UUFC President’s Letter April 24, 2024

Greetings, UUFC Members and Friends,

First, I must remember longtime Friend of the Fellowship, Colonel Ralph Puckett, who died April 7.  His funeral was held at the National Infantry Museum on April 20.  He will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on April 28.   The joint resolution by Schumer and Johnson reads in part, “The extraordinary valor of Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. represents the best of the 1.7 million Americans who left home to fight for freedom in the Korean War.  He demonstrated tireless sacrifice for our country and his fellow Rangers and is an exceptional model for service members and civilians alike.”  We send our condolences to Jean and the family.  I hope you all remember their last visit to our Fellowship when Jean offered us a Sunday talk to describe how and why Col. Puckett received the Medal of Honor from President Joe Biden in 2021 and how she found community resources to help her make the trip with him to Washington.

Since we have so much to offer, we need to keep everyone aware of what is going on at UUFC.  Amanda Jones has volunteered to help with social media presence.  Be sure to thank her and all our volunteers as we work to build our network of support and social interaction in connection with our shared values.  Don’t forget to check the website at uucolumbusga.org and our FaceBook page regularly or you will surely miss something.

With this in mind, as we move into late spring, we are focusing on our Seventh Principle, just as one would expect.

Let’s start with the flowers—Stephen Johnson will discuss his mission with our unique endangered species that flourish in our local river ecosystems this Sunday. His generosity and kindness has helped educate visitors to his property from near and far about the importance of preserving these beautiful native flowers in their delicate habitat along Flat Shoals Creek.

We celebrate flowers and our UU history of promoting peace and serenity through nature with our Flower Ceremony on May 12, which is also Mother’s Day.  I always enjoy the chance to facilitate this ceremony, which we have offered in many versions through the years.  It dates back to a ceremony created by Norbert Capek (1870-1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced this special service to that church on June 4, 1923, as a symbolic ritual that would bind people more closely together.  For this year’s service, we will follow Rev. Capek’s original model—to bring a flower from your garden or from the woods or anywhere, place it in a large vase as you enter Grace Hall, and take a flower from that same vase as you leave.  We will sing, share stories about gardens, and celebrate our fellowship’s connection with nature and with each other. 

To continue our focus on the Seventh Principle, Ron has applied for an energy audit with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL—gipl.org), “a nonprofit that equips communities of faith to organize and implement practical climate solutions.”  They “assist congregations to establish green practices to drive environmental justice and lower their carbon footprints” as well as food and water waste.  They have already 432 energy audits in Georgia and they have funded more than one million dollars for 469 energy projects.   This first assessment at UUFC will evaluate our electricity, gas and water usage to help us become more efficient.  This also includes evaluating our buildings for solar panels and possible grant funding to help us expand and reach our Seventh Principle goals.  The Board has been discussing this project for about five months.  Based on Ron’s research and reports from other local churches regarding their positive results, the Board  has already approved the $600 assessment fee to GIPL to proceed.  Please let Ron know if you are interested in working with the UUFC Green Team on this important initiative.

Look for outdoor celebrations—Cinco de Mayo First Sunday luncheon will be held in our pavilion, weather permitting.  Earth-Centered Spirituality Group will celebrate Beltane around the Meditation Garden from 6 -8 pm—more to come on that event.  And it isn’t too late to be thinking about Trunk or Treat—we all had fun last year.  Amanda Jones wants to begin planning for this event on October 27. She will need lots of volunteers for this, so let her know asap that you are willing to help out.  This event puts our fellowship out in the community in a way that nothing else can.  We had about 100 kids and families milling through the parking lot and Meditation Garden and pavilion.  It’s a great way to let people know that we are here and we have fun.

Buddhist Studies and Meditation practice continues every Saturday at 11 and every first Sunday at 10.  Amanda and Amos are taking one Saturday each month to offer a Zen tradition perspective on Buddhism.  This follows Tich Nat Hahn’s Plum Village approach to Beloved Community.  Joanie’s Tibetan Buddhist lineage is fundamentally the same, with the emphasis on loving kindness, compassion and devotion.  These two paths approach the Buddha’s teachings from some cultural and historical differences, but don’t change the major message.  We all enjoyed Joanie’s April 21 program, “Be a Lamp Unto Yourself,” an important message from all Buddhist traditions.

Social Action designated our recipient for “Give Away the Plate” Sunday, April 21, as the National Kidney Foundation Georgia.  They fund dialysis and kidney transplants.  The treasurer reported that $350 was donated in honor of new member Kelsey Rochefort.    May GATP is for the NAACP scholarship fund. 

We hope the doorbell at the side door ramp has been resolved. Ron and Connie have donated new chime speaker, and several members have tested it.

Signs have been installed for gender-neutral restrooms upstairs in Grace Hall and at both restrooms in the Meeting House.

Following a burn incident on March 17, we addressed the issue with coffee pot safety, including discarding large cups and placing coffee urns on solid 2” painted wooden bases that were supplied by Bill Turman.   These steps seem to have fixed the issue.

Judy Barnett provided First Aid Kits and they’ve been placed in the Children’s Room upstairs, the pavilion, the Meeting House, and in the Great Hall on top of the defibrillator.

There is more to do.  We must designate one or two “First Aiders,” plan AED and first aid training for everyone, make sure that Safety guidelines and protocols are provided to Brenda for handbook. 

Later this summer, the Board will discuss plans for safety drills and evacuation plans. We may ask a public safety officer to present. 

One last thing—I lost my old Iphone and about three months of text messages seem to have disappeared with it.  We still need to update the PowerPoint presentation in the conversation area for Sunday mornings to cut down on need for lengthy announcements and to feature pictures of things going on around the Fellowship.  Please resend pictures your pictures, OR email them to me if you have any and haven’t emailed them already.  Those emails are still in my account.

I look forward to seeing you all in and around the UUFC campus.  It’s time to get outside and play, eat, drink, talk, sing and enjoy the spring.

Thanks for joining us all on this journey,

Connie Ussery, President

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus