Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
February 6, 2022

This Sunday:

Our spiritual tradition was founded on a commitment to inclusion and belonging. This morning we will consider the practice of lovingkindness and how it can widen the circle of community.



Tonight – FRIDAY


7:00 PM:

  • This week’s story starts with an added practice from Soulful Home Family Ministry coordinator, Theresa Honey Youngblood:
  •  “Do you pray before bed? Some families have a tradition of using the just-before-bed time to call to mind and heart those whom we want to include in our prayers. Some people have a list, which includes loved ones who have died, those who live far away, and others who are in special need. Other people pray for those in their communities, their countries, and our shared world whose circumstances call for extra love and caring. If this is not your family’s tradition, but you like the idea, you might begin your bedtime routine with verbiage like this: “We’re going to read a story tonight about a person who isn’t included. He’s not welcome. Before we begin, let’s name some people who we know need some extra help being included, such as people who don’t speak the same language as their neighbors, or people who are new at school. Who else can we add?” The Hungry Coat


9:45 AM RE Hangout 

  • Seeds, Sprouts and Saplings (elementary ages): in RE Hangout Zoom Room with Ms Corinne & Ms Erin
  • RE Hangout – Widening The Way We Accept Ourselves Understanding our Outsides and Insides with Ms Corinne & Ms Cyndi  – Our theme this month is “Widening the Circle.” In this lesson, we reflect on widening the way we accept ourselves, understanding our insides and outsides. Our society encourages us to spend time on our outsides – what we wear, our hair length, our skin, our height, our weight, how glib or funny we can be. People mostly don’t portray the important things inside of them. Like what they are wondering about, what they believe, how they act, who they care deeply for, and how they make meaning in this world. These are things that make us who we are. These are the things which get us through the hard and sad times. These are the things which help us work for justice. Our faith reminds us, “It is the insides that matter most!”
  • link sent via Remind 1 hour before class.  If you need access please email Erin (epcjjc@gmail.com)


  • For All: Join us to explore how we widen our welcome.
  • Coloring Sheet: Chalice Doodling Page
  • 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

10:30 – 11:45

  • Youth Group (7th grade & up): third workshop 2/20. 

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



Doing Church Together


Reopening to Onsite Religious Education for  all vaccinated children Sunday Feb 20th Expanding Religious Education for adults Sunday Feb 20th (read on for important details)

We’re experimenting with a new model of how to do church together.  We’re going to hold religious education classes for all ages from 9:45 to 10:15. Worship will follow all together starting at 10:30.  This will be an evolving process.  We hope you’re as excited as we are to try this starting February 20th.

*If you have not already done so, please submit your child’s proof of vaccination to the church office by 2-18-22



Important News from Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees (Jan. 2022)


Dear Members and Friends, It is with deep emotion that I write to share with you my decision to retire from UU Berks and full-time ministry in July 2022. I have been in spiritual discernment for a while about the best timing for the congregation and for me. I share this news now so that we will have plenty of time in the coming months to reflect on and celebrate our shared ministry.  


I am profoundly grateful for these 18 years together and the trust you have placed in me. I came to you as a newly ordained minister, and this was my first—and only—settled ministry. When I arrived, I shared my hope that we would have a long, healthy ministry together. And here we are, all these years later, having built a vibrant church community and fostered a faithful and loving relationship.

I am proud and humbled by all that we have achieved together. The church has been a vital, welcoming place of worship, learning and justice-seeking. Together, we have nurtured the spiritual lives of members, friends, children and youth and deepened our connection and love for Unitarian Universalism. We have celebrated births, marriages, and retirements, and also mourned the deaths of our beloveds as well as marking so many other special moments. 

Together, we grew the membership, built financial strength, renovated our beautiful historic space, and expanded our staffing. Justice-seeking became a centerpiece of our congregational life. The church continued to address food insecurity through the Food Pantry and also became a Welcoming Congregation, adopted the 8th Principle, worked to shutter the Berks Detention Center, supported Family Promise, and collected thousands of dollars annually through special collections for community organizations. 

