Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
March 15, 2020

March’s theme: Wisdom

What Does It Mean To Be a People of Wisdom?

There are many ways to seek wisdom. There is travel, there are masters, there is service. There is staring into the eyes of children and elders and lovers and strangers. There is sitting silently in one spot and there is being swept along in life’s turbulent current. Life itself will grant you wisdom in ways you may neither understand nor choose.

~ Kent Nerburn

Wisdom is everywhere and nowhere. It is within our reach and often elusive. It is outside us, beyond us. We can spend our lives seeking it–acquiring more and more experiences, accumulating knowledge, and looking to gurus and masters for meaning and guidance.

But sometimes we need to stop and see how wisdom is showing up from within us. Listening to our own teacher, to our own intuition, our inner voice, can be powerful and profound. How well are you doing at listening to your own inner teacher as well as heeding the counsel of others? When’s the last time your still small voice gave you just the insight you needed all along? This month as we explore the many sources of wisdom, be sure to take time to explore your own inner voice. It just may be the key that unlocks some wisdom you’ve been waiting for.

Yours in love,

Rev. Sandra

Balancing Knowledge and Wisdom

From your Director of Music
Elizabeth Bromley

“Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification. ”

– Martin H. Fischer

In rehearsal we focus on the balance between piling up of skills and then in performance we strive to let all of the details go and focus on the moment at hand.

In rehearsal we’re focused on the rhythm and the notes and the text and the dynamics And and And and And…..

Letting all of the details become one simplified idea can be so hard.

All of the details can seem so important that engaging with the whole picture, the whole piece of music can become challenging.

It is often only in a dress rehearsal, the time right before a performance, that we give ourselves permission to move away from the details and experience the whole piece.

Great conductors know to check the “balance” of an ensemble.  Either they’ll ask someone to move to the far corners of a room and report what they hear to the conductor or they themselves will move away from right in front of the group and conduct from a further distance than normal to hear how the different sounds are blending in the room.  Are the lower sounds louder than the higher sounds, can we hear each individual part or are some parts not coming through?

The simplification comes when we can create distance from the piece we’re focusing on and it truly helps our wisdom when we can share our perspectives with many folx.  In what ways is it easy for you to find a “balcony perspective” with moments in your life? In what ways do you need to ask someone else to share with you their “balcony perspective”?

In Harmony,

Ebee Bromley

The Wisdom of A Wise Old Owl

From Your Director of Religious Education
Elizabeth Bromley

A Wise Old Owl

A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more they saw the less they spoke.
The less they spoke the more they heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

Wisdom shared to you from the SoulMatters Religious Education Materials for our Seeds class (PreK-K group).

Questions to play with in this month of wisdom:
What helps you see, hear, smell, touch & taste your world?
How can you experience more of your world this month?

Yours in the wisdom of questions,

Ebee Bromley,
Director of Religious Education


by nadine j. smet-weiss

spiritual director







This Sunday:

Zoom Worship Service Only:

A Living Bridge

A central task of religious community is to form connections, to create living bridges with and to others. Today we’ll explore the many ways our community builds bridges of understanding, relationship, and justice.

Have you seen our new website?
Check it out at UUBerks.org

IMPORTANT: Update to Worship on Sun., March 15

Dear Members and Friends,

There is much uncertainty around the Covid-19 (coronavirus), but we are certain that our ethical responsibility as a religious community is to do whatever we can to reduce harm and limit exposure to those who are most vulnerable. Both the CDC and the UUA are recommending people practice social distancing, and the UUA is now encouraging all congregations to avoid in-person gatherings of more than 25 people, including Worship and Religious Education. Gov. Tom Wolf has announced mass closings in Montgomery County, one of our neighboring counties, local Berks County schools and colleges are closing, and many local gatherings are being postponed.

