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A liberal religious voice in the Central
Valley since 1953.
These are sermons from guest speakers; lay members of our congregation,
visiting ministers and people from the wider community.
We also have sermons by Rev. Joe Cherry, our Interim Minister. Rev. Grace Simons, who retired in
All of the opinions expressed are those of the authors. We may not
agree with what they say, but we will defend their right to say it.
If you would like to present one of these to your group, in
any form, please contact us via E-mail:
We will give permission; we just like to know how many people use these.
Marcia Gilbert. Freedom is many words, many ideas, many struggles. And it
is worth fighting for. But it ISN'T just another word.
(April 28, 2013)
[Ed. Note: The church theme for April 2013 was "Freedom". Two guest speakers
took the phrase from "Me and Bobbi McGee" as their theme, but these sermons are
not the for and against sides of a debate.]
Freedom Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose:
S. Grace. A lady who describes herself as "Unitarian Universalist with Taoist
leanings, Buddhist practices, Pagan holidays, feminist humanist vegan gluten free
earth muffin LGBT supporting liberal sassypants ideals." talks about her fear of
losing her freedom if she gained a community.
(April 14, 2013)
We Are the Redeemers:
Helen Million. All of us are responsible for our own redemption and
together we have a communal responsibility for our culture.
(March 10, 2013)
Meditation on Evil:
As she grew older and wiser, Mary Lee realized that Evil comes in all shades
of grey, and always has a human face: "But the older I get the more ambiguity
seeps into the edges of these concepts, like the grey in my hair and the
arthritis in my knees. ... Years of life collect in layers like fallen leaves,
creating complexity and deepening the mystery that as a young person I once
thought I would understand."
(February 11, 2013)
What the Buddha Says about Authority:
Lori Wong, Leader of Insight Meditation Modesto, shared a few of the Buddha's
teachings about authority, how we know what is true, what is the basis for
giving someone authority, and how we can be our own authority.
(January 27, 2013)
Ted Pack starts with the Shaker hymn, moves on to mission statements,
then discusses covenants of right relations with teeth in them.
(November 25, 2012)
Three talks by by Venerable Pannavati
This is a little different. Venerable Dr. Pannavati, a yogini, former Christian pastor,
founding Co-Abbot of the
Embracing Simplicity Hermitage, and a founding director of Sisters of
Compassionate Wisdom (a 21st century trans-lineage Buddhist order), spoke
to us twice (a different topic at each of our two services), and spoke to
a group that afternoon. StanUU.org does not, as of October 2012, have podcasts.
Lori Wong very kindly recorded all three talks and loaded them to her web site,
Insight Meditation Modesto
which now has
Overcoming Fear (the 9 am service)
Riding the Paradox (the 11 am service)
Afternoon with Ven. Pannavati
She also recorded and loaded our "Time for All Ages" Story: The Crow-Birth –
a Jataka Tale, translated by Margo McLaughlin, read by Dane Oliviera.
All three are in downloadable mp3 or streaming audio. Thanks, Lori!
Three members share their own creation stories. How would you recast the
creation story to highlight that which is most important to you? Jesse
Bryant and two other guests share their stories. (October 21, 2012)
Art as a Spiritual Path
Artist Helen Million spoke about her life's path, from a farm destroyed by
a tornado, through a transforming visit to the Chicago Art Museum to
performance art in Los Angeles. She tells us how she and Kevin painted
our 18,000-gallon water tank, too. (August, 2012)
From PK To My Blue Boat Home
Kathryn Swain talked about her spiritual journey from a Methodist
preacher's daughter through the "Church of the Month Club" to her
"Blue Boat Home". (July 22, 2012)
Gifts are a Path to Building Community and Opening Hearts
We have many gifts that we can offer. Some gifts can be very simple, but
the act of giving a gift opens our hearts and breaks down walls of
separation, building community. In turn, our community has gifts to
offer us. Receiving a gift requires us to open our hands and our hearts
and gives rise to gratitude, which encourages us to give again.
(July 15, 2012)
Following the sun, people migrate. Following work, wages, and family security,
people migrate. A piece of paper or a tall fence will not stop this relentless
movement. Nor will the Border Patrol nor the so-called Patriots, nor the talking
heads on Fox Network.
(July 1, 2012)
Memorial Day 2012
Kathryn Swain talks about the loss of two soldiers who served in Viet Nam.
She considers them casualties of the war, although they died in the USA.
(May 27, 2012)
A Covenantal Faith
As Unitarian Universalists, our religious community is not based on a covenant
with God, like the Ten Commandments. Instead we covenant with one another. Our
covenants are at the core of our religious identity and describe the type of
community we aspire to be. What does it mean to be a covenantal community? How
might covenants help us navigate times of change? And what happens when we break
our covenants with each other? (March 11, 2012)
Living Ishfully Ever After
William Dufford (Levwood). The ordinary moments of our lives have a splendor
that is extraordinary. And our ordinary selves are extraordinary as well, just
the way they are. Still, sometimes we lose sight of the wonder of the everyday
and the uncommon grandeur of each ordinary being. "Living ishfully" is a way
to recapture our lost sense of wonder, celebration, and engaged presence within
each radiant moment. (January 15, 2012)
Things You'll Never See
Ted Pack. Ted was web master for UU Mendocino. Rick Childs, their former lay
leader, wrote about a conversation he had with his contractor: "[He] told me:
'There are things that you'll never see in your house'." Things like more nails
than required by the building code; stronger bracing where he thought it would
help, should a bad earthquake hit ...
This struck a chord with Ted, who has put a lot of small things into the UUF
of SC web site, at considerable expense in time; and it leads to a spiritual
lesson. (November 27, 2011)
The Rest of the Story
"The future of the liberal church is almost totally dependent on two factors;
great congregations (whether large or small) and effective, dedicated ministers.
The strangest feature of their relationship is that they create one another."
(Rev. Jack Mendelsohn)
Rev. Jeanelyse Doran Adams took this as her text for her sermon on Rev. Grace
Simons' last day of work. (October 30, 2011)
The Implications of a Human Shaped Biosphere
David Simons. Marks of humanity can be found in almost every part of the
Interdependent Web of Life on Earth. As extinction follows extinction, and as
humanity occupies an ever increasing share of the biosphere, what will life be
like for our posterity? Can we hope to shape the world to provide for 10
billion people? What sort of world would it be? Dr. Simons peered toward
the 22nd Century and the implication for his understanding of the meaning
(August 28, 2011)
All You Need Is Love
Lori Wong. The Dalai Lama says "My religion is simple. My religion is
kindness." Lori talks about the practice of loving kindness and how it
can be a simple, but radical act that can change the world.
(July 10, 2011)
Thanks Be to Life - It's May!
We will give thanks to life as we celebrate with floral abundance, with
bright garments, with fresh garden delights and spirited music!
(May 1, 2011).
UUs and the Peace Corps
As of February 2011 our fellowship had 135 members, 10 of whom were Returned
Peace Corps Volunteers. That is 140 times the national average. What is it about
Unitarian Universalism that attracts RPCVs, or what is it about the Peace Corps
that attracts UUs? Five of our RPCVs spoke, a week before the Peace Corps' 50th
birthday. (February 20, 2011).
Men, Women and Communication
Ted Pack discusses the differences in the way men and women communicate, and the
problems that arise when they think their spouse is speaking their language.
Illustrated with examples from his checkered past. (November 28, 2010).
On Being an Individual in a Collective
Lin Myers. Some musings about how our religious roots inform how we work together (or
not) and how we honor collective individualism. (September 5, 2010).
This Is Our Only Home
Dr. David Simons. We are daunted by the destructive forces of hurricanes,
tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, but they pale in comparison to the
hazards of other parts of our Universe. Dr. Simons brings together
some of the information about conditions and forces "off-earth." He
reminds us that our Earth is indeed a uniquely wonderful location and
speaks of the importance of being environmentally responsible. (August 29, 2010).
A Caring Economy
Pat Egenberger. In Riane Eisler's book, The Real Wealth of Nations
she postulates that "Economic systems should promote human welfare and human
happiness." She envisions ways of assessing economic health that include the
values of caring for each other and the planet. Join us in starting a new
conversation about a Gross National Product that incorporates what is most
important for us to thrive and survive. (July 25, 2010)
Rev. Keith Kron. For 10 years, Rev. Kron was the director of the UUA's
Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns. He writes:
"I was asked by someone upon learning I was a minister, if I were "deeply
religious." Not surprisingly I gave her multiple answers to the question. In
25 years of being a Unitarian Universalist, and having been in over 400 UU
congregations, I've learned a lot about our faith and about me.
