Our Minister's Reflections
Reflections From Stacy’s Desk
CUUF Worship for the 2020-2021 Service Year
by Stacy Craig
All Plans Subject to Reality: CUUF Worship for the 2020-2021 Service Year
Welcome to the 2020 fall series of the Chequamegon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship! Like all organizations, we reviewed several scenarios for how we could come together this fall. I want to take a moment to outline our plans for worship and programming, knowing that all plans right now are subject to reality!
This year we will have a hybrid of online, intergenerational worship services along with several in-person, outdoor, socially distanced rituals and experiences for our special services. With this combination, we care for our most vulnerable by minimizing exposure while focusing on accessibility to our services. I hope this combination will encourage strong participation and identity with CUUF across lifespans during these physically distanced times.
The first example of this hybrid model is in September. We will have both an in-person, outdoor “On the Water” service on Long Lake outside of Washburn as well as an online Water Service which will be live and interactive on Zoom video conferencing. We are planning a similar combination for our All Hallowtide Service, Holiday Service, and Flower Service. Whether in person or online, we will focus on providing safe access and engaging messages across lifespans. Your feedback and participation (which is part of our democratic structure) are so very welcome this season as we consider multiple points of view on how COVID-19 is affecting us all differently.
In addition to the hybrid worship services and rituals, we will also offer small group programming and gatherings either online or socially distanced. These include:
The Other Sunday—Held online the first Sunday of each month, we will have different speakers and presenters on current events, issues, or topics with discussion to follow.
UU Women—Held online on the third Sunday of every month (unless there is a service conflict), this is a time for informal conversation, check-ins, and mutual sharing and support.
Grief Group—In collaboration with Jan Wise, we will offer an in-person grief group to help process transitions and loss once it is safe to gather in person. If anyone would like to process loss and grief individually, or is seeking spiritual direction, Jan Wise offers one-on-one socially distanced sessions on her porch. Call or email Jan to set up a time. Cost for sessions is freewill contribution.
Anti-Racism Study Group—CUUF plans to host a study group that will start in October. In addition, we are coordinating with area faith communities who are also offering online anti-racism book clubs, movie discussions, and training. These will be hosted by a particular church or fellowship, but open to all. We will include information about these opportunities in our newsletter and emails.
UU Spirituality Course—Beginning in January, we will offer a 6-week online course to help deepen our understanding and identity of UU history, thought, practice, principles, and sources.
Outdoor Gatherings—Some people have asked about having outdoor gatherings such as a walk, hike, yard games, campfire, or other socially distanced activities. We welcome these suggestions and invite anyone to offer an activity, and we will help communicate and publicize the opportunity to everyone in CUUF.
Our UU principles and sources help guide our search for meaning and truth. Let us come back together, reconnect, and call upon them now to help guide us during this difficult and powerful season. This is the season of our presidential election, when we may see the best and worst of each other. All will have to work hard to see the perspectives of other people while also calling out those things that are wrong because they threaten another’s wellbeing. This is the season of yellow, the fields and gardens giving a burst of warmth as the days begin to shorten. We reconnect as we enter the season of the harvest. Whatever weight or worry you may be carrying about this upcoming season, you do not have to carry it alone. Whatever delight or celebration you carry, we share this with you. I’m looking forward to reconnecting this fall.
by Stacy Craig
“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Crafted by a group of Aboriginal rights activists from Queensland, Australia in the 1970s
On May 21, I was on a video conference with the Climate Change Task Force, which is facilitated by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. A ‘Zoom-bomber’ entered and started playing hideous, racist music, with the N-word being repeated over and over. Since the meeting was open to the public, and the task force is large, it took a while for the meeting coordinators to mute the intruder and remove them from the meeting. The meeting went on as if nothing had happened.
Four days later, George Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using counterfeit money. George had been an athlete in high school, a rapper, and was working security in a nightclub before he lost his job due to the COVID-19 shutdown. During the arrest, Officer Derek Chauvin used a hold method where he placed his knee on the back of George’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. The incident was captured on video and shows George beginning to bleed from the nose. We hear him call that he can’t breathe. We hear him call out for his mother, who died two years ago. We see his body go limp. The knee stays on the neck, despite pleas from onlookers. Following his death, riots and protests have broken out all over the world, with a clear message: we cannot go on as if nothing has happened.
