Minister’s Message: Sacred Stitches

Minister’s Message: Sacred Stitches

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!

With Gratitude and Love, Rev. Maria Cristina

 

Blossoming Community: We Need Your Contributions by February 4!

Blossoming Community: We Need Your Contributions by February 4!

“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.

To contribute an item to the auction, fill out our Contribution Form

OR if you want to offer an item you’ve offered before, just email Rachel Herbert, our catalog coordinator, or Auction Chair Amanda Strombom.

“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.” – Luther Burbank

COVID Protocols for 2023-2024

COVID Protocols for 2023-2024

As we prepare for the return of the church program year, Water Communion, Salmon Bake and so much more we wanted to update our COVID Policies.

The threat of COVID, RSV, and the flu haven’t gone away, so as we come back we also know the timing aligns with the most likely time of year to catch a bug. We want to ensure all those who come through our doors feel safe in this space, and we want to grow the feeling of community. Beginning September 1, we will be transitioning from masks required to masks ENCOURAGED.

We want do want to share a few other items regarding this.

  • We continue to remind you about consent and continue to encourage you to talk about comfort in masking and touching.
  • We ask if someone requests you to wear a mask, especially indoors, that you respect that request.
  • Staff may have individual requirements for their workspace. We have some staff members who are high risk and may ask that you wear a mask while in their office area, we ask you all to respect that.
  • Individual groups can make their own decisions. Ministry Teams, Covenant Circles, and more should have a discussion about how everyone in the group feels. Please approach these conversations with care and a sense of community.
  • We will continue to provide masks to all who wish to wear them.
  • We ask everyone who has any cold symptoms such as: fever, cough, runny nose, etc. to please stay at home (and join us via Zoom!)
  • We encourage all of you to get your boosters and flu shot this year.

Air Flow in Buildings

If you are planning to come to East Shore and are not sure if you want to wear a mask, please know we have a lack of airflow in our Sanctuary. We added air purifiers in the Sanctuary to help. We do have a CO2 monitor in the back of the Sanctuary to help you make an informed decision. We have also added air filters to the classrooms in the Education building.

Practicing Consent and Compassion

Part of being a beloved community is respecting others and showing compassion. When making decisions, always practice covenantal consent—taking time to listen deeply to one another’s concerns and fears before making any decisions that might put members of the community at risk, either physically or mentally.

We need to acknowledge everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to risk. Please remember, these are your fellow East Shorians and we want to respect people’s decisions on how they participate in worship.

We also want to talk about hugging, handshakes, high fives, etc. As we teach our youngest children in Our Whole Lives (OWL), consent is very important. Even those friends who you may have always shared a hug with before may not feel up to it yet. Let’s show our children and each other we understand consent. Before hugging, please ask… AND be prepared to hear “no.” This includes members of the staff. We all love you… and we want to stay safe too.

by Staff Leadership Team

New East Shore T-Shirts Coming!

New East Shore T-Shirts Coming!

The Outreach Team has been working hard to design a new East Shore t-shirt to wear at rallies, marches, East Shore outings, worship, or even just out and about. In the end, we came up with three designs. Big thanks to East Shore member Katherine Fugitt who works at Buttonsmith for helping to put our vision into reality. 

The three shirts tie in with our mission statement. You will have the option of three slogans: “My Faith is Love (with the UUA’s Side of Love heart symbol)” “My Faith is Community,” and “My Faith is Justice” The back will have the East Shore logo and name. All the shirts will be printed on soft navy shirts and there are adult and children’s sizes. 

The t-shirts will cost about $20-25. We believe this is a great price and we also made choices which we feel reflects our values. Buttonsmith is a local, union supporting, fair wages paying mom & pop shop. These are all values we want to support and that often means paying a bit more. Those members who have financial hardships can speak directly with Nicole Duff and any member who wishes to buy an extra shirt for someone who may not be able to afford one is encouraged to do so!

Order Your Shirt TODAY!

Here are some tips to keep it lasting a long time:

  • Wash with cold water, inside out
  • Line dry or dry on low heat, inside out

The shirts will be available for pre-order at Salmon Bake on September 10th! We ask for you to pay with a credit card. We will have samples of each shirt plus other shirts for sizing. Shirts will also be available for ordering online through Realm!

