Newsletter 2020-12-18 COVID19 Friday – 45

Newsletter 2020-12-18 COVID19 Friday – 45
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     The FINAL 2020
         Weekly Candle Flame 

December 18, 2020 

Sunday Morning Online Service at 10:30am

December 20
"A Blue Holiday" -
While there can be much joy in this season, the winter holidays aren’t always “cheery and bright,” especially with the challenges of a pandemic. This gentle service will offer a space of holding, with music, spoken word, and ritual, to provide support for all those who are unsettled or have experienced loss. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.


Meeting ID: 943 984 845
NEW Password: 62201162
Dial In Phone Number:  (312) 626-6799 (*6 to mute and unmute)

December 24 at 4:30pm Christmas Eve Service
"Treasuring the Radiance"
- Join us for a service of word and music celebrating the hope and promise marked by the stars and the sparks within us. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.


UUFoM YouTube Channel

Did you miss our previous services? You can see a replay (minus Joys and Sorrows) below and on our YouTube Channel. We invite you to subscribe to our channel to stay up-to-date with all videos.  

2020-12-13 - The Practice of Stillness

Upcoming Weeks at the Fellowship

All teams and groups have decided to meet via Zoom instead of face to face during this time.  Please contact your team/group leader if you need further guidance.  If you have any questions about upcoming events, please email the office or call 989-631-1162. 

All meetings listed below are via Zoom unless noted otherwise.

Week of 12/20/2020


Week of 12/27/2020


Week of 01/03/2021


NEW:  Zoom Links

Sunday Virtual Service
Sundays at 10:30am
Meeting ID: 943 984 845
Passcode: 62201162
Dial In Phone Number:  (312) 626-6799


Three Jewels Sangha
Whether you have been practicing with us often, are curious about meditation or Buddhism, or find yourself in need of connection, all are welcome to join the Three Jewels Sangha weekly Wednesday meeting.  We will be gathering at our usual time, 5:00-6:30 for conversation and meditation via Zoom.  We will have some time to share how we are doing, some silent restorative meditation, and a reading from our current book.  
Wednesdays at 5:00pm
Meeting ID: 200 926 356
Password: uufom


Saturday Rehearsal
Saturdays at 10:00am

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NEW:  UUFoM Board Announcement
Regarding Building Access

For everyone's continued safety through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Directors has determined that the building will remain closed and in-person activities will remain suspended through June 1, 2021 at the earliest. The Board of Directors will continue to reassess based on all available information, and continue to regularly communicate updates as conditions evolve. 

NEW:  COVID-19 Task Force Volunteers Wanted

Calling all science lovers!!  When COVID-19 hit, Rev. Eric, Shannon Sonoras and Beth Sperry (as Board President and President-Elect) formed a COVID-19 task force.  Recently Becky Carlson agreed to join the task force as its head.  Shannon and Beth will be stepping down, so we need people to join Rev. Eric and Becky. 

The purpose of the task force will be to stay up-to-date on the situation, including the vaccine rollout, and keep the congregation informed as appropriate.  They will also advise the Board as decisions on opening are made.  We know that most of you are stretched to the max, but this is an opportunity to really be of service to our community. 

If you’re interested, please contact Rev. Eric, Shannon or Beth by email, phone or on the Facebook Friends page.  Thank you for all you do to keep our Fellowship family and the wider community safe. 

NEW:  Board Meeting Summaries 
October and November 

  • Our finances continue to be good. Pledges continue to come inland expenses are somewhat less than they would be.
  • We discussed a new arrangement of the duties of the Treasurer which we hope will make the job less burdensome and thus easier to find volunteers.
  • Patricia Calahan has volunteered to be the new Building Grounds Chair in 2021.
  • Eric reported that the new Committee on Ministry has formed. All the evaluations that are needed for his Preliminary Fellowship Renewal are done.
  • We continued our discussion of the roles of Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer (past Treasurer). A necessary review of our financial records will be done by Tim Wagner before he begins as Treasurer in January.
  • Patricia Calahan was voted in unanimously as the new Building and Grounds chair. She has some great ideas for beautifying the grounds.
  • Becky Carlson has agreed to head our COVID-19 Task Force, and we hope to recruit a few more knowledgeable members to the task force.
  • We’ll continue online services for as long as there’s a need for them.

NEW:  A Final Message from the Board President 

This week was my 18th and final Board meeting as President this time around. Just like in 2015, I am not the same person I was when I started on the Board. Neither tenures were smooth sailing. This time around, I found myself stepping into the President’s role six months early. Two months later, we were happy and energized by the arrival of the delightful Rev. Eric and then Ellen arrived.

Almost immediately I realized I’d underestimated the gem we’d found in Eric. Collaborative, kind and humanly-accessible, he included me in email conversations about a plethora of subjects, giving me a new perspective on our community. Eric is definitely a team player at UUFoM and I am a better leader and person from the experience.

