Univoice Weekly

Weekly News for the week of:
May 19, 2024

THIS SUNDAY: Spring Congregational Meeting after service. Come here the latest news, vote on important topics and hear about our new ministerial candidate.

Please save the date for our settled minster vote on June 9th. We need a quorum of 40% to install a new minister. Without your participation in this vote we cannot welcome a new minister.

This Sunday


Rev Amy DeBeck
May 19, 2024 at 10:30 am

Today we celebrate our graduates as they cross thresholds. After the service, stay for the Congregational Meeting.

To attend by Zoom, click on this link: uuberks.org/zoom-worship. (If this is the first time
you’re using zoom, you may be prompted to download a launcher app).

To connect by phone (audio only):
   1) Dial the phone number: 1-646-558-8656
   2) When prompted for the “Meeting ID”, enter: 921 4271 5512#
   3) When prompted for the “Participant ID”, enter: #

Please plan to arrive or log on by 10:20-10:25 am to enjoy the gathering
music, and, for those on zoom, to establish a connection before worship is
scheduled begins. Zoom participant mics are muted throughout the service.

This Weekend:

  • This month’s bedtime story, The Tree in the Ancient Forest, by Carol Reed-Jones, bridges last month’s theme of interdependence to this month’s theme of pluralism.  It’s a simple, repeating story that describes the relationships between the creatures — the fungi, the plants, and the animals – that all occupy the same space: a very big, very old tree.  Each being depends on the other, and yet, they are not always symbiotic.  The same can be said of all of us!

  • Find it at your local library

  • Hear it read online


9:30 AM : Adult RE 

  • In Person: back of the chalice house meeting room.

  • Faith Formation in May: We explore the gift of Pluralism!  Topic decided on by group – Ethics of Food Consumption and Food Industry

  • One of the goals of the Adult RE program is to get to know each other better.  What fascinating people sit around our table and how much we have to learn from each other.  There’s a place for you at our table.

  • email Ginny Chudgar for more info (see directory for address)

  • Onsite Only 

9:30 AM: Children’s RE: The Gifts of Our Faith – 2 classes

Elementary Ages: 

  • Lower elementary: kids space cozy room

    • The Gift of No One Getting left out.

  • Upper Elementary: social hall meeting room

    • The Gift of a healthy Ecology

10:30- Worship Service- All Ages

We meet together to sing, to reflect, and to explore our world. 

How to make visual art directed by breath 

10:30 – 12 Youth Group:  

Grades 7th – 12: in worship to celebrate new faces and thank graduates 

Monday – Thursday 

Weekly posts on our covenanted RE Facebook page
check out our Remind classroom.
If you need to signup link here: remind.com/join/refuucbc

Sunday Volunteers:
Greeters: Be Y. & Louise L.
Ushers:     Corinne H. & Jayne P.
Coffee Crew:  Rachel L. &  Virginia S.

This month our special plate collection will go to LGBT Center of Reading
The LGBT Center of Greater Reading provides support, advocacy, and resources to the Greater Reading LGBTQ+ Community

To donate please make checks out to FUUBC with LGBT in the memo line. Checks can be dropped in the collection plate, in the wooden box in the Gerber room or mailed to the church office at 418 Franklin St. Reading PA 19602

Family Promise Needs Our Help

Typically, First UU Berks delivers meals and groceries to three homeless families in the Family Promise program twice a year. They had a gap in coverage for June 3rd, so they asked if we could chip in as we’re able. Any help is greatly appreciated! More details about the families will be posted on the the sign-up as soon as possible.

[We will host again from Nov. 4-12, 2024.]

Sign up here


Exciting News!

We are very excited to announce that we have a ministerial candidate!! We recently spent our pre-candidating weekend together with Rev. John Cullinan and his wife Jess.  Shortly after this, the search committee unanimously voted to move forward with Rev. John Cullinan as our FUUBC candidate! Rev. John comes to us from Los Alamos, NM, where he has had a wealth of experience serving as minister there  for the past seventeen years.  He and Jess have two grown and launched children.  Rev. John and Jess are eager to return to the East Coast (they have extended family in the Northeast). Our search committee genuinely enjoyed spending time with them and look forward to our congregation getting to know them better during candidating week (June 2-9)!   Stay tuned for more details!  In the meantime, we are so glad to celebrate this fantastic news together!

