Spiritual and Religious

July 10, 2016

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by Edison Ellenberger

Worship Associate in the 1990s

The term "spiritual but not religious" was used with some frequency and has become a subject of greater attention in the past few years. It characterizes people who value individual spirituality and spiritual practice but generally attend religious institutions little or not at all. What arethe characteristics of the spiritual but not religious (SBNR)?Are spirituality and religion really distinct categories? Might Unitarian Universalist churches offer a "spiritual and religious"alternative conducive to the SBNR's needs?

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Removing Our Masks

June 26, 2016

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by Reverend David T. Durkit

of First United Church of Christ, Eastlake, OH

On Pride Sunday, we'll look at the many masks each of us wears. We need help in removing them. This can be, for most of us, a very difficult task. Our guest minister will take us through a step by step journey of removing our own mask to God, to ourselves, and to others. He will intertwine this with his own personal journey from being dismissed as a priest from the Orthodox Church to his becoming a minis-ter in the United Church of Christ, and of course there's a West Shore connection!

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What Remains?

June 19, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Reverend Wayne Arnason with

After the reception on Friday, June 17, how much more will there be to say? This has been a long goodbye, but there needs to a formal ending within the context of what we do best together, and that is celebrate as a worshiping community.Wayne and Kathleen will be looking back at things they are proud to have been associated with at West Shore, and  they will look ahead, at what not only remains, but what has always been a part of West Shore and which will continue to sustain and strengthen the congregation in the years ahead. The service will end with a ceremony of release.Both the West Shore Choir and the Free Spirit Band will share their music. Children will be invited to be present for the beginning of the service and come back for the end. At the ministers’ request, a special offering will be received to support “Black Lives UU” (BLUU), a new support network for African American Unitarian Universalists.

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The Beginning of Tomorrow

June 12, 2016

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

Shiny, new beginnings can be invigorating, and yet what can be more intimidating than a blank page, than the unfamiliar? How do we prepare ourselves for the unknown and become excited for the future even if we long for the past? As we look to the future of West Shore and the future of Unitarian Universalism, it is a powerful moment to be open to the unknown while cultivating a vision of what could be.


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With or Without God

June 5, 2016

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by Reverend Patricia Sheldon

Faith in anything can help us through difficult times and enrich our lives. But does it work if it is with or without God? Rev. Patricia Sheldon is a Unitarian Universalist com-munity minister associated with the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights. She worked as a hospital chaplain for many years and currently provides education and support for individuals and groups around any of life’s losses.

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War, Peace & YoUU

May 29, 2016

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

As we remember and honor the Americans who gave their lives in military service, do we know our own Unitarian Universalist history when it comes to war and peace?  How do we interpret what it means to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person when we balance human rights and the need for self-defense and response to aggression?  The varied responses to war in our history and our present reflect the tension between pacifism and pragmatism, a tension we all must address for ourselves.


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The Blessed Chaos of Creation

May 22, 2016

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by Holly Mueller, Intern Minister

Every event, from momentous tragedies to idle conversations, is a part of creation. Whether these events have divine origins, are shaped from human hands, or result from chaos, they are the fabric of the present and the substance with which we will create the future. How do we purposefully play a role in creation? How do we incorporate the destructive or chaotic pieces of creation that we cannot discard? What, exactly, do we wish to create?


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Spring Choral Concert: Requiem for the Living

May 15, 2016

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by Dan Forrest

Performed by David Blazer, Director of Music and

West Shore Choir

One of the musical highlights in the life of this church is ourannual Springtime Choral Sunday. This year the West Shore Choir will present Requiem for the Living, written in 2013 by Dan Forrest. This program is our final installment this yearof the B. Neil Davis Artist Series. Part of the mission of this concert series is to include some of the best musicians in the Cleveland area to accompany this work. We will be joined by Andrew Pongracz and Mell Csicsila on percussion and Calvin Stokes on Harp.


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Blessing the Future

May 8, 2016

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason

In this Irish-dominated community, we’ve probably heard a lot of jokes that refer to “my sainted mother.” Not all parents are saints, but being a parent is the most widespread and challenging investment in leaving a blessing for the future that human beings can make. It’s clear to me, however, that the future is hard to imagine, let alone predict. How then, do you bless the world’s future as you pass through it? Is the world that the millennial generation will experience in the late 21st century one that even the millennials have a hard time picturing? Is there anything the older generations have learned that can be passed on to youth, or is that a fruitless hope? Don’t they just have to figure it all out for themselves?

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When Sainthood Becomes You

May 1, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

Unitarian Universalists have historically rejected the need for "sainthood" as it evokes images of saintly "perfection" which no human being can actually live up to. Furthermore, how one actually becomes a "saint" is a bit of a mystery. However, sometimes we may discover that sainthood isn't a mystery to be solved but a life choice to be made. Unitarian Universalism and West Shore have saints among us—and lo and behold, you might just be one of them! The Free Spirit Band will play at this service.

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Bridge Over the West Shore Junior Church

April 24, 2016

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by Graduating Seniors of Junior Church and CoA Class of 2016 with

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development,

Christa Champion and Phil Florian

Comings and Goings—Bridges transport both ways. It's Spring and time once again for the Annual Bridging service honoring both graduating seniors bridging out of Junior Church and Rising Coming of Age class bridging into Junior Church. Special music by the Free Spirit Band, various vocals and instrumentals and sharing of thoughts from our young people as they cross the West Shore Rocky River Junior Church Bridge.

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Does the Big Blue Boat Belong to Us?

April 17, 2016

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister and

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development

Offered by Layne Richard-Hammock & Holly MuellerAs we celebrate Earth Day with Flower Communion, we reflect on the joys and responsibilities of our Big Blue Planet home. Do humans own the Earth or does She Own us? This All Ages service will allow for adults and children to contemplate what it means to be a strand in the interconnected web of existence and to value our responsibility in the web of life. We do after all, have the whole world in our hands. Fun morning with lots of singing, movement and celebration for all. Bring a flower to share for Flower Communion (yes we know it's a tad early and many garden flowers won't be abloom yet—do your best.


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What We Don’t Say

April 10, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

This month's provocative question "How Do I Know What I Am Really Saying?" begs the question, "well, what about the things you don't say?" There are times when speaking your truth is absolutely essential and other times when speaking your truth can be damaging or hurtful. This sermon will reflect on the practice of right speech," that is, knowing when to speak and when to keep silent; when to risk speaking your truth regardless of the consequences and when not speaking is the most important spiritual practice you can do.


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Making It Up

April 3, 2016

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason

The most creative thing that we are engaged with every day is the improvisation of the life we live. We all have to make this up as we go along. Often we find out what we really know when we are forced to say it. Inevitably we make mistakes,and we have to “make up” for them too—but we can’t let the risk of failure stop us from the creativity that is our birthright. The Free Spirit Band will offer the music for this service, and they are considering—what else? Improvisational jazz.

View more pots

Opening music is played in it's entirety after the service.

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Signs of Resurrection

March 27, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Reverend Wayne Arnason

In March, we look for signs of spring as surely as the disciples of Jesus looked for evidence of his resurrection. However, the original ending of the book of Mark, does not include a physical resurrection; instead, the disciples are left with only clues, hopes and dreams. So it is with us, when one chapter of our life ends and another has not yet been revealed. Even in the last days of winter, there are signs of new life emerging, if we can but see them.


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Shades of Distinction

March 20, 2016

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister with

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development

A distinctive Lifespan Religious Education Program requires both continuity and innovation. The members of the Religious Education RE View team have been working for over a year to distinguish the strengths of the West Shore Religious Education Program as well as create a proposal for innovation and moving into the future. The team is excited to “raise the shades” and share a bit about our process, our conclusions and distinctive recommendations for the future! All ages will begin in service together to witness the dedication of some children into our collective care, music from both the Adult and Junior Choirs and celebrate together the future of religious education as an endeavor for and responsibility of all ages.


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It Is What It Is

March 13, 2016

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason

There’s a politician I know who uses this line a lot, especially when he’s advocating an unpopular program, like a new tax increase. Most of us would prefer to live our lives unencumbered by limitations imposed by government, money, or time. Political conservatives call that “freedom.” This week let’s explore how accepting what is, with all the limits that involves, invites a different kind of freedom.


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When Fundamentalism Becomes Terrorism

March 6, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

We hear conflicting messages about Islam from pundits,politicians and average citizens; such as “Islam is a religion of peace” and “Islam inspires terrorism.” What is often not discussed is the fact that every religion—including Unitarian  Universalism—can succumb to the temptations of fundamentalism.This sermon will explore how fundamentalism  can lead us into dangerous and destructive orthodoxies.The good news is that there is an antidote to this and the answer may surprise you!The Outreach Offering will go to the After School Basketball program at the Denison United Church of Christ, a church that offers grass-roots programs to members of the westside community. Rev. Nozomi Ikuta will speak. The Free Spirit Band will feature the music of Emmy Lou Harris,“Deeper Wells,” and the Dixie Chicks, “I Hope.”


