Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
October 4, 2020

Deep Listening
From the Study of 

One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted her to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves.  Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely.

Rachel Naomi Remen

What a difference it makes when someone truly listens to us, deeply, compassionately! When that happens, we come to life. The same happens when we listen deeply to another. They come to life.

In those times of deep sharing and deep listening, we discover the stories of our lives, our own inner wisdom, and the stories and wisdom of others. This kind of attentiveness is such an incredible gift of love when it is offered and received.

Deep listening might seem like something that we are doing all the time and therefore are quite adept at. The reality, I’ve learned, is that deep listening is a skill that requires that I set aside assumptions and judgments – and also my need to interrupt or talk. When I’m able to do that, able to be present, an enormous shift takes place. A holy connection takes shape.

This month as we reflect on and practice deep listening, I hope that we will experience deeper connection with ourselves and each other.

For this month of Deep Listening I can’t help but think about suspensions.  In a lot of ways I feel like we are in a time of suspension.  In music a note that’s holding over from a time before and not quite arrived at someplace else.  I’m choosing to name it ‘someplace else’ instead of ‘someplace new’ because for musical suspensions the melody often leads western ears to a place they expect.  Nine times out of ten if we’re holding out the note ‘ti’ the next note will be ‘do’.   (Cue the Sound of Music ‘Do a Deer’ song)

The beauty of a suspension is the notes moving against it.  We can hear those moving notes so much more clearly because of the note that’s holding on.

In what places are you holding on in your life?  What are you sensing more clearly through this time of suspension(s)?

beyond beneath within

From Your Spiritual Director: nadine j. smet-weiss

step beyond

all the external noise

of the world

slip beneath

the thousands of thoughts

in your head

venture through the rhythm

of your breath

and your heartbeat

to the barely perceptible pulsing

source of life within

sacred space

that deep listening place

i’ll meet you there

This Sunday:

Promises, Promises

Oct. 4, 2020 

Join us for an interactive service in which we explore what it means to make a mess of something and stay in relationship anyway. What promises help us stay connected and reconnect?

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.

Tonight – FRIDAY
7:00 PM:

  • In this first week of October, the month of Deep Listening, we’re sharing Soul Matter’s mindfulness moment led by Lea Morris  “Listening.” Learn her song here and sing it in your home. Please do not share the code beyond your home/personal use.


  • 9:45-10:15 AM 
    • Seeds, Sprouts and Saplings (elementary ages): zoom time with Ms Erin and Ms Corinne. RE Hangout time. Contact Sunday Assistant, Erin, epcjjc@gmail.com if you need the log-in info re-sent.  This week we learn: Our faith asks us to practice compassion. It’s part of our Second UU Principle, “Justice,

      equity, and compassion in human relations.” So what’s one of the ways our faith guides

      us into becoming a people of deep listening? It tells us to “Listen to your heart’s call to

      be compassionate!”

10:30 AM

  • For All: This week we come together to explore what it means to build a covenant. 
  • Coloring Sheet:  2nd Principle Coloring Sheet” color and explore what it means to “Offer Love to All” or in more words “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations”
  • 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

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

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 it here

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.

Re families please take a moment to fill out your child’s RE registration

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

Contemplative Companions – October 2020

Join us on Monday October 5th, @ 7:00pm when gather together to examine our 8th Principle through a contemplative lens. Contact Jane Rohrbach (windowsjmr@comcast.net) or Nadine Smet-Weiss (njw1258@hotmail.com ;or 484-333-4015) for further information; contact Nadine to receive the zoom link for this gathering.

Zoom Informational Session

Are you new to Zoom? Are you confused by all those buttons along the bottom of the Zoom app? Do you need to update your Zoom App? Come join Frank Wilder on Tuesday, Oct 6 @ 7PM to play in the UU Berks Zoom Sandbox.   Frank will be hosting a practice Zoom meeting where you can ask questions and try out all those buttons in a safe environment. The meeting will start with a short presentation of some Zoom Power User tricks and then a much longer Q&A session.

Topic: Zoom informational Session
Time: Oct 6, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 963 3059 3213
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,96330593213# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,96330593213# US (New York)

TPUC Fall Meeting Info

The 51st Annual Fall Membership Meeting of the Trustees of the Pennsylvania Universalist Convention will take place via Zoom on October 10th and you are invited! Hosted by Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens and Sheshequin Athens, Pennsylvania. Registration Required.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

(meeting access opens at 10:45 a.m.)

Our Country at a Crossroad? 

What have we become? 

What’s Next?

Rev. Joan Sabatino, Director of UUJusticePA

(formerly UUPLAN)

Click on the links below for the meeting agenda, registration info and a brief history of the TPUC.

Keynote Speaker and Registration


Meeting Agenda


History of the TPUC


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 ADORE group will host a Listening Cafe on October 11 from 12:00-12:45pm on Zoom.  The topic is Difficult Dialogues with friends and family about racial justice. Adele will introduce the discussion with some tips from Hard Conversations webinar, followed by break-out rooms and then a large group share out. All members and friends

Topic: ADORE group meeting
Time: Oct 11, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 944 1130 9097
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,94411309097# US (New York)

“Caste” Book Discussion Invitation

Join us for a deep-dive book discussion into Caste by Isabel Wilkerson starting October 11th! Come join Lauren Fritz, Joanna Groebel and Rachel Gutzler as we facilitate a six week discussion Sunday evenings, 7- 8 pm on this important book, by this gifted Pulitzer Prize-winning author.  We will be meeting the following evenings from 7-9 PM over  Google Meet (you will need a gmail address to participate): 10/11, 10/25, 11/8, 11/22, 12/6 and 12/20.

“This is a brilliant book, well timed in the face of a pandemic and police brutality that cleave along the lines of a caste system.” – Booklist (starred review)

“Magnificent…a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality…Caste offers a forward-facing vision.  Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us.” – O: The Oprah Magazine

“Wilkerson’s book is a powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it.” – The Washington Post

Reserve your place by emailing: office@uuberks.org

Looking forward to a meaningful discussion!

Options for downloading the book:




Meet Your UU Berks Caring CircleClick on the link below to meet you UU Berks Caring Circle


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.

Last Sunday, September 27, we invited 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. 


Will you help us get to 2 million voters for UUtheVote by signing up for a phone bank shift this week? Even better, will you invite 3 friends or congregants to join you? We have plenty to choose from (click any link to sign up):

Sign up now!

Sunday 10.4, 1:30pm Nearly final Phonebank for Voter Registration

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.

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

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

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



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