April 2021 Theme – “Becoming”
“Serving Your God Through Serving Others” – What do Muslims believe is our purpose on earth? What are the personal and denominational benefits of serving together? And why, how and who do we serve in doing so? Service to others is the common language of all major faiths. Please join us as we discuss ecumenicism and charity in a modern world filled with age-old suffering. Umbareen Jamil will be our guest speaker.
“Becoming” – Michelle Obama, in her book Becoming, asks, “Who are we and who do we want to become?” We will explore insights from her writings and consider how we might answer these questions. Led by the Rev. Eric Severson.
“Staying Relevant” – Religious affiliation has fallen sharply in the last 20 years, and the number of “Nones” has increased. How might Unitarian Universalism and our fellowship need to change to remain relevant in a changing world? Led by the Rev. Eric Severson.
“On Striving” – The pressure to be perfect seems to never end. What would it be like to, instead, acknowledge our human flaws and have reasonable expectations? We’ll receive wisdom on the subject from voices ancient and contemporary. Led by Rev. Eric Severson.
March 2021 Theme – “Commitment”
“Why I Come Here” – Many of us carry religious “baggage” from our upbringings. It is not always easy to understand, release, or transform such beliefs or practices. Join fellowship member Charlie Enright as he describes some of his journey and how he committed himself to Unitarian Universalism. Led by Fellowship member, Charlie Enright.
“Memory: A Commitment to the Past” – On the anniversary of our first pandemic adjustment, we will consider the role of memory in maintaining our commitment to the past. Attendees will be asked to answer two questions at https://www.menti.com/2qr91o7aj4:
“What have you LOST in the last year because of COVID-19?”
“What have you LEARNED or GAINED in the last year because of COVID-19?”
Led by the Rev. Eric Severson.
“Witness: A Commitment to the Present” – One of the most powerful and caring things we can do is to be present to other people’s struggles. Witnessing demonstrates our commitment, validates our experiences, and assures us that we are not alone. Led by the Rev. Eric Severson.
“Hope: A Commitment to the Future” – Alexander Pope wrote that hope springs eternal in the human breast. It also demonstrates a deep commitment to life, to the power of love, and to the promise of the future. Led by the Rev. Eric Severson.
February 2021 Theme – “Beloved Community”
“Each Day’s Incantation: The Power of Poetry” Teacher and poet Dr. Ray Lacina will help us to see how the daily practice of an art form can also be a deep and satisfying spiritual practice. He will share some of his poetry, and discuss how his personal journey has shaped his poetry and how his poetry has helped him deepen the understanding of his own religion. Presented by guest speaker Dr. Ray Lacina.
“We Are Community” – We come to Unitarian Universalism by many paths. Our faith community helps us find meaning, refreshes our spirits, and encourages us to live authentically. It is held together by shared values and covenant. Let’s explore what motivates us. Led by our minister, the Rev. Eric Severson.
“There’s Something In Your Teeth” – When did you last accept a difficult truth? In our efforts to bring about a beloved community, we will examine our resilience even in the face of hard or uncomfortable truths. Led by our minister, the Rev. Eric Severson.
“On Beloved Community” – Drawing on the writings of Dr. King, Toni Morrison, and others, we’ll explore the functions of racism, the need for accountability, and the goal of Beloved Community. Our virtual choir will sing “I Have a Dream.” Led by the Rev. Eric Severson.
January 2021 Theme – “Imagination”
“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.
“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
“Stumbling On Happiness” We human beings are not as successful at predicting our future happiness as we might think. We’ll consider how distorted perceptions and memories can lead us to inaccurate predictions and how we might find happiness better. Based on the book by Daniel Gilbert, this service will be led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.
TBA – Led by Rev. Eric Severson
TBA – Led by Fellowship member, Denise Reiling.
December 2020 Theme – “Stillness”
“Light in the Darkness” – The last nine months have been tough; tough on us as individuals, a nation and the world. How do we find light and hope in such a time as this? Led by guest speaker, Rev. Pamela Buchholz.
