“Where Justice Begins,” 2/25/2024

“Justice” has been named as a central value in Unitarian Universalism for generations. We are for it. We work for it. We work to understand it. And still, there is much to learn. Most often we think that justice is public work, community work, political work. But what if it is first and foremost soul work? Without getting waylaid by wanting to define “soul,” let’s consider what justice requires, what it asks of us, what it needs from us.

Rev. Jill McAllister

Between Us, 2/25/2024

(I wrote this in 2016. Re-reading it during this Black History Month was helpful – as if I had written a reminder to myself check in some years later..)

I’ve heard that as we age and mature, the best we can do is replace one habit with another habit. That doesn’t sound very promising, but it certainly can be. If the habit is projecting anger on others by use of physical force, and it’s replaced with a practice of walking away and cooling down on your own, the effects are immense. If the habit is to address sorrow and grief with alcohol and drugs, and that habit is replaced by finding someone to talk and cry with instead of reaching for a bottle, the effects can be life-changing and life-giving.

Replacing destructive habits with less destructive or nurturing habits is not limited to big problems, or to those with the most intense emotional content. Often our smaller habits are what get in our way – sometimes because we can’t even see them, much less name them as habits. Racism is like this most of the time, and sexism, and ageism, and homophobia, and religious prejudices, and other similar habits. For example, simply calling our approaches to diversity ‘habits’ might be something new. It is usually quite a challenge, for any of us, to recognize that what we might think are facts about the way things are – such as “those people are……” are simply habits that we have been taught, that we have learned, that we have internalized. Why for example, do White people almost never say “I met a White person”, when we nearly always say, “I met a Black person,” as if white is an accepted and therefore unspoken norm for what a person looks like? (The reverse is true in many black-dominated cultures and societies.) Of course this represents a limited perspective, which we have definitely been taught somewhere, which we have internalized so that it is a habit. If you think this doesn’t make sense, try changing it, for at least one whole day, by describing the skin color of EVERY person you meet.

Many of us at the UUFC are challenging ourselves to be more active in living our religious values in our daily lives. We keep aiming to live in right relations with others who are of different faiths, ethnicities, persuasions, personality types, etc. Right relations sometimes requires challenging truths that others hold, and sometimes having our own truths challenged. Right relations often requires being able to hold two opposing truths in order to simply stay together. This requires going beyond our initial reactions to things and people (which give evidence of our own habits), and it is often uncomfortable. That is the work of right relations.

While he was serving as a ministerial intern at a UU congregation a few years ago, a seminary student named Ricky Klein noticed how hard this work can be for both individuals and congregations. He wrote, “The greatest challenge to counter-oppression work is that (some people want) to see greater diversity without doing the deeper soul work to understand why and what that would mean.”

Deeper soul work. Perhaps that’s what it means to replace one habit with another habit. Perhaps that’s the most important thing we can be doing, the soul work or emotional work, of understanding how our habits can both help and harm. I know this requires calling on all our resources – intellectual, spiritual, and physical – and I know from experience that it’s something I can almost never do on my own. That’s why I love being part of this congregation with you. May we continue to help one another in this work.
See you Sunday — Jill

Summary of February Board Meeting

At our February meeting, the Board: Discussed

  • 2024-25 Stewardship season which will begin on Sunday, April 7, with a sermon and three subsequent after-service discussions on pledging as a vital component of our shared ministry. Pledging will commence on Sunday April 7.
  • Treasurer’s report, which shows the Fellowship to be in good financial shape
  • Questions and issues related to a potential new policy related to payments to Fellowship members and friends for tasks otherwise covered by volunteers
  • Fellowship justice commitments and related next steps
  • Anticipated internship of a Eugene-based candidate for the UU ministry
  • Upcoming reboot of the UUcorvallis.org website
  • User-problems on Breeze, of which Breeze is aware and working on
  • Agenda and logistics of the upcoming Board retreat Approved
  • Changes to the policy related to the Care of Shared Ministry
  • Reaffirmation of the Fellowship’s commitments to divestment and climate justice
  • Removal of two dangerously and increasingly leaning incense-cedars

Democracy Action Team – Get Out the Vote in 2024 Letter Writing Launch, 3/10

Join us to launch our letter writing campaign for 2024 with snacks and coffee in the Social Hall on Sunday March 10 at 1:45pm after the Social Action Lunch. We’ll write letters together, help you get started, and answer questions. You can get started on your own by signing up with Vote Forward (https://votefwd.org/). They’ll provide addresses and letter templates. Critical elections are decided by tiny margins and our letters can make a difference!

