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A liberal religious voice in the Central
Valley since 1953.
These are sermons by Rev. Grace Simons. She was our minister from
August 2001 until she retired in October 2011.
We also have sermons by Rev. Joe Cherry, our Interim Minister. Our Guests, who include clergy, lay people and
a rocket scientist.
[Ed Note: On the eve of her retirement, Rev. Grace gave two sermons,
one looking back, one looking forward. They are a set.]
Today and Tomorrow:
What can we say about our Fellowship and its place in our wider community?
Now that we'll be taking separate paths and engaging in separate ministries,
what do we need to hold close and what should be let go? What resources and
supplies will serve us well on the journeys ahead?
(October 23, 2011)
Yesterday and Today:
It's been nearly 10 and a half years since I came to serve as minister of UUFSC,
first arriving in early June, 2001. Let's look back at the way we were and how
far we've come. We've shared laughter and tears, achievements and setbacks.
We've worked on projects large and small. We've taken stands for love and
justice. We've learned a lot about who we are and what we can be.
(October 16, 2011)
The KJV is 400!:
That's the King James Version of the Bible, the most widely used and
distributed book in the world. Some of us remember passages from the KJV with
affection, comfort and honor. Some of us wish its importance would simply
wither away. Since that's not likely any time soon, let's take a look at the
KJV - its story and its influence. And what about all those other versions?
(September 25, 2011)
Renewing Roots and Wings:
Our familiar hymn, Spirit of Life, reminds us of the importance of
spiritual roots and wings - which we nurture here at UUFSC. What helped
to root you? What gave your spirit wings?
(September 11, 2011)
Definitely Human - Like It or Not!:
Fathers - and mothers too, of course - come with a range of strengths and failings.
After all, they, and we, are only human. As children we tend to idolize our fathers.
Then as we grow, we find they have foibles and faults. None of us had perfect
parents. None of us are perfect parents. How do we deal with that, especially if
the problems were significant?
(June 19, 2011.)
Open the Doors!:
Every congregation has doors. How will we use them? Closed for shelter or
safety? Open to welcome the newcomer and encourage members to adventure out?
Gated to allow a view but screen who comes and goes? Are there invitations to
those of other faiths or only prospective members? Are they swinging gates to
encourage movement - maybe enjoyment?
We'll look at the doors and thresholds of our faith. We often sing "Come,
come whoever you are." How do we understand ourselves as a religious community
with both welcome, belonging and neighbors?
(April 10, 2011)
[This is the sixth and last in the "House for Hope" series.]
Theologically Speaking, Who Are We?:
Continuing our "House for Hope" series, we turn this week to theological
anthropology. What's the nature of being human? How do we understand our mix
of abilities and limitations? How can we best live with one another? Where is
our inspiration and agency grounded? What about self-transcendence? A lot has
been written about these questions - we'll explore the more progressive
February 27, 2011)
[This is the fifth in the "House for Hope" series.]
We Don't Stand, We Move:
Once asked to explain where Universalists stood in America's religious
landscape after WW I, Lewis B Fisher, dean of Ryder Theological School said,
" ... we do not stand at all, we move." In some ways, it was a prediction
of the next 100 years in American religion. How does liberal theology address
perennial questions about God, Ultimate Reality, salvation, and why we might
need it? What does change? What stays the same? How can we fit them together?
(January 23, 2011)
[This is the fourth in the "House for Hope" series.]
What Dream Today?:
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Dream" speech is rebroadcast, in whole or in part,
every year at this time. His words rang out to assembled thousands and stand
as testament to his vision of the ways America might live up to its ideals,
its promise. More than praise, MLK would want us to carry the work forward.
What do we dream of today? What should we be dreaming of?
(January 16, 2011)
Religious Community in a Culture of "Me First":
How do we understand our congregation and other UU congregations? Our first
principle speaks of the worth of each person. Our seventh reminds us we're
interdependent with all that is. Our culture urges us to look out for Number 1.
But what about all those connections and interdependence? What about the
common good? And how will we relate to other faith communities?
(December 5, 2010)
[This is the third in the "House for Hope" series.]
