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Sunday, July 9, 10 a.m., “Independence Day,” Rev. Om Prakash (Rev. John Gilmore): We just celebrated Independence Day here in the United States. There was also a blockbuster movie by the same name. In it we watched Will Smith and others battle against Extraterrestrials who came to all the capitals in the world and tried to take over. Eventually, the President, who had been a fighter pilot, led several fighter jets against the hostile aliens and defeated them. The world came together as one group and made peace. This was an amazing story. Today, since COVID, I wonder if that would have ever happened, or would ever happen. During this reflection we will explore our hopes and dreams for a united future while recognizing the work that we need to do within ourselves to resist the powers that are constantly seeking to separate and isolate us.
Sunday, June 11, 10 a.m., “Music Sunday: Peace and Love from Around the World,” Julie Keefer and the UUSD Choir: Julie Keefer, Director of Music Ministries, will lead the UUSD Choir. Together, they will share songs of peace and love from all over the world. Join us for a blessed time of music, the universal language of every nation!
Sunday, June 4, 10 a.m., “Beauty Calls Us Together,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr and Julie Keefer, Director of Music Ministries: Today we will join in the annual tradition of the Flower Ceremony. This year we will draw upon a song cycle created by Kathryn Canan, Rev. Suzelle Lynch, and Ruben Piirainen, composed in 2023 to honor the 100-year anniversary of the Flower Ceremony. The Flower Ceremony originated in 1923 by the Rev. Dr. Norbert Čapek, of the Congregation of Liberal Religious Fellowship in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This tradition continues to this day to give us a communal way to celebrate beauty, human uniqueness, diversity, and community.
Sunday, May 21, 10 a.m., “The Work of the World,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Community is not a solo project. Today, we will do our best to celebrate those who work together to sustain our communities. Transition, change, and leadership turnover are also constant cyclical parts of communal life. Join us in acknowledging all this and more. Member will speak about what they bring to UUSD and what UUSD means to them. Rev. Cathy Rion Starr will be installed as UUSD’s Affiliated Community Minister. After the service, everyone will add their essential piece to the UUSD puzzle.
Sunday, May 14, 10 a.m., “Know the Wells,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: “We drink from wells we did not dig,” it is written in the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament. On this Mother’s Day, we will reflect upon the impact of three inspirational, incredibly-persevering, and under-recognized mothers. Drawing upon Anna Malaika Tubbs’ book, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation, we will consider the ways we and our country are all shaped by those who came before us.
On this spring day, we will also celebrate new members through our bi-annual New Member Ceremony.
Sunday, May 7, 10 a.m., “What We Create,” UUSD Lay Leader Marj Shannon: We have an abundance of creative people among us: Artists, musicians, designers, performers, crafters, and more. But those people are not always creating what we think they are. And those of us who would call ourselves mere admirers or supporters of the arts are more creative than we might think. Join us as we explore some of those nuances.
Sunday, April 9, 10 a.m., “I’m Still Standing,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: The tendency to reject religious language from our past can eliminate words and concepts that are actually still quite meaningful and resonant in our larger culture. For example: Salvation. What can it mean to a 21st century Unitarian Universalist to be “saved”? Come join us this Easter Sunday to find out! All are welcome who are committed to respecting others of diverse beliefs, and there’ll be an Easter Egg Hunt to follow the service.
Sunday, April 2, 10 a.m., “The Right Way to Right Speech,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Drawing upon a Jewish folktale retold by Simms Taback, we will, all ages together, enact a memorable experience of Motke, the Fish Peddler. Along the way we will celebrate the joys and humanness of being a congregation of more than four generations, sharing in co-creating this community and this multigenerational service today.
Sunday, March 19, 10 a.m., “Blooming into Your Spring,” Julie Keefer, Director of Music Ministries: Winter is hard for so many. It consists of short days and long, cold, dark nights. By the end of February, many people are feeling vulnerable to the barrenness of winter. Our own lives, too, have our seasons, and our own winter, but Spring will be here soon. On this first Sunday of Spring, we will consider our own season of Spring and all the beauty that it offers to ourselves, our community, and the world. What new and fresh ways will you Bloom into Your Spring?
Saturday, March 18: FUNdraising – UUSD Cares St. Patrick’s Day Giving Parade
It has been a long time since we’ve helped fill the shelves of the Community Resource Center and Shepherd’s office. UUSD Cares held a St. Patrick’s Giving Parade on Saturday, March 18, 1-3:00 p.m. in the UUSD parking lot. We also had a few treats and green glass hearts to hand out along the parade route. We are seeking donations of Food Items, Cleaning Products, Personal Care Product, Clothing, and Baby Care. Help support this needed collection and let us wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Sunday, March 5, 10 a.m., “What They Dreamed Be Ours to Do…?” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Twenty-five years ago now, there were more than four dozen Unitarian Universalists in southern Delaware working towards a common dream. What would they have thought upon being told of a 2020 global pandemic? What about our congregational priorities today of livestreaming, Zooming, and Google Meeting? How do our visions and goals need to evolve and adapt in order to keep on realizing the bigger, more timeless dream?
Sunday, February 26, 10 a.m., “Secret Thoughts Made Visible,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Fifty percent of gun deaths in Delaware are caused by suicide. While this is obviously a difficult topic to talk about, we must make the effort. Join us for this heartfelt, proactive sharing about the effects of suicide in our lives, families, and communities, and how we can do more to address it directly.
Saturday, December 24, 4:30 p.m., “Bring the Sparkle,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Join us on Christmas Eve to share in song, story, candlelight, and reflect upon and celebrate the great teachers and sources of guidance and wisdom in our lives. Caroling will commence outside, in front of the Sanctuary, at around 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 11, 10 a.m., “A Light That Soothes, But Doesn’t Dazzle,” Guest Minister Om Prakash (also known as Rev. Dr. John Gilmore): We enter into the season of lights. The northern hemisphere gets darker and colder. Leaves fall from the trees. Evergreen branches get weighed down with snow as insect and animal, and even human beings, burrow themselves in warm places to survive the freezing winter. Still, there is a light in the hearth and the heart of the human family that shines the way and provides warmth for the weary traveler and a sigh for the ever burdens of life. In our world today, a wintry world, we need to raise the fire of love and compassion. Let us raise our individual lights to create a flame that will set the world ablaze in the light of love and compassion.
Sunday, December 4, 10 a.m., “Mindful Joy,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Our human nature is to find the greatest comfort with those we’ve gotten to know well. How do we also keep widening our circle and extending ourselves during this season of invitation? We will hold our fall New Member Ceremony during the service today.”
Sunday, September 4, 10:00 a.m., “Perfectly Imperfect,” Julie Keefer, UUSD Director of Music Ministries: Brené Brown, PhD, MSW, said, “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” For us to do that, we must be able to embrace our imperfections so that we can allow ourselves to live as our true authentic selves. Julie Keefer, UUSD’s Director of Music Ministries, will share how embracing our imperfections helps us to truly belong rather than just “fitting in.” Julie is currently obtaining a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary.
Sunday, September 4, 11:00 a.m., Board of Trustees Hosts Meet and Greet
Sunday, August 21, 10:00 a.m., “Express Yourself: T-Shirt Sunday,” Lay leaders Don Peterson and Rick Welk: Welcome to UUSD’s first T-Shirt Sunday! UUs love to express their feelings, their passions, their commitments and especially their opinions. And what better way to do that than with a bumper sticker for the body! So, dig through those closets and drawers. Find a T-shirt that’s meaningful to you and wear it to Sunday Service. Join Rick Welk, Don Peterson, and some of your fellow UUSDers as they tell the stories behind their own T-shirts. What does yours tell us about you?
Sunday, August 7, 10:00 a.m., “Stand for Love Without Losing your Heart,” Lay Leader and Speaker, Rev. Sue Greer, Ordained Minister of the Gaia and Tibetan Traditions: We are living in a time of war, a war on human rights, democracy, and basic human kindness. How are you surviving the growing hatred and suffering we see every day? Can you keep standing up for love? Is your heart weighed down, shut down, or overwhelmed by the daily news of suffering? We can only take so much without closing our hearts and losing ourselves. We are people who live by the principles of justice and care for others. We can’t turn away! We are needed! It’s essential we continue to “stand up.” What can we do when our hearts become overwhelmed and weary? An answer: Compassion. We invite compassion to be our protection and our strength. Compassion first for ourselves, second for the victim, and third for the aggressor. This is a radical stance. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, offers this wise and relevant quote: “Compassion is the Radicalism of our times.”
Sunday, July 31, 10:00 a.m. “Museum Quality Reproduction (MQR),” Rev. Dr. Ron Parks, UUSD member and Minister ordained by the United Methodist Church: Tucked away in an unpretentious corner of the Queens Museum is a modest collection of works from the hand and studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany’s name is synonymous with unparalleled stained-glass artistry, a true American original. My pilgrimage to the exhibit several months ago coincided with the completion of an MQR of his 22″ dragonfly lamp design, a project I had worked on over the last eleven years. Tiffany’s lamp is the real deal. Mine is a copy, faithful to the original in every way, but a copy, nonetheless. Each of us aspires to replicate and embody the artistry, wisdom, and/or passion of those who capture our imagination and lift our vision of what we can become. But is that all we are? Come and see the light – and the lamp too!
