Recording of our June 6, 2021 online Coming of Age Sunday worship service
Welcome & Announcements
Good morning, and welcome to Birmingham Unitarian Church! I am Raina Dearing, assisting with this morning’s Coming of Age service. Today’s service features 8th graders Gabe Loomis, Sabrina Schreck, Dana White, and myself, supported by Coming of Age advisors Doug Boddy, Dave Graham, Tanya Nordhaus, and LuAnne Holder, members of the RE Council, GUUSH, and BUC staff including RE Coordinator Nico Van Ostrand and Music Directors, Steve & Abha Dearing, with technical support from Sara Constantankis and Zoom greeter Mary Jo Ebert.
BUC is a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Even in our virtual format, we are a thriving community with a place for everyone. Social justice is an essential component of our church life.
We are a “capital W” Welcoming Congregation and a Green Sanctuary Congregation. Our social justice work this year is focused on civic engagement, racial inequality, economic inequality, and environmental justice.
Our worship services are hosted on Zoom every Sunday morning at 10:30 and then later posted on Facebook. After the service, we invite you to stay for a virtual coffee hour.
If you are worshiping with us for the first time today, we extend a special welcome to you.
Before we begin our worship together, we have two announcements:
This is for all of you gardeners, workers, and anyone who wants to get outside! On Friday, June 11, you can reconnect with BUC members and friends, help protect the natural world, and make our grounds more beautiful. Volunteer for the 2021 BUC Outdoor Work Day on Friday, June 11 from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Just so you know, we are planning a way station for workers who need a drink, a bathroom, or a spot to rest--and maybe a snack or two. There is a link to RSVP for this event in the Thursday email and on the BUC Community Facebook page. Or you can send an email to Jane O'Neil.
Do you have suggestions for topics for our upcoming worship services? Have a burning question or something you want to hear more about? You can submit your worship topic suggestions using the link in the Thursday email, or you can email Sara Constantakis and she will put them in the form for you. Suggestions are due by June 30.
And now, our service will begin.
read by Gabriel Loomis
I light the chalice this morning for the Coming of Age youth, with words from Rev. Leslie Takahashi:
“Walk the maze
within your heart: guide your steps into its questioning curves.
This labyrinth is a puzzle leading you deeper into your own truths.
Listen in the twists and turns.
Listen in the openness within all searching.
Listen: a wisdom within you calls to a wisdom beyond you and in that dialogue lies peace.”
read by Dana White
This morning’s opening words are adapted from “Crossing the Bridge from Youth to Young Adulthood” by Donna Disciullo, Michael Tino, and the staff of the UUA Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry:
“We gather here in community: people of all ages, on many paths; elders, adults, young adults, youth, children, infants.
We who gather here, what do we seek? We who gather here, why have we come together? We who gather here, what purpose has this community?
We gather here to share in our lives; to minister to each other; to teach, to learn, to love.
Infants, children, youth, young adults, adults, elders; on many paths, people of all ages.
Today we gather in celebration of our intergenerational community and to honor our 8th grade Coming of Age youth. We gather today to affirm our commitment to them and their ministries, for they are our children who have grown, our friends, siblings, and grandchildren. They may be new to our faith or may have been born into it many years ago. They are our present and our future.”
It is time now for our weekly offering:
The mission of Birmingham Unitarian Church is to create a free and welcoming religious community that encourages lives of integrity, learning, service, and joy. The weekly offering serves as an ongoing reminder of this mission and strengthens the bonds between congregants and our high purpose. It also gives us the opportunity to engage in the rewarding spiritual practice of generosity. So let there be an offering in support of this Beloved Community and our good works. Contributions can be made through our website, with Venmo (user name @BUCMI), or with a check in the mail. However you choose to give, please do so with a heart of gratitude and for each other.
Joys and Sorrows
This part of the service is set aside for reflection and prayer.
There were no joys or sorrows submitted this week.
For everyone with joys and sorrows today, shared and unshared, we keep all of you in our hearts; you are loved and you are not alone.
read by David Graham
I invite you now into a deeper spirit of reflection and prayer, with words by Aoife Barrington-Haber:
“As the child leaves the doorstep, the parent prays:
Please, keep my child safe,
And give me the courage to let them go out to explore the world.
The child prays,
Watch over my parents while I’m gone,
And help them believe that I really do know what I’m doing.
The grandparent prays,
Thank you for this precious gift twice given.
Let me remember that my child and my grandchild is each their own person,
And let them remember that my door is always open.
Blessed be, and Amen.”
