East Shore Kids Ministry is Partnering with Porchlight (formerly Congregations for the Homeless) for a Winter Supplies Drive for unhoused Men. Join us! Please bring all items to East Shore now through Sunday February 25th. Place in the donation box. Drop off hours are Sunday-Thursday 9:30-2:30 or by appointment. Questions? [email protected] 425-747-3780 x 104
When Jenny and I started to talk about the number of unfinished projects we had, we laughed as we recalled how many years it had been since we had started the projects. I shared that I had been carrying around an unfinished quilt for more than ten years. I had started it in Massachusetts, packed it when we moved to California, and now here it was still in a box, put away just like many other things that I love to do but put aside because it seems that I just never have the time.
How excited I had been when choosing the bright and whimsical fabric! How satisfying to learn how to sew a patchwork quilt, to marvel at the random yet beautiful configuration of the squares. What a novel way to “meditate” and lose myself in the humming of the sewing machine and the dance of the colors between my fingers. During the time I spent sewing, my mind felt free of worries, only focusing on keeping the fabric in place, replenishing the thread in the bobbin, and trying to keep the cats from running away with thimbles and thread spools. Then came a time to make big decisions that would lead to huge transitions. Finishing my doctoral dissertation and graduating, accepting a ministerial call in California, saying goodbye to my congregation, friends, and for the first time in my life, living far away from my son.
The unfinished quilt traveled across the country. There was no time for quilting when I was trying to get acclimated to a brand new life, a challenging solo ministry, getting to know my new congregation, helping my mother process this big transition, and finding ways for us to build community. The years went by and the quilt remained unfinished, out of sight but never out of mind. From time to time I would find it when looking for something else. I would touch the fabric, and quickly refold it and put it back in the box.
So when Jenny and I started talking about unfinished projects and it being the beginning of a new year, I jokingly blurted out that we should get a group of people together to finish the projects that sat waiting for us in boxes. She said that it actually sounded like a good idea and that she would attend such a group. She had been working on a dress for three years and would feel encouraged to finally make those button holes! And that’s how “Sacred Stitches” got started. I started with an email to a few people that I thought would be interested. Then the email list grew and by the time we had our first meeting, about twenty people had responded asking to be added to the list.
The day arrived when we would gather in the North Room. I took my sewing machine and the quilt to church. One by one people arrived and revealed their amazing projects. People joked that my sewing machine was “very quiet” and laughter erupted in the room. Having the quilt on my lap and a belly laugh was all I needed to feel the joy stirring in my heart. I spent most of the time trying to get my rusty machine to work, and ended up sewing by hand. I delighted in holding the fabric once again (grateful that the moths had not found it), and took a moment to look around the table and feel the wonderful energy of so many creative people joyfully knitting, coloring, making cards, quilting blue stars, crocheting fluffy blankets and magical mermaids, embroidering green ferns, yellow flowers, and bright eyed orange foxes. It was truly a sacred moment that brought such joy to my heart! I felt as if in unfolding this unfinished quilt, I was unfolding too, now in the midst of a new community.
That evening felt like an act of collective love made holy by our laughter, camaraderie, and connection. There was no judgment about how long it had been since we had started the project, or about forgetting how to thread the sewing machine, or the fact that the quilt intended for a baby now would probably be for a grandchild. I felt held in this circle even though I was meeting most for the first time. This was community building at its best! I can’t wait until our next meeting. In the meantime, I send you all my best wishes as we continue to unfold our story, to stitch together our dreams, and to realize that it is never too late to start again. Stitch by stitch, we are building the Beloved Community!
“People come to church longing for, yearning for, hoping for … a sense of roots, place, belonging, sharing and caring. People come to a church with a search for community, not committee.” — Glenn Turner
The Covenant Circle program deepens and broadens personal spiritual growth. A group usually consists of 8-10 members who meet, usually once every two weeks. Each meeting is focused on a spiritual or religious topic. The goals are to:
Listen and be listened to in a safe place
Learn about the mysteries of our world and our spiritual paths
Build new and deeper personal connections
Serve our community and the needs of one another
Maintain personal connections and a caring community
Each group has a facilitator who links the group to the minister. The minister provide overall guidance, recruit new members and establish new groups, and develop session plans.
We have a few Covenant Circles looking to add to their group.
2nd & 4th Mondays, 12:30-2:00 p.m.: We meet in multi-platform format. We are all women in our 70s – 80s. We are beautiful, brilliant, kind, funny, spiritual, generous, etc etc.😉 and we bring sweets to enjoy together at our meetings! We do prefer only women.
