April 2016  Communicator  
Worship in April: Freedom
This month let's explore freedom: the freedom that our Unitarian Universalist faith offers; the freedom of the soul; the freedom of music and expression; and the liberative message of Passover and what it teaches us this Earth Day.  Some teaser highlights include... April 10th , a special  Sunday  with  Mindy Simmons , a Unitarian Universalist singer/songwriter who has performed in many UU venues and UU summer camps like SUUSI.   April 17th  is this year's service auction sermon purchased by member Suzanne Ziemer, exploring the freedom of the soul.  Come this month and free your mind (and the rest will follow).

In love, growth, and service,
Minister's Column
The first  Monday  of this month is our LIFE ministry's Nehemiah Action.  This year's issue around the city's unsolved murders is one that focuses on inviting and building trust in our local law enforcement and criminal justice system.  In the face of any one individual who may say this is insurmountable, our LIFE ministry says solutions are real and possible!  The status quo is unacceptable.  By building relationships and coming to powers and institutions with solutions to community problems, we can and DO make progress together!  

Last year our church met and  exceeded   our goal of turning out our average weekly worship attendance.  This year, I hope to see all of you coming to the Nehemiah Action. It is a special night. Bring your children (even when we know they will be past their bedtimes).  It is a special night of coming together and fostering the unity our county so desperately needs. And LIFE has made a provable positive difference in our community.  The power of LIFE is in our numbers- I need you there!  You won't want to miss it.  Monday  night,  April 4th 6pm  at Harborside event Center. Park in the garage for free.  I will see you there, with great rejoicing!

Rev. Allison
Community Sharing in April
Minister's Discretionary Fund
Christian Group
 Our small UU Christian group meets at 9:00a on Sundays in Room 7.  Next week we'll discuss our next study and look at how we want to shape our group for the coming year. This is a great time for interested UUs to come visit, take a look, ask questions, and see what we're about. We look forward to welcoming you!
Humanist Forum
The Humanist Forum meets every Sunday at 9:15a in Hobart Hall.  All are welcome to join us for a new and engaging topic each week.
Save the Date!

Our first meeting of the FUUn BUUnch for the year, and probably our last meeting for the snowbirds will be Friday, April 1.  We expect a good turnout, so make sure you are included.  

The FUUn BUUnch will be meeting next Friday, April  1,  at our usual hangout, La Grotta.  Looking for new venues during the season is difficult and Management at La Grotta has always been accommodating. 

We need a head count in order for the restaurant to schedule staff, so please call or email Bob Nies by Wednesday, the 30th  if you are plan to attend.  

Please come even if you forget to email Bob.  We want to see you there.  We hope you will join us for food and beverage starting at 6:30p.

La Grotta is located just south of I75 off Daniels Parkway.  It is on the Northwest side of Daniels on the service road about 100 yards from I75.  You will need to turn at the light adjacent to the Shell gas Station and almost across the street from McDonalds.  Turn on Danport Blvd in the direction of the Shell station.  Make your first right which is Marketplace Rd, and wind your way behind the Shell station until you get to the end.  La Grotta is on the right.

The LIFE Nehemiah Action will be held at Harborside Event Center on Monday, April 4th. Registration is at 6:00p.  The program begins at 7:00p. There will be free parking in the garage across the street from Harborside.  
Newcomers Meeting
There will be a  Newcomers Meeting at  12:00p  in classroom 2 on Sunday, April 3.  This is a meeting for newcomers to UUCFM to learn more about us.  This is not the pre-membership meeting but just an informal, information session to answer any questions you might have about us.  All are invited, no registration necessary.

Earthways Shamanic Path Gathering 2016    April 15-17

Journey with us, for a magical, shamanic weekend.  The doorway opens at  3 PM Friday, April 15th  -- come set up your camp site at the beautiful campus of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers.  Attend the “Make your own Rattle” class, and visit the vendors.  Enjoy the opening reception, the Opening Ceremony, then a wonderfully prepared vegetarian dinner.  After dinner, we’re having a shamanic drum circle around the Fire.  Bring you rattles and drums.
Saturday morning, April 16th we’re up with the sunrise.  After continental breakfast on the Screened porch, we’ll go out to the Labyrinth for tones and centering.  Wander around the Holton Eco-preserve, then choose from the morning classes.

