Sunday, December 6, 2020: Creating Christmas

Can you in your Conscience think, that our Holy Saviour is honoured, by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Revelling; by a Mass fit for none but a Saturn or a Bacchus, or the Night of a Mahometan Ramadam? You cannot possibly think so.

— Cotton Mather, Grace defended: A censure on the ungodliness, by which the glorious grace of God, is too commonly abused. A sermon preached on the twenty fifth day of December, 1712.

Christmas is a much loved holiday in the United States, celebrated to some extent by Christians and non-Christians alike. But that wasn’t always the case. For a generation during the 17th century, all celebration of Christmas was banned in Massachusetts, as it had been in England after the Puritan victory in the English Civil War. For a century or more after the law banning Christmas celebrations was repealed, Puritan ministers like Cotton Mather continued to preach fiery sermons against such activities. When Christmas finally returned to respectability it was, we are told, largely through the encouragement of Unitarian and Universalist ministers and laypeople. Robert Helfer will share some revelations about this UU involvement in the creation of modern Christmas customs.

We are forgoing meeting in person during the coronavirus epidemic, meeting instead through the magic of ZOOM. We share music, readings, and hymns on our usual presentation slides, have a story and a talk, and share joys and sorrows, as well as a virtual “coffee hour” discussion starting at 10:30, with the service at 11. If you prefer not to be seen, video is optional. If you would like to participate, please email westforkuu@gmail.com for details and a link, or for help with using ZOOM.

Please Join us for Worship.
If you are a regular attendee, we have added you to our Google Group if we had an email address. If you have not gotten a group email already, please email westforkuu@gmail.com so that we can add you to the group, which we will be using for staying in touch with each other during this time. Public announcements will continue to be posted here on the website and on our Facebook page and Twitter account, as usual.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday August 30, 2020: The Great Showman

P.T. Barnum Circus poster

The noblest art is that of making others happy — P.T. Barnum

Welcome before prelude

Good morning and welcome to West Fork Unitarian Universalists. I’m Robert and I am blessed to serve this congregation as a lay leader. I’m glad to see all of you here today.

Thank you for joining us.

Let us use the prelude for centering. We are about to enter sacred time. We are about to make this time and this place sacred by our presence and intention.

Please silence your phones… and as you do so, I invite us also to turn down the volume on our fears; to remove our masks; and to loosen the armor around our hearts.

Breathe.

Let go of the expectations placed on you by others—and those they taught you to place on yourself.

Drop the guilt and the shame, not to shirk accountability, but in honest expectation of the possibility of forgiveness.

Let go of the thing you said the other day. Let go of the thing you dread next week. Be here, in this moment. Breathe, here

Prelude: Entry of the Gladiators, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Band

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Sunday August 9, 2020: The Great Showman

P.T. Barnum Circus poster

The noblest art is that of making others happy — P.T. Barnum

Our forays into Unitarian and Universalist history normally focus on our heroes, the stars of social justice and liberal religion. But perhaps we need to be equally aware of our slightly less reputable past. This Sunday Robert Helfer will venture into the world of Phineas Taylor Barnum, Universalist, the master of “flimflam” behind the revelation that “there’s a sucker born every minute

NOTICE: This service was postponed to Sunday, August 30, 2020.

We are forgoing meeting in person during the coronavirus epidemic, meeting instead through the magic of ZOOM. We share music, readings, and hymns on our usual presentation slides, have a story and a talk, and share joys and sorrows, as well as a virtual “coffee hour” discussion starting at 10:30, with the service at 11. If you prefer not to be seen, video is optional. If you would like to participate, please email westforkuu@gmail.com for details and a link, or for help with using ZOOM.

If you are a regular attendee, we have added you to our Google Group if we had an email address. If you have not gotten a group email already, please email westforkuu@gmail.com so that we can add you to the group, which we will be using for staying in touch with each other during this time. Public announcements will continue to be posted here on the website and on our Facebook page and Twitter account, as usual.


Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday, March 1, 2020: Dissent, Heresy, and Toleration

Dissenter of Sidmouth

Tolerance is a social rather than a religious virtue. A broad-minded view of the private belief of others undoubtedly makes for the happiness of society; but it is an attitude impossible for those whose personal religion is strong. For if we know that we have found the key and guiding principle of Life, we cannot allow our friends to flounder blindly in the darkness.

— Steven Runciman, The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy

Unitarianism and Universalism were both born in heresy, challenges to the beliefs and mores of the world around them.

