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February 25-26, 2023
“Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love.”  
—  Valerie Kaur

UU Meriden Weekly Newsletter

What's happening at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden?

SUNDAY: 💗 Rev. Jan is here! Plus, it's Church Clean Up Day 🧹 (& Pizza 🍕)
You're invited to worship with us in-person or online this Sunday, February 26th at 10:30 a.m. Gather in our Sanctuary at UU Meriden; or participate by joining our Zoom meeting. Followed by our Church Clean Up Day (read on for details)

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Join Worship via Zoom
Get Directions to UUCM
Rev. Jan Carlsson-Bull, former UUCM minister, returns with "Soul Bones" an exploration viewing human beings in light of the Hebrew term nephesh indicating a oneness of body and soul. How does this notion resonate for us and how we choose to live? Followed by Pizza Party & Church Clean Up Day after worship (details below) 
TOMORROW: Clean Up Day 🧹 — now with Pizza! 🍕

 Our Clean Up Our Church Day is after church tomorrow with pizza for lunch (a Pizza Party if we're enthusiastic!) to fuel our clean up efforts between church service and our Clean Up (note: not a potluck this time). We will put out a basket so those who are able can put in a dollar or two to help pay for the pizza. You can of course always bring yourself a bagged lunch if pizza isn't for you - our goal is for minimal food clean up.  🍕
 We hope you'll join our community effort (and pizza party) Sunday 02/26! Clean Up Our Church Day is about working together to get our building ready for the bright future we envision, especially the "Unconference" we will be hosting for other UU's all over CT at our church in two weeks on March 11. We hope to make space for the potential we see in our community: programs for families, more ways to gather, events, etc. This is an exciting time for UU Meriden! So if you can please stay to help us straighten and clean our building. 🌈 
  Our big clean up will include... places like the front room and some of the classrooms downstairs. There may be some more heavy duty work, like moving boxes, and lighter duty work like dusting. We don't plan to be at this all afternoon but an hour or two with many hands can accomplish a lot. Hope to see you there. Feel free to bring dust rags, cleaning supplies, and vacuums if you are so inclined. However you can contribute, we welcome your energy! 🧹

News, Events, & More

A Birthday Memorial for Emily Kwolek — this Friday, March 3rd ❤

  Emily Kwolek's family has invited members of the congregation to a memorial birthday party for what would have been Emily's 33rd birthday. The event will be at Napoli Pizza in Wallingford at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 3rd. Click here for directions.

📚 Read Out Loud Monthly UU Book Group 📚

March 14 at 7pm via Zoom

We meet on Zoom one Tuesday per month. We'll be reading three chapters on our own (if you choose.) When we meet we'll choose one chapter to read Out Loud. Only one person reads - so don't worry it won't be you - unless you request to read out loud!

📘 Our current book is "First Light" by Sue Monk Kidd

📗 We meet next on Tuesday, March 14 at 7 pm via Zoom

📕 Before we meet, we'll be reading to ourselves the following three chapters (this is OPTIONAL) —
  • Availability; Compassion; and Solitude.
The intention of the book is to get us discussing and learning about ourselves and the others in the group. It's okay if you haven't read the chapters, that part is optional.

Please let Liz Hall know you're coming to get the Zoom Link. If you want to join but don't do Zoom let Liz know. Contact Liz by text at: 860-978-9534
Intercultural Development Inventory Update 

From Rev. Tony:  Fifteen members of the congregation have registered to the Intercultural Development Inventory. Login codes and Links to take the IDI online were emailed on Feb. 13 and 14. If you have registered to take the IDS, please look for the email from the IDI that contains the link to the assessment and your personal log in code.  

If you did NOT register to take the IDI but would like to, please contact Rev. Tony ASAP at 508-3443-668 (talk or text) or The cost is $23 payable to the congregation but don’t let cost stop you as several members have offered to pay for other’s assessments should we need that financial help. Just let Rev. Tony know.  

Once everyone has taken the assessment, Rev. Tony will schedule congregational as well as individual briefings. 

Thanks for your interest in helping our congregation learn more about itself as an organization and how we might better live into our mission.

TWO WEEKS AWAY: We're Hosting And You're Invited!

On Sat., March 11, 2022 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Congregational leaders from around the state will gather to make connections, inspire each other, learn and teach leadership skills, and discuss Unitarian Universalism and congregational life. We’ll use the UNCONFERENCE Model, an open-space approach where those in attendance determine the teaching and learning opportunities. More info online at our Facebook Event: CT UU UNCONFERENCE at The event is FREE, but we’d appreciate people registering for the day via Eventbrite here: 

We also request that all those attending bring something to share for the potluck lunch (how UU does this get)! If weather or Covid cancels the in-person event, it will move online and all those registered through Eventbrite will be sent the Zoom link via their registration email.

