UU La Crosse
A Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Learning when to let go
The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” Julia Cameron
Back in July of last summer, I made the decision to start taking guitar lessons. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to play guitar, it’s that I didn’t sound very good! I bought my first guitar back in 2009, a few weeks after my wedding. It felt like a time for all kinds of new beginnings. I took 2 starter lessons and decided I was going to do this on my own. I got a chord book and began learning the basics. Originally it felt like I was getting good pretty fast, but by about year 3, everything I did sounded the same – boring and standard. I went back to playing piano. I sounded better and I was able to learn pieces pretty quickly.
But there was a key difference between playing piano and playing guitar. I had taken piano lessons for 9 years, played in competitions, and been drilled in theory and technical exercises. I can still close my eyes and hear my piano teacher bark out instructions out as she chain-smoked, wrapped in an old afghan because she was always cold. (This was in the '70s before we understood the dangers of second hand smoke!) I didn’t become a decent pianist on my own. I had a lot of help, not to mention my parents’ willingness to pay for all those lessons and sit through my recitals, and a whole family that was subjected to my daily hour of practice.
And yet somehow, I thought I could become a decent guitarist all on my own. I slowly grew in the realization that if I was going to become even a modest guitarist, I would have to surrender to someone else’s direction. Now I have a pretty good teacher. He respects that I’m not a musical novice and he is learning how to intuit what I’m ready for and push me a little bit farther every lesson.
It would be easy to think that learning music is about just having the discipline to acquire new skills. But there is a lot of letting go. You have to let go of perfection and be willing to sound awful more than you sound good. At the beginning you have to surrender to the pain of your fingertips as you build the callouses that will allow you to play for long stretches of time. If you stop before the pain starts, those callouses won’t form. I have to be patient with myself as I make the same mistakes over and over again, trusting that if I surrender myself to my exercises, that I will be become a stronger musician. I’ve had to accept that I’m probably never going to be an Eric Clapton or a Joan Baez, but I’m going to be a decent guitarist.
In February our theme is surrender/letting go. Every one of us has had to learn how to let go in order to live. Sometimes the letting go is relatively easy, sometimes it is heart breaking. Sometimes it feels right and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it helps us to claim the power we do have, other times it’s just plain about accepting that we don’t have the power we think we did. The question at hand is how we welcome surrender as a essential part of a spiritual journey that enriches and transforms our life and the lives around us. That’s what we’re going to explore this month.
See you in February,
Rev. Krista Taves
Rev. Taves will begin her time with us on Sunday, February 10th and remain with us until the afternoon of Sunday February 17
. You are invited to be in touch with her if you would like to see her when she is in town. She would love to hear from you.
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new vision process
Our fellowship needs an inspiring new vision statement that will help us imagine what we want to be in the next five years.
In the next 6 to 9 months a core vision team will help build relationships and community and develop a vision statement through a series of guided conversations to collect and distill our collective dreams. The board will use this vision statement in its multi-year planning process -- to help develop a new mission statement and set goals, for example.
The vision team will collect ideas and perspectives in a variety of ways, meeting with ministry teams, identity groups, covenant groups, and so on. These gatherings will be coordinated with other fellowship activities, and the team will consult regularly with the board and Reverend Taves. The process also will include opportunities for individual input, and the team will consult with community partners as well.
Questions such as these will help us imagine possibilities:
- “How would you like to feel about the fellowship in five years?”
- “When you are engaged with the fellowship in five years, who is there and what does it feel like?”
- “How do you imagine our ministries, programming, and outreach in the next five years, with what kind of staffing?”
- “What sort of facilities or location(s) do you envision to accommodate our ministries, programming, and outreach?”
- “What do you imagine about the role of the fellowship in the La Crosse area?”
The vision core team includes co-chairs Cindy Ericksen and Eric Severson, Nathan Brown, Alice Holstein, and Maria Runde. They hope to hear from everyone in the congregation and will need volunteers to help with the process. People might do the following tasks, for example: take notes, create word cloud graphics, provide snacks, set up and clean up events, contact people, coordinate childcare, and synthesize information. If you are interested in helping or have questions, please contact any member of the team.