It is now time for BUC’s 8th grade youth to share their credos. The Coming of Age curriculum is designed to help youth better appreciate Unitarian Universalism and how UU values intersect with their values and beliefs. We explored what it means to belong to a congregation as they leave childhood. We also explored the web of interdependence, diversity, meditation, social action, and connecting to the natural world among other topics. These explorations have culminated into the youth writing their own credos. A credo is a snapshot of their values, faith, identity, and beliefs at this one point of time. After each credo, I invite you to show your gratitude for the youth’s vulnerability and sharing by applauding, smiling widely, or making some other visible gesture of thanks.
Often times I have heard people say “you can’t do ____” or “you can’t do ____.” Maybe one of you has heard this before- from yourself, a friend, a family member, a teacher. Maybe you have grown up knowing you were meant to be or do something, whether it’s art, science, math, business, or literature- you strived to work toward that just to be put down by these words: “you can’t.” For me, my thing is art. I want to be in a job or environment that involves art overwhelmingly. Then I worked toward that goal, I practiced and taught myself how to draw in preschool. Unconsciously, I improved my fine motor control by practicing drawing lines, circles, squares, rectangles, swirls, hearts, and the hardest- stars. I filled pages with these shapes and forms, line after line, using whatever I had to draw (even highlighters). Then I moved on to coloring pages. Instead of using the ‘right’ side of the page, I would turn the blank coloring page over and draw a mirror image on the back by looking through the paper to the lines on the other side. Then I tried freehand drawing without tracing when I was in kindergarten. Now, my art has progressed exponentially. To the point where this is a doodle:
In first grade, I decided I wanted to be an artist. I was met by words along the lines of: “oh sweetie, sure, but you’re going to starve. I ignored this, because I believe that in order to be happy, you can’t let other people define who you are. You know yourself better than anyone else. With this, I’ve also learned that you only have yourself in this world. You can only lean on something or someone for so long lest it drag you both down. You are born alone and will die alone. That may sound a bit dark, but in the wise words of Katherine MacKenett: “Now, every time I witness a strong person, I want to know: what darkness did you conquer in your story? Mountains do not rise without earthquakes”. As far as the journey after death, I don't know. I don't even know if that journey exists. I don’t know if I believe in heaven or hell, in a life force, or karma. But I find peace in knowing it is ok not to know exactly what you believe in or the meaning of life. I consider myself a realist, so a realist I will be. I have decided that I resonate most with Agnostic. Thank you.
BUC makes me feel welcome, included, and understood. I know I always have a family in the congregation at church.
The idea of a greater power is important to me right now. Not necessarily a god, but some being or force of energy that exists.
My mom’s side of the family shares very strong beliefs in Hinduism, and I actively participate in the practices, traditions, and holidays that revolve around the many gods that we as a family worship. I am more inclined to worship these gods because I have been taught how to pray to them my whole life, but I am not sure yet just how much I actually rely on them. My dad grew up as a Catholic, but religion is not as big a part in his side of the family.
I stay open to new religions and am willing to learn about what other people practice religiously. In RE, I have learned growing up just how important it is to have knowledge about different ways of worship.
Unitarian Universalism is and always has been a big part of my life, and I think it is very important for people to become educated about other religions and different ways of thinking. Because of BUC, I have opened up to new opinions and have grown up accepting other people for who they are and choose to be. The congregation and services have also taught me that people are people and that love is love.
I personally do not believe in heaven specifically, and there is no way for me to be sure what happens after you die, but I believe that there is somewhere you go to be at peace when you pass away. If there is a heaven, I do not believe it is some kind of kingdom in the sky. I also do not think there is a hell, but I do believe that the actions you make in life come back to you after you die in some way.
I plan on continuing my faith as a Unitarian Universalist. I am very excited to continue growing and learning in RE.
The first time I remember going to BUC I did not know what to expect. There were new ideas and other ideas that I didn't even know about. All the things that I learned about God were from Camp Michindoh. When I first went to Camp Michindoh, I was first exposed to the idea that God cleanses you of sin and that any sin will not matter as long as the lord is in your heart. This was proven through a demonstration. A person had a jar of water and a pitcher of water next to it along with a wooden cross with a base. He poured the water from the pitcher into the jar and the water in the jar turned red. He said that as sin entered you the Lord could cleanse you of that sin. He then put the cross into the jar and the water in the jar turned clear again. He then said that once the Lord was in your heart no sin could enter it. He then poured some of the water from the pitcher into the jar with the cross in it and the waters did not turn red as they had done before. This showed me the power of God and what it will do for you. A thing I experienced during this was interest and wonder at the thing that just happened. It was a visual aid to show what the power of God can do. Yes this was chemistry but it showed God's power to me. I believe in God and His power and in Jesus. But this does not mean that I am Christian. I believe that God is the creator of all things as the Bible says. What the Bible says has happened I believe has happened and the teachings of the Bible are true. What I learned at this camp does not really affect my daily life, it is just there like a presence that is willing to reach out and be comforting and will help me when I am feeling sad or down. I don't really like the idea that something or someone decides what I will do. I have always adapted to what was needed at that point in time. This means that I have changed what I do and think to what was required in what I was doing. Like creating a painting or writing a paper. These beliefs have lived within me but have not shaped what I do or what I think all that much. These beliefs might change over time but that will not necessarily happen. I have said what needs to be said and with this I will end my credo. Thank you for listening.
