If life’s meaning isn’t dictated by God, then what is it? If our moral code isn’t carved in stone or engraved on our hearts by God, then where do we find it? Those questions are gently explored from an atheist/agnostic perspective.
Every one of us starts out in a particular home and family that teaches us what life is and how people behave; who is powerful, and who is not. When we move—because of school, work, necessity or opportunity—our lessons about life change, too. Rev. Tricia will reflect on what the churches and places she has served have taught her about being a Unitarian Universalist.
Secrets can be defined as those experiences, thoughts, sometimes feelings that we choose to keep from view or to talk about. There are some secrets that by their very nature contain information whose authorized disclosure could endanger lives or security. But then there are secrets that become “elephants in the room.” These can be questions, problems, solutions or issues that many people choose to ignore because to do otherwise could cause embarrassment, sadness or even trigger an argument. What happens when secrets become elephants in the room?
We will be bringing the heart of General Assembly to Rocky River this year, through live-streaming the largest Unitarian Universalist worship service of the year as it is happening in Kansas City. You won’t want to miss this experience of worshipping and singing “with” 5,000 other Unitarian Universalists from around the country and the world.
by Special Guest Worship Leader Kiya Heartwood and
Award-winning roots rock and folk singer-songwriter Kiya Heartwood is stopping by West Shore on her East Coast Tour of UU churches and house concerts, before performing at General Assembly in Kansas City. Kiya is the Artistic Director of the People's Orchestra of Austin, TX. The UK's Broadway Baby describes her as "an award-winning American singer-songwriter who writes smart, funny and poignant songs about the famous and not so famous legends of America." Kiya's music serves up a lively batch of original songs that follow two of the oldest traditions of folk music—storytelling and political broadside.
In this season of graduation and commencement, we will reflect on the significance of moving from one chapter of life to the next—known, and unknown. When have you crossed a threshold in your life? What transitions are you facing now? We will celebrate the “bridging” of West Shore’s graduates from high school into young adulthood.
PRIDE SUNDAY Unitarian Universalism’s third principle calls us to accept one another (as we are) and encourage one another to grow (into what we might become). Sounds simple—and of course, it’s not easy. Come celebrate with West Shore today: as we welcome new members, share Flower Communion, and learn what Pride can teach us all.
On this Memorial Day Sunday, some reflections on the power of ritually remembering those who died in war— remembering individually, remembering as families, and especially remembering as a community. What does Memorial Day ask of us? Is it possible to imagine a world without war?
West Shore Choir David Blazer, Director of Music Join us for this year’s final installment of the B. Neil Davis Artist Series, as the West Shore Choir presents Missa Gaia (A Mass in Celebration of Mother Earth) released by Paul Winter in 1982. It is an environmental liturgy of contemporary music. The Mass features the instrumentation of the Paul Winter Consort along with choir, vocal soloists, and the calls of wolves, whales and many other animals that are woven into the pieces. Joining David Blazer with the instrumental accompaniment will be Jon Eager (Soprano Sax), Marty Neubert (Oboe/English horn), Derek Snyder (Cello), Brian Kozak (Guitar), Dan Shell (Bass), Mell Csicsila and Evan Mitchell (Percussion).
What actually happens when one person cares for another? “Mothering” changes lives—of growing children, of caregivers and those around them. Not to mention how it changes the world! Honoring Mother’s Day beyond greeting cards and brunch.
Today—as the 2018 Stewardship Campaign ends and the Ministerial Search begins—the focus will be on the choices before West Shore in this extraordinary moment. How will this church bring more beauty, kindness, joy and affirmation into the world? After the service, please stay for the brief Special Congregational Meeting to elect the Ministerial Search Committee, followed at noon by an important program on West Shore’s finances: “Our Money and Our Values.” All members and friends are welcome to attend both programs.
Worship Leaders Home is the base where everything begins. The youth will share their stories of what home means to them. How does home offer safety and support during times of trouble? Can home be more than your family?
What do you love about West Shore? What are your wishes for its future, as the congregation gets ready to move into a new chapter, with a new minister? What are the two or three most important aspects of this church you believe must guide West Shore’s vision of its future? As STEWARDSHIP 2018 moves into full swing, come to church for an interactive service that celebrates all things West Shore. Watch Enews for more details about this fun day!
