"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?" - Thornton Wilder from the play "Our Town"
As Houlton celebrates its 200th anniversary, we've spent some time digging through our archives. (Our history at First Church is "almost" as long as the town.) We found this photograph taken from the corner of Court Street and Military heading east which shows the court house, the town jail and the Unitarian Church. If you are wondering what our building is doing on that side of the street, the great fire of 1902 will answer your question. After the fire, Monument Park was established along with the addition of Broadway Street approximately where our former structure was located. We purchased the lot on our current location and the rest is, as they say, history. It may seem like we've been in our church building for a long time, but even one hundred years is only a turning. Nothing is static. All is transition.
A theme we are exploring this year is called "The Great Turning." It is a phrase credited to eco-philosopher and deep ecologist Joanna Macy as well as Dr. David Korten whose latest book is titled, "The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community." We will be looking at the inner turnings and the outer turnings of human experience. Spiritual practices are especially crucial to a grounded and constantly expanding approach to life. In religious community we seek to support each other in these endeavors. Inner turnings and outer turnings are inseparably linked as we live in our contemporary world.
One of the notable highlights of Houlton's Bicentennial celebration was a local production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." The script is as applicable today as it was when Wilder first wrote it. One of the questions the play raises is, "What does it mean to live a realized life?" As we know, it's all too easy to get caught up in the everyday demands of paying the bills, maintaining relationships and keeping up with our schedules. Yet, living a realized life now is not that different than living a realized life a hundred years ago. There may be more speed and complexity to contend with these days, but the basic challenges remain the same. It's all a part of the great turning in which we find ourselves inevitably and intimately involved.
Live well. This is it. Dave
FROM THE MODERATOR
Our church ingathering will be a time of renewal and transition into new themes and ideas for church services. It is an opportunity for our church community to encourage growth in our personal lives and thinking. Spiritual growth is a natural outcome as we journey together during this next year and at times we may transition from one set of ideas to another. The thought of this may strike you at times as confusing, frightening, and even exhilarating. Above all, as we practice the Seven Principles and Four Agreements, our church community offers "safe space" and "safe place" to explore any and all ideas you may have. Dare we promise you the opportunity to also explore ideas that make a wider circle and even include earth-related issues?
Our individual spiritual quests or our search to understand the sense of mystery and wonder is an important outcome during the church year. We all get caught up in tasks of everyday existence (grocery shopping, tedious meetings, materialistic yearnings, periods of depression, etc.) and tend to be unaware that ecstasy and bliss are available for us as well. Sunday mornings specifically offer an opportunity (to some it is available constantly!) to be reminded we live in a world of incredible beauty, wonder and the mystery of life everywhere. My hope is that our church community will share this quest for mystery and wonder during our church's annual cycle called the "calendar year."
Now the word from the mundane chorus: church activities over the next three-months and year show a packed calendar. Our church depends upon volunteers to help in whatever capacity they can, and any help you may give is welcome. If you see any activity that can benefit from your skills-don't be afraid to assert yourself!
On the Passing of Rev. Martha S. Newman
It is with sadness and fond memories that we will share a memorial service on Saturday, September 8 (1 pm) to mark the passing of Reverend Martha S. Newman, Houlton's Minister Emerita and the first woman minister to serve the Houlton church on a regular basis. Martha asked that her memorial service be held in Houlton because her years here in the 1990s were some of the most fulfilling of her ministry. We remember her time with us as a spiritually enlivening and affirming several years. And we are grateful for her mentoring of Rev. David Hutchinson.
Martha Newman first came to Houlton on the invitation of Moderator David Dietrich who was seeking a "supply minister" to cover a couple Sundays per month as the congregation clarified where it was going as active members dwindled and resources tightened. Rev. Martha was never a "settled" minister here and served us on a per-service basis, available by phone for personal and Board consultation. Rev. Newman did provide services to other churches in Maine, but never connected with them in the way that she did with far-away Houlton.
Martha had retired to Maine following her years of service to the Alton, Illinois Unitarian-Universalist church. Her true home in retirement has been with her daughter Amy Rouse and her husband Gene in Skowhegan, where Bruce and I visited her for tea on a number of occasions. There she was surrounded by her books and newspapers and enjoyed a backyard full of wildflowers and cultivated garden vegetables in containers on her lovely deck. During the years Martha served in Houlton, she lived during her stays here initially with Karen Klahr, then in an apartment of her own, and for a while in a house owned by Tor Smith. One winter, Martha "toughed it out" walking on icy sidewalks with failing eyesight and difficult physical problems as well. She had the heart and will of a lioness in serving her congregations, as one would expect from a woman who found her calling as a minister in middle age, worked her way through seminary in her fifties, and took her first church at age sixty.
I suspect that we will all remember Rev. Martha in our own ways, but for me she brought the Houlton church to an acceptance and appreciation for the church's new role in the community and in the lives of its members. She taught us to value our past and our traditions but not to be limited or bound by them. I learned from her how to love the members of our small congregation, how to respect their many talents, how to support others as I am able with my compassion and service, and how to risk who I am in helping us all grow together. I don't think anyone else could have done for me what Martha did. And I know that each of us who knew her has a Martha story. Please come share your memories of Martha at the upcoming memorial service. We were all better for having known and cherished her. - Sincerely, Susan Glick
RECORD REVIEW - Reviewed by Dave 'hot-disc' Hutchinson
Truth and Reconciliation
Origin Records (2007)
"Knowledgeable, adventurous and swings hard, hard, hard." - Halifax Chronicle Herald
Critically acclaimed pianist/composer Darrell Grant describes his 6th CD as his "dream project." The 2-disc set joins Grant with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, and features guest appearances by Grammy-winning guitarist Bill Frisell, vibraphonist Joe Locke, saxophonist Steve Wilson, and guitarist Adam Rogers.
