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Springfield Meetinghouse, vt

Unitarian Universalist

Worship Services

We have been holding services weekly on Zoom during the past church year and are beginning to transition to hybrid (in-person and Zoom) services. Our Sunday services begin at 10 am and last about an hour, followed by coffee hour and discussion. We welcome people from near and far to join us on Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6130779853.  Our services generally include music, readings a story and a reflection (or sermon).  We may include practices such as art, meditation, prayer, yoga, dance, journaling, poetry.   Children are welcome at our services; child care is available for those who don't wish to stay in the sanctuary. We have both ordained clergy and lay leaders, as well as special guests, lead our services.

Music is especially important to us and we often include live performances as well as hymns for the congregation to sing.  Our virtual choir, directed by Julane Deener, has been a crucial part of our online services.  The choir will continue to perform virtually at times as well as live during many future services.

We acknowledge and include many spiritual traditions, including Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Indigenous, Jewish, Muslim and Pagan.  We include humanists, atheists and agnostics among our congregation.  Many folks describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”  We agree that we do not have to think alike, but we love alike.

 

December 2021 Services (note times below)

Sunday, December 5, 10 am  "Finding and Fostering Friendship" with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy and Toni Streeter  The spark of friendship is mysterious and wonderful.  It is one of the sustaining forces in our lives.  Conversely, loneliness is one of the greatest forms of suffering and has been on the increase for decades according to psychological studies.  What makes for this amicable connection and what fosters it, especially in these interesting times?  Join us for a participatory service exploration of the special spiritual connection among friends.

Sunday December 12, 10 AM Spiritual Makerspace Service ~ "Holy Social Media: Click Local!" with Michael Wood-Lewis and Rev. Mellen Kennedy
In this Spiritual Makerspace service, we'll explore the problems of big tech and the hopes of small tech.  We've heard so much about the negative impact and dangers of social media.  But what does that really mean?  And what about the benefits of this?  What do we mean by Attention Economy and Surveillance Capitalism? And why are these a spiritual issues?  What better person to help us delve into these questions than the founder of Front Porch Forum (FPF), Michael Wood-Lewis.  FPF is a community-building platform which Michael started about 20 years ago in Vermont and which now has expanded to serve other geographic areas.  FPF has gotten national accolades for being social media at its best.  In addition to being an amazing entrepreneur, Michael is a deeply thoughtful person and happens to be a member, along with his wife and kids, of the First Unitarian Society in Burlington, Vermont.  

November 2021 Services, Sundays at 10 am ET

November 7, "Gearing Up in Gratitude" with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy and Sharon Mueller

Do You need a boost as we enter the holiday season and our second winter dealing with the virus situation?  Then please hop on board Zoom for a uplifting, encouraging, challenging and fun ride.  How can You find joy in the midst of sorrow, hope in the midst of despair?  The answer is deceptively easy and obvious! Please join us for an exploration of the depth of our being and the breadth of our imagination! And remember that daylight saving time ends.  Stay for randomly assigned small group coffee hour after the service.
 
November 14, "Cultivating Civil Discourse" with Ann Marie Knoepfel, Deb Diegoli and Tina Feindel.  
It seems that harsh speech has become the norm.  Let's affirm our commitment to engaging in civil discourse and honing our skills for finding common ground.  We have a choice each moment to escalate or calm, to be inflammatory or soothing, to be extreme or balanced. Let's be part of the solution and help heal the world conversation by conversation, breath by breath. Join us after the service for coffee hour in randomly assigned small groups. 
 
November 21: "Walking in the Footsteps of Howard Thurman" with Rev. Dr. Kristal Owens and Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy (others in the Thurman Series Team will also be present). November 18 is Howard Thurman's 122nd birthday!  How fitting to explore his roots, his life trajectory and career.  Where did he come from?  How did he become such a powerful mystic, teacher and minister?  And what lessons can we take as we unfold the story of our own lives?  Join us for the second installment of our series. Stay for virtual coffee hour in randomly assigned small group discussions.
 