Rev. Pamela Buchholz is a United Methodist minister. After serving 20 years as a lay person in children’s ministry, she went to seminary, answering a call to extend the table to those who have been excluded because of who they are or what they believe. Now retired, Pam is part of the Midland United Church of Christ faith community.
“The Practice of Stillness” – When we take time to be still, to connect deeply with the present moment, we gain understanding, acceptance, love, and the will to relieve suffering and bring joy. Led by members of the Three Jewels Sangha: Beth Sperry, Marsha McDonald, Patricia Calahan, and Dani Fillmore.
“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.
“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.
November 2020 Theme – “Healing”
“You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup” – Especially during these times of crisis and division, self-care is an essential tool in serving others. We must combat our own exhaustion and compassion fatigue by refilling our cups from whatever healing sources we can find. Join us for a pre-election reminder about being available to others by being present to our own needs. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson
“Healing Indra’s Net” – According to Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, a jeweled web stretches infinitely in all directions, and in each jewel is reflected every other jewel. This metaphor for our interconnections is strong. But what if there is a tear in the net, in our social systems, for example? Join us for a post-election discussion exploring what it might take to rebuild relationships, repair our communities, and heal social ills. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson
“Healing the Planet” – Assuming a shift in United States politics and a return to the Paris Climate Accord, we just might have a chance to slow global warming. Join us as we explore some of the dynamics needed to stabilize systems and help the planet heal itself. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance” – We will honor the memory of transgender and nonbinary people who lost their lives to violence in the past year. Led by our minister, Rev. Eric Severson.
“Healing Hunger and Homelessness” – The past year has shown that anyone can experience homelessness and food insecurity. Research suggests that food and housing shortages have grown in the face of COVID-19, but many people struggled even before the pandemic. Using our intelligence and reason, how can we create a better life for ourselves and others? Scott McDonald from the LOVE Team will look into food and housing insecurity in the Tri-Cities area. Led by Fellowship member, Scott McDonald.
October 2020 Theme – “Deep Listening”
“Fighting for Our Democracy” Federal and state forces hinting at nullify the national election (“get rid of the ballots”) threatens our democratic republic. If ever there was a time to affirm the right of conscience and use of the democratic process — to commit ourselves to protecting that process — it is now. Led by our minister, Eric Severson.
“Deep Listening” Often it is difficult to hear more than what is at the surface. Wisdom from indigenous peoples can help us listen more deeply, ground ourselves, and lead from our hearts. Join us as we recognize Indigenous People’s Day. Led by our minister, Eric Severson.
TBA – Led by our guest speaker, Matthew Pargeter-Villarreal.
“Vote Love Defeat Hate: Organizing for the Long Haul” In the midst of global pandemic, rising authoritarianism, and uprising, lives hang in the balance and the future of democracy is on the line. In response, Unitarian Universalists are answering the call of our faith, building powerful partnerships to mobilize our communities to #VoteLove and #DefeatHate in the 2020 elections. Join UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray, the UU the Vote team, and a lineup of powerful, prophetic UU voices as we explore the intersections of faith, justice, and democracy in this collective virtual service.
September 2020 Theme – “Renewal”
”Not All Who Wander Are Lost” This Labor Day weekend we’ll reflect on the importance of rest and renewal. As poet May Sarton noted, we can “forget how important the empty days are.” We periodically need relief from the constant grind of responsibilities. Led by our minister, Eric Severson.
September 13 – Ingathering Sunday
“Remaking the World” Join us for our ingathering service. We’ll celebrate the renewal of community by bringing our whole selves. And we’ll hold a modified water communion ceremony. Led by our minister, Eric Severson.
“Eternity In Our Hands” Join us as we celebrate renewing relationships — even in these unusual times — and how we might view community as a source of renewal. Led by our minister, Eric Severson.
“Resilience and Renewal” Resilience is the ability to keep on keeping on in the face of all the changes, losses, and difficulties of our lives. It is a life skill with intellectual, emotional, and spiritual components. Led by our guest speaker, Rev. Christine Robinson, Minister Emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque.
