Our guest speakers will be Monastics from Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville MS. They will give bio information on their teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. They will speak about the mindfulness practices they do at Magnolia Grove and we will be singing 3 songs they bring that will be included in the bulletin. The congregation will also be led on a 10 minute walking meditation on the church grounds before the closing of service. Following the service we will serve hot tea and a couple of vegan snacks.
National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual civil awareness day internationally observed on October 11. It was chosen to encourage and recognize members of the LGBTQ+ community. National Coming Out week is officially October 10-14th this year. Guest speaker Jennifer Stollman will honor this occasion, and enlarge the discussion to include interracial reconciliation. Victoria Smith will be service leader.
Oct. 13, 2016
Dear Members, Leaders and Friends of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford,
It is with deep gratitude for my Ordination this last Sunday that I write these words. Not only was it a huge event for this congregation to plan and experience, but it marks a life change for me and Pat and I dare say for the congregation as well.
It is hard to put all of this into words but it was in this congregation where my ministry was born. It was here that I first had a vision that there could even be a place for me in any religion, in this country, at this time. This congregation birthed and nourished me as a minister and last Sunday, it was this congregation that had the joyful task of ordaining me to Unitarian Universalist Ministry. It will be my lifelong honor to have been ordained by UUCO and my current honor to be a Community Minister affiliated with UUCO!
I felt so much during the service! I felt such love from the gathered community. And, I felt such hope that there can be more love in the world. The gathered community was diverse: from many parts of the country, and from many religious backgrounds and we were able to join and affirm our values and our love. One fellow clergy person (from a different tradition!) said this of the prayer that was offered: "Spirit of Life, known by so many names….. How appropriate. A great and binding ceremony of life in which we are all in it together and responsible to it!”
During the service and during the whole weekend, I felt very proud to be Unitarian Universalist. I love this faith tradition, that has both a deep past and a bright future in this age when so many are saying they are “spiritual but not religious.” It is a faith tradition that unlike any other, draws from multiple sources and affirms that “revelation is not sealed!” It is a faith tradition that affirms the importance of conscience in each of us, but also affirms that we need to be in relationship and community and in covenant with each other. I am so grateful for Rev. Nicole Kirk who affirmed the great cloud of witnesses who were present, not only those present physically but those Unitarians and Universalists who have been present in Mississippi since the early 1800s.
I am changed by this last weekend and I know it will be over time that I learn all of the ways that I have been changed. And I know UUCO is changed by this last weekend as well, and I suspect that it is also true that UUCO will be exploring how it is changed for some time. I would like to invite conversation about this and hear of the variety of experiences from last Sunday. How did it feel to be ordaining a minister? How did it feel to be at the Inter-faith chapel on campus? How did it feel to be so visibly present in the community?
My Ordination committee was extraordinary and last weekend was a testament to a lot of love and care and skill that started over 2 months ago. I would like to thank Martha Scott, Jason Taylor, Dan Mattern, Luanne Buchanan, Greg Johnson and Walter Flaschka for all that they did to make this happen. The committee did the planning and printing the invitations, raised the funds for all the expenses, planned the details of the service, lead the fabulous UUCO chorus and planned and hosted a dinner for 50 that included all of the out-of-town guests. And I would like to thank the UUCO Chorus and Andrew from bringing such beautiful music. The music filled the room and lifted all of our spirits!!
Wow!! A warm and very big thank you to this committee, the musicians and to the whole congregation!!!
With much love and faith,
Last Sunday, UUCO did something historic.
At the Paris-Yates Chapel on the university campus, on a clear, breezy Fall afternoon, we ordained our very own Dr. Gail Stratton as minister. This is the first ordination of a Unitarian Universalist minister in Mississippi in living memory. We couldn't be more proud of the Reverend Dr. Gail Elizabeth Stratton or our congregation.
For Gail this was the culmination of five years of work, both academic and applied. Starting at the Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Gail continued with a year-long internship at Interfaith Compassion Ministry in Oxford, 6 months at the VA Hospital in Memphis, and two years with the UU Church of Birmingham. You can learn more about the full process of arduous path to ministry, detailed in Reverend Stratton's article on UUOxford.com.
After the graduate hours, the clinical work, the Masters of Divinity degree, and a thorough credentialing process, it fell to the ordinand's own congregation to sponsor the ordination -- and UUCO certainly stepped up. Following the congregational vote to ordain Gail, UUCO launched a funding drive. The required minimum was quickly met and then greatly surpassed by generous donations from friends, family, and UUCO members past and present.
The ceremony was guided by Dr. Greg Johnson, President of the UUCO Board of Trustees. Other UUCO speakers included Marjorie Holland (Vice-President), Daniell Mattern, Eunice Benton, and Emma Scott (who delivered the youth charge to the minister). The vestment given to Reverend Stratton was a beautiful stole made by Paula Shanks, a founding member of UUCO. Music was provided by the UUCO Choir and Andrew Gordon.
Fellow ministers traveled from far and wide, including speakers Reverend Carlton Elliott Smith, Justine Sullivan, and Reverend Dr. Julie Kain. The sermon was delivered by Reverend Dr. Nicole Kirk, the Schulman Professor of Unitarian Universalist History at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.
The ceremony concluded with the laying on of hands. Reverend Stratton was surrounded by family, friends, and fellow UUCO members for the final blessing.
Read more about Gail's ordination in this Daily Mississippian article: A beautiful multitude: The ordination of Reverend Gail Stratton.
This Sunday UUCO will honor the importance of relationships with our fellow animals as we celebrate pets and all earth's creatures in this annual service. Ruby Reithel will be the lead speaker in our creature-based conversation.
You're invited to bring a photo or object connected to beloved animals, which we'll display on a table for all to see. You'll also have the opportunity, if you like, to share a sentence or two about your animal.
Children of middle-school age and younger are invited to bring pets that can remain in a cage. The pets will be in the RE room during the service, and we'll look forward to meeting them there after the service!