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On Tuesday, January 12, members of the Bowling Green Fairness Alliance went to City Hall to lobby for fairness, bringing petitions signed by more than 1000 local residents. A Fairness ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in areas such as employment and housing. Bowling Green is the largest city in Kentucky that does not have such an ordinance.

For the fourth time, the commissioners again declined to take action. Mayor Bruce Wilkerson suggested that people contact commissioners and persuade one of them to sponsor a Fairness ordinance.

Mayor Bruce Wilkerson

(270) 392-0817

Commissioner Joe Denning

(270) 782-1048

Commissioner Melinda Hill

(270) 904-2691

Commissioner Sue Parrigin

(270) 792-1428

Commissioner Rick Williams

(270) 991-0715

I was proud to be a UU this week when I followed a link on our congregation’s Facebook page to the UUA website and learned that in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the Ware Lecture at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in Hollywood, Florida. The title of the speech was “Don't Sleep Through the Revolution".

In his speech, King notes: "One of the great misfortunes of history is that all too many individuals and institutions find themselves in a great period of change and yet fail to achieve the new attitudes and outlooks that the new situation demands."

I think it's safe to claim that, be it still or once again, we find ourselves in a period of change and upheaval. It’s important for us, both as individuals and as part of institutions such as the UUA and UUCBG, to stay awake and keep our institutions awake as well. For me, the observations MLK made in that 1966 Ware Lecture about the role of faith communities still resonate:

The great question is, what do we do when we find ourselves in such a period? Certainly, the church has a great responsibility because when the church is true to its nature, it stands as a moral guardian of the community and of society. It has always been the role of the church to broaden horizons, to challenge the status quo, and to question and break mores if necessary. I'm sure that we all agree that the church has a major role to play in this period of social change.

Traditionally within Unitarian Universalism, we choose social issues for study, reflection, and action. Working on these issues can keep us awake--as individuals, as congregations, and as a denomination—so that we can fulfill our role in a time of change.

As you may have noticed in the Voter Guide for our Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 24, members of our congregation will have an opportunity to weigh in on these Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs). Delegates to the General Assembly this June will choose the issue to be focused on during the next four years.

So exercise your privilege and responsibility as a member of this congregation by coming to our Congregational Meeting and helping us stay awake. You can also get a jump on your Chalica practice for Principle #5 by participating in a democratic process.

See you on Sunday, January 24!.

Susan Webb, Board President

Churches are special buildings, and over the centuries, special words have been created to describe the spaces within. Many have aisles or bell towers, of course. Churches can also have naves and narthexes, presbyteries and sacristies and baptisteries, or maybe chancels, chapels, and choirs.

Our church building here at UUCBG is a unique shape with some special features.

We have a tower, though it doesn’t have a bell. The largest room is called the sanctuary. It has two aisles, but no nave, which in a rectangular church is the center path between two sets of seats. At the front of the room is the raised platform called a dais, and that whole area is known as the chancel. The pulpit is on the chancel, but we don’t usually have an altar, which is a table upon which gifts are laid.

Behind the chancel is a storage area used for keeping extra candles, flowers, and music books. That’s called the sacristy, a place to store sacred things.

The most striking features of our sanctuary are probably the soaring ceiling and the windows. We have four tall narrow windows on each side of the room, and stained-glass symbols of different faiths hang near their tops. At the highest part of the ceiling are two more rows of windows, six diamond-shaped and then a circular one close to the base of the tower.

That architectural feature—a wall of windows set high-- is known as a clearstory (also spelled clerestory). They give our church a unique roofline, and though we can’t really see the windows from inside, the light certainly shines through and illuminates our sanctuary from on high.

A Small Group Ministry experience

Small Group Ministry deepens and expands the ministry of church by creating opportunities for individuals to get to know one another better by investigating the important questions of the spiritual life. The theme for this Spring is Faith.

We will be using the book Faith: Trusting in Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts. We will be examining the idea that faith means submission to blind authority, and, instead, understand faith to mean an inner quality that "unfolds as we learn to trust our own deepest experience."

Both groups will meet six times. Our Sunday group will meet from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm, starting on January 24. Our Wednesday group will meet from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, starting on January 27.

The Rev. Connolly has a limited number of used copies of the book for sale at $5.00 each or feel free to purchase your own elsewhere.