“Breaking the Rules” – In these days of COVID and BLM and political unrest, the rules we live by are being revised. Which rules should we follow? When is it OK to break the rules? Can we write our own rules? Led by UUFoM member, Judith Hill.
“Themes of Harvest” – For Pagans, the first harvest sabbat is on August 1st. Members of the UUFoM CUUPs group reflect on this time of year and themes of harvest. Led by UUFoM member, Christina Van Poucker.
“What is Your Garden?” – To most people, a garden is a part of their yard or landscape that has been planted and tended. But a garden can exist in our minds and hearts, a place where our memories and recollections of locations we have visited have made a sanctuary that connects us to Nature. Led by UUFoM member, Mary Johnson.
“Emmaus House” – Donna Clarke, Executive Director of Emmaus House, talks about the ministry of the Emmaus House in Saginaw and how it helps women transition from jail, prison, or rehab back to independent living.Donna Clarke, Executive Director of Emmaus House, guest speaking.
July Theme – “The Earth/The Environment”
“Best Fiction Ever!” – Reading fiction is fun, but is it also useful? UUFoM member Sarah Nuss-Warren talks about how fiction and science fiction have influenced her spirituality. Led by Sarah Nuss-Warren
MI UU Churches – What have we discovered about remaining hopeful in the midst of the unknown that we can sustain in the future? Our beloved community of UU Michiganders and their friends and family will come together in worship on Sunday, July 12th at 10:30am. Up to 1000 people may participate via Zoom. The service will also be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Following the service, there will be a state-wide coffee hour gathering. Please join us in this precious opportunity like no other to explore hope as we share sacred space across the “Internet of Spirit.”
“Blessing of the Animals” – Led by Linda Rector.
“To Grow a Seed – The Soil and Water Come First” – In a crisis it is natural to yearn for better times, and, although we may feel least prepared for careful reflection at that time, a crisis may in fact be the perfect time to reflect on what we need to survive and to thrive. We have wants, we have needs and we sometimes confuse them. Perhaps rather, the social framework of values in which we live fosters confusion. In this service we will explore some aspects of identifying how we can invest our time and resources both as individuals and collectives to pay dividends of meaningful personal and societal growth. Led by Chris Nakamura, Board Member-At-Large.
June Theme – “Play”
“Strength in Diversity” – Join us for an unusual Flower Communion service. We will celebrate the earth’s natural beauty, our own great diversity, and the courage it takes to live and fight for sacred ideals. Led by Eric Severson, Minister, and Heather Cleland-Host, Director of Lifespan Religious Education.
“Our Incredible Journey” – The Incredible Journey tells the story of a cross-country journey of two dogs and a cat that actually happened, but for the most part was unwitnessed. It was an unintentional journey, much as the one we find ourselves on right now. Come join us in celebrating our incredible yearlong journey across our interfaith community, within our community, and ultimately across the internet. Come sing a song with our UUFoM community! Led by Heather Cleland-Host, Director of Lifespan Religious Education.
“The Stories We Tell” – We can be stronger and more effective together than as individuals. Each person’s narrative, combined, makes our shared stories even richer. Join us as we acknowledge in story the many and collective ways we have served one another and our community.
“Poetry: A Little Bit of Heaven in a Disaster” – Poetry can express all sorts of emotions, from anger to love, despair to humor. We have a poetry Sunday every year, but this year, finding meaningful insight into our shared and particular situations with the Covid-19 lockdown, the flood, and now widespread civil unrest due to institutional racism and divisive leadership makes the challenge of finding the right words without becoming pedantic daunting. Poetry cannot change the world, but it can reflect it. We’ll give our best shot.
May Theme – “Vocation”
“The Calling of Our Hearts” – Do you love what you do? Whether you work in or outside the home, what does your heart call you to do? What are the barriers? Come explore how vocation matters, and how it might change through a lifetime. Led by Eric Severson.
