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When I was four, my Presbyterian parents told me about God, Jesus, and Hell. It was traumatic. I truly thought that my parents were nuts. Forced to attend church while growing up, I endured the painful hour as one endures a necessary but painful medical procedure, and it was painful. Each Sunday as we exited the building, I experienced a certain euphoria—“It’s over!”

Perhaps only I have CCT (Childhood Church Trauma).

For the next 35 years, I dismissed western churches as closed-minded groups who insisted that one believe what they believed, and that in fact, belief was what the whole thing was about: “We’re saved because we believe what we believe! If you don’t believe what we believe, you are damned, evil, BAD!”

Really? I couldn’t accept a word of it, but I was no atheist. I felt a spiritual calling, a hunger for meaning in life, and a profound sense that there is more to humanity and the human spirit than the superficial aspects of making a living and survival, which (truth be told) does not last. Surely there had to be something more, something big enough to be the source of life itself.

My spiritual search led to eastern religions and esoteric ideas that are hard to find. Since Unitarian Univeralism was organized as a church, I automatically assumed it would not have anything spiritually worthwhile for me.  It simply did not occur to me that a CHURCH could embrace doubt, encourage hard questions, fully accept not knowing or not believing, and be honest about our limited grasp of the infinite in which we find ourselves.

When I first visited our church here in Bowling Green, I learned almost immediately how wrong I had been. When the minister said, “For us to believe something, it has to make sense,” tears welled up in my eyes.

Over time, I learned that Unitarian Universalism had been saying what I had been saying (though not as well) my entire life. UUs fully appreciate love, worship, and the religious experience of a higher truth, but we don’t pretend to know something we don’t know. We accept and embrace differences, and we don’t label others as “wrong” simply because they are different. As science and our knowledge of the universe expand, we incorporate into our beliefs what we agree makes sense.

Ten years ago, if someone had told me I would attend a church, I would have laughed. If they had added that I would become a member? Beyond ridiculous. That I would agree to serve on the board? Off the map.

Yet here I am. Language defies my ability to express the honor and privilege that I feel serving as President for the upcoming year. We’ve been through tough times, and we have much to consider this year.

Three of the six members on the Committee on Ministry are new, and they are looking with fresh eyes at their mission now that we have implemented new policies. We’re trying out a new organization with committees grouped into teams, and this is generating new conversations and ideas. Mostly by folks moving away, we have lost dear and long-term members who now live in Oregon, Wisconsin, Indiana, and elsewhere. What can we do to attract others? Our minister retires next summer, and together we must determine what we are going to do next.

I won’t promise miracles, but I do give my word that I will do my best to serve this church and promote what’s best for its future and for our congregation.

Matt Foraker


New Board Members
We had two open seats on the Board of Directors for the term 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2018. The members of our congregation have elected Laura McGee and Buzzy Groves to fill those seats. Many thanks to David Wellman for standing forth as a candidate!

In June, the new Board will be selecting its officers for the coming year. As of 1 July, the Board of Directors will be:

Peter Connolly: ex officio
Matt Foraker: 2015 to 2017
Jan Garrett: 2015 to 2017
Buzzy Groves: 2016 to 2018
Kerry Kenady: 2015 to 2017
Laura McGee: 2016 to 2018
Susan Webb: 2015 to 2017

Endowment Committee Members Confirmed
At the annual meeting, the congregation voted to confirm the two nominees—Kerry Kenady and Eileen Arnold—for a three-year term. The members of the Endowment Committee are:

Valerie Brown: Jan 2014 to Jan 2017
Gregory-Mabry: Jan 2014 to Jan 2017
John Downing: Jul 2015 to Jun 2018
Kerry Kenady: Jan 2014 to Jul 2019
Eileen Arnold: Jan 2014 to Jul 2019

Committees and Ministries and Teams
This spring, the Board and Church Leadership Council (CLC) decided to adjust our church organization by grouping committees with similar missions. We had been calling these groups “Ministries”, but since that word is used frequently in church settings and could be confusing, at the June CLC meeting, it was decided to call them “Teams” instead. We have six Teams:

Caring Community Team  (Hospitality, Membership, Caring Committee, Social Groups)
Spiritual Growth Team (Worship Services, Religious Exploration (Adult and Youth), Library, Small-Group Ministry)
Improving Our World Team (Social Justice Action, Ecological Land Ministry, Buildings & Grounds)
Stewardship Team (Finance, Pledge Drive, Endowment, Budget, Fundraising)
Human Resources Team (Nominating Committee, Committee on Ministry, Facilitators, Personnel)
Communications Team (Newsletter, Websites, Publicity, Documentation, Sign-Changers)

Each Team has a Coordinator, who is responsible for calling meetings and making sure the team reports are completed and turned in. To increase communication and coordination among the entire church, each Team has a Board Liaison (who can also be the coordinator). Members of the Committee on Ministry will offer suggestions and support.

With this transition, some committees may notice no change in how they work, while other committees may decide to meet at different times or adjust how they achieve their tasks. There are likely to be a few wrinkles that need ironing out, and your patience and willingness to try new things are greatly appreciated!

Board to Fill Vacancies

In June, the Board of Directors will be filling several vacancies in the church, since we need three members of the Nominating Committee and three members of the Committee on Ministry.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Bowling Green will hold our annual congregational meeting on Sunday, May 22. All members are warmly encouraged and all friends are invited to attend. To help us begin promptly once the 11:00 o’clock service is over, refreshments will be provided in the Olympia Brown lobby outside the sanctuary.

This year, along with the standard reports on the congregation's financial condition, we have a contested election and several items on the proposed agenda. We have three excellent candidates for the two open seats on the Board: Buzzy Groves, Laura McGee, and David Wellman. Church members can vote for no more than two of the three, and many may find it a difficult choice to have to make. Members will have a chance to vote on whether to confirm the board’s nomination of Kerry Kennedy and Eileen Arnold for a three-year term on the Endowment Committee. Both Kerry and Eileen are currently serving on that committee.

Early Voting and Absentee Ballots  Early voting on the nominees and candidates is available for people who cannot attend the meeting. To be included in the count, your Absentee Ballot must be turned in before the meeting is called to order on May 22, so please don’t delay. Instructions are printed on the ballot, which is available in your Voter Guide and from the Office.

Our annual meeting will provide information about what our resources are and how we will be moving forward as a congregation. We will have opportunities to learn about what's been happening and about changes to come, and to share perspectives on a number of aspects of our church's functioning and plans.

The proposed agenda includes a presentation from our minister, the Rev. Peter Connolly, a report from the Stewardship Committee, a presentation on the proposed 2016–17 budget, and a report from the Endowment Committee. There will be a briefing on the transition now in process to a ministry organizational plan, and how that plan will impact opportunities to serve in meaningful ways that fit the variety of skills and interests of our congregation. We will vote on a proposed amendment to the bylaw about membership.

Please make an effort to attend and take advantage of this opportunity to be engaged in how we create and maintain the structures that support and sustain our mission. Friends are invited to attend, and members will have the opportunity to make their votes count.
Susan Webb, Board President

To see the world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wildflower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour.
–William Blake
Mr. William Blake, English poet of the 18th and 19th centuries, was a mystic, no doubt. He was one of those who could look into the mundane and see the magnificent, the transcendent hiding in plain view disguised as the ordinary.
I think of Blake today after making a short presentation on composting at our most recent Sunday service. We Unitarian Universalists aren’t much for miracles—we tend to take the rationalist’s view in our search for meaning and purpose. And if believing in miracles means believing in the supernatural, well, we’re not much interested.
The vision of Blake, though, does not insist upon the supernatural. Speculate upon the origin of a wildflower—its design, structure, composition, use, and beauty—and you won’t go far before stumbling into wonder. Speculate on the origin of that grain of sand—its beginning, middle, and end, its purpose and significance—and worlds within worlds reveal themselves. There is wonder, indeed, in the very structure of the natural world.
That’s all a bit poetic for an essay on the beauty and function of compost, isn’t it? But, there is a deep satisfaction in holding in your hands the rich loam that is the mixture of sand and clay and silt and organic matter, feeling its texture as your rub it between fingers and thumb.
And, just what is that “organic matter”? Nothing but those things we routinely throw “away.” Eggshells, the rough ends of celery stalks, the grounds left over from the morning’s coffee still in the unbleached filter you spooned them in, apple peels, cucumber rind, tea leaves past all steeping. They are things of such little worth that we call them “garbage”; things of such precious worth that the earth we depend on would not profit us much without them.
After many a month of saving my organic “waste” in freezer bags to drop off at a compost pile at our local university, I find myself impatient to invest in my own home composting, not to mention in a compost heap at our church.
Soil is living. It needs many of the things that we need to thrive: sun and air and water and food. It eats leaves and twigs and dead insects. In a teaspoon of garden soil, there are more than 3 billion microorganisms. You might want to chew on that remarkable fact for a while; they are certainly going to be chewing away, themselves.
They are the beings that make the minerals and nutrients in the soil and air available to plants. And the plants provide them the energy they need to live. Symbiosis. Interdependence. Worms and sow bugs change “leftover organic material” into humus. The humus feeds the plants. And then, there’s mulch. Our ELM field workers can tell you about that from our recent work day in our garden grove. But, that’s a story for another day.
Consider starting a home compost bin if you don’t have one already. And consider what we can do on campus to get a compost bin started at church. Envision the miraculous in the most ordinary. See the world in a grain of sand. Water those dreams.
See you at church,
Thanks to Your Farm in the City by Lisa Taylor for information for this article.

In exploring more satisfying ways of being, over the past six months I've been intentionally practicing connecting my feelings and my behavior with the underlying universal human needs I'm seeking to meet. To both survive and thrive, we all have needs for well-being (sustenance, safety, and play), needs for connection (acceptance, appreciation, and understanding), and needs for expression (autonomy, honesty, and effectiveness). My exploration has been rewarding and challenging.

This past month, I've spent time with the Board and others working on the article in the church bylaws that covers the rights and responsibilities of members. I started thinking about what needs are being met when people become members of our congregation.

Our church community offers opportunities to meet various needs. These include the need for inclusion and acceptance, the need for mutuality in understanding and valuing, the need for authenticity and integrity in the expression of who we are, the need for openness to challenge and inspiration for growth and learning, the need for rejuvenation and fun, and the need for finding meaning in and gleaning wisdom from our life experience. These are all important needs, and I am grateful that UUCBG offers us opportunities to meet them.

As a faith community, UUCBG provides a unique opportunity for meeting the need to contribute.

Yes, contributing is a need, just like the need for support and care. It’s a need I believe we all share. UUCBG provides us with opportunities to contribute our time, talent and treasure in many obvious, easy, and feasible ways. We have opportunities to make contributions that have a significant impact.

I find here an opportunity to contribute to building and sustaining an institution whose mission I consider valuable. Not just having value, but also reflecting my values. I am part of creating our vision and of living into our covenants. I find many ways of contributing, which in turn offer me opportunities to meet my needs for well-being, connection and expression.

What needs does being part of UUCBG meet for you?

As you think about stewardship of your resources and are filling out your pledge forms this month, I encourage you to consider how UUCBG contributes to meeting your needs. How do you feel as you meet your need to contribute by being part of a caring community that encourages spiritual growth and actively works to improve our society and the environment?

How will you share your time, treasure, and talent with this congregation that envisions itself as a wellspring of spiritual exploration, learning and action, where all are inspired and empowered?
Susan Webb
Board President

Our mission is to be a caring community that encourages spiritual growth and actively works to improve our society and the environment.

One of the ways that we try to be a caring community is by offering our members and friends and even visitors an opportunity to share the important events in their lives at a time in our service called “Joys and Concerns.” If you have been attending our church for any time at all, you know that we reserve this time for sharing in the first third of the service, usually just after the children have been “sung to their classes.”

In 2009, when I first visited Bowling Green to meet with the church’s Ministerial Search Committee, I was asked what I thought about the fact that the church had such a time set aside in the service. I wasn’t surprised to hear that some members were dissatisfied with this element in the service. The concerns that I heard (“complaints” might be the right word) included:

“It takes too long”
“People use it to make announcements, even though we make it clear that that’s not its purpose”
“People use it to make political statements”
“It’s supposed to address important milestones in people’s lives, but sometimes people use it for the most ridiculous things”

and other complaints, as well.

