Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Church that Celebrates LGBTQ "Coming Out"!

At the UUCiA...
I'm so happy to be part of a congregation that celebrates LGBTQ "coming out"!

Please join us  at the UU Congregation in Andover on Sunday, October 12 at 10:30 a.m. for "A Shout Out for Coming Out!" with guest Debra Fowler. Saturday, October 11, is National LGBTQ Coming Out Day, and this year we celebrate the 26th anniversary of this event. As summarized by The Human Rights Campaign, "Coming out STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality."

Come celebrate with readings, stories and songs and remember how far we’ve come and be reminded of how much remains to be done. Deb Fowler is a filmmaker and co-creator of “Through Gay Eyes”. She has been teaching English Language Learners at Lowell High School since 2005. Please join us!  Directions here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The People's Climate March... amazing day.

My view of the interfaith group, People's Climate March.
On Sunday, September 21, I had the amazing experience of participating in the People's Climate March in New York City. What a huge crowd! What an incredible day!

I marched with the faith-based contingent, which was huge in and of itself. It was amazingly diverse. Unitarian Universalists were well represented (I went on the UU Mass Action bus to and from), but all traditions were represented. There were Protestant Christians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans... on and on. It was beautiful to behold. UU lay leader Peter Bowden made a great video of the faith-based contingent, which you can see at this link.

There were different counts of the number of marchers, as always. On the day, the number 310,000 was thrown around, but after the fact the estimate seems to be something like 400,000. Incredible.

Revs. Lara Hoke & Wendy Bell, ready to make noise.
Before the march, the organizers made the request for us to "make some noise". I hadn't played my trumpet in quite a while, but I dusted it off just for the day. My friend (Rev.) Wendy Bell of the Harvard UU Church brought her bagpipes, which she just recently started to learn (she sounded great!). So the 400,000 of us made sure that we were heard, as well as seen. (And now I can attest that, while trumpets are loud, bagpipes are much louder!)

It was heartening for so many people, from so many different backgrounds and perspectives, to come together to let the world leaders know that it is time -- past time -- to take real actions to alleviate global climate change. It was an honor to be a (small) part of that.

For a very quick video summary of the event, click here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Year starts off with Bread & Roses Festival in Lawrence

UUCiA table at the 2014 Bread & Roses Festival
The 2014-2015 "congregational year" for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover (UUCiA) started off with us having a table at the 30th Annual Bread and Roses Festival in Lawrence yesterday.

We had a wonderful time meeting lots of great folks.

In addition to offering info about the UUCiA and Unitarian Universalism, we created a wish tree. We folded origami versions of

Friday, August 15, 2014

Racism, Militarization of Police, Solidarity with Ferguson

From http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-14/ferguson-erupts-after-michael-brown-shooting/5670532 (more photos there)
It's hard to know where to begin when attempting to respond to the tragic shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, by police in Ferguson, MO. So many others have already written thoughtful pieces that I would like to link to a sampling of them:

From the New York Times: "In Wake of Clashes, Calls to Demilitarize Police"

From an op-ed in the NYT, written by folks from the Friends Committee on National Legislation: "Get the Military off of Main Street: Ferguson Shows the Risks of Militarized Policing"

From an op-ed in the Huffington Post religion section: "What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America"

From Bill Moyers/Tom Dispatch: "The Criminalization of Everyday Life"

From Mother Jones: "How Did America's Police Get to Militarized?"

From Bill Moyers/AlterNet: "Not Just Ferguson: 11 Eye-opening Facts about America's Militarized Police Forces"

From The Daily Banter: "Two Americas: Ferguson, Missouri Versus the Bundy Ranch, Nevada"

From The Concourse: "America Is Not for Black People"

From Think Progress: "The Racist Housing Policies that Helped to Fuel Anger in Ferguson"

Really, I could go on and on. Racism -- institutionalized racism -- is nothing new in America. It has been called the "original sin" of the USA. The militarization of police, however, is a relatively new phenomenon. It is alarming. Put institutionalized racism and militarized police together, and it is a formula for tragedy and injustice.

I'll close by sharing a piece in the Huffington Post by (UU minister) Rev. Meg Riley, called "Up to Our Necks"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A "Just and Lasting Peace"

Quakers at the 2014 St. Pat's Peace Parade in South Boston.
My heart breaks, along with so many others, at the war in Gaza. My heart breaks, and I feel helpless. What can we do? What should we do? There are no easy answers. This is not a new problem.

This past Sunday, I worshipped with the local Quakers, as I sometimes do when I have a Sunday "off". I love the Religious Society of Friends, and feel a strong affinity with them. I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, because when my father was deciding which religion was for him back in the 50s, he was drawn to both the Unitarians and the Quakers. Ultimately, he became a Unitarian Universalist (after the 1961 merger of the Unitarians and Universalists). But it was a close call! And I totally understand.

There are a few things about the Quakers that I really love. I love that they are a "peace church" with a strong stand against war. I did not always feel this way; I am a Navy veteran, after all. But nowadays, I sometimes find myself wishing that the UUA were a "peace church".

In any case, the Quakers -- and specifically the American Friends Service Committee -- have put an enormous amount of energy into thinking about the issues of war and peace.  I appreciate both the commitment to peace and the thoughtfulness.  At this time, I find it helpful to read the AFSC piece on "Principles for a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis" (linked here). Perhaps you will find it helpful, too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stop the Pipeline!

Photo I took at the Dracut rally/march today.
Today I went to a "Stop the Pipeline" rally and march in Dracut. Concerned citizens got together to rally against the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline that would run through several towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  This was all part of a "rolling march" that has been going across the state.

If you want to learn more about the proposed pipeline, here are some relevant links:

No Fracked Gas in Massachusetts
Mass Plan (PipelineAwarenessNetwork)

Those Blasted Towns 

There will be a "Stop the Pipeline Action Day" in Boston this Wednesday, July 30. Learn more at the event Facebook page.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Friends New Underground Railroad

Picture found here.
There has been so much tragic news lately, with wars and planes crashing or being shot down, and so much more. It is easy to let the news get you down, but it's important to "remember the helpers", as Mr. Rogers would say.

One shining light that I learned about recently are the American Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) and the "Friends New Underground Railroad", which is helping LGBT Ugandans to reach safety. You can read about their amazing work in this Newsweek article. What an inspirational effort!

I have always loved and admired the Friends/Quakers, and this just reinforces my feelings.