November 28: "Aware of N'dakina: Our Abenaki Homeland." with Charlie D. Megeso and Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy We're exploring the theme this year of, "What makes You Come Alive?  Go Do It!".  Our guest this morning, Charlie Megeso, is an indigenous activist who has worked with the Nulhegan Coosuk and Alnobaiwi Councils. The Abenaki are the Native people of Vermont - N'dakina. For Charlie, connecting with his Abenaki heritage has made him come alive! He has been working for 35 years for tribal recognition and celebrating Abenaki culture. He is enthusiastic about showing folks who the Abenaki are today and including this in the N'dakina narrative. Charlie helped establish Alnôbaiwi.org, a nonprofit for cultural, traditional Abenaki (our Share the Plate recipient this month --see below).  Till then, Powidahozi  --- think and be very Happy!  Join us for coffee hour break out group discussion after the service. Join us after the service for coffee hour in randomly assigned small groups. 
 
 

October 2021 Services - Sundays at 10 am

Sunday October 3, 2021  “Do You Know How Powerful You Are?  No Need for Despair!” with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy and Lynne Wolf.  Do You feel overwhelmed or even despairing as You look around the world?  Dear Friends, truly, no need for that!  The human heart, is an energetic nexus for healing and transformation. And each of us can make a profound difference in the world around us as we tend the garden of our heart. And when we engage in this endeavor with others -- well!  The sky is the limit!  We’ll draw from multiple sources including current neuroscience research, Maharishi effect research, the teachings of ancient mystic such as St. Francis, and more.  We’ll end the morning with an invitation to participate in group energetic efforts to help heal our beautiful world.  "Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Sunday, October 10:  “The Opportunity to Improvise,” Spiritual Makerspace service with Christal Brown and Lida B. Winfield  Join the Springfield Meetinghouse Online on Sunday October 10th for The Opportunity to Improvise at 10 am. Scholars and dance artists, Christal Brown and Lida Winfield share the process of turning curiosity, trust and improvisation into an artistic reflection on race, age, gender, and surviving life. For more about the artists and their work, see    https://www.lidawinfield.com/samebutdifferent  . You're invited to stay for a virtual coffee hour and discussion afterward.  All are welcome! Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6130779853 .

Sunday, October 17: "Medicine for Our Time, Living the Legacy of Howard Thurman" with Rev. Dr. Kristal Owens, Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy, Usher Moses, and Robbin Ruffner. Join us on this 8 month journey to learn and experience the great teachings of mystic, philosopher, author, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman! We will have our sessions every third Sunday of the month (add that to your calendars!). Did you know Howard Thurman was influential in Martin Luther King's non-violence movement?  If you like to learn more about Howard Thurman and his teachings you can click here. If you would like to gain deeper insight into what to expect during the 8 month series click here. We hope you enjoy the series as much as we do! Join us on zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6130779853

October 24: "Honor the Animals" with Julane Deener and the Worship & Arts Committee For many congregations, October includes a Blessing of the Animals service to honor our pets and remember the work of St. Francis of Assisi.  These services, while well meaning, can be traumatic for pets.  Our online, in-home services can enable us to recognize our pets together in a safe and comforting way.
Over the past months, we’ve seen each-others’ pets cross our screens during zoom services and meetings.  We’ve gotten to know Penny, Mel, and many others as they visit our services, full of curiosity about those faces on the little screen.  On Sunday, October 24th, we’ll honor the fur and feathered folk who have been our companions and comfort during these uncertain times and always.  The members of the Worship and Arts Committee will share readings and thoughts, and a story of St. Francis and the Animals.  Visiting poet Heidi Selig will read a special poem.  We invite the congregation to gather via zoom, with our pets, to celebrate the joy that they bring to our lives.  There will be a time for introductions and sharing, and a time of peaceful prayer for these beings who in many ways lead exemplary lives which can teach us, if we’re attentive, to slow down and appreciate the beauty and love around us. Afterward, join us for a virtual discussion and "coffee hour." 

October 31:,"Veils Between the Worlds" with Sharon Mueller, Tina Feindel, Chrissie Howe. Let us celebrate this time of year together, when the veil between the worlds thins. Cultures around the world have held this time as sacred, when we honor those we’ve loved who have passed on. You're invited to stay for a virtual discussion and "coffee hour."