After the morning classes, we’ll have lunch, and the keynote presentation on the Earthways Shamanic Path followed by a Group Shamanic Journey at the Medicine Wheel. After a break, choose from any of the afternoon classes, or enjoy time on your own.  

Later, we’ll have another break and time for visiting the vendors, and then, Dinner.  After Dinner, we’re having another Shamanic drum circle around the Fire.  Bring you rattles and drums. 
Sunday, April 17, we’re up with the sun and enjoying continental breakfast on the Screened Porch.  Mingle, and then meet all the presenters together.  Visit the vendors.  Pack up and get ready for the Closing Ceremonies.  Our Gathering concludes at  2 PM, Sunday.

About the Earthways Shamanic Path

 “Find the Magic in your land” … Earthways Shamanic Path is an Earth- based religious path.  It is based in Southwest Florida, yet can be practiced all around the world.  We ask you to discover, “What are the Seasons where you live?  How do you celebrate them?” 
Earthways Shamanic Path is based upon core shamanism.  Our philosophy is that people are drawn to Shamanism, if they are meant to learn more about it. Each person is responsible for learning what they need to, for their personal growth.  In this Shamanic practice, we learn to achieve altered states of reality through meditation, drumming and dancing, as well as through exploring nature, for greater self awareness and to “Share Your Peace With Our Earth.” 

This is our first Gathering, meant to foster a sense of community of like-minded travelers on paths which converge at this Gathering.  It  is intended for educational, spiritual, and, networking purposes.  We will all learn from each other.  Thus, we will offer you a certificate showing you’ve attended this Gathering,  but we won’t be making anyone a shaman here
List of Classes at 
Earthways Shamanic Path Gathering 2016 at UUCFM

  Friday, April 15, 3:15 to 4:45 PM  
  • Making Your Shamanic Tools:  Rattles. (Angela)  * This class has a $5 materials charge.
  Saturday, April 16, 10:00 AM to 11:15 AM
  •  Shamanic journeying for personal growth and healing (Therese)  
  • Hollow Bones:  Shamanic Songs and Chants.  (Genai ) – This is Part I.
  • A Shaman’s Journey to the Territory of the Dead.  (Cathy)
  •  Making Your Shamanic Tools:  Leather Pouches.  (Mathew)  * This class has a $5 materials charge.
  • Shamanic Dancing with Totem Animals  (Lauren) 
  Saturday, April 16, 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM  
  • Shamanic journeying for personal growth and Collective Connection. (Therese, with Whale Maiden)
  • Hollow Bones: Your Body Is A Shamanic Instrument.(Genai )  Part I is not required for Part II, though it is recommended.
  • Shamans connecting with the Faerie World.  (Joyce).   
  • Playing Footsees the benefits of earthing - (Angela)  .  
  • Talk with your Totems -- Shamanic Journaling.  (Lauren )   
    Sunday April 17, 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM  
  • Group Discussion – meet all the Presenters and ask the questions you didn’t get to ask yesterday.
          For a complete schedule, and to register go to – www.cuupsfm.org
Differences That Make a Difference
Join us with leaders from the Unitarian Universalist Association's Southern Region for a leadership experience that invites us to deepen multicultural awareness in a pluralistic world that needs our love and ministry. Sponsored by our own congregation's "sacred conversations on race" group, all members serving in leadership  are strongly encouraged to attend, especially anyone who would one day like to serve on our board of trustees.

Differences That Make A Difference
May 21, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM, UU Church of Ft. Myers, FL
As Unitarian Universalists we have a history of being inclusive. We have a pluralistic faith that makes room for all kinds of god/gods or none at all. Many of us came from other faiths where we felt different, out of place, not really seen or counted. We know that differences matter. So as people who have a tradition of "giving them hope not hell," how do we live in today's world where differences divide us so often?  Let's explore together how we can be in relationships that matter. Learn more and register 
Music Notes
On April 1, Amy Laursen officially begins her tenure as Director of Music! 

Amy Laursen (née Menard) received her Master of Music degree from the University of South Florida and Bachelor of Arts in Music from Florida State University. She was first called to work as a church pianist at the age of 15 and has since served as Music Director at eight different churches, including UU congregations in Tampa, Tallahassee, and Charlotte County, Florida. She currently plays viola in the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and has played in professional orchestras and chamber ensembles for over 20 years. Amy is also a Certified Teacher, and has taught grades K-12, including high school chorus, orchestra, and AP Music Theory, and has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the collegiate level. Amy lives in Fort Myers with her husband Dan and son Elliott.

Musical Calendar: 

• Sunday, April 3: Come join us in celebrating freedom as the Music Team covers Peter, Paul, and Mary's If I Had a Hammer and the Choir sings Circle Round for Freedom with Jill Carville on djembe. 

• Sunday, April 10: Mindy Simmons, guest speaker and musician, serenades us with her voice and guitar. The Choir sings the rousing South African song Freedom is Coming.

•Sunday, April 17: Rebecca Donlan, soprano, performs Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu, Jeff Letts, organist, plays Bach Prelude in C, and the Choir sings I Am That Great and Fiery Force by the Renaissance composer Josquin Desprez and tenth century Christian mystic lyricist Hildegard von Bingen.  

•Sunday, April 24: Come celebrate Passover and Earth Day with the musical gifts of Angela Melton. The Choir sings Harry Belafonte's calypso Turn the World Around.

• There is no Music Committee meeting this month.  

The UUCFM Choir  rehearses most Wednesday nights from  6:45-8:00p , and on Sunday mornings from 9:00-10:00a  in the Sanctuary. It's free and there are no auditions. Please email me in advance so that a music folder can be prepared for you. Come join us in singing!

The UUCFM Band  rehearses most Wednesday nights from  6:00-6:45p , and on Sunday mornings from  9:00-10:00a  in the Sanctuary. If you would like to play your instrument during a  Sunday  service, please email me to coordinate the details. Come join us in making music together!

Amy Laursen, Director of Music
RE News
Mystery Friends has almost drawn to a close, ladies and gents, and soon participants will discover who their wildflower friend is!  The big reveal will be on  Sunday, April 10th  at the start of service - join us as our friends get to celebrate their new connections! 

I would like to thank Holley Rauen for stepping up and volunteering in our nursery for two weeks in a row now.  There is nothing I find more respectable or impressive than those members in our congregation without young children who volunteer to help out with the nursery or classes. So often, the parents are the ones who end up volunteering with RE programming, but this means that they invest all their time at church into their child(ren)'s spiritual development and don't have space for their own. When our community comes together to support our children and youth  and  their parents by assisting with RE programming, we are truly living our values and enabling all congregants to explore their own spirituality.

If you have ever been interested in working with RE, curious about what it entails, or if you are just now beginning to think about it because I guilted you into it in the previous paragraph, please consider joining us on  Saturday, June 18th  for the UUCFM RE Summit. It will be an opportunity to explore the program, get to know our current RE volunteers, and have a bunch of fun in the process. I, personally, would love to see you there. Yes, you!

Jenn Blosser, Director of Religious Education
Community Wednesday
Join members and friends of our UUCFM community each Wednesday for a delicious vegetarian meal prepared by Chef Joy for a donation of $5.00. After the fellowship and fine fare from 6:00- 6:45p, join your favorite programming event, committee meeting, or social activity.  A place will be provided for any informal gatherings of your choosing. Child care is provided until 8:30p.
4:00-5:30              Coping & Optimal Living (1st & 3rd Wed)
6:00-6:45              Community Meal
6:45-8:00              Music Team in Sanctuary
6:45-8:30              The Village (starting March 23)

Program for April 13 at 6:45p:  Our very own
UU Players will read an original play of our early American UU
founders, including William Ellery Channing, Thomas Jefferson, and
others. You'll learn some surprising and interesting facts of those
courageous and insightful leaders.  It will be a Q & A format called
What's My UU Line?  You'll love our players.

Bill Brewer Family Gardens

Bill Brewer Family Gardens is a GRO1000 Grassroots Grant Recipient 

Our Bill Brewer Family Gardens has just been designated a participant in The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company’s GRO1000 initiative, designed to create 1,000 gardens and greenspaces throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe by 2018, the Company’s 150th anniversary.  UUCFM has received a GRO1000 Grassroots Grant award to help fund our expansion projects.  We are proud to be one of more than 100 organizations across the U.S. to receive GRO1000 funding for a garden or greenspace build. With the completion of our expansion, we will be making available 100 garden beds and a vital education program to our community, teaching and learning with them how to be better stewards of our SW Florida greenspaces.

Rocks Galore
The Bill Brewer Family Gardens Operations Committee is soliciting your contribution of Rocks or Stones (of any size) to be used in the garden.

They are more than decoration, as we know from our “Stones of Intention” ceremony.   They can be the carriers of many feelings, intentions, thoughts and  memories.    Native Americans have said “rocks contain the Wisdom of the Ancients,” and  we wish for you to contribute to the Wisdom of our Gardens and campus.

Wherever you travel in the coming months, we hope you will seek the “Wisdom” of the very special places you visit, and bring back a solid reminder of the specialness of those places. We even invite you to identify where the stones/rocks have come from, and what is so special about the source of your gift. We will collect those stories, and make them available to the membership, so we, too, can understand the significance of your gift.  If you know the kind of stone you are contributing, that will be further fascinating information.  We’ll even try to accommodate a picture or two.  (One 8-1/2” x 11” page per stone, please.)

Let’s see what we can make of this opportunity to share the Wisdom of our “Places of the Heart” as well as build this reservoir of Wisdom that represents the history and presence of this incredible community, where we Love, GROW & Serve.
Our Classes & Groups
Join us on Monday evenings to explore the very simple and satisfying practices of mindfulness and meditation.  You don’t need experience with meditation, nor do you have to be a Buddhist.  Do please bring an intention to quiet the mind and the body in a supportive group of UU members and friends with a similar intention - people who want to carry mindfulness into their daily lives.  We meet Mondays from 6:30-8:00p in the Sanctuary. If you have any questions, please contact Gary Robbins at  ggleasonr@live.com  

On Monday, April 4th there will be no meditation. All meditators are urged to join us for the LIFE Nehemiah Action at Harborside Convention Center in downtown Ft. Myers. Registration begins at 6:00p, program at 7:00p. There is free parking available in the garage across the street or you can meet us at UUCFM to carpool at 5:45p. Call Gary Robbins if you'd like to carpool at 302.540-5899.
Coping & Optimal Living
The Coping and Optimal Living group is open to all and does not require attending every session.  We meet in the Sanctuary the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 4:00-5:30p. We discuss how to live optimally including practical ways to cope with life's challenges and issues.   Helping others and developing maturity in ourselves is part of our quest.  We explore many paths and techniques for enriching our lives and making a difference for others.  For more information call Wayne Leaver at 275-3097.
CUUPs Learning Circle
The CUUPS Learning Circle Series has two tracks about Earth-based Religions at this time:   an introductory track called CUUPS 101 and a more advanced track called Earthways Shamanic Path. These are offered on Wednesday evenings and are conducted by Whale Maiden, a member of CUUPS here at UUCFM

CUUPS 101:  What is Paganism?  What is CUUPS?  How does CUUPS fit into Unitarian Universalism’s Seven Principles? What does CUUPS do at this UU Church?  Join Whale Maiden for this informative class. This is an interactive class with a mixture of lecture/history/story telling, and Q & A from the class, so no two classes will be alike. (Tentative dates for next classes:  April 13th, May 11th)
Earthways Shamanic Path: Monthly meeting  April 6th. -- 7:00 to 8:30p, Room 1.  Whale Maiden leads this on-going discussion group with meditation regarding the application of one's Pagan path to the unique features of Florida. 

Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Group
The Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Group meets every Sunday in Room 1 from  1:45-3:45p.  All are welcome to attend!   Join Mary Tracy Sigman and others for this well loved and well attended group. 
Weekly Activities
Join us for Tai Chi every Thursday morning in the Sanctuary from 10:00-11:00a.  It is a free class and all are welcome.
Play Mah Jongg every Wednesday afternoon in the Narthex from 2:30-4:30p. There is no charge and all are welcome!
We will not be playing MahJong again until the first  Wednesday  in May -  May 4th .  This is due to the baseball and other traffic and several regular players are away for parts of April.