We look forward to seeing groups of East Shore members and friends proudly wearing these shirts to spread the good word of Unitarian Universalism and ESUC!

by Nicole Duff, Director of Membership Development

General Assembly 2023

General Assembly 2023

From June 21-25, more than 2,300 Unitarian Universalists traveled to Pittsburgh. Among them were two of our Delegates, Grace Colton and Dave Baumgart, Board President Signe Lalish, friends Cecelia and Julia Hayes, and staff member Nicole Duff. They were joined by our other Delegates online including Paul Buehrens, Maury Edwards, Ryam Hill, Marcy Langrock, and Mike Radow. Other staff members, Rev. María Cristina and Rebecca Chatfield also attended online.

Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt was elected to serve as President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) with more than 95% of the vote. Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt was appointed interim co-president of the UUA in 2017, and was the UUA’s first woman president. Now she will be both the first out queer individual and the first woman of color elected to the role.

“Unitarian Universalism has a vital, liberating message for our time. Our nation and denomination are experiencing challenges in a time of significant division, change and radicalization,” said Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt. “But together, I know we can serve one another, organize for justice, widen the circle of concern, collectively imagine new ways forward in community, and grow spiritually. I am looking forward to the continued work of radical inclusion, faithful witness, and the embrace of a wide range of voices and leaders for our faith.”

Additionally, UU delegates from all 50 states representing 715 congregations participated in voting democratically on denominational business including the new proposed bylaws for the association. Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association Bylaws – “Principles and Purposes” – is the foundation for all of the work of the UUA, its member congregations and covenanted communities. Delegates voted to advance recommended changes to Article II, which last underwent a wholesale revision in 1987. A final vote on the revised Article II will take place at the all virtual General Assembly in 2024.

East Shore’s own delegates wanted to share about their experiences. Stay tuned for details about a GA Delegate Forum and a worship service. Here is what they say:

Paul Buehrens

Attending GA as a delegate via zoom was actually easy. Attending the program itself was also easy, and more fun by far. I got to hear the main talk to the UUMA about fascism, and it was so meaty I decided to sign up for two follow-up webinars. I also believe the threat of fascism here has never been stronger than it was on January 6, and it’s still a threat. I heard the talk from Imani Perry, author of Breathe, which Jeanne Lamont and I offered to the congregation as a common read if not a UUA common read. It was gratifying to see Article II amendments that were sensible and reasonable, and others fail, and then for the revision to get overwhelming support by 86%. I’m sure it will pass the all virtual GA next year and enter the bylaws of the UUA, while nothing historical is ever lost to our memories! Next year, YOU should consider being a delegate for ESUC!

Dave Baumgart

This was my first GA and my first impressions were: This is a BIG event, it is overwhelming in several respects, and the other participants are very friendly and willing to help me determine how to best participate. The program guide was about a 100 pages, so there were many opportunities to attend workshops that would be interesting to me. It took several hours of review to determine my best response to all the business items, aligned with how I believe the East Shore members would want me to vote. I was surprised to learn there were 3 different processes for processing the business resolution, the AWI’s, and the Article II amendments. My greatest enjoyment came from the wonderful music, and carrying the East Shore Banner with Grace Colton into the Assembly Hall.

I will definitely want to go to the 2025 GA (2024 will be virtual only). Many thanks to my fellow ESUC participants, especially Nicole, Maury, Grace, and Rev. María Cristina for their guidance.

Ryam Hill

I attended GA as a business only representative via zoom. This allowed me to attend the business sessions and read all the online discussion which helped me with the votes taken. The sessions were informative, and I enjoyed hearing from UU members of congregations all over the country. The processes for amendments, resolutions, being a candidate, etc., go on over months. Keeping up with UUA activities is key to being part of the governing and decision making that will impact all the member churches. I look forward to East Shore learning more about and participating more fully in this larger process, so we are well represented and well-informed on current issues. It’s what we pay our dues to support, and there is exciting work going on that East Shore can be part of. And happily, Article II passed with a large majority.

Grace Colton

I attended Disrupting Church: Creating What’s Next and was reminded that taking risks in times of change can have joy in it. Knowing how to deal with conflict, apologize and repair goes a long way toward making lemonade out of lemons. Also, the UUA is continuing to integrate the Widening the Circle of Concern’s recommendations into how it operates and Article II was approved by about 86% of delegates to continue being discussed for the next year before a final vote at GA 2024, which will be all online.