NOTE: Church Clean Up Day is after church tomorrow, 02/26 to prepare our space for visitors and activity!

From the Board of Trustees

Next Congregational Conversation — March 19 
  Thank you for your attendance and input at February's conversation last week! 
  The next congregational conversation will take place on March 19. This conversation will be led by the Board of Trustees and Rev. Tony will not be present. The topic of this conversation will be Rev, Tony's relationship to our congregation and whether we want to look at ways to make his tenure with us more permanent. We can discuss our options and people's thoughts and feelings about how we want to proceed. Please make every effort to attend.

New Year, New Leadership: Call for Board Members
  It is time to be thinking about our Board of Trustees for the 23-24 year. We have also been talking about how many members on the BOT makes the most sense. If you are interested in possibly being a BOT member in the near or distant future, please feel free to contact any of us for information, or email, and consider attending meetings to find out more about what we do. 

Upcoming Meetings — 
  Due to scheduling conflicts, the next two Board of Trustees meetings will take place at 10:00 AM (instead of our usual 6:30 time) on Zoom. The dates are March 8 and March 22. The meetings are open to all members of the UUCM family. To attend, please contact to request a Zoom invitation. 

Changes coming to our Bylaws
  The Board of Trustees and Rev. Tony, along with valuable help from Anita Sanders, are working on a major revision of our Bylaws. We plan to have a suggested draft out to everyone by early April. April's Congregational Conversation will be about our Bylaws. After input is received and incorporated, the new Bylaws will be put to a vote at May's annual meeting.
Matching Challenge Fund: Thank you for supporting this Fund! 

We're up to $16k pledged — we're closing in on our goal!! 
With this last push we can get the rest of the way there —
another $4k — giving ourselves and Rev. Tony a clear path to move forward and a successful campaign to look back on, one that shows our commitment to supporting the UU Meriden we want to see and be a part of  💙 

 At a previous Congregational Conversation there was a strong commitment expressed to maintaining a half time minister — Rev. Tony's current arrangement with our congregation. People present wanted to proceed with another fundraising campaign to support this ministry (aka have enough money to continue to employ Rev. Tony next year). Our treasurer thought we might need to raise about $20,000 to balance the budget with that level of ministry. So far about $16,000 dollars has been pledged. Thank you to all who have pledged! We are now entering the time when ministers are searching for positions for the next fiscal year. We will need to let Tony know soon if we will have the funds for him to continue with us as our half time minister. If you want to contribute to this fund please let our treasurer know as soon as possible what you are pledging to this fund. You do not have to pay the pledge immediately but will need to by the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. You can email your pledge to Trish Schneider at It is important to realize that this is a contribution above your regular annual pledge, which is also important to keep our church running. Thank you for your commitment to UU Meriden.
 Member of the Month, appreciating each other

  In keeping with our tradition of naming a month after a person who has contributed to our UUCM community, February is Tim O'Brien month. Tim is a longtime member who has worn many hats in our congregation. Tim is a former treasurer and served on the Board in that capacity. Many years ago, when the congregation was having to decide what to do about the old Brownstone, Tim was on the committee that studied the building and the options, and was one of the people who helped steer the congregation through the process of deciding to sell the building and move on to other quarters. That was a tremendous amount of work for all involved. Tim was involved with Religious Education for our children, the Sabbatical committee, and with the newsletter. He served as collector and was involved with audits of our books. Recently, Tim has been volunteering to do essential administrative tasks involved in the running of our church. Thank you Tim for all you do!
Social Justice Council Meeting Report

SJC Activities Report from 2/9/23 meeting: 

  • Middletown Pride: UUCM will be staffing a booth at the Middletown Pride day, June 3, 2023. Currently help is needed to make rainbow bracelets to hand out and to paint Pride themed rocks and other items to sell. Also we will need help at the booth on June 3rd. Please let us know if you can help in any of these ways by contacting
  • “Having Difficult Conversations” training is currently being developed
  • 25% of Sunday collection will be suspended until July, 2023, when it will be re-discussed.
  • Narcan and CPR training is being planned for April or May 
Next Meeting: Wednesday, 3/15/23 9:30am at UU Meriden

Rev. Tony's Spiritual Challenge 
 Put on Your Own Mask First! 
  You can’t love and accept others until you learn to love and accept yourself. Because of this, my spiritual challenge to you for this month of February is to find a way to love yourself first. There’s a reason the flight attendants tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first if the plane loses pressure. You can’t help anyone else nor can you follow safety directions if you’re unconscious. The first person to put on an oxygen mask in a plane is the pilot. If the pilot passes out, the plane crashes. This month, I challenge you to find a way to practice putting on your own mask first. It’s not selfish or self-centered. It’s practical and it’s necessary. You can’t truly love others, not in a mature and healthy way, if deep down you don’t love yourself. Don’t fall into a false sense of humility and think you need to take care of others instead of yourself, or prioritize others before yourself. Remember, self-esteem isn’t self-abasement, it’s the middle ground between pride and self-loathing. Healthy self-esteem is seeing yourself truly as you are and loving yourself anyway, in spite of any real or perceived faults.

  Putting on your own mask first will look different from person to person. What I do to take care of myself won’t necessarily be the same as what you do to take care of yourself. Recently, I have returned to journaling first thing every morning. Instead of writing about my day or what’s on my mind, my journaling is about how I will prioritize my day. I am journaling to focus, not to reflect. It’s helped a lot already in only a few weeks. One thing I learned is that if I journal and meditate and exercise in the morning, my day is better. I feel less rushed, less anxious, more confident – and I’m getting more done. What’s something you can do to take care of you better? You can think of this as self-care, but it’s more than that – it’s prioritizing yourself. It begins with the permission to do something to take care of you. It’s not selfish. You being a better you is better for your partner, your children, your parents, your classmates, your co-workers, and your congregation! 

Do you need permission to rest? To cry? Do you need to take a walk every day? Do you need to eat better? Would it be good for you to call old friends or spend time with new ones? Would it be good for you to make time to read a book for fun? To take up something creative like writing or painting, or dancing? Is there an adult education class you’d like to take? Do you need to let yourself get up earlier or go to bed earlier? What support or assistance could you use to help make putting on your mask first a priority?

As always, I’d love to hear about your experiences with this challenge. Call or text me at 508-344-3668 or send me an email at You can find a video version of this Spiritual Challenge on our Facebook page. For the Minister's Monthly Message see below the worship schedule.

Worship this Month 

  Note: Sunday worship services at UU Meriden begin at 10:30 A.M.  We are located at 328 Paddock Ave. Unless otherwise indicated, our Sundays worship will also be offered via Zoom aka "Hybrid." You can check if a service is in-person, online, or hybrid on the schedule below: 
  • Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m. . . . in-person & via Zoom  "Soul Bones"  Rev. Jan Carlsson-Bull, former UUCM minister, returns to reflect on human beings in light of the Hebrew term nephesh indicating a oneness of body and soul. How does this notion resonate for us and how we choose to live? In-person at UUCM & online via Zoom. Join us virtually by clicking here. Followed by Pizza Party & Church Clean Up Day  (details in the 'News' section) 
  • March 05 at 10:30 a.m. . . . in-person & via Zoom  "Vulnerability as a Path to Strength and Growth"  Peg Kirkpatrick helps us reflect on times of difficulty and challenge in our lives through the lens of how personal growth may have come from those experiences of vulnerability. Accompaniment by Kevin Wyman. In-person at UUCM & online via Zoom. Join us virtually by clicking here
  • March 12 at 10:30 a.m. . . . in-person & via Zoom  "Creating Space for Vulnerability"  Rev. Tony Lorenzen leads us in welcoming NEW MEMBERS! We'll explore joy and concerns, small group ministry, team reflection, and check-ins as ways we can make more space for vulnerability. Accompaniment by Kevin Wyman. In-person at UUCM & online via Zoom. Join us virtually by clicking here
  • March 19 at 10:30 a.m. . . . in-person & via Zoom  "Responding to a Polarized Society"  Elaine Donovan considers how we can practice loving community while advancing justice in the face of an increasingly polarized society. Musical accompaniment from the UU performing group MeetinghousePlease join us for March's Congregational Conversation following worship. In-person at UUCM & online via Zoom. Join us virtually by clicking here
  • Attending via Zoom: Our hybrid services are simultaneously live online via Zoom and in-person at UUCMThe UU Meriden Zoom meeting access link is always Unless otherwise indicated, worship services will continue to be hybrid.
  • Please see our current COVID Policy on our website HERE, effective 10/2022