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The World the Adults Are Leaving Us

February 28, 2016

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by Junior Church and Youth Group

Don't miss this event where the West Shore Junior Church and Youth Group present their annual service and share a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

Opening music is played in it's entirety after the service.

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Creating Sanctuary

February 21, 2016

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister and

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development

What is sanctuary? How does sanctuary look in community? Our West Shore CARE covenant stands for Courtesy, Acceptance, Respect, and Engagement—core elements of creating a shared space of comfort and challenge, a place in which we as a community can grow our spiritual selves. This service will include the Junior Choir and Time For All Ages.

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The Missing Peace

February 14, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

On the cultural holiday when loving relationships are celebrated, single people can feel left out. Whether you are partnered or single, all of us will ultimately lose those we love the most, so it makes a difference now how we think and feel about what our most intimate loving relationships really mean in our lives. Are they the “missing piece” that completes us, or are we “missing peace” by expecting that we can’t be whole within ourselves?

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Party of One

February 7, 2016

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Reverend Wayne Arnason

It’s always felt like a contradiction in terms when you are eating out alone and the seating host asks if you are a “party of one.” We’ll introduce this month’s theme for our worship services by celebrating those singular homes we inhabit that we take for granted—our one body, and our one life. Is everybody’s life ultimately a party of one, or a party with one?


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Making Soup from a Stone

January 31, 2016

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by West Shore’s In-Reach Committee and

the Ministry Team

Just before Thanksgiving, we introduced you to the 2016 theme that will shape the year ahead—Stone Soup. We not only told the story of how you could make delicious soup from a stone if everyone brought one contribution to the soup pot to add to the stone, but we made a real stone soup after church, and it was delicious! This service invokes our stone soup of hopes and desires for West Shore’s future, as we consider the ingredients we currently bring to the common table we share, and the new ingredients we will need to nourish the health of our community.


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The Courage to Give

January 24, 2016

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

As children we are taught that “sharing is caring,” but how do we give when we move beyond sandbox toys? It can be daunting to give time, money, or caring to others when we aren’t sure that we have enough for ourselves, yet community functions through giving. How can we move away from a framework of scarcity and into a framework of enough?

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Two Dreams

January 17, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

When Dr. King talked about having a Dream, it was all about people being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. In the most compelling book about racism to be published during this year since the "Black Lives Matter" movement began, "Between the World and Me" Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about The Dream in a very different way, as the dream of white supremacy that surrounds and shapes our culture. Can we wake up from both dreams?

CAUTION: THIS RECORDING IS DISTORTED

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One to One

January 10, 2016

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason with

James Pearlstein

Greater Cleveland Congregation Organizer

Relationships are easier for some people than others. Extroverts who find engaging with people to be energizing may find it easy to have many relationships, while introverts have to try harder. But when both extroverts and introverts get over that initial hump of sitting down with a new person “one on one” they each face the same challenge. Can you get below the surface to understand what it really important to that other person? Many people are surprised that this question is vital, not only to building intimate relationships and friendships, but also vital to changing the world through community organizing. On this Sunday when our Outreach Offering is received to support Greater Cleveland Congregations and we meet our new full-time organizer, James Pearlstein, we will explore the connections be-tween the personal and the political, and the courage it takes to do both well.

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The Courage To Begin Again

January 3, 2016

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Reverend Wayne Arnason

During the course of our lives, we put a lot of effort into learning how to do some important life-tasks well—getting through school, learning a craft or profession, figuring out how to sustain friendships and loving relationships. Yet, isn’t it so often true that just when we thought we had this part of life figured out, we have to start over! We celebrate graduating from high school and we face the strange new world of college. We figure out the job we have, and do it well, just about the time the boss tells us that we are being re-assigned or offered a promotion. We take for granted what we thought were satisfying routines of married life and our partner asks for a divorce. We’ve been learning some new things ourselves this year about the courage you need to be able to start over, and we’d like to share them with you on this first service of the New Year.

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Weaving the Past into the Future

December 27, 2015

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

In the breath between Christmas and the New Year, we are suspended between the rush of shopping and cooking and the auto-pilot normalcy of January. If we listen in this moment of quietness, we can hear pains, joys, and questions that call to us from the past year. What do want to learn from and then let go of? What do we want to treasure and carry with us? What threads from the past do we wish to weave into the future?