Mike Radow

I was struck by how orderly we managed to move through a full agenda. With proper space for celebration, music. Even though the divestment and reparations business item was rejected, I hope the younger UUs keep trying. As always, reaching across divides is the key. What impressed me most was the continual modelling of accountability, as reported and shown by the care team. They admitted mistakes, avowed that “we will do better”, and nicely reminded us to be mindful of everyone’s accessibility needs.

Nicole Duff

This was my fourth in-person General Assembly and I find them more and more meaningful each year. This year I was thankful for the passionate sermons and wonderful music, but I found myself often drawn to the exhibit hall. In my role with the UU Association of Membership Professionals, I spent time talking to so many ministers, religious professionals, and members from across the country about the future of Unitarian Universalism. And from my view… the future is bright!

Seabeck 2023: A Success!

Seabeck 2023: A Success!

Seabeck 2023, our annual Memorial Day weekend retreat, was an amazing success with 165 folks in attendance from East Shore UC, University UC and beyond. I served as Dean, the nominal leader of a team of a dozen or so leaders who organized a weekend full of activities and community building. I wanted to share with everyone a small glimpse of our retreat.

The weather this year was unusually cooperative. We had cool cloudy mornings and sunny afternoons. Each afternoon the lagoon was full of boaters. Each evening we delighted in the lovely social hour spread laid out by Margaret Hall’s team extending out onto the warm Juniper patio. The clear late night skies made for excellent stargazing opportunities through high-powered telescopes each night inspiring exclamations of awe from young and old and ministers alike.

Saturday afternoon Bill Austin led three dozen hikers down to beautiful Guillemot Cove and they all made it back! And Tim Fitzgerald led a trip at low tide to see all the aquatic life at the beach and in the tide pools. Saturday night we basked in the sun-drenched amphitheater singing along to the tunes provided by the Craig Nelsen trio. Warm sunny weather on Sunday meant a spirited game of Ultimate Frisbee led by Nicolo Gelb, a dry and festive UU Olympics, a bird identification walk through the woods led by Barabara Retelle, a contemplative service at the cathedral in the woods, a fantastic salmon bake on the beach, and a cracking fire with s’mores and sing-a-long on the way back.

And Seabeck indoors was just as lively! Saturday and Sunday mornings, Guy Nelson led a creative play workshop which encouraged a gathering of more than 60 to play, be vulnerable and share our beautiful creativity with one another. Sunday morning, Rev. Justin Almeida and Rev. María Cristina led a beautiful worship service with singing, meditation, a life-centric retelling of the biblical creation story, and a sermon on the importance of creating and sharing joy in community. Afternoons were filled with dozens of workshops running the gamut from fun to educational to reflective to justice work. Every night one could find dozens of folks and especially our young adults playing card games, poker and board games into the wee hours. Friday and Saturday evenings, Cafe Seabeck led by John Chmaj was rocking with individual open mic numbers and extended improvisational jams. Saturday night there was a lively Swing Dance party. Sunday night was capped off by an eclectic talent show featuring our wonderful youth followed by our young-at-heart. There were skits, and songs, comedy routines all cheered on by a fun-loving supportive crowd.

This was but a brief recap of some of the bigger moments over the weekend. I have no doubt there were thousands of small but just as meaningful interactions among old friends and new as we practice however imperfectly being a beloved community. To all the leaders that spent so much of their time and energy making this happen, I am deeply grateful. I am also grateful to the 75+ folks who volunteered either by leading a workshop or signing up to take a shift driving the golf cart or running the boat dock. I also want to thank Nicole Duff, Rebecca Chatfield and Amanda Alice Uluhan who facilitated registration, accounting, insurance, and youth safety for Seabeck 2023. To all of those who were able to come, we were all blessed by your beautiful presence and the spirit you brought, and for this too, I am grateful. We hope you had a great time and that you will come back. For those that didn’t attend this year, we hope you will consider coming next year as we still have plenty of room and we need you to make Seabeck 2024 even better.

Humbly and Gratefully yours,
David Langrock
Seabeck Dean 2023/2024