1st & 3rd Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m.: We currently have 5 members (4 women and 1 man); both men and women are welcome. We rotate meetings at the homes of 3 of our members who live in Bellevue or sometimes do Zoom, depending on the weather and the current situation.
If you are interested in either group or starting a new Covenant Circle, contact Nicole Duff.
Why Join a Covenant Circle?
Here are just a few members sharing in their own words why they are in a Covenant Circle:
“I love our supportive and nurturing environment to explore our spirituality in a shared space & the deep relationships we build together through our sharing & topic discussions.”
“I enjoy Covenant Circle from the standpoint of sharing finding a topic each meeting. I also feel our group puts out topics that are topics to really think about. I also feel we have some great discussions on these topics.”
How do Covenant Circles work?
Ministry happens in the meetings, which focus on spiritual or religious topics through a process of deep listening and service projects. Topics that may be shared during meetings include: sacred places, perfection, mothers, community, living simply, music, and healing. Groups choose their own order, direction and pace. Service projects are expected from each group once a year. In general, projects tend to be ones that serve the church community or the local community, but they can be larger projects that reach beyond our church community.
What is expected of members?
Group members are expected to commit to regular meeting times and to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a way of focusing intently on what another person is saying without interruption or simultaneously formulating a response. Deep listening also gives an individual an opportunity to speak without interruption or comment.
What are Covenant Circle sessions like?
Opening Words: Gathering in, settling down, reminding participants of the special opportunity of the gathering, possibly reflecting the topic of the session. The meeting may begin with the lighting of a candle or a chalice.
Check-In: Participants share news of what has been happening in their lives. Each group develops its own customs as to the length of sharing. This portion of the meeting may expand from time to time when circumstances call for it.
Topic/Discussion: A paragraph or two lays out a topic and presents questions that will elicit thoughtful discussion and significant reflection. A group may stay with a topic several weeks or be done in one evening.
Check-Out: Likes and Wishes: This is an opportunity for feedback.
Closing Words: This brings the formal session to and end. Groups are encouraged to start and end on time.
“Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower.”– John Harrigan
Join us for the Auction on March 16, 2024
Some fabulous offerings are already sprouting from the group, including a rare single malt scotch, a Ladies’ Afternoon Tea, and a TV Dinner and Game Night featuring a gourmet spin on the classic TV Dinner plus cocktails, wine, great food, and board games.
We invite every member and friend of East Shore to dig in, find your row to hoe, and participate in whatever way you can. We’re especially looking for dinners and events we can do together to build community, but artwork, gift certificates, gift baskets and homemade food are also always popular. Can your Covenant Circle or Book Group come up with a shared item to contribute?
We need your contributions no later than February 4.
Community outreach is you sharing with the wider community that you are a proud member of East Shore Unitarian Church. Sharing your excitement about finding a beloved community that shares your values and works to make our world a better place for all. Outreach is both big AND small.
Each quarter the ESUC Outreach Team will be selling T-shirts that you can wear out and about. Order yours here now! Here are a few ideas of places you can promote our Church:
Your child’s parent teacher conference
Making a public comment at a city council meeting
Marching in the Pride Parade
Black Lives Matter Flash Stance
Local farmer’s market or festival.
Patronizing a local business that demonstrates social justice such as The Taproom in Renton (hosts Drag Queen Story Hour) or Black Coffee Northwest in the Central District.
The East Shore’s Campus Aesthetics Team (CAT) is planning on displaying textiles owned by East Shore members from late March through April. Do you have some treasured textiles at home which you would be willing for us to display in the Sanctuary foyer? We would ask you to share a story behind your selection. How did you acquire it? Did you or a beloved make it? Was it an inheritance handed down in your family? Something you picked up during your travels? What does it signify to you? Why do you treasure it?
Textiles may be woven, quilted, knitted, crochet, embroidered pieces, articles of clothing, rugs, painted silk, textile art, etc. Probably most pieces will be hung in some fashion so be sure to keep that in mind when selecting pieces to share. Others might be laid on tables.
You can also leave them with one of us before or after Sunday morning services in early March. Alternatively, we can arrange with you to pick them up from your home.
As International Women’s Day takes place in the month of March, we hope colorful textiles will help us celebrate and honor women who historically have been so closely associated with the love and production of textiles.
We also plan to host a “kickoff” event on March 24th after the church service to share our items and tell the stories that accompany our pieces. Fashion show anyone? If you are interested in helping us plan and hold such an event, or you have textiles to share, please let us know.
We think this would be a fun and interesting way to share aspects of our lives with others and build community. Keep an eye out for more details coming in March. In the meantime, if you have questions, please reach out to CAT or Women’s Perspective. We look forward to viewing your textiles and listening to your stories!