Message From The Minister

As we welcome a new year, new possibilities, hope and support, connection, acknowledging that we may never quite go back to the way things were, as Tom Petty sang in “Learning to Fly”:

…Well, the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn
I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
Well, some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God-knows-where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

Happy New Year! This past year has been full of rocks melting and sea burning. But holding to our values along with our connection to others is how we move forward. I am reassured by the daily reading from DailyTao:

Whoever is planted in the Tao will not be rooted up.
Whoever embraces the Tao will not slip away.
Her name will be held in honor
from generation to generation.
Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will become genuine.
Let it be present in your family
and your family will flourish.
Let it be present in your country and your country will
be an example to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the universe
and the universe will sing.
How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.
—Tao Te Ching, Chapter 54

Regardless of deities, or source traditions, we are a faith that believes in democracy, in each other. This is in the ways that we value each other, even when we disagree. Unified in the notions of our worth, we do social justice work as a function of our faith. This is the anti-racism role that we take in our community. This is the involvement that we have within Pride. It is in helping our neighbors, the children in our communities, in the volunteer work that we do in schools and youth centers, and shelters. It is in our clothing drives and food drives. It is in our work to help others make meaning in their lives, or to promote oneness of all things.

Who are you helping? Kids in a school? Folx as they discover their identities and abilities? Institutions? What experiences are you cultivating, and curating to yourself? What attitude are you choosing?

I am choosing an attitude of both hopeful optimism and gratitude for 2021. I am filled with the spirit that I can make a difference. I know that each of us can and do, and I am excited to see what we can do with this new year!

Happy New Year, Peace!

— Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

December 2020… A pandemic that will keep masks on long after this year. December 2020… Calls for Justice, calls for connection. December 2020… A time to reflect on the ways we have changed and the ways we are changing. Advent is a time we do this religiously and spiritually.

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.

“On Christmas, Humanists celebrate family, community, and universal themes like peace on earth and good will to all people. We tell stories of mythic characters (like Scrooge, the Grinch, and many others) who, for a time, were lost to family and community but had powerful experiences that turned them around and brought them home again (UU World 12/2018).”

Our Earth based sources ask us to look at our planet, to look at the daylight and notice what is happening. The longest night is coming. The solstice marks a time when the nighttime is at abundance. This affects us, as creatures that are part of our ecosystems—we are part of this—the sun, the earth, the light, the cold… We see this in the rituals of Yule from Northern Europe, in the hot baths of Japan, and in the countless traditions world wide.

Our holiday events begin with the Yule Lighting in Bellville on Thursday 12/3. Chalica begins on 12/7—look for Facebook posts. We will also have an outdoor Christmas Eve service on the village green; we’ll socially distance and wear masks with a candlelight service.

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

— Rev. Will

Message From The Minister


There is so much to be thankful. And, there is so much work to do. Colder weather is settling in. It is time to prepare for winter. Let us remember each other as we prepare. There is an opportunity here to help our friends and neighbors. Let’s remember to help each other. Sometimes that is physically splitting and stacking wood for someone on the mend, or sometimes it is making a pot of soup and dropping it off to someone you haven’t seen in a while. It could be letters or emails, or phone calls.

In our racial justice RE, we have learned that perfectionism can be a piece of white supremacy culture. Perfectionism and making everything fit into boxes or explanations get in the way of shared experiences. Our shared experiences open us up to our principles. Wherever your conscience takes you, I pray voter turnout is substantially higher than our usual 33%.

While we rush around, bemoaning the coming winter, and the scarcity that seems to follow: Please remember community. There are too many of us that don’t quite have enough food to eat or warm clothes to wear. There are too many struggling to make ends meet. There are too many of us that are lonely, seeking something bigger.

Whatever is waiting for us, each step can be for Beloved Community. Let’s use fall as a vehicle for change. Let’s pay our gratitude forward by making choices that help individuals, families and groups. Deeds not creeds. Let’s help!

