Pastoral Message, September/October 2010

The Quest for Wholeness

Our deepest bonds are formed in right relationship with each other. The quest for wholeness through spiritual growth is a global phenomenon; individuals in all parts of the world are involved in the inner work of the spirit, trying to get in touch with imagination, creativity and soul.  Personally I equate spirit with religion, because I believe that religion is much more than a set of beliefs. It is more about what we love than what we believe, need I remind you in the words of founding father Francis David, “we do not have to think alike to love alike”.  But, it appers as though many Unitarian Universalist are conflicted, albeit afraid of the “spirit” itself. And while we may not be able to define “spirit” most of us are somehow acutely aware of those who claim to speak for god or spirit through misinformation. However, the potential power of the spirit is too important for us to ignore, because individually we all have times when it is necessary to trust the spirit, any spirit, for just some strength to survive. And I believe that we all need more of the spirit called courage, positive attitude, and yes, love. Real spiritual growth however is manifested through our willingness to be transformed, so we must remind ourselves that we are spiritual heirs of those who were unafraid to let go of the past and look toward the future. Therefore the greatest test in our quest for wholeness is the ability to embrace the future of all possibilities, while letting go of fears and outmoded ideas that no longer serve us from the past.
In Love and Light,
(The) Rev. Addae Ama Kraba

Pastoral Message, August 2010

Hi Family,
I just spent the last week at Camp deBenneville Pines in the Pacific Southwest District where I was co-chaplain for YRUU senior high summer camp.  This past camp was particularly special for me. It was my fourth senior high summer camp, which meant that I was present to see one generation of senior high youth grow up and grow out, which was the theme of this year’s camp.
While at camp I spent time talking with members and a youth advisor from the UU Congregation of Phoenix.  During my conversation with the youth advisor I shared with him the shock and sadness I felt at GA while watching the Film: “Standing On the Side of Love in Arizona” and hearing members of our PSWD YRUU camp family tell the story of their mother’s deportation.  The youth advisor recalled his memories of the Sunday morning when a member of his youth group shared during check-in that her mother had been deported.  The youth advisor and I fell silent in our separate but shared experience of shock and sadness after hearing about these young people being separated from their mother.
As I wrote in my May newsletter column, people on both sides of the immigration debate believe their position is backed by the law, American values, human rights and/or love.  I encourage you to watch the Film: “Standing on the Side of in Arizona at and let your conscience be your guide on how you can stand on the side of love and support a fellow YRUUer.
I will end with a reflection attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller:
In Germany, they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me—
and by that time there was no one left to speak up.
As always I would love to hear from you.  You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog, UU Living Mosaic at
Living My Faith,
Rev Monica

UU of the Month, August 2010

Abhimanyu Janamanchi

Abhimanyu Janamanchi is 16 years old and is a junior at Palm Harbor University High School. He was born in India and is a lifelong UU Hindu.
Abhimanyu is an active member at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater where he participates in leading worship and Young Religious Unitarian Universalist (YRUU) related programs.
Abhimanyu is currently the worship coordinator for the General Assembly Youth Caucus, is on the Florida district board as a youth representative and is a Chrysalis trainer. Abhimanyu enjoys playing basketball, watching movies, and living out his faith every day.


DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries) join with other Unitarian Universalists concerned with justice to condemn the new racial profiling laws in Arizona and we urge Unitarian Universalists who identify as people of color/Latina/o/Hispanic to express their outrage individually and collectively at these laws which allow law enforcement to target people based on race.  We particularly note the statement by  LUUNA (Latina/o Unitarian Universalist  Networking Association), which states about this law that “its very vagueness will provide a means for law enforcement agencies to harass individuals on the basis of appearance alone.”
Because some of our members have indicated their concern that they would not be safe travelling to and within Arizona as long as such racial profiling laws exist, we also support the proposed boycott of Arizona and support relocating or cancelling the General Assembly scheduled to be held there.  To hold a General Assembly without the total spectrum of our members is exclusionary.  We also urge our General Assembly delegates this year to explore other options that could keep us in dialogue with the people of Arizona.
We remind our Unitarian Universalist family that such actions do have impact.  In the late 1980s, when Arizona refused to honor the Martin Luther King holiday, Unitarian Universalists cancelled the General Assembly scheduled to be held there.  After the state changed their position, General Assembly was once again held in that state.  We believe that, even in hard economic times, Unitarian Universalists must be willing to demand that their money be guided by their principles.
We as people who affirm the worth and dignity of all people must continue to fight against racism and ethnic discrimination in all forms.  A law that singles people out by race and ethnicity is by its nature racist.  We condemn this law and urge people of faith throughout our country to let their voices be heard.
The Steering Committee of
DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries)

