Seeking a New Editor

Would you like to work with one or two other people to put together our new newsletter? Is it possible that searching for interesting stories and timely articles is just the way you would like to help our Fellowship? Or do you have an interest in photography and might like to help by providing photos of some of our events? Do you like to gab? And what UU doesn’t? Maybe you could do the monthly interviews.

If any of those opportunities sound like they may interest you please contact Mary Jane.

Fred Parmenter

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee has announced its slate of candidates to be voted on at our Annual Meeting, on March 27:

  • President – Dennis Shaw
  • VP – Laura Liermann
  • Treasurer – Nancy Weaver
  • Trustees: – Sharon Whitehill, Robert Moran, John Lee
  • Nominating Committee Members – Dave Martin, Alan Searle, Mary Martin, Dorothy Parmenter
  • Delegates to the UUA General Assembly – Laura Anderson, Nancy Weaver, Mary Jane Williams

Lynn Ritchie and John Lee, cochairs
Nominating Committee.

A TIME TO REFOCUS AND REDEFINE

One of UUFCC’s major strength is our long and varied history with and without professional ministerial leadership. The people who created this Fellowship struggled, invested and worked very hard to create their dreams and nurture them to fruition.

The Fellowship’s first gathering occurred on January 9, 1969 in a home. Twelve folks attended. It took the group 9 years to grow large enough to afford a retired, part-time contract minister and 11 years to construct our building. Our first full-time minister didn’t arrive until 1993.

UUFCC has had 14 ministers. The first three, Rev. Carl Westman, Rev. Donald Lawson and Rev. George Brooks were all retired and part time and served from 1978 through 1992. UUFCC’s first full-time minister was an interim, Rev. Sylvia Howe. She arrived in 1992 and stayed a year.

In 1993, UUFCC called its first full-time settled minister, Rev. Sam Trumbore. He stayed 5 years. Rev. Trubore was followed by Rev. Suzanne Nazian in 1997. She stayed four years. Rev. Herb Adams served in 2001. He was followed by Rev. Sarah Zimmerman who stayed for 3 years. Interims, Rev. Hannah Wells and Rev. Margaret Beard each served a year covering 2006 through 2008. Rev. Pam Allen came in 2008 and left in 2011. Rev. Amy Kindred won the UUFCC ministerial longevity award by serving from 2012 through 2018, six consecutive years. We also had ministerial candidate, Katie Romano Griffin Romano, with us during 2016 and 2017. Our last minister, Dr. Dan Lambert, was with us from October 2019 until April 2021.

At this time we are without a full-time minister but this situation is hardly unique. UUFCC has existed for 53 years and 25 of those years we were without full-time ministerial leadership. Most recently we were without a minister for a year after Rev. Amy Kindred left.

So, In addition to providing a historical list of UUFCC’s professional ministers, my point is we have experienced ministerial transitions numerous times and have often been a lay lead congregation.

I am so grateful for our part-time, consulting minister, Rev. Kathy Schmitz. We will miss her gifts when her contract ends in June. In addition to her monthly virtual and live services, her guidance has inspired our Board of Trustees, Worship Committee and Program Council. Her support and wisdom has repeatedly reminded me that despite our recent history and the challenges created while living during a pandemic, we are a strong and healthy liberal religious community.

This can and should be a time of deep self exploration. A period when we redefine what is really important to us and where and how to spend our time, talents and financial resources.

The future for UUFCC will be bright as long as we, like our ancestors, struggle, work, invest and dream. Above all, we must embrace the belief that we are all co-ministers.

In faith and gratitude,
Dennis Shaw

Rarities

She was washed ashore
as easily as seaweed
or a piece of broken crate
marked “fragile – handle with care”.

Deposited by the waves
beating in to shore
dropping their unwanted load
retreating back for more.

She lay beached, huge
as a small schooner,
her skin still glossy
while curious humans gathered.

There were gashes in her head,
part of her tail was missing.
Perhaps she was wounded at sea
by a passing steamer’s engines.

Perhaps she was ill before
and died and drifted unnoticed
beneath the tide until
caught in the swirling blades.

Because she was a rare whale
her eyes will be sent to Boston,
her baleen to a local museum.
A bulldozer will bury the rest.

This week another was sighted,
a rare North Atlantic Black Right,
cruising the waters off Shinnecock,
stretching its head out of the waves,
as if looking for something.

Marion Menna

Disability Etiquette

There is an etiquette manual regarding accepted language and practices among people who use wheel chairs. It is produced by the United Spinal Association. I found the document so well written, and so informative, that I thought it was worth including a link to it in our newsletter.
Disability Etiquette

Fred Parmenter

Bylaws Update

From the Board

All members should have received an email yesterday with their copy of the exciting New Proposed Amended Bylaws. If you did not receive the email, first check your spam or junk folder and then contact Mary Jane.

In the next two weeks, two Townhall Meetings are scheduled for Question & Answer Discussions. You are not only welcome, but encouraged to attend these meetings, so that you can be better informed when it comes time to vote.

Two town hall Q&A discussions will be using the Universal Zoom link:
Thursday, March 10th, at 6:30pm and
Wednesday, March 16th, at 2pm

Here is a link to the proposed Bylaws. The link will open in a separate window: Proposed Bylaws

From the Editor

The above town meetings are good places to ask about issues you see with the proposed Bylaws or for clarification of certain articles. Amendments to the Bylaws may be made at our Annual Meeting on March 27. In particular I am considering the following amendment:

  • To add Article VI Section H1K:
    Board recusals
    No Board member may vote on an issue arising out of a committee on which he or she is a member.
  • To replace “permanent committee” with “standing committee” throughout the document.

The first part of this amendment seems pretty straight forward.  You should never sit on a review panel of something you yourself created. Doing so would undermine the whole point of Board review.

The second part of the amendment speaks to a change the Bylaws Committee saw fit to make. In our current Bylaws, dated 2017, there were references to “standing committees, ” which is standard terminology for committees that were not created for a specific situation. The Bylaws Committee considered the change advisable “to avoid potentially provocative ableist language.” During the Town Hall meetings the Bylaws Committee may speak further to this point, but my view is that it is misguided. If you reference the Oxford English Dictionary, “standing” used in this way refers to something that is not particular, such as standing water or a standing invitation. It clearly has nothing to do with the members of a committee needing to stand during the meeting.

I called the United Spinal Association so I could learn directly from people who use wheel chairs what they think about banning the phrase “standing committee.”  The director, with whom I spoke at length, and who has been wheel chair bound for 22 years, said he thought it was “ridiculous.” He went on to say that when he gets home that night he might say to his wife, “Honey, let’s go for a walk”  even though he would be in a wheel chair. To quote from their etiquette manual:

It’s okay to use idiomatic expressions when talking to people with disabilities. For example, saying, “It was good to see you,” and “See you later,” to a person who is blind is completely acceptable; they use these expressions themselves all the time.

Another side of Myrna

Empire Bagel

What’s that you say? There’s no place to get a real New York bagel? Well look here!

On Route 17 at the Winn Dixie plaza there is Empire Bagel. They offer a great variety in the bagels and cream cheese. They are made to order, fresh and can include lox, tomatoes, and onions. They taste as good as any you can get in New York. They even claim to use NY water in making them. You can eat right there in the clean, cheerful café. All kinds of breakfasts can be ordered, but bagels are the specialty. The coffee is hot, good, and plentiful.

Enjoy! Enjoy!

Florence Martin


How did you meet?

This month we continue with a new column about how some of our friends met. This month it is Laura & Don Liermann:

Best Tikka Masala Locally

Considering the southern and American attitudes that may diminish the desirability of foreign food, this review will have an admittedly difficult audience.

But the Universalists consider diversity a desirable characteristic. And this is a problem story of conflicted values. We are going to report a very positive eating experience.

The Curry and Kabab restaurant is conveniently located on 3492 N. Tamiami Trail Rt. 41 near Easy Street. We have admired their culinary accomplishments since we first experienced their menu before they moved to Port Charlotte from Punta Gorda. Many years.

But we have been trapped by an anomaly worrisome to diners-out. Going out to eat may inspire exposure to new gustatory adventures. Experiments can lead to life changing discoveries of new pleasures. So you may be disappointed to learn that because Curry and Kabab create great Tikka Masala, we should apologize. Your risk may be, if you try it, that you will be caught in the one option web. Because we love this dish to the exclusion of perfectly fine options, we are recognized by the serving staff and our dedicated reliance on Chicken Tikka Masala (medium spice) is irrevocable, and inevitable.

Don’t try it if you want to remain impartial. You’re welcome. They really do have other good stuff.

Bill Stanwood

The Light Touch

This month we get three treats from John Lee:

Past issues

You may access past issues of the UUFCC’s newsletters by clicking on the month of interest. The following issues highlighted in purple were created by Ginger during her tenure as editor, and the others highlighted in green were created by Fred during his tenure as editor:

Year
2012 Apr May/Jun Jul/Aug Sep Oct Nov
2013 Jan Feb Mar May/Jun Jul/Aug Oct Nov
2014 Jan Mar May/Jun Jul/Aug Sep Oct Nov
2015 Jan Feb Mar Apr May/Jun Jul/Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2016 Jan Feb Mar Apr May/Jun Jul/Aug Oct Nov Dec
2017 Feb Jul/Aug Oct Nov Dec
2018 Jan Feb Mar Apr May/Jun Jul/Aug Sep Nov Dec
2019 Jan Feb Mar Apr May/Jun Jul/Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2020 Jan Feb Mar May Jun/Jul Aug/Sep Oct Nov Dec
2021 Jan Feb Mar Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2022JanFebMar

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Thesbian Thoughts

Hello all. I am proud to promote Venice Theaters upcoming production of my favorite story, To Kill a Mockingbird.

