Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!!! We are so blessed by so many people and so many different things happening! We are working together to improve our world, build relationships, and advocate for Justice. In the middle of the journey sometimes it feels like a long road ahead of us. The Omicron variant is one more obstacle to getting rid of this pandemic. Sometimes it feels like it won’t end.

But, shifting the focus from outcomes to process—sometimes that can offer us enough change to keep moving—Outcomes can be attachments. “Attachment leads to jealousy, the shadow of greed, that is.” Maybe that was Buddha, or was it Yoda? It seems like good advice. Fear of missing out and the attachment to outcomes can blind us to the journey, the process. Sometimes shifting focus can feel daunting.

“Is it hard?”
“Not if you have the right attitudes. It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

In this new year, remember to take care of yourselves: connect with others, sleep, drink water, eat well. Whatever your resolutions are, have caution and take one step at a time.

Happy Birthday, All Souls—You’re now 200 years old!

Let’s remember to keep the thoughts of belonging, acceptance, peacebuilding and social advocacy in our hearts, in the ways we interact, and in the work we do. Peace, Hope and Love for 200 more years!

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Advent is here. Christmas is coming! Trim the tree, buy the presents, make the plans—are we staying in this year? There are many ways to take Advent: The shopping, the planning, the cooking, the time thinking of Christmas Past, Christmas Future…

Advent in the UU tradition is diverse: Our Christian sources have us preparing for the annual birth of Jesus. Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means arrival. St. Jerome, who translated the bible into Latin, used adventus, as the translation of the Greek word parousia (πάρειμι), which is usually translated as arrival or re-arrival.

We are preparing for the arrival of Christmas. We are preparing for each other, the gifts, presents, and the presence we can offer one another.

As we prepare for the longest night—this holy darkness—let us also share the light within us with the community. Let us share the blessings and bounty we have.

Our Earth-based sources ask us to look at our planet, to look at the daylight and notice what is happening. The solstice marks a time when the nighttime is abundant. This affects us, as creatures that are part of our ecosystems. Some of us notice this in our dispositions and our mental health. The need for connection continues!

Chalica begins soon—look for Facebook posts. We have Christmas Eve Service with a candlelight service.

I pray your Advent season is safe and maintains your health in all its aspects: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual. Merry Christmas Everyone! Happy Holidays!

Peace,
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Helen Keller once said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.” When we look at this shattered world, we can choose to view it as brokenness or the beauty of a mural or like stained glass.

November brings a reminder that winter is coming and the potential isolation, cold, and loneliness, but it also reminds us to cultivate gratitude and thanksgiving; it reminds us to be a better friend and to more readily offer the comradeship to our neighbors.

I’m asking that each of us, in our own health aware and safe way, engage our communities.

You could do so many amazing things!

You could lead a small drive—non-perishable food or clothing, hats and gloves. This could be here at church, but it could also be in your neighborhood, workplace or volunteer place.

You could buy someone dinner. Sometimes people pay for the meal at another table at a restaurant or in a drive thru line. Sometimes people just bring a pizza to a group of people who are homeless.

You could send care cards–a postcard that says–”Hey there my friend, I care about you. Remember the time when we laughed at ________, those were some good times.”

It is our responsibility to continue to help our communities to be inclusive, to notice when we fall short and when we succeed; it is also our responsibility to speak truth to power–sometimes that is corrective and sometimes it is celebratory.

Elandria Williams, former co-moderator of the UUA said that, “We are the children of freedom fighters, visionaries, and radical liberal theologians. We are the phoenix rising out of the ashes of the McCarthy era and the civil rights, women’s, and queer liberation movements. We are the survivors and beneficiaries… We wear our faith as tattoos on our bodies and in our hearts as testaments to the blood, tears, dreams, and inspirations of our community ancestors and elders.”

The radical inclusivity of our movement, of our tradition calls us to connect and to hear their stories and to share ourselves. This seemingly mundane act of listening, and caring by offering non-judgement and presence–make no mistake–it isn’t mundane, it is revolutionary and it is Love. Love, all we need is Love!

Peace,
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Happy Halloween! Happy October.

I am excited for pumpkins and falling leaves, frost and foggy mornings. A cool fall morning, flannel shirt, a fire, some coffee… I think I need that.