On the last Sunday of the year, after those who celebrate Christmas attended their Christmas Eve service, exchanged their gifts and enjoyed their Christmas dinner and before the New Year’s revelries began for those still young enough to enjoy those celebrations, our church hosted a service devoted to exploring Islam and Muslims.

An unusual choice, perhaps, but one in keeping with our belief that there are many ways of understanding our roles in the world as religious persons. Dr. Morsi focused on the five pillars of Islam and, like good preachers everywhere, kept coming back to his main point: A good Muslim follows the tenets of the faith, finds meaning in its beliefs and rituals and seeks to honor that which is held most sacred.

The discussion period lasted almost thirty minutes and the questions and comments varied widely. Because the tenets of Islam are foreign to so many of us, especially the humanists among us, it was to be expected that some of the questions would be challenging, and they were. But they were asked respectfully and answered respectfully, and when we held hands to sing Let There Be Peace on Earth, the feeling in the room as I experienced it, was serious, respectful, mature and united. It made me pleased and proud to know that I am serving a church that can and does embody such qualities. I thank you all for providing that for me and for all of us.

Also, at that service, I floated the idea that the imam and I and other ministers in town come together to form an interfaith ministerial association so that those of us with varying religious perspectives do not feel isolated from one another. Good communication fosters good relations. We are fortunate that so far Bowling Green has not shown evidence of intolerance to such a degree that the mosques have felt threatened, that no one has felt under attack because of their religious beliefs, but that may not always be the case. Working now to build bridges will serve us well should the day come when support against intolerance may be needed.

You may or may not be aware that UU churches across the country have faced repeated incidents of vandalism to their signs when they have publicly displayed their support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement. If we choose to take a stand on this issue, we may expect to face more of the same.

Since that Sunday, I have approached the ministers of two of the Christian churches in town to gauge their interest in forming an interfaith association. Both expressed a desire to be involved. I see this as a promising development for the year ahead. I will certainly keep you posted as plans develop.

For now, just having a place for the kind of fellowship that allows us to get to know one another will be accomplishment enough. Building relationships across religious and denominational lines is an important way to “encourage spiritual growth.” We grow our own faith in a more meaningful way when we take our principles seriously and put them into practice in a way that is conscious, that integrates them firmly into the fabric of our lives. That’s the reason that we celebrate our own (new) religious tradition of Chalica.

Our church is celebrating Chalica this year the same way we did last year. On each of the first seven Sundays of the year, we will be lighting a candle in our Chalica candelabra, one for each of our principles. A member of our church (or in the case of the first week, the minister) will speak to the congregation, stating what he or she intends to do in the following week to practice the principle we are honoring for that week. We try to live our lives according to our principles—principled living. There is a great satisfaction that comes from living out our values in this way, and it builds our sense of community with one another when we share with one another the ways our principles guide our lives.

Community is also strengthened when we get to know one another well by meeting together in small groups to discuss the things that matter most to us. That’s the value in our Small Group Ministry program. I will be leading two sections of these small groups (also called “Covenant groups”) beginning on the week of January 24. The Sunday group will meet from 2:00 to 3:30 pm; the Wednesday group meets from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Both groups will meet at the church. We’ll be reading and discussing the book Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg, a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts. The term “faith” can be both puzzling and intimidating to Unitarian Universalists. Here is an opportunity to cultivate the “feeling of ease and peace” that faith promises.

We deepen our sense of community when we meet together in small groups to explore the things that matter. We deepen our understanding of what it means to be UU by consciously integrating our principles into our lives. And we create a safer and more meaningful city by learning about one another’s spiritual traditions. As this new year begins, I’ll be recommitting once again to a Unitarian Universalism that helps shape my world into meaningful patterns. I invite you to join me.

See you at church.


