Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
June 28, 2020

This Sunday:

Sunday Morning Worship at GA at 10 AM

June 28, 2020 10 am

Join in the largest annual gathering of UUs joining in worship. This service will stream on uua.org/ga Sunday at 10 am. Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Minister of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, VT, is worship leader and will deliver the sermon. Rev. Mykal O’Neal Slack is co-worship leader. He is currently the Community Minister for Worship and Spiritual Care for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism and a co-founder of the Transforming Hearts Collective. Benjie Messer who serves at the UU Congregation of Phoenix and has just completed the UUA’s Music Leadership Certification Program is the music director.

The worship service will include a collection for the Tomaquag Museum, an indigenous museum featuring an extensive collection and archive of Southern New England tribal communities.

Missed Last Week’s Service?
If you missed last week’s service you can view the recordings on our Past Services page on our web site at http;//uuberks.org.  Click on the “Worship” link on the main menu and select the “Past Service” option.

Are you having trouble connecting to Zoom services?

We have established a Zoom service tech line if you are having trouble logging into our Sunday service. If you do not get an immediate answer, leave a message and your call will be returned momentarily.Dial 484-925-1684.

Tonight – FRIDAY
7:00 PM:
  • Story time link with Seedlings lead teacher Maria Couchman and her two assistants (Colin & James) Scroll down through this link for past stories.
9:45-10:15 AM 
  • No Sunday RE this week
10:00 AM
  • All ages worship :Come to G.A. worship! use or be inspired by the visual order of service
  • For All: This week we come together to explore how we as Unitarian Universalists work together, how do we feel prepared, how do we move forward even if we don’t feel ready?
  • Coloring Sheet: Visual Order of Service” pages by DRE, Liza Earle-Centers, at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, VT THIS THING IS AWESOME!  
  • Activity: The Visual Order of Service” pages by DRE, Liza Earle-Centers has a fabulous activity – she asks that you “know that you are not alone.  All those ancestors who have loved and cared for us, taught us, held us, inspired us … they are with us.” Who are some of your ancestors – biological or chosen — who can be with you in spirit whenever you need them.  Write their names or draw them here  
11:45 AM
Monday – Thursday 
Daily posts on our new covenanted RE Facebook page
check out our Remind classroom. 
If you need to signup link here: remind.com/join/refuucbc

If you are in need of a church directory, would like to update your pledge, sign up for Egiving or just have general questions? Please contact our office administrator at office@uuberks.org

Rev. Sandra’s Summer Schedule

Over the summer, our minister, Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees, will be taking vacation and study leave time. During that time, she will be responding to pastoral emergencies (deaths, serious illnesses, and crises). For non-emergency pastoral news (a birth, celebration, or struggle), please contact the Caring Circle at g.caring.circle@uuberks.org. For questions about other church matters, contact our Office Administrator, Melissa Medina, at the church office at office@uuberks.org.

Rev. Sandra’s Summer Schedule:

  • June 30-July 13 – on leave
  • July 14-19 – at church
  • July 20-Aug. 17 – on leave

Pledge Campaign Restart … And Re-Affirmation

A big thank you for the continued contributions for everyone who is allowing us to weather the storm and sailing our ship into a safe harbor for fiscal year ending shortly. Since informally resuming our Pledge Campaign for ’20-’21, we have already achieved a $10,000 “matching grant” from a generous member based on those who’ve increased their pledges for the new fiscal year.

Since our $10,000 match has already been met, our priority is for those who are still to pledge to maintain your level in the new fiscal year beginning in July. Of course, there are those among us who have been deeply affected financially by the pandemic. Your “job one” may be survival and we respect that. In addition, this is an opportunity for anyone who previously pledged to adjust your amount due to changing circumstances. If that is the case, please send an e-mail to g.pledge-drive@uuberks.org.

Thanks again for all those who have given and are contemplating it! Your donations will help us continue our vital work!

