BERNARDSTON UNITARIAN CHURCH
the historic 1739 town meeting house
Served by ministers Albert Ciarcia and Steve Wilson
Regular Services are Sunday mornings at 11:30am - coffee & goodies at 11
Congratulations to Ed Phelps and the Fall Town String Band for their wonderful work uniting music and history in the Pioneer Valley! The performance at our church for April Arts and Activism in conjunction with the Pioneer Valley Institute was a big success! Thanks for shaking our historic walls!***
***MORE SHAKING TO COME!!
PUT THIS IMPORTANT DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR
FOR SUMMER FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT....
“THE MAMMALS” ~ In Concert!! ~ FRI. AUGUST 11
Pete Seeger's grandson and a new generation of folk rockers
you enjoyed Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Siegel last year, come back
for more in August.
*** Help always welcome in putting on this event.
Groupies, Roadies, Bakers, Contact Steve Wilson
May 7th Steve Wilson
Preparing for Mother's Day: Bargains and Property Disputes
Music: John Root
May 14th Al Ciarcia
What is your Religion?
Music: Lynne Walker
May 21st Steve Wilson
Re-Membering Memorial Day
Music: Beverly Phelps
**Field trip to the nearby Leverett Peace Pagoda (built by Buddhist monks) after the service with Steve.
May 28th ARTS AND ACTIVISM 4TH SUNDAY: Maureen Moore and others reading from the Equinox
The Equinox is a local literary publication supported by the Mass. Cultural Council
through the Northfield and Bernardston Cultural Councils
Great Decisions Video and Discussions:
Sat. May 13th 10am ~ Turkey: On Europe's Verge
Sat. May 27th 10am ~ Pandemics and National Security
Special Note: On Memorial Day Monday May 29th Steve will represent the church at the annual Memorial Day event sponsored by the Bernardston VFW. Steve pictured above on the Easter Egg Hunt!
Minister’s Corner ~ Steve
The following article was forwarded to me a week ago. I read it twice. I find it foolish and angering, and absurd. I realize I am preaching to the choir. I accept that. But as the choir I thought that you might enjoy being angered, and for a moment realize again the great virtue of our faith. Here it is.
It's getting tougher and tougher, year after year to be a pilgrim. Trudging the 11 miles from Nambe to the Santuario de Chimayo already requires a test of faith and legs. It can be hot. It can be rainy. It can nearly always be windy. You might get tired. You might get distracted. But distracted by people who think you're going to hell? That's the latest hurdle as dutiful pilgrims on a journey of their Catholic faith encounter evangelical efforts to convert them. Pauline Lucero Esquivel said. "It's almost like it's the biggest prize for them at the end if they can convert a Catholic on a pilgrimage." A triple score? A touchdown? A ticket to heaven?
Esquivel, a Santa Fe native who now lives in Albuquerque, has walked the path since 1986. Three generations of her family walk with her, including her 71-year-old mother and 12-year-old daughter. "It's part of our Catholic faith,…those are our roots," she says. "Often, it's walking as an expression of gratitude, asking for strength and acceptance. "For years, members of an evangelical church along the route have offered refreshments for pilgrims. They're respectful, she said. But in recent years, they've been joined by members of the Amazing Grace Mission, a Dayton, Tenn.-based outfit that calls itself "a soul-winning ministry." Usually the group sets up booths at festivals, its president, John Gardner, said in a telephone interview. He couldn't remember which church the mission paired with in Nambe, but said the intent is to simply offer help when asked, "We believe they need to hear the message," he said. "We don't force anybody. We believe it has to be their choice." But Esquivel described a scene in which her daughter and niece were pulled aside, plunked into folding chairs and treated to the spiel before Esquivel's sister came upon them. Esquivel was walking ahead so didn't learn of her daughter's detainment
On this day all of that gratitude and acceptance they walked for evaporated. "It's a rage I can't explain," Esquivel said. And she had company in that anger, not just in her
Sister, but in a family friend who had joined them: Mikey Weinstein, the Albuquerque businessman who has loudly protested evangelism at the Air Force Academy. As Esquivel's father drove them back down the road, they decided to have a word with the roadside preachers. Esquivel's sister told them they had no permission to speak to her daughter. Esquivel asked them what they were doing on the road to begin with.
Gardner called his mission's actions appropriate, drawing this analogy: "If you saw someone walking on a bridge you knew was going to collapse, wouldn't you try to stop them?" Catholics are on a bridge that's going to collapse? "It depends," he said. "If they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, then yes. They believe . . . in order to get to heaven there are certain sacraments and things they think are necessary in order to get there. And that's not true." Esquivel and Weinstein acknowledge that the Constitution permits Gardner's members to speak their minds wherever they choose. But when does one person's right to free speech trump another's right to free religion? Gardner doesn't know if his group will return to Nambe next year. Esquivel has already decided. Absolutely I'll be there," she said. "Although, I have to think about how to deal with it. Part of my challenge is staying spiritually centered and not letting people like that yank my chain. But at the same point, I want to stand my ground about it." It gets tougher and tougher, year after year.” The end of the story.
Maybe some only see souls on a shaky bridge. I see the power of pilgrimage, conversions, benign acts of generosity and not so benign acts of bribery, free speech and free religion, metaphysical assertions, faith, conflict, stubbornness, Cultural and Spiritual differences, and even the importance of saying your peace.
This piece reminds me of the repeating cycle of the last 2000 years; and that we battle most over the things we know the least about. I am always answering the question, exactly what is it you UU’s believe. And the answer is well a lot.
We believe in pilgrimages to sacred places.
We believe in personal and cultural family habits that build meaning over time.
We believe that faith is something that needs to be cultivated and guarded;
We believe that this negotiation between freedom from and of religion is alive, and comes with no easy answers. And for that reason, it needs great care.
In Al's Words
Our “liberal” church is a company of ordinary men and women in search of anything and everything good, true and beautiful that will help lift life to higher levels.
It is respectful, mutual sharing of beliefs about life or religion.
It is faith arrived at through knowledge and reason.
It is a logical replacing of illogical, passe, restrictive creeds and dogmas.
It is striving to achieve a reverential relationship with all that is worth calling “life's Highest,” “The Universe,” The Ground of Being.”
It is acknowledging that the human being holds immeasureable spiritual potential.
It is appreciation and application of insight from every quarter of time, place and historical personalities.
It is love of known truth and the will to find unknown truth.
It is the goodness of concern and service extended to others, not to appease deity but to express this goodness for its own sake.
It is striving to live religion as life and life as religion.
Do you see the Easter bunny hiding in this picture?