Order of Service
Service Recording – Coming Soon
“The Economics of Poverty” – Put yourself in another person’s shoes: no work, no car, no insurance, food stamps, mouths to feed. It can be hard to make ends meet and escape the cycles of poverty when the cards seem stacked against you. Just what might it take to turn the corner? Led by Eric Severson.
Order of Service – Coming Soon
“Coming Together” – Due to the flooding disaster that has hit our area, we will gather for a very simple service, an opportunity to check in with one another, process this trauma together, and reunite around our mission and vision.
“Mending the Brokenness” – One mask, sock, mitten, or hat at a time, people’s avocations can help heal the world. Join Ellen Dodge Severson and other UUFoM crafty folks in discussing how and why they use their gifts to provide for others.
April Theme – “Liberation”
“Hitting the Reset Button” Big changes in our lives (like the current crisis) can help us see life differently, even liberate us from our routines. We have a chance to rethink our priorities. Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
“Our Prophetic Potential” How best can we serve one another and others? Unitarian Universalist minister the Rev. Meg Riley identifies three aspects of a “prophetic congregation.” Come reflect on the liberating potential of our faith tradition and imagine what that could look like in our little corner of the world. Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
Order of Service.
“The Great Escape” Liberation requires hope, determination, and a plan. Though we can’t predict the future, we can spend some time plotting our eventual release from self-isolation. What’s the first thing you will do? Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
Order of Service
“All In — Pulling Together” In order to be just, liberation must be collective. So, come rain or shine, we’re all in this together. How do we make the grass seem greener on both sides of the fence? Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
Order of Service
March Theme – “Freedom & Responsibility”
“Personal Rights and Responsibilities” Many of us take for granted our ability to speak out when we feel the need. But what happens when one’s safety, or even life, is threatened? What is the responsible thing to do? What is the right thing to do? Fellowship friend Sohail Qamar, who has traveled with his family to over 33 countries, will share powerful anecdotes about personal rights worldwide and the role of responsibility. Sohail Qamar speaking.
“What Is Freedom For?” Millions fought and died so that we might be free. But free from what? For what? How do we balance freedom and responsibility? Let’s move beyond the esoteric to some practical solutions. Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
“Unless” The beauty and bounty of summer begins with a tiny bud on a branch, or with a tiny plant emerging from a seed and thrusting through the soil to the sun. We will explore the power and responsibility we have as individuals to change the world, for better or worse. Unless we take those first steps, a journey never begins. Join us to find the promise in the word “unless.” This is a multigenerational service. Led by Eric Severson, Minister, and Heather Cleland-Host, Director of Lifespan Religious Education.
“The Credibility Gap” Public figures often make promises they can’t keep. But, too often, there also is a gap between our own intentions and actions. Let’s consider ways in which we might hold elected officials accountable and improve our own credibility. Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
“Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands” How do we respond to circumstances we’ve never experienced before — especially when they call us to new responsibilities and curtail our freedoms? What do our consciences and values suggest? Please join us for an online service to examine our human nature and ways of coping.
February Theme – “Resilience”
“Is There Life After Death?” When a loved one dies, the life we have built can be shaken to its foundation, and sometimes, even the foundation crumbles. How, then, do we keep living when our loved one dies? Come explore strategies for rebuilding a life after death, and ways foundations can be reinforced even before the great quake comes. Led by Denise Reiling.
“Back From Despair” Finding a spiritual home that gives us hope by affirming our personal identities can be life changing, indeed, life saving. So it is with Unitarian Universalism; perhaps it was true for you. Come celebrate stories of resilience from within and beyond our fellowship. Led by Eric Severson, minister.
“On Hope and Courage” The long, dark days of winter can be challenging for many of us, and the seemingly endless and urgent needs of the world cry out for courageous, loving action. The values and sources of Unitarian Universalism can help us through these times and respond to this call. Led by Eric Severson, minister.