As I retire from UU Berks, it is my fondest wish that this congregation have a healthy and smooth ministerial transition. The church leadership will guide the church community through the process, and I have every confidence in their and your tremendous capability. It will be a time to reflect on and envision the future direction of the congregation. While there may be a sense of uncertainty, I hope, too, there will be a spirit of excitement about the congregation’s path forward. 

I love all of you and the community at UU Berks. More than anything, we have developed strong covenantal relationships and connections. I continue to be inspired and encouraged by the care you offer to each other, to the larger community and to me. I continue to be amazed by who you are. 
With love,
Rev. Sandra



Dear Members and Friends,  By now, you have hopefully heard the news of our Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees’ retirement from full-time ministry at UUBerks. If not, you can read her message below. The Board of Directors and the Ministry & Operations (M&O) Team at UUBerks are reaching out to the congregation with a follow-up message to  inform you of our actions during this time of transition and to offer our support.

First of all, we are deeply grateful for the 18 years of service by Rev. Sandra; the Board and M&O members have enjoyed working alongside her during that period. Of course, it will be impossible to replace who she is and what she has done for our congregation, as we begin our journey into the next era without her as our minister. Fortunately, there will be opportunities to give thanks to her “in detail” over the next few months.

Both church leadership bodies also want to communicate to the congregation that we are working together to figure out the next steps in the process of finding a ministerial replacement, and we are hopeful that this will be an opportunity for growth. The initial work includes reaching out to the UUA for guidance to understand the various options for a minister to help us transition (a stage that takes place before a search for a settled minister).

Finally, we are extending assurance to all – staff, members, and the wider church community – that we are here to support you through the transition and beyond. We feel confident in this role, based on our successful operations when Rev. Sandra has been on sabbatical at various times. The Board is determining the best process for selecting a transitional ministry, per the church by-laws and standard UUA practices. We also encourage the congregation to reach out to us with your questions and concerns.

At this point, our plans include hosting a series of meetings with the Congregation to communicate the process and progress. Watch for dates and other updates to be announced in the Univoice Weekly soon.

In faith,

FUUBC Board of Directors

Lynn O’Brien, Board President

Ramona McCormick, Vice President

Greg Dimovitz, Secretary

Amber Brown

Susan Peña

FUUBC Ministry & Operations Team

Tonya Wenger, Convener

Nadine Smet-Weiss, Treasurer

Rev. Dr. Sandra Fees

Nicholas Pomo

Corinne Hauk



Contemplative Companions – February 7th, 2022


Join us on Monday January 7th, @ 7:00pm. Through readings, reflection and sharing we will consider what it means to live into the mystery of our lives. Contact Nadine Smet-Weiss (njw1258@hotmail.com or 484-333-4015) for further information or to receive the zoom link for these gatherings.



Masked Music and Meditation


The next Masked Music and Meditation will be held on Saturday, February 12th from 6-7 pm in the Sanctuary.
All are welcome to come enjoy a time of peaceful music and quiet contemplation. Masks and vaccination are required to attend. If you have not already done so, please submit a copy of your vaccine card to Office@uuberks.org
Please note that registration is no longer necessary for this event.



Anti-Racism Activity of the Week


White Backlash Is A Type Of Racial Reckoning, Too By Hakeem Jefferson and Victor Ray)As we leave January 2022 behind we need to be aware how much remains to be done to correct past and current racial injustices. Importantly, we need to challenge efforts being made in state legislatures and school boards to curtail and suppress the right to vote and to prevent school curricula from discussing the impacts of racism. (Jeff Kowalski)



MLTS Connection Call: On Beloved Conversations

Next Wednesday, February 9, 2022, at 6:00 pm CST

Dear Meadville Lombard community,

You might have heard about—or participated in—Beloved Conversations Virtuala program developed by the Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard for Unitarian Universalists who are seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice. Since its launch in Fall 2020, more than 3,300 people participated in the first phase of the program called Within.

Are you curious about this highly engaging program that is creating a buzz within UU circles? Do you want your friends and congregation members to learn more about it so your community can engage in this important work together?

I invited JeKaren Olaoya, the Beloved Conversations Communications Coordinator, to give an info session to the MLTS community. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the program.

Please join us and/or forward our invitation to your friends! Register to the info session here or by clicking on the button below. We look forward to connecting with you next Wednesday, February 9 at 6:00 pm Central!


Evy Lipecka
Director of Development  



Did You Know?
Did you know that registration is no longer required to attend in person service? All you need to do it submit your vaccination card one time to our office where it will be kept on file for you to attend upcoming service and events.


Did you know that recordings of past services are available on our website? Visit UUberks.org and click on the Worship tab and past services for access to recording of previous services or by clicking here 



Save the Date for our Annual Service Auction


Mark your calendars now: Our FUUBC 2022 Service Auction is on Saturday, February 19th @ 6 PM. Following social distancing recommendations during COVID-19, our auction will be conducted fully online. We will be using the same online auction website to host the silent auction for two weeks (Feb. 13 – Feb. 26) and Zoom to conduct the live auction on Saturday night in the middle of the two weeks.

Here is the link to the auction website: uuberks.org/service-auction.


You will need to register and purchase a $10 ticket to be able to bid on Silent & Live Auction items. A single ticket can be shared by everyone in your household that is on the shared Zoom connection. If you just want to watch the Live auction, there is no fee, just join the Zoom meeting. We will be sending out the Zoom meeting details closer to the event.


As part of the registration process, you will be asked for a credit card number because we will be using the website to collect payments. This will make it much easier for us, but if you don’t want to use a credit card, we can register you to pay with a check that you can mail to the church. Send us an email at g.service.auction@uuberks.org or call us at 484-925-1684 for this option.

To register and purchase a ticket, go to the auction website using the link above. Once the home page loads, you will see a menu across the top of the page (look for the line with “Home”, “About”, “Register”,…). To register and purchase a ticket, click on the “Register” link on the menu and a new page will open. On the new page, click on the “add to cart” button next to the Auction logo near the bottom of the page. The button will change to a “Checkout” button, click on it. A Shopping Cart page will open. On this page you can add a donation and leave a comment. Click on the “Continue to Contact Details” page to continue your registration. The Account page will open. Enter a password and confirm it. When you are done, click on the “Continue to Guest” button. A summary page will open. Click on the “Continue to Payment” button to open the next screen.  Enter your credit card information and make sure to check the “Save this card for later”. Click on the “Continue to Review” button to go to the last page and purchase your ticket. On the “Review Checkout” page, confirm the details, check the “I agree to the standard terms of use” checkbox, and hit the “Complete Checkout” button. If you check your email, you should have an email receipt with your ticket and your bidding number.

These instructions may make it seem that the registration process is difficult, but it is not. We are using a standard registration form offered by the Auctria website. Millions of people have used this form successfully, including dozens of our own members. Finally, if you would like to volunteer to help with the auction or have a question/suggestion, send us an email at g.service.auction@uuberks.org. Many thanks from the Service Auction Committee.



From Social Justice Coordination Team


Please add the LGBT Center of Greater Reading’s PRIDE FEST to your calendar for July 17th, 2022.  Further information to follow, but suffice to say, it’s a wonderful celebration of our LGBTQ Community and its allies.  First UU Berks has been a presence at the Festival for many years



Please view our updated gathering policy below


Effective November 21, 2021 until further notice




Our Giving App has Changed


Vanco, the eGiving provider behind our church’s GivePlus Mobile app is now using a new online giving app, Vanco Mobile. This easy-to-use app replaces the GivePlus Mobile app you currently use to make your donations.   The switch is simple!  

  • Your log-in credentials are the same in Vanco Mobile as in GivePlus Mobile 
  • Recurring created through GivePlus mobile will continue as scheduled  
  • New gifts, or changes to previously scheduled recurring gifts, can now occur through Vanco Mobile 

Download the free Vanco Mobile app today in the Google Play store or the Apple App store. Find our organization by searching for First Unitarian Universalist Church or by its invite code, 2S4C9G.   



UU  Berks Websites 


Our church has 2 websites: one is public and one is private. Anyone on the Internet can access our public website at uuberks.org, but you have to be a member of our congregation to access the private UUBerks Member Info site at member-info.uuberks.org. Access is restricted, so you need to login with your email address & password.

Our public website has a lot of information that is also useful for members. Did you know that we record a video of every worship service and post them on our website? 

To find the recordings, navigate to uuberks.org. At the top of the page, there is a green box on the right side of the screen, with the title “Next Service”. (A) If you click on the next line of text (the title of the next service), you will be taken to a page with all the information about that service, like the Zoom meeting details. 

At the bottom of the green box, there is a “Service Archive” button. (B) Click on it to navigate to a page listing all of our previous services.  Click on a service title to see more details about the service and to view the video recording.



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.



Widening the Circle

I live my life in widening circles…

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.

I’ve been circling for thousands of years

and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,

a storm, or a great song?

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

This month we are considering what it would mean to live our lives in widening circles. I know that the pandemic has changed my circles of engagement. My in-person circles have narrowed a bit while my online circles have widened rather dramatically. I love the new friends I’ve made online. And, I also look forward to widening my circle locally in the coming year. I’m eager to reconnect with local groups and activities that have been mostly virtual or inactive. I’m also recognizing my urge to venture out and explore some new possibilities.

What needs a little widening in your life? Your ability to stay open, to be vulnerable? Your circle of friends? Your engagement with anti-racism? Your acceptance of yourself and others? Maybe you need to become reacquainted with your own cultural or religious background. Maybe you need to join a new circle – an activity, committee, project or group. Or maybe you need to leave a circle you’ve been part of for a long time that is holding you back from a truer flourishing.

I hope you’ll take a little time this month to consider how you might expand your circle in ways that will provide you encouragement, support and joy.

Yours in faith and love,

Rev. Sandra

Moving in Circles

I have always found a need to create.  I remember wanting my creations to be perfect.  For a while I wanted to work on something until it was “done.”  A circle was not a circle until it was complete.  But what happens if we try to widen that circle?  What happens when we leave a project incomplete? 

In our month exploring the ways in which our times call us to “widen the circle” I’m going to return to a creative practice that helps me nurture the core of the thing, cultivate curiosity and feel a sense of belonging to things I’ve known forever and things I’m getting to know for the first time.  

Many years ago now I was introduced to the concept of process painting.  The point of this kind of painting is not to strive to make your most technically beautiful art but to lean into the process of creation and see what emerges.  

Dance then move to start painting.  After a while stop and take a look at your work.  Thank your work for what it is.  Go back to dancing some more.  Create a new painting overtop of the first painting.  Rinse and Repeat.  Maybe what emerges is something completely different. Maybe there is a morsel that stays the same.  Do this again and again and through the layers meaning emerges. 

It can bring forth a lot of different emotions to paint over a work that feels whole.  What I’ve found though is that the pieces that are important re-emerge.  Sometimes they re-emerge in different spots of the painting.  Sometimes they deepen in the same spot I began them many layers ago.  The new layers, and the differences they bring beckon a deeper clarity to the whole.  

In this month of widening our circles, may we explore, may we embrace, may we move.

Or as our UUBerks mission and vision statements assert may we seek, nurture, and serve.


Yours in Faith and Learning,

Ebee Bromley, DRE

P.S. Our soulful home packet has an art project that you can do at home. See page 13.

full circle

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by nadine j. smet-weiss

spiritual director

having come

full circle

it may seem

we have gotten


until we share

the story

of our journey

realizing how far 

we have come

and thus filled  

we begin again








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