How have we changed in 25 years and where do we need to go? What has a minister
(who may or may not be deeply religious) who's been from Fairbanks to Miami and
from Newfoundland to Hawai'i learned about what it means to be a Unitarian
Universalist ?" (March 28, 2010)
Ted Pack. What is a good guy? What impels people to do the right thing? What
is the right thing? Readings from "The Maltese Falcon", Leviticus, Mark and
others. (November 29, 2009)
Ramblings from the Sage
Fred Herman. He touched on the invention of God and a few of its more profound
absurdities. It cannot be described in a single precis, but is a rambling,
disjointed diatribe on some of Fred's favorite shibboleths. A better title might
be "A Condensed History and Fuller Explanation of Dam' near Everything."
Fred writes that he is "a retired journalist and professional trouble-maker,
especially active in areas of peace, environment, civil and reproductive rights."
(September 6, 2009)
The Modern Creation Story
David J. Simons. David frequently hears his work in physics and atmospheric
science described as cold, mechanical and lacking in deeper appreciation. He'll
talk about ways in which understanding the complexity of the universe and its
processes opens up a particularly expansive and nuanced sense of awe.
(August 23, 2009)
Deeds, not Creeds
Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig. Our commitment to social justice didn't come out
of nowhere. Learn about the historical movement that first taught us what
we do to save the world matters much more than what we believe.
(March 15, 2009)
Freedom is Coming?
Rev. Keith Kron. Freedom is coming! It's a song of hope. Harvey Milk was
clear you had to give people hope. What hope do we as Unitarian Universalist
have given the recent setbacks for equality? It is our faith as UUs that may
be the hope we need and need to share with the world. The Rev Keith Kron is
the UUA's Director of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns.
(December 7, 2008)
Religious Freedom: Reports from the Culture Wars
Dr. David Simons. Americans have been arguing over freedom of conscience
since the colonies were established. For most of us, our American history
lessons didn't give the whole picture. It's much more complex than we
realize. But many of today's controversies invoke the founder's original
intent. He discusses the contrasting views from the right and left. (August 24, 2008)
What I Learned on my Summer Vacation
by Mary Randall. Last winter Mary completed a four-month trip
around the world. She shared some of her adventures, insights
and experiences. (July 13, 2008)
In the Margin of Society
Stephanie Stolte is a lesbian who is generally perceived as
white, though she is of mixed racial heritage. This is a powerful
pulpit editorial, not a full-length sermon. (May 25, 2008)
What is a Devout Unitarian Universalist?
Ted Pack answers questions about Unitarian Universalists on
Yahoo! Answers. Some of the common misperceptions about our faith
are that we're a cult, that we are "the church that doesn't believe
in anything" and that a "devout Unitarian Universalist" is a
contradiction in terms. See how he spreads light in the darkness.
(November 25, 2007)
The Radical Bible
What is the Bible's message to the modern world? Eugene Conrotto
has adapted a Reader's Theater presentation from The Radical Bible,
published in Germany in 1989 under the original title "Bibel
Provokative". Focus on this Labor Day Weekend will be justice and
the Third World. (September 2, 2007)
How Do I Decide?
Dr. David Simons.
With ever-increasing discovery, development and information available,
we can't be experts on the many issues and questions that face us. We
still need to make decisions, though, and so we often depend on opinions
from people we trust. How do we choose those people? How can we be confident
about our choices? How do we make decisions on the issues that affect our
lives and our society? (August 19, 2007)
Our Four Natural Enemies
Rev. Bill Greer and Aynslie Frederickson.
Most of us see the approach to the end of our lives as primarily concerned
with two issues: memorializing our wishes with regard to the transfer of
assets we have accumulated; and bringing our relationships with
those we care about or love into a current condition by encouraging the
expression of important, as yet undelivered, messages (feelings and
conclusions). The ancient Yaqui wisdom considers a person's interior
preparation for this transition (death) as far more important!