With joy and gratitude.

Your FUUBC Search Committee  

If anyone would like to learn more about Rev. John, you are welcome to check out his website: revjcullinan.com

Special Plate Nominations Open

The aim of the Special Plate Program is to promote the well-being of our broader community in a collaborative manner that demonstrates the principle of the sacred interdependent web of all existence and our value of Generosity through the sharing of faith, presence, and resources.

In 2022, UU Berks committed to growing in partnership with eight local organizations over three years: Reading Public Library, Planned Parenthood, South of Penn, LGBT Center of Greater Reading, Berks Stands UP, Helping Harvest, Safe Berks, and the Berks Coalition to End Homelessness. We voted to support them financially with an annual donation that they could count on, AND we intended to increase our congregation’s participation in their activities and efforts with our physical presence. While our intentions have been worthy, we need more time to develop the deeper relationships that we seek.

To honor our democratic processes, we will ask for two actions at the May 19th Congregational Meeting:

1)  resolve to extend our current eight organizations for three more years in order to become the partners we envision from 2025-2027, and

2) resolve to add TWO more organizations to the Special Plate Program (for a total of ten). This is your opportunity to suggest and nominate other community partners. We will compile the list of candidates for a vote at the December Congregational Meeting.

You may email g.social.justice@uuberks.org with your nominations or use this form to submit as many as you’d like: Special Plate NOMINATIONS

Please respond by midnight on Sunday, May 26th.

The Social Justice Coordinating Team thanks each of you for your efforts, gifts, ideas, encouragement, and personal participation that are the conduits for Beloved Community.

Mark Your Calendars

Save the date for the following events:

  • Sunday May 19th- Spring Congregational Meeting
  • Sunday June 9th- Settled Minister VOTE
  • Sunday, June 16th, -Flower Ceremony and Amy’s Send off
  • Sunday, August 25th: Church Picnic in the Park

Service Auction Update

Great work UUBerks! We’re still working on the data, but it looks like we made just over $15,000 this year on the Service Auction. For bidders, we sent out final statements via email earlier this week. If you have a credit card on file and you haven’t contacted us about sending in a check, we’ll be sending the Winning Bid Reports early next week. The reports will have contact information for the bidders who won your donation. If you need one early, please send me an email request.

Did you take any fun photos on Saturday night during the Live Auction?  If so, could you send them to us? We want to put them in our Service Auction photo album and use them in the future to advertise this event.   You can email them as attachments to photos@uuberks.org.

Help Our Youth Grow in 2024-2025!

We need you and your gifts to make next year’s RE program all it can be! How will you help our RE Children and Teens Grow this coming year? Share your level of interest with us so we know what we can plant in our learning garden and who will be tending it 

M&O Needs You!

Our Ministry and Operations committee is looking for members to help shape and support our church. If you are interested in hearing more about our M&O team contact Maria C.

Monthly Recorder Ensemble Continues 2nd & 4th Sundays – music lovers welcome. No experience necessary.

We are hoping to get a regular recorder ensemble started at UU Berks!  The UU recorder ensemble ( 3-10 players) plays music of many different types, focusing primarily on renaissance and baroque music, but includes early classical, folk, and even some modern tunes!  We play soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorders, but recorders come in many more sizes!

Potential players might:

Have an interest in playing a wind instrument-

Can read music or are willing to learn

Can play the recorder or are willing to learn

Can meet for an hour once to twice a month: April 14th, April 28th, May 12th, May 26, June 9th and June 23rd.

Are willing to practice the music between meetings

Are willing to play at a church service when we feel ready

If you’re still reading, why not give it a try?  Please contact Tracy Blunt with any questions at: tracylblunt@comcast.net.  All ages between 10 and 110 are welcome.

