Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
September 27, 2020

This Sunday:

Practicing Democracy: UU the Vote

Sept 27, 2020 – 10:30 am 

UUs have a long history of working to build and strengthen democracy. The upcoming November election is a political time that calls on us to fight for our values around issues we care deeply about – LGBTQ rights, climate change, racial justice, immigration, and more. To UU the Vote means countering voter suppression, expanding democracy, and having issues-based conversations. Join us this morning for this important conversation.

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 (audio only)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 and will remain muted for the service. Our service concludes with “virtual coffee hour” when members and friends are unmuted.

Please Update Your Zoom accounts

There is a new version of Zoom (5.2.3). Please try to update your Zoom app on your computer/smartphone before next week.
Video: How to update Zoom in Windows 10

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.

Back to Church Checklist
Click on the link for you Fall Back to Church Checklist complete with upcoming important dates, committee members and more!

Back to church checklist

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:

  • In honor of Yum Kippur – check out this story Author Jacqueline Jules reads her story The Hardest Word


  • 9:45-10:15 AM 
    • Seeds, Sprouts and Saplings (elementary ages): zoom time with Ms Erin and Ms Corinne. RE Hangout time – we’re exploring what it means to say we’re sorry.  Contact Sunday Assistant, Erin, epcjjc@gmail.com if you need the log-in info resent

10:30 AM

  • For All: This week we come together to worship.
  • Coloring Sheet:  “5th Principle” coloring sheet from LREDA

  • Activity: Use a printed or hand labyrinth to find renewal as you attend worship this morning. Here’s a labyrinth you can print out and trace.  Labyrinth Printable

  • 10:45 AM * different time this week
  • Youth Group: 10:45 – 12:30: Kai and Kent lead this week’s second official session of the fall for youth group.  For zoom link contact Kai Miller. kai@kaifawn.com

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

Re families please take a moment to fill out your child’s RE registration here https://forms.gle/LAi3D6MLbxSKg3fA8

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

BOD Update

Please read the Board’s latest update on small group meetings at the link below:

Upcoming Sabbatical for Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

This Fall, Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees begins her 17th year as our minister. Part of our commitment to her is to provide one month of sabbatical time for every five years of service. The time has come again to afford Rev. Sandra a sabbatical to renew and expand her spiritual, emotional, and intellectual gifts.

The Board has approved a sabbatical for January 1-May 31, 2021. We are pleased to provide this support to sustain and grow Rev. Sandra’s ministry with us and our broader UU movement, and we are confident that her sabbatical will be a time of renewal and growth for us all. We also know that this is a challenging and uncertain time in our world with so many disruptions.

In consultation with Rev. Sandra and the finance team, the Board has approved Rev. Sage Olnick, our Affiliated Community Minister, to serve as Part-time Sabbatical Minister during this time. We believe that this will provide the confidence and support our congregation needs to continue our important ministries.

Rev. Sage will provide a trusted ministerial presence during this time. Her time will be devoted to governance, social justice, and pastoral care. She is not meant to be a replacement for our settled minister, Rev. Sandra, but to provide ministerial support during this time. Rev. Sage’s contract with the congregation includes:

  • providing three worship services each month
  • attending monthly Board meetings
  • facilitating monthly pastoral care team meetings
  • providing pastoral care for crisis situations
  • attending a limited number of committee meetings (to be agreed upon in advance of sabbatical)
  • monthly check ins with the staff (the Board will have supervisory responsibility during the sabbatical)

During the sabbatical, Rev. Sandra will be free of all ministerial responsibilities. However, in the event of a member death, a member testing positive for Covid-19, or a church crisis, Rev. Sage Olnick and/or our Board President, Lynn O’Brien will be in contact with Rev. Sandra.

While this may seem a difficult time for a sabbatical due to Covid-19 and the many disruptions in our world, we anticipate that this timing will ultimately serve us all best. In particular, we hope that sometimes around Rev. Sandra’s return from sabbatical we might be able to once again worship, gather, learn, and be together in person in our beautiful building.

If you have any questions or concerns about the sabbatical, please contact Lynn O’Brien, Board President, or Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees.


Even during the pandemic, First UU Berks has demonstrated generosity and kindness in a tangible way!  Once a month, we designate a donation to a selected non-profit organization. The selected organizations were nominated by church members and voted on at our congregational meeting.
Jan 2020  Spectrum-$666
Feb 2020  Make the Road PA = $568
April 2020 FUUBC COVID Fund = $2980
May 2020  Olivet Boys and Girls Club = $410
June 2020  Family Promise Walk = $2075 raised by Cyndi Dimovitz with a majority from church folks.

This Sunday, September 27, we invite you to respond to the #VoteLove and #DefeatHate call by making a special plate donation to UU The Vote.

The best way is to mail your donation to the church by check with UU The Vote in the memo line.  Contributions will fuel organizing efforts that mobilize our communities to create powerful partnerships and bring our values to the public square in the 2020 elections.

In October, we have designated the recipient to be Helping Harvest (formerly Greater Reading Food Bank) in response to the great need for food security of our vulnerable neighbors.
We now invite you to vote on the next three recipients for Nov, Dec, and Jan special plate collections.

Please click this link for instructions: Special Plate Voting Ballot – FALL 2020 or type https://forms.gle/WUJHv86TkgizQrYz9.