If you are interested in playing Mahjong, please contact Susan Forsyth at  thecaperabbit@gmail.com .
Social Justice
The South Fort Myers Food Pantry Coalition
March marks our sixth year as coalition members and our eighth year as supporters of the South Fort Myers Food Pantry, (SFMFP). January and February have been banner months for our pantry. The WINK Walk for Hunger is traditionally held the third  Saturday  of January. This year the SFMFP volunteers collected $5082 in pledges for the SFMFP Team walking on January 16, 2016.  This is the best year we have ever had.  All money pledged will go to our account at the Harry Chapin Food Bank to be used for future purchases. We usually spend between $500 and $1000 per week for food. That made it an amazing day in itself but in addition to that, Harry Chapin honored our pantry by naming the South Fort Myers Food Pantry their number one partner agency. This is truly remarkable as the food bank has 150 partner agencies across five Southwest Florida counties. This reflects our pantry's fundraising efforts, and recognizes the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, many of whom have come from UUCFM. 

Thank-you to everyone who has volunteered over the years. Thanks also for the weekly food donations and for your generous monetary donations as well. UUCFM members and friends donated $2777.75 during January Community Sharing. You have shown tremendous support for this Social Justice community outreach program. The pantry will have its annual meeting and a new board will be voted into office.  I can assure you that our totally volunteer organization will continue to be efficiently run, assuring that the needy in our neighborhood will have access to nutritious food. For more information about the pantry, email Fran Rose:  francrose@centurylink.net .
My UU Story
Barbara Mannix:
Agnostic Comfortable without  “God”

My journey to Unitarian Universalism (UU) started in 1964.  This is when I left the Catholic Church and designed my own philosophy.  It is based on my experiences and judgment of the religious community in general.  It took 34 years to decide to look for an alternative community which I was not even sure existed. 

One summer Sunday I tried the Birmingham, MI, UU Church because their parking lot, which I drove  past twice a day, was often full.  I thought they must be doing something right.  I was amazed and delighted with the first service which was conducted by a brain surgeon.  He had been sent to jail on drug charges in Detroit where he volunteered at an inner-city clinic.   The following Sunday the service was conducted by the high school kids.  They did a very good job communicating what UU and the Religious Education (RE) program had done for them.  I had found a community where I could be myself, an agnostic who is comfortable without a “god”. 
There,  I engaged in a wide variety of activities:
  • Worked on the buildings and grounds committee
  • Learned tai-chi 
  • Attended talks on a wide variety of subjects
  • Volunteered with other members at Habitat For Humanity
  • Helped transport homeless people, for a week, from a day shelter to our church where they could shower and sleep . 
Together with other local churches, we helped to develop a garden in a Detroit neighborhood.  The streets had overgrown center islands.  Over the years, we helped create beautiful gardens that the residents and Birmingham Unitarian Church (BUC) members still maintain.  I was so happy to have found a community that valued the same things I valued.  

I moved to Florida and joined UUCFM in 1998.  BUC had a more Humanist philosophy than UUCFM, so I was very pleased when Charlene Bennett and Ruth Ravitz started the Humanist Group at UUCFM on Sunday mornings.  I was once questioned about my “spiritual life” to which I responded. “I don’t have a spiritual life, I only have one life.”  
At UUCFM, I have found many ways to give to my community and many friends who share my philosophy and values and some who do not-- whom I cherish anyway.   The only thing I would change is to not call us a “church”.  I have given much to UUCFM, but I have received so  much more.  
About My UU Story
Each month, the Membership Committee would like to publish your UU story- either converted or born UUs.  How did you become a UU or how did our religion affect your life?  Alternatively, do you have a one-paragraph remembrance of your first reaction to being in a UU church and/or learning about the religion?  To share your story, please contact Joy Sokeitous at memberservices@uucfm.org   Joy will help you edit and she will provide questions to help you develop your story.   