Warming Center is
As late January has brought us Arctic temperatures, it’s a good time to reflect on what this weather means for residents of our community who do not have a home. There are spaces where they can take refuge by day and early evening, but then what? Can you imagine sleeping in an unheated car at this time of year? Or how about trying to avoid frostbite and worse if you must sleep outdoors, huddled up perhaps with just a blanket and an inadequate coat?
It is an act of grace toward those suffering short-term or long-term homelessness that our community has created The La Crosse Warming Center. Their mission: “to work with the greater La Crosse community to better serve those experiencing homelessness, with dignity and respect, by providing a safe and warm place for homeless adults 18 years and older…during the winter months from November 1 until April 30.
Up to 40 guests are sheltered nightly where they can eat, shower and wash their clothes and rest for the night in recliner chairs. Open intake is from 7:00 pm until 8:30 pm each night. After 9:00 pm, referrals are accepted from the police, hospitals, and Salvation Army. All who can remain calm and be respectful of others are welcome to seek shelter, regardless of whether or not they have a mental illness or addiction problem.
Hundreds of volunteers, including at least one from our Fellowship, make the Warming Center possible. To help by providing needed financial support to this vital effort, you may place cash in the unmarked envelopes in the collection basket, or write a check to “Catholic Charities”, with “Warming Center” on the memo line.
Don't miss Progresstival!
What: Activist fair
Where: Concordia Ballroom, 1129 La Crosse St.
When: Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 - 5:30 p.m.
Theme: Healthy People, Healthy Planet
Sponsor: Coulee Region Progressives
What else? Speakers, networking, snacks, drinks
Cost: Freewill offering
UU La Crosse will have a table there, with our beautiful new banner.
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
OWL - seeking interest
A few fellowship members have created an Our Whole Lives (OWL) taskforce to bring OWL curricula to our fellowship. We hope to start with classes for grades K-1 and 4-6, and eventually offer classes for grades 7-9 and 10-12 as our current students age and/or that population increases. These classes are held separately from Sunday RE classes. Our timeline is late winter/early spring of 2020. You do not need to be a member to participate.
What is OWL?
If you are not familiar with OWL, here is a brief synopsis from the UUA web site:
Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. With a holistic approach, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality. Our Whole Lives covers topics and skills that both parents and students want to have available but schools are less likely to cover.
Our own fellowship has previously offered classes for middle school and high school and most recently partnered with the United Church of Christ in La Crosse. Here are some quotes from two past participants:
“OWL taught me meaningful lessons about consent, respect and loving fulfillment. All people deserve a safe environment to learn about themselves and others. And OWL is just that”.
“OWL is generally better and more encompassing than what you are taught in school”.
We are reaching out to the entire fellowship for help. We need facilitators. Please consider helping even if you do NOT have a child in RE. This is your chance to get involved with the youth of our fellowship, and we need some facilitators that are not parents of attendees.
We also want to hear back from parents with children in grades K-6. Are you interested in bringing OWL curricula to the fellowship? Would you have your child participate?
by Ann Patchett
is February read
Based on the
Japanese embassy hostage crisis
(also called the Lima Crisis) of 1996–1997 in Lima, Peru, the novel follows the relationships among a group of young terrorists and their hostages, who are mostly high-profile executives and politicians, over several months. Many of the characters form unbreakable bonds of friendship, while some fall in love.
ra is a centralizing theme on many levels throughout the story; the operatic term
literally means "beautiful singing."
The book group is open to
anyone. Come for one session or every month. For more information or to get a copy of the book, contact Janis Jolly, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612 709 6036.
Mindful Dying: The Sacred Passage
Jackie Yaeger, MD
Jackie Yaeger is a palliative care physician and a death doula in La Crosse. She believes that death is a spiritual rather than a medical event. She will help us explore how mindfulness, simple ritual and being fully present allows us to experience the mystery, the beauty and the healing that is part of the dying time. She will use storytelling from her experiences sitting with people who are dying to illustrate her perspective.
Terrible at Surrender
Rev. Krista Taves
Most of us like to be in control. We prefer
that life be explainable and logical and that things can be assigned to a place and
stay there. But life isn’t usually like that. How do we get over being terrible at
surrender so that we can be present to life?
Letting go when you’re little
Rev. Krista Taves, Delena Leon, and the
Powerlessness is a regular experience of childhood, with adults around
them continuously setting the limits and boundaries. How do children understand
this ongoing letting go and what can adults learn from their experience?
The cold and gloom of winter are nearly gone. Springtime beckons, promises renewal,
and invites us to risk joy once again. How might we release our fear and
despair, celebrate our survival, and dare to open ourselves again to the winds
of a new world? Unitarian Universalism can guide us.
Homeless shelters needs continue
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.
News from RE
Children are quite resilient and brave. For them things are constantly changing. They learn fast how to deal with change, how to let go. This month we will be discussing ways to surrender in peace and gratitude, two themes we have also talked about this year, and hopefully having some fun while doing it.
The children will be highly involved in the February 17 multi-generational service so RE class attendance is highly encouraged
, but don’t worry there will be some opportunities to participate if you miss out.
In January the children in RE, grade k-5, were partnered with a long-time member of our fellowship in a Pen Pal program. This program is a once a month in-class activity, where children will exchange letters the first Sunday of the month in RE class. If you would like more information on joining the program as either an “experienced” pal or a child new to RE, or who may have missed out, please contact me.
Regular attendance will help this new program’s success so make sure to be there.
Many new and exciting things are happening in the RE classes this month, I hope to see you there!
Thank you so much,
RE Interim Director
La Crosse jail to start weekday
The La Crosse Jail is committed to providing spiritual programming for a diverse population. Rev. Taves has offered to provide a Mindfulness Meditation during her week in La Crosse. Jail policy requires that there always be two people present in all services provided to
the residents. If you would consider joining Rev. Taves to either help facilitate a mindfulness meditation or simply accompany her, email email@example.com.
Still Dreaming is our movie for February. Our theme for February is letting go/surrender and this movie speaks to perceptions of aging and creativity, that we might need to let go of. Furthermore art brings us closer our inner self, but it is a process of surrender.
UU 101 offered February 24
Would you like more information about this Fellowship? Or perhaps you would like to learn more about Unitarian Universalist principles. These will be discussed at UU 101 after the service on February 24. Bring your coffee to the conference room, around 11:35 for an hour of information exchange. Questions? Contact Ingrid
Membership Development job open
Announcing a new job position at our Fellowship. The 11-month position (beginning in February) will work closely with the Membership Services Team and focus on improving the engagement of members, supporters and friends as well as serving their needs. This growth initiative position is funded through the Hanifl Grant. You can find the posting on our website
UU La Crosse Job Opportunities
and on our
, so please share with others.
Young adult group meets Feb. 11
On Monday, February 11th, the first meeting of the young adult discussion group,“Real Talk, Real Time,” will be held at Java Vino. This is a new group associated with UU La Crosse where those aged 18-35 can engage in self-exploration through guiding questions. Meet at 5:30pm to order food and drinks, with discussion to start at 6pm. theme for the month is “Surrender & Letting Go.” Please RSVP by February 9th to Giorgia at
along with any questions you may have.
From the Board
Teams, Budgets, Future of Ministry, & Interviews – Oh MY!
2019 Is shaping up to be full of new milestones and opportunities thanks in part to the success of our Stewardship Campaign. That success is poised to further financially equip our Staff & Teams to talk-the-talk about growth and also do it. Their effectiveness can be seen in action at the two recent Team Chair Program Council meetings and in the new activities, programs, and even staff support.
Below is a summary of the budget that Teams reviewed, and the Board approved, for 2019. In this coming year, we plan on moving the Budget schedule for review and approval earlier to try for more Fellowship-wide involvement. Please don’t hesitate to ask a board or finance team member for more detail:
Expected Income includes $130,698 in pledges, $35,000 from the Hanifl grant and $4,000 from the Wilkinson grant, for a total of
$169,698. Recommended expenses by Finance Team were
$176,863 so we applied $7,165 of carryover funds from 2018. We will set aside $31,750.78 for 2020 to cover the cost of ½ time ministry when the Hanifl Grant will be unlikely. The draft budget proposed several months ago by Teams was reduced to arrive at the $176,863 amount (a $5,064 decrease). Special thanks to the Finance Team for all their hard work and dedication to our solid finances!
Or, if you prefer visuals:
The Board is thrilled to announce that we are negotiating with Rev. Krista to remain with us for the 2019-2020 fellowship year! In the coming year, determining the future of ministry is one of our top goals and will be informed, in part, through our current Visioning Process. To assist, the Board is seeking volunteers to restart the "Ministerial Team" to help gather information and guide the fellowship toward their desires. No experience on a Team is necessary and all perspectives are welcome. Barbara McPeak and Ingrid Iverson have agreed to join this team, so please contact them for more information or to express your interest before the next board meeting at noon on February 10th.
We are happy to be building on the 1st year success of our Outreach Coordinator position in 2018 with the new Membership Development Coordinator for 2019. In the coming days we will be interviewing the 5 applicants (yes, 5!) to work closely with Member Services and Hospitality Teams, Rev. Krista and staff to improve engagement with and better serve our members, friends, & supporters needs. They are all very strong candidates, so our decision will not be easy, but look for an announcement shortly and please welcome them into the new role.
Social Justice News-- February 2019
Social justice work always involves a combination of reflecting deeply on our values and principles, and thenconnecting with others to act on them in the wider world.
The year 2018 was a time of frenetic action-- , we were there for the Women’s March, the March for Our Lives, PeopleFest, PrideFest, and the Great River Folk Festival. We sponsored four voter registration and awareness as part of a multi-organization community effort, leading to an astronomically high midterm turnout of 85% in La Crosse County. Now, it’s time to get caught up on
reflecting upon and connecting around values.
This Fellowship in 2019 will have substantial involvement in five conversation-based efforts, focused on clarifying values and principles. They are:
Waking Up White
Regional Community Learning Collaborative. Debby Irving’s powerful book with this title calls on us as white people to reflect on the ways we have benefited unknowingly from the privilege of being fair-skinned in a white-dominant world. Many in our Fellowship read this book, starting with a covenant group that spent months diving in, followed by a multi-part Fellowship-wide read lead by our Beloved Conversations Opposing Racism (BCOR) group, and our book club. This project, supported by the La Crosse Public Library and La Crosse SURJ, will make this book the focus of a community read.
From Goodwill to Good Work. Spearheaded by Social Justice member Mary Nelson, this not-yet-launched 2019 project stems from the work of Reggie Jackson and Fran Kaplan, principal leaders of the work that established the soon-to-be-reopened Milwaukee Black Holocaust Museum. Focusing on race and how racial attitudes have impacted us throughout American history and in the present day, this project will include public lectures, training of local facilitators, and three “deep dive” facilitated dialogues.
Uncapped Conversations. One Tuesday evening a month, Rev. Krista facilitates a structured-format group conversation on important issues. This meeting is open to both UU members and the larger community. The number of seats is limited, so an advance email to Rev. Krista of intent to attend is required. Read your weekly eNews for more details.
UW-L UU Outreach Group. Our technology coordinator, Giorgia Brennan, and Rev. Krista are heading up this just-forming group to provide a gathering place for UW-L youth who share our values.
Empowerment Group. In a hate-filled political environment where denial of rights is rampant, it’s easy for progressives to become disheartened, depressed, and/or angry.
Starting on Saturday, February 16, 10:00-11:30 in our conference room, I will facilitate a meeting to do two things: 1) name the feelings; 2) identify personal actions to build and sustain energy and a sense of empowerment.
I encourage you to speak with me or email me about any of these five activities. I will fill you in or connect you with the person who can best tell you how to get involved. This is a time to recharge our batteries so that we are ready to act as critical moments arise. I can be contacted at
Sunday mornings and Tuesdays from 2pm- 5pm.
Deadlines for Newsletters & Announcements:
: Giorgia at
firstname.lastname@example.org by 12pm Mondays
Janis at email@example.com
by 23rd of the month
Order of Service:
Emmy at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 12pm Mondays
All other announcement
s: Emmy at email@example.com.