UU of the Month, May 2010

Natalia (Natty) Maria Francisco Averett

Natty’s nonprofit experience includes organizing workshops on race for the Anti-Defamation League and involvement in the Environmental Club, and black, Latino, Queer and multicultural organizations. She has worked as a volunteer coordinator, co-managed a women’s center, interned at Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project and Libreria Del Pueblo, and worked as a campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is currently a member of the D.C. HIV/Prevention Community Planning Group, a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and the D.C. Department of Health.
In the UU world, Natty served on the Joseph Priestly District Young Adult Network Steering Committee and has been involved in young adult activities at the national level. She was a leader in the UU Church of Arlington’s (UUCA) young adult community, where she helped organize a conference inspired by the Our Whole Lives pilot course for young adults. She has been a UUCA covenant-group facilitator and was a member of the congregation’s 2008/2009 Strategic Planning Task Force. In 2009, she joined the Board of Trustees and was recently elected Chair for the 2010/2011 fiscal year. Over the last few years, she’s been involved in several UU racial justice trainings and activities.
In her day job, Natty works for the consulting firm SAIC, where she provides industrial security strategic planning assistance, policy advice and training to company leadership and professional colleagues. She is active in her company’s multicultural network and women’s network, where she chaired community outreach and was nominated for an achievement award for Excellence in Corporate Responsibility.
Natty strives for personal connection, consensus and efficiency. She enjoys walking, sleeping, sitting outside, reading, art, film, puzzles, music, dancing, beaches, food culture, and finding “the funny,” the small thing that makes something hilarious when it would otherwise not be funny at all.

Pastoral Message, May 2010

Hello Family,
Fear is a powerful emotion.  It can motivate people and communities to behave in ways that seem irrational and self-destructive.  There are things we all fear.  For example, not getting what we want or losing what we already have.  Some parents fear their children will not receive their fair share of programs supported by their tax dollars.  Communities fear not being able to stretch their resources to meet increasing demand.
We live in a time when politicians have mastered the strategy of “manufactured fear.”  The more fear generated by those in power, the more people are willing to vote against their own best interests to alleviate their fear.  When voters in our country are willing to see the “other” as the problem, they are less likely to focus on the individuals, groups and businesses that profit from their fear.
Over the past few months, stories about immigration have increased.  Most noteworthy is the Anti-Immigrant Law passed in Arizona in April.  People in support of tightening our borders and deporting those who are undocumented believe they stand on the side of law and order.  People who support amnesty for undocumented immigrants believe they stand on the side of economic justice, human rights and love.
I encourage you to get in touch with what you fear, because if you are in control of what you fear instead of being controlled by what you fear, you will be one less consumer of the current political strategy of manufactured fear.
As always I would love to hear from you.  You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog, UU Living Mosaic at
Living My Faith,
Rev Monica

UU of the Month, April 2010

Christopher D.  Sims

Christopher D. Sims is a man of African descent who has been writing poetry for most of his life, and performing it for half of his life. His poems are intricate, detailed, knowledge-filled, and entertaining. Christopher grew up in Rockford, IL, where as a child he was allowed to be free to express himself and discover his gifts and talents.
His adult life has been one of many performances, open mike hosting, and travels all across the states, and Canada.
Christopher is still writing poetry, and has taken a performance hiatus to return to the University of Memphis to complete his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

In her delicate brown eyes
I saw a rise of rage and fury –
justified anger LOUD and uncompromising.
I had entered hell then.
No more her.
No more hugs.
No more hope.
No more love.
I deserved it.
In a wordless ten minutes of tension
she proudly mentioned her celibacy.
But, my adultery spoke silently.
It’s scared, tiny voice
had no place in between us.
It was hard.
She, I left scarred.
To the door she charged
leaving me single, and at large.
Why do men cheat?
Then not want to stand
the kitchen’s heat?
I lied. Then lost. Became lonely.
Was unwanted. Walked in wonder.
Talked to invisible spirits. Cried inside.
50% of me died. My stomach balled up
at the site of her loving again. For a
moment in time I lost my soul, my sanity,
and my best friend.
It was like:
drowning in a well;
the most unbearable smell;
stepping on a rusted nail.
Being without her
was pure hell.
© Christopher Donshale Sims 2010

If I were ML King and A UU for a Day
In Rockford, IL
With our first principle in mind
I wonder about man kind
lost in a world of drugs, alcohol,
and a poor education system in the Forest City.
To him I want to listen,
and then envision a city
Where we all live
and are treated equally.
I want to live justfully in Rockford, IL
with a compassion that shows,
and with a spirt that glows.
I want love to flow
out of my energy,
so that adults respect and love me
and that children embrace and hug me.
We must accept one another.
We must live as sister and brother.
And, as I cruise through west side Rockford streets
then travel to reach the east side of this city,
I won’t feel pity
knowing that I participate in a
lonely disconnection.
We are all free to be who we are.
Our many churches practice what they will.
I must recognize this.
I must realize that truth and love are found
throughout all religions. Even if I am a UU
and my neighbors are Muslims or Christians.
As long as I have conscience in my church,
and am granted the democratic process.
My church congregation is a resource to this city,
positive energy we create, and progress is
As a Unitarian Universalist in Rockford, IL
how am I contributing to the world community?
Am I walking in Martin’s light and shoes,
spreading peace and humility?
I can be Martin Luther King jr. in my own right
and help fight for liberty and justice.
In these days in time of joblessness,
homelessness, and a lack of hope,
the Martin in me can cope
As long as I understand that as woman and man,
we are a web connected.
That we are a community facing obstacles
together, not alone.
Whether the east or west side of the river is
our home.
© Christopher Donshale Sims

All rights reserved2010.

Pastoral Message, April 2010

pic of me with love signHi Family,
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time to war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3 1-8)
We are couple of days into spring yet the Denver area is digging out of a foot of snow while people in other parts of the country are digging in their gardens.  Spring is indeed a time of contrasts.
Spring is also a transformative time of year.  It is a time to honor those who were past-over.  A time of resurrection when the colors of nature come alive.  It is a time to celebrate life in all its manifestations.
During this season of transformation, I encourage you to take time to reflect on your inner season of being.  I invite you to be mindful of what in you needs to bloom and come alive and to allow that energy to manifest itself in your life.  Indeed, for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
As always I would love to hear from you.  You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog, UU Living Mosaic at
Living My Faith,
Rev. Monica

Community Prayers

Spirit of Life, of decay and sustenance, of leaf mould and loam, of death and rebirth,
I find strength in your touch upon my soul, your gift of beauty, breaking bud and rising sap.
I am restored by the peace, the stillness, the possibility that comes with rebirth, the moment of potential that promises Life.
May I live to give birth to the promise, to raise it up, to grow it strong and grow it wise–and may I be able to offer it to us all.
– The Rev. Adam Robersmith
March 2010
If you use or find this prayer helpful please leave a comment.

Poetry, SACRED, BUT NOT LEGAL, by Rev. Susan Manker-Seale

By Rev. Susan Manker-Seale, Spring, 2010


To the People of the State of Arizona (and Beyond):
My daughter is getting married
In a ceremony sacred, but not legal,
And instead of the minister, I’ll be the proud mother
Holding the hand of my husband of thirty years
As we welcome a new daughter, not in-law,
But in-love.
They will have to be brave,
Joining the ranks of the oppressed,
Where they’ve already been
In so many ways,
But their love is strong, and beautiful,
And perhaps, in time,
the people of our state will finally see that,
And grant them rights as parents and partners,
In spite of the spite that’s still spewed from the silver-tongued.
Oh!  You pastors who blaspheme by preaching bigotry!
Who take advantage of people’s desire for a privileged place!
Must there always be a scapegoat?
Can’t you see the history of oppression,
The slow uncovering of our eyes
and unstopping of our ears?
People, don’t sit like sheep in the pews, unquestioning!
It is shameful when the oppressed become the oppressors,
And you have all been there in one way or another,
One end or the other.
This morning I woke up, and realized one part,
At least, that I have played, and now,
After twenty-two years of performing weddings
Here in our beloved state,
I refuse to be the hand of one more injustice,
And will no longer sign marriage licenses,
In protest.
Arizona is turning one hundred,
And those years have left a trail of emancipation,
People turning over and rising up,
Demanding to be seen and respected
Through race, gender, culture, ability.
But still, the fight goes on for those whose love
Is not confined to social norms
and ancient, misguided religious precepts.
There is a lot more love in the Bible, in holy texts,
Than many have been led to believe.
Let’s all open our eyes and ears,
But especially, let us open our hearts,
For love truly is the most important thing!
And no matter that some will still preach to the contrary,
I know when I’m in the presence of a sacred love.
My two daughters’ marriage will be blessed!
And, believe me, as we take one more step out of bigotry,
One day, it will be legal!
– By Rev. Susan Manker-Seale
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northwest Tucson
Spring, 2010
    •    If you like this poem or want to submit a poem for this section, please leave a comment.