ADORE Listening Cafe

Our congregation’s ADORE group (A Dialog On Race and Ethnicity) invites you to a virtual space on Sunday, July 5 from 11:45-12:45 PM via GoogleMeet. We encourage all participants to share and learn, we will specifically discuss the movement led by the#ShutDownBerks Coalition to close the Berks Family Detention Center in Leesport. To receive updates, join FUUBC’s Immigration Justice group list by sending a request to g.immigration.justice@uuberks.org.

Topic: Intersection of Race and Immigration Justice
Time: Sunday, July 5 starting 11:45AM
MeetingID: cyw-yttw-cjd (Google Meet with closed captioning)

To join from your desktop/laptop/tablet/smartphone, click on this link:

To connect by phone:
1) Dial the phone number: 1-413-758-2375‬
2) When prompted for the “PIN”, enter: 313 300 242#‬
To help with future dialogues, please give us your input on this very brief survey before July 3rd: ADORE Next Step

Questions or concerns can be directed to Jeanne at 484-529-0915.

Contemplative Companions gathering via zoom on Monday 7/6 @ 7pm.

A time for silence, sharing and listening from our hearts around the theme of “Active Hope.” If you would like to join us for this gathering (and are not on the group email list) please contact Nadine (njw1258@hotmail.com ;or 484-333-4015) for the “Active Hope” practice sheet and to receive the zoom link for the gathering on 7/6

With Sadness On The Death Of Ruthie Epler

With sadness, I’m writing to share the news that our beloved member Ruthie Epler died early Wednesday morning.  Ruthie was a long-time and active church member (54 years!). At church, she is remembered for her dedication to the building and worship committees. She was a teacher, feminist, and LGBTQ activist who loved science and nature. Plans for a memorial service will be shared as they are available.You may send expressions of sympathy to Maureen Bernard at 363 Orchard Rd, Fleetwood, PA 19522.

Volunteers Needed for Chicken BBQ Fundraiser

We are evaluating having a Kauffman Chicken BBQ fundraiser in late August/early September. These kinds of fundraisers only work if we have enough volunteers, because the minimum order is 400 dinners (with a $4-5 profit on each dinner).  We will need people to

  • sell dinner tickets in advance to your friends and families (we need
  • to sell at least 250-300 tickets before the event)
  • pickup supplies (apple sauce, rolls, containers,…)
  • set up, assembly dinners, clean up on the day of the event.

If you are able to help, can you please fill out a short survey by midnight on Friday, June 26th. Here is the link to the survey: https://uuberks.org/chicken-bbq-survey. If you have any questions or suggestions, contact Frank Wilder at frank.wilder@uuberks.org.

Can You Help? A Request from Joan Bromley

I need a kidney donation for a kidney transplant. Because of my blood type and age, my wait for a compatible kidney from a deceased kidney donor is expected to be as long as 8 years. At the moment there are 100,000 people in the US waiting for a kidney donation.
I feel very uncomfortable asking for help, but my doctor recommended that I ask if anyone would be willing to donate a kidney? Kidney donations from live donors last up to 3 times longer than ones from deceased donations. So, ideally a live donor is the best. Having a donated kidney provides a much better quality of life than doing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

If you are interested in possibly donating a kidney, please contact the living donor team, the number is 215-662-6200. There is a frequently asked questions page on the living donor website https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/find-a-program-or-service/transplant-institute/living-donor-kidney-transplant. Even if we aren’t a match, if you’d be willing to donate to a kidney chain, many more people than just me could be helped. Thanks for your consideration. I really appreciate it.

In Love and Gratitutde,
Joan Bromley

When Can Our Church Gather In Person? – An Update

Some of you have already read or heard the updated guidance from the UUA related to reopening of our UU congregations. I know that I am grateful for their care and attention to offering us their recommendations and answers to the questions that are on all of our minds: When can we reopen our church to in-person gatherings? How can we begin to gather safely?

After consulting public health experts, the UUA has recommended that our congregations continue to meet virtually. They have further recommended that we plan to meet virtually for the next year through May of 2021.