“During last year’s Service Auction, I offered a sermon topic to the highest bidder. Laird and Jen Wynn won, and asked for a worship service around the topics of ‘transcendence and passion.’ Both topics resonate deeply with me—what charged to the fore of my mind was how Unitarian Universalism has helped me allow my passions to transcend deep emotions, even anger, throughout the last 18 years. Plus, some special music...see you there!”
Easter is many things: a celebration of new life in Spring, a time for family gatherings, a timeless festival of the earth and fertility, and the holiest day in the Christian year. Join our Easter festivities at West Shore, as we celebrate the return of life in song and story!
Do Unitarian Universalists pray? The answer, of course, is: “Yes, some of us pray. In lots of different ways…” On this Christian Holy Day of Palm Sunday, we will look at the role of prayer, centering, meditation and practice in this creed-less religion of ours. Who or what are we praying to?
It’s never been easy to know the Truth. In these days of “fake news,” disinformation and deep cultural and class divisions, it can be especially difficult to separate fundamental truth from instinct and intuition… much less be open to those who hold very different opinions. What does it mean to promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning?
In early (First Century) Judaism and in many other cultures, there was no such thing as “Religion.” It was not until the invention of Christianity as a religion that cultures started to separate the spiritual/religious from the rest of the human experience. In this era of rebalancing religion, how can we allow ourselves to integrate our mind, body, and spirit into one harmonious way of being in the world? How does that inform our living tradition of Unitarian Universalism?
On January 13, 2018, we marked the 450th anniversary of The Edict of Torda—one of the world’s first statements of religious freedom, issued by a religious gathering in eastern Europe presided over by the first Unitarian King. In recent decades, dozens of American Unitarian Universalist congregations have formed partnerships with the congregations that grew out of that tradition—including West Shore. What do we have to learn from this brave history, and the perseverance of our Transylvanian Unitarian cousins?
As Stewardship season begins here at West Shore, it is time to consider the biggest questions about money. How do the choices we make about spending and saving and debt and investment reflect our values? Are we managing our money, or is it managing us?
by Reverend Patricia Hart and Rev. Chris Long with
From an early age, each of us learns what matters most in this challenging and unpredictable adventure we call life. What did your family and community teach you about surviving, and even thriving as you grew? When did you learn to be wary, and how did you learn to dive into new experiences? Reflections on being members of a community that holds different ideas of perseverance.
To launch the monthly Soul Matters theme and our consideration of “Perseverance” we will explore some thoughts and tools for engaging joyful perseverance in times such as these. We'll visit Imbolc, Kindness, The Edict of Torda, "Love and Laughter", Ants and Turtles all woven into a tapestry of Perseverance Pizzazz.
Congregational life can provide opportunities for growth and deepening as individuals and as communities. How might our congregation work faithfully with Rev. Tricia Hart in this time of interim ministry, to co-create such a community at West Shore? Rev. Renee Ruchotzke serves NE Ohio congregations as a part of our larger Unitarian Universalist Association. She is West Shore’s primary contact with the UUA and the region. She serves as dean of the online UU Leadership Institute and blogs at Growing Vital Leaders on the (click it) UUA Website
Intentions matter. Living out a commitment to be kind, thoughtful, or open-minded can make an enormous differ-ence in our relationships, and in what we teach our chil-dren. But what someone means to do or say is only part of the story—we have to learn the essential skill of paying attention to the impact our words or actions make. Essen-tial… and really difficult.
On this anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are called to consider the legacy each one of us is creating in the struggle for justice. Young Rev. King did not predict the role he would play when he accepted the call to his first church in Montgomery, Alabama. How have you been called? And how have you answered?
Have you had the sense that you are an imposter: pretending to be successful, or competent, or even happy, when it doesn’t seem quite true? “Imposter Syndrome” is to be a widespread condition (though it’s hard to know for sure, since people are pretty good at hiding it). What might happen if you worried less about your deficits and embraced your willingness to try?
The end of 2017 reminds us that time is passing, either marking lost opportunity or setting the stage for new hope. We play a part in choosing hope or a sense of loss. Let’s consider what to do with the past so we can awaken to a new year of progress and enlightenment! Rev. Anya Johnston was last heard at West Shore at the ordination of Dave Clements in October. A Westerner by training and temperament, Reverend Anya has enjoyed immersive ministry since 1999.
Traditions and teachings about Hanukkah and Christmas come to life in this story about a Jewish boy and an African- American barber, who find ways to connect in this beautiful and difficult season of the year. All ages are welcome at this informal story-service.
Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
In the three millennia since Isaiah, it’s hard to find anything new to say about Christmas that hasn’t already been said at least a hundred thousand times. But even as we wade through the commercial wasteland that stretches through the holiday season one more time, can we find anything to say about Christmas that’s real, that’s new, that’s hopeful, that hasn’t been said before? Signs point to “Yes!”
Much of what religions teach about is not the world as it is, but as it might be. In order to make this more than an abstract exercise, we need to take the (often irrational) risk of hoping for something that is not yet true. Where is the line between faithful commitment and naiveté? Does being hopeful make a difference, in the world?
Thanksgiving is a reminder of the abundance in our lives: how much we have, and how grateful we are; or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Some thoughts on the power of being grateful (even when you don’t feel like it).
The Inclusivity Ministry Task Force responded to many calls to take on the challenging topic of class in America by hosting the ground-breaking Class Conversations workshop here at West Shore on Saturday, November 4. Sunday’s worship service will feature that program’s presenters, Betsy Leondar - Wright and Rev. Lee Paczulla, in dialogue with Rev. Hart. How does “class” fit into our commitment to become an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural congregation?
We sometimes talk about congregations as “family;” but actually a church is more like a neighborhood. Various kinds of people show up at different times, and end up “living” next to one another. Each has an impact, often in no one could predict. Come join in as we spend time reflecting on how this church is the product of many people’s love and attention. The Junior Choir will sing and the Free Spirit
Each of us is born into a particular family, community, culture and time of history. Each person is shaped by their context, as well as their biology. That’s when the story gets interesting. Life happens, and people change—sometimes a little, sometimes profoundly, and almost never without pain, and joy. Recognition of new West Shore UU Church members. The Free Spirit Band will play.
This is an unusual Sunday service, at an unusual and urgent time in our faith. The Unitarian Universalist Association Board, the UU Ministers Association, and the Liberal Religious Educators Association among others are urging all UUA congregations to heed a call from Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) - to hold a "Teach-In" on the painful reality of racial inequity in our country, and in Unitarian Universalism. Many of us now understand American culture to be steeped in assumptions of "white supremacy." Just what is the truth? And how shall we respond?
Imagine peering through a kaleidoscope and seeing a trans- formation of color, patterns, and shapes. Each piece in a constant motion to create a dance of color against a source of light. How can the kaleidoscope be our metaphor for a Unitarian Universalist theology that is always in a state of transformation, and discovery as people and elements flow in and out, revealing a new beauty to our every evolving search for truth and meaning. Let's explore this together!
Easter and Passover show up as springtime celebrations, full of good food and family get-togethers. But the religious stories behind both of these holidays deal with profound change and dislocation, when all that is familiar gets over- turned and something truly new begins
The story of Palm Sunday and Holy Week provides the capstone to the Christian narrative. Palm Sunday in particular shows up in both the Christian Gospels and has its roots in Hebrew scripture. But the story is not quite the same in both places. Why does that matter?
This year’s stewardship campaign is posing two questions: How has West Shore UU Church changed lives? and How could West Shore change even more lives, even more effectively, in the future? Answers offered so far have been fascinating, and broadly focused. Stewardship is all about connecting people’s dreams of a vital future with the resources needed to make it all happen. The Free Spirit Band will play!
Wisdom counsels us to be our “authentic selves.” But what kind and level of authenticity should we strive for—to be who and what we already are, or to reach for the better self we’ve always meant to achieve? Reflections on what it could mean to actually live out your highest values. This Service Auction sermon was won by Chris Baumhauer.
The Equinox is approaching—winter is waning, spring is upon us, as day and night move back into equilibrium. This is a good season to seek balance: in one’s personal life, and even in our communities. What would it look like, to be a community in balance? What might it take to get there?
West Shore Junior Church, Worship Leaders If there is one thing that holds people back each day from achieving high levels of success, it is fear. When did you recently take a risk to overcome your fears and accomplish a goal? Join the Youth as they share their stories of overcoming fear. The Free Spirit Band will play; 6th Grade and older will attend the entire service.
Americans have spent time celebrating “Black History” in February for almost a century, since Dr. Carter G. Woodson initiated Negro History Week in 1926. Those celebrations have focused on some of the ways that African Americans and White Americans have lived separate histories in our country. Can we find a way to see the whole story, more fully?