can truly say George was right!



TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS Monica Nolan, Executive Director


his spring, many of us gathered at our Financial Forum to reflect on the nature of our relationship with money both at FUS and more broadly. In small groups and large-group sharing, members and staff discussed how we have personally connected with FUS’s financial state over the years. Though the perspectives were diverse, three common camps emerged: those who felt FUS never has enough money, those who regard FUS as having one of the largest UU congregational budgets, and those who don’t particularly understand or care about FUS’s finances. While I honor each of those perspectives, none of them explicitly connects our resources to the fundamental reasons we exist as a community, nor what we’re called to do and be in the world today, and that says to me we have a significant growing edge. This year, the Finance Committee and I are excited to cultivate a new tool to help you engage more deeply with FUS’s mission and finances. We look forward to communicating more clearly how we are investing our resources in our programmatic priorities. To our knowledge, for as long as FUS’s financials have been made available to the congregation, they’ve been shared via line-item budgets like the one displayed on the next page. These budgets are powerful accounting tools that allow the Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, and staff to engage transparently with our resources, which we are called to do based on our unique relationship with this community. But there are very clear limitations of a line-item budget, especially within a faith community. They do not articulate how our resources are distributed



across our congregation’s ministries, and therefore they do not inspire us to engage in meaningful discernment about how our precious resources should be invested moving forward. The Finance Committee and staff look forward to working this year on creating a supplemental “narrative budget,” commonly referred to as “mission-based” or “values-based budget,” to help us frame who we are and who we want to be as we live collectively into our Seven Principles with our pooled resources. Though still a seed of an idea, we believe this new budget will be an effective educational and visioning tool. We look forward to sharing it with you this spring. We welcome all who are interested in assisting in its creation to contact us. To see an example of a mission-based budget and learn more about how they’re created, check out the UUA’s article: library/creating-purpose-based-budget. In the meantime, for those of you “green eyeshades” or “rose-colored glasses” who are feeling particularly ambitious today, (check out the Dan Hotchkiss article we discussed at the 2021 Financial Forum to unwrap that reference:, here is our Statement of Financial Activities for the last fiscal year. You can see that though not without its challenges, we continue to weather the financial storm of these past 18 months fairly well. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or the Finance Committee if you have questions about our financial state. You can reach me at or our Finance Committee Chairperson, Adam Simcock, at





Our annual All Souls Remembrance will be held the weekend of October 30/31 at our three worship services. During these services, we will call the names of FUS members who died in the past year. We invite you to include your loved ones in this ritual of remembrance. Please send the name(s) of those you would like mentioned in the service to Rev. Kelly AJ (kellyaj@ by Monday, October 25. You can also send a photo of your loved one. Thank you for joining us as we honor and remember those who have passed from our sight, knowing they live on and continue to bless the world with love and memory through us.


Mark your calendar for our Open Question Parish Meeting on Sunday, October 24, from 12:30–2 pm. More details will be available in the Red Floors and on our website.


This meeting was originally scheduled for July 12 but postponed due to technical difficulties. The FUS Foundation provides long-term financial support to FUS through annual distributions from endowment-type funds. The Foundation will hold its annual meeting via Zoom on Monday, October 11, at 7 pm. We will elect officers, review our financials, and discuss plans for the ensuing year. All are invited to attend. Zoom invitation information will be listed on the FUS home page. If you have questions or want to learn more about the Foundation, contact Connie Beam at 608.658.4656 or


The MOSES Madison New Member Orientation Event referred to in September’s edition has been postponed. Originally scheduled for Saturday, October 9, it will take place on Saturday, October 23, between 10-11:30 am. For more information, write to Lisa at