Based on the guidance and all these consideration, the Board of Directors has made the decision to move our Worship to an online/phone format. Beginning this Sunday, March 15, we will hold Worship online beginning at 10:30 am. There will be no in-person worship at UU Berks this week or in future weeks until further notice. 

The Board has also voted to cancel all in-person activities at the church effective March 14 .The Board has also voted to cancel all in-person activities at the church effective March 14 with the only exception of essential business approved by the Board.

Please join in on Sunday. We need each other now. For Sunday’s worship, we are using the Zoom conferencing platform. It is easy to Zoom from a computer, tablet, or phone! Here is how you do it:

  • With a computer, smartphone or tablet, click on this link to participate: https://zoom.us/j/562036166. (If it’s the first time you’re using zoom you may be prompted to download a launcher app.)
  • With a land-line, cell phone, or smartphone, dial this number to participate: 1-646-558-8656.
  • When prompted, enter the Meeting ID: 562 036 166.

Please plan to log on by 10:20 or 10:25 am so that you can establish a connection before worship is scheduled to begin. Please note that your mic will be muted when you join this Sunday and will remain muted for the service. For future services, we will be offering more interactive options including breakout rooms for small group sharing.

We will be continuing to work to find ways to connect as a spiritual community without being able to be together in person. I will be hosting weekday drop in times online/phone by Zoom beginning next week for those who would like to check in. You can find that information here. Meanwhile, we will be conducting committee meetings online and exploring more opportunities for small groups to gather virtually.

Yours in love and faith,

Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

Weekday Zoom Chats with Rev. Sandra

Members and friends are invited to drop by online or by phone next week via Zoom to check in with Rev. Sandra Fees or just to see how Zoom works. The days, times, and instructions are provided below. If these times do not work for you, please contact Rev. Sandra to schedule a time.
Here are the dates and times:

  • Mar 17, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time
  • Mar 17, 2020 02:00 PM Eastern Time
  • Mar 19, 2020 01:00 PM Eastern Time
  • Mar 20, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time

Here’s how to join:

Shut Down Berks Vigil-Cancelled due to Covid-19

The Shut down Berks Vigil originally scheduled for Sunday March 15th has been cancelled. As of now, our next Vigil will take place of April 5th.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT s.strauss@pachurches.org
Visit the Shut Down Berks Interfaith Witness Facebook page-Facebook.com/shutdownberks/

Can You Help Us “Toward Full Flowering”?

The inspiring reflections that members Dennis Williams and Tonya Wenger have presented over the last month, seeking stewardship campaign commitments for our 2020-2021 fiscal year have motivated many of you to complete your pledge forms! Thank you so much! There are copies of the pledge brochure in the Gerber Room explaining this year’s campaign theme of “Toward Full Flowering,” asking members to consider their pledges as a way of helping the congregation do “more.”

As an additional incentive to make this “more” happen in our fiscal year that begins July 1, we have secured a promise of a “matching grant” from a generous member who will add dollar for dollar up to $10,000 for those who are able to increase their pledges for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The pledges of new members or previously unpledged members will count toward this match, too.

We’re already close to halfway toward reaching the maximum match!

To allow a budget to be put together based on the pledges in time for May’s Congregational Meeting, it would be great to have all pledges in by the end of March.

Church Wi-Fi update

Over the weekend of March 8-9th, we upgraded the firmware on all of our 4 wireless access points to fix a few security issues. As part of this update, we changed the password and have started to use short phrases like “An apple a day” for passwords: phrases are easier to type in and they are more difficult for crackers to exploit. The current and all future password phrases will be at least 16 characters long, have at least 1 uppercase letter, 1 number character and 1 punctuation character.

You can find the new current password posted on a small piece of yellow paper pinned at the top of the bulletin board in the Gerber Room. If you have any questions, please contact Frank Wilder at frank.wilder@uuberks.org.

Clean Up Our City, and Celebrate Spring Together!