When you email your interest, please let Tracy know if you have an instrument of your own ( plastic recorders are fine) or if you need a recorder.  Tracy will email music to anyone interested who already has a recorder so you can look it over before our next meeting.  Those who are total beginners or who don’t have a recorder, Tracy will give you music at the first meeting.

Here are links to some recorder music in case you are interested in exploring a bit more:


Coffee Crew Needs Help
Coffee Crew is looking for a few new helpers. Commitment is only about 4 Sundays a year on a rotating schedule.  Training provided!  Good benefits!!  Like first dibs on snacks and hot coffee. 
If you can help out contact Bonnie S.

Attention Giant Shoppers! Did you know you can shop at Giant and make money for the Church at no cost to you?

FUUBC is part of the Giant charitable grocery scrip program that gives 10% of all gift cards sold back to our church. You can purchase cards as needed or sign up for a monthly gift card order that will be sent directly to your home the first week of each month.

When you receive your order you will also receive a return envelope to mail your check to the church. Checks can also be dropped in the Gerber room drop box or in the plate collection. Checks should be made out to FUUBC with giant card in the memo line.

If you would like to purchase Giant cards please return the form below to Melissa at office@uuberks.org. One time cards can also be purchased from Melissa at coffee hour twice a month.

Giant cards are available in $50 and $100 increments.

Giant Card Form


Whether we think about it or not, we live in a religious pluralist world.  The person next to you, even in your own family, is a whole person with their own beliefs that are different from yours.  Even if you are in the same religion.  Being human is to have your own set of rules to live by, including how we handle our religions.

What makes a UU church really great is that we embrace pluralism and look for ward to hearing the different viewpoints.  Many religions spend time and energy getting everybody onto the same page;  to some extent we do this, as well.  Physical, tangible, secular things are what we “push,” to make the world a better, safer place for more people, not to have the same religious practice or correct theology.  Getting out the vote is for everyone, studying specific theological terms is not, and judging some beliefs to be more correct than others is definitely not for everyone.

Secular thought and action, grounded in our values (which are pluralist and might include Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism, etc), lifted up in communal worship, is what we pluralists do.  Truth be told, many churches are pluralist, in that not everyone at that congregation believes the same things, but in UU churches it is lifted up as a strength.

Unitarian Universalists happily acknowledge t and of having church friends who are different but also alike, thee value of pluralist worship, and spending energy getting to know about other people’s beliefs and practices.

Some people want to call us non-denominational and that is not accurate.

Or they call us multi-faith, which is inaccurate;  while our practices are multi-faith, our religion is specifically the faith called Unitarian Universalist.

This month as we ponder that theme of pluralism, may you embrace our pluralist ways for their strength!

Pluralistically Yours,

Rev. Amy

The Dance of Pluralism

As Theresa Honey Youngblood says in our soulful home packet this month – With each choice we make, as “to open or close, to include or exclude, to engage or refrain from acting, to share or withhold, to change or remain the same” we make and remake pluralism.

In musical terms, this feels like a dance to me.  We move with our choices over time and in consort with the world within and the world around us.

One way we practice or don’t practice our pluralism is through our musical choices. As Matt Meyer points out in his recent series diving into the history of Unitarian Universalist congregational singing “[choirs, hymns, and psalm-chanting] had been ebbing and flowing in Christianity for centuries. And each of them, in reverse order, would be re-discovered and reinvented by our congregations.”

I encourage you to check out his series to learn more about our long history of music making within the context of Unitarian and Universalist life and around the larger world these schools lived in:

A Journey into Congregational Singing – Matt Meyer


Our Songleading Roots

What to Sing: Psalms vs. Blasphemy & a Question of Content

How to Sing: Chants vs. Hymns & a Question of Form

Who Should Sing: Performance vs Participation

With What to Sing? Adding Instruments or Going Acapella

Grassroots Hymnody: A Porous Tradition


you are

by nadine j. smet-weiss
spiritual director

you are
so much more
than meets
the eye
what parts
of your
diverse self
will you contribute
to continuing

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