West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church
Sustainability 101:  Ecology as the Heart of Theology

Sustainability 101:  Ecology as the Heart of Theology

August 1, 2021
Reverend Michael Dowd, Guest Worship Leader
Vicky Warden, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Music Director
 
Rev. Dowd elaborates on his 6-point “Eco-Theo Credo: "Reality is my God. Evidence is my scripture. The Epic of Evolution is my creation story.  Ecology is my theology. Integrity is my spiritual path. Fostering fidelity to the future is my mission."

 


REV. MICHEL DOWD: Rev. Michael Dowd is bestselling eco-theologian, TEDx speaker, and pro-future advocate whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally in the U.S. and Canada. Michael and his science writer, evolutionary educator, and fellow climate activist wife, Connie Barlow, have addressed nearly 3,000 groups throughout North America over the past two decades, including nearly 500 Unitarian Universalist churches. Their work has been featured on the cover of the UU WORLD twice, in 1997 and again in 2006.  

Michael and Connie were honored as “UU Religious Humanists of the Year” in 2016.

 

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The Stories That We Tell

The Stories That We Tell

July 25, 2021
Rev. Dave Clements, Guest Worship Leader
Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Music Director
 
As we look to the time when we will move past this pandemic what will be the stories that generations will tell about this time. What have we learned?  What has changed in our lives? What meaning and purpose have we found in Unitarian Universalism. How will we be different? What hopes do you have for our faith and for this congregation? How will we find value in our own stories?

 


REV. DAVE CLEMENTS: Ministry for me is a second career.  My first career was spent doing the work of an organizational development consultant. My career allowed me to work in the areas of strategic planning, entrepreneurship and fundraising.  My religious background growing up was mixed. My mother was Jewish and my father Catholic.  I learned how to celebrate both holidays and found joy in doing so.  

Most of my adult life was spent building a career, raising five children as a single parent and just trying to make my mark on the world.  I held several management and director positions in Human Resources, Sales and Fundraising.  My life has been a series of journeys and with each journey I have developed and grown.  I moved to Cleveland in the summer of 2008, to start a new life with my partner, and a few years later started a consulting business. 

In September of 2013, I received my call to the Ministry. Once I made the decision, things started to unfold for me.  I enrolled at Meadville Lombard Theological School in the summer of 2014, completed a Chaplin’s residency in 2015, and spent 2016 and 2017 serving as the Minister Intern at the Kent UU church in Kent Ohio.  In May of 2017, I graduated from Meadville.  I was offered a position that summer as an Interim Minister for the Cape Town Unitarian Church in Cape Town, South Africa.  Living and serving as a Minister outside of my native country has been and continues to be a life-changing experience.  I have learned how to minister to a mixed multicultural and multiracial congregation.  My time spent in South Africa was a life-changing experience.  I have learned that it is always in the quiet moments of our lives when the Holy speaks to us.  In January of 2019, I left South Africa to serve as the Interim Minister in Peoria, IL.  I finished serving that congregation in June of 2020 and accepted a position to serve as the Sr. Interim Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, IN, where I am currently serving.  As an Interim Minister, it is always exciting to learn new ways to engage the congregation especially fostering deep and spiritual connections during this unique time of COVID-19.

 

 

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Curiosity Creates Connection, Compassion and Spaciousness Within

Curiosity Creates Connection, Compassion and Spaciousness Within

July 18, 2021
Reverend Shirley Nelson, Guest Worship Leader
Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Music Director
 
Curiosity gives us permission to let go of the right/wrong and either/or mentality.  It gives us room to breathe and moves us from "there's something wrong" to "what is here for me to see?"  Being curious about ourselves and each other is a gift that keeps on giving.

REV. SHIRLEY NELSON: Today’s guest speaker is Rev. Shirley A. Nelson. Shirley is a Cleveland-area certified interspiritual compassionate counselor and life skills coach; founder of San's Sacred Circle, which offers retreats and workshops.  For more than 30 years she has lived an engaged spiritual life through mindfulness and compassion as a speaker, facilitator, writer and workshop/retreat leader.  Shirley offers inner-essence serenity sessions to individuals to explore their spiritual journey with the intention to raise their consciousness and deepen their understanding of self and others.  She is a recent graduate of One Spirit Learning Alliance in New York, NY, where she was ordained as an interfaith interspiritual minister.  Website: shirleyanelson.com

 

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Justice:  A Look Backward & Forward

Justice:  A Look Backward & Forward

July 11, 2021
Rabbi David M. Horowitz, Guest Worship Leader
Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Music Director
 
We all seem to agree that justice is essential in our society but what that entails seems to vary widely.  The sermon will look back at the definition in the Hebrew Scriptures and apply to our future as Americans living in a conflicted environment.