I’ve been talking with others about the Spirit of Expectancy—the notion that we live in a veiled reality: We live in a reality where Beloved Community is real and tangible now and those who behave as if we don’t are acting outside of the norm, the actual reality; we are to live, breathe and act as if Beloved Community is here. John Lewis and other civil rights leaders talked about this, reflecting on the 1960s. This was their coping framework.

I often look around and get flustered with our political situation, our environment, race, poverty, treatment of people, immigration, and drug abuse: the earth, sky, our siblings, our community. I recall my favorite advice of Forrest Church, when all of this feels too big:

“Love when you can.
Do the work that is yours to do.
Be the person that is yours to
be at any given time.
Think to wish for all that is
yours to do,
and think to wish that you
might be who it is that you
might most fully be…”

I hope, pray and think this for you all. Happy Halloween!
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Hello my friends,

September finds us in a myriad of 10,000 things. This morning I saw the mist lifting off of hills and the sun poking through clouds and the coming of fall filled me full of hope. I even made a sage-carrot dressing and roasted apples for a supper. For me fall represents a return to center. Yet, my heart aches for folkx in Afghanistan, in Louisiana, in our community dealing with COVID concerns, ever-present racism and poverty and climate change. While the fight in all of these continues, the apples falling off trees and the misty mornings remind me of our connections.

In these connections and conversations with our neighbors let us find community and purpose. Let us find family and friends and allies. Let us take peace building into each of our relationships to one another, our institutions and to our ecosystems!

Let peace and love roll off our tongues!

Happy September!

Peace,
Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Friends,

August is here. As our summer months draw to an end, let us remember to adventure, causing good trouble along the way. Adventuring is an essential element of meaning making, of reflecting on our lives and in the stories we tell ourselves. We do something, then we reflect on the outcomes. Each of us has an opportunity to tell our own tales, especially when we are telling them to ourselves and this can activate in us, a better self.

#662 Strange and Foolish Walls
The years of all of us are short, our lives precarious.
Our days and nights go hurrying
on and there is scarcely time to
do the little that we might.
Yet we find time for bitterness, for
petty treason and evasion.
What can we do to stretch our
hearts enough to lose their littleness?
Here we are – all of us – all upon
this planet, bound together in a common destiny,
Living our lives between the briefness of the daylight and the dark.
Kindred in this, each lighted by the same precarious, flickering flame of life,
how does it happen that we are not indeed in all things else?
How strange and foolish are these walls of separation that divide us!
The adventures we have in our days and nights, as they hurry by, and the stories we tell each other and ourselves: “Yet we find time
for bitterness, for petty treason and evasion. What can we do to stretch our hearts enough to lose their littleness?”

We can adventure. We can imagine ourselves conquering dragons. We can live a life of radical inclusion. It is on each of us to reach out, to stand up, to speak up, to draw one another closer. This brief life, this even shorter bout of ableness, we can declare to our neighbors what is right and what is true:

You belong and you’re enough. You are beautiful. There are systems and institutions designed to spread the lies counter to this gospel. And, if we work together we can dismantle those institutions piece by piece. And, together we can love each other, cherishing our uniqueness, loving both our similarities and our differences.

I pray each of you knows that you belong with us. We can be united in our Love, in our daily adventures and meaning making.

Peace,
Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

Dear Friends,

Our life is but a journey from one age to the next, from child to teen then through the decades of adulthood. Each milestone charts the journey, and our abilities change all the while, like seasons unfolding. Our faith is one of liberation and grounding. We ground ourselves to the truth, the knowable truths, the self truths as well as the scientific ways of knowing them. We reach up toward the sky, expanding our notions of justice, broadening who gets to count, and deepening the relationships with one another: our siblings and our planet. July finds us rooting down as well as stretching up. The summer warms us, excites us and emboldens us to laugh a little louder, to sing a song from our heart, and to be merry with ourselves, among friends, and the green leaves.

I’m again one of the chaplains for our region’s Summer Institute. Although it is virtual again this year, I am speaking on resilience, and I can’t help but think about All Souls and the ways we’ve cultivated resilience over these past few years, as well as throughout the pandemic.

As July warms us with sunshine and humidity, I encourage you to meet, to talk, to play cards, to hike, to bike ride, to eat ice cream and gelato, and to tell your stories. Our stories help us find and discern meaning, and our stories bind our connections. Tell your stories! The stories of love, of loss, of connection and mistakes, when we’re at our best but also the normal everyday things. This is how we love each other into wellness, and bring our world one more step toward beloved community. Feel water, breathe the air, know the heat outside, and wriggle your toes or fingers in mud.