Posted: 7 Jan 2016
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At UUCBG, we start Chalica on the first Sunday in January and continue for seven weeks as we act upon each of the Seven Principles. We light a chalice (or seven different chalices or candles), reflect on the meaning of that principle, and we do a good deed. For example:

1st Lighting – the inherent worth and dignity of every person (Jan 3-Jan 9)

- help someone in need, write to someone in prison

- a peace offering, such as inviting someone to diner or an apology

2nd Lighting – justice, equity and compassion in human relations (Jan 10-Jan 16)

- spend time in a soup kitchen or donate clothes

- speak up when you see cruel or bullying behavior

3rd Lighting – acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations (Jan 17-Jan 23)

- give a chalice / book / hymnal

- ask someone else in your congregation what they believe

4th Lighting – a free and responsible search for truth and meaning (Jan 24-Jan 30)

- teach someone something you know

- learn something new from someone else

5th Lighting – the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. (Jan 31-Feb 6)

- work for a political cause, write to your elected officials

- help a committee at your congregation

6th Lighting – world peace, liberty and justice for all (Feb 7-Feb13)

- help your social justice committee hold a fundraiser

- donate to a cause such as UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, etc.

7th Lighting – respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part (Feb 14-Feb 20)

- start a compost heap, plant seeds

- get cloth bags and use them instead of plastic or paper ones

This month, the Board has been preparing an agenda for the Winter Congregational Meeting, which will be held on Sunday, January 24th. At this point, it looks like the agenda will include votes on adopting the new Vision Statement, the proposed Covenant of Right Relations, and bylaw amendments; an update on church finances; and opportunities to get involved in keeping us going, among other things.

Not getting a rush of excited anticipation yet? Well, here are some realizations that have helped me stay engaged and less dismissive of all this governance stuff.

First, a little context. What we are today—a Unitarian Universalist congregation—came about from the 1961 consolidation of two faith traditions: Unitarian and Universalist. Each faith had its own history, yet they shared in the tradition of congregational polity.

The phrase “congregational polity” has come to denote a free church—one without ecclesial hierarchy and, consequentially, one on its own, responsible for its own survival. Such a congregation has to determine its own form of governance.

As UUs, we are guided by egalitarian and democratic values. No one person is above the others. All members are a part of the governing process. Yet the autonomy that arises from congregational polity does not free us from authority; it challenges us to create authority ethically within our community.

As a body, the congregation is the highest authority in its own governance structure. It can delegate powers and accountability to the Board for greater agility of action, and for the same reason, the Board can then delegate powers and accountability to committees, which can create subcommittees, and so on. Within its area of accountability, each of these church bodies is free to discern the best means to fulfill its mission.

Likewise, as individuals we have the right to a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”; and as a congregation, we are free to discern for ourselves the best common means to exercise our religious freedom. Through careful listening, thoughtful evaluation, and respectful relation, we seek the high purpose and the deep commitment necessary to fulfill our mission by transforming ourselves, our community, and our world.

When fulfilling our mission involves formulating bylaws, policies, and procedures, it helps to remember that all of these “rules and regulations” exist to support and enhance the functioning of our congregation. They are a legacy and a resource, providing direction and counsel, offering roadmaps into the future, and guiding key decisions.

Done well, our rules provide the structure we need to fulfill our mission and work together efficiently. In particular, bylaws, which are established and changed only by vote of the congregation, allow us to:

form a legal entity,
apply for not-for-profit religious status (affecting tax deductibility of pledges and other assets),
find insurance,
establish financial accounts and credit,
show good faith in fiduciary (trustee) issues,
purchase and sell property, and
determine the extent and limits of the Board's authority.

Although bylaws and policies can seem tedious and less than critical, the creation and maintenance of a good system of governance actually offers many wonderful benefits, and that is well worth the time and attention of all the members of our congregation.

The benefits include the following:

providing continuity through hard times,
having a framework that ensures that all members will be represented,
offering stimulation for meaningful member participation,
creating methods for urgent action that can foster responsiveness,
building in methods of review that help avoid unproductive reactivity among members, and
allowing leadership to be transferred with continuity.

Soon, members will be receiving an information packet to prepare you to make informed decisions on items that will be addressed at the Winter Congregational meeting on January 24th. Consider taking a look at it ahead of time, formulating questions, and bringing your perspectives to the upcoming meeting.

Membership has privileges and responsibilities. Taking part in governance is both.

Susan Webb

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During the Yuletide Season (Dec 20 to Jan 6), the Spiral Walk is available at all hours in the Garden Grove lawn in front of the church. You're welcome to come walk it on Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's, or anytime!