I volunteered to be a reader for male parts during one night of auditions. I also auditioned. I have been cast as Link Deas, Tom Robison employer. The casting days had to be extended secondary to some actors had covid and had to wait until they were done isolating. 21 principle cast members. 17 white and 4 black. Additional there will be extras specifically for the court room scene. Nelle Harper Lee published the book in 1960. Won the Pulitzer prize for the best fiction in 1961. Over 40 million copies sold. The New York times stated ” the best book of the past 125 years. Benny Sato Ambush is the director. He is also Venice Theaters artistic director. Rehearsals begin February 24th. The play runs from April 15th to May 1st.

This is my dream part to be on that stage. This story must be told many times. Blessings to ” All you Beautiful People in the Dark ” ( meaning in the audience, from Sunset Boulevard movie).

Patrick Eaton

Meditation

Join the meditation practice on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at UU, at 4:30 PM.        Practicing mindfulness meditation allows us to look directly at the poisons that cause our suffering.  We become conscious of them, instead of simply allowing them to be embedded into the habits of suffering.  Practicing kindness, compassion and wisdom dissolves our suffering. Come join us in meditation and experience the process.

Helen Sokalski

Reimagining the First Principle

As we all know the UUA promotes and encourages all its members to adopt as a philosophy and guidebook the seven principles and its sources. The UUA is now in the process of reviewing and revising these principles and sources. Recently, the UUA debated whether to add an eighth principle to help end all types of racism within and outside the UUA world. UUA claims that its principles are a “living document”, and as such, it must be periodically updated to make it relevant to the age. I have many thoughts about how the principles and sources can be improved. In this space I will address just the first principle.

The first principle states, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.” It is a somewhat awkward statement. Perhaps it is intended as an axiom that establishes a set of expectations. That is to say that every person’s worth and dignity must be respected in the same way. To say that worth and dignity is “inherent” is to say they are embedded into the essence of the person. Whether this essence is assigned by a god or culture is debatable. As a secular humanist, I argue that our essence emerges from our experiences rather than a divine being. We can debate that at another time if you like.

The word “worth “can be an adjective, preposition or verb. Common definitions include: 1) equal in value to; deserving of; and 2) good or important enough to justify. The word “dignity” is a noun, and it is defined as the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. The worth and dignity we are concerned about is what is communicated to persons by other individuals, groups or cultures. In this context UUA appears to be saying that all human beings, who follow these principles, must recognize the worth and dignity of other human beings. It is too often the case that the worth and dignity assigned to others by individuals and groups is the result of the value it assigns to race, gender, class, education, ableism, etc. The goal of deploying a universal definition of worth and dignity is to ensure that every individual matters. By achieving this goal, we could mitigate the exploitation and margination of racial and ethnic minorities and other people who are bereft of power.

There are useful limitations to the universal assignment of worth and dignity. For example, even the best of us might have trouble assigning the same worth and dignity to the mass murders Dylan Roof and Omar Mir Seddique Mateen as we would to respected and worthwhile members of our community. These individuals intentionally put themselves outside the circle of our empathy and deserve harsh punishment.

I propose that the first principle be changed as follows: We strive to recognize and apply a universal application of worth and dignity to all humanity. As an aspirational goal, my recommendation is more focused on the mechanism of restoration and the building of the foundations of a beloved community than what currently exists.

There are very good arguments for extending this umbrella to protect many animals who are intelligent and capable of experiencing suffering. I invite anyone who wants to take up this argument to do so. We could benefit from your perspective.

A Thank You

Since July of 2021 many people have contributed to the newsletter:

  • Joanne Collins and Dick Schwarz filled in as our secret judges of the best cartoon captions.
  • Carole Burkett was our “Dear Lucy.”
  • Patrick Eaton provided thoughtful reviews of plays in and around the Venice area as well as some classic movies.
  • Lisa Roberts provide exciting reviews and pictures of nearby restaurants which she and her husband Al dutifully visited.
  • John Lee brought us The Light Touch each month.
  • Myrna Chary and Robert Moran wrote the only two letters-to-the-editor we had, but each one of the letters was thoughtful and heartfelt.
  • Myrna Chary, Laura Anderson, Herb Levin and Betty Barriga contributed thoughtful articles on Social and Immigration Justice issues.
  • Joseph Fenty shared with us two articles, one on his iWatch and the other one in this issue on a misdirected UUA principle.
  • MaryLou Proudfoot-Kennedy took the time to help all of us understand the important work that she and other members of the Bylaws Committee were doing.
  • Thoughtful articles were also written by Laura Liermann, Stephanie Garrett, Florence Martin, Bill Stanwood, Bill Howat Jr. and Alan Searle.
  • Almost monthly we were treated to the poetry of Sharon Whitehill and this month Marion Mena joins in that effort.
  • We saw art works from many on the Art Committee and a special thanks goes out to the artists who created our cartoons: Tom Deuley, Trudy Gerhardt and Joanne Collins:

It’s been fun

I have enjoyed my short time as editor of the newsletter and I hope I have contributed in some small way to all of us getting to know each other a little bit better.