The Chalice – February 2023

A Message from the 2023 Stewardship Campaign

“This congregation exists for a reason.”

“Challenge the mind, nourish the spirit, act in the world.”

The first statement (a quote from Rev. Peter Boullata) is the theme chosen for the 2023 Stewardship Campaign.  The second one is our mission statement.  Can you see a relationship between the two statements?   Our three-part mission statement, our values, principles, and our congregational covenant  provide an overarching reason for existence.  Perhaps there are additional reasons why this beloved community exists, reasons that are personal to each of us.

During the month of February, members and friends have the opportunity to reflect on why we need the fellowship to exist, and how we  ensure the next generation of London UFLers will be able to say to each other, “yes, this faith community, this congregation, exists for a reason.”  

This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our fellowship—the  „founding families‟ met in the home of Elvins and Hannah Spencer at what became known later as the „organizational meeting‟ on September 27, 1953.  The founders were :  Hannah and Elvins Spencer, W. E. Stubbs, M. Testart, and Henry and Klara Schoenfeld.  The first worship service, held on October 18, included a 15 minute presentation on “What Do Unitarians Worship?”.   By November 1, 1953, the American Unitarian Association had extended official recognition to the Unitarian Fellowship of London and District (as we were then known).

Our founders believed that there was a reason for  establishing a liberal religious community in the London area.   Here we are, 70 years later, filled with gratitude for the vision and dedication of the founders and the early members who joined in the 50‟s.   We are all standing on their shoulders.  

The 2023 Stewardship Campaign Committee consists of  : Christine Kelsey, Ann Klinck, Linda Lincoln, Kat Proctor, and Judith Warren.   The campaign will kick off on February 5, and you should see a pledge package arrive in the mail in the week of February 6.   

Chlid standing in a medow at sunset, with a beam of light shining in

Director of Congregational Life

As I reflect on my placement at the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health I am pleased that I come from a Unitarian Universalist pluralistic faith tradition. In Chaplaincy we cannot put forward our own agenda or ideas about religion or spirituality, we must respect and listen to the patient’s views about this and help them pull out strengths and perspectives on hope and life. I have worked with people that had very little spiritual or religious background to people entrenched in a particular denomination. We are to be present to hear their needs, concerns etc. There are days when religion isn’t even discussed. This is also a time for us to review how our life has affected our approach and to learn about biases that hamper care. This has been a poignant time of personal discovery for me. I will give you more information about one discovery I made at this month’s service about the Shadow Side of Generosity.

As our numbers at services continue to rise, and we welcome new people to our meeting house, and we build on the excitement of this momentum, please consider the “Act in the World”  part of our mission statement. I am so proud of those who have stepped forward to help the Afghani refugee family, as I am of our Board for allowing the Pflag and Trans groups to use our building at little to no cost. We are small but mighty. Trinity United Church monthly meals are a way to give back and we continue to look for synergies through the Argyle Basic Needs group. We want to continue this outreach to the London Community and ensure we are available as a community hub. Our RE program has a regular complement of 6 children and we hope to focus on this group in the coming months. We have brought the Membership, Outreach and Communication groups together and will be moving forward to let people know about Unitarian Universalism as a great option for people that are liberal in their views. Community partnerships will be the answer to “we are so small and can’t take this issue on”.

Generosity is this month’s theme, and while I disdain talking about finances this is a good time to reflect on the choice we offer to people and our hope to increase our presence in London. I wait for the time when I do not have to explain what being a UU means. 

Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at 519-859-1640. 

Lori Turner Otte,

Director of Congregational Life

Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society Valentine Wishes

For some, the Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society requires an introduction.  The UU Hysterical Society (est. 2015) was founded by Liz James.  The term hysterical was deliberately chosen as it was once used to discredit women.  Religion is based on culture.  James states that “Culture is created and propagated in many ways.  This is ours.” Sue Geri Bierman’s quote is so appropriate, “If you didn’t spray coffee out of your nose today, we didn’t do our job”.  Humour with substance is the UU Hysterical Society’s brand.  A great example of worth and mirth is the UU Hysterical Society’s Valentine Wishes reprinted below.  Enjoy the wisdom and the humour!

Let's talk about sex, ba-by…

Two female fingers pressing on a flower suggestively

One February break long ago, I found myself at the airport on the way to a UU conference.  I’d just finished small talk (Where are you off to?  Religious conference.  And… Zero follow up questions). 

Behind me, a young woman who was part of a whole gang headed somewhere warm for spring break said “Oh shit, we need to get condoms!” to her friend.  A little louder than she’d intended.  She looked at me in horror and began apologizing.

“I don’t see what you have to be sorry about,” I answered, channeling UU Ministers and Religious Educators from across the nation,  “By every measure of morality I can think of, making sure everyone has condoms is an act of responsibility and kindness.”  Her whole face transformed, and she grinned from ear to ear.

“You’re right!” she said, looking empowered.

Since 1971 UUs have supported positive sexuality education.  Our current program is named OWL (which stands for Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education).  It is a force for good in the world, for people of all ages.

Well, not everybody.  Because we have this terrible habit of using acronyms without explaining them, the OWL program has led to many disappointed bird-watchers reading pamphlets titled things like “Everything you want to know about our OWL program”.  These pamphlets contain a great deal more than some of these bird-watchers wanted to know about sex (and gender, and consent, and healthy relationships, and…), and a great deal less than they wanted to know about OWLs.

That said…

I love that UUism supports love and sexuality, in whatever constellations of people and gender and practices that all parties are enthusiastically consenting to. 

Joy in all its forms, whether that’s laughter, sexuality, or some combination thereof. 


February Sunday Services

white metal grateful sign

Gratitude: Generosity: Joy

Worship Leader: Bill Ratcliffe

The fragile spirit of generosity is founded on gratitude and results in joy. Gratitude, generosity and joy are all interconnected and based on a perspective of abundance. Being generous is both intransitive and transitive. There is the intransitive spirit of being generous, which just is. There is no object or conditions for the generosity. Then, there is transitive generosity which has a goal or goals, to which it is directed. Reflect on both the intransitive and transitive aspects of generosity.

The Gratitude: Generosity: Joy dialogue questions/comments are:

1. How do you maintain a perspective of abundance during these difficult times?

2. How do you determine which congregations, organizations and charities receive your volunteer and financial generosity?

3. What can our Unitarian Universalist faith community do to foster a perspective of abundance?

05 Feb
10:45 am - 11:45 am
Unitarian Fellowship of London
557 Clarke Road,London, ON N5V 2E1
child giving flowers to a woman, outside in the sunshine, all dressed in yellow

On Generosity

Worship Leader: Bob Harrington

 Generosity is an expression of a person’s well-being.  It is the natural way we live when we feel in harmony with everyone.  To restore ourselves to perfect health is a first step towards building a healthy, prosperous and generous society.  

This will be the focus of my talk on Feb. 12.   Come one, come all. 

12 Feb
10:45 am - 11:45 am
Unitarian Fellowship of London
557 Clarke Road,London, ON N5V 2E1
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