RABBI DAVID M. HOROWITZ:  David M. Horowitz is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel in Akron. In the past, he has taught courses at the college level of philosophy and theology and courses in the Ethnic Studies Department of Kent State University. Rabbi Horowitz is a past president of of PFLAG Akron and PFLAG National. He was on the panel at President Clinton’s first Town Meeting on Race Relations. Rabbi Horowitz was the topic of a chapter entitled “Every Day the Rabbi Helps Gays,” in Dan Woog’s book, Friends and Family/True Stories of Gay America’s Straight Allies.

Rabbi Horowitz has been married to Toby for 58 years and they have two children. He lectures widely on issues dealing with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender concerns, the challenge of the radical right, as well as a variety of Judaic subjects, to academic institutions, religious institutions, and corporations throughout the United States and in other countries as well. He is frequently a presenter at the Academy for Spiritual Formation sponsored by the Upper Room.

 

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Justice:  A Look Backward & Forward — postponed

Justice:  A Look Backward & Forward — postponed

July 4, 2021
There will NOT be a livestreamed service this Sunday. This Sunday's service was pre-recorded and can be viewed here at any time.

 

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Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters

June 27, 2021
by Reverend C. Nozomi Ikuta, Worship Leader
Grace Durfee, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Forty-nine days after a gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women in Atlanta, 49 spiritual leaders from different Buddhist sects led a healing ceremony in Los Angeles marking the moment the dead transition to another realm. At the heart of the ceremony was a lotus flower, which needs muddy water to grow. Nozomi's sermon will invite you to reflect on making flowers bloom from the muddy waters of suffering, pain, delusion and oppression.

 

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Annual Flower Celebration

Annual Flower Celebration

June 20, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
and the Worship Associate Team
David Blazer, Director of Music

One of our distinctive annual rituals as Unitarian Universalists is the Flower Celebration. It very beautifully embodies some of the most important values that animate us as a religious people, including "the inherent worth and dignity of every person." It's also about freedom, which resonates with Juneteenth or Emancipation Day, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States observed on June 19. Weather permitting, this service will be held at West Shore on the lawn outdoors. Bring a flower to exchange with another, in a socially-distanced, safe way!

 

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The World’s Religions:  Unitarian Universalism

The World’s Religions: Unitarian Universalism

June 13, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way concludes with Unitarian Universalism.

 

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Pride Sunday:  Love Your Life

Pride Sunday: Love Your Life

June 6, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Grace Durfee, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our "However mean your life is," says Henry David Thoreau, author of the famous book Walden, "meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is." On West Shore's Pride Sunday, Join Rev. Makar for an exploration of the vision of one of our pre-eminent Unitarian Universalist ancestors.

 

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What MDMA Taught Me

What MDMA Taught Me

May 30, 2021
by Reverend Michelle Ma, Worship Leader
Elizabeth Gerencser, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Those of you who are familiar with Rev. Ma's story know that she has substance abuse in her history. That's not a period in her life that she's proud of, and there are also lessons from that time that she's carried into her ministry and still carries: lessons about love, fear, and the things that keep us apart.

 

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The World’s Religions:  Primal Religions

The World’s Religions: Primal Religions

May 23, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Vicky Warden, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Primal Religions (specifically, the Yoruba religion of West Africa). Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Primal Religions (pp. 365-383) before the service.

 

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Coming of Age

Coming of Age

May 16, 2021
 by Barbara Walker, Lay Minister
Melinda McGucken, Judy Montgomery & Grace Durfee, Worship Associates
David Blazer, Director of Music

Today’s service is a feast of perspectives on “Coming of Age” Our 9th Grade Coming of Age graduates will offer their personal credos, and several of our Worship Associates will contribute their reflections around the journey of personal growth.