(July 22, 2007)
The Morality of Atheism
Pam Loyd. It is common in our culture for "religious" people to claim that
"godless atheists" are not moral and that a belief in God is required in
order to be moral. But the truth is that atheists, because they don't believe
in a God, must search for their personal values from a different source -
which often results in a higher level of moral development. (May 27, 2007)
Eve Was Framed
Lin Myers, a professor of psychology who specializes in human
sexuality, brings her considerable talents to bear on "the insidious
negative messages about women that are probably more a part of all our
thinking than we would care to admit." She quotes from Genesis and Freud,
just in time for Mother's Day. (May 13, 2007)
Health Care Insurance:
Working Together to Ensure the Inherent Worth and Dignity of all People
Julie Bates, AARP, spoke about health care for Californians. AARP is
coordinating a statewide coalition to ensure passage of a workable
health care proposal this year. Julie is a member of the UU Church in Stockton,
as well as the Assistant Director for AARP in California. (April 29, 2007)
Zen, UU and Me
The heart of Zen Buddhism is the practice of silent meditation. "Zen" means
meditation, and Jim Robison has been involved with this practice for about
forty years. About ten years ago, Jim's late wife Jerry "dragged" him into
Unitarian Universalism. Zen Buddhists who meditate sit for hours, days, even
weeks in virtual silence. UU's, on the other hand, are not exactly famous
for quietly watching the grass grow. Can you even get a UU to sit down and
shut up? It can get a little tense between Jim's inner Buddhist and his
inner UU. Can this marriage be saved? (April 15, 2007)
The Joke's on UU
We had an all-humor service on April Fool's Day.
A religion should be able to laugh at itself once in a while. (April 1, 2007)
Standing up to Fight Genocide in Darfur
Tim Nonn is the Director of Judgment on Genocide.
"The world cannot live with genocide," Nonn says. "A regime that is
criminal to its core, led by men responsible for 500,000 deaths of
innocent civilians and 3.5 million displaced persons, cannot be allowed
to commit crimes against its own people with impunity." Nonn works with
the Bay Area Darfur Coalition and many other key players. (March 25, 2007)
Dr. David Simons gives a short treatise on the critical need to proliferate
a rational religious world view independent of any particular understanding
of deity. "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris has catalyzed my thinking on the
appropriateness of "doctrine based" understanding of the Human place in the
Universe and our relationship to the rest of "creation". I will explore the
dangers that doctrine-based thinking presents in our shrinking modern world,
and compare the doctrine-based world view to a possible rational religious
world view, which I believe is inherent in our developing Unitarian
Universalist approach to religious understanding. (August 20, 2006)
Safehouse: Leaving Prostitution
Sister Rosina Conrotto writes: ". . . that is what we try to do at
SafeHouse: to love our women, to let them know that they are not judged
or condemned, to restore within them a sense of self worth. We respect
their feelings and emotions." (July 9, 2006)
Bill Petersen: an Eulogy
Fred Herman tells us about our first full-time minister. He spoke at
Rev. Petersen's memorial in Santa Rosa in October 2003, but it took us
until February 2006 to get a copy up.
Ted Pack is one of those agnostics we mention on our
He discusses the nature of God, his relationship with the Lord, the
nature of our church and our relationship with each other. He uses two
vivid metaphors and an underwear joke.
(November 27, 2005)
Musings on income disparity in America today
Dr. David Simons examines income trends over the past fifty years and discusses the
implications for inter-generational class mobility and their social and ethical
implications. Are we becoming a more rigidly stratified society and should we care?
(August 21, 2005)
What Does Being a Unitarian-Universalist
Mean to You?
After we nailed what America meant to us, we tried for what UUism meant to us.
Our coordinator read some quotes about being a UU, then asked the congregation what
being a UU meant to them. Not all faiths ask their members about their beliefs.
Cotton Mather, for instance, never asked his congregation about predestination.
(July 31, 2005)
Lessons Learned from an Old Dying Dog
Debra Heins: A lifetime is more than the sum of its parts. As beings touch
each other, they leave indelible prints that become a part of each other's
psyche, and each print becomes incorporated as our own. The past many months
have been intense for me with new and renewed experiences. I will share what
I've learned. (May 22, 2005)
Riptides and World Religions
Kathleen Ennis. The instructions for surviving a rip tide may help if
a personal catastrophe threatens to sweep you away.
(January 9, 2005)
Global Warming - Why Should We Worry?
Dr. David Simons: We still hear differing opinions from scientists about global
warming. David is a physicist with an interest in the topic. He gives the
reasons for dispute and likely results. If worry is warranted, so are some
definite actions. (August 15, 2004)
Reclaiming and Making It Our Own
Sharon Arpoika. Many UU's feel uncomfortable with or resist the use of traditional
religious language. Sharon explores the idea that a re-examination of this language
might add meaning to our lives. (July 25, 2004)
Adventures of a UU Web Master
Ted Pack. One-eyed, two-eyed, three-eyed and four-eyed geeks. Elly Mae at
Redneck.com, who wanted "pitchers from the Bible". An underwear joke.
Humbling questions. Spiritual growth. It is all here. (November 30, 2003)
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