In January, 2020, Beth joined the Board as President-Elect. What a joy! I’m so grateful to have worked with her and to have her at the helm for the next year. Whether implicit or explicit, Beth held a space of love and peace for me during this year’s roller coaster ride.

And let’s talk about that roller coaster. The first time the Board asked, “Are we all safe?” was when we deliberated on whether we should continue meeting in person due to the pandemic. It came down to this: “Who are we willing to put at risk of death?” This was a hard question to ask and an easy question to answer. “No one.” I saw the Worship Team scramble to put something together for Sunday services and on a wing and a prayer and, voila! UUFoM jumped into online services. We helped one another get connected to Zoom, find the participant button and figure out how to share videos with sound. Watching us come together to make sure we could continue to keep our community connected warmed my heart.

The next time we asked, “Are we all safe?” was a month or so later when every Board members’ phone alarmed with an imminent dam break and flood warning. This time the Board, and leadership in general, jumped into action with the speed and composure of EMS workers and the fierce concern and love of mama bears. We called, we cleaned, we cooked. We became each other’s superheroes. In the devastation, we showed up. And if you were one who drove through the neighborhoods flood victims with mountains of soggy, ruined belongings by the curbs of the car-lined streets, like me, you may have felt both incredible sadness for their loss and huge gratitude for masses that just came out to help trudge through remains and start the long process of recovery. I am inspired by the heart of our community, our family, our network.

Rev. Eric’s Ordination and Installation was another before and after line in the sand for me. My eyes tear up thinking about the beautiful ceremony, the words, the intentions and the love expressed at that service. I don’t feel like there’s any way to express how profoundly grateful I am for being part of that momentous occasion. I offer no apology for my gooey sentimentality. I am a UU geek: I believe in Unitarian Universalism, in both UUFoM and its community, and in Eric. I am changed by the love and hope I felt shared across the miles on that day.

And as I reflect on the challenges of this year, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the stress of our political leaders continuing to deny and discredit scientific proof of the pandemic while we watch the infected and death numbers rise. We saw an ugly local campaign that was difficult not to take personally and my personal values continue to be challenged as I wonder how I can build a bridge toward someone who’s holding a gun to my face.

But do you know what? We are still together! More so, we are doing well. In addition to making the proposed budget for 2021, we have made it a point to continue to take care of one another by cooking, driving, calling and connecting with each other and by financially supporting the Minister’s Discretionary Fund which is helping many of us burdened by the current economic situation. I am inspired by our fortitude.

No, I’m not the same person I was when I started this term on the Board in 2019. I wish I could close my eyes and envelop all that is UUFoM - the people, building, rites of passage, ALL of it, in great big hug of love and gratitude for the experiences that have brought me to this changed person I am right now. Wait a second…I can!

May it be so.

Namaste, my people.


Minister's Discretionary Fund Thank You

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Minister's Discretionary Fund in 2020! In this extraordinary year, you have helped provide more than $10,000 in relief to people in need in our fellowship and in the Tri-Cities region. This includes flood recovery efforts, families in crisis, individuals trying to make ends meet (during a pandemic-fueled economic downturn), folks providing food or transportation for others, grieving families with final expenses, as well as legal fees, car repairs, and electricity bills.
Traditionally, the Christmas Eve worship collection is designated for the Minister's Discretionary Fund. If you are in a position to contribute, please send a check made out to "UU Fellowship of Midland" with "Minister's Discretionary Fund" on the memo line, to 6220 Jefferson Ave., Midland, MI 48640. Another option is to click here to pay via Paypal.  Please select Minister's Fund.  If you have any issues with the payment, please contact Wendy.
Please note that these donations are NOT tax-deductible because they do not go into the fellowship's general fund, but in a separate fund managed entirely by your minister. Your contributions are sometimes desperately needed and are always gratefully received. Thank you again for your generosity!

Blessings, Rev. Eric Severson

UPDATED:  The FINAL 2020 Candle Flame Editions

Today is the FINAL distribution of the 2020 Weekly Candle Flame.  You will receive the next edition of The Weekly Candle Flame on Friday, January 8, 2021.  If you wish to submit an article for the next issue, please email it to Wendy Altmeier by Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 5:00pm.  Have a safe and happy New Year!

UPDATED:  Fellowship Virtual Office Holiday Hours

The Fellowship Virtual Office will be closed Monday, December 21 through January 2, 2021.  There will be no newsletters sent during that time.  

Please contact our minister, Rev. Eric Severson, if you have any questions during this time.  Thank you! 

Website Team

The Fellowship Office is creating a website team to start meeting in January 2021.  We are looking for people with many different talents.  We would love people who have technical, creative, media, communications and/or any type of life experience.  We are very interested in people who have been members for a long time, newer UUs and anyone in between! Please click here if you are interested in joining the team.  

If you are not able to join the website team, we have created a form for suggestions and recommendations.  While we may not be able to implement all of them, we are grateful for all of your responses.  Please click here to offer a suggestion or recommendation! 