You may also call or email the church office and ask for a ballot to be mailed to you. Deadline is OCTOBER 11.

Covenant Relations Team

At the September Board Meeting, we the Board of Directors of FUUBC, appointed three team members to the new Covenant Relations Team .  We are pleased to announce the CRT will be Erin Kraal, Ginny Chudgar, and Randy Newnham.   If you recall, at the July Board Meeting we adopted a new Policy Regarding the Covenant Relations Team [CRT].  This new policy establishes a team that will serve to address the challenges of living within a diverse, democratic community.  The CRT will serve to provide an objective, empathetic forum to hear from those who have been harmed and to address situations when covenant has been broken within the congregation.  The scope of the CRT includes interactions of congregants with other congregants or church groups.  The scope also covers group-to-group conflicts.

We encourage everyone in our congregation to review the Policy Regarding the Covenant Relations Team.  Now that the new CRT is establish please note that members of the team can be reached by emailing g.covenant.relations@uuberks.org or by contacting a member of the CRT directly.  Please reach out to CRT when you have concerns or feel you have been harmed in some manner.

The Board is very pleased to establish this new team whose purpose is to serve our congregation to resolve hurts and bring our community into Covenant with one another.  As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to discuss them with a member of the Board or the Minister.

Yours in the Spirit of Love,

The FUUBC Board of Directors

Lynn O’Brien, President

Ramona McCormick, Vice President

Gregory Dimovitz, Secretary

Cesar Martínez-Garza

Bill Oberti

Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

Calling All Virtual Crop Walkers
This year the Reading-Berks walk, scheduled on Sunday, 11 October, is going virtual and First UU is again a sponsor! Please join the team online at:


(I can tell you from past experience that even if you can only send out a few e-mails to people in your circle, this effort is one people will generously give to!)

If you wish to donate to the team, please go here:


Thanks for considering joining this fund-raising effort!

The Membership Committee with Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees will host a membership class, directly following online service on Sunday, November 15th.  We will meet in a Zoom session for 60-90 minutes.  If you are interested in exploring membership with a church, please consider joining us.  If you decide membership is right for you, you can be part of the next group of new members we will celebrate before the end of the year.  Please respond to Membership chairperson Mike Mannix at membership.chair@uuberks.org to reserve your spot in the class.

Beloved Conversations: Virtual Fall 2020 Registration is now open!

Beloved Conversations has been offered in more than 200 Unitarian Universalist congregations across the continent over the past eight years. We are grateful that so many communities have made our program a part of their faith formation and social justice work.

Today, we are very excited to announce that Beloved Conversations: Virtual Fall 2020 registration has opened! It is a brand-new program, designed and intended for online participation in the 2020/2021 church year with vastly improved new features.

The first phase called WITHIN is done entirely in race-based caucuses that will use two different courses. One caucus is for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), and one caucus is for white people. When you go to the BC Virtual homepage, you will find more information about the program, and at the bottom of that page, there are two buttons: one for those of you who identify as BIPOC, and another for those of you who identify as white.

Fall Term and Spring Term will have different content. You may complete one or both, but we are only registering for Fall 2020 right now. The registration for Fall 2020 closes on September 20, 2020.

Click on the button below (or go to bcvirtual.meadville.edu) to go to the Beloved Conversations: Virtual home page to learn more and register.

We hope you join us to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice, to heal the impact of racism on our lives, in order to get free together.

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 pmYou 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 g.worship.tech@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

A People of Renewal
From the study of 

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman

For Unitarian Universalists, September is a time of homecoming. It’s a time of coming home to church and renewing ourselves and our faith commitments. That means engaging questions of faith and reconsidering what is being asked of us, individually and collectively. It means “[asking] yourself what makes you come alive. And then [going] and [doing] that.”

What will make you come alive? What will refresh your body and heal your spirit? What ethical, religious commitments are asking to be renewed or re-imagined in you, by you? Is your energy and passion moving you to more fully honor human worth and dignity, engage the democratic process, respect our interconnectedness, and/or renew the search for truth and meaning? How is our newest principle, the 8th Principle, coming alive in you and inspiring you to act in order to “accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions”?

This month, I hope you will each reflect on areas of your faith life that are being renewed in you and bringing you to life.

Yours in faithful renewal,

Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

This month we’re focusing on what does it mean to be a people of renewal. What does it mean to renew? to begin again? For some of us that might mean to return to school or to begin an art project again after a time away. Beginning again can feel scary – especially when we don’t know what the new beginning will be like.

A few months ago we began an new project, a facebook page for members and friends who commit to raising or helping to raise thriving, spiritually grounded kids and teens. In some ways this was a new project – we’ve never had a group hosted like this. In some other ways this is a group that is as old as our church built in 1832 and probably older than that even.

Each day in the group we ask questions of each other. In everyone’s answers and questions there is laughter, there is sadness, there is wonder. For a prompt from last month our Religious Education Assistant, Erin Connolly, asked folx on the page to fill in the prompt …”I’m so glad…”. It renewed my spirit to hear so many of your moments of gladness large and small.

May we continue to renew each other this church year.

these days

From Your Spiritual Director

nadine j. smet-weiss





and everything



for a moment

that feels like


and you wonder

whether this

is the end

or the beginning

trust the beginning

let your heart

remain open

let life touch you

more deeply

let love flow

more fully

let the unnameable mystery

renew you



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