   Our February Worship Theme is Love —  For recommendations, inspirations, and free resources relating to our Monthly Worship Themes visit our website. You can still read Rev. Tony's Spiritual Challenge in the news section above and the Minister's Monthly Message below. Can you guess March's theme?
Open your Heart to UU Meriden 💖
 It only takes a few clicks to support UU Meriden and the causes that matter most to you — online!  The drop down menu on our PayPal allows you to select whether you are contributing to your pledge, adding to our weekly offering, donating to Social Justice Council, or supporting our Pastoral Care Ministries. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our fundraisers last year and to everyone who pledged! To check it out, click the PayPal icon below or follow this link:

Thank you for your Generosity!
THANK YOU for all your generous donations and contributions during this difficult time. Please continue to support the congregation financially. Click the PayPal icon to donate online now! 
The Minister's Monthly Message   
“Love is the Spirit of this Church
  – Except When It Isn’t”

Dear Beloveds,

  Our liberal religion traces its history back to the Puritans in Plymouth, MA. The Puritans left the Anglican Church over a dispute over how to govern churches. The Puritans hated hierarchies and bishops. They wanted churches governed locally and democratically. In his book The American Creed, Forrest Church paraphrases the Puritans' essential covenant as: "We pledge to walk together in the ways of truth and affection, as best we know them now or may learn them in the days to come, that we and our children may be fulfilled and that we may speak to the world in words and actions of peace and goodwill." 

  Liberal religion eschews creeds in favor of common values. What hold us together is shared values and promises to treat each according to those values. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations, especially in New England, recite some variation of the Blake Covenant (#473 in our hymnal) in their worship service every Sunday as reminder of those values and those promises:
Love is the spirit of this church, and service its law. This is our great covenant: To dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another. 

  And yet, as central as Love is in this covenant and as central as Love is in the proposed change from 7 principles to 7 values in Article Two of the UUA bylaws, it’s also true that many congregations have ongoing conflicts where they seem to forget this and ignore the centrality of love. Some ignore it so deeply it causes members to walk away, ministries to end, and congregations to schism.

  I’ve spent the last 18 years serving our congregations.
My own experience is that Love’s biggest enemy in a congregation is the same as it is in most places - a lack of open, honest, and compassionate communication. This usually leads to people harboring resentment because not speaking about something, keeping silent about how we really think and feel ends up making people angry about others not meeting their needs and not “hearing” them. But it’s impossible to hear, and thus to respond, to thoughts and feelings that are never spoken. As far as we know, no one is yet able to read another person’s thoughts. As my colleague the Rev. Brian Ferguson said in a charge to a UU congregation at the installation of their minister, “Unarticulated expectations and unspoken boundaries are pre-meditated resentment.” 

  This month as we focus on love as our theme, I encourage you to risk being vulnerable and instead of keeping something to yourself, try speaking kindly – but honestly – to someone about something difficult. This isn’t an easy thing to do for most of us. But there are many good resources (the titles are links): This handbook,
Tools for Difficult Conversations, was put together for a congregation I served in Texas by two therapists who were members of its Healthy Dialog Team. Another great resource like this is the Little Book of Cool Tools for Hot Topics by Evelyn Wright and Ron Kraybill. The classic in the field is still Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall Rosenberg.

  As the famous Universalist Hosea Ballou put it,
“If we agree in love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury, but if we do not, no other agreement can do us any good.”

In faith,
Rev. Tony

 February's worship theme is Love. After reading and exploring the links, check out Rev. Tony's Spiritual Challenge in this newsletter and as a video on Facebook. Find out March's theme next week!
Minister's Schedule

   Rev. Tony is generally available 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday and at any time in an emergency. The quickest way to reach Rev. Tony is to call or text him at (508) 344-3668. You can also reach him via email at If you contact Rev. Tony via email, and do not receive a response for more than 1 business day, please call or text him at the number above for a faster response.

Credits, Thanks, & Attributions
  1. Chalice Logo: UUA
  2. You! For your patience!

Announcements for the Weekly Update, Social Media

Announcements are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday for that week's publication. Send your news to the below email address, say what it's for in the subject line, and if there is an attachment please write 'see attachment' in the email. Tips: be brief; pictures and links encouraged where appropriate; include a contact person and specific dates; no formatting is necessary. Announcements are subject to editing and approval; submissions will run in the Weekly Update each Friday, or Saturday – other email blasts should be explicitly requested. Items are prioritized for timeliness. Send your news to:

How to Contact UU Meriden

Church Office:
Phone: (203) 237-9297  

Rev. Tony Lorenzen:
Phone: (508) 344-3668

Address (mailing & location):
328 Paddock Avenue, Meriden, CT 06450

Contact Form:

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