UU of the Month, November 2009

India McKnight

India McKnight began serving as the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Queens in Flushing, NY this fall.  India is originally from Silver Spring, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC. Growing up, she was exposed to the arts, and activism with a global focus and a deep sense of curiosity.
As a teenager she began attending the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Silver Spring and was drawn in by kind individuals and a justice focused spiritual youth group. At 19, India worked as a Religious Education Assistant for the Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Hyattsville, MD and served on the DRUUMM Youth and Young Adult National Steering Committee. She also served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at the Alliance of AIDS Services in Durham, NC providing financial and counseling services to individuals living with AIDS/ HIV. Prior to becoming the DRE at UUCQ in September 2009, she worked with the Unitarian Universalist Association in the Youth Ministry Office for two years.
Through her volunteer and community work, India has developed a passion for working with Unitarian Universalist children and youth. She writes, “As a denomination we have an amazing opportunity to develop and experience strong leadership from our Religious Education programs.” “In developing that leadership we must make sure our children and youth have roots in our faith; roots that connect them to community, ritual, worship, and social justice.”
India loves chillin with her ancestors, traveling, reading, talking to strangers, writing and volunteering. She is a member of the Safe Outside the System collective of the Audre Lorde Project Organization. (www.alp.org) The Safe Outside the System collective are community members and organizations committed to providing safe spaces, financial support, time and effort to protect Queer People of Color in Brooklyn from violence.

Pastoral Message, November 2009

Rev. Alicia
If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart
It snowed recently; a total of two feet in 24 hours. At one point, I ventured outside: pink snow boots, an aged military green parka with missing buttons, my balaclava, thick gloves, and a letter that needed to be mailed. I’m sure I was quite a sight to behold – all that could be seen of my face were eyes squinting against the bitterly cold wind, as I trudged half a mile to the mail drop. Passing cars threatened to splash icy cold snow melt on me and still I trudged on – toes and fingers growing increasingly numb.
On my walk, I paused to photograph snow covered trees and shrubs – fumbling with the camera, cold air warming itself in my lungs. I wanted the slippery, windy walk to be over and I wanted to stay present in the moment watching the landscape change, collecting flakes on my gloves and being entranced by the very day itself. It was a moment to practice gratitude: for a warm home, adequate clothing, health and strength, beauty, the hot cup of tea that I would make once I returned to my home and for a faith that invites me to see myself as a part of this complex web of life. A faith that invites me to participate in this web with responsibility and reverence.
In the midst of the throng and crush of fall, it often feels like there is little to be thankful for. We rush from one very important activity to the next very important activity – each crucial, time sensitive and demanding our attention. Whether it’s mid-terms, work, church, or attending to relationships – it may be dealing with the mishaps of a stolen car, beloved treasure, or the ending of an intimate relationship – all significant and yet without pausing we run the risk of losing ourselves in the flurry of activity. We run the risk of not hearing our still small voice within.
As I trudged home, slipping and working hard to avoid large puddles of icy water, I was reminded of a youth in my youth group who shared that she’d learned the value of taking 10 minutes a day to slow down and give thanks. I was reminded of the book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. In this short text, Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn ask us to create a practice of examining what gives us life by simply asking and answering:
For what moment today am I most grateful?
For what moment today am I least grateful?
When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, other, God, the universe?
When did I have the least sense of belonging?
Maybe over meals with family and friends…maybe alone in the presence of a lit candle…maybe practicing consciously in the transition from one activity to the next…maybe just before sleep claims you for the night, consider making the space for yourself to hear where you feel connected, thankful, and truly joyful. Keep a journal of your response.
Ask: what moment am I most grateful for? In the presence of yourself or with others, this can remind you of the sources of love and support in your life. To ask yourself what you’re least grateful for, can remind you of what you have the capacity to begin to change.
Ask: when did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, other, God, the universe? And give yourself the gift of listening and attending to the response.
May you be well,
With gratitude
Rev. Alicia
Program Coordinator for Multicultural Congregations
Identity Based Ministries and The Office of Racial and Ethnic Concerns

UU of the Month

Month October 2009

Kevin for blog

Kevin Kapa is a recent graduate of the University of California San Diego where he doubled majored in Ethnic Studies and Urban Studies and Planning. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the First UU Church of San Diego, where he is an active member of the Journey Towards Wholeness anti-racism/anti-oppression committee. Kevin also serves as one of two young adult representatives with DRUUMM (Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), the people of color organization of the UUA.