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The UUCBG Herb Garden is located next to the doors of the Fellowship Hall. The plants are labeled, and everyone is welcome to harvest some herbs for cooking or drying.

In 2015, our herb garden contained:

lemon thyme
purple sage
golden sage
purple basil

garlic chives

In the fall of 2015, a coral honeysuckle vine (Lonicera sempervirens) was planted at the base of the wall, and a trellis was added for the vine to climb. Come summer, it will bloom with bright red flowers, providing nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies. Its leaves are the host food for Spring Azure Butterfly and the Hummingbird Moth. We’re hoping all these creatures will enjoy the buffet!
UUCBG Ecological Land Ministry



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In December, our congregation voted unanimously for an Ecological Land Ministry. This spring, with a reduced mowing schedule, our front lawn is undergoing a transformation from a grass monoculture to a vibrant ecosystem.

As you walk up to the church door, how many different kinds of flowers can you find?

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Our Garden Grove is designed to make good use of our property--its shape and slope and soil--and to benefit from the dynamic interplay at the edges – an edge of the driveway, the building, the berm, and the plants themselves.

The trees, shrubs, and flowers we are planting have been chosen to harvest the potential of our land. The plants will be producing food, improving biodiversity, cleansing toxins, mitigating erosion and floods, calming wind, creating sacred groves and special spaces, and opening in bloom a welcome to all.

The trenches already dug in the Garden Grove outline the pathways and the central lawn, and set the boundaries for the four quadrants--one at each cardinal direction of the compass. Let’s take a tour.

Apricot Arbor (look for the red arrow on picture)

Along the path that begins at the foot of the berm and leads toward the circular lawn in the center, six apricot trees will be planted, three on each side. Reaching 20 feet tall and about 15 feet across, they will branch out and reach for each other. In years to come, we will be able to walk beneath of an arbor archway of petals in the spring. Beneath these trees we plan to plant small cranberry bushes next year.

North Quadrant - Walnut Trees and Food As we walk between the apricot trees, to our left is the north quadrant. It is designed to be our most dense food forest, for it possesses the richest soil, is close to our building, and does not obstruct the view from the road.

Two mature walnut trees already provide the canopy layer. Middle-height species (such as mulberry and pawpaw trees) are planted around the walnut trees at their drip line, the place where the shadows of leaves dance in the grass. Understory species such as gooseberry fit between the mulberry and pawpaw, and more mid-story trees and large shrubs (service berry, cherry, pear, wild plum) are planted at the drip line of the mulberry and pawpaw.

West Quadrant – Pear From the apricot arbor, to our right is the west quadrant. Its canopy tree is a pear, and beneath it are cherry and persimmon, pruned like orchard trees, then beech plum and serviceberry. Shrubs such as elders and chokeberries and ninebark help prevent erosion at the foot of the concrete culvert that drains water from our paved areas into the garden grove.

The Central Lawn At the end of the Apricot Arbor, we come to the central lawn, a grassy circle 60 feet across. The space is intended for festivals, gatherings, and playing games. The path to our left leads to our neighbor’s land, and on either side of the path will be bushes and shrubs rich in food: beech plum, elderberry, black chokeberry, and golden currant. Imagine walking along grassy paths where berries and fruits line the way, and butterflies and bees alight on flowers.

Hedge Row and Hazelnuts At the edge of our property, where the neighboring lawn meets ours, we'll plant a hedge row of hazelnut, black chokeberry, witch hazel, and American beauty berry, with a few pawpaw trees.

We'll also create a hazelnut meditation grove at the end of the path. The mowed space inside the trenches will fan out to a small circle, and we aim to set stones and perhaps benches on the circumference of that circle, so that people can sit and talk, crack hazelnuts, meditate, and enjoy the grove within a grove.

East Quadrant - Red Mulberry and Pears Between the Hazelnut Grove and Nashville Road lies the Eastern Quadrant. A red mulberry tree canopy overlooks pear, service berry, and wild plum near the center lawn. On other side of the mulberry tree are silky dogwood and button bush. Past them, near the base of sign hill and the slopes beneath Nashville Road, will be American beauty berry, false indigo, and spice bush.

These native shrubs and flowers provide food and habitat for pollinators, such as the spicebush butterfly.

