Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
March 27, 2022

This Sunday:

Too often societal messages tell us we can’t trust in life. Our UU faith disagrees. This morning we’ll explore the everyday joys and gifts that can renew our trust in life’s goodness and abundance.






9:45 AM :Adult RE 

  • In Person: in Gerber Room with Nadine Smet-Weiss and Ginny Chudgar

  • Reflection and UU: Nadine leads us in a time of reflection. What renew’s you? [soulful home packet] 

  • Via Zoom: Join in early on our worship link at uuberks.org/zoom-worship. (If this is the first time you’re using zoom, you may be prompted to download a launcher app).

9:45 AM: Children’s RE  

Elementary Ages:  Onsite and Online, email director.religious.education@uuberks.org by Saturday noon if you’ll be attending online

  • On site: in Kidspace w/ Ms Ebee & Ms Cyndi (* teens may help, let us know you’ll be coming)
  • RE Hangout – “Renewing Faith in Simple Things” – WE’RE MAKING GLITTER JARS 🙂 Our theme this month is Renewing Faith. This session is about how we can renew our trust in life’s goodness and simple gifts. Consumer society and social media tell us we are not enough and don’t have enough. Our faith disagrees. It calls us to notice the many everyday joys and gifts that we already and always possess. Our faith reminds us we are already “rich” and life is already abundant! 

  •  link sent via Remind 1 hour before class.  If you need access please email Ebee (director.religious.education@uuberks.org)

10:30- Worship Service- All Ages

  •  What does it mean to have faith in simple things?

  • Coloring Sheet: “Spiral Stones” by Jenn Blosser

  • 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

  • Practice your Searching and Creative skills with Spark Maze

10:45- Youth Group

Grades 7-12:  Onsite only.

  • On site: in Chalice House, 1st floor w/ Ms Joanna & Mr Kent 
  • Youth Group Hangout – what makes life abundant?  we’ll explore this and other questions together as we regather in community 

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



Pledge Drive Nears Conclusion!


Our 2022-2023 Pledge Drive and its theme of “Emerging Transitions: Coming Changes Create Pledge Opportunities” has successfully steamed past the halfway point vs. last year’s successful drive! Much appreciation to all of you who’ve already submitted your pledge forms or otherwise communicated your pledge!

This Sunday, outgoing Pledge Chair Jim Beidler will share his reflection about what First UU has meant to his faith journey in the hopes of sparking your own thoughtful reflections on giving.

To allow a budget to be put together based on the pledges in time for May’s Congregational Meeting, we are hoping to complete the campaign by the end of March. Please let us hear from you!




We Need Your Input-Congregational Survey


As part of Interim Minister search, we are completing a congregational profile. To do this we need to get input from our congregation to answer the following 6 questions: 

  • Describe your Congregation and its culture.
  • What are the top three things your next minister should focus on to have a successful ministry with you?
  • Desired strengths of the minister.
  • Ongoing momentum we would like to continue.
  • Programs and traditions we want to maintain.
  • Trust in the congregation (describe).

To get congregational input, community members have three options and should try to participate in ONLY ONE:

1) Virtual Zoom small group sessions on Wednesday, March 30, 7:00-8:00 PM         https://uuma.zoom.us/j/94646864169
      Meeting ID: 946 4686 4169

2) In-person small group sessions after church on Sunday, April 3 from 11:30-12:30

3) An online survey that can be completed by the end of March (link to survey provided soon)



Anti-Racism Activity of the Week


Did you know that 50% of women of color in the US earn less than $15 per hour? That’s under $31,200 yearly. As corporate profits rise astronomically, the wealth gap widens, creating a sense of hopelessness for many families, disproportionately those headed by women of color. For this week’s antiracist action you can read about an important report from Oxfam. If the article moves youwrite to your Harrisburg legislators and ask them to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.



Dismantling Racism and Oppression One Conversation at a Time


We have been invited to join with the Delaware County UU for a workshop.  In keeping the commitment to the 8th Principal, the UUCDC Anti-Racism Coalition is proudly offering the online workshop, Dismantling Racism and Oppression: Decentering Whiteness One Conversation at a Time.

The workshop will be held on April 2, 2022, from 9 am to 2 pm. There will be bio breaks and a 45 min lunch break. The workshop will be done online via Zoom. A link will be forwarded to you after you have registered.

description of the conference and registration form are available online. The cost is twenty five dollars and scholarships are available. If you need financial assistance, please contact Nadine Smet-Weis at treasurer@uuberks.org



Contemplative Companions – April 4th, 2022


Join us on Monday April 4th, @ 7:00pm. We will be taking a contemplative pause, in the midst of life’s chaos, turning our attention to the “angels among us.” Contact Nadine Smet-Weiss (njw1258@hotmail.com or 484-333-4015) for further information or to receive the zoom link for these gatherings.



Service Auction Picnic


Mark your calendars for the Service Auction Picnic on Sunday, May 22 @ 12 PM at the Farming Ridge Park in Exeter. The plan is to have a picnic lunch after the worship service with a basket raffle during the picnic (have you ever been to a raffle where they place bags in front of of all the items and you place your raffle ticket(s) in the bags for the items you are interested in?).  The picnic and raffle are open to everyone, but if you purchased a bidding number for the Silent/Live auction, you will receive a coupon that is good for 5 raffle tickets. Watch the Univoice for more information.



Save the Date for Pride Fest


Mark your calendars for the LGBT Center of Greater Reading’s PRIDE FEST on July 17th, 2022. Come out and show your support for our LGBTQ Community with a day full of music, vendors, food and FUN! We will be asking for volunteers to staff the FUUBC table as the date gets closer. Please consider helping out.



A Message from the UUA on Supporting Ukraine


As the situation in Ukraine has unfolded over the last several days, there has been an outpouring of prayers and concern from Unitarian Universalists expressing heartfelt unity around this growing human rights tragedy. We want to share the most up to date information on how UUs in this country and around the world are responding and amplify the ways that we can all help.

As Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), said, “we continue to join in solidarity with so many around the world and pray for the people of Ukraine. Our hearts go out to those who are enduring devastating loss of life, violence, instability, and upheaval due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Our UU faith calls us to remain committed to justice and we believe we have a moral responsibility to support the creation of peace and the equal rights of all people.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder that human rights are fundamentally linked to our interdependence. Over the last few weeks, while we have seen tremendous acts of courage and generosity by and towards the people of Ukraine, we have also seen the worst of human behavior. We continue to be mindful that an authoritarian, imperialistic ideology that seeks to deny Ukrainians their rights to live free and independently, under the false, anti-Semitic guise of “denazification,” is directly tied to colonialist ideologies globally and here in the U.S. that endanger the health, well-being, and lives of BIPOC individuals, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other marginalized populations.

And as millions of people living in Ukraine flee to safety, we know that, on top of an already dangerous situation, there are life-threatening experiences of anti-Blackness, racism, and xenophobia that are blocking escape from the deadly conflict.

Blue stylized image of globe with Donate Now in a red rectangle in the center
Support Ukraine Response

The scope of this humanitarian crisis is staggering. To help address the scale of the crisis, the UUA has been working closely with our partners at the UU Service Committee, which is dedicated to advancing human rights and social justice, together with an international community of grassroots partners and advocates. They have created an Emergency Relief Fund to support Ukraine and we are committed to amplifying their voice and humanitarian work.

The international implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine are profound. The UUA’s International office has additional resources for supporting Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homes and communities, including information on supporting the Hungarian Unitarian Church and the International Women’s Convocation’s Faithify Campaign.

As more information becomes available, we will make sure to provide updates on our efforts, including on our Facebook page. We ask that you continue to hold in your hearts the people of Ukraine and all of those around the world who are suffering because of war and injustice. And we ask that you pray for peace as we all hold each other in mutual care.

For more information contact info@uua.org.



From Our Social Justice Committee


Although the plight of the refugees from Ukraine is top-of-mind for most of us, there are chronic refugee disasters ongoing in many places. Among the worst situations currently are faced by Syrians; many, many Africans; and – closer to home– Central Americans who have traveled across many countries only to be stopped at our border with Mexico. 

There are many organizations which are involved in helping refugees, and several to consider are:

We urge that anyone who does not have an organization that they usually support, check out the report cards found on Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and similar sites.  The world-wide financial and personnel resource situation is fluid, so it’s always good to do some research before contributing.  Foremost, consider supporting the UUSC.  As UU’s, we want to be certain that our principles guide our giving.



Update on Parking Options


  • Free parking is available on Sundays on the street and in the library parking lot.
  • The parking garage across the street (4th and Cherry streets) has changed to a pay by app system. The app is called ParkMobile. It can be downloaded in the apple store or on the google play app. At this time we are unable  to offer discounted parking vouchers.



Come to Portland, OR, for General Assembly 2022 – UU Berks Delegates Needed


Registration for General Assembly 2022 (GA) in-person in Portland, Oregon is now open. GA 2022 will be a multiplatform event, with registration options for in-person and/or virtual participation. Registration for Virtual participation will open March 1. For more information, go to www.uua.org/ga. If interested in serving as a UU Berks Delegate (to vote on denominational decisions), please contact the UU Berks Board at g.board@uuberks.org or Rev. Sandra at minister@uuberks.org.

The General Assembly logo, featuring the theme arranged in a circle. The theme is: “Meet the moment: Reimagining radical faith community”. Pink letters GA are in the center, with a white web decoration the represent the World Wide Web connecting our multi platform event. In front of GA, there is a purple silhouette of eight people holding hands. The persons depicted are of varying age, shapes and sizes.



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.



Embracing Faith

The point is that in almost every instance of our lives we are, if we pay attention, in the midst of an almost constant, if subtle, caretaking. Holding open doors. Offering elbows at crosswalks. Letting someone else go first. Helping with the heavy bags… Pulling someone back to their feet. Stopping at the car wreck, at the struck dog… This caretaking is our default mode and it’s always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise. Always.

Ross Gay

To hold open a door, offer an elbow at a crosswalk or help an injured animal is to keep faith with one another. It is to keep faith with life. Our careful, constant caretaking, our belief in ourselves and other trust in each other are all part of our human nature. As poet Ross Gay writes, “it’s always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise.”

So how do we embrace and hold to faith in the midst of the messages that urge us to act otherwise? Or to put it another way, how do we continue to affirm and promote our UU principles of inherent worth and dignity, interconnection and beloved community when the world feels hostile or uncaring?

We do so by keeping faith with one another. We do so by honoring the importance of renewing trust and keeping promises. We do so by continuing to kindle the light of hope, joy and connection. As James Baldwin writes, “The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

This month we’ll be exploring how to keep that light on by renewing faith in ourselves and each other.

Yours in faith,

Rev. Sandra

Practice, An Act Renewing Faith

When the word ‘faith’ came into the English language, it traveled from the Old French ‘feid’ by way of the Latin ‘semper fidelis’ (always loyal).  It’s meaning had nothing to do with belief in the absence of proof but instead with keeping promises.  ‘Faith’ was not a statement about belief, but about behavior.  Source

I know many people who are always loyal to their practice, their behavior, setting aside regular time to hone their craft.  They set aside time to play their scales, feel how the melody can move, changing between passages at first clumsily and then with more and more ease. 

I have not been one of those people.  If there’s an immediate goal in front of me, sure.  That concert is coming up mighty soon, or I better learn the piece I need to teach tonight.  But I’m reminded of first learning to play the recorder.  Think of the first instrument you were ever taught in school.  Was it the recorder for you as well?  Or maybe it was the ukulele.  Remember how slow it was to change between one note or chord to the next.  Remember how awkward you first felt to do something new?  But you kept at it until the school concert or through each year of school, or till you felt ready to play or sing something for friends.  

It won’t be today, it might not be tomorrow, but someday, sometime you will play or sing better than you dreamed possible.  This month, I’m going to strive to renew my relationship with regular practicing.  I will go slower, I will set shorter goals each week, I will learn something new, I will share what I’ve learned with family and friends.  

This will be done not as an act of something I should do but as what Soulful Home curator, Theresa Honey-Youngblood suggests as “a  kind of learning-prayer, sending faith for a better future out into the world.” (see ‘The Extra Mile’ of soulful home packet for March)

a faithful prayer

by nadine j. smet-weiss
spiritual director

when I look 


at the world

which is 

my mirror

the reflection i see

appears to be 

a mangled mess

entangled with

exquisite beauty

raw material for

life imagined

may love guide

my daily contribution








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