Love Letter to East Liberty and Blessing

"Love Letter to East Liberty," delivered at the 06-03-2018 worship service:

This is not actually a sermon. It is a love letter.

Dear Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty,

I know it is hard right now to keep spirits up. I know some of you are mad at me for leaving, or worried about what will happen. I know it’s disheartening to not know yet who your next minister will be, and to learn that you’ll be having a part-time minister so that will leave even more work on the shoulder of volunteers.

But I have so much faith in you, because I know you and have loved you for so long. Here’s what I know.

I know that many churches out there in historic buildings have buildings that are crumbling. They are struggling to keep their building workable, and they can’t even imagine how to make their buildings accessible. And I know you, here, are keeping your building from becoming a historical museum, just an homage to the past, but moving it ever forward to what you need for…

Heartbreak and Loons

This is a doodle I made based on a sermon about heartbreak and gun violence and the healing power of community.  The sermon quoted Mary Oliver's poem "Lead."


I'm realizing that although I have at least two degrees of separation from any mass shooting, these school shootings and other mass shootings are still something of a trigger for me. It's at least in part related to the 2013 shooting deaths of Chris Keith and Isaac Miller. Chris Keith was a former member of my church. She and her son Isaac were killed in an act of domestic violence, by her estranged husband. Like the killer in the recent school shooting, Chris's killer was a known threat. These are the things I know about her killer: He had been abusive of Chris for some time. Chris minimized the abuse when talking to me, saying it was the first time, when it wasn't, but she wasn't ready to leave. What I didn't know, but found out after her death was that authorities had been called all the way back in 2003, before I met her. In the news it was revealed that Chris had taken out a personal protection order against him at one time. Chris had said, "…

The New First Responders

When I was a child, we had fire drills and tornado drills. That was it. No longer did we have the drills of what to do during bomb raids or, worse, nuclear attack, knowing that hiding under our desks would be ineffective. During my daughter's entire childhood, active shooter drills have been a regular part of the school routine. The world she has grown up in is different than the one I did.

When I did my internship, training for the ministry, the congregation I was interning at did their very first fire drill in their 150-year history (on my first Sunday in the pulpit). An active shooter drill or an active shooter policy was something we would never have thought of. But they have one now.

Today I got a different sort of e-mail from the superintendent of my daughter's school system than I've ever gotten before after a school shooting or other incident. In this e-mail, the superintendent issued the usual sorts of calming statements about how they are thoughtful about safet…

Resistance, Renewal

I'm working on getting back into my doodling practice, and also back into my blogging practice.  Hopefully you'll see more posts soon.  Meanwhile, this doodle is a year old -- but the need for resistance continues. You have permission to use this art, with attribution, for any liberal/progressive resistance-related or Unitarian Universalist-related purpose.

The Painful Steps to Justice

When I came to Jackson, MI in 2004, it took me a while to realize how unsupported the LGBTQ community felt here. During my seminary years, all my LGBTQ friends and colleagues were entirely out of the closet, and as someone with cis-gender and heterosexual privilege, I had basically forgotten that the closet could still exist. But here in Jackson, I found, the closet was still deep and wide. People I knew through church or PFLAG or social justice work might be out in one context and still in with family, work, or other friends. So I learned this again, and said it many times to people in one context or another that Jackson was not as progressive with LGBTQ rights as many other locations.  I said it, and I knew it, but I hadn't felt it.

In Michigan we have no state-wide protections for LGBTQ people. In fact, when our state's civil rights legislation, the Elliott-Larsen Act was passed in 1976, LGBTQ protection was specifically left out because of fear that adding LGBTQ protection…

Standing, Rolling, Dancing, Singing, Praying, Preaching, Acting on the Side of Love

At our the preceding Ministry Days preceding the UU General Assembly, ableist language was used in worship to the extent that UUMA Board Member Josh Pawelek issued this response:

Clearly there is a problem with ableism in our public presentation. Public statements, music, stories and metaphors that perpetuate ableism have been hurtful to colleagues. As with any oppression, this ableism likely runs deeper than our public presentation. I remain grateful to all those who are willing to call it to our attention, and I am deeply sorry that such calling is still necessary. (The full response is here.) The most prominent example of ableist language in our movement, however, is our social justice arm: Standing on the Side of Love.  And before you say, "It's just a metaphor," I invite you to watch this and read this by UU minister Theresa Soto.  The point here is not to convince you that ableist metaphors are a problem.  The point is that we often think, even if it is …