Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
February 12, 2022

This Sunday:

What is a Muslim doing working at a church? A question Rev. Sana Saeed received frequently while working at the UU Church of Arlington, VA. Today there are more people identifying as UU Muslim. Join her to explore how we make room for interfaith families and people identifying as multi-religious in our community as we reflect on the theme of beloved community. There will be time for a Q&A with Rev. Sana following the service.



Tonight – FRIDAY


7:00 PM:

  • Tonight’s story is an example of the way we can widen our circle of and include caring for refugees and asylum seekers. A young boy mistakes his mother’s words. She says the new neighbor is an “asylum seeker” meaning a refugee seeking to make a home in a new country. The young boy hears “silence seeker.” Someone looking for quiet. By caring about a new refugee, a little boy tries to offer him his companionship and knowledge of the places in his city. The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley and Carl Pearce

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 Love We Share Celebrating All Kinds Of Love with Ms Corinne & Ms Ebee  – Our theme this month is “Widening the Circle.” The theme of the month is Widening the Circle. For this lesson, we reflect on Widening the Circle of Love, especially since we are close to Valentine’s Day. We widen the circle when we spread love to everyone, including refugees and asylum seekers. We focus on refugees and asylum seekers because they are often “not loved.” So when it comes to widening the circle, our faith clearly tells us, “Love is for everybody.”
  • link sent via Remind 1 hour before class.  If you need access please email Ebee (director.religious.education@uuberks.org)


    • For All: Join us to explore how we widen our views of who UUs are.
    • 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



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.



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



The following was originally run on May 11, 2018 as part of our Social Justice Column.


Tackling Institutional White Privilege
by Pat Uribe-Lichty,

No one “wants” to lose their privilege.  I think most people join in anti-racist work out of a sense of fairness: “It is not right that people are treated differently because of the color of their skin.”  We see this inequality in so many ways: the white mass murderer taken alive while black people wanted for trivial offenses are killed, the bag/receipt only of people of color checked as they exit stores, the wildly disproportionate arrests for drugs for people of color compared to whites when the percentage of use is the same, and so on and on. 


Once people begin to see these differences—once they move out of denial (for example, saying that Blacks commit more crimes and that this justifies the discriminatory treatment)—they are left with the question of what to do next.  Often, this is the point at which white people feel hopeless and helpless, because the problems are so big and so entrenched, and they are systemic.  White people fall back on the “But I have a lot of Black and/or Latino friends” defense as they withdraw from the struggle to create systems free from racism. 


We are often afraid to look at the extent to which systemic racism has benefited, and continues to benefit, us.  Federal housing programs dating back to the very beginning under Roosevelt were designed to be for white people.  The GI Bill, which benefited so many returning white soldiers, giving them the means of rising into the middle class, discriminated systematically against veterans of color.  And since where we live determines where our children go to school—and the quality of that school is dependent on the tax value of our neighborhood—our children also benefit from our white skin privilege.  It has been shown over and over in studies that even today, apartments and houses become “unavailable” when black families come to rent or own them, and then they once again become available when a white family comes.  For many people, this whole system of housing discrimination and, therefore, of segregated schools creates another level of denial.  “Well, I worked hard to get where I am, and if ‘they’ would too, then they could live in this neighborhood as well.” 

No, my friend.  It was not only your hard work that got you where you are.  You started miles ahead of People of Color.  And those miles of difference embody white privilege.  But your retreat and denial of the enormous elephant sitting in our national living room are a retreat and denial of the systemic racism that pervades our institutions from our neighborhoods and schools to our churches and courts.

How do we change systems that are so much larger than ourselves?  Can it even be done?  Is there any reason to hope, let alone try?  Even a moment’s thought will point out the connections between each system; pulling one thread out is impossible because it is knotted with others. 

And yet, with patience and care, a ball of yarn can eventually be untangled.  Yes, there will be times when you might choose to find the scissors to cut through a knot, but mostly you will use patience to untangle the yarn. 

In the same way, institutional racism can only be untangled by starting where we are and teasing out the threads.  We start by recognizing how “the system” benefits white folks at the expense of others, and how we are complicit in it.  We admit our privilege in the ways that we know it—and seek to learn more.  We analyze, alone and with others, how the institutions we are part of use white supremacist values in various ways.  We try to imagine other ways of doing things, and then how to actually do that, and finally we take the step of changing our institutions.  And at every step along the way, we dare to acknowledge our mistakes.

Julica Hermann de la Fuente in the recent webinar “Changing Systems, Changing Ourselves,” said that “perfectionism is a white value.”  The need to be “right” often gets in the way of learning from our mistakes.  But if we become defensive when “called out” or allow our feelings of guilt or shame to get in the way of learning what we did and what would have been a better response, we stop growing.  

It takes an enormous amount of courage both to begin but also to continue in the struggle against racism.  It is, I think, easier to begin than it is to continue.  To begin is something that we can undertake alone, but to continue requires that we do so in relationship with others.  It means participating in conversations, it requires patience with others and openness in ourselves, and it takes a commitment of time and energy. 

Most of all, a serious commitment to anti-racist work requires that we recognize that progress is not always visible.  It will take the ability to persist when we do not succeed, and the ability to go on with courage when we are dis-couraged.  It calls for a willingness to act in the faith that, although we may not live to see it, there will be a future where justice will prevail. 

Thank you!!!




Anti-Racism Activity
Several voting rights bills passed in the House of Representatives but were defeated in the Senate. Meanwhile, many states legislatures are curtailing the freedom to vote through more prohibitive voting regulations or permitting legislatures to overrule the authority of local election boards. This week’s article provides historical context for the racist background of such actions. Check UUjusticePA for information and actions in Pennsylvania.


and …

Beloved Conversations Virtual: Within Phase Fall Registration Opens January 1st! 

Beloved Conversations—a faith formation anti-racism program through our Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago, Meadville Lombard Theological School—went virtual last fall and over 2,000 learners joined the first ‘Within’ phase. We would love to have you join us for the Fall term as we celebrate one year of virtual programming! This program is an experience of connection and spiritual development that you don’t want to miss.

The Spring Term registration opens January 1 and closes on February 22. The Spring Term begins March 22nd, with lessons published every two weeks, as well as biweekly small group check-ins and monthly large group worship and discussion. In the program’s first phase, ‘Within,’ we engage with a personal exploration of race and our work for racial justice. With two caucuses, our white participants are invited into the Un/learning for Liberation course and our BIPOC+ participants are invited into the Gathering Our Selves courses. In Beloved Conversations, we are here to heal the impact of racism on our lives. Let’s get free together. Learn more at meadville.edu/beloved


Beloved Conversations

For Unitarian Universalists seeking to embody racial justice as a spiritual practice



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 an 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.  The dedicated Silent Auction page on the auction website will open this Sunday at noon at the link above, or you can use the Auctria Mobile Bidding App (Android version,  Apple Version). Just like on the website, with the Auctria app on your smartphone you will be able to browse the catalog and place bids.  

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

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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