From the day I was born up until now, I never really knew what I believed in. So in 5th grade when I found out that I had to write a credo and share it in front of everyone, I was freaking out.
When anyone would ask me what my religion was, I always answered with I am a Unitarian Universalist, but that wasn’t my true religion. I never really thought about what I believed in before, because religion is not a priority in my life. In 6-7th grade we started learning about religion, while we were learning about other religions and what they believe in and practiced, I realized that I don’t believe in anything similar. Two years ago when I was listening to my sister, Audrey Schreck, share her credo I noticed that I agreed with the majority of what she said.
That is when I realized that I am Agnostic. I believe that there could or there could not be gods. I think that whatever beliefs you might follow could be accurate. I believe that no matter who you are, where you come from, what your beliefs are, you should not be judged for it. Even if your beliefs are different from someone else's, that doesn't mean you are wrong.
Rather than for religious purposes, every time I enter church I don't enter expecting to be amazed by the words of gods, I enter each zoom meeting to be reunited with the open arms of this loving community.
I will continue to personally value church for the messages it brings through the 7 and hopefully 8 principles, Its acceptance of my religious stance as an Agnostic, and of course for the donuts.
Welcome to Youth
RE Coordinator Nico Van Ostrand
Dana, Sabrina, Gabe, Raina, beloved 8th grade youth--
You have always been part of this community, but now after a year of learning and reflecting you have a new understanding of what it means to be held in a religious community; and after witnessing your credo statements, we have a new understanding of what it means that you are part of us. We know too that these credos are just snapshots, tiny glimpses into who you are as full and wonderful people. We know that part of being in community with one another is constantly getting to know each other over and over again. Today, you blessed us with your vulnerability and stories, and confirmed what we already knew--that the BUC community is made better by your presence.
I know I don’t need to say it, but I’m going to anyway: this was a weird year, a challenging year to come of age. I know I speak for Rev. Mandy, your advisors, the RE Council, and all of the adults who’ve had the honor of knowing you over the years when I say that I am proud of you. Turning inward and examining your beliefs is no small thing, and cracking open to allow in the guidance and care of your advisors is no small thing.
And advisors, holding space with our 8th grade youth in a year marked by grief, change, and exhaustion is no small thing. Thank you. Thank you for being the example to these youth of what it means to be part of the BUC community by giving of yourself, centering care, and making your way through the unavoidable bumps and difficulties that pandemic era youth advising brings. I’m in awe of you all.
To everyone else here today--I invite you for a moment to cup your hands in front of you like this. Imagine into your hands a gift, a blessing, a wish you have for Gabe, Dana, Raina, and Sabrina. The four of you 8th grade youth, I invite you to switch to gallery view so you can see all of the congregants and all of the love on your Zoom screen this morning. I hope you can feel it, and I hope that part of your “getting to know us” process with this community is learning all of the gifts, blessings, and wishes these members of the BUC community are cupping in their hands for you today.
As we reach the conclusion of this service and your coming of age, I want to welcome you, Raina, Gabe, Sabrina, and Dana into the next year, the next chapter, the next breath. From the foundation you began long ago, to the deep exploration you embarked on this year--welcome into the BUC community, who will continue to be with you as your beliefs shift or solidify, as you question and wonder, as you break down and figure out how to build back up again. Welcome.
read by Douglas Boddy
We close today’s Coming of Age service with a benediction from Dana E. Worsnop.
“In the name of all that is good and holy, with the Spirit of Life and Love which dwells within and among and beyond us,
We bless you.
May your journey know joy and contentment and satisfaction.
May it also know pain and disappointment in just enough measure to grow within you good character and compassion.
May both character and compassion guide your lives.
May you never feel alone.
May you always feel love around you from family and friends and from that great holy source beyond us all.
May you always offer your love to the world.
May you walk your path, through the light and the darkness, with hope and faith and grace.
We bless you.