By Rosalee Pfister
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, February 25, 2018.
My name is Rosalee Pfister, and I’ve been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (UUFP) since December of 2011. I have been serving on the Membership Committee for almost as long; including the role as your Membership Chair, a Hospitality Team Communicator and Web Team leader, going on four years now.
A few Sundays ago, Rev. Charles Dieterich was here from the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, when he spoke on celebrations. During the service, he had us all do a responsive reading out of the gray hymnal. At some point, the word "workshop" was read. I remember having to take a second look at that word. Was it really "workshop," or was it "worship"? I had to giggle to myself; only in a UU hymnal would you find the word "workshop." You see in the past, I have been known to mix up the two words, and it’s been a long running joke in our family.
Back in 1999, our then small family of three had just made a big move from California to Lafayette, Indiana. On a Sunday morning, we found ourselves in search of a craft store. The retail store of choice in that area was Hobby Lobby, which I hadn’t heard of before.
When we arrived, we quickly noticed the parking lot was empty. On the door was a sign. I read it out loud, “Closed for Workshops.” Or at least that is what I thought it said, and my husband Michael responded with a smirk and a little chuckle, "I think it says, 'Closed for Worship.'" I had to laugh at myself, as this unchurched California girl had visualized them all taking a class, when indeed the store was closed for Sunday services. Hence, our family's running joke.
I soon learned that I had in fact moved to the Bible Belt of America, where there was a lot of WORSHIPING going on! I also realized that if you wanted community, you needed a church family. Thankfully we found a local UU church, which fit the needs for both my husband and me. Thus, began my journey as a UU. So, you might say, that a few Sundays ago, as I smirked while reading the word "workshop" out loudly, that I had a bit of a "full circle moment," like I so often do here at the UUFP. Here on a Sunday morning we do both—worship and workshops!
Once in Virginia, I found myself again searching for a community that our family could call home. I had visited the UUFP before, but the timing seemed just right when we saw that the fellowship had hired Andrew as the fulltime minister, and the OWL (Owl Whole Lives) and Coming of Age programs were starting that fall of 2011, which our oldest son agreed to participate in. It was a good time to return, and we committed to coming to church every Sunday. Before I knew it, I was making vegetarian tofu and broccoli for the Luau fundraiser, telling stories around the campfire at the retreat, and being asked to join the membership committee (thank you, Judy Remsberg). These opportunities to serve, to share my talents and to welcome others who walk through our doors, hasn’t stopped.
In thinking about this testimonial, and what the UUFP means to me, many things come to mind. One of the biggest opportunities I have been presented is to be a Leader in this church. Unlike leadership in the workforce, I have learned that in our UU congregations, leading is done with covenants on how we will be together, and spiritual growth as a leader is a big part of the process. I have been given much guidance along the way from my committee team members, Rev. Andrew, the check-in meetings and classes held by Leadership Development Committee, my own research, and especially from my experience at Leadership school (otherwise known as SUULE - Southern UU Leadership Experience) that Kathryn Ozyurt and I both attended in the summer of 2016 at the College of William & Mary.
As many of you probably know, leadership can come with its challenges, especially because it often involves bringing forth change. One of the changes that is currently happening at the fellowship is identifying what we represent as a congregation, by redefining our mission statement.
Grow in Wonder -Connect in Love -Engage in Service - Inspire Generosity
I personally like the simplicity of this for it is easy for me to remember and apply in my everyday life.
So I asked myself, how have I: Grown in Wonder, Connected in Love, Engaged in Service, and Inspired Generosity these past seven years?
Growing in Wonder: To me this means that we honor the awe, the divine, the light in each of us. With these moments of wonder, we find ourselves growing spiritually and transcending on our journeys.
I have felt this each time I step outside of my comfort zone, like speaking in front of all of you today! It is the wonder of the moment when you connect with someone’s story, like what happened when Bobbie read to the youth this morning, I Love You the Purplest, by Barbara Joosse, which is a story I too read to my boys. It is going as a group to Washington D.C. to march for women’s rights in January 2017, something I would have never done on my own. However, being with so many of you who have marched so many times, and being a part of something so big, was made possible because this fellowship supported this important social justice movement. It is getting the opportunity to be an actor alongside the youth during our intergenerational skits that we put on, and being on stage alongside my sons— now those were transformative moments I will always cherish.
Connect in Love: When we reach out to one another, we make connections and we feel the love. I feel it with every smile, greeting, and hug that I get on a Sunday morning. I feel it when I sit in fellowship circle surrounded by friends whom I can trust. It does my heart good to check in with folks, to hear how they are doing, to listen to joys and concerns, and to share our stories and encouragement. Even more tangible is the connection we get when we all hold hands at the end of service, and we can feel the pulse of energy in each other’s hands. To me this is an extra bonus we get when we are present on Sundays.
Engage in Service: When I engage in service here at the UUFP, whether it be sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen, making a pot of soup, creating a schedule for our hospitality team to make Sundays run smoothly, having a productive membership team meeting, or coordinating one of our Membership Orientations, it is through this kind of service that I feel good that I am giving of myself and sharing my talents. This gives me much peace and contentment.
Inspire Generosity: To inspire generosity can seem like a big task, but I am inspired when I see the generosity in others. I have made so many friends here at the UUFP, and my respect for each of you is of the highest. You have inspired me to be giving because you have shown me that kind of care and love. I can only hope that through my actions, I can inspire others to do the same.
Often at our Pathways to Membership classes we ponder what it means to be a member. For me, being a member is a commitment that I make with the promise that I will share of myself, my time, my talents and my treasure so that I can assure that the UUFP continues to be a beacon of liberal faith in our community. This place, the UUFP, is the place that allows us the diversity to choose if we want to go to a Workshop or if we want to Worship on Sundays, and if we want a little of both! As Unitarian Universalists, we can enjoy many types of Workshops and Worship. Our UUFP holds workshops on a variety of topics and speakers who present every Sunday during Adult Forum, as well as at Goddess Group, and other special classes. As for Worship, well we do that too! We worship on Sundays in this sanctuary; we worship under the stars during Earth Rising Rituals, and during Woman’s drumming circle. Here you can search and find what is most comfortable for you.
As I close, I wonder what your thoughts would be to these questions. What does the UUFP mean to you? And in what ways have you: Grown in Wonder, Connected in Love, Engaged in Service and Inspired Generosity? I know that by being a part of this fellowship, surrounded by all of you, I have grown in my UU faith and will continue to grow. This is why I support the UUFP, so that we all have a place to gather in community as we live out our UU faith of seeking and being in the moment.