UU La Crosse
A Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
We yearn to live in peace, like a river
One of the things I love about where I live is that I am very close to the Meramec River. I can usually walk to its edge in about five minutes. Most of the time, the river is very peaceful. It flows slowly and meanders through a series of picturesque gravel bars. I can walk along the river or sit by the edge and take in the sound of the
water, the wind, and the smells of the forest and the water. But the river also has its danger. There are strong undercurrents and every summer, despite all the warnings posted, someone takes their chances and drowns. And then there are the floods. Because of the levies, the river levels increase more than they used to and
faster than they used to. For the last 3 years, there has been record flooding several times. This is a result of new levies downstream and increased precipitation due to climate change. When the floods recede, it’s not unusual to see mud coating the trees 15-20 feet up. One flood dropped a hot tub in the middle of a pine grove and left a back porch suspended in the boughs of an old maple. The force of the water also shifted an entire of grove of young saplings that now all lean in the same direction.
There has been pressure to remove some of the levies, but other communities depend on them for protection from those same floods. The dilemma is to decide which communities count. Where will we tolerate flooding and where won’t we?
The answers show us who matters.
Human communities are like rivers. They are beautiful, they sometimes meander slowly and peacefully, and we hope it will always be like this. But there is also danger in every human community. There are complicated histories and unpredictable floods. We come together carrying the burdens and blessings of those things that have shaped us. Finding shared understandings is not always easy or clear and the water levels of anxiety and fear can sometimes rise pretty quickly.
When the floods recede, all kinds of things are swept away, left behind or revealed. We have to start again and yet we never really can because as conscious beings we carry the way life keeps carving us. All that history shapes how we even ask the questions of what needs to be done so that we can live together in respect and love.
December’s theme is peace. When we focus our attention on this huge subject, we’re really talking about the yearning of human beings to live in freedom, respect and without fear of each other. War is a human creation. Strife is a consequence of human choice. To commit to peace is to focus on understanding ourselves – our choices, our fears, our assumptions, our yearnings, and what we are willing to let go of and what we believe we have to hold on to in order to build the beloved community.
The Meramec River is going to flood again. We know this. The question is not how
do we prevent the floods, but how we are going to be there for each other next time the waters rise and who will we become after the waters recede?
Yours in faith,
Rev. Taves December Visit
December 9 – December 16.
Rev. Taves has office hours by appointment. If you would like to see her she would
love to hear from you. You can reach her at 417 343 8657 or at
Pathways:An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism
with Rev. Krista Taves. January 19, 1-4 p.m., at the Fellowship building.
If you are new to Unitarian Universalism, new to the Fellowship, or simply want to refresher, this 3 hour interactive exploration of Unitarian Universalist history, theology, and congregational life is for you. Bring snacks to share. Childcare is available. Please RSVP
by December 30th.
Caregiver offers support
The caregiver can offer support to those in need by sending a card, making an announcement during Joys and Concerns, and/or publicizing your status and needs via the weekly emails. Let us know the level of care you desire. Contact
December special collection
benefits New Horizons
In December, in addition to gathering gifts for families residing at New Horizons, we
will also support the organization with our Special Collection.
New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Centers was organized in 1978 through the cooperative efforts of an informal group of citizens in the La Crosse area. The Shelter is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide emergency shelter and food to victims of domestic violence, and their children.
Often, when victims come into shelter, they are forced to flee their homes quickly and under great stress, leaving most of their belongings. Through community donations, New Horizons is able to provide families with clothing and personal care items.
Other services they provide include: 24 Hour Crisis Line; Outreach Centers; Support Groups; Resource and Legal Advocacy to Youth and Families; Trauma Counseling; Diversity Advocacy; Anti-Human Trafficking; and Community Education and Awareness.
Thanks to outside support, New Horizons provided 264 women, children and men with 10,840 nights of shelter.
New Horizons is a 501 c(3) organization. Please place cash in the specially-marked envelopes, or write a check made out to “New Horizons”.
UU Movie Night
December 1 at 4 p.m.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Our theme for December is peace; and we are showing a powerful movie of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia, a nation torn to shreds by decades old civil war. Desmond Tutu , said this film “ eloquently captures the power each of us innately has within our souls to make this work a far better, safer, and more peaceful place.” The film reconstructs the way the tragedy of war and thousands or dead or displaced people, galvanized a coalition of Christian and Muslim women to rise up and, through nonviolent tactics, put pressure on their government to pursue peace talks. Join us on Saturday December 1, 4 pm for a great film, fantastic company, popcorn and your choice of seats.
