UU La Crosse
A Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Grace is a spiritual practice that grounds us in the present
Many of us, though not all, who grew up in the Christian tradition were taught an understanding of grace where grace was forgiveness or salvation offered even though we did not deserve it. It was given to us despite our sinfulness. For that reason, many Unitarian Universalists shy away from considering what grace might mean in a spiritual practice that affirms our inherent worth and dignity.
However, some of us were lucky enough to learn about and experience grace in a way that did not make a judgment about who we were. I grew up in a progressive Christian community where grace was understood as a blessing offered freely and with no conditions, true universal kindness and connection.
What I love about this understanding of grace is that it separates grace from any kind of transaction. We live in a society where we assign a worth to almost everything and everyone. Grace is outside of this transactional understanding of value. Something is valuable, beautiful, kind, creative, generous, and inspiring simply because it is. Its value is also not based on how long it lasts. Grace is ultimately a spiritual practice that grounds us in the present moment. All that is asked of us is that we notice its presence and welcome its life-giving blessing.
Grace is our theme for the month of January, and I feel that it is pretty timely. January is often a difficult month. After the Thanksgiving/Hannukah/Solstice/Christmas festivities, January can usher in a sense of isolation, loneliness, and sadness. The darkness of the month can also leave some of us struggling to feel joy. Focusing on grace is a way to recover a connection to beauty, tenderness, simplicity, and love.
See you soon,
Rev. Krista’s January visit is January 13 – 20. If you would like to make an appointment to meet with her, she would love to hear from you. You can contact her directly at
Real Talk in Real Time.
Grace as Freedom.
Rev. Krista Taves. January 15, 6:30 p.m. at the private room at Java Vino, State Road, La Crosse. In this open covenant group, we use stories, readings, and guiding questions to explore our own lives in light of the theme of the evening. These conversations are a time to stop, rest, reconnect, and renew. All are welcome.
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.
January Special Collection
benefits female students of color
The UW-L Student Association scholarship for female students of color is the January Special Collection. Female students of color at UW-L have a lower retention rate compared to white female students, and finish their school years with a debt load higher than that of other groups. As a result, the UW-L Student Association is seeking funding from multiple agencies in La Crosse, in order to start a designated scholarship for female students of color. This is a chance to help develop a leader from within an important minority community; a college education, while increasingly necessary in today's world, is unaffordable for many.
Please place money in the specially marked envelopes, or make out a check to "UW-L Foundation." Please, to fit help processing, squeeze onto the memo line the words "Student Association Scholarship". If you have any questions, please contact Ron Malzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young Adult Unitarian Universalist Group starting Friday, January18th,
Greengrass Cafe, time TBA
We are starting 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. January’s planning meeting is on Friday the 18th (time TBA) at Greengrass Cafe,
1904 Campbell Rd
La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601.
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
Book group stays with 'wife' theme
The book group discussed
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman at its December meeting on Dec. 27. The book was a hit, scoring 4.2 out of 5.
Next up is
The Shoemaker's Wife by Anna Trigliani.
This multigenerational love story spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of star-crossed lovers to find each other again. The Shoemaker's Wife is replete with page-turning adventure, sumptuous detail, and heart-stopping romance.
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, email@example.com or call 612 709 6036.
Pulling together January's theme of Grace, the new year and Martin Luther King day led us to the movie " I Am Not Your Negro."
The New Year is a moment of grace, a time to leave the past behind as we embrace this newness. The dawning of New Year’s Day offers us possibility, which is a precious perspective.
Likewise, the day honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. can also be grace-filled, especially as a day of community service. As he said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. …You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
Per the NEW YORK TIMES Whatever you think about the past and future of what used to be called “race relations” — white supremacy and the resistance to it, in plainer English — this movie will make you think again, and may even change your mind.“I Am Not Your Negro” is a thrilling introduction to James Baldwins work , a remedial course in American history, and an advanced seminar in racial politics — a concise, roughly 90-minute movie with the scope and impact of a 10-hour mini-series or a literary doorstop. It is not an easy or a consoling movie, but it is the opposite of bitter or despairing. “I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive,” Baldwin said. “I’m forced to be an optimist.”'
Come see this thought- provoking movie on Saturday January 5th at 4 pm . Your choice of seat, and popcorn too!
January 6, The Mystery of Grace
Anne Lamott stated, "I do not understand the mystery of grace-only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us."
Amanda Strosahl has been a member of the fellowship for greater than 10 years. She is an internal medicine physician at Gundersen and is an active seeker finding joy in the little things in life.
January 13. Grace Rules.
Rev. Krista Taves
Poet, essayist and novelist Brian Doyle once wrote, ““Grace is uncontrollable, arbitrary to our senses, apparently unmerited. It's utterly free, ferociously strong, about as mysterious a thing as you could imagine. First rule of grace: grace rules.”
Life can be awkward, chaotic, and bruising, so we’ll explore how grace can actually save the day.