A few years ago, Pastor Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (the church were Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the pastor), wrote, “If white churches and their pastors will not stand in solidarity with the poor and against deep structures of racial injustice such as America’s prison-industrial complex, ‘the new Jim Crow,’ then they will have demonstrated that they are every bit as much invested in the maintenance of white privilege and white supremacy as were their forebears of a different era…theology that is not lived is not theology at all.”
For a long time, the black church has been speaking out about the issue of a justice system that treats people of color differently than white people. To put it very simply, Unitarianism means we come from a common source; Universalism means we share a common destiny. In the middle of this, our experienced lives, there is a common injustice for people of color in America. Are our UU beliefs false, or is it our lived experience that must change for us to have a theology that can hold up to Warnock’s critique? For too long, we have all been doing what we did in the climate change task force meeting. As Lt. Governor Barnes said, we soldiered on.
I’m done soldiering on. Police brutality against people of color can change. How do we do this? This powerful quote reminds us: “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” This isn’t a race issue, or a people of color issue, this is an issue of what it means to be human. We come from a common source, we move to a common destiny; truly, our liberation is bound together.
At the memorial service for George Floyd that was held in Minneapolis, Reverend Al Sharpton asked all who gathered to stand in George’s name and say: get your knee off our necks. He called for this to be when we make America great for the first time.
Rite of Passage
Right before I started this article, I submitted my final paper for seminary. While I still have a clinical course to attend this summer, completing the four years of class work feels both exhilarating and disorienting. We often mark major transitions in our lives with ceremonies to help us move through the heap of emotions and experiences. We move between spaces: from the familiar to the mysterious, from the places we’ve been to the place we are going. Like our high school seniors and college graduates, the ceremonies to help guide this transition have been cancelled for me. We will have an online Zoom celebration and I’m going to bake myself a cake and go fly fishing on the day I would have graduated. I’m really looking forward to all of this, especially if the cake turns out. Yet I’ve found myself reflecting this week on ceremony and transitions.
A graduation ceremony recognizes the individual journey but also connects a shared achievement to create a rite of passage from student to graduate. It honors the hard work of the past and connects this to the hope and dreams for the future, even though the way ahead may not be clear. A metaphor for this is a threshold. We come to a place that lies between the life we have known and the life ahead of us.
Graduates aren’t the only ones at a threshold. All of us are becoming aware of the slow adaptation from quarantine to the world opening up. Like our graduates, we might feel like ceremony, ritual, and community would help right now.
Artist and pastor Jan Richardson has written about thresholds in several of her books and poems. She writes,
I am still fascinated by thresholds—those places we come to that lie between the life we have known and the life ahead of us. I am continually intrigued—and eager, and fearful, and amazed, and mystified—to enter into those spaces where we have left the landscape of the familiar, the habitual, and stand poised at the edge of a terrain whose contours we can hardly see or even imagine.
Whether we arrive at these between-places by design, by accident, or by the choices that others have made for us, the threshold can be a place of wonders. It can also be chaotic, discombobulating, and even terrifying. Yet a threshold, chosen or otherwise, is a place of wild possibility. A threshold invites and calls us to stop. To take a look around. To imagine. To dream. To question. To pray.
In our services this past month, we explored the early spring rooting that happens beneath the snow despite the transitions of freeze, thaw, rain, sleet, snow, wind, and sun. We explored the one-note choir, which can go on indefinitely because others will hold the note while we take a breath. As we move across thresholds, be rooted deeply in who you are and what you value. Take the time to dream, question, pray, and pause as you move forward. And as movement happens, remember we will not be alone in the work ahead. We will re-root not in some new, distant future but in who we are, as a community which holds belovedness and radical interdependence at the core of our being.
In peace and the place of wild possibility,
Congratulations to Stacy!
Chequamegon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s new minister, Stacy Craig, will graduate with high honors on May 3 with a Masters of Divinity, Church Leadership and Religion and Theology, from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in St. Paul, Minnesota. She will be completing a Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) this summer as part of that program. This will include working with restorative justice in the prison system and with people working through addiction and recovery through The Recovery Church in St. Paul. A CPE is a supported experience where Stacy will be immersed in difficult work to find her own struggles and to build empathy and pastoral care skills for others while also learning to care for herself while doing difficult work.
Stacy’s course of study at United Theological Seminary has been challenging and inspirational. She has deepened her knowledge, expanded her search for the truth, and made lifelong connections. Her studies, though concluding soon at United Theological, will continue as she pursues the road to ordination over the next couple of years. Though the actual graduation ceremony is delayed until spring of 2021, let’s help Stacy celebrate her huge accomplishment now!