I wasn’t surprised because virtually every church I know has expressed similar concerns. But, no one wants to address the situation too directly for fear of hurting feelings. So, those who are dissatisfied suffer in silence. Or ask the minister to do something about it. And the Sunday Services Committee addresses it every couple of months as regularly as the seasons change.

This year, the Sunday Services Committee (SSC) decided to do something about it by designing a survey (non-binding), which was passed out at the winter congregational meeting. A number of choices were given. Some people wanted to do away with the ritual entirely (8). Two persons wanted joys and concerns to be shared from the floor only; four preferred that the minister handle the service element by reading joys and concerns that had been submitted in writing in advance; nineteen folks wanted to allow both written submissions and joys and concerns shared directly from the floor. So, no changes are planned, but more than 40% of respondents prefer a different option to what we are doing.

Clearly, this is one of those situations where no solution will please everyone. One of our members says that this time of the service is the most “spiritual” part for him. Others, as we’ve seen, would prefer a service with no “joys and concerns.”

The best imperfect solution, I think, is to keep in mind a few guidelines: (1) share only personal concerns; the minister or moderator can address a larger social or cultural concern best if it’s submitted in writing in advance; (2) share only important milestones: these are the things nearest and dearest to your heart and the things that connect you best with your fellow church-goers; and (3) don’t share too frequently.

One of the jobs of the minister and the Sunday Services Committee is to create a service each week that flows smoothly from element to element, so that the congregation is left with a sense of balance and satisfaction when it comes time to hold hands and sing Let There Be Peace on Earth. “Joys and Concerns” is one of the times when the service is handed over to the congregation, so it’s a time to be used wisely and with discernment.

We really are a caring community. We want to help you celebrate those milestones that are joyous and to bear with you those that bring pain and suffering. Feel free to share what’s deepest in your heart. And be ready to be patient with those who may have only this place to share more mundane concerns.

A joy shared is multiplied; a burden shared is lightened. Hold us all in your heart.

See you in church,

National and International, in Chronological Order
·         Same-sex marriage legalized in Slovenia

·         LGBT group allowed in NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

·         Tokyo offers same-sex partnerships

·         Gender-neutral bathroom provided in White House

·         First openly transgender model on Vogue cover

·         Hawaii allows transgender to change Birth Certificate

·         Costa Rica bans LGBT discrimination

·         Ireland passes same-sex marriage

·         Commercial featuring lesbian couple in India goes viral

·         Obama declares June as LGBT Pride Month

·         First comic book headlines a gay character

·         Philadelphia raises transgender pride flag

·         Ukrainian President Poroshenko supports LGBT activists

·         Chris Mosier first transgender athlete on US National team

·         Military EO policy extended to gay service members

·         Guam legalizes same-sex marriage

·         Mexico’s Supreme Court recognizes same-sex marriage

·         Stonewall Inn gets Landmark status

·         Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Legal Throughout the US

·         Mozambique decriminalizes homosexuality

·         US military to remove transgender ban

·         Boy Scouts of America removes ban against openly gay leaders

·         White House hires openly transgender staff member

·         Conversion therapy banned in Illinois

·         Pres. Obama nominates Eric Fanning for US Army Secretary. Mr. Fanning is the first openly gay person nominated for this position.

·         First LGBT Family playground built in Florida

·         Colombia allows same-sex adoption

·         Dallas, Texas, passes non-discrimination law that protects transgender persons

·         Ukraine bans LGBT discrimination in the workplace

·         49 out of 50 states in US allow same-sex adoption
Successes here at UUCBG
·         We amend our bylaws to include a non-discrimation clause

·         We label our restrooms as gender neutral

·         Our church receives designation as a “Welcoming Congregation” from UUA

·         Same-sex wedding and reception happen at UUCBG

·         Diane Lewis speaks to Sociology Class at WKU campus
Backlash to Banner Year
Religious Freedom Bills are popping up throughout the US with the goal of legalized discrimination and undoing the above successes. In Kentucky, Senate Bill 180 has been passed by the Senate and is going to the House.

Please contact your State Representative.

The BG Fairness Alliance has had no success convincing elected leaders to consider a local fairness ordinance. We must continue to write and speak up.

This Sunday, March 20th, we will be gathering for the annual chili cook off. It’s a great opportunity for us to get together for fun and great chili, and it also serves as the kick-off of our yearly stewardship campaign.

This is the time for all of us who benefit from being a part of our community to consider what we are willing and able to contribute to it. What—in terms of financial resources, time, and talent—will we offer in service of our mission? A very personal question, and a question that speaks to our commitment to this community, both as it exists today and as we hope it may one day be.

We should also acknowledge that what we hope for may not come to pass, and that would not necessarily be bad. Our society and our ways of structuring our lives continue to change. Across our denomination and outside of it, congregations may be very different in ten or twenty years. It seems unrealistic to restrict ourselves to planning for a future that is simply a minor variation on our past and present.

When blogging about the elements of their New Leader paradigm, the MidAmerica regional UUA staff observes that getting serious about the future can mean breaking patterns in two very different ways:

To be willing to try some things without asking so much for assurance of success
To be willing to get real about the basics, to be more willing to trim more of the dreamy-eyed non-essentials, to have a little more obsessive follow-through on details, and to ask more quickly and more pointedly about what is working

The question on the table is “Which of these two ways would be the radical departure for us?”

I see UUCBG as facing the need to get real about the basics and more focused on having the structures in place to support us in following through on our commitments, along with a greater willingness to ask the pointed questions about what's working and what's not.

I also see UUCBG as having the potential to live into its vision. We have people with the desire to learn and grow, with skills, creativity, knowledge, compassion, and wisdom to share. We are people with dreams who are willing to work for the common good. We need both our realists and our idealists as we choose how to move together into the future.
Susan Webb, President of the Board of Directors

UUA General Assembly 2016 on June 22–26 in Columbus, Ohio
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly is the national decision-making body of our democratically organized denomination. This year, it will meet from June 22–26, not far away in Columbus, Ohio. All congregations in good standing have the right to send delegates to help determine the direction of the Association. Number of delegates depends on size, and our congregation can send two delegates, in addition to our minister.

The business of the denomination is conducted in General Sessions, formerly called plenary sessions. General Sessions take up major blocks of time on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon.

At the General Sessions, you will also hear reports on denominational activity from elected leaders, committees of the UUA, leaders of projects such as Standing on the Side of Love, managers of the UU press, and so forth. You won’t want to miss the exhibits of UU-friendly artists and special-interest groups such as UUs for a Just Economic Community.

A major part of the business of General Sessions includes social witness items:

selection of a Congregational Study Action Issue (CSAI) to begin this year,
consideration and possible endorsement of Actions of Immediate Witness introduced at GA 2016,
possibly a vote on a denominational Statement of Conscience developing out of an earlier CSAI,
consideration of a business resolution that advocates divestment from corporations charged with being complicit in the violation of human rights in the occupied territories of Israel / Palestine.

Apart from General Sessions, there are also special opening and closing celebrations, workshops on a variety of topics, a public witness event, and several worship services.

The Ware Lecture is the keynote of the assembly, and this year it will be given by Krista Tippett, author of Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit and radio show host of On Being.

Anyone interested in being a delegate should inform Board President Susan Webb as soon as possible. Unfortunately, our church budget does not contain funds to cover delegates’ registration, travel, food, or housing expenses.

By Jan Garrett

Going to GA 2016
What’s happening?

Children’s activities, evening entertainment, lectures, General Sessions, music, banner parade, fun, and fellowship!

See the schedule at
See for details. Rates will increase on May 1.

Registration Rates
to Apr 30

Adult (Wed-Sun)*

Adult (One-day)*

Youth (Grades 9-12) (W-S)

Youth (Grades 9-12) One-day

Off-site Registration

*Discounts are available for some retirees. Younger children can also attend.
Where is it?
Greater Columbus Convention Center
400 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215

How do I get there?

It’s about a 5.5-hour car drive from Bowling Green to Columbus. There are also bus routes. Flights go from Nashville or Louisville.
Where can I stay?
Hotels, private homes, and college dorm rooms are available. Book through for the group rates.

