Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Peace is Something We Do

This piece was written in September 2011, shortly after the floods caused by Hurricane Irene.  I could have written it this week. 

At the time, I was especially touched by how our teaching teams of volunteers found ways to put their faith in action, show up every week, and quietly work together behind the scenes.

As much as we wish it wasn't true, we can not protect our children from witnessing destruction, violence, and despair. We must, therefore, counterbalance those images with opportunities to observe, appreciate, and join people working for peace and justice.

Peace is Something We Do

On a cold January day in 2003, my sister and I joined tens of thousands as we marched for peace on the streets of Washington.  Beside me, my sister began the familiar chant, "Tell me what democracy looks like."  "This is what democracy looks like," the crowd answered back. I have often wondered what the response would have been if we had begun the chant with, "Tell me what peacemaking looks like."
If you ask a group of children to draw pictures of what war looks like, they are ready with disturbing details, including death, destruction, and fear. They can also create long lists of the weapons and tools of war.  War is something people do.
Ask them to draw pictures of peace, and you usually get a sunny day filled with trees, mountains, butterflies, and flowers devoid of human inhabitants.  Ask them to describe the tools of peace, and they are stumped.  Yet peace, too, is something people do.
We need to help our children and each other imagine a place for human beings in the drawings of peace.  We all need to learn to recognize that, among the peacemaking tools, we may find shovels, rubber gloves, pencils, calendars, and countless other everyday implements.
In the last few months, we have seen, heard, or taken part in innumerable examples of peacemaking as strangers and friends have helped those affected by the flood muck out, clean up, and sort out the scattered, waterlogged pieces of their lives.  In giving of their time, energy, compassion, and themselves, our fellow Vermonters are working for peace with tools that are as common as trash bags, cleaning supplies, and sweat.
Tools for Peacemaking
Still Life Outside Bethany Church July 2023

In our church, I have also been blessed and encouraged by the simple acts of peacemaking that I've seen as the members of our teaching teams work together toward a common goal.  These people are often meeting for the first time. Yet, they have willingly come together, shifting the schedules of their lives, to collaborate and compromise on lessons, responsibilities, and calendars. This sacred dance of peacemaking is breathtaking to witness.
What are your implements for creating peace... spreading love, hope, life, comfort, and caring...for making manifest our mission statement?  Knitting needles? Cooking spoons? Hammers?  Cleaning cloths?  Sunday school lessons?  What do you use?
Peace is something we do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

We Are The Church

This week we are once again meeting at the North Branch Nature Center on Elm Street just north of Montpelier.  We will gather at 10:00 for worship and community. In the meantime, the doors to our building remain closed as repairs are made. For the second time in three years those gloriously tall doors have been locked and shuttered. Our building, like nearly every church in town was damaged by the July flood.  We haven't returned the sign on the front lawn but the sentiment remains.  Our doors are closed but our church is open.  In the darkest days of the pandemic and during the heartbreak of the flood we have found ways to be together.  As much as we love our stalwart building and all the memories that dwell within its is not the church.  We are the church!  The people are the church!

We are reminded when we join with the children to sing:

I am the church.  You are the church.  We are the church together.  All of us together.  Every single one. We are the church together.

The church is not a building.  The church is not a steeple.  The church is not a resting place.  The church is the people.

I am the church.  You are the church.  We are the church together.  All of us together.  Every single one. We are the church together.

And so...once again we bring the church with us as we gather in a building that is not our own to sing, smile, listen, learn, think, and rub shoulders with all those who with us are the church.

Remember...we will meet at 10:00.  Children please dress warmly...autumn is in the air.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Summer Events

 Thank you for your interest in connecting this summer. Below you'll find more details!

Cookout for UCM Families & LSE Volunteers

Wednesday June 22nd 5:30-7pm 

New Shelter Hubbard Park

Let us feed you a nice dinner, make space for parents, caregivers, volunteers and children to fill their bellies and be together. Childcare support will be provided to keep young folks busy and engaged. We strongly encourage you to RSVP here so that we have enough food, can send you reminders, and any updates like weather contingencies. (Rain date: 6/23 in the churchyard) Questions can be sent to

All Ages Camping Weekend - Stay overnight or be a day visitor!

Kettle Pond State Park in Groton State Forest ~ July 8-10th

Want to connect with others from UCM? Enjoy the peaceful call of the loons at night after a fun evening around a campfire?  Register today to have your own lean-to within our pre-reserved group sites. 11 lean-to’s total. Activities like ukelele lessons and an informal worship service with Rev. Joan and others will be options for either day visitors or those staying all weekend.  

Read the information sheet here for more details, and register online via this form.

If you have questions not answered on the info sheet, or to volunteer, please contact Jeremy Beaudry ( to find out how you can help.

Summer Fun at 

Wrightsville Reservoir

Sunday August 14, 11:30-2pm

Families with children and youth, and LSE volunteers are invited for a day at the beach at Wrightsville Reservoir. We’ve reserved the small shelter and there is lots of space to spread out on the beach. Bring a picnic if you’d like (grills available). We’re hoping to offer a youth-led disc golf and/or a nature walk on the trails. Our group rate includes Boat Rentals at 25% off, and Disc Golf is only $1.00 extra. 

Please fill out this form to register.  (It will help us keep you updated of any changes, AND send you a reminder email.) 

Summer reading at UCM

The Lifespan Spiritual Exploration library has great books on a variety of topics for All Ages–spiritual practices, UU history, gender, environment, antiracism, death, meditations, etc.  Picture books and middle level readers too.  Currently located in the School St. entryway and available whenever the building is open (Sunday meditation gatherings). You can ring the doorbell to see if anyone is in during the week, or call the office and set-up a time when someone will definitely be there.  Try to just have a book out for 3-4 weeks (use the sign-out sheet please). Enjoy your summer reading!

Music/Choir Update

UCM Summer Drop-in Choir!

 4 Thursdays.  July 14th:  3:30-5:00 pm.    July 28th, August 4th and August 11th.      6:30-8:00 pm.

All ages and abilities welcome! Come to a single session, or all of them!

For past and present choir members, and anyone who likes to sing with others.  No commitment or music reading ability necessary.


During the first half of each session we will learn and sing satisfying, easy to learn multi-part songs that don’t require music reading skills. 

During the second half of each session we will explore music that we possibly might sing during the church year. 

We might also learn something to sing at our Vespers services on July 15th and August 12th.

All of it will be informal and low-key. 

You are welcome to attend just the first part of the rehearsal or the whole thing. 


We will plan to meet in the vestry at the church, but might possibly sometimes meet outdoors, at a location to be determined.  Check the UCM calendar for updates on location, or contact Director of Music Donia Prince with any questions at

LSE Slideshow for 2021-2022: Simple Blessings

 Many thanks to all the volunteers and participants who helped make these programs happen.  What a feat to have made it through another full church year impacted by COVID!  We could not have done it without you!

Click the image above to play a slideshow of photos from this past church year.  
 "This Little Light of Mine" recording by 
Liza and the UCM Children's Chapel group from Sun. May 29th.  

I have decided to leave my staff position at UCM, and will return to the pews for worship in January 2023, after six months of time to give space to the next person.  

It's been an amazing shared ministry throughout these past six years.  I am so grateful to have served this congregation for two years as Acting Director of Religious Education, and the past four years as Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration.  Thanks also to all who participated in these programs, of all ages!  

With much love and gratitude to you all for making my time with you so fulfilling and fun!


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

June 6, 2022 ~ Chalice Circle Celebration

On the beautiful spring night of June 6th we revived the tradition of an end-of-church-year celebration to honor the facilitators and participants of our small groups or "Chalice Circles" as we call them now. Beautiful evening, smiles all around, and fresh local strawberries. New friends and longtime friends! Listening and sharing. The simple blessings. We had just over twenty of us, and they represented all of Chalice Circles--Small Group Ministry, Soul Matters, Seasoned Souls, Queerality, and the Caregiver Support Group. New groups will be forming in September, and I hope all of you will find one to join!

Here were our opening words, from Voices from the Margins: An anthology of meditations

by Marta Valentin

Step into the center
come in from the margins

I will hold you here.
Don't look back
or around
feel my arms
the water is rising.
I will hold you
as you tremble.
I will warm you.
Don't look out
or away
life is in here
between you and me.
In this tiny space,
where I end and you begin
hope lives.
In this precious tiny space
no words need be whispered
to tell us we are one.
You and I
we make the circle
if we choose to.
step in
I am waiting for you.


May 29, 2022 ~ First Children's Chapel back in the Children's Chapel!

 It's almost the end of the church year and the Children's Chapel is finally in shape for having kids in it!  So we had some circle time on the green rug, and lit our chalice, sang a welcome song and read a story.  Then outside to make a mural like the one in the story, with flowers, birds, and butterflies to add beauty to the world.  New friends and old friends and so much love and joy in the air.  Thank you all! I'm so grateful for time with the kids in-person inside our church!

Bridging Ceremony


What a special thing to have high school senior, Sam Dean, complete the Bridging Ceremony in worship!  Many thanks to John Poeton and Liz Benjamin and Sam for participating in the reflection sessions leading up to this day.  To Sam's family for supporting the process too!  What a blessing to mark this rite of passage from youth to adulthood as a faith community.  Thanks for sharing your light with us all thee many years, Sam, and do come back often!  

Peace is Something We Do

This piece was written in September 2011, shortly after the floods caused by Hurricane Irene.  I could have written it this week.  At the ti...