While a shorter time-frame might be a low or moderate risk for some of our members, we have many congregational members and leaders who are at high risk. As a community, we need to give priority to the most vulnerable among us. Additionally, we are learning that religious gatherings are highly contagious events and that a long trajectory for the pandemic is predicted.

Our congregational leadership will be paying close attention to the ongoing guidance of the UUA as well as to the recommendations of local and state public health experts in determining our congregation’s reopening timeline. If conditions improve significantly and more quickly than predicted, small in-person gatherings or some offsite activities may become possible sooner.

I miss our in-person gatherings even as I am grateful that the church continues its mission and ministry. Through worship, religious education, pastoral care, and social justice – and so many other ways – we continue to live our values and endeavor to build Beloved Community.

In love and faith,

Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

Worship Tech-Slideshow Coordinators Needed

The worship team is looking for a few more volunteers who can run the Sunday morning slides during worship. Volunteers are on duty once every 4 to 6 weeks. You will get training and rehearse with the worship team the week prior to the service you are supporting. Rehearsals are held Fridays from 5-6 pm.You will need familiarity and ease using Zoom and slides (we use Google Slides which are similar to PowerPoint) as well as a strong internet connection. If you are interested or have questions, please send a email to office@uuberks.org.

Giving Options in a time of coronavirus
We know that these are uncertain times and that some of our members and friends are being impacted financially as well as in so many other ways. For those who are able to make a gift or continue to contribute to their pledge, we have added some options. In addition to accepting checks and signing up for electronic giving, you can also now make your gifts from the website and via text. Here are the details:

  • You can now give online on our website UUberks.org by clicking on the online giving tab or clicking
  • You can also give by downloading the GivePlus app on google play and the App store below. You can easily locate our church by zip code 19602

Covid-19 UU Berks Community Response Fund


In response to Covid-19, UU Berks is establishing a “Covid-19 community response fund” as a sub-category of the existing Minister’s Discretionary Fund (MDF). Donations to the “Covid-19 community response fund” will be used to fill critical gaps in the lives of individuals and families in Reading and Berks County that are the result of Covid-19.

Assistance may include one-time payments of phone, gas, electric, rent, or mortgage expenses resulting from lost wages or other Covid-19 related impacts. Recipients will be church members and friends or individuals and families referred by church members. Contributions may be made by check to First UU Church of Berks County (FUUBC). Write “Covid-19 MDF” on the memo line.

You may also make a contribution to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund for the ongoing hardships affecting church members and friends by sending a check to FUUBC and writing “MDF” on the memo line. Contact Melissa Medina, office administrator, at office@uuberks.org or Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees at minister@uuberks.org if you have questions.

Are You in Need of Resources?

Are you experiencing financial or grocery needs? The church community can provide a box of dry-goods groceries on a Thursday for pick up at the church or grocery cards to shop at Giant or Weis. For assistance with these or other needs, please contact by email Rev.Dr. Sandra Fees or the church office. You may call the church office at 610-372-0928 or email office@uuberks.org

Top 3 Spiritual Essentials in Troubled Times

From Rev. Sandra’s Study

I don’t think it is too much to say that play can save your life. It certainly has salvaged mine. . . . Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.

Stuart Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

Dear Members and Friends,

I have been spending a lot of time wondering about what I need most spiritually in a time of trouble like this one, and what our religious community needs most right now. There’s no one answer. But here are my top three picks for the month, all of which can lead to greater compassion for self and community:

  1. Sacred Space. I need sacred space. Religious traditions call that Sabbath time. This isn’t just the ordinary run-of-the mill stuff of my schedule. Sabbath is time set apart. Time for rest, renewal, creativity. Time for attending to the spirit. By honoring the Sabbath, I deepen my connection to the holy and by extension to all of creation.
  2. Sacred Play. In times of stress and trouble, sacred play can be a balm to the spirit. Sacred play is intentional. It is done without being goal-driven for the sheer pleasure of playing. When’s the last time you allowed your spirit to be soulfully reinvigorated by playing?
  3. Sacred Connection. Being rooted and inspired by my UU faith is a third way I fortify myself. June is the time of our annual UUA General Assembly when we come together by the thousands – this year virtually. Our community will have the unique opportunity to connect in a powerful collective worship experience on the last Sunday of the month with other UUs across the country and world.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider these sacred avenues to refresh your spirit – and consider what else you would add to the list.

Yours in faith and love,

Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

Some two and a half months into bringing church into our homes through the telephone wire or internet box we’ll be exploring what we do to create sacred space, sabbath, outside of those connections.

I started thinking this week – what do I already do and have to create sacred space in my home. I could write about how sacred space comes in through singing a hymn to myself or listening to a playlist. Sabbath space is slightly different though. It’s the act of setting aside time and space for worship, rest and connection.

So I’m going back to basics this month. In my voice studio – when I have a new student there are two exercises I do with them. Both exercises help set aside time and space for lifting up what is worthy in the voice (worship), (rest)ing our everyday speaking voice, and connecting with our voices.

The first involves breath work. “Can you measure your inhale? Can you count your exhale?” I ask them.

The next exercise is to make sound. It’s that simple and it’s that hard. I ask them to gather their sound up with a long inhale and then let that sound go – to let sound bubble up from the deepest part of themselves and slide to the highest and find it’s way back to the middle.

This siren, this wail, this utterance when done with abandon is a sound of compassion. This action requires you to notice your own air, feel when it’s moving and responding with sound. It’s a sound many of my newer students feel unsure or embarrassed about. There has been a long time since they have called their voices to be that free.

Many of us, as we’re exploring this new sabbath practice might feel unsure, or embarrassed or that we’re not doing it right. But the only way to start is to start. Set aside time and space with using sound. I will be using a holy wail to mark that time.

What sacred space do you already create in your home?

In May Kent, Ms Erin and I have been sending out postcards to the children and youth at UUBerks. On the picture side they had a coloring sheet. It was a white background and black lines. It was full of possibility. The image for this post is T. Hauk’s creation he filled in with watercolor.

This month we continue to strengthen our connections in new and creative ways. I’m inviting you to enter into a fun and simple spiritual practice that UU religious educator Kimberly Sweeny shared with me. In 2015 Kim started writing letters! MAGICAL letters. The Soulful Home packet explains:

“She was feeling blue at the end of a long and difficult winter where she lived, in New England. (And it gets COLD in New England.) She probably
missed playing outside with friends. She probably missed being able to go to friends’ houses to hang out. And she probably missed seeing friends’ beloved faces, and getting and giving hugs, high-fives, or waves hello with twinkly-eyed smiles. Maybe this is how you feel this month, after a long and difficult winter, and then spring, of living in the pandemic.
Kimberly knew she wasn’t the only one who might need some connection and kindness in hard times. So, she started sending her people letters, real letters, sent in the mail–and she made them wonderful–magical, even! She surprised people with clever, colorful, unexpected missives until the hard times became better.
Our neighborhoods may still not be places where it’s safe and wise to wander about and make contact with others. So again this month, we’re imagining a neighborhood of the whole country, continent, or even world!! And, instead of us looking for treasures, we’re going to scatter treasures, through our letters.
In letters to friends and family members, challenge yourself to include at least three of the following:

  1. One each of these rather silly words (in a natural, conversational way): cactus, rolling pin, zesty, crimped, zoom, and quaver.
  2. A letter written or typed with each sentence in a different color.
  3. A letter typed with an old, “real” typewriter.
  4. A note that starts with the words, “Thank you…”
  5. A drawing or printed-out photograph of you wearing a funny hat
  6. A quote from a famous UU
  7. Add confetti into your envelope along with your letter.
  8. A home-made bookmark (link) (youtube tutorial)
  9. A string of paper dolls (link for tutorial)

don’t miss the opening

by nadine smet-weiss,
spiritual director

in these days

of shutting down

what longing

is breaking open

in you

like seed

seeking light

urging you to be

the space for

some new form

of life in the world

Upcoming events

Youth Group – Virtual

Sun, June 28, 11:45 AM

Food Pantry

Thu, July 02, 10:00 AM



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *