About the Author
T. Resnikoff
Ted Resnikoff is the Digital Communications Editor at the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Pastoral Message, January 2010

The Rev. Peter Morales

A new year always begins with a sense of possibility. That sense of unrealized potential is particularly acute for us Unitarian Universalists now. We are living in the midst of a historic shift in America.
For the first time since colonial days, the majority of people living in America will be people of color. Your generation will live its adult life in a new America.
At the UUA, we are working to bring in a new generation of diverse religious professionals and to strengthen our programming for youth and young adults. As youth and young adults of color, you have a special role in helping us create a new multi-racial, multi-cultural future. Your part is absolutely essential.
I wish you a blessed new year. I look forward to working with you to build a new Unitarian Universalism.
Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist
Association of Congregations

Poetry, December 2009, Yule Poem, From the book, Casting the Circle by Diane Stein

Yule Poem

‘birthwatch night of sun
from darkness light
west becomes the east
freezing becomes fire
Goddess Mother Moon
she births the sun
she births the earth
she labors for
the sea and sky
death is granted life
so mote it be
circle closes
circle opens
and the oak fire strikes
bright the earth and sun
bright the newborn sea
bright the infant stars
her glowing earth
winter set aside
with new year naming
“everything she touches changes”
as above us so below.’
– From the book, Casting the Circle by Diane Stein

UU of the Month, December 2009

Michael Kusz Han
Michael Kusz Han lives in Renton Washington, just south of Seattle, where he is a part of the University Unitarian Church youth group.  Although currently not formally involved in the Unitarian Universalist Association, he recently finished a two year term as FUNTIMES Manager for the General Assembly Youth Caucus where he was able to share with others his passion for the governance of the association.
Michael has been a UU since birth.  His early life was greatly influenced by the kindness and caring he found at church.  Unitarian Universalism continued to be an important factor in Michael’s life through his move to Washington shortly before his 12th birthday.  As a newcomer to the Seattle area, Michael knew nobody, but his church helped him to become settled in a new place.
Eighth grade solidified Michael’s UU faith.  He began the year by participating in the Our Whole Lives sexuality curriculum, followed by Coming of Age.  All of this cumulated in the St. Louis General Assembly, Michael’s first GA.  It was his first glimpse of the UU world beyond his own congregation.  He returned to GA the following year in Portland, where he was elected to the position of FUNTIMES Manager, a position that allowed him to help create the community he loved.  The next year, amid the restructuring of YRUU, he became a member of the Youth Ministry Working Group and helped to re-envision youth programming.
Racial identity has always been a struggle for Michael.   Although he identifies as biracial, he is often asked to “check one box”, a policy he finds outdated and insensitive.  He contemplates what it means to be Asian, but to pass as white, especially since nothing except his eyes seemed to show he was Asian.  Earlier this year, Michael and the rest of his family changed their names from Kusz to Han, as a way of claiming their Corean heritage.
Michael is currently studying to be a Mechanical engineer at Highline College.  He also works as the lead math tutor at Highline.  In his spare time, Michael builds things, like self-defogging laboratory goggles.

Pastoral Message, December 2009

pic of me with love signHello Family,
Happy Holydays!  In the month of December, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and Kwanzaa will be celebrated.  The diversity of traditions celebrated in the month of December is truly amazing.  What is diversity?  Is it as simple as being open to celebrating the holiday tradition of a friend?  Perhaps, educating people of different religious traditions and ethnicities to better understand each other?  Or, does it go deeper into all aspects and areas of our lives?  According to William Chase,
“Diversity, generally understood and embraced, is not casual liberal tolerance of anything and everything not yourself.  It is not polite accommodation.
Instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do…
And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out to create the bond that …will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.”
I encourage you to make a special effort to learn and embrace a holiday tradition that is unfamiliar to you.  I also encourage you to reach out to family and friends who may be struggling to be joyful during a time of year when we are expected to be jolly.  For Youth and Young Adults of Color who are interested, I have a list of UU ministers and religious professionals of color who are willing to provide chaplain support during the holidays.  Please contact me for a list of their names.
I wish you all a safe, serene and happy holiday season.
Living My Faith,
Rev. Monica

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

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