January news from Faith Formation

For this one moment

Know only that you are loved

That you are safe, and whole and loved

Know that you belong here

Here among us, here upon this earth

~ Rev. Gretchen Haley

This month’s focus is on the gifts of liberating love. Our own direct experiences and any thought experiment confirms that deepest intuitive knowing, that love is the key to solving any problem and overcoming any challenge. Perhaps the greatest of these gifts is that sense of belonging we experience when love grows.

Faith Formation Staff Changes

December 31 was Nikki Bauer’s last day as a regular Sunday teacher.  Please join me in thanking her for her service over the last year and a half as a teacher. Don’t worry. You’ll still get to see her cheerful face as the office administrator.

December 31 marks a change for Harrison Wendt as he transitions away from Youth Programming Coordinator to Sunday Faith Formation teacher.  Please join me in wishing him well as he embraces new opportunities on his journey.

Joining us in January as a Sunday Faith Formation teacher is Marketa Young, whom you may have met in her volunteer role with the toddler-preschool group.  She writes: “I am excited to be part of the UU community here away from my home church, Foothills Unitarian. I am a freshman at the Fort majoring in accounting. I love to bake, read, sing, and meet new people so please feel welcome to come say hello! I love my congregation in Fort Collins so I am grateful to find a similarly kind community in Durango.” We are thrilled to have her on board as a Sunday teacher.


Coming Attractions

Sunday Faith Formation with Youth and Children

January 7: Love is magnetic, can never be divided—only multiplied.

January 14: Love lights the way (and will be expressed through a fun craft project).

January 21: Love expresses in service and makes space for social and racial justice.

January 28: Love calls us to action in our personal lives and in our community.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) for Elementary School

Watch this space for the dates for Our Whole Lives (OWL) classes for the elementary school kids beginning in February.  This sexuality education presents honest, accurate information about sexuality that dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships and improves decision-making. This 10-session program will be led by Nikki Bauer and Harrison Wendt, who became certified OWL teachers last spring.

Val Pals is a program to develop friendships between the adults and children of UUFD.  The adult mails “valentines” to an assigned child multiple times in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, keeping their identity a secret.  The big reveal will be at a Valentines party after service on February 11.  If you’re an adult who would like to get to know one of our children and youth better, click here to sign up.  If you’re the parent of a child, and you’d like for your child(ren) to participate, click here to sign up.  The deadline to sign up is January 12, 2024.

Circles of Trust – Exploring “Habits of the Heart” begins January 27, 2024

“Circles of Trust” is a small group ministry which explores the inner teacher in each of us and builds compassionate relationships with others. Through personal reflection, deep listening, open and honest questions, and clearness committees, we build trust in our authentic selves and in one another. “Circles of Trust” draws from the spiritual writing of Quaker Parker Palmer.

This series will focus on Habits of the Heart, a curriculum based on Palmer’s 2011 book Healing the Heart of Democracy¸ where he applies his principles to the public arena. The first session will explain “Circles of Trust” practice; the remaining three sessions will provide spiritual deepening and tips for practical application in our shared ministries. While attendance at all four sessions is encouraged, don’t let unpredictable schedules get in the way of signing up.

For advance reading about “Circles of Trust,” see Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life. For the orientation and content of this particular retreat series, see Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy. For lovely holiday reading, see Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak. These titles are available on Amazon.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Coeyman is a UU Accredited Interim Minister and a credentialed Facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal, the sponsoring institution of “Circles of Trust.” For questions and more information, contact Rev. Barbara directly at intmin@durangouu.org.

These classes will meet on Saturday mornings every other week beginning on January 27, 2024 and running through March 9, 2024; they are held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  To register, click here.

Personal Faith Development  — the Gifts of Liberating Love

As we come into the new year, many of us make lists of all sorts of resolutions, which don’t seem to work very well for most of us.  So, this January, I invite you to create a different kind of list – a list of the people who have been there for you through thick and thin. We’ve all been saved, sustained, healed, and transformed by the love of close friends and family, as well as those who only briefly crossed our paths. Some of these acts are huge and some are momentary.

Identify these special people and their gifts before they slip from your memory, leaving your hearts feeling, some days, like you’ve only been loved by a few.

You might do this in a single sitting, or you might add to the list as memories come to you.  This list of special people is likely much longer than you first imagine.  Spend enough time to allow your memories to bubble up.  The big moments will likely come first; the quieter moments and single exchanges will take some time to come forward. Some of these gifts of love may have felt like a curse or punishment at the time only to be recognized later for the acts of deep love they were.  For some of us, it will help to go through our lives chronologically. For others, thinking about types of love will work best. And when you think your list is done, give it just a bit more time. Pay special attention to who arises from this extra thought. When you are done:

  • Read your list aloud and pay attention to which names catch in your throat or bring an unexpected tear.
  • Pick three to five names from the list and write them a letter, letting them know how their love lives in you still.  Even if that person is no longer here, write the letter anyway.
  • Record yourself reading the names and thanking them for their gift of love. Listen to the recording and see what feelings or insights arise.
  • Then tell a friend the story of one of these gifts paying close attention to how the retelling makes you feel.
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea as you explore these gifts of love that have shaped the person you have become.

This lovely quote from Valarie Kaur is a reminder that love is a multi-faceted, splendid, dynamic presence. “Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger is the force that protects that which is loved.”

Respectfully submitted – Sharon Mignerey, Coordinator of Faith Formation