South Quadrant – Persimmon Trees In the south quadrant, which is in the corner between our driveway and Nashville Road, will be more of those colorful shrubs, plus witch hazel, nine-bark, aromatic sumac, and smooth sumac. They’ll help stabilize the holes developing from the erosion on the slope and also mitigate contaminants that wash down from the road. Along the driveway edge are elderberries, chokeberries, and currants make a shrub-line edge.

The canopy trees for the South Quadrant are two persimmons. This species has male and female trees, and we need more than one to ensure production of fruits. Beneath the persimmon are middle- height service berries, pruned persimmons, and cherries.

But mostly we'll keep this quadrant open for visibility, so that you can see into open layers of variegated flowers and fruits in our garden grove and on to our church in the distance.

Berry Lane We can leave the garden grove along the southwest path (look for blue arrow on picture). It’s lined with currants, elderberries, chokeberries, service berries, and two pruned persimmons that reach about double the shrubs' height.

Suggestions? Questions? Contact the Ecological Land Ministry Team at

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Sowing the Seed
The Ecological Land Ministry (ELM) Task Force is pleased to report that our church land has been sown with clover, and that the berm and the future Garden Grove (currently the grassy sink along Nashville Rd) has been sown with clover, peas, and twenty species of native wildflowers.Fourteen members and friends participated in the sowing after the Sunday service on January 11th.  Two friends of the church traveled from Nashville and another came from Caneyville, KY, just to lend a hand as we begin to transform our land by planting meadows, trees, gardens, and clover lawns.

We are most grateful to Jerry Gibbs, Michele Steiner, Aidan Steiner, Mark Lowry III, Mark Lowry IV, Hannah Lloyd, Willie Huston, Aaron Carmona, Kristina Monsoor, Jacob Mudd, Jan Garrett, Janeen Grohsmeyer, Meagan Harris, and Tim Kercheville for their labor in sowing during some precipitation, especially after a most wintry week!

Now we are hoping for heavy doses of late winter precipitation--snow would be the best by far--to plant the seeds into the finest layer of topsoil so that they may germinate in early spring. The flowers will begin to alter our predominantly fescue lawns, a process which will continue to develop over the next several years.

Look for clover and peas to germinate first, possibly as soon as late February, then grasses and wildflowers to follow in late spring and early summer after the peas dry up and fall to earth, building soil.

Birds Eyes
Arroyo Lupine
California Bluebell
Five Spot
Indian Blanket
Mexican Hat
California Poppy
Black Eyed Susan
Wild PerennialLupine
Purple Coneflower
Blue Columbine
Plains Coreopsis
Lance Leaved Coreopsis
Blue Flax
Rocky Mountain
Drummond Phlox
Blazing Star
Lemon Mint

Some of the
many ways
to sow

Digging the Dirt
We’ll continue digging trenches along the flagged outlines of the Garden Grove to mark the boundaries between mowed lawn and flower meadows.  The soil from the trenches is being placed atop our hugelkultur. Last year some of it was merely a mulched mound and grew only potatoes. This coming year, with good topsoil from the trenches, it will grow a full array of vegetables for our shared meals
Planting the Trees
In the third or fourth week of February, we will plant scores of native and food-producing trees and shrubs in the meadows. In time, the plain grass lawn will be transformed into a Garden Grove: a garden of wildflowers beneath groves of stately trees and beautiful shrubs.

By working with the interconnected web of life of which we are a part, we are creating a legacy of natural wealth for future generations. The polycultural plantings of our design mimic the polycultures of nature, with each guild of plants developing as a food-producing ecosystem, unlike conventional monoculture orchards. We hope to be enjoying the first fruits of the perennials in some three or four years. That is one of the virtues of polycultural design.

Wild Plum
Witch Hazel
Red Mulberry
Golden Currant
Black Chokeberry

Give a Tree!
If you would like to donate a fruit or nut tree or shrub please contact the ELM Team at


Imagine a flowering understory of native species with scores of blooming trees— walnut and persimmon trees spreading over mulberry, with wild plum and hazelnut below
Imagine elderberry and black chokeberry; with figs and apples and pears
Imagine feasts of their fruits along with garden vegetables--potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, greens, shallots, garlic, strawberries...
Imagine earth-centered rituals and a growing church membership, delighting in the well-spring of nature.


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