JUSTICE EVENTS OCT. 17 & 18 Citywide No F-35 Caravan & Creative Celebration

The FUS Sustainability Team invites you to join in our organizing efforts to address climate justice and stop the F-35 fighter jets in Madison. Here is why we oppose the F-35s and how you can help: • Racial Justice: The harm caused by the F-35 jets disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). • Climate Justice: Carbon and other pollution emitted by these planes are astronomical. The Madison neighborhood most impacted is economically poorer. Over 1,000 Madison homes will be deemed “incompatible for living.” Where will these people go? • Economic Justice: It will cost roughly $1.5 trillion to build the F-35s. This money could be invested in creating a just and sustainable world. Furthermore, Madison property values will reflect the decreased quality of life caused by these planes on Madison’s north and east sides. • Peace: The F-35s are equipped to be weapons and carry nuclear bombs. • Health/Quality of Life: F-35s will harm Madisonians with high decibels of noise and air and water pollution. • Participatory Democracy: Despite years of public outcry against the F-35s, the plan is to push ahead anyway. Reversing this plan will serve as a powerful example of what is possible when we unite. Bring your bike or car to the “No F-35 Caravan and Creative Celebration” on Sunday, October 17, from 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm • 12:30 pm: Gather at FUS to create signs and decorate your car. • 1 - 1:15 pm: Or meet us at the Capitol Square at State St. corner. • By 1:30 pm: The caravan (bikes and cars) will head to the “Creative Celebration” with live music featuring Tani and the Afrofunkstars, creative projects, and free food. The location is yet to be determined. • Join our outreach team. Contact Hannah Lee at 608.588.7365. • Share this event on Facebook: Prayers & Action for the Planet: Monday, October 18 @ 12 pm at the State Capitol Join this multi-faith assembly to pray, raise our voices, and sound the alarm for “Code Red’’ for the planet. Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson will facilitate the event. We will write our dreams and prayers on fabric squares, display them, and send them to COP26 in Glasgow. For more information or to help with this event, please contact Janice Knapp-Cordes at janice. Share this event on Facebook:



A MONTH OF SERVICES In-person Services on Saturdays @ 4:30 pm & Sundays @ 9 am & 11 am Online Service on Sundays @ 11 am •



with Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister

When we think about attending to our relationships, we most likely think about our connections with the people we are closest to and know the best. But our communities—from neighborhoods and congregations to cities and nations—are shaped at least as much by how we relate to the folks we don’t know well or at all. How can we live out a connection before it has been made? How do we help each other to belong?

OCTOBER 9 & 10


with Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister For many of us, living in the midst of an ecological crisis means teetering somewhere between ignoring the problem and despairing over it. The vital challenge of life in a wounded world is to seek the midpoint between those two poles: to find the courage for action and the hope for repair. And that action toward repair includes recognizing that forming a more just relationship with our planet requires forming a more just relationship with other people, particularly indigenous communities.



OCTOBER 16 & 17


with Rev. Kelly J. Crocker, Co-Senior Minister

Friendship has been called a mystery, a splendor, and a force. The Buddha taught that the whole of a holy life is fulfilled through spiritual friendship, with our presence being the most precious gift we can give to another. A case can be made that if we can see friendship as a radical practice of love, courage, and trust, then a path will open that paves the way for profound societal change. Can attending to our friendships, cultivating them with the greatest of intention and care, heal and free our hearts and allow us to work toward collective well-being, one relationship at a time?

OCTOBER 23 & 24


with Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson, Co-Senior Minister Everyone needs friends—companions through life, to share our trials and triumphs with, and to lean on for support in times of need. We need friends so badly that sometimes we might just have to invent them. This weekend, we’ll explore the power of imagination to help us face life’s challenges and how the relationships we build can save us, whether or not there’s someone else on the other end.

OCTOBER 30 & 31


with Revs. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson & Kelly J. Crocker On this weekend of remembrance, when we honor All Souls Day, we reflect on those who came before and notice how they remain with us still. Our lives are rooted, grounded, and take shape as we create lives reflective of their stories and example. 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. OCTOBER 2021


by Rev. Theresa I. Soto


I know sometimes you get cranky, And sometimes your tea gets cold Before you can drink it. Sometimes The news is too much. The resistance Seems too little. That’s real. But we are Here. Imperfect and together and reaching. You can hold my hand if you want. I washed It with soap. It’s OK. In this kind of time, Now is better than later. Now, I love you. Now, I am sorry it hurts. Now, I witness Your struggle, and mine. Sometimes One answer is to be a yes in the face of Every no. I am a yes for you. Now and again Later, if you need me.



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

John McGevna, Secretary


Creal Zearing

Janet Swanson, Director of Membership & Adult Programs x. 124 Leslie Ross, Director of Children’s Religious Exploration x. 119 Karen Anderson, Religious Exploration Program Staff x. 129 Tim Cordon, Social Justice Coordinator x. 125


Lorna Aaronson Tom Dulmage Ann Schaffer


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

Dr. Drew Collins, Music Director x. 121 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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