It's been ten years now since I first met Darrell. He was visiting his girlfriend (currently his wife) who was working as a farm apprentice in the Houlton area. I never heard Darrell play while he was here, but we did drink a lot of unfiltered coffee and talked about life and the arts. He was on his way to play at the Halifax Jazz Festival and then head to Portland, Oregon where he had just taken his first day job; professor of music at the University of Portland. I just happened to be in Portland earlier this summer for a convention and guess who was booked as evening entertainment?!
I call this Darrell's "Sergeant Pepper" album. Everything comes together in this offering; the right players, a blend of varied jazz styles, original compositions, vocals and (unexpected) covers of such artists as Sting and Cheryl Crow. You don't see many jazz concept albums out there, but I think this one fits the bill. Darrell builds a strong case for Truth and Reconciliation influenced by the works of Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and the TR Commission set up in South Africa after Apartheid. The album also includes other archival speeches from Ghandi, FDR, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., interspersed between tracks. This is an ambitious project and potentially difficult to sustain over the length of two discs, but the music is solid and the theme cohesive. I was ready to play it again when the second disc ended!! Here are some liner notes from the CD booklet.
"I choose to believe in the power of humans to change the world. Art is the substance of our dreams and the medium through which resonates our most fervent hopes, highest aspirations, deepest truths, and most profound experiences. Those who create art possess a consequent extraordinary power to communicate, inspire, provoke, inform and to move others to transform society and themselves, and we bear the responsibility to use this power to affect positive change in our communities and the world."
Darrell is a musician and humanitarian who sees room for hope and improvement in the world. This latest album is a generous contribution to the cause.
Darrell and his wife Ann are members of the UU Church in Portland, Oregon. Their two-year-old son Malcolm is one of the most beautiful children in the world. For more information please visit www.darrellgrant.com
Barbara London Trio Saturday, October 6th at 7PM
Tickets are now available for the Barbara London Trio concert in the sanctuary on October 6th. This event is part of the Houlton Bicentennial Celebration and our Unitarian Concert Series. Barbara is an established presence in the jazz world with numerous recordings and a long tenure on the faculty at Berklee School of Music in Boston. Barbara is originally from Houlton, so this concert will be a homecoming as well as an entertaining evening of fine jazz. Refreshments will be available during intermission along with artwork and recordings by Barbara. According to CD Baby, "Barbara London is an exciting talent in the world of jazz flute playing…Hailed by critics in Downbeat and the New York Times, she is a pianist, vocalist, and composer as well." Mark your calendars now for an evening with Barbara London and her trio. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. You can purchase your tickets locally at York's Bookstore and Visions.
FROM THE TREASURER
Awe! fall approaches…and the lawn will soon stop growing so vigorously. And speaking of lawns, the church lawn enjoyed special attention this summer. The church now is the proud owner of a high-tech push mower, powered by people of all ages without electricity or gasoline. Yes, we have joined the ranks of those who save their "carbon units" for other things. If you have a yen to return to a simpler, less-polluting style of manicuring grass, volunteer to try the church mower and see what it's like! Yes, there's a sign-up sheet, but just drop in some time and Dave will show you the ropes. Our thanks to the anonymous lawnmower donor with a love for the environment and a desire to simplify our mowing task. And I also send my thanks to all who have kept up with their pledges during the summer months and also to those who have waited to provide support to get us off to a good start as church starts up again soon. Fondly, S. Glick, Treasurer
INGATHERING SERVICE AND WATER CEREMONY - September 9
Our first service of the new church year is on September 9th. Please bring a small bottle of water you have collected from special places nearby or far away during your summer adventures. We individually pour waters into our collective vessel and reflect upon our life as a spiritual community. Water seeks the form of the container into which it is placed. The four elements will be represented on the altar as we explore our relatedness to each other and the world around us.
REPORT ON THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY - September 30
Four individuals from our congregation attended the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly this past summer in Portland, Oregon. On September 30th, Rev. David Hutchinson, Steven Helle, Susan Glick and Bruce Glick will share some of the highlights of this year's GA, the latest news from the Association, as well as personal observations and travelogues.
HIPPO EATS SCOTT ALEXANDER: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? - October 18
Rev. Scott Alexander (former minister at the Houlton Church) was my roommate at GA this summer in Portland, Oregon. While there were no hippos in Portland, we did discuss their relevance over breakfast one morning at a pancake house. Come on October 18th and hear my answer to one of the most frequently asked questions around. There will also be a story for the children, "The Flight of the Cosmic Hippo." - Rev. David Hutchinson
Click here for the current calendar.
FALL RETREAT FOR UU WOMEN
Attention UU Women of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire! Join us for our annual Fall Retreat at Rockcraft Retreat Center in beautiful Sebago Lake, Maine the weekend of October 26-28th. Our theme for the weekend is "Roots Hold Me Close," and we will be exploring that theme in workshops which include: Sacred Circle Dancing, Harvest Wreath making, a facilitated discussion on Women & Sex, a sharing circle on Exploring our Spiritual Roots, and Watercolor painting. The site lends itself to outdoor adventures like hiking and canoeing. For more information visit our blog www.uuwomenandreligion.blogspot.com or contact Leslie Lentz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 284-4401. The deadline for registration is September 21st.
ANNOUNCING the UU Houlton Community mailing list
An email discussion mailing list is a group of people who exchange messages as a group via email. Any subscriber to the list can send messages that are received by all the subscribers, creating an email-based conversation. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. Please visit the webpage if you wish to join http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/ or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES