Category Archives: The Scoop

2017 Clarke Lectures and Dinners

Reserve Now: Clarke Lecture Dinner Tickets Are a Bargain!

Enjoy three delicious vegetarian dinners for just $40! All dinners
will be followed by an engaging speaker and slide presentation. The
evenings (third Saturday in January, February, and March) begin with
hot cider at 6:00 pm. A palate-pleasing vegetarian dinner is then
served. A few details about the topics and speakers follow. For more
info or to reserve your space(s) now, contact Nancy Schulz.

 January Clarke Lecture

Saturday, January 21, 6:00pm
“Nature’s Inherent Intelligence: Why Paying Attention Matters So Much”

ucm-jan17Animals and plants can show us how to solve complex problems if we pay attention. Come see images of wind turbine blades based on the shape of humpback whale flippers, architectural designs modeled on termite mounds, and quieter, high speed trains inspired by kingfishers. The natural world has a degree of sophistication and genius far beyond our understanding. This presentation on the exciting field of biomimicry will focus on the brilliant cycles and balances in nature that can inspire us toward a new way of being. Speaker Lincoln Earle-Centers spends his days as a professional tree climber, where he contemplates the world from above.

February Clarke Lecture

Saturday, February 18, 6:00pm
“Majestic Moose”

ucm-feb17Did you know that a cow moose can run 35 mph, hold 100 lbs of food in her stomach, move each eye independently, remain underwater for long periods of time, and routinely give birth to twins? VT’s magnificent cow and bull moose have adapted in many ways to thrive in their woods-and water-based habitat. See amazing photos and learn about the surprising qualities that make this animal so fascinating. You’ll also hear about current threats that VT’s moose population is facing. Speaker Alison Thomas is the Education Programs Manager at the VT Fish & Wildlife Department.

March Clarke Lecture

Saturday, March 18, 6:00pm
“Marvels & Mysteries of Plants in VT’s Mountains & Marshes”

ucm-mar17Come see striking images of some of VT’s most beautiful flowers, including fringed gentians and rare showy lady’s slipper orchids. And come hear how scientists are unraveling surprising mysteries of VT’s 2,000 plant species. Did you know that many seeds can live for centuries in the soil, waiting for just the right conditions before sprouting? Did you know that the sumac you see everyday is not poisonous but edible? Did you know that Burlington has the world’s largest concentration of a very rare plant? Speaker Aaron Marcus is an Assistant Botanist at the VT Fish & Wildlife Department.

Christmas Pageants 101

A Christmas Pageant is usually the retelling of the biblical nativity story. It differs from a play in that it is generally a procession with limited, if any, dialog. The story is usually told by a narrator with actors portraying the various parts.  Since my job title is Acting Director (of Religious Education) I will help direct the actors…so…trust me…no rehearsal needed. It will all be good. Correction…it will all be great!

We are asking that anyone who wishes to have a part come dressed as the character they would like to play. This is not just for children. Adults too. It might be a really fun thing for your family to do together in fact. What a great memory maker!

Folks should come as angels, shepherds or magi..the wise men. BTW…It is only tradition that says that there were only three and that they were men..but as Unitarian Universalists, we know there have always been wise women too. In fact, none of the roles in our pageant are gender specific.  We will have already coordinated with a specific family to play the role of the Holy Family.  

Which brings me to the costumes. Nothing elaborate is needed here, but you might like some suggestions.

Angels…usually something white…but not necessarily. I’ve seen white dresses, a nightgown, white pants and a t-shirt…anything really or could simply be a piece of cloth with a slit cut in the middle for the head and tie something around the waist. A piece of garland or tinsel around the head for a halo…wings if you want them…and ta da…an angel.

Shepherds…light layers. These folks worked outside. Could be a bathrobe, the basic cloth with a slit for the head and usually some sort of headgear…how ‘bout a pillowcase secured with a headband or one of Dad’s old ties. Use a scarf. Hang a sign around your neck that says shepherd. Whatever.

Magi…something regal…great time to try the BK veggie burger and get yourself a crown. A deep color, shiny fabric, beads and gold. A cape…fur…a chance to get your bling on.


These are just ideas. Don’t stress over the costumes! Make it simple! Do whatever is easiest. The important thing is not what you’re wearing…it is that you come with your child and take part in the service. It is bound to be meaningful for all of us and lots of fun too. Your children won’t remember …or care… what they wear, but they will remember being a part of it all.  

Looking forward to sharing in this fun UCM tradition with you,

~Liza Earle-Centers, Acting DRE

December Letter from the Board

Dear UCM members and friends,

We hope you continue to enjoy a season full of thanksgiving and receiving!

The board has been learning about its roles and responsibilities working closely with the ET, Stewardship, and Finance Committees.  