Kevin works as a community organizer with the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils in inner city San Diego, where he advocates for affordable housing, educational equity and green jobs. Kevin also organizes with the San Diego Youth for Revolutionary Change, a coalition dedicated to building the youth empowerment movement in the region and Anakbayan San Diego, a Filipino based international solidarity organization, rooted in the core values of anti-imperialism, anti-feudalism and anti-bureaucrat capitalism.

In his free time Kevin loves hiking through forests, swimming in the ocean, meditating atop seaside cliffs, deepening his understanding of God and writing/performing spoken word poetry. Feeling compelled to continue pursing his passion for social justice and spirituality, Kevin plans to attend seminary and pursue his Masters in Divinity and work to translate Unitarian Universalism to the next generation.

Victory! / Kevin Kapa

A prayer dedicated to ALL who struggle:

Can you imagine the VICTORY!


It will be as if heaven’s LOVE / rained down from the sky and flooded the earth with peace.


Forests shall be regrowN / waters shall be restored / and we will hear the sounds of birds again.


The ways of the ancestors / will become relevant and their teachings will be burned into our skin.


Poverty, greed, and fear will be ousted,

And replaced by spiritual well-being, authentic friendship, and deep love.


The heavens above will ring a mighty sound / calling us home / calling us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.


We will no longer have irrelevant or meaningless arguments,

Nor BE afraid of the power of our own voices.


Little boys and little girls will no longer be afraid to be who they are,

AND love who makes them happy.


Womyn of Color WARRIORS / will break the patriarchical & heternormative shackles that bind all of us,

SELF-HEALING / through ARTISTIC LOVE celebrations of expression.


The slave labor / of prison bondage will be DESTROYED,

And replaced by FREE / health care & education for all of our people.


Golf courses, freeway infrastructure, automobiles and oil forged by death / will become irrelevant,

And replaced by affordable housing, urban GARDENS, and solar mass TRANSIT.


The military industrial complex / will fall to its knees,

And be overgrown / by farmers MARKETS, CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUNDS and celebrations of solidarity.


The Aztec Sun / will once again RISE OVER the Brown People of the Earth,

Filling us with an indigenous pride in our ancestors.


The educational dreams / of undocumented children will manifest

And birth movement makers and spoken word prophets.


Borders will become meaningless / trade will be FAIR and NOT free / sweatshop abuse will finally END,

And prosperity will be for ALL OF US.
WHEN the victory comes

Indians, Blacks, Chicanos, Filipinos, Asians and Whites / will stand in solidarity with one another,

Fists raised HIGH / united together as one people.

WHEN the victory comes

Jews, Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Buddhists, Hindus and Atheists,

Will be able to share a meal at the table of sisterhood and brotherhood.

WHEN the victory comes

Military recruiters, prostitutes, drug dealers and gangsters / will be replaced by

Youth organizers, spiritual healers, community lawyers and green-collar-job makers,

The leaders of the REVOLUTION.


Love’s flaming arrow / will strike the hearts of the people,

Birthing us into ANGELS here on Earth.


Our way to HEAVEN / will be PAVED by the GOLDEN RAYS of the SUN,


WHEN the HEALING comes

It will NOT MATTER / what side you were on,

For God will have ALL OF US victorious in heaven.

WHEN the rebirth comes

The prophetic voices of:

Rumi, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Emilio Zapata,

Gabriela Silang, Philip Vera Cruz, Audre Lorde, Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman,

Angela Davis, Jo Ma Sison, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Van Jones,

Will be elementary school vocabulary.

WHEN the resurrection comes

It will be like the BIBLE SAID:

*Blessed are those who grieve / for GOD will COMFORT THEM.

Blessed are those who are humble / for the WHOLE EARTH will be theirs.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice / for they / will BE SATISFIED.”


We will realize LOVE / to be the FORCE on this planet pushing the world FORWARD


From Mother to Son,

From Father to Daughter,

From Generation to Generation.

Wherever there is struggle / the people WILL rise up.

Wherever there is fear, injustice or discrimination,

A movement calling for greater LOVE is bound to be birthed.

Whoever you are / whatever circles you travel with,

KNOW there is a movement waiting for your touch.

waiting for your unique soul to bless it / with your presence.


Now is the time /TO Step into the light / (AND pierce though the BULLSHIT!)

With the best tools we have at our disposal / our VOICES, our HANDS, and our UNITY!

Ashe. Kapalaran. Amen.