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Solstice Season, Simple & Sacred

December 20, 2015

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason and

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development

The Wheel of the Year is ever turning. The Winter Solstice sabbat marks the official beginning of winter and also the shortest day of the year. Solstice is simple to understand: because of the earth's tilt, on this day the Northern Hemisphere is as far away from the sun as it can be. Therefore, the first day of winter has the least amount of sunlight. As we explore some of the stories and lore of the season we move from the simple to the sacred. We’ll enter into the mystery of the turning of the seasons and visit the “Root Children” and Mother Nature as they travel the Wheel of the Year from Solstice to Solstice.

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ANNUAL HOLIDAY CHORAL CONCERT

December 13, 2015

A Ceremony of Carols

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by Benjamin Brittan

featuring the West Shore Choir

David Blazer, Director and

Calvin Stokes, Harp

Benjamin Britten’s hugely popular Ceremony of Carols was inspired by his discovery of "The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems."

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Inside Voices

December 6, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Reverend Wayne Arnason

Even as we enter the inward-turning season of winter, we find the lights, the socializing, the shopping and the overall intensity of the holiday season to challenging any desire we have for inner quiet. Drawing on their different spiritual practices, the co-ministers will reflect on what we find when we try to be quiet inside, and how our “inside” can be anything but quiet when we slow down enough to listen. We’ll introduce you to Urban Hope during the worship service with a brief video and a special chance to connect with this unique community. Urban Hope serves as an ur-ban outreach for our area Unitarian Universalist churches: a way for all of us to become an active presence within the inner city, not just provide services from outside.

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The Waiting Place

November 29, 2015

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

What are we waiting for? What part of ourselves, our lives, our world calls to us from some future date, transformed? For Christians, today marks the beginning of advent and the expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas. What can we learn from periods of expectant waiting? What can we harvest from that expectant stillness?

Colin Hay plays "Waiting for my real life to begin" 


The picture was gotten from click here .

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Uncommon Gratitude

November 22, 2015

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason with

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development

Our annual Thanksgiving Service will begin with our Multi-generational Choir singing “Gaudeamus Hodie” and a Time for All Ages called “Stone Soup,” after which children and youth will go to their classes. Wayne’s sermon asks us to consider how memory and expectation based on your past (or other people’s) gets in the way of being fully present with gratitude for what you are given today. Our bread communion ceremony will conclude the service, and dona-tions of bread that Sunday morning for both the distribution and altar decoration are always welcome. Please join us after the service for an All Church “Stone Soup” Potluck

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The Hungriest Game

November 15, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

The young adult novel "The Hunger Games" depicted a dystopian future where entire nations are starving and children are forced to compete to the death for the right to eat. Escalating inequality is forcing many in our nation - and world - to go without their daily bread. How can we put a stop to this deadly, hungriest game of have and have nots? Despite the grim statistics, there are also many compelling reasons for hope. We’ll celebrate new members this Sunday.


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Why Do We Do It That Way?

November 8, 2015

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by Reverend Joe Cherry

Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland

There's something about coming home after having been away that gives one fresh perspective to the familiar. After spending 4 years on the "left coast" Rev. Joe came back to the Midwest, eager to return home. What did he learn about himself, and our Midwestern/Rustbelt ways upon his return, and what can these lessons teach us about our own spiritual lives? There is a real beauty in being in the Mid-west, join us to learn more.

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Cycles and Seasons

November 1, 2015

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason

The liturgical year in many faith traditions follows a cycle of seasons in both secular and sacred time. We have some-thing similar in Unitarian Universalism although we don’t distinguish between sacred and secular time. I’ve often envied the Catholic and Buddhist liturgical marking of special days dedicated to saints or teachers. How do we honor those who have played such roles in our lives? Looking at the past to see the lineages in which we stand is an important part of harvesting the fruits of this particular season of life. The Free Spirit Band will be performing Neil Young songs for this service

"You Are Like a Hurricane" is played in it's entirety at the end of the service.

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Masked Wholeness

October 25, 2015

by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

We all wear masks. We wear different masks for various people and situations, conjuring up particular personas as surely as monster or super hero masks. Are these selves fake, or pieces of the whole? What are we trying to obscure and why? These masks can empower and hinder us, revealing the balance between vulnerability and self protection.

RECORDING COMING SOON--maybe not. It's broken.

