UUCOC announces upcoming programs

Mark Walz

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff has announced its upcoming programs, and all events at the church are LGBT inclusive.

Ethicurian potluck

An ethicurian is a person who enjoys good food and at the same time makes ethical food choices. The term comes from two ideas — epicurian: one who has a discriminating palate for the enjoyment of good food and drink and ethical eating, choosing foods and processing methods that are healthy and do not negatively impact others.

Over a three-month period last fall, an ethical eating forerunner course explored how food modifications and chemical additions affected those eating the food. The class investigated the environmental impact on the land and the social impact of laborers used in producing various food products. The group looked at how difficult it was to obtain healthy and tasty food in Oak Cliff and other food desert areas of Dallas. Finally, budgetary considerations were discussed.

The Oak Cliff Ethicurians will continue to explore these topics while considering possible solutions. Members will test ethical recipes with an eye to the accessibility and the budget. The group will look into community gardening, locally grown food sources, community supported agriculture shares, and other options. Potluck lunches will be enjoyed during the meetings.

The first meeting of the Oak Cliff Ethicurians will be Sunday, Jan. 15 at noon and will be held the third Sunday of the month. There is no charge.

Benefit concert

Jim Scott will play a benefit concert for UUCOC on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

In concerts and Sunday services, he speaks with passion on ecology, justice and peace. Among his work is eco-anthem ”A Song for the Earth,” recorded at the United Nations. On his new CD Gather the Spirit, Scott is featured leading choral arrangements of his songs from the UU hymnbooks and other new creations.

Contact

All events at UUCOC, 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. For more information contact Mark Walz, minister. 214-337-2429.

—  David Taffet

World AIDS Day event planned in Plano

Roseann Rosetti opening a Quilt panel

In addition to co-sponsoring the World AIDS Day event at the new Main Street Garden in Dallas, C.U.R.E. will host a commemoration in Plano.

Billed as a ceremony of healing and hope, the Plano gathering will remember people lost to AIDS. Panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display. It takes place at Community Unitarian Universalist Church at 2875 East Parker Road. Plano-based Health Services of North Texas is also sponsoring.

“Our ceremony will include the dedication of new panels created by family and friends of a loved one lost to AIDS,” said C.U.R.E. co-founder Roseann Rosetti. “The new panels will be presented to The Names Project Foundation to be included as part of the nationally acclaimed AIDS Memorial Quilt.”

Anyone with a new panel to present may attend the ceremony.

“If you would like to present a panel in honor of someone you know and love, C.U.R.E. will be honored have you dedicate and present your panel at our World AIDS Day ceremony,” Rosetti said.

The panels will be sent to the Names Project’s home in Atlanta to be sewn into blocks for exhibit.

—  David Taffet

Local briefs

Miller to speak at GLFD event

Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller will speak at the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas membership kickoff event at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the Fifth Floor Owners’ Lounge at The House at Victory Park, 2200 Victory Park Ave.

GLFD raises money to support local organizations outside the LGBT community to raise the visibility of and awareness of philanthropy in the LGBT community. Among previous GLFD beneficiaries are The Women’s Museum, Parkland Hospital, the Latino Cultural Center, the Dallas Symphony and Southern Methodist University.

Until now, money was raised through donations and events. Now, GLFD is soliciting memberships. A basic annual membership fee is $50. For $200, the “Advocate” level also includes two invitations to an annual member appreciation event. The $500 “Philanthropic Partner” level also includes optional website recognition.

Anyone who would like to attend should email Keith Nix at knix@keithnix.com.

UUCOC offers grief workshop

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 West Kiest Blvd., will begin a grief workshop series and a speakers forum next week.The workshop series is for those coping with loss, whether from the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or termination from a job.

Hosted by the Rev. Mark Walz, the workshops will be lead by the Rev. Xolani Kecala, chaplain and affiliated minister of UUCOC.

Interested parties should call 214-337-2429 to reserve a space. The workshops take place Sept. 15 and Oct. 13.

The Second Wednesday Speaker’s Forum kicks off on Sept. 14 with Garrett Mize, Texas Freedom Network’s youth advocacy coordinator.