Stewardship efforts wrapping up
We are delighted to report that over $89,000 has already been pledged by the fellowship with more members yet to go. If you have not been in touch with a Stewardship volunteer and/or need a pledge form, please see Emmy, Meghan Brown or Celine. In most years the pledge drive would be wrapping up this week, but we got a later start this year and still need to hear back from many of you. Please help us ensure your contribution is received as soon as possible because we need to finalize our 2019 budget in the coming days.
Our 2019 Stewardship Team goal of $150,000 and our Team requests of $182,000 are both a reflection of the increased expectations of what we can do! They speak to the growth aspirations of our fellowship and are an investment in our future as well as critical to sustaining our day to day operations. Thank you for your generosity and deep commitment to our Fellowship through financial support as a meaningful way for us to live out our values together.
Real Talk in Real Time
Tuesday, December 11,
6:30 p.m. at Java Vino
Join us for an open covenant group where we share a meal and talk about the things
in life that matter. Our topic this month is
Peace through Imperfection. Space can
be limited, so please RSVP Rev. Krista Taves at email@example.com.
Book group reads war story
The book group will discuss
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman at its December meeting on Dec. 27 at 6 p.m.
This war story based on real events concerns a Polish couple whose zoo was bombed by the Nazis, They saved more than 300 people by hiding them in the empty animal cages, giving the people animal names and the animals human names. Through the zookeeper's wife Antonina's experience, the author reveals disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.
The group's November read,
Simon's Night, provoked lively discussion although we forgot to rate it.
The book group is open to anyone. For more information or to get a copy of the book, contact Janis Jolly, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612 709 6036.
December 2 10 a.m.
"The Universe is My Teacher"
Ron Malzer writes: "In June, I had an unusual experience of peace while on top of Grandad Bluff. I look forward to sharing it, and to hear what that provokes in others."
Retired psychologist and family medicine educator, Ron has been a UU for more than 30 years, 25 years at this Fellowship. He is currently Chair of our Social Justice Team.
December 9, 10 a.m.
Rev. Krista Taves.
Peace is not a destination. It is a
way of engaging every minute of every day. And yet, to expect ourselves to live this
purely is a set up for failure. Join us for an exploration of how we live peacefully and
December 16. 6 p.m.
Holidays, Holy Days and
Rev. Krista Taves and Delena Leon
We will celebrate Winter Solstice and welcome some very special
Hannukah and Christmas guests to our annual holiday evening service.
12/23 no service
Monday, December 24
Christmas Eve Service, an informal gathering with stories and music. More information to come
12/30 no service
Greetings from the Board! It's never a dull moment with so many people lifting up our fellowship through their efforts: Strength & Support Team visiting with all the other Teams and Staff to help us identify ways our fellowship can improve; our first ever Program Council meeting for Team chairs and Staff to share their ongoing activities and discuss ideas that affect many different areas of the fellowship; the launch of our first ever Stewardship Campaign recognizing the many donations & contributions it takes to run our fellowship; a beautifully updated web page with more refinements to come; and the initiation of the Visioning Team who will facilitate our fellowship community through a timely and life-affirming process in the coming months.
These are no small accomplishments, and the Board is so grateful for everyone who made them happen. Looking ahead we can all expect many wonderful opportunities to spend time together at visioning activities, a leadership retreat in early 2019, and upcoming Sunday services that are invigorating, insightful and timely for all ages.
Thank you for your support of our Board, Teams, and Staff as well as the generosity of your time, talents and finances to make our fellowship a meaningful and impactful organization in the community!
Jacob Sciammas, Board President
Young Adult Unitarian Universalist Group starting
Our Fellowship is developing a Young Adult Unitarian Universalist small group, with the goal of meeting for the first time in February on the UWL campus. If you are a young adult (18-35 or thereabouts!) and would like to be part of making this happen, or would like to be on the contact list, please email
. We will be meeting monthly at various coffee shops around the university in November, December and January
December’s meeting is on Thursday, Dec. 13th at 12 noon at Greengrass Cafe.
Intergenerational choir performance December 9th
On Sunday, Dec. 9, the choir will perform an intergenerational selection that fits with our monthly theme, "Peace." Children in elementary grades or older are invited to sing parts of this choral work with the UU Choir. The main rehearsal for this is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, with a brief rehearsal also on the morning of Dec. 9. Please contact Rita at
to participate or ask questions. Thank you.
Visioning team focuses on the future
The fellowship visioning team has been formed and includes the following members: Cindy Ericksen and Eric Severson (co-chairs) Alice Holstein, Maria Runde and Nathan Brown. After receiving the charge from Board President Jacob Sciammas we have consulted with Rev. Krista and Rev. Sharon Dittmar, UUA Mid-American Region Congregational Life Consultant. This has helped us both take a larger view of the project, and a better understanding of how other congregations have gone about this process. We are planning an inclusive process including contacting community organizations with whom we have worked, as well as many opportunities for congregational members to participate through committees they are on and as individuals. We hope you will be generous with your input as we work through the process and dream together. We will keep you updated through the newsletter, e-news and announcements. Stay tuned!!
-news and announcements. Stay tuned!!
Fellowship renews Welcoming status
Our Fellowship was granted the status of Welcoming Congregation in November after completing an application process. The letter announcing the renewal reads in part:
Dear Ron and Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of La Crosse,
I am delighted to inform you that the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of La Crosse's application to renew its Welcoming Congregation status has been APPROVED.
Sincere congratulations on your ongoing commitment to serve the LGBTQ+ community in and beyond La Crosse, Wisconsin. It was a pleasure to read what you have accomplished and the powerful work you have done since you were originally recognized as a Welcoming Congregation 10 years ago. Thank you for putting so much effort into summarizing and detailing your efforts. It is clear that UUFLC's becoming recognized as a Welcoming Congregation is a commitment rather than an end point.
It is so delightful to learn that you have embarked upon increasing your awareness of individuals falling outside the male/female and gay/straight binaries. It’s beautiful that you were able to draw from Will Vanroosenbeek’s personal and professional experience to transform your hearts and minds.
Michael J Crumpler
LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager
Holiday tree decorating at UU
Saturday, December 1, 11am
Any and all are welcome to come to the Fellowship this Saturday at 11 am to help decorate the Christmas tree in the fellowship.
New basket in the coffee area for collection of items for shelters
Look for the basket on the large table in the coffee area. Our fellowship regularly collects items for local homeless centers and shelters, including New Horizons women and children’s shelter and the Franciscan Hospitality House. Many thanks to Kathy and Mike Schnitzius, who sort the items and take them where they’re most needed.
Current needs for New Horizons and the hospitality house: Women’s and men’s underwear
(new, please!); men’s and women’s socks, especially crew socks; undershirts; long-sleeved T-shirts; hoodies; scrubs; towels
; deodorant, razors, toothbrushes; and full-size containers of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion.
December Social Justice News
I just finished a terrific Thanksgiving holiday weekend with my family and good friends. I’m grateful for all that I have, and I’m pleased that there is a late fall/early winter holiday centered not on gifts, but on gratitude.
I believe that gratitude must be placed in a context. I’m grateful for my good health, while recognizing that not everyone has had the good luck that I have had, and that not everyone has had the access to medical care that I ‘ve had. In particular, for Thanksgiving, I try to focus on people close to me and the abundance of food in front of me, and at the same time, the history experienced by native people in the US.
The feast we commemorate was on one hand a joint colonial/native celebration, and on the other, the beginning of a relationship that took a terrible toll on people native to this continent. I think it’s important to both take in the joy of Thanksgiving, and to remember those prevented from experiencing that joy. It’s one reason that La Crosse does a Community Thanksgiving meal each year, at no cost to those who come.
One way this congregation addresses privilege is by taking special collections. Gratitude was shown by members of this fellowship in raising the following sums of money via our collection baskets on Sundays:
1) For Longfellow Middle School, as students returned to school in September: $327.
2) For La Crosse’s League of Women Voters Education Fund, with voter registration in full swing in October: $416.
3) For the Early Learning Center of the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House, following partnership action involving that community and white allies that successfully replaced Columbus Day in La Crosse with Indigenous Peoples Day: $386.
Thank you to all who contributed. These collections signal to our community that we are serious about equity, and our belief that all voices and all communities should be heard and valued. Please continue your generous contributions in the months ahead; for New Horizons in December—on the gift tree and in the collection baskets—and in January for the UWL Student Association Community Scholarship for Diversity.
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