Join Barrio Allegria, South of Penn, and several other partner     organizations as we Clean Up Our City, and Celebrate Spring   Together!  Spend 2 hours picking up trash around “our block”    and then 2 hours celebrating with food, music, and entertainment at the Reading Iron Playground.  A family activity that helps the local environment, and lets us join our Reading neighbors in welcoming Spring.  Sign-up sheet in the Gerber Room. See Ginny Chudgar for details.

  • The city will provide all supplies, so sign the volunteer sheet asap so we can get an approximate number
  • We will meet at church and clean up “our” block first, and then join the rest of the volunteers to eat and dance at the Iron Playground
  • The city will take away the trash bags!

Members, Please Beware: Church Phishing Scam Using Fake Email

Dear members and friends, please beware of any suspicious emails you may receive attempting to impersonate me and asking you for gifts cards or money. Many ministers and congregations are being subjected to these phishing scams. The way it works is that someone creates a fake email address impersonating the minister’s. They send the email

 out to church members asking the recipient to purchase gift cards to help out someone desperately in need with the promise to pay them back.

This week a few of you received such a phishing email from someone impersonating me. (My account has not been hacked.) Please do not respond to these emails and be sure to block them.

Also note that my correct church email address is: minister@uuberks.org. Please do not use or respond to any other email addresses for me. My apologies for any inconvenience.

Rev. Sandra (minister@uuberks.org)

“Building a Community of Communities” with Paula Cole Jones

Did you miss Sunday’s service or want to hear Paula Cole Jones’s presentation again? Listen to the complete “Building a Community of Communities” presentation from General Assembly 2019 

SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, April 5th – it’s a double-feature!

12pm – Shut Down Berks training at First UU Church of Berks County (co-sponsored by Sunrise Movement Berks). This training is open to new comers and those that have been doing the work before. 

3:30pm – monthly Shut Down Berks vigil at the Berks County Family Detention Center (led by Cabrini University and Saint Joe’s University students) #ShutDownBerks #EndFamilyDetention

1040 Berks Rd, Leesport, PA 19533 .Parking is located across the street from the center.

Ruth Epler needs to find a home for her beloved cats

These two beauties are looking for a new home. Pumpkin is about 12 yo and Tommy is 7. They are best buds, have had regular vet visits, including all their shots. They are friendly and indoor only. All their toys, litter box, etc. can go with them. Their “mom” Ruthie Epler has to move and they can’t go along.Please contact office@uuberks.org if you might be able to offer them a home.

Pennsylvania UUs,

On Wednesday evening, March 11, 2020 at 8pm,  UUPLAN will host a UU the Vote zoom meeting for all Pennsylvania UUs.

It’s a chance to communicate about the UU the Vote efforts Pennsylvania UU congregations and partner organizations are planning and doing.

Many UUs from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and Massachusetts have indicated a desire to come to Pennsylvania to do meaningful electoral work.  We’ll discuss how to connect those folks to congregations and communities where electoral work reflecting our UUA values is being performed.

Susan Leslie, the UUA’s long time “Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director” and a member of the UUA’s Organizing Strategy Team, will be joining us.

Please invite others to attend the zoom meeting.  It will last no more than 1 hour.

Contact me if you have thoughts or questions.

Zoom Info:  From your PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android click this link: https://zoom.us/j/7132347624    
Or by phone:
1-408-638-0968 or 646-558-865
Meeting ID:  713 234 7624

In the faith,

Richard Williams, Director
Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network (UUPLAN)
Pronouns: he, him, his
Cell: 570-793-3316

Indigenous Peoples’ Book Read and Workshop led by Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

*This workshop will now be held online and by phone via Zoom

Workshop: Sunday, March 29, Noon-1:30 pm (book reading period: mid-January-March 2020)

Join in reading and reflecting on the award-winning book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. This narrative upends myths and misinformation, reconsiders the U.S. origin story taught in most schools, and presents US history through the experiences and perspectives of indigenous peoples.