Poetry, October 2009, by Howard Thurman

Poetry, October 2009
For many of us the fall of the year is a time of sadness and the long memory.  All around us there are the evidences of fading, of withdrawal, of things coming to an end.  What was alive and growing only a few short days or weeks ago seems now to have fulfilled itself and fallen back into the shadows.  Vegetation withers but there is no agony of departure; there seems to be only death and stillness in the fall.
Those who have been ill all summer seem to get a deepening sense of foreboding in the fall.  It is the time of the changing of the guard.  It is the season of the retreat of energy.  It is a time of letting go.  It is a period of the first exhaustion.  It is the period of the storms, as if the wind itself becomes the Avenging Angel too impatient to wait for the coming of death and the quiet fading of bud and flower and leaf.  The rain is not gentle in the fall, it is feverish, truculent, and vicious.  All the fury of wind and rain are under toned by a vast lull in tempo and the running down of all things.  There is a chill in the air in the fall.  It is not cold; it is chilly, as if the temperature cannot quite make up its mind.  The chill is ominous, the forerunner of the vital coldness of winter.
But the fall of the year is more than all this; much, much more. It marks an important change in the cycle of the year.  This change means that summer is passed.  One season ends by blending into another.  Here is a change of pace accenting a rhythm in the passing of time.  How important this is!  The particular mood inspires recollection and reflection.  There is something very steadying and secure in the awareness that there is an underlying dependability in life–that change is part of the experience of living.  It is a reminder of the meaning of pause and plateau.
But the fall provides something more.  There is harvest, a time of ingathering, of storing up in nature; there is harvest, a time of ingathering, of storing up in the heart.  There is the time when there must be a separation of that which has said its say and passes–that which repens and finds its meaning in sustaining life in other forms. Nothing is lost, nothing disappears; all things belong, each in its way, to a harmony and an order which envelops all, which infuses all.
Fall accentuates the goodness of life and finds its truest meaning in the strength of winter and the breath of spring.  Thank God for the fall.
by Howard Thurman

Community Prayers

A Prayer for the Johnson Family
My Dear Sisters,
Your lives will forever be changed.  The loss of a father and all the father-daughter relationship encompasses; your loss is indeed soul deep.  For there are few things in life that touch our hearts as deep as the love of a father.
My prayer for you in the moments and months ahead, is the strength to grieve your father’s death, and the ability to celebrate his memory.
Your family is close, continue to console each other.  Continue to depend on each other.  Continue to be patient with one another.
Your collective love and support will be your greatest gift to your father’s memory in the months and years to come.
May you feel the loving embrace of the Source of Life in your times of sorrow, and may you remain mindful that you are not alone.
Amen and Blessed Be
Rev. Dr. Monica L. Cummings

Pastoral Message, October 2009

Hi Family,
As I write this article, I am holding in my prayers all the people in the Southeast U.S. and the South Pacific Islands who survived flooding and the tsunami that struck in September. I am also holding in my prayers all the people who are living with the anxiety of not knowing the whereabouts of loved ones or how they will rebuild their lives.pic of me with love sign
According to my Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, anxiety can be explained as “A psychic response of dread or fear to a vague, unspecified threat. Anxiety as a psychic condition is experienced by all human beings, although it may be trigged by different sources for different persons. There are different types of anxiety and various theories about it, but, at its core anxiety signals the threat of a fundamental loss or separation.”
Anxiety has become an ever increasing presence in our lives. The increasing strength of hurricanes and wild fires; the continuous loss of life in Afghanistan and Iraq; the financial insecurity that many of you and your families’ are experiencing due to unemployment or underemployment are all valid reasons to feel anxious.
We all have different levels of tolerance and ways to cope with anxiety. While some people choose to meditate, others abuse legal and illegal drugs. Some people choose to become physically or verbally abusive, while others withdraw emotionally. Over eating becomes an option for many people, and for others rejection of food.
The way you deal with your anxiety will affect every aspect of your life. Therefore, I encourage you to become more aware of what you are feeling and what your body is communicating to you. When you feel butterflies in your stomach, tightness in your neck or shoulders, pain in your lower back or suffer frequent headaches, I suggest you acknowledge what you are feeling physically and process/reflect on what is causing your discomfort. Awareness and being proactive will go a long way in lessening your anxiety.
As always I would love to hear from you. You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at mcummings@uua.org or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog at http://uuyayaoc.blogs.uua.org/.
Living My Faith,

Rev. Monica