Tip: It’s a good idea to reserve a room at a hotel near the convention center where GA is being held. Do that earlier rather than later!

Posted: 3 Mar 2016
Category: News Article
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On Easter Sunday, the UUCBG RE will be hosting our annual Egg Hunt. YRE will be staffing craft tables and will have a face-painting booth and other Spring crafts for the younger children to enjoy. Everyone is welcome; this event does not have a religious theme.

Meet at 11 am on Sunday 27 March in the Fellowship Hall, then go outside.

Volunteers will be filling approximately 300 eggs with candy and small gifts (erasers, stickers, etc.). Although we collect and re-use the plastic eggshells every year, some get lost or broken. The RE Committee is asking for donations of:

plastic eggs
bags of candy
small toys
juice boxes
other food items for the snack table.

We have many guest families from the community who come just for the Egg Hunt on Easter because we offer the only one in town without a religious theme. Any help in supplying needed items for this event is greatly appreciated and is a demonstration of kindness to our guests on that day.

Donations can be made:

at the church office M-F from 9:00 to 1:00
downstairs in RE on any Sunday

Posted: 3 Mar 2016
Category: News Article
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[caption id="attachment_2187" align="alignright" width="225"] Our site is now easier to read on phones.[/caption]

Our Website ( is now using the theme from UUA. The site is more interactive and has an online calendar. Each week’s sermon topic and roadside pulpit message is displayed on the front page.

All committees are encouraged to have at least one person who posts information on our website. You can create events and set them up to accept registrations. Soon, we’ll enable buying tickets via PayPal. You can post your news without waiting for the newsletter to come out. Information posted on our website can be simultaneously posted on our Facebook Page.

Our Facebook Page is now classified as a Community instead of as a Company, which means it no longer has business reviews. The weekly UU Humor posts are some of the most popular. In the last two years (Feb 2014 to Feb 2016), the number of people Liking the page has increased from 354 to 486.

Category: News Article
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Dear Fellow Keepers of the Flame,
Our Annual Chili Cook-off Kickoff event will take place on Sunday, March 20.  For the past six years, the Stewardship Committee has hosted this enjoyable and 'hotly contested' event to mark the start of our annual Budget Drive.  This is your invitation to participate!
We need eight chefs who will prepare a crock-pot of their favorite chili for the competition and a few volunteers who can help decorate the Fellowship Hall the day before.  Please let me know quickly whether you are willing to do one or the other, or both!
Ken Kuehn, Chair
2016 Stewardship Committee

Our Winter Congregational Meeting was held on Sunday, February 7. As a result, along with a plan for a meditation garden and amendments to five articles in our bylaws, we now have a new Vision Statement and a Covenant of Right Relations. Both our vision and our covenant are aspirational statements. Our Vision Statement expresses our hopes for our congregation and church. Our Covenant of Right Relations describes how we, as individuals, plan to be with each other.

In the coming months, I hope all of us will be considering ideas and strategies for living into our vision and supporting our commitment to treat one another well, and, of course, fulfilling our church’s mission.

To help us learn how to live in right relation with one another, Alan Leiserson, a member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, will be presenting here on Non-Violent Communication (NVC) on Sunday, February 28. He describes NVC as "an awareness discipline masquerading as a communication technique."

This awareness discipline was based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg, and it has been profoundly transformative in my own life. The study and practice of NVC provides opportunities to gain skill in connecting empathetically with others, and with yourself, while addressing internal and external conflicts.

At First UU Nashville, three practice groups are meeting twice each month. An NVC Introduction presentation will be held there on Friday, March 4, and it is free and open to the public. I hope some of us will go. That weekend, there will be a two-day workshop with François Beausoleil, an internationally known certified NVC trainer. See Page 4.

My big idea to support our congregation in being a caring community, in maintaining our new covenant, and in moving toward our vision of providing opportunities for learning along with inspiring and empowering people to connect, is to take inspiration from First UU Nashville.

I invite you to begin by learning what NVC has to offer and to join me in exploring NVC as something our congregation might offer to one another and our community.

Susan Webb, President of the Board of Directors

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