Happy July, my friends!

Mansfield Pride is in Early August—look out for more information
about our float in the parade and our booth!

—Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

Dear Friends,

June is pride month—for more than 50 years since the Stonewall Riots. This year as restrictions from Covid lift, more celebrations resound. I am excited about not only pride events and celebrations but also our own return to in person services in our sanctuary.

With this being pride month, we can think about our friends and partner organizations—perhaps donate or volunteer with them: Mansfield Gay Pride and the Mid Ohio LGBTQ+ Community Center (www.midohiolgbtqcc.org); our friends at Love on a Mission (loveonamission.org); or political action teams like EqualityOhio or Human Rights Campaigns. Our UU Justice Ohio (UUJO.org) is another organization that organizes protests, lobbyists, and workshops.

This poem below called “Prayer/Oracion” really called to me and the ways Justice is foundational to our UU theologies.

Prayer/Oracion
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN
TR. BY FRANCISCO ARAGÓN

I want a god
as my accomplice
who spends nights
in houses
of ill repute
and gets up late
on Saturdays

a god
who whistles
through the streets
and trembles
before the lips
of his lover

a god
who waits in line
at the entrance
of movie houses
and likes to drink
café au lait

a god
who spits
blood from
tuberculosis and
doesn’t even have
enough for bus fare

a god
knocked
unconscious
by the billy club
of a policeman
at a demonstration

a god
who pisses
out of fear
before the flaring
electrodes
of torture

a god
who hurts
to the last
bone and
bites the air
in pain

a jobless god
a striking god
a hungry god
a fugitive god
an exiled god
an enraged god

a god
who longs
from jail
for a change
in the order
of things

I want a
more godlike
god

Peace,

–Rev. Will

Message from the Board

Dear Friends,

The last 12 plus months has seen so much change.  Change we were not expecting and not prepared for.  And now we change again, we plan on reopening the church to the public the first time since March of 2020.  We welcome the congregation back on May 30, 2021 for our 10:30 a.m. service. Join us outside on the green in front of the village office, weather permitting.

Bring a blanket, chair, mask, and even your favorite coffee cup.  Yes, we will have coffee!  We will maintain social distance and we ask you wear a mask inside and outside, masks will be available for those who need one.  If the weather does not cooperate then we will move inside.

All Souls UU Bellville Board

Message From The Minister

Friends,

It used to be that the new year was marked by Spring. Once winter is over and happy times are here again… There have been many ways to mark the passing of time.

Right now, I often find myself saying things like, “in the before times” as a pre pandemic reference. And it is a real and interesting thing, to collectively live when a seemingly natural bookend occurs. We’ve all fundamentally shifted the ways we do things, the ambition we may have had slighted toward something else, visions recast.

Our church will be returning to in-person services on May 30th: the natural book end. But the pandemic isn’t over. We will continue to be inclusive. Our services will be outdoors when possible; we continue to stream our services to be available to folx who can’t be with us in person. When the weather prevents us from being outside, then in our church building we can gather masked.

This has been a difficult year for all of us, and each of us in varying degrees. The pandemic, systemic racism, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia, classism, ability: all of these point toward the intersections of privilege and hardship of life today. I look forward to our return in person!

There is a prayer that has been giving me life:

All That We Share Is Sacred
[written in honor of two Unitarians, Martha and Waitstill
Sharp, who during WWII dared to risk their own comfort in
order to help save the lives of those in desperate need.]
By Andrée Mol

As we gather together,
May we remember
When you share with me what is most important to you,
That is where listening begins.
When I show you that I hear you,
When I say your life matters,
That is where compassion begins.
When I open the door to greet you,
That is where hospitality begins.
When I venture out to bring you to shelter,
That is where love begins.
When I risk my comfort to ease your suffering,
When I act against hatred, violence, and injustice,
That is where courage begins.
When we experience the full presence of each other,
Because of our shared humanity,
Because of our differences,
That is where holy gratitude begins.
May this space be a table
that is not complete
until all are welcome.
May this table be a space of beauty
where together
we create a series of miracles, and
where all that we share is sacred.

May it be so.

Peace be with you,

–Rev. Will