"Do You Know How Powerful You Are? No Need for Despair!" Letter from Rev. Mellen Kennedy

As we look around the world and notice problems, factionalism, anger, violence, incivility on so many sides, it is easy to feel overwhelmed if not despairing.  And yet, we are powerful beyond measure.  Actually, powerful within measure, too!  Scientific research has accumulated scores of studies now on the capacity of the human mind and heart to positively effect external circumstances.  And the results of this research support what the mystics and adherents of the world’s religions have been teaching us for centuries.  (Check out the new book, “How God Works: The Science behind the Benefits of Religion” by David DeSteno) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56898155-how-god-works

We are energetic beings -- and practices such as meditation, prayers, being in nature, reading scripture, engaging in the arts -- can raise our energy level (now measurable by scientific methods and instruments).  For example, research has shown that people who meditate are more likely to help someone in need.  And when we engage in spiritual practices as a group, the benefits multiply profoundly.  Truly remarkable studies from 1976 show that Transcendental Meditation practitioners were actually able to reduce the level of violence in the geographic areas where they focused this calm, loving attention! https://anantidotetoviolence.org/transcendental-meditation/research-on-the-maharishi-effect/

So, what can You do about the challenges You see around You?  You can cultivate the garden of your heart. And be part of the solution to the challenges You see around You. Learn how to and get really good at radiating compassion, calm, gratitude, and forgiveness.  It’s a skill that improves with practice.  That great spiritual teacher, Mahatma Gandhi said, “If a single person achieves the highest kind of love, it will be sufficient to neutralize the hate of millions.”  Imagine what a group thus focused can do!! We can augment our positive experience and impact by joining with others who share our practice and conviction. 

At Richmond Hill, in the City of Richmond, Virginia, people gather 3 times a day “to pray for the spirit of the city. We pray for the Transformation of Metropolitan Richmond — for the more than 1.2 million people living in this historic capital city of Central Virginia…. This is a legacy we inherited from the Sisters of the Visitation, who came in the summer of 1866 to this hill to pray the healing and transformation of the city.”  https://www.richmondhillva.org/prayer-worship/daily-prayer/  What about Springfield, Vermont, The Upper Valley?  What about the geographic area around You, from where ever You are reading this?  Think of the difference we can make through the power of our loving attention – without even leaving our homes.  Where do You want to put your loving attention? 

If You’d like to learn more about cultivating the garden of your heart and about the inclusive, collaborative efforts that You can participate in, You’re invited to attend a Zoom gathering on Sunday, October 3 at 10 am sponsored by the Springfield Meetinghouse.  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6130779853 We’ll draw from multiple sources including current neuroscience research, Maharishi effect research, the teachings of ancient mystic such as St. Francis, and more.  We’ll end the morning with an invitation to participate in group energetic efforts to help heal our beautiful world.  We’ll include some calming and uplifting music in our gathering which will be follow by a time for discussion and socializing on-line.  Details at uuspringfieldvt.org.  Let’s close with this inspirational quote from anthropologist, Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

September 2021 Services - 

September 12: "Boundless Love, Laundry Love: Celebrating the Purifying Power of Water" with Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy, with special guest John Rahman English.  Special music by Bill Brink.  Join us for the Annual Water Communion . Weather permitting, service will be outdoors at the Meetinghouse; it will also be on Zoom in any case.


September 19: Autumnal Equinox Celebration with Sharon Mueller, Tina Feindel and Ann Marie Knoepfel Please join us, in person if weather permits, and on zoom, as we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox, the balance point between light and dark.  Let’s mark the changing season together! Please bring an apple, and pen and paper. 
Some words from the poem, "Autumn Prayer," by Christine C Robinson-
    God of the Autumn, help us to know
    that living and dying are one
    that life is precious, and beautiful, and limited.
    that nothing good is ever lost.


September 26: Purification Practices Ancient and Universal - Are They Still Relevant? 

Ann Marie Knoepfel, Rosa Martin Knoepfel and family, and Sharon Mueller will come together to explore Intentional acts of Cleansing for the purposes of release, removal, preparation and prayer. How do we see this in our own lives? (Zoom only)