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The Art of Motherhood

The Art of Motherhood

May 9, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Vicky Warden, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Join Rev. Makar for an art-filled exploration of the "art" of motherhood. From paintings, music, poetry and other forms of artistic endeavor. We will come to learn and affirm what good mothering is all about.

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On Forgiveness

On Forgiveness

May 2, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our favorite songs, whoever the artist or whatever the style, were created in a strange alchemy of study and inspiration, of strict practice and of letting go. Spiritual Practice is a similar combination of dedication, muscle memory, and perhaps a little divine inspiration. Join us for a musical exploration of learning to risk, building the muscle memory of courage, and the spiritual practice of relationship when things around us are changing fast.

About Our Guest Worship

Forgiveness is something that can cause people difficulties. How do I forgive myself? How do I forgive others? Why is it so hard to forgive, even when we know it is the right thing to do and would be beneficial to us? Rev. Makar addresses this key spiritual topic today, thanks to Anne Osborne, who purchased this sermon.

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Annual Blessing of the Animals

Annual Blessing of the Animals

April 25, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate

Today is our second annual Blessing of the Animals service! In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we are celebrating the animal companions we love. If you have an animal companion, please share a picture of yourself with them and send it to Christine Salontay at csalontay@gmail.com. Christine will create a video montage, which we will enjoy during the service.

 

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Youth Sunday: Growth & Maturation

Youth Sunday: Growth & Maturation

April 18, 2021
by West Shore Youths

Our youth chose the theme “Growth & Maturity” as they reflect upon their time as young adults embarking on adulthood. Music, readings, opening words, and reflections will be focused on this theme, and the sermon will consist of the youth and the trusted adults from the West Shore community sharing stories on personal growth. A specific thank you to volunteers Jeff Martin, Michele Tarsitano, Angie Tarsitano, and Kelly Pinkas for their mentorship and guidance, as well as joining our youth for this service.

 

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Liberation from White Supremacy Culture

Liberation from White Supremacy Culture

April 11, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Grace Durfee, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Without a doubt, there are structures and systems in our world that alienate people from themselves and from others and thereby cause great suffering. White supremacy culture is one of these. But how, specifically, does white supremacy culture manifest itself? What are some ways we might seek liberation from it?

 

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The World’s Religions:  Christianity

The World’s Religions: Christianity

April 4, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Elizabeth Gerencser, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Christianity. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Christianity (pp. 317-364) before the service.

 

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Letter to Ruth Ginsberg

Letter to Ruth Ginsberg

March 28, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently died this past September after serving the highest court in the land for 27 years, changed American life for the better. Everyone has a lot to thank her for, but many don’t know how much she’s done. She’s also a fascinating personality, to boot. Rev. Makar explores this and more in his personal letter to Judge Ginsburg. Join us!

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Forward Into Light!

Forward Into Light!

March 21, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Vicki Warden, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

“Forward into Light” was a popular rallying cry for the women’s suffrage movement, which culminated in the ratification and adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in 1920, that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Today, Rev. Makar explores the drama and complexity of this story, together with the continuing struggle for women’s voting rights.

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It Takes Practice

It Takes Practice

March 20, 2021
 by Matt Meyer, Guest Worship Leader
Grace Durfee, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our favorite songs, whoever the artist or whatever the style, were created in a strange alchemy of study and inspiration, of strict practice and of letting go. Spiritual Practice is a similar combination of dedication, muscle memory, and perhaps a little divine inspiration. Join us for a musical exploration of learning to risk, building the muscle memory of courage, and the spiritual practice of relationship when things around us are changing fast.

About Our Guest Worship

Leader Matt Meyer is musician, worship leader, and community organizer, as well as a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. He has been a keynote speaker at the JPD worship arts festival, Ohio Summer Institute, Allies for Racial Equity national conference, and the annual meeting of the Canadian Unitarian Council. He has also led music for most of the last fifteen General Assemblies of the UUA. Matt is a founding worship leader and current Director of Operations for Sanctuary Boston, a contemporary worship community in Boston. He was a founding member of the Lucy Stone Cooperative and is a current organizer of the UU Song leaders Convergence. www.RhythmRevelations.com

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The World’s Religions:  Judaism

The World’s Religions: Judaism

March 7, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Jeff Modzelewski, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world's religions of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Judaism. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Judaism (pp. 271-316) before the service.

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The Elves and the Shoemaker: Exploring the Spirituality of Work

The Elves and the Shoemaker: Exploring the Spirituality of Work

February 28, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Vicky Warden, Worship Associates
David Blazer, Director of Music

Today we explore a classic fairy tale and its message about magic, creativity, aging and the spiritual meaning of work.

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The New Normal

The New Normal

February 21, 2021
 by Reverend Randy Partain, Worship Leader
Elizabeth Gerencser & Melinda McGucken, Worship Associates
David Blazer, Director of Music

We’ve heard about a “new normal” for quite a while. Many people have also said that "normal" is just a setting on the washing machine. We might take pride in being unique. And yet, when it comes to the way we judge or accept others, it often comes down to how well another person fits our personal definition of "normal." How can we draw the circle of welcome wider and still embrace our own sense of individuality?

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The World Religions: Islam

The World Religions: Islam

February 14, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Melinda McGucken, Worship Associates
David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Islam. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Islam (pp. 221-270) before the service.

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Diligent Joy

Diligent Joy

February 7, 2021
 by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Grace Durfee and Judy Montgomery, Worship Associates
David Blazer, Director of Music

Elizabeth Gilbert, in Eat Pray Love, writes, “As I focus on Diligent Joy, I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once–that all the sorrow and all the trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-’n’-Stalin picture, but also on the smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, nor merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.” That’s what Elizabeth Gilbert says. Diligent Joy is a key spiritual discipline. Let’s talk about what’s involved.

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The Endless Conversation

The Endless Conversation

January 31, 2021
by Reverend Anthony Makar, Worship Leader
Jeff Modzelewski, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

The endless conversation is about God. God exists. No, God does not exist. God exists and God is like this. No, God is like that. And on and on and on. Today, we will get a glimpse of the endless conversation and Unitarian Universalism’s role in it.

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What Does It Mean to be a Dementia-Friendly Congregation?

What Does It Mean to be a Dementia-Friendly Congregation?

January 24, 2021
by Charlie Farrell, Kathy Strawser & Jerry Devis, Guest Speakers
Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate
David Blazer, Director of Music

In society there are stigmas associated with brain health issues. West Shore embraces and welcomes all individuals. The service shares thoughts on ending the stigma related to people with dementia and looks for ways towards a dementia friendly culture.

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The World’s Religions: Taoism

The World’s Religions: Taoism

January 17, 2021

by Rev. Anthony Makar, Worship Leader

Grace Durfee, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Taoism. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Taoism (pp. 196-220).

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When Dreams Die

When Dreams Die

January 10, 2021

by Rev. Anthony Makar, Worship Leader

Elizabeth Gerencser, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Today our focus is on failure. Everyone has experienced failure in trying to pursue a personal dream. What happens next? What role might one's failures play in the spiritual life?

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Let Your Life Speak

Let Your Life Speak

January 3, 2021

by Rev. Anthony Makar, Worship Leader

Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

We begin a new year at West Shore with an exploration of the question of authenticity. A new year represents a new beginning and another chance at becoming more fully ourselves. So, what’s involved with this? How might we do this?

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An Enlightened Presence In A World Falling Apart

An Enlightened Presence In A World Falling Apart

December 27, 2020

by Param Srikantia, Guest Worship Leader

Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

COVID-19, racial tensions, economic insecurity and political differences have generated tremendous stress. The acronym VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic and Ambiguous) has been invoked to describe periods of discontinuity and disruption. The talk will explore the theme of "Enlightened Presence" suggesting five pathways that will enable us to light the lamp of inner wisdom so that we can be a healing presence to ourselves and to others around us. Dr. Param Srikantia, Professor, School of Business at Baldwin Wallace University, is a former television host and a TEDX speaker who is well acquainted with the art of energizing a live audience. Dr. Srikantia has recently embarked on public seminars based on non-traditional ways of unleashing human potential that have now grown to a contagious level of popularity reaching over 100K attendees in Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Toronto and the New York metropolitan areas. He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources and Organizational Psychology.

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Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas

December 20, 2020

by Reverand Anthony Makar, Worship Leader

Grace Durfee, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Rev. Anthony Makar is asking you to watch a video clip from the Christmas comedy movie Elf starring Will Ferrell, before this Sunday's Service. In his sermon, he will be referring to this movie, and given copyright restrictions, we are not able to screen this clip in the service. Receive extra credit if you choose to watch the full movie before Sunday. To watch the video clip, click here.

