A total of 77 members and friends (64 participants and 13 facilitators) participated in one of the 11 December Listening Circles. Seven (7) others had to cancel for one reason or another and have been added to our January list. More than 15 others were interested in participating but couldn’t make the December dates/times. All participants received a link to a survey about their Listening Circle experience and 48 of them responded. Responses were overwhelmingly positive about what it was like to speak and to listen from the heart. Folks reported feeling safe and heard and some felt their Listening Circle was a sacred space. In addition to the responses, participants were asked to rate their experience from 1 to 5 stars. The average rating was 4.73 out of 5!
By Maureen McNair
My main goal for our church’s South Bay Food Pantry is for it to go out of business because no one needs our services any longer. Along those lines, I have bad news and good news to share. The bad news is last Saturday, we had our biggest food distribution to date. We provided food to 206 households — mostly families and seniors. The good news is we were there to alleviate their food insecurity. The members and friends of this congregation are so consistently generous, we have never had to turn away anyone without giving them food. We distributed over a ton of fresh produce, plus chicken, eggs, frozen meals, dry goods, and bread. And, through the generosity of a one-time donation from a community groups, we were also able to give away often-requested adult diapers and at-home covid tests.
by Maureen McNair
Have you ever wondered what kind of work it takes to get food into our church’s South Bay Food Pantry?
Right now, it takes several volunteer teams working on Friday and Saturday to get the food we will distribute Saturday morning.
On Friday morning at 8 AM, Valerie Jaques and I meet in Mira Mesa at the San Diego Food Bank warehouse. We shop for meat, poultry, frozen meals, eggs, fresh produce, and dry goods. Valerie does a lot of heavy lifting of goods into her pick up truck, then drives down to our pantry in Chula Vista.
Each of us has weathered the past months of congregational changes and challenges as best we could. Without a space or place to share our feelings and what’s weighing on our hearts, remaining in covenant, connectedness, and community has been difficult. As a first step to acknowledge what we’ve experienced, we are implementing a Listening Circle program to share our feelings. Learn more and sign up at our Listening Circles page.
The staff team has worked very hard to get us to the point where we can livestream the Sunday service as it happens at 9:30 am on Sunday morning. This will mean that there will be a few important changes to how the online service will happen, and we wanted to be sure everyone is aware of what will be different.
Circle practices—from the traditions of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples—are a group spiritual practice grounded in love, respect, caring, cooperation, and mutuality. There are many different purposes for circle practices on a continuum—including listening, discernment, consent decision-making, policy, healing, and restorative.
As a first step for the entire First UU community to acknowledge what we’ve experienced, a Listening Circle (LC) program will be implemented to allow us to share our feelings about the past 18 months or longer (without interruption, dialogue, debate, or problem solving). The goal is to re-engage turning toward each other, strengthen and rebuild our relationships with each other, acknowledge the need for further work, and build trust—speaking the truth in love, listening to the different truths in the room with love:
Listening Circles are scheduled for a maximum of 2 hours—online or in person—each limited to no more than 9 participants (including 2 First UU trained co-facilitators). Confidentiality will be observed—just as for Funding Our Future sharing—no names, only feelings reported. What is learned will help the Board define goals to be used in the Developmental Ministry application process and will help our future Ministers in Residence work with us as we heal and move forward into our future.
Listening Circles are only one step in our return to practicing beloved community. Other processes will follow to address specific aspects of our needed work. Our care and concern for each other will be the first gift we give by listening to the truths of others with a different perspective from ours. This process is truly the way to live our mission to create community and nurture spiritual growth—as containers for holding the concerns and hurts of others. May it be so
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