We are also reading and discussing the Dan Hotchkiss book,  “Governance and Ministry.”  Here are some of our reflections that we shared at last meeting.

The board ultimately serves the Mission of the congregation, and it is our role to ensure that the Mission is achieved from year to year. The board makes its most important contributions to the mission in three ways:

1) Being a good partner to the ministry leader
2) Hosting an ongoing conversation about the future.  The Strategic Plan and the growth study is currently underway is exactly what our work is all about.
3) Creating a sound structure of policy to regulate decision-making.

We are in the process of looking at all our church policies and separating them into board governance policies and operational policies. The board is responsible for governance policies and the Executive Team is responsible for operational policies.

Our governance structure reflects our shared ministry and the shared power amongst church leadership – Minister, Board, Executive Team and Staff. We all work closely together.

In regards to the ministry of the church, it has been noted recently that on certain Sundays we don’t have the space for all the people who want to attend church services.  Our minister will be pulling together a meeting with relevant teams and committees shortly to discuss what short term solutions we can consider until we have had adequate time and information set out by our Strategic Plan to look further into a permanent solution.

On behalf of the board, we thank you for your patience and “making room” for others to sit in the pews with you.  Your contribution to addressing all of our church needs is greatly appreciated.

Happy Holidays,

Jo Romano, President
Melinda Knight Moz, Vice-President
Will White, Secretary
Nancy Read, Financial Officer
Priscilla Fox, Member-at-large
Paul Hartmann, Member-at-large
Jennifer Payne, Member-at-large

Letter from Rev. Joan after the Election

Dear beloveds,

I know that many of your hearts are bruised and broken this week. Though we cannot assume that we all voted the same way or see through the same political lens, we have all been through a contentious election season and have witnessed the deep divides in our country through the election results. This is a difficult and trying time.

For some of you, the future may feel uncertain and the efforts of so many to bring love and justice into the world may feel at risk. It will take time to make sense of where we are now and how we move forward.

One way we can help one another is to offer each other safe spaces for listening – without judgment and without the need to act. I will host listening circles this coming week, Tuesday-Friday, from 12-1pm in the Vestry. This will be a time and space to share what is on your heart and to be held in a community of love and understanding. If you can, please let me know which day you will be coming using this form or by email. You can always just show up, too.

Please tend to your spirit in these days. Turn off the news if you must. Cry. Bake. Walk in the woods. Hold your loved ones close. Strategize. Sing. Dance. Remember your joy.

And, remember this community is here for you.

With love,

Rev. Joan

Executive Team Activities August – November 2016

The ET met twice a month with the church professional staff as a full Management Team (MT). Focusing on the UCM Strategic Plan, we established our priorities for the year, which include providing support and guidance for church committees in their efforts to advance Strategic Plan goals. We will publish quarterly updates on our activities via the e-news.

We named a hiring committee to fill the Office Assistant/Rental Coordinator position. Following their recommendation, the ET and Board approved the selection of Becky Atchinson for this key role beginning October 4th.

We approved updates to the Financial Management Policy and Sexual Abuse, Prevention, Education and Response (SAPER) Policy. We met with representatives of the Property Committee, Committee of Chairs, SAPER Response Team, Community Lunch Committee, and Event Coordinators. We discussed requests from several other committees, including the need for additional members on Leadership Development and Living Lighter. We approved additional indoor and outdoor signage to clarify accessibility and Green Sanctuary expectations.

We approved the first Religious Education planning workshop led by consultant Cindy Beal. We participated in the workshop and expect her report shortly.

We discussed the respective roles of the ET and Board in carrying out the Strategic Plan and ensuring church policies are updated and followed.

Lifting Our Voices

The Worship and Arts Committee invites you to donate copies of Lifting Our Voices to UCM so that we may distribute them throughout the sanctuary for use in our regular services.


What is Lifting Our Voices? It is a new collection of contemporary voices assembled in a book of readings published by the Unitarian Universalist Association. It provides fresh multicultural perspectives on welcoming, trusting, hoping, loving  and much more to share in our regular services and in our celebrations and rituals. For example:

Every day is a god,
each day is a god,
and holiness holds forth in time.
I worship each god,
I praise each day splintered down,
and wrapped in time like a husk,
a husk of many colors spreading,
at dawn fast over the mountains split.
—Annie Dillard, adapted

You may dedicate your gift in honor or in the the memory of someone or something important to you. A bookplate will be added to the book in your name as we have done for our grey and teal hymnals.

How to give?   Please write a check for $20 for each copy you wish to donate payable to UCM and write “Lifting Our Voices”  in the memo line.  Place your check in an envelope along with the words you would like to include on the bookplate (please be sure to include your name too). You can put the envelope in the collection pouch or put it in the mail addressed to Unitarian Church of Montpelier, 130 Main St, Montpelier, VT 05602, or drop it off at the office.

