Murray Church Notes

February 7, 2019

Volume 7,  Issue 26

In this Issue:

Finding Your Way Back to Center
Rev. Gretchen Weis

We are living in a world of extremes and polarities right now.  To paraphrase Margaret Wheatley in her book, “Perseverance,” people take positions at the far edge of an issue and then scream at one another across the distance they’ve created.  That sure sounds familiar!  

Still others, numbed by every-day experience, seek out extremes in sports or personal challenges just to feel some kind of motivation, or stimulation.  But living at the extreme edge of anything – from a challenging relationship to politics to a work project or physical challenges -- takes tremendous energy to sustain.   It quickly becomes exhausting, even as it might have initially energized us.  

Somewhere in all the furor and the drama, Wheatley observes, we lose sight of the middle.  Yet it’s in the middle where the possibilities reside.  Perhaps because we’ve become so accustomed to strong emotions and loud noises to motivate us, Wheatley suggests, we no longer seek the quiet space of center.  We think of the middle as a place of “compromise,” or “consensus,” – terms that can imply failure, mediocrity or losing face to another.  

Yet Wheatley reminds us, all of the great spiritual traditions speak of moderation, of harmony, of balance – we are encouraged to seek the middle way.  To my mind, it is the heart of relationship that waits for us in the center.   Promoting extreme viewpoints, living on the edges, serves to divide people from one another.  When we move towards center, we find connection – the possibilities of a deeper relationship with ourselves, or with one another, or with ultimate mystery, awe and wonder.

How do we find our way back to center in the midst of so much disconnection and chaos?    One way to rediscover the middle is to notice your everyday behaviors, Wheatley suggests.  Notice where you’re positioned on an issue – are you justifying your behavior, assuming you’re right and others are wrong?  Or, she suggests, are you open to the possibility that you can’t see very well from where you’re sitting, that you don’t know – can’t know – all the facts, all the viewpoints, in any given situation?  That perhaps a larger truth lies somewhere in the middle? 

Humility and curiosity are what shift us back to center, Wheatley claims.  Humility helps to remind us that no one person can possibly know it all – that we might have as much to “unlearn” in this lifetime, as we have to learn.  Curiosity encourages us to question our assumptions, our prejudices, our pre-judgments, opening us to the middle ground of new learnings, deeper understandings.  Just by being curious, we move toward the middle ground, Wheatley suggests, with its fertile promise of new ideas and new relationships.

If you find yourself caught up in the extremes of today’s world – from extreme viewpoints, to extremely overloaded, stressful schedules and challenging relationships – I invite you to find time – even if it is just for a moment --- to pause, and to breathe deeply in and out.  May you bring your full attention to where you are, in present time, as you find your way back to center.  

It is here, in the quiet inner stillness, where we can ground ourselves, reconnect to the very center of our being.  Buddhist poet Mark Nepo encourages us: as we return to that timeless spot of grace that lives within each of us, this is how we unlearn our way back to God.

Special thanks to our Social Concerns team as they led 40 people through our initial discussions of the concepts from the book White Fragility last Sunday following worship.  Thanks to feedback from that first session, we will be lengthening the next session on Sunday, March 3rd, to the full 90 minutes, to give more time for sharing our stories with each other in our small group break out sessions.  Please see the announcement in this newsletter for more information about the March 3rd session, as we look forward to taking deeper, longer dives into the concepts from White Fragility.

Please plan to join us this Sunday, as guest minister Joanna Lubkin encourages us to reunite with awe and radical amazement! 

In love and faith,
"Reuniting With Awe" 
Rev. Joanna Lubkin

How might our day, our interactions with others, and our work in the world be different if we start with awe and wonder? Together, we'll explore the practice of radical amazement as a way to make it through even the toughest times.

"The Five Love Languages"   
What happens to love after the wedding?  Is there a secret to keeping love alive long after the honeymoon is over?  Marriage counselor Gary Chapman offers interesting insight in his book “The Five Love Languages.”   Chapman believes all marriages can grow stronger, if you learn to express affection and appreciation in the emotional language your partner understands best.  In this season of Valentine’s celebration, this is a fascinating way to think about making deeper connections with those we love.
Religious Education for Sunday, February 10

Don Michaels will be the Acting DRE.

Nursery is available 9:45-11;00 am.  Nursery is for our babies, toddlers and preschoolers only. Kavita Vansant, our DLRE, will be off this Sunday.  

We will begin in the service and then head to our classes to begin our pillar on World Religions.
Youth Group:
Class will begin at 10 am.  You will continue with the UU curriculum Heeding the Call.  Lesson is "The Call for Cooperation." 
Religious Education is in need of lids!  
•    Plastic lids from Cool Whip containers and/or large yogurt containers 
•    Empty spray bottles 
•    Please make sure these items are thoroughly cleaned.  The items can be dropped off in Kavita’s office. 

Feb. 9:
From Green Sanctuary, Dinner and Movie night: 
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
This Saturday, Feb. 9th, 6:00 pm, Unity Room

As more urgent scientific reports are coming out on climate change, and as our political process often seems stymied, what can we to do? 

How can we remain hopeful in the face of such a scarey future? 

What can we do when so much seems out of our control? 

We have answers. Join Us.

Potluck--vegetarian dishes encouraged 

Please bring your own plates and utensils.
Starts This Sunday, Feb. 10:

Listening Circles – Come Explore the Possibilities

Some of you, at least those of you who were part of Murray in 2008 – 2009, might remember that during those two years, we did many Appreciative Inquiry Workshops – Creating the Murray Future: Imagining the Possibilities.  If you were here in ‘08-’09 you might also remember that those workshops resulted in a vision for the future that included a Bylaws change to establish the Social Action Committee. We also developed better media coverage resulting in a much improved, very professional web page; many had concerns about ensuring strong institutional fiscal stability and planning for when Markman would leave.  We also recognized the pressing need to value the contributions of staff, both verbally and financially, resulting in use of UUA guidelines to compensate all of our staff.   You get the picture, or hopefully you remember – those workshops resulted in building on the wonderful things that were already happening at Murray and adding new hopes and ideas to them.
Now, ten years later, the board, the Finance Chair, the minister, were thinking that it might be time to once again do some Appreciative Inquiry type workshops – we’re calling them Listening Circles this time – in an effort to look at how we want to grow, what we need to build on, that is working great, what our vision for the future is, etc. As some of you know, I am a trained Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator and I volunteered to help us look again at this model – not necessarily the exact same model – and see if we could hold a few workshops – Listening Circles – in February 2019.  Our plan is to once again look at Murray’s assets, capabilities, resources, and strengths that are just sitting there waiting to be affirmed, stretched, encouraged by the loving, giving members and friends of this awesome faith community.  For example, how do we build on the energy and excitement of hanging our Black Lives Matter: Join the Conversation banner, and what do we want those conversations with the community to look like?  RE is growing in leaps and bounds; what else should we be doing? Green Sanctuary, how do we continue to fight against climate and environmental injustices? I have my ideas, I’m sure you have your own.

Sunday, February 10th                    11:30 AM                           
Monday, February 11th                    10:00 AM
Saturday, February 16th                  10:00 AM                           
Tuesday, February 19th                   2:00 PM  and 7:00 PM
You can email Janet Richardi to register and she will have sign-up sheets at coffee hour on February 10, 2019.

So what is Appreciative Inquiry?   
Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to organization change that has been used successfully in small and large change projects with hundreds of organizations worldwide.  It is based on the simple idea that organizations move in the direction of what they ask questions about.  For example, when groups study human problems and conflicts, they often find that both the number and severity of these problems grow.  In the same way, when groups study high human ideals and achievements, these phenomena, too, tend to flourish.  Thus, appreciative Inquiry distinguishes itself from other change methodologies by deliberately asking positive questions to ignite constructive dialogue and inspired action within organizations.   From APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY: THEORY AND PRACTICE Jane Watkins and Ralph Kelly
With a team of workshop facilitators consisting of Bertha Young, Donna Palmer, Shelly Freddo, Ted Weil, Rick Millard, Jim Richardi and me, we developed a model and a schedule and are offeringListening Circles in an effort to look at where we see ourselves in 2022 or maybe even 2025, our 150th Anniversary.  So here is the plan: over the month of February 2019, five workshops will be offered at various days and times.  These workshops will last 90 minutes – 1 ½ hours – and will need a minimum of eight (8) participants.  All members and friends are invited to participate, and once you sign up, I will send you a list of questions that we will be discussing so you can come prepared.  Once all workshops have occurred, the information will be given to the board to use as they move forward into the next few years, similar to a strategic plan, with input from all interested members and friends.

So come join us as we work to discover what gives our church life and dream our most vivid images for Murray’s future, as we grow and realize a higher and wider potential.  
Feb. 12:

Murray Men's Lunch Bunch

Inviting all Murray men to join us for lunch, the second Tuesday of each month, at Morin's Diner in downtown Attleboro. This is a very informal gathering for conversation and fellowship. No reservation required, just come as you are. 

If you need a ride, please call Rob Hasselbaum at 774-282-0818 a few days in advance, and transportation will be arranged.

The next luncheon is on Tuesday, February 12th at noon. Look for us in the back room of Morin's, if you don't see us -- just ask!
Feb. 17:

Soup Sale

In honor of Valentines Day and Chinese New Year (Pig), our theme will be soups that we love to make or that we make for those we love! And any soups that we are "hog wild" about! Please contact Peg Dixon at  or Laurie Lawes if you would like to prepare soup for our community!