Tuesday, July 26, 7:oo p.m., Voter Education Forum: This collaborative Voter Education Forum was co-hosted by ACLU of Delaware, Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware, UU the Vote, League of Women Voters, DE Interfaith Power & Light, Votamos, and Common Cause Delaware. Voting Rights, Reproductive Rights, Immigration Rights, the Environment, and Smart Justice are among the many important issues on the ballot in the upcoming 2022 elections. Experts from across the state discussed Delaware’s legislative agenda, the new voting districts in Sussex County, and the new voting rules.
Sunday, July 24, 10:00 a.m., “Covenant, Democracy, and Other Endangered Species,” Guest Minister Rev. John Wright (UU Minister in Salisbury, MD): According to former Unitarian Universalist Association Moderator Ginny Courter, “If there is a candidate for the Great American Religion, it is us (Unitarian Universalism).” Indeed, the history of our nation and our faith are inextricably intertwined, for good or ill. But democracy and faith are both tenacious and fragile. Both must be carefully tended if they are to thrive. Each has their strengths and their limits. In this service, Rev. John Wright will spend some time thinking about how our faith both nurtures and challenges our ideas about democracy.
Sunday, July 17, 10:00 a.m., “Listening to Others, Listening to Ourselves,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: It’s likely that there is some driving involved in your summer itinerary. As you are on the move, in whatever form, what are you listening to, or for? What is humming just underneath your breath? What is the song in your head? Whose voice, what conversation is taking place within you as you toodle around?
Sunday, July 10, 10:00 a.m., “Personal Reflections on a Civil Rights Tour,” Don Peterson and UUSD Lay Leaders – Speakers: Eight UUSD members and friends were fortunate to travel together in April for a Civil Rights Tour. They visited Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, touring such important sites as the Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Civil Rights Institute, and so much more. The group will share their experiences and personal reflections about the trip and its meaning in today’s troubled times.
Sunday, June 19, 10:00 a.m., “Large Enough Thanks,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Gratitude is a spiritual practice. As I wrap up my first year with you-all, I invite us to join, together, in celebrating all that we have to be grateful for. It is also Father’s Day, Juneteenth, the Summer Solstice, GLBTQIA+ Pride Month, and there will be a celebratory Gratitude Picnic to follow the service today!
UUSD Gratitude Picnic on Sunday, June 19 after the service.
Sunday, June 12, 10:00 a.m., “The UUSD Choir, LIVE!” Julie Keefer, Director of Music Ministries and the UUSD Choir: Since September of 2020, you have heard several of our members sing together as a virtual choir. Any one of our choir members will tell you, although you may have enjoyed hearing them sing, it was not the same as singing in-person, together. So, for Music Sunday, the UUSD choir would like to present to you many of the songs we did as a virtual choir, but this time LIVE! And in person!
Sunday, June 5, 10:00 a.m., “Flower Communion Sunday,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: The Flower Communion service was created by Rev. Norbert Capek (1870-1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced the Flower Communion to the congregation there on June 4, 1923. For this service, each person is asked to bring a flower or small bouquet of your choice and place it in a vase during the service. Just as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Join us in celebrating Flower Communion!
Moving beyond selective remembering, towards an honest moral reckoning with the cost of our wars, is work that is ours to do in order to live into our UUA “Creating Peace” Statement of Conscience.
Sunday, May 22, 10:00 a.m., “Each Day, One More,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Each additional person in a family, a conversation, a meeting, or a congregation changes and expands the group’s dynamics and the possibilities. Every one of us brings something unique into the room (be it an actual room or a Zoom Room). What does this mean for how we orient to one another? On this spring day, we will celebrate new members through our bi-annual New Member Ceremony.
Sunday, May 15, 10:00 a.m., “While Still There Is Light,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: Before this congregational year careens to a close, I want to be sure to touch base with you all about…the inevitable. We are all mortal. Life itself is a terminal condition. None of us know precisely how much time we have left. How do we embrace that universal truth and allow it to energize, not dishearten us?
Sunday, May 8, 10:00 a.m., “Mothering Ourselves,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: In all the Hallmark-hubbub of Mother’s Day, we often forget to affirm all the ways we need to mother ourselves. We can each be our own harshest critic, but we can also be our own biggest fan. We are the ones who know what we need to do to best care for ourselves. What are ways we can care for ourselves better, with forgiveness, acceptance, and encouragement?