Sign up for the workshop on the church bulletin board or by contacting the church office. This program is being hosted by UU Berks ADORE (A Dialogue on Race & Ethnicity, formerly the Racial Justice Education Team).

An 8th Principle???

What is The 8th Principle and why do we need it? To learn more, read Rev. Sandra’s sermon, which was delivered on January 19. At our Spring Congregational Meeting on May 17, we will vote on whether to adopt The 8th Principle.

Save the Date

Save the date for our Annual Service Auction.It will be held on Saturday, April 25th at 6 pm.

General Assembly 2020

General Assembly 2020 is being held in Providence, RI, June 24-28. Members and youth are encouraged to attend. Anyone may attend. Our congregation will also have 4 assigned delegates, who will be authorized to vote on business matters and whose registration will be funded by the Orts UU Scholarship Fund.

General Assembly is the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists for conducting business of the Association, exploring the theological underpinnings of our faith, and leaning fully into our mission and principles. Please join us Wednesday, June 24 through Sunday, June 28, 2020 in Providence, Rhode Island for this 5-day immersive experience themed Rooted, Inspired & Ready! Join your faith family at inspirational worship services, informative workshops and a bustling exhibit hall. We anticipate that 4,500+ UUs will gather for this unforgettable experience and leave with renewed energy and innovative ideas for congregational and community engagement.
Registration is Now Open!
Registration is now open at uua.org/ga/registration. Full-time registration is $400 for adults, $250 for high school youth and retired and candidate ministers, $150 for off-site registrants. Early bird registration is now through March 15, 2020. Rates increase on March 16th.
NEW! Registration Payment Plan
Prefer smaller payments over a longer period of time? We’ve designed a payment plan just for you. When you register, simply click “payment plan” when prompted and, for as little as $50 down, you can spread out the balance of your registration over several months. Registration must be paid in full on or before February 29, 2020.
Register for General Assembly Now!

The UUA is committed to the goal of making GA accessible to as many attendees as possible. Go to uua.org/ga to learn about scholarships to support participation – particularly of those from marginalized groups – and volunteer opportunities (work in exchange for registration). The UUA is committed to addressing the inclusion of all people, whatever their abilities might be, in all GA activities. Beyond the physical accessibility of the facilities we use – ramps, captioning, seating cut-outs, etc.- we endeavor to take the next step: to truly welcome people with disabilities into every facet of GA.
Housing Opens March 2 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern
In addition to a variety of nearby hotels, attendees will also be able to book dormitory-style accommodations at two local universities. Also, UUs from local congregations will serve as host families for Home Hospitality, which is B&B style accommodations. Make your hotel reservation beginning March 2 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. For more information, visit uua.org/ga/travel.

You can learn more about GA here: https://www.uua.org/ga. If we have enough participation, we will look into vans and/or sharing rides. Meanwhile, if you are interested, please add your name to the bulletin board sign up sheet, or contact the church office at office@uuberks.org

Upcoming events:

Choir Rehearsal – Cancelled
Sun, March 15, 9:30 AM

Sustainer’s Brunch- Cancelled
Sun, March 15, 12:00 PM

Guitar Rehearsal – Cancelled
Mon, March 16, 7:45 PM

Zoom Chat with Rev. Sandra
Tue, March 17, 11:00 AM

Zoom Chat with Rev. Sandra
Tue, March 17, 2:00 PM

Membership Committee- Via Zoom, No In Person Meeting
Tue, March 17, 7:00 PM

Choir Rehearsal – TBD
Wed, March 18, 7:00 PM

Zoom Call with Rev. Sandra
Thu, March 19, 1:00 PM

Zoom Call with Rev. Sandra
Fri, March 20, 10:00 AM

Choir Rehearsal –TBD
Sun, March 22, 9:30 AM

RE Committee Meeting-TBD 
Sun, March 22, 12:00 PM

Guitar Rehearsal –TBD
Mon, March 23, 7:45 PM

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