      Our children practice different kinds of meditation.
Feb. 22:

Blood Drive

Community Blood Drive

Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
505 North Main Street
Attleboro, Ma 02703

Friday, February 22, 2019
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

For an appointment, please visit
Or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

NEW DATE! Feb 24:

Mid-Year Congregational Meeting 

Following Worship

There will be a mid-year informational meeting for all members of Murray Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. in FELLOWSHIP HALL. A light lunch and childcare will be provided.

Topics to be discussed:

  • Mid-year financial report as of Dec. 31st and potential outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year, including deficit management 
  • Proposed by-law changes that are under consideration and may be voted on at another special meeting prior to the annual meeting in May.
March 1:

Pancake Supper Volunteers Needed

Like Pancakes? Help Murray serve up an awesome fundraising Pancake Supper on Friday, March 1, 5:30-7:30 pm in Fellowship Hall. Lots of help will be needed before and during the event.  Please contact Stephanie Paquette if you can donate ingredients and/or your time.
March 3:

White Fragility Discussion: Part 2

You are welcome to

Please mark your calendar 
Sunday, March 3
11:30 - 12:45 in the Unity Room

Our Second Conversation on:
“White Fragility:  
Why It’s So Hard for White People 
to Talk About Racism”

You do not need to read the book to join in.


We have expanded the time for conversation in this session (more than our last session)

If you would like childcare,  please let Kavita know a week or more before the meeting

                                                        ~ The Murray Black Lives Matter Committee

March 16

Murray Theater Trip

The Odd Couple, The Female Version, written by Neil Simon, offers a comedic take on how challenging it is to live, day in and day out, with anyone!

Membership & Welcoming Committee is gathering a group to go to the Mass Music & Arts Society's (MMAS) Black Box Theatre at 377 N. Main St., Mansfield, Mass. The theater trip is planned for Saturday, March 16th,  for an 8:00 p.m. performance.  Group tickets are $28.  RSVP to Sandy Stuart.  We hope that you can join us!  

Volunteer for Coffee Hour...

If you like coffee, yummy snacks or just enjoy meeting new people, please consider volunteering for coffee hour. To sign-up, please click here or write your name down on the clipboard at the table where coffee is served.
If you are new or if you need a refresher, step-by-step instructions and friendly hands-on training and/or buddies are all available. Goodies may be bought or baked. 
It's easy! It doesn't require a lot of extra time (show up between 9:15 and 9:30 am to get the coffee going,  and setup/clean up takes about half an hour).  We really need volunteers! Let's keep Murray members and friends caffeinated and in the happy zone.
Questions?  Contact Monica Weil or Barbara Clark.                                                    

Thinking About Starting Up a Murray Church Thrift Shop

Interested in Helping Out?

We continue to explore ways to increase our church revenues, especially ways we might bring in more dollars from the community.  Right now, we are researching the possibility of using our empty rental space across from the office to start up a Murray Church thrift shop, open to the public a few days a week.  

As the Clara Barton Guild no longer has the resources to manage their two rummage sales a year, we are thinking about the possibility of a team of new folks to help us organize and staff a year round “rummage sale” of limited, quality items in a thrift shop setting. Yes, we acknowledge there will be hurdles and challenges to address.  We’re in the research phase — currently setting up visits with other UU churches who run thrift shops to learn more about the challenges and possibilities of opening and sustaining an active, thriving thrift shop.

Make no mistake, a thrift shop will require a dedicated team of people to create and sustain it.  Think of the loyal, dedicated volunteer team who blesses us week in and week out to run our Food Pantry!  We will need the same if a thrift shop is to be successful!  

If the idea of a Murray Church thrift shop gets you excited, please contact Rev. Gretchen to let her know you are interested in helping out!  

Together, let’s explore some exciting new possibilities!

Help the Food Pantry Go Green! 

We need re-usable cloth grocery bags!

Other items also needed:
  • Feminine care products
  • Personal care items (deodorant, shampoo soap, etc)
Newsletter weekly schedule!
Please e-mail all newsletter submissions by Tuesday end of day for inclusion in the following Thursday's Murray Notes. The next deadline is Tuesday, February 12th.  Please include 'NEWSLETTER' in the subject line.
If the weather outside is frightful, the minister and board president will confer to determine if worship services must be cancelled by 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV5, FOX25 and WPRI-12, FOX Providence will air any Sunday Service cancellations during the morning news.

Websites for cancellations:,,
Cancellations will also be posted on our website and Facebook page: 
Be sure to "Like" us to see updates in your news feed. 

What's going on at Murray? Click the calendar!

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