Special Dance Planet

Next Saturday, March 2, we’ll come together for a special Dance Planet at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis. From 7:30 to about 8:45 we’ll move, each in our own way, to a rhythmic flow of music from around the world and across the decades.

But starting at 7 we’ll have a special treat: a 30-minute musical soundscape provided by our own amazing pianist Lauren Servias with a little help from George Beekman. Feel free to bring a yoga mat if you’d like to stretch, breathe, or roll while you warm up.Admission to this family-friendly event is a suggested donation of $5—15. 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to local environmental organizations.

Faith-based Climate Action, 2/17/2024

Faith-based climate action this week

Good News

Climate-action Opportunities

Of Note

Save the Date Vote Forward: Solving the climate crisis requires a functioning democracy!  The UUFC Democracy Action Team is partnering with Vote Forward volunteers, who encourage fellow citizens to participate in our democracy by sending handwritten letters to unregistered and low-propensity voters.  Letter writing will begin early March with Zoom and in-person writing events!

CAT sign-ons: CAT worked with the Board to establish criteria for Justice Teams sign-on to and/or endorse justice causes. Applying those criteria, CAT has signed-on to and/or endorsed:

> Support Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty (11/1/23), 

> Support Overnight Cooling Center at OSU (11/4/23), 

> Oppose GTN Xpress Pipeline (12/14/23), 

> Oppose  Removal of Councillor Chalynn Ellis (2/2/24), and  

> Support  Pause on LNG exports (2/13/24). 

CAT’s notifications to the Board of these sign-ons are in this folder.

Bottle Drop:  Support the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition by using its blue Bottle Drop bags. These are in the lime-green bucket on the window-ledge behind the snack table in the social hall. The Corvallis Bottle Drop is behind the WaFa bank on 9th St.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Short video describing CCL’s success with respect to advancing the PROVE IT Act.

TED Talk:  Executive director Jonathan Foley presents the Drawdown Roadmap, a science-based framework for identifying the best solutions to use at the right time and in the right place to address climate change while improving human well-being, equity, and justice.  This talk is sure to inform and inspire you as much as it did the live audience of hundreds. 

Oregon Treasurer’s Net-Zero Plan: Divest Oregon response (generally positive) to this plan

Emergency Preparedness – Thank-You team!

Thank-you, thank-you to the Emergency Preparedness team: Craig Olbrich, Wolfgang Dengler and Denis White, for providing training for leaders, Sunday volunteers and more last Saturday Feb. 10, focusing on how to help evacuate the building especially in case of fire. (And how interesting that our fire alarm system began to malfunction the following day — we’re looking now at a system upgrade). Here’s a take-away for everyone: if a building evactuation is needed, everyone head out toward the parking lot to the gathering point at the corner of Firwood and Elmwood.

Daily Practice: A Weekly Reminder

To begin a day with notes of thanks is never a waste of time. It is a courageous way to orient oneself to a day, given how easy it is to start with complaints. To sit quietly for a few minutes to see what gratitudes emerge can feel like what the phrase “heart song” might mean. Thanks for the chorus of frogs and the response of an owl last night; for the shape of Marys Peak on the horizon; for the snow drops and crocuses and three tall daffodils already in bloom; for the busyness of birds who share this place; for the smell of moisture-filled morning air; for the thriving vibrant green of lichens; for gifts from friends and family – a poem, a photo, a message; for the wisdom of teachers and of students; for being part of a supportive working team; for knowing I am held in a circle of connection and love. I try to begin the day smiling, which is always what happens when I pause to count blessings. As I’m smiling, I’m bowing my head to my heart in a spontaneous prayer for so much that is so painful – for people living in wars in Ukraine and Gaza and elsewhere; for children in danger; for families struggling to survive; for generations of trauma of racism and patriarchy; for losses and mourning; for the state of the earth’s living systems. I look to this day with hope, and words from W.E.B DuBois as encouragement: “ The prayer of our souls is a petition for persistence; not for one good deed but deed on deed and thought on thought, until day calling unto day shall make a life worth living.” May this be our daily practice.