Sunday, May 1, 10:00 a.m., “The Power of the Rainbow,” UUSD Member Rick Welk
Since the beginning of time, we have looked to the heavens in wonder at the rainbow. Generations have pondered its beauty, its power, and its meaning. What is so special about it? How does the rainbow relate to us today? Join us as we look to the rainbow’s mystery and majesty, and contemplate what it has been telling us about life, love, and acceptance in the past, the present, and the future.
Sunday, April 24, 10:00 a.m., “Bend Like the Willow,” Julie Keefer, UUSD Director of Music Ministries
A wise person once said, “Be like the willow, able to bend without breaking under the weight of the storms that come your way.” Life can seem like a rough storm, but know that, within each of us, we can be like the willow and bend. We may lose some branches and leaves along the way. However, when the storm is over and those trees that are considered “strong” trees are lying uprooted on the ground, the willow stands tall and majestic. Julie shared about one’s inner strength to withstand the storms of life.
Sunday, April 17, 10:00 a.m., “Welcoming the Mystic Within,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr: On Easter Sunday, I have found, Unitarian Universalists, who all-year-long identify more as skeptics than as mystics, are a little more receptive to the idea of the mysterious, the ineffable. What is it about the ancient stories, or the nostalgia within our own hearts and life journeys, that opens us up to the unknowable at this sacred time and season?
Sunday, April 10, 10:00 a.m., “Better Off for All That We Let In,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
Taking risks, enlarging our circle of friends or activities, believing in the possibility of a new relationship later in life, giving family members another chance to connect, setting off on some new adventure, or taking on a new challenge… In countless ways, even when we are weary, we are better off for all that we let in.
Sunday, March 27, 10:00 a.m., “Community Thriving Through Play,” Rev. Sunshine J. Wolfe
Perhaps one of the most meaningful and powerful tools for spiritual growth, justice making, and community building is play. From the time we are born, we learn what it means to be human through games, toys, silliness, and wonder. We will talk about many of the ways that play lives on into our adult lives and can transform energy and action in our communities. Topics will include theatre of the oppressed, role-playing games, music, everyday objects as toys, humor, and more. This service was both meaningful and fun!
March 20, 10:00 a.m., “Spring Comes,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
Spring invites newness, freshness, growth, open-mindedness, and change into our lives. What are ways that you can stretch yourself? How can you expand to embrace more of life?
March 13, 10:00 a.m., “Two Long (Pandemic) Years,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
I bet you remember March 2020 with a clarity that you don’t remember every March of your life. How do you measure these past two long years? I’d love to weave your words and brief summaries of the past two years into my Reflection for this week.
March 6, 10:00 a.m., “Great Things Ahead,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
In the cacophony of our larger world, it is a blessing that we can focus on caring for one another and those to come through the collective structure of this congregation. Each year the planning ahead and visioning of the Pledge Drive offers us an opportunity to move a little closer to our vision for this community’s future. There are Great Things Ahead, with you! Join us in working together to meet UUSD’s goals, challenges, and dreams.
February 20, 10:00 a.m., “The 8th Principle: A Beacon Toward Beloved Community”—Guest Speaker Bruce Pollack-Johnson
Bruce Pollack-Johnson, co-author of the 8th Principle (about dismantling systemic racism and other oppressions) that has been adopted by over 140 out of 900 or so UU congregations across the country, will be our service leader. He will speak about the origins and history of this grass-roots movement, and the opportunity it presents us to transform UUism into a much broader spiritual movement, in our individual congregations, nationally, and beyond.
Sunday, February 13, 10:00 a.m., “Life Calls Us On,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
Unitarian Universalism as a denomination has been explicitly supportive of a woman’s right to choose since 1963. And there has been a lot of learning and growth along the way. What are some of the crucial, current issues in the ongoing struggle for reproductive justice for all? During this year’s annual UUA “Thirty Days of Love,” we will draw energy, wisdom, and challenge from our faith for these freshly fraught issues.
Sunday, February 6, 10:00 a.m., “Drawing a Line Somewhere,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
Each of us has things which we say we cannot stand (beyond, like for me, eggplant). Yet in Unitarian Universalism, along with many other faith communities, we also (perhaps too often?) say “All Are Welcome.” So, which is it? How, why, and when do we find and draw a line, set a boundary, address a difference or a conflict directly? And to what end?
January 23, 2022 Sunday Service, “Sacred Space,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
The building and grounds that a faith community creates and tends together are visual and tangible reflections of our priorities and values. We will considered together what feels most crucial to us about our current shared sacred space and our hopes for the future.
January 16, 2022 Sunday Service, “I Will Not Get There With You,” Rev. Heather Rion Starr
As we celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this weekend, we explored the thought of will what we care about most continue beyond and without us?