Summer 2021 ~ Letter from Lifespan Spiritual Explorers

Celebrate Summer with LSE Families & Volunteers!


An event for UCM Families and LSE Volunteers (past, present, and future)

Wed. June 23, 3-6:30pm, Wrightsville Reservoir (rain date: June 24)


June’s theme is PLAY! On Wednesday, June 23rd, we’ll gather for a low-key social time at the beach. Come for any part of the time. BYO food/drinks. Disc golf, kayaks, corn hole, and other lawn games will be available. Come for any portion of the afternoon/evening. Interested? Sign-up here for a reminder and meet-up location details closer to the date (no commitment required). New volunteers welcome!  


We will have another outdoor event for families and LSE volunteers in July, and another in August. Stay tuned for details in the weekly e-news.


A note from Liza Earle-Centers, Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration: 


LSE Director, Liza Earle-Centers
LSE Director, Liza Earle-Centers

Looking back, I’m astounded by what we were able to create together as a congregation this year. Despite not having any in-person gatherings for the six colder months of the year, many families are still feeling connected and our adults have been more active in small groups this year than ever before! Many of our LSE volunteers understandably needed to scale back this year or didn’t feel called to online programming. And yet, what a committed crew we did have!


I hope you will visit our LSE Blog, to see a brief recap of the programs we offered, and the names of the many volunteers who made these programs possible. Facilitators of this past church year’s LSE programs are receiving thank you gifts of wooden spoons with a wood burning of a flaming chalice, with a nod to Rev. William Ellery Channing, who said,  


“The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own;

not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own;

2021 UCM Bridgers
2021 UCM Bridgers

not to give them a definite amount of knowledge, but to inspire a fervent love of truth;

not to form an outward regularity, but to touch inward springs;

not to bind them by ineradicable prejudices to our particular sect or peculiar notions, but to prepare them for impartial, conscientious judging of whatever subjects may be offered to their decision;

not to burden the memory, but to quicken and strengthen the power of thought;

not to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment.

In a word, the great end in religious instruction is to awaken the soul, to excite and cherish spiritual life.”


If you happened to miss it, you may also find (or watch again, or share with a friend), by clicking here, last Sunday’s Worship Service, “Celebrating our Resilience,” our annual LSE Sunday — so you can be sure not to miss the special Bridging Ceremony where we honored three of UCM’s fabulous high school seniors — Erin, Oskar, and Ruby!





Spring into Summer Survey of UCM Families 


Parents / caregivers: the LSE Committee and I (Liza) are so heartened that 30 of you filled out our recent survey. It’s been invaluable to read your input. If you have not yet completed the survey, there’s still time! Please, we would love to hear from you!

The LSE Committee and I wanted to reflect back some of what we have heard from the parents who have thus far responded to the survey:


SILVER LININGS from the past year were deep and vast. Trends include:

  • ‘less is more’ in terms of less running around, fewer transitions at school and at home, and deeper connections with fewer people 
  • appreciation for more quality time with family 
  • loving time outside in nature or in the garden
  • gratitude for still being part of UCM and the diverse supports this year
  • growing resilience


There were some trends in the area of current HARDSHIPS:

  • dwindling social circles
  • social anxiety and awkwardness due to less socializing these past 15 months (all ages)
  • trying to find balance … keeping safe, having important social interactions, but not getting overly busy again 
  • ONLY having work and family has been lonely for parents and creates a bubble feeling 
  • uncertainty and questions about what re-entry looks like
  • parental exhaustion


Families ran the gamut in terms of how the online programming worked for their kids. Most felt very supported by the offering of outdoor events as well as the care packages. For families that didn’t participate as much as they would have liked in the past year, they cited 1) needing to simplify, 2) needing less online time, and 3) losing the rhythm of it.


Special considerations around re-entry guidelines:

  • 27% of the families who have responded have a member of their household in a high risk category for COVID, OR have work obligations that require special vigilance around COVID exposure


UCM Events: 

  • OUTDOOR: Many families are eager for outdoor, multigenerational events to rebuild friendships and connections at UCM. Some want strict COVID guidelines and others do not. 21 out of 30 recommend following whatever the current VT guidelines are for outdoor gatherings at the given time. 


We are looking forward to reconnecting with you and/or your family gradually over the course of the summer and into the fall, knowing that you’re all finding a new balance. We miss you, we love you, and hope to see you as soon as you’re ready. Our plans for the fall are still in formation, but will likely involve outdoor programs and service projects — at least for kids — and some online opportunities too.

Watch for updates in the Families and Friends of LSE newsletters over the coming months.


With love and gratitude,


Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration