It has been a very busy week! Plenty of ministry within our Unitarian Church of Norfolk and beyond our walls. I’ve learned some new skills and met new people. Here’s a quick run-down.
OUTSIDE: We start with a celebration of a new building. Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists (WUU) celebrated the opening of their new Religious Education wing, their new staff offices and new small chapel. The Sunday afternoon celebration event included their former minister Jennifer Ryu and the Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Jim Key. At one point there were about 30 people up on the dais/stage and another 30 standing to be thanked. It was a joy watching how they included music, children, history and their mission in a service of celebration.
Monday at the Hampton Roads Pride planning meeting, which Police Captain Ken Saucer attended in his official capacity, we met the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) advisor and others involved in the assembly the previous week. The event was a great success, and several UCN’ers attended.
The group also celebrated the increasing number of police departments with LGBT liaison officers (including Ken in Portsmouth and another in Hampton.) In addition to planning Pride Weekend on June 16&17, HRP is planning a fundraiser and participation in the March 18th St Patrick’s Day Parade (and you are invited to join in!)
Tuesday morning at 6:45 Stephanie Sterner and I boarded a bus for Richmond. Equality Virginia was sponsoring a lobbying day, a chance to meet delegates and senators and push for adoption of LGBT empowering legislation and oppose bills that legalize discrimination against those who are Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. I saw Rev. Millard from Newport News and other UUs in the crowd. I visited my legislators and three or four others. “EV” also held sessions talking about everything from treatment (and non-treatment) for AIDS is different populations to religion and LGBT (mostly from a conservative Christian perspective where “welcome” is not so common.) A final reception included many legislators, Governor Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Governor Ralph Northam. Home by 10 PM.
After a day’s rest I attended two breakfasts. The first was hosted by Imam Rachid Khould at the Crescent Community Center in Virginia Beach. About 30 faith leaders discussed how to build bridges of understanding on social issues. The Imam thanked the group for the very positive response they received from a recent Virginian-Pilot article on their new building project. Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. I passed on our UU commitment to show up in a time of need and he thanked me and hoped that time would never come, but hoped we could interact on joyous and constructive projects. The interfaith group is thinking of creating common study on a topic related to Dr. King, to end with events on the week of MLK Day, next year.
I then came back to Norfolk to meet with Empower Hampton Roads’s new community organizer Athena Jones. She gave me advance notice of a one day training in community organizing to be held the morning of March 18th (the same day as the St. Patrick’s Day parade.) I asked how UCN might work with other churches on common projects. She was excited to hear of our congregation’s commitment to social justice.
INSIDE: Tonight is our Staff Appreciation Dinner/Potluck. I hope to see you there. In addition to our paid staff I want to recognize some other workers: Allen Hilliard is retiring as nametag maker after many years. He is also retiring the computer that printed our old design, and now Mike Breslin has been “tagged” for that job – Thank you Allen and Mike! Further, Dal Paull is retiring from the sound crew, and the sound crew team needs more members. If you imagined yourself mixing a Grateful Dead Concert (but never got the chance) or just wanted to make sure our services sound and look good, talk to Doug Throp and we can have a group (or individual) training session. You are needed.
Speaking of backstage work, our website team needs a few more programmers, folks who can help add and implement new features in our web presence. Recently Dave Hamby, who had done all the systems work, was joined by Glenda Larcombe, and with another one or two team members Dave can relax and become a senior advisor.
Still on the inside, Vicki Caminer, Tessa Ellis and Martha Shore are to be congratulated for the quick work bringing George Minns in to speak on Seatack, Virginia. http://www.seatackcivic.org/ It was my Sunday off, but I broke with tradition and came to hear him anyway.
One more thing. Our congregation has committed to raising money for a community organization on the second Sunday of the month. Funds are collected at the same time as the regular collection. The “pew envelope” color or by memo on personal checks determines where the money goes (and you can also give to our building challenge fund at that time.) This month’s special collection will be for Ghent Area Ministry, an outreach ministry dedicated to offering a hand-up to those in need. Please consider bringing your check book this Sunday! http://gamnorfolk.org/
And a big Thank You for those who gave generously to our Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) fund during last month’s “second Sunday!”
The Unitarian Church of Norfolk is a busy place… let us pause to celebrate. Hope to see you at the dinner tonight, Game Night next Friday, Open Mike Coffeehouse the following Friday or Environmental Forum and Fabulous First Friday on March 3.
I love you,