Rummage Sale: May 14th

Several people have asked about the Rummage Sale this season.  We are working with a local firm to help us with the sale this year; they will be handling the advertising, the logistics with the items and the actual sale scheduled for May 14th.  They will come to your house and pick up any items you would like to donate for the Rummage Sale.  We have scheduled 2 pick-up days: May 2nd and May 9th.  If you have any items, please call the Church office where we’ll put your name and address and phone number on the pick-up lists. Watch for the special email regarding pick ups.

Happening In Our Greater Community
If you are a UUCFM Community Sharing Partner, a regular Facility User, or have UU related news to share, you are now welcome to submit announcements for publication in our Greater Community section of the newsletter.  Please send announcements in by each Wednesday for publication in the Thursday E-news.  
Shalom Life Center Concert
Shalom Life Center presents a sensational tribute to Frank & Frankie.  
Saturday, April 2   Doors open at 7:00p
Dessert Reception to Follow
Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at door
Brahmachari Ramanand at All Faiths

All Faiths member Joan Marshall’s daughter, Rama Devi, has been living and working at an ashram in South India for many years, serving the needs of poor and suffering people. The ashram is the center for the work of the renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader, Amma. Her disciple, Brahmachari Ramanand will be at All Faiths on Wednesday, April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. to lead a session of devotion, meditation, music and Divine Love. Details and information are below.

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to experience the highest level of spirituality from India, and it will help to restore your faith in the human spirit and capacity for love and service in this troubled world of ours. Please put it on your calendar now, and don’t miss this!! 

Amma Satsang with Mata Amritanandamayi Devi’s Disciple

Brahmachari Ramanand

Please join us for devotion, meditation, music and Divine Love!

Wednesday, April 6, 6-8pm

2756 McGregor Boulevard, Ft. Myers

Contact All Faiths Unitarian Congregation


PFLAG Interfaith Convocation

PFLAG invites  persons from all faith traditions to attend this special Convocation to be held at The Current  Ecumenical Center 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd #111, (in Imperial Square Mall between  Passage to India and Jack’s Seafood Bar and Grill) Naples.  Participants from 23 Houses of  Worship will blend music and prayer in an inspirational program with a celebratory reception to  follow.  Further information at:  www.PFLAGInterfaith.Com
Shabbat & Seder
Friday, April 22 at Breckenridge Country Club
20091 Wimbledon Ct
Estero FL

Members $36, Non Members $45  Children $18
Magnificent 5 course meal and amazing Seder

Saturday, April 23 at Breckenridge Country Club
Everything's Coming Up Moses
Help Sought in Venice

On Feb 6th, about 40 people assembled at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice to form the Venice Chapter of Compassion and Choices, the national nonprofit organization working to expand individual choice at the end of life, including medical aid in dying.

At this first meeting, they watched How To Die in Oregon, the award-winning documentary that portrays a few patients who have chosen to take their life under Oregon’s 1994 Death with Dignity Act.. The film also follows Washington state’s attempt to pass a similar law, which it accomplished in 2008 .

At present, only Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have such laws, although California has passed a Death with Dignity law that will  likely go into effect sometime this year and Montana’s State Supreme Court has ruled the legality of physician-assisted dying.

In Florida, the first step is finding a Florida Legislator to sponsor medical aid-in-dying legislation.  As you probably realize, this will be no easy task. The Venice chapter of Compassion and Choices has been asked to do the research to make this happen..  

We need 12-15 volunteers to each do two hours of (easy) on-line research.  We’ll give you a questionnaire to complete about each member to direct your research. You  will be assigned only one member; you can ask for if you want. Will you help?

Olivia Weinberger, Venice's Compassion and Choices Team Leader , is spearheading this Project. Please contact her at venicecompassionandchoices@gmail.com if you can help.

April 2              Evan Carville is 12! April 4              Janine Johns
April 4              Pam Miller
April 11            Cindy Gustafson April 13            Brad Howe
April 20            Shirley Fox
April 27            Jeff Letts
April 27            Nancy Letts
April 28            Mickey Kellam
April 30            Audrey Brown

 Please send all news articles for the Weekly E-news to  weeklynews@uucfm.org
Jill Carville 
(239) 561 2700 
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