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 March 12, 2020
 
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 NEWS 
IMPORTANT NOTICE 

Dear First Unitarian Church Community,
In light of new recommendations and information about the spread of coronavirus throughout the country, your Board of Trustees and your Minister have decided that it is most prudent to suspend Sunday services and all activities at the church including group meetings, rentals, and all other events effective immediately and until further notice.  We are in the process of notifying all those affected by this closure.

In taking this action, we are doing what we can to limit the spread of disease and protect the health of our members and friends.  We are exploring ways to stay connected through electronic means and will provide information about developments. 

Please reach out to each other by phone or email, and do what you can to help each other while mindful of your own wellbeing.  Please contact Rev. Connie Grant at Constance.L.Grant@gmail.com or (847) 840-8542 if you have pastoral needs or other concerns. 


We will do all we can to stay connected with you!

Martin Schmidt, Board President

Rev. Connie Grant, Minister

This Weekend at First Unitarian Church
 
Worship Celebration News

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Our Share the Plate recipient today is the Annie Margaret Barr Secondary and Higher Secondary School in the village of Kharang in the Khasi Hills of India, operated by the indigenous Unitarians of the Khasi Hills. Funds are specifically for the salary of the second teacher in the school we helped to build and have sponsored since 2002.  If you wish to pay by check, make the check payable to First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and write Plate Cash, STP in the memo line. You can also donate from your smartphone by texting 412-435-1050 with the amount followed by the word 'share' (e.g., 25 share).

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Staff
NEWSLETTER   NEWS 
Call for Candidates for Nomination
For the 2020-2021 Church Year Board of Trustees and Nominating Committee
Your Nominating Committee (NC) is reaching out to you to discern who among us is willing and able to become a nominee for service on the Board of Trustees and the Nominating Committee for the coming church year. We are seeking a total of 6 candidates who can agree to serve 3-year terms for these groups. It will be an exciting time to deepen your involvement in leadership with 1st Unitarian. We will be continuing our work with Rev. Connie, our Interim Minister, and will soon begin the process of recruiting and calling a new settled Minister. Consider whether you or someone with whom you have worked here at 1st Unitarian might be ready for these responsibilities. Board work involves people with many skills, we should identify someone with interest and/or ability in financial affairs to succeed our current Treasurer when his term ends in May 2020.
Please contact any of the current NC members [Gretchen Aiyangar, Jen Layman, Rob Masterson, Bob Mitchell, Raeann Olander Murray, Susan Regan, Shelley Ross, Michael Safran, and Becky Studer] with your suggestions or questions. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/868310173608967/
LEARN
Message from the Lifespan Religious Education Director  

What It’s Like to be a UU Polytheist

Before monotheism became a global norm, early deities were tied to a group of people who were tied to land.  The first spirits (after ancestors) were spirits of place. As groups of people became displaced or migrated, and times changed, the need for a people to take their god/s with them, gods tied up in their very identity, resulted in god figures that were independent of place.  This is a very, very simplistic summary of how monotheism came to be, and it is only a part of a more complicated story, but it will suffice for the moment.

Why, in this modern age, are some Westerners drawn to polytheism, a belief system that was more common in a different age and different parts of the world or in indigenous cultures?  I like to ponder that now and then, being one of these people. It is interesting to reflect on making such an enormous paradigm shift from a monotheistic belief to a polytheistic one.  I’m not even completely sure what other newer polytheists would say, though I have a few guesses. For now, I’ll just speak for myself!

According to religious scholars like Karen Armstrong, deities develop and evolve when the previous ones no longer serve or have relevance for people. Sky gods gave way to gods of agriculture, who gave way to gods of civilization and industry.  Many of us who came from a monotheistic background can universally relate to having left a belief system that no longer met our needs, seemed relevant, or had meaning to us.

At least one major factor driving people away from monotheism is the absence of their own reflection in divinity.  I’m speaking of the prominence of male, patriarchal, monotheistic gods, which send a message to women and girls that the pinnacle of creation and humanity is male, and there is no divine version of the feminine.  It sets up a hierarchical social structure in which one half of the population is fundamentally inferior.  In addition, it creates a situation in which an entire group of people are poised to believe in a deity that somehow created them, yet does not in any way reflect or relate to them.  How can such a deity be of any help or comfort?

I made that transition for that very reason, like many other women, seeking the affirmation of the feminine divine.  I did not end up, as others have, in the Goddess-centered neo-pagan traditions, although contemplating the Goddess - God as the feminine divine - was very refreshing, healing, and liberating.  But eventually, I found myself drawn to all the gods, to the very belief system that accepted practically infinite aspects of divinity.  In a nutshell, what I have discovered as I encountered different deities, was that I was simultaneously discovering parts of myself.

I like to present this from a purely psychological perspective to people for whom theism doesn’t have any meaning because while I enjoy being a theist, the psychological explanation is both truthful and good enough for me.  First, I was drawn to a goddess that reflected that part of myself I did not see anywhere positively reflected in the world. This was a warrior goddess. Embracing the warrior goddess helped heal the negative messages I had received about being a “strong” woman as somehow unnatural or an undesirable thing to be.  I was affirmed in the core of my being, by seeing and exploring an aspect of myself that was deified.

That was an easy one, being drawn to deities naturally.  But there are also deities I have found myself encountering that I did not set out to, and was not even drawn to at all.  I had had my fill of patriarchal, all-father types - and my clashing relationship with my own father was a big part of that - so the last thing I expected was to one day find a soft spot of understanding for Ra, the father of my favorite warrior goddess.  I loved Sekhmet because her story was that of the daughter who grows up stronger than her father, and when expressing her strength, is completely unable to be controlled. Ra was a weak character in that story, in the beginning. But one day, and I could not say why...maybe it was just time and I was ready to move on...I found myself praising and appreciating Ra, the delicate sun god, who learned the painful lesson of his own mortality over and over again, as he disappeared in the sunset and rose again in the dawn each day.

Then I encountered Jupiter, even though I never expected to have any interest in Roman gods whatsoever, let alone one with such a terrible reputation with women!  I grudgingly entertained the idea of working with him because of the advice of a favorite author, and to do that, I had to find some way to relate to him. By then, I realized that to embrace a deity was to embrace a part of my own humanity, whether it was a part I liked or not.  I found a way to do that eventually by imagining him as the benevolent, kingly father, who saw me as a “prince,” an heir, reflecting divinity myself. He was the father figure that I didn’t really believe in growing up, and that I used to scorn because I didn’t need him: a generous, powerful, rich father who simply wanted to give me everything because I was a part of him.  He wanted for me the sovereignty and freedom he enjoyed for himself. Surprisingly, that has worked...I still work with Jupiter now and then, even though I had no initial interest in him.

There must be something healing about that.  I don’t dwell on it often; I simply like to enjoy my relationships with the god, as if I were an extroverted social butterfly who wants to meet everyone, try every flavor of divinity out there.  But I am aware that there is profound spiritual alchemy in practicing polytheism, the practice of finding the divine in each aspect of life. There is also the useful reckoning with the stories we have told about such deities, which I have come to realize, say much more about us than about them; they are our ways of explaining forces and aspects of ourselves that have both good and bad extremes, and encountering them throughout human history gives us plenty to work within spiritual growth.

Erica 


Adult Religious Education
Doing the Work – Workshops on Understanding Racism and White Privilege
Temporarily Suspended Until Further Notice


 

UUA 2019-20 Common Read:  An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States

Interested in joining a book discussion group for the UUA common read this year? 
Contact Erica at dre.shadowsong@gmail.com

 
FORUM
Temporarily Suspended Until Further Notice

Young Adults Religious Education 

Young Adults Small Group   Temporarily Suspended Until Further Notice
 The goal of the circle is to aid us in integrating care and inspiration of the spirit in regular, individual practice.  Each "session" is independent and not sequential, so you can attend whenever you like.  We explore things like building your own theology, creating a credo statement, books of interest, and other topics. 

Children and Youth Religious Education 

Parent Support Small Groups 
Are you interested in being in a small group with other parents who meet on a regular basis, similar to a covenant group?  If so, 
Sign up here:  https://forms.gle/sD9KhWabdxHs4KsY7



 
Reminder:  OWL Upcoming *Saturday* Class
Temporarily Suspended Until Further Notice


Family Choir   Temporarily Suspended Until Further Notice
Family Choir meets for dinner, fellowship, music, movement & fun every Tuesday, Sept-May, 5:30 – 6:30.
CONNECT
Transitions gather-in
Temporarily Suspended Until Further Notice
Please contact M.R. Kelsey for more information. 412-362-1514

 

Helping Each Other
Throughout the year, members of the church occasionally need a helping hand. The Pastoral Care Team asks you to identify ways you may be able to assist. We expect you would be called only a few times during the year. Please stop by the Caring Connections table on Sunday morning to fill out a Practical Assistance Volunteer form.

You’ll be asked to indicate which of these you may be able to help with from time to time:

□ Transportation

□ Providing a meal for an individual or family

□ Shopping

□ Memorial service food item

□ Memorial service kitchen assistance, set-up, or clean-up

□ Memorial service greeting/ushering

In the event of a need in the congregation, you may be contacted to see whether you are available to help at that time. Your help will be appreciated!
 

 Covenant group Opportunities  
If you are interested in joining a new covenant group, you can complete an interest form from the church website, complete a paper form found in the rack at the Ellsworth entrance or contact:
ab03@andrew.cmu.edu  

 
SERVE

Church Sponsored Activities and Community Events

Sharing the Plate!

Is there an organization you’d like to nominate to be the recipient of our third-Sunday Share the Plate offering? Please send your nomination to Tony Rutigliano (arutigl@comcast.net) on behalf of the Serve Council. Please include the following information:

Name of organization

Website address or other sources of information

Is this a 501 (c) (3) organization (required)?

What is your involvement with this organization?

Why do you consider this an appropriate recipient for our Share the Plate offering?

Preferred month (if any)

 


Racial Equity Task Force Forming

Do you want to be part of an ongoing conversation, study, and action on the topic of race?

If you’d like to be part of our newly-forming Racial Equity Task Force, please contact Gail Pesyna (gpesyna@gmail.com) or Kirsti Adkins (kladkins1@verizon.net). As Rev. Connie noted in her sermon at the beginning of February,

Race is a difficult topic, often avoided for fear of saying something wrong or of offending someone. Or maybe just avoided for fear. We’re afraid of getting it wrong; but how can we work on getting it right? In these times it’s increasingly important to face the reality of where we are as a society and to do something concrete about it. And maybe that starts with focused conversation that leads to action in our individual lives and in our larger community.

 

The annual Empty Bowls dinner at Rodef Shalom serves up a simple meal of soup and bread as a reminder that too many people throughout our region are facing hunger.  
This event has been canceled. 
       INSPIRE     
MUSIC 
Chamber Player  Concert Series, Elements. 
ELEMENTS II — Monday, March 16, 7:00 pm
(Temporarily Suspendened Until Further Noice) 
Works by Pablo Gómez-Estévez, Jonathan Pina, Hilario Gonzales, and Darwin Aquino.

 

SongSpace at First Unitarian | Pittsburgh, PA   Friday, April 3, 2020, 7:30 PM  9:00 PM

This event has been canceled. 
ART
“The Colors of My World”
By Phiris Kathy Sickels

Phiris is an experienced artist whose extravagantly colorful works in watercolor are often abstract but clearly fun. 

More information on the status of this show will be provided at a later date. 
 
OMBUDSMAN
 
Need an answer to a question and don’t know who to ask?  Want to pass along some feedback and not sure who to contact?  Reach out to your Board Ombudsman Ebe Emmons.  Ebe will coordinate with staff, committees, and the board to get an answer or pass along feedback.  Ebe can be reached at firstuupghombudsman@gmail.com
Copyright © 2020 First Unitarian Church, All rights reserved.


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First Unitarian Church · 605 Morewood Avenue · Pittsburgh, PA 15213 · USA

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