January 21, Grace for the Long Haul
Martin Luther King Sunday
Rev. Krista Taves
The struggle for racial equity in this country continues, with harsh reminders of how strongly the injustices of the past still live with us today. We need to cultivate a mindful resilience so that we can embrace the reality of our history while working towards a justice for today and tomorrow. Grace is one of ways we can do that.
January 28, The Gift of Grace
Every act of genuine love is an expression of grace. It is a gift. In loving without the desire to possess, we find ourselves receiving more than we give. This experience comes to us most frequently in the practice of hospitality. In welcoming the stranger, we find ourselves being welcomed. We find a part of ourselves that had been lost.
Rick Kyte is the Endowed Professor and Director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University. Rick writes a regular column for the La Crosse Tribune titled "The Ethical Life." He is a member of the First Presbyterian Church and the Downtown Rotary Club of La Crosse.
Happy New Year from your UU of La Crosse Board! It has been a happy 2018 and we are looking forward to an even happier 2019 serving our Fellowship. We are thrilled to report that supporters like you have pledged more than in 2018 and we also received a second year of funding growth initiatives through the Hanifl Grant ($35,000). While we are short of funding all the Team budget requests, the Board and Finance Team will work closely with chairs to ensure the highest priority needs are met. More specifics on the results of the stewardship drive will be shared in the coming weeks, including what our funding looks like based on program areas, so keep your eyes peeled.
Speaking of program areas, our Outreach Coordinator, Donna, has been working with Membership services to improve greeting people as they arrive at the Fellowship – we hope you have noticed and appreciated it. Donna will continue greeting into January while we conduct a search for a new growth initiative position funded through the Hanifl Grant, Membership Development Coordinator. This new 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.
If you are looking to get more involved or share ideas for the Fellowship, January has several opportunities. Following our successful November Program Council (a meeting for chairs of Teams to get together and make decisions on issues that affect multiple Teams) we are meeting next on January 19
, so please bring forward any questions or proposals to the Team chairs or to the Board by January 16
Finally, our Board invites everyone to two get-togethers for more engagement and openness between the board, our minister, and our Fellowship. Bring your questions, comments, and an open mind. If folks like it, we will schedule them again!
Please save these dates/times:
Coffee with the Minister & Board: January 20th, 11:45 am, Fellowship Sanctuary
Member Requests of the Board: January 13th, 11:45 am- 12 pm, Board Room
Jacob Sciammas, Board President
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.
Singing in the choir
is good for your health
Fact: Singing in a choir improves breathing, posture, mood, blood pressure, brain power, immune system and energy. Rehearsals are twice per month, on the first and third Wednesdays September -May, and at 8:45am on Sundays the choir sings. In January, the choir will rehearse on the 2nd and 16th and sing at services on the 6th and 20th. Please email
with any questions.
January Social Justice News
The year 2018 was a busy and productive one for our congregation. From a social justice perspective,
the active involvement of our Social Justice Team, Administrative Director Emmy Carlson, Outreach
Director Donna Bauer, and many members of this congregation produced results. With our main
focus being our four-event “Everyone Votes 2018” campaign, we were thrilled to see that an
extraordinary 85% of registered voters—nearly 20 percentage points above the 2014 mid-term
elections-- went to the polls in La Crosse County on November 6.
Our congregation tabled at Myrick Hixon’s Earth Day, at the first ever PeopleFest in Riverside Park,
at the annual Pride Fest, and at a University of Wisconsin student-attended gathering. Through our
connection with SURJ, we had a significant role in getting La Crosse’s Mayor and City Council to
proclaim “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” as a replacement for Columbus Day. And we generated a supply
of T-shirts and buttons that proudly proclaimed to the community that we are here! (Do take home a
button—they are hanging on the wall in the coffee room).
Looking ahead, 2019 will be somewhat different. We will still do tabling. But there are no upcoming
major elections. This looks to me to be a year where we focus a bit more inward, and work on
intensifying our grounding in UU principles and sources of meaning. Drawing on what Rev. Krista has
called “a force of love greater than what can be imagined,” we will focus on both self-care and healing
I think back on Mark Ewart’s May visit. Mark is a Washington, DC-based congregational consultant
whose focus is stewardship. At the conclusion of an intense weekend, he presented both oral findings,
and a detailed report that contained a set of recommendations centered on stewardship. In addition
to all of that valuable information, he made a few comments very relevant to the heart of social justice
work. One I will share: “Social justice work needs to be transformative. An example would be a person
who could say “When I marched in the Pride parade in my orange shirt, it meant so much to me, and
life has not been the same since.’”
Our Social Justice Team is embarking, with Rev. Krista’s guidance, on developing a 2019 project that
reflects all of the above. It will be designed to involve as many members as possible, and as many
teams as possible. It will be an activity that is meaningful and powerful to all ages, from our RE youth
to our senior members. It will come from our core values. And it will be developed in a process that is
as open and inclusive as possible.
Here’s to a 2019 that is both meaningful and powerful!
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
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Emmy at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 12pm Mondays
All other announcement
s: Emmy at email@example.com.