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With All My Heart

October 18, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

What happens when your “whole-heartedness” becomes broken by disappointment, betrayal or abandonment? What spiritual resources can you find to help you heal from a “broken heart?” This service we’ll commission the Chalice Lighters and introduce the Pastoral Resource Team; and focus on the opportunities available for care and support at West Shore. The children will join us for A Story For All Ages; the Junior Choir will also inaugurate their season with an original anthem written by West Shore’s Junior Choir Director, Joe Schafer


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Our Doctrine of Discovery

October 11, 2015

by Reverend Wayne Arnason

These two words get a big response from UU’s. “Doctrine” – BAD! That’s what we don’t want! “Discovery” – GOOD! That’s what we do in our religion – right? We discover our own theology! So what happens when you put these two words together? You get an obscure, powerful, and trou-bling legal concept that raises questions about “entitlement.” To what are we “entitled” as human beings, as citizens? What do we have already, and what do we think we need, and what should we let go?

RECORDING COMING SOON

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Was Atticus Finch a Racist?

October 4, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

When Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set a Watchman” was released, it unleashed a storm of controversy because the beloved protagonist, Atticus Finch was revealed as a racist. The theme for the month of September is “What can I be whole-hearted about?” which begs the question, “can I be whole-hearted about letting go of beloved icons to enable a more clear-eyed and realistic understand of the complexities of race and racism in the 21st century? The Free Spirit Band will join us to play Bob Dylan’s enigmatic song “Along the Watchtower.” Fire drill to follow the service.


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Dancing with Theology

September 27, 2015

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by Holly Mueller

Intern Minister

One of the joys of being a Unitarian Universalist is that our theologies can be fluid and creative. We have the freedom to be responsive to and hold a conversation with sacred texts, personal and cultural tragedies, and our sense of the divine. How do we allow our views and understandings to be shaped by those who are different from us? How do we converse with painful and confusing truths in an honest and formative way?

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Mea Culpa & Me

September 20, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz

The High Holy Days of Judaism at the turning of the year always invites us to consider the meanings of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, for our own lives. What does it mean to confess wrongdoing or harm that you have done, and how is that best accomplished?

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The Lost Art?

September 13, 2015

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by Reverend Wayne Arnason

There are many commentators who lament their claim that “conversation is a lost art” in this day and age. While it is true that any student of the history of human conversation must admit that the ways we converse have changed profoundly, is it the case that the art of conversation has been lost, or is it merely being transformed by the ways we con-verse and the ways we think? What does this mean for congregations, and for other human communities?

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The Pleasure of Your Company

September 6, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Reverend Wayne Arnason

Offered by Rev. Dr. Wayne Arnason & Rev. Kathleen Rolenz The Co-Ministers Request the Pleasure of Your Company at the first service of our worship theme year, where we start exploring the question: “Do I Know How to Have a Real Conversation?.” The invitation into conversation can be offered and received in so many ways in the society in which we live. We will look at how it happens in dating, in social media, in elections and in church. This service includes a Ceremony of Dedication for our Religious Education Program’s Volunteer Teachers. Although this will not be a formal class day, children (and parents, if you wish) are invited to come to the classrooms to meet their teachers and classmates and have some orientation to the year.

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The River Flows in Both Directions

August 30, 2015

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by Reverend Kathleen Rolenz and

Reverend Wayne Arnason with

Layne Richard-Hammock

Director of Lifespan Faith Development

& Intern Holly Mueller

 This ceremony, now a tradition at West Shore, needs congregational participation to make it work! Bring some water from a special place you’ve been this summer—could be on your summer travels, a place of pilgrimage, our beloved Lake Erie or other body of water, and we’ll mingle the waters together in a common bowl as a symbol for our community coming together as one strong church body. If technology doesn’t fail us, we hope to Live Stream the folks from Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Apple-ton, WI, as we begin our year-long partnership with them. 

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The Truth of Make-Believe

August 23, 2015

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by Reverend Warren Campbell-Gaston

We humans have a capacity for both discovering facts and creating fantasies. In religion, these two capacities are often blurred and sometimes reversed—fact accepted as fantasy and fantasy accepted as fact. We will explore how the ra-tional language of fact and science and the poetic language of myth and metaphor are employed by people of a liberal faith to bring understanding and expression to their relig-ion?

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Conversations with Myself

August 16, 2015

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by Dave Clements,

Worship Associate

We will explore together those conversations that many of us have had in the quiet hours of the night or in the early hours of the morning—those times when we ponder, meditate and sometimes pray. What can we learn about ourselves, our family, friends and the world in general? What lessons are waiting to be realized and what ad-ventures and paths await us as we explore that inner part of ourselves, that spirit or consciousness, which many writers over the years have talked about.

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It’s Not a Judgment Call

August 9, 2015

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by Jacquie Davis,

Worship Associate

We’ve heard the phrase, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” many times, but how does a person really live that admonition out in their daily lives? The seven principles of Unitarian Universalism can serve as a guide to help us practice the art of non-judgment..

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