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Upcoming Services
December 2020 Theme - "Stillness"

December 20
"A Blue Holiday" -
While there can be much joy in this season, the winter holidays aren’t always “cheery and bright,” especially with the challenges of a pandemic. This gentle service will offer a space of holding, with music, spoken word, and ritual, to provide support for all those who are unsettled or have experienced loss. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.

December 24 at 4:30pm Christmas Eve Service
"Treasuring the Radiance"
- Join us for a service of word and music celebrating the hope and promise marked by the stars and the sparks within us. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.

December 27
"Treasuring the Dark"
- Join us for a simple service honoring the quiet dark inherent in hibernation and the fallow season, offering us nurturing rest and regeneration. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.

January 2021 Theme - "Imagination"

January 3
"Distancing + Zoom + Netflix = Spiritual Growth"
- “There’s absolutely a service in this!” That’s what Cathy and Shannon said while watching a series on Netflix. Join them as they explore a few of the concepts and questions inspired by their surprising muse. Presented by Fellowship members, Cathy French and Shannon Sonoras.

January 10
"Reason, Faith, Cults, and Conspiracy Theories" - The mindset that makes one susceptible to conspiracy theories and cults. Do non-rational items of faith that so many of us hold dear prime our minds to accept non-sensical ideas outside the sanctioned bounds of religion? Is the desperate search for meaning, any meaning, just the nature of our brains? Led by Rev. Eric Severson

January 17
- Led by Rev. Eric Severson

January 27 
TBA - Led by Rev. Eric Severson

January 31
TBA - Led by Fellowship member, Denise Reiling.

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Donations for Food Pantry Network

Monetary donations for the Thanksgiving Baskets may be made directly with checks payable to Midland County EFPN and mailed to: Midland County EFPN, PO Box 2521, Midland, MI 48641-2521 or online by credit card to . Please note on the check or online that you are giving on behalf of UUFoM. The Food Pantry is a non-profit 501c(3) organization with all monetary gifts being tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

There are a couple of options for making food item donations to the normal operations of the Food Pantry.

•  Drop off donations in the box outside of EFPN SAMS Pantry, 503 S Saginaw Rd (enter off Cambridge). The box is on the side of the building facing Cambridge.

• We can pick up food donations from your house. Email your pickup address and date of pick up to Scott McDonald.

Thank you for helping those in need in Midland County (including Midland, Bullock Creek, North Midland County, West Midland County, Sanford, Coleman food pantry locations). 

The Fellowship LOVE Team.

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Our Mission

We are a multigenerational, liberal religious community in the Tri-City region. We offer a beacon to the religious seeker, supporting and nurturing the individual and collective pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.To achieve this mission, we:

  • Empower members, friends, and the surrounding community to think freely, live ethically, and grow spiritually through lifelong learning, as we explore our values, live the principles of Unitarian Universalism, and search for truth and meaning.
  • Assemble in supportive and beloved community, sharing life’s joys and sorrows, and embracing all of our wondrous diversity.
  • Gather for stimulating worship experiences and rites of passage that inspire and provide opportunities to examine, clarify, and strengthen our personal value systems.
  • Create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world through our words of influence, constructive deeds, and engaging love.

We focus on these four social issues in order to improve the community and demonstrate our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of all people.

  • Global Climate Change
  • Racial Justice
  • Homelessness
  • LGBT Rights
copyright Unitarian Universalist Association

Previous Newsletter Articles

Fellowship Building

For everyone's safety, the Fellowship Building is closed to everyone except: staff, Sunday musicians, Vicki Rothhaar, and Pete Carlson.

To ensure that the most vulnerable are not put at risk, new locks were placed on the entrance door. Please contact Sandy Hay if you have any questions. 

Thank you!

Board of Directors

Shannon Sonoras, President
Beth Sperry, President-Elect
Marsha McDonald, Secretary
Vicki Rothhaar, Treasurer
Chris Nakamura, Member-At-Large

Pastoral Care Ministry Team

December Contact
Beth Sperry 415-419-1747

January Contact: 
Gisela Bailey 989-708-1344

Our Pastoral Care Ministry Team is here for you.  We can provide a meal, a ride, some respite or a supportive ear and a cup of coffee.

Fellowship Staff

Fellowship Office Hours
Fellowship Office is currently closed due to Governor's Whitmer executive order. 

Rev. Eric Severson - Minister
(608) 738-2694
Unavailable Mondays, except in emergencies.

Heather Cleland-Host - Acting Director of Lifespan Religious Education

Wendy Altmeier - Office Assistant
(989) 631-1162

Vacation: December 21-January 2

Sandy Hay - Sexton
(918) 698-0311
In case of building emergency, call anytime

Melanie Willison - Accompanist
Copyright ©2017 UUFoM, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland
6220 Jefferson Avenue
Midland, MI 48640

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