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The World’s Religions:  Confucianism

The World’s Religions: Confucianism

December 13, 2020

by Reverand Anthony Makar, Worship Leader

Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Confucianism. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Confucianism (pp. 154-195) before the service

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The Journey Towards a Healthy White Identity

The Journey Towards a Healthy White Identity

December 6, 2020

by Reverand Anthony Makar, Worship Leader

Vicky Warden, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Passion for life does not necessarily come when we make huge achievements. But it comes when we know how to see beauty in the smallest things, grace in the darkest hour, and the courage to love when life is at its messiest. The gifts that keep us growing are often wrapped in the most unusual packages.

In her book Good White People: The Problem With Middle-Class White Anti-Racism, philosopher Shannon Sullivan writes, “Whiteness is not a club in which a white person can just decide to drop her membership. Whether a white person likes it or not, at this moment in history she is white and she is implicated in the effects of whiteness. How she takes up and lives her complicity in white domination will help determine the quality of her contributions to racial justice movements.” In other words, how might white people learn to develop psychologically and spiritually healthy white identities, in service to the liberation of all? What does that look like?

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Love is Our Best Coach

Love is Our Best Coach

November 29, 2020

by Shirley Nelson, Worship Leader

Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Passion for life does not necessarily come when we make huge achievements. But it comes when we know how to see beauty in the smallest things, grace in the darkest hour, and the courage to love when life is at its messiest. The gifts that keep us growing are often wrapped in the most unusual packages.

Today’s guest speaker is Shirley A. Nelson. Ms. Nelson is a Cleveland-area inter-spiritual counselor and life skills coach; founder of San's Sacred Circle, which offers retreats and workshops; former vice president of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the United Church of Christ; and author of "The Many Faces of Prayer: A Healing Balm in the 21st Century." Shirley is currently a student at One Spirit Learning Alliance in NYC. She is in her last year of seminary and will be ordained in June 2021. She is also the part-time office administrator and newsletter editor for our sister Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland. Her website is www.sanssacredcircle.com

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Thanksgiving 2020: A Thanksgiving Wish

Thanksgiving 2020: A Thanksgiving Wish

November 22, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Today is our intergenerational Thanksgiving service, so all ages will be together to enjoy our focus story entitled “A Thanksgiving Wish” written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by John Thompson. As you listen to the story, here are some questions to keep in mind: Does your family have any special Thanksgiving rituals? Is there anybody you’ll be especially missing over the holidays? When you are sad, what helps you feel better?

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The World’s Religions:  Buddhism

The World’s Religions: Buddhism

November 15, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Grace Durfee, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world's religions sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way continues with Buddhism. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition (available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets). Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Buddhism (pp. 82-153) before the service.

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What Does “Middle Class” Really Mean?

What Does “Middle Class” Really Mean?

November 8, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Jeff Modzelewski, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Each of us as people are made up out of a multitude of identities based on our skin color, our gender, our sexual orientation, and on and on. Today, we explore one of these identities - class identity - and its powerful influence on our quality of life, how we see ourselves and others, and our spirituality.

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Turnings: The Amazing Story of John Murray

Turnings: The Amazing Story of John Murray

November 1, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Happy 250th birthday, Universalism! 250 years ago, in 1770, John Murray preached in Thomas Potter's chapel in Good Luck, New Jersey. Ever since people have been telling the amazing story surrounding the whole event. Today, I will share that amazing story with you.

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The Riddle of Infinity

The Riddle of Infinity

October 25, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Vicky Warden, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Somewhere downstairs a door slammed, and my father entered the house laughing. Instantly, the whole universe joined in. Great roars of hilarity sounded from sun to sun. Field mice tittered, and so did angels and rainbows. Laughter leavened every atom and every star until I saw a universe inspirited and spiraled by joy, not unlike the one I read of years later when Dante describes his great vision in paradise, ‘D'el riso d'el universo’ (the joy that spins the universe). This was a knowledge of the way everything worked. It worked through love and joy and the utter interpenetration and union of everything with the All That Is." This story comes from psychologist and spiritual teacher Jean Houston, and it adds to an untold number of similar stories about people encountering the infinite. Let’s take a closer look.