Wouldn’t it be ideal to have a few copies for each pew beginning in January 2017?  We can do this! 

A copy of Lifting Our Voices will be displayed at the Hospitality Table in the Vestry this fall. If you have questions about this, please contact Leslie Parr, MaryJean McKelvey or Ginny Sassaman. Thank you!

Letter from the UCM Board, September 2016

Dear UCM Members and Friends,

The UCM Governing Board sends a warm welcome to everyone who is a UCM member, attends services and programs, and shares in the joys and concerns of the church. We are excited to be starting another church year with all of you!

One of the things the board reflected on at the end of the last church year was the need to improve overall communications with the congregation. To that end, the board will be initiating a monthly “Fireside Chat” on the 1st Sunday of the month. A few board members will be on hand to meet with you, answer any questions, and have a general discussion on board activities.

The board is already hard at work on a number of initiatives. We are actively focusing on the 2020 Strategic Plan and its 5 year outcomes.  You can find the Strategic Plan by going to the UCM website.  Specifically, we are beginning to plan for a 10 year growth study doing research and data collecting.  Also, we are looking at how best to monitor the outcomes of our strategic plan.

Along with keeping an eye on the church’s finances and policies, we are beginning our year with defining our roles and responsibilities.

You are invited to attend any or all of the Board’s meetings that are held at church on the 4th Tuesday of each month from 6-8pm.

We hope you enjoy your church year and feel welcome by all as we all work to build a loving community and nurture our spiritual growth as we continue to find best ways to serve human need and protect our earth.

Yours in service,

Jo Romano, President
Melinda Moz-Knight, Vice President
Will White, Secretary
Nancy Read, Financial Officer
Priscilla Fox, Member-at-large
Paul Hartmann, Member-at-large
Jennifer Payne, Member-at-large
Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Minister (ex-officio member)

Adult Religious Education Offerings for 2016-2017

The Adult Religious Education (ARE) Committee is planning and/or advertising multiple programs this fall to carry out its mission “to nurture each person’s spiritual journey – i.e., provide opportunities for faith development and personal growth.”

Adult RE Fall 2016 Brochure

The Committee is starting a new “4th Mondays ARE Series” through which an evening program will be offered at the church on the 4th Monday of every month (except December).  For fall we have arranged programs about women’s spirituality, non-violent communication, intergenerational story-telling and the UUA Common Read book.  Please let us know what ideas you have for winter/spring!

The 4th Mondays ARE Series will begin on September 26 from 7-8 p.m. in the Children’s Chapel.  The first event is entitled “Introduction to Women’s Spirituality & Intuitive Training” and will be led by Lee Wilschek, who says it can help you to “Awaken to your spiritual magnificence!  Explore, remember, uncover your unique gifts through meditation, visualization, and shamanic journeying.”  If you want to know more about this, contact Lee at

People may simply show up to the 4th Mondays ARE Series without registration unless needing child care at the church, in which case they should request it through Acting Director of Religious Education (DRE) Liza Earle-Centers ( ) a week before the event.

This year, UCM will offer two different covenant groups: Small Group Ministry (SGM) and the new “Soul Matters Circle.”

The Small Group Ministry program is a wonderful way to meet new folks, and explore your own thoughts on issues of life and spirituality.  Each group will meet twice a month and is led by members who are experienced facilitators. Contact Sue Stukey, coordinator, if you have questions:, or 223-4189. You can also sign up on Sundays during coffee hour in the vestry.

The Soul Matters Circle is a program designed to help you live more deeply into our monthly theme. Each month, participants engage in a spiritual exercise related to the theme and then ponder a question for deeper reflection. In our covenant-based circle, we share with one another where we are on our journey of living more deeply into the theme of the month. We will be experimenting with this program this year and will have one group co-facilitated by Rev. Joan Javier-Duval and Kathleen Bryant. The group will meet on the 3rd Wednesdays from 7-9pm beginning October 19. You can register online for this program or at the RE Table in the vestry on Sundays. The group will be limited to 12 participants.

SGM and the Soul Matters Circle will both offer two four-month sessions. The first session is October-January. The Covenant Groups will each accept 10-12 participants and will then hold closed meetings until enrollment is opened up for the next 4 months (February-May).

We hope you will nurture your spiritual journey at UCM this year by participating in one of these enriching and enlivening offerings!

Ingathering Service begins 2016-2017 Church Year, Sunday, September 11 at 10am

On this our Ingathering Sunday, we come back together to ground ourselves in community. You are invited to bring water to the service to share in our annual water ceremony ritual of bringing together the water we have gathered during our summer journeys – those that have taken us afar and those that have kept us close to home. We also acknowledge the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and reflect on how community can offer a sense of rootedness during life’s troubling times as well as its joyful times. Worship begins at 10am. Join us for coffee and fellowship immediately following the service.