In Peace,

–Rev. Will

Message From The Minister


A morning sunrise with a sky blown-up in pinks and purples, the trees on fire with vibrant leaves of red, orange and yellow, the marigolds. The sky turns grey, the cold wind blowing over the lake, so powerful it almost takes my breath: the creation teems with beauty, and in reciprocity I offer presence. Feeling a part of the creation, feeling connection to the environment, I pray: no words, no concepts, just the spiritual practice breathing in Peace.

My prayer finishes, and I’m pushed into society. I drive to the office through my rural landscape. I see confederate flags. I see political signs, harkening to our divisions. I see signs of climate change: storm damage and ecological exploitation. I see Black Lives Matter signs, too. And, I know the truth: that those who exploit the environment are likely to exploit my siblings as well; those who benefit from exploitation are likely less connected to other people.

I pray my breathing prayer and I’m reminded of our connection. Our siblings hurting need our empathy and our compassion. Our siblings doing the harm need both empathy and correction.

I pray that our connection becomes ever so clear to everyone, and share this Affirmation of Hope by Loretta Williams:

We, bearers of the dream, affirm that a new
vision of hope is emerging.
We pledge to work for that community in which
justice will be actively present.
We affirm that there is struggle yet ahead.
Yet we know that in the struggle is the hope for
the future.
We affirm that we are co-creators of the future,
not passive pawns.
And we stand united in affirmation of our hope
and vision of a just and inclusive society.
We affirm the unity of all persons:
We affirm brotherhood and sisterhood that allows
us to touch upon each other’s humanity.
We affirm a unity that opens our eyes, ears, and
hearts to see the different but common forms of
oppression, suffering, and pain.
Yet we are one in the image of God, and we
celebrate our hopes for human unity.
Within ourselves and within the gathered
community, we will discover the strength not to
hide in indifference.
Affirming that hope, publicly expressed, energizes
and enables us to move forward. Together we
pledge action to transcend barriers — be they
racial, political, economic, social, or religious.
We pledge to make our tomorrows become our

Let Peace be with you,
and remember to vote!

— Rev. Will

Message From The Minister


I want to say something clear and direct: we are connected. Our seventh principle is clearly visible; our principles are alive and well, spreading like microbial fungus, sharing resources and gifts of hope, faith, and Love.

I know sometimes it is hard to see the connections, like the mycelium on the forest floor sharing glucose from a maple to an oak. I have received post cards, checking in on me, offering me a little shot of hope at a time when it is truly needed. I see some of you at the Pride Rally, at the Black Lives Matter events, delivering food at Senior High (through Matthew 25 Pantry)—each of these live our Faith—breathing life in the lungs of our church. And, when I talk to you in phone calls, emails, through Facebook and FaceTime, and when I see our services I feel the love of our church, I experience again the warmth of our embraces, and the joy of our laughter together.

There are a great many things happening right now. I’ve been struggling with the notions of where to place my faith, especially when the systems I’ve placed them seem to be disposed, dispossessed, and displaced. I am left with the notions of connection: The joyous post of a grandmother and her grandbabies, the hard phone call from a friend needing a shoulder to carry burden, the feeling of dirt between my toes, the light of a campfire and the embers.

Perhaps I’ve read just enough Mary Oliver to force my eye toward nature. It is what I’ve needed. I cannot say what is to come. But I know the sun will come up. I know my absurd-optimism is nestled right next to the despair in my shirt pocket (I’ve been reading just enough Camus and Kierkegaard, too).

And, I’d like to encourage you to reach out with postcards. (Thank you for starting this ministry.) It is amazing how much more lovely the hand-written word is. Perhaps write a letter? Emails and texts work, too.

Peace in all of Its forms and beauty be with you!

— Rev. Will

Message From The Minister


August  is  here.  My  normal  beginnings  of  newsletters  including  naming  the times  of  the  season  and  as  I  do,  I  want  to  acknowledge the  grief  and  the  sadness.

August  is  here,  and  kids  return  to  school,  and  our  community  divisions  show  themselves:  the  role  of  science  in  our  lives;  racism  and the  work  of  an ‐racism;  gay  rights  and  bigotry;  women’s  rights,  reproductive  rights;  immigrant  justice,  environmental  justice,  the rights  of  refugees…  and  the  list  of  ‘the  least  of  these’  continue.

This  morning  I  was  drinking  my  coffee  and  Peter,  Paul  and  Mary’s  ‘Blowin’  in  the  Wind’  played  in  the  background.  All  I  could  do  is cry.

I  checked  my  email  to  see  the  Order  of  Service  from  our  sibling  UU  congregation  in  San  Miguel,  Mexico,  and  this  was  their  reading. It  spoke  to  me:

#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 me  to
do  the  little  that  we  might.
Yet  we  find me 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!

Indeed,  how  strange  and  foolish  are  these  walls  that  divide  us.  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  have  to  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  know  that  you  belong  with  us,  even  though  we  are  separated  physically  we  are  united  in  Love.  Wear  your  masks, fight  for  justice  and  be  a  friend…

Peace,  — Rev. Will

Message From The Minister


“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always
remember, you have within you the strength, the
patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to
change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

We are living in a time that is different: a time that is almost dream-like to some, and nightmare-ish for others:

-COVID cases are increasing
-Confederate monuments are being toppled
-Racism is declared a public health crisis in Richland and
Knox Counties
-UUA GA hosted their first drag show
-More people than ever are expressing that
Black Lives Matter
– The many recent cases of the US Supreme Court
-NASCAR has banned a symbol of hate, the
confederate flag
– County fairs across Ohio are prohibiting the sales of
confederate flags, too

There are many more things happening all the time…

But, we need to ask ourselves as a dreamer what change
are we wanting? What specific steps are we wanting on
the path toward beloved community?

Or, without the pressure of something large, like Beloved
Community—what are we wanting to see in our

What institutions are in need of change?

Police departments are being called to change their
practices and some are making headlines for changes.
Are our communities police among them?

Public schools are missing major pieces of US and world
history regarding the systemic oppression of Black and
Brown Citizens, Colonialism, as well as the LGBTQ+
history and rights (remember the first Gay Pride Event
was a riot, fighting for rights).

All Souls’ building is not accessible. There have been too
many people rejected because they can’t walk up our

What else? What are pieces that you control?
What can we do to help and change policy on:
The Morrow County ICE facilities?
Racism in our communities—Mansfield, Mount Vernon,
Butler, Bellville, Ontario, Lexington, Gambier, Apple
Valley, Galion, Shelby, and the communities not listed

What systems are being funded or defunded that we can
advocate for change?

I am hopeful that this is a time when change is happening both in the institutions and in the hearts and minds
of our neighbors and ourselves.

I’m reminded of the Gandhi Peace poem:
I offer you peace
I offer you love
I offer you friendship
I hear your cry
I see your beauty
I feel your pain
My wisdom flows from my spirit within, and I salute
that spirit in you
Let us work together for peace!

Wear your masks, fight for justice and be a friend…

— Rev. Will

Message From The Board


As we traverse our new normal, please know that the Board is actively working on a plan to resume in-house services as well as still offering our virtual service.

We are taking the health, safety and inclusivity of our members and friends seriously and ask for your patience and understanding as we make these decisions.

Thank you all for your continued support and love for our church.

Hayley Scherer
Vice President
All Souls Board

Message From The Minister

My Friends of All Souls,

In recent days, there are so many things going on. There is the virus. There are riots. There are deaths of too many people at the hands of our government. There is food scarcity, and budgets all around are being cut for the impending recession. People are still in cages; families are still separated.

The economy is reopening, and I find myself longing for face-to-face meetings, for coffee hour, and to hear our ‘Joys and Concerns’ from your lips and not the comment box on Facebook–to see the joy in your face, to hug during passing the peace and to connect.

Wynton Marsalis said in his book, Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life

I noticed that religion gave some people a way to escape dealing with the world: ‘Things will be better when you die,’ the people of my grandma’s generation said as they worked themselves to death. ‘God wants you to forgive and love those who do you wrong,’ some people said to shake off the shame of being unable to respond to the abuse they endured. The holier-than thou faction found comfort in believing, ‘The rest of y’all are lost because you don’t have a personal relationship with God—our God’… But art teaches and engages you in the world, not just the world around you but the big world, and not just the big world of Tokyo and Sydney and Johannesburg, but the bigger world of ideas and concepts and feelings of history and humanity… In learning about a person, you learn something about the world and about yourself, and if you can handle what you learn, you can get closer, much closer to them. Jazz shows us how to find a groove with other people, how to hold on to it, and how to develop it.

We can’t escape from dealing with the world, but we can be safe and help each other. There are problems in this world. If we are who we say we are, then it behooves us to show up, ‘to find a groove’ with others and solve real problems together. Showing up is difficult when it means being virtual.

The UUA has recommended not having face-to-face services until May 2021. Our board is still deciding how we are to proceed. We have to weigh the health and well being of each of us while sticking to our values of inclusivity and respecting diversity.

The question before us is the question that is always before us. As we decide who we are becoming, both as individuals but also as one church body: Who are we as a congregation called to be right now? Who are we?

Acknowledging that every person is unique, with unique circumstances and has contact with more-less-and-different people, who is part of the “we” we are considering in our decision-making? What would be the social/emotional/spiritual costs of gathering, of protesting, of advocacy work, of having online services? Who would we exclude? How would this fit with our mission and identity?

I believe that we are the same people who stand up for the inherent worth of all people. We rally around those in need, listening to each other and acting with both passion and rationality. We are the respite of old friends at coffee hour. We are the excitement of new friends who see the world differently than us. We are the candle lit at joys and concerns and the flame of the burning chalice.

But, it does look differently now. It does feel different. And, we are who we are choosing to become. Walking together is a choice each of us makes. Each of us can connect. We can interact over the phone, over Facebook, Facetime, in Zoom meetings and in hand written letters and in happy little post cards. We can go to protests and write letters to the editor. We can advocate locally by talking with local officials and speaking truth to power—on any of our advocacy points—Racial Justice, Climate Change, LGBTQ+ Rights, Immigrant Justice, and Women’s Rights.

I am convinced, more now than ever, that we can make a difference—and it begins in the choices we make—loving the hell out of the world.

Blessed Be,
Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

Dear Friends,

This May feels different than the others. Yes, May is a time when the weather opens. It is a time when flowers bud and leaves open. It is a time when, as it seems, our economies are opening too. A time for graduation parties and ceremonies with all the pomp and circumstance of clicking to end the Zoom meeting and going back to folding laundry or walking the dog.

One of my favorite quotes…”It is a curse to live in interesting times.” It is, indeed, interesting times.

The demands of time are so different now. The rat race of running here and there seems to be paused: More like a NASCAR race with the green–white–checkered flag sequence. We are cautioned, the finish line is near, but we are waiting for more warning—a yellow flag, or for the green flag for go, or even a white flag that ends the race.

At the same time, we can pause and see the world around us. We can
stop and see the flowers budding. We can pause and reflect inwardly.
We can work on our own spiritual practices.

Brene Brown wrote, “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

As we caution, as we rev our engines, as we get to know ourselves a
little better, we know that in all of this we have each other. Our church is here. Church is more a verb to me than a noun. While it is the network of people who care for one another—the emphasis is on caring—the sharing and the sacredness of being together while being your true self.

I pray that you are healthy, connected to others, and that you
are well.

— Rev. Will