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The World’s Religions: Hinduism

The World’s Religions: Hinduism

October 18, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Our year-long sermon series exploring some of the world religion sources of our Unitarian Universalist spiritual way begins with Hinduism. Our study text is Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions: The 50th Anniversary Edition. The book is available at your local bookstore, at Amazon, and other outlets. Reach out to Rev. Makar directly if you are unable to afford purchasing the book. As preparation for the sermon, please read the chapter on Hinduism (pp. 12-81) before the service.

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Sweet Silliness

Sweet Silliness

October 11, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Christine Salontay, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

We are needing some sweet silliness in these difficult, emotionally-heavy days. So, join us for a worship service full of sweet silliness. Even the very serious and intense philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, "If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done." Writer Richelle Goodrich adds, "It's okay to be absurd, ridiculous, and downright irrational at times; silliness is sweet syrup that helps us swallow the bitter pills of life."

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Widening the Circle

Widening the Circle

October 4, 2020

by Reverend Renee Ruchotzky

Elizabeth Gerencser, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Even when diversity and inclusion are aspirations for a community, living into such a community can be fraught with misunderstandings and hurt. How might we hold one another in love and covenant as we build a beloved community together?

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What Traffic Lights Can Teach Us

What Traffic Lights Can Teach Us

September 27, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

David Blazer, Director of Music

You can be the best and most careful driver in the world, but if there’s no system of traffic lights, signs, and laws already in play (or one that’s confusing and/or insufficient), you’re guaranteed to crash into someone else. We have amazing individual leaders at West Shore, but how are we doing in terms of shared understandings about how to work together? What does our system of “traffic lights” look like? Today, I want to explore with you a plan for how we can all share in the work of ministry, in a way that expands the range of people’s involvement in deciding and doing and improves communication, coordination, and morale across the board. This plan was developed in the 2019-2020 program year by the Organizational Development Committee of the Board, and the Board of Trustees has formally approved it.

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The Story of Our Faith

The Story of Our Faith

September 20, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Melinda McGucken, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Did you know that the history of our faith - its journey across time - can be told using the Six Sources? Come hear Rev. Makar tell our story in a way you may never have heard it told before!

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Ingathering 2020: The Story of Mr. O

Ingathering 2020: The Story of Mr. O

September 13, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Judy Montgomery, Worship Associate

David Blazer, Director of Music

Regular life is in upheaval, as the pandemic reigns. Around this time of year, we would be returning from summer travels away or "staycations" closer to home. We would see kids going off to school or to college. Fall favorites like college football would be gearing up. And so on. But none of that is in the cards for us, in this strange year of 2020. For this reason, it becomes even more important to practice spiritual disciplines that help structure our lives and give them meaning. One of these practices is observing time cycles, which includes endings and new beginnings.

This is what our annual Ingathering service is all about. It signifies a new beginning for our collective life together. The service, appropriate for all ages, draws from the classic story, The Cello of Mr. O by Jane Cutler and illustrated by Greg Couch. Some things our children might listen for, and to think about as this service unfolds, includes: (1) Have you ever felt afraid of being hurt, if not by war than by COVID-19 or a bully at school, or something else? (2) Why do you think people fight? (3) Life is scary and hard these days, so it is especially important to remember that we are not alone, and there is hope. What gives you hope and courage when you are afraid?

Ingathering is also the time when we celebrate our annual Water Communion ritual, a beautiful ceremony of the celebration of life! Be sure to have a small container of water near you, and a bowl to pour it into, as you, with hundreds of your West Shore friends, simultaneously engage this ritual. It will be different this year, but that doesn't have to mean it will be less meaningful.

 

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On the Seventh Day

On the Seventh Day

September 6, 2020

by Reverend Anthony Makar

Grace Durfee, Worship Associate

Joe Schafer and Abby Rosu, Guest Musicians

When COVID-19 pandemic struck, it was as though we all crossed a line in time. There had been "before the pandemic," or BP, and now it is "after the pandemic," or AP. But whether it's BP or AP we're talking about, there has always been a need for downtime, time off, time away--sabbath time. This is the spiritual dimension of the Labor Day holiday, which is side-by-side with its more social-political dimension of support for the working class and labor unions. Today, we take a closer look at that more spiritual dimension.

 

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