“Committing Our Hearts” Love and compassion sometimes are difficult to give. No one wants a broken heart, and yet vulnerability is essential to building or deepening relationships. How might we draw on our Judeo-Christian heritage in loving our neighbors as ourselves?
January Theme – “Thresholds”
“Life Transitions” Sometimes making a life transition is like walking through a door into a new and different world. Join us as fellowship members reflect on important life transitions they have experienced. Eddie Mulford and Amy Rogers, guest speakers.
“Going Out or Coming In?” It matters, when crossing thresholds, whether we are entering or exiting — or does it? Come explore some of the ways we approach what may be mundane or numinous experiences. Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
“Thresholds We Dare Not Cross” We human beings developed a fear response for good reason. We learned good and evil and where to draw the line (sometimes). What are some of the thresholds we dare not cross today and why? How might we harness our fear and act with courage? Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
“The Final Threshold?” To the best of our knowledge, physical death is the final threshold of life. But many world religions suggest otherwise, that some form of spirit remains or continues on. Let’s explore some eschatology together. Led by Eric Severson, Minister.
December Theme – “The Unexpected/Awe”
“The Unexpected Journey Into Paganism” Members of our Ancient Shores CUUPS chapter will share stories on how they became pagans. Afterward, congregants will be able to ask questions about the panel’s paths and beliefs. Led by Scott and Monica Hughes and members of the Ancient Shores CUUPS.
“Annual Choir Service” Our fabulous choir members will present our annual music-filled service where songs of the season will be sung sweetly in celebration of the onset of winter and the holidays. If you miss the service, or just love hearing the choir sing, come and see the UUFoM Choir at the Dow Gardens Christmas Walk on Friday, December 13 at 5:30pm, near the birches, only a short walk from the main building.
“Turn the World Around” Pageant Sunday This year’s Winter Pageant will be held on December 15 during the service. It will include a modern adaptation of O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” A young couple moves into their new home just before Christmas. They have very little money, and each sells something precious to themselves in order to give something to a person who is more precious to them (their spouse). Our story is full of surprises as we find out what happens when they exchange gifts (and what happens to their ex-belongings). Come celebrate the holidays with song, story and tales from the children of our congregation. See how a new perspective can turn your world around.
“What Is To Come” Whether it is in a hospital room, at home by the phone, or during the long months of winter or of a pregnancy, waiting can be the hardest part of any period in one’s life. That is especially true when the stakes are high and the future is unknown. The Christian season of Advent has much to teach about waiting for that which is to come and finding the unexpected.
“And So the Children Come” In this Christmas Eve service we will celebrate through story and song the hope and awe inherent in the nativity story, reverence for every human life, and the promise of generations.
“Beneath the Snow” In the cold and dark of winter in the Upper Midwest, it is easy to succumb to depression and “cabin fever.” It is a good time to tend one’s body, mind, and spirit and to look beyond the surface of things. What might we find beneath the snow? The sacred dark, perhaps, and surely more.
November Theme – “Thanks and Praise
“Sharing Our Gratitude” Gratitude Journals have become a well-known technique for improving one’s happiness and stress level. The worship team has asked UUFoM members to keep a gratitude journal leading up to our November theme of “Thanks and Praise.” UUFoM members will volunteer to share entries from their gratitude journals during this service. By sharing our gratitude, we hope to be drawn together as we support and affirm the goodness in the world together. Susan Mayer speaking.
“On the Shoulders of Giants” We discover truths by building on previous discoveries all the time, often without realizing it. We’ll reflect on the giants in our lives, the truths they helped us to see, how we might serve as giants to others. Eric Severson speaking.
“Transgender Courage” In thanks and praise of living with integrity and courage, we will center the stories of transgender and nonbinary folks and will honor the memory of those who lost their lives to violence in the past year. Eric Severson speaking.
“Thanks for Simple Gifts” As we approach the Thanksgiving Day holiday, let’s prepare ourselves for gatherings of people, overconsumption, and the winter holiday countdown by focusing on small, more immediate sources of joy. Eric Severson speaking.