Our Earthly Home:
Unitarian Universalism concentrates on our life together here on our Earth -
the place where we are born and will eventually die. We are part of the
interconnected web of Earth's complex systems. What are the implications for
the ways we live? Both our daily lives and our deep understandings are shaped
by the knowledge that we are at home here.
(October 24, 2010)
[This is the second in the "House for Hope" series.]
How Do We Decide?:
We make thousands of decisions, from small things like which shoes to wear
all the way through life changing issues and choices. UUs tend to like things
to make sense and we like to think that we make our decisions based on
rational considerations. But things don't always make sense and research
indicates that our decisions aren't really made by thoughtfully weighing the
pros and cons. So what's a good UU supposed to do with that?
(October 17, 2010)
A House for Hope:
A new book by the Revs John Buehrens and Rebecca Parker reminds us that
liberal religion is founded on love rather than fear and explores our message
of hope. They explain that we have a sound theological background and make the
case that knowing more about that grounding would go a long way to help UUs
be clearer and more confident in our faith tradition.
(September 26, 2010)
[This is the first in the "House for Hope" series.]
Religion, Values and Politics, Oh My!:
We're of (at least) two minds on these topics. Can they fit together? Should
they? If we don't live out our values, are they really values? On the other
hand, we get pretty outraged when folks from some other faith traditions
bring their religious positions into politics. Is that inconsistent? Are
there some guiding ideas and principles in the values and politics mix? I'll
argue that some key ideas which go back to the ancient Greeks can help us
sort things out.
(September 19, 2010)
Lives and Waters:
Rev. Grace reflects on our uniquely UU tradition of In Gathering and the
Water Ceremony, where we pour water symbolic of our summer adventures and
insights into a common container to symbolize our rededication to our
Fellowship and the ideals that unite us. She reminds us that we may be
more powerful than we like to believe.
(September 12, 2010)
News from the Wider UU World:
Rev. Grace reports what happened at the 2010 General Assembly; workshops,
wonderful worship services, changes to the UUA structure and a huge debate
over immigration as a moral issue.
(August 1, 2010)
Margaret Fuller: A Life Too Soon Ended
Margaret Fuller was part of the group of New England intellectual lights we call
the Transcendentalists. She was an ardent feminist as well as a linguist, teacher,
social critic, author and editor. This Sunday marks her 200th birthday. What can
she offer us today?
(May 23, 2010)
Have We Grown Up?
That's the title of Mike Durall's latest book. Durall says that developing
spiritual maturity is the underlying purpose of our congregations. What do you
suppose that means? How can we encourage spiritual growth if we accept each
other the way we are? Do we ever grow up completely? Should our congregations
adopt that old Army slogan - "Be all that you can be!" - as spiritual advice?
(March 7, 2010)
A recent opinion column in the New York Times says that our basic human pleasures
are food, sex and giving. Maybe that last is a surprise to you. But when you look
more closely, we all want to be generous people - people who share the gifts of
life in their many forms. I suspect it's actually about love - which we only get
when we give it away.
(February 28, 2010)
A Time for War, A Time for Peace
President Obama invoked the "Just War" tradition when he accepted the Nobel
Peace Prize last month. There's no small irony in receiving the prize while
in the midst of fighting two wars. What is Just War theory? How does it
relate to peacemaking? Are they opposites? Why is it so hard for people
to live in peace? Can we do anything to encourage an outbreak of peace?
(January 24, 2010)
Spreading the Word
How can we spread the word of Unitarian Universalism without being pushy?
Without coming off as a zealot? Surely there's ground between secrecy and
proselytizing! Let's find that! Do you remember when we talked about
"elevator speeches"? Maybe it's time to polish them up. When you say you're
a Unitarian Universalist and get a blank stare in return, what can you say
about us? What should you say?
(January 10, 2010)
Truth and Fiction: Slanting Our Stories
You’ve often heard me say that Thanksgiving is about my favorite
holiday. Yet my visit to Plymouth Plantation this summer set me to
wondering about how far from reality the common Thanksgiving story
has wandered. Why do we seem so reluctant to admit the misdeeds of
our ancestors? And do the real stories get in the way of our
ability to be thankful?
(November 22, 2009)
From Braided Roots
It’s no secret that Unitarian Universalism is quite a bit different
from most Western faiths. Perhaps some the reasons can be found in
the lived experience of our early European ancestors. Parts of
Hungary, Transylvania and the more liberal of the Ottomans enjoyed
a multi-religious culture that shaped Unitarian history. It offers
lessons for us today.
(November 8, 2009)
Each One Unique
On the Day of the Dead - "El Dia de los Muertos"
Rev. Grace talks about the place of death in our society; how we
honor those we love who have died and how to recognize our own
mortality. Each life is unique. So is each death.
(November 1, 2009)
Our Chosen Faith
Our religious community is very much formed by our choices. This
morning's title is borrowed from a book of personal essays about
the reasons behind the essayist's choice to be a UU. What about
us? Why are we here? What are our hopes for this chosen faith
and for this congregation?
(September 20, 2009)
We celebrated Father's Day by taking a look at the choices that go into being
a great Dad. Each man has to make them for himself, and does it in his own way.
Sometimes others understand, and sometimes not. Recently I read the claim,
"Every father has a dream for his family." How do these dreams guide the
choices of fathering?
(June 21, 2009)
Drawing from two recent books, a little theology and our UU Principles, Rev.
Grace looks at the idea of security in increasingly complex and unpredictable
world. How can we be secure when 'the unthinkable' seems to happen so often?
What can help us to meet challenges? To learn and change because of them?
(May 31, 2009)
This is Your Brain on War
The war in Iraq has continued for six long years now, and hostilities in
Afghanistan even longer. What's the cost - besides dollars and lives - in
lingering mental/psychological effects? And how are we shaped by the seeming
inevitability of warfare? How do we unknowingly contribute to it?
(March 22, 2009)
Our Fellowship Heritage
UUF of SC has its own history. It intersects with the history of the Fellowship
Movement of the American Unitarian Association - which established new groups,
the Fellowships, across the US but especially outside New England and the
Mid-Atlantic. This effort lasted about 20 years and started this congregation,
along with the ones in Fresno, Livermore, Lubbock, Honolulu - and Cape Cod.
In some ways we are unique, in others, typical. Now all of us are deciding
what parts of that heritage we want to embrace and which ones are better
suited to that earlier day.
(February 22, 2009)
So What is a Convenantal Religion?
You have often heard me say that we covenant to walk our religious journeys
together. What does it mean to be in covenant? What does it ask of us? How
do we connect to other UU congregations? As always, history plays a part.
We’ll look at the ways all this comes together.
(January 11, 2009)
Where Do We Come From?
A quick, not-too-dirty tracing of our tradition. Our story goes back
centuries, maybe millennia depending on what you include. This Sunday
is closest to Frances Dávid's birthday and is celebrated by Unitarians
in Transylvania, whose church he founded. It seems like a good time
to look at our roots - both American and Trans-Atlantic.
(November 16, 2008)
UU Myths and Sacred Cows
Does "anything go" with UUs? Do we have limits or boundaries?
Does our breadth of theology mean we're completely different
from other churches? Do we overdo our individualism? Maybe.
(April 6, 2008)
Out of Slavery
A new book, entitled "Slave No More" prints recently
discovered journals of two men who escaped from slavery about
the time of the Civil War. Their accounts are remarkable
tales of determination, perseverance and courage. Even the
finding of their accounts are remarkable tales.
(February 3, 2008)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County
2172 Kiernan Avenue
Modesto, California See a map
We have no mail service on Kiernan;
PO Box 1000
Salida, CA 95368
We are a liberal church and the only UU congregation in Stanislaus county.
We serve Ceres, Denair, Escalon, Hickman, Hughson, Keyes, Manteca, Modesto,
Oakdale, Patterson, Ripon, Riverbank, Salida, Turlock and Waterford.
We welcome Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Deists, Free-thinkers,
Humanists, Jews, Pagans, Theists, Wiccans, and those who seek their own spiritual
path. We welcome people without regard to race, physical ability, ethnicity or