Welcome before prelude

Good morning and welcome to West Fork Unitarian Universalists. I’m Robert and I feel blessed to serve this congregation as a lay leader. I’m glad to see all of you here today.

Thank you for joining us.

Let us use the prelude for centering. We are about to enter sacred time. We are about to make this time and this place sacred by our presence and intention.

Please silence your phones… and as you do so, I invite us also to turn down the volume on our fears; to remove our masks; and to loosen the armor around our hearts.

Breathe.

Let go of the expectations placed on you by others—and those they taught you to place on yourself.

Drop the guilt and the shame, not to shirk accountability, but in honest expectation of the possibility of forgiveness.

Let go of the thing you said the other day. Let go of the thing you dread next week. Be here, in this moment. Breathe, here.

Prelude Belief – John Mayer

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Sunday, December 8, 2019: Quillen Shinn’s Travels

October’s theme was “Belonging.” Sometimes, when most people around us seem to believe differently, we feel we don’t belong. Unitarian Universalist seems like a new and different belief here, now – but for a century and more, Universalism was alive and well in our area, rising from the beliefs of some of our earliest settlers.  Rev. Quillen Shinn, born and raised in Bingamon, was a Universalist minister and well-traveled missionary, is known as the “St. Paul of the Universalist Church.” He has been credited with starting at least 40 churches and inspiring nearly 30 persons to enter the ministry. He also founded the Ferry Beach UU camp and conference center in Maine.

Lisa deGruyter will talk about Rev. Shinn and early Universalism in Harrison Co. – and we will sing the Quillen Shinn song which is still sung by campers at Ferry Beach.

[Postponed from October 26]

Join us for Worship:

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m.  at the Progressive Women’s Association Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

Classes and worship are replaced by Spiritual Outings on the first Sunday of each month during the summer, with brief worship, a potluck picnic, and outdoor activities. The schedule is in the sidebar.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Children are welcome.  There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information

or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday, October 27, 2019: Quillen Shinn’s Travels

This month’s theme is “Belonging.” Sometimes, when most people around us seem to believe differently, we feel we don’t belong. Unitarian Universalist seems like a new and different belief here, now – but for a century and more, Universalism was alive and well in our area, rising from the beliefs of some of our earliest settlers.  Rev. Quillen Shinn, born and raised in Bingamon, was a Universalist minister and well-traveled missionary, is known as the “St. Paul of the Universalist Church.” He has been credited with starting at least 40 churches and inspiring nearly 30 persons to enter the ministry. He also founded the Ferry Beach UU camp and conference center in Maine.

Lisa deGruyter will talk about Rev. Shinn and early Universalism in Harrison Co. – and we will sing the Quillen Shinn song which is still sung by campers at Ferry Beach.

Join us for Worship:

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m.  at the Progressive Women’s Association Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

Classes and worship are replaced by Spiritual Outings on the first Sunday of each month during the summer, with brief worship, a potluck picnic, and outdoor activities. The schedule is in the sidebar.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Children are welcome.  There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information

or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday, August 25, 2019: Wealth and Philanthropy

Pullman crushing the workers

This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: … — the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.

— from “The Gospel of Wealth”, 1889, by Andrew Carnegie.

Prelude: City of New Orleans — Steve Goodman

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Sunday, June 30, 2019: Reason as a Spiritual Practice

Reasoning together about what we love, and about all the social implications and complexities of love, in continuous consultation, has been a built-in part from the very beginning of the free church tradition from which we Unitarian Universalists have come.
– Alice Blair Wesley, The Lay and Liberal Doctrine of the Church: The Spirit and the Promise of Our Covenant (Minns Lectures 2000-01)

Last week, one of the participants in our Dismas class Spirit in Practice asked if energy or belief was more important. We need both – we need to know how to direct our energy, and we need both compassion and reason to find that direction. Much of what we think of as spiritual practice is devoted to developing compassion or to seeing our interconnectedness. But developing reason so that we can judge causes and consequences is also vital. Lisa deGruyter will lead the service this week.

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Progressive Women’s Association Uptown Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Children are welcome. There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom. You may park on the south side of the building, which is marked reserved for the PWA.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday, June 23, 2019: The Song Remains the Same

Solidarity, Käthe Kollwitz

Unitarian Universalists have from time to time found themselves at the center of political and social issues. Robert Helfer will share some thoughts on a piece of this history and how it affects our present.

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Progressive Women’s Association Uptown Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Children are welcome. There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom. You may park on the south side of the building, which is marked reserved for the PWA.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302