Mize’s efforts focus on engaging young people to become leaders in advocating for evidence-based, comprehensive sex education.

Light refreshments and discussion begin at 6:30 p.m. Mize’s presentation begins at 7 p.m. followed by a service from 8 p.m. to8:30 p.m. focusing on the evening’s topic.

Austin Pride to help wildfire victims

Austin Pride events scheduled for Saturday will continue as planned, despite wildfires that have ravaged surrounding counties this week. But in response to the fire, Pride organizers said they are organizing a clothing and non-perishable food drive with GoingUpDay.org to help those displaced by the fires, which have destroyed more than 1,300 homes, many in Bastrop County, just east of Austin.

Austin Pride takes place Saturday, Sept. 10 in downtown Austin at Riverside Drive and South 1st Street at 8 a.m. For more information, visit AustinPride.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Interfaith service hosted by Unitarian church offered another alternative to ‘The Response’

Saturday, less than 4 miles from Reliant Stadium and Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting, “The Response,” a prayer service of a very different nature took place. First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston hosted an “Inclusive Interfaith Prayer Service” that featured an Imam, a Rabbi, a Buddhist Monk and even a Baptist Minister.  A moment of silence was set aside to recognize those in attendance who didn’t believe in a higher power, and respect their beliefs.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel O’Connell, senior pastor of First UUC, opened the service by contrasting it with “The Response,” but said that the inclusive interfaith service was not about being critical of people of other faiths: “We come today not to tear down, but to lift up.”

“I come from a particular religious tradition that I cherish, but other hearts are here with hopes and dreams as true and pure as mine,” O’Connell continued, referencing the hymn “A Song of Peace.”

The service continued with a performance by the Bayou City Performing Arts Quartet (made up of members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston and Bayou City Women’s Chorus) and an opening prayer by the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge, a Baptist minister.

“The Language of Peace,” an instrumental trio that includes cello, keyboard and an Indian instrument known as a “tanpura,” then performed an improvisational piece accompanied by chanting in Hindi.

Chanting was a common element in many of the rituals and prayers performed by the diverse collection of religious leaders. From Rabbi Samantha Kahn’s recitation of a Shabbat morning prayer, to Imam Kemal Civelek’s chanting of the names of God, the service centered on quiet moments of contemplation and meditation. During the “Bathing of the Baby Buddha” ritual performed by the Rev. Seido of the St. Nichiren Buddhist Temple, his rhythmic, breathy chanting filled the air as those assembled ladled water over a statue of a standing infant Buddha.

The Rev. Ellen Cooper Davis of Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church spoke about her previous life as a circus performer and her current life as a minister.  “Actually, the circus was good preparation for working for a church,” said Davis.

“There’s a circus in town right now, but it’s not the kind i want. … It’s the kind that they use to lure the poor people in with bread, the kind the Roman satirists wrote about ages ago,” Cooper Davis said. “They said it’s just there to distract the people so that they would be content with their bread and their circus and would not realize that the Roman empire was oppressing them. So that they would be content with just a few hours of entertainment and not realize that they were living in an empire. The kind of empire that took people who asked hard questions about how we ought to live and nailed them up onto a cross.”

The Rev. Adam Robinson, who organized the service, closed by saying: “This service is about a place at the table for everyone, those [people at “The Response”] are my people. You’re looking an an Evangelical boy here who, after many years, was ordained — then outed — and my place at the table was taken away.

“We’ve got the people out there who are united with hate groups and we don’t want to be united with them,” Robinson said. “We have to watch that — we have to watch our desire to separate ourselves from people we disagree with. It’s a fine line, but if we don’t watch that line carefully pretty soon it’s not OK to be a Unitarian, and then it’s not OK to be a Muslim or a Jew, then it’s not OK to be a progressive Christian, and then there’s only one kind of Christian people are allowed to be.”

—  admin

Marking 50 years of inclusiveness

‘DOING EQUALITY’ | Inclusiveness has been a tenant of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff for all of its 50 years. Church members, from left, Kelley O’Conan, Kimberlyn Crowe, the Rev. Mark Walz, Michael Cipollo and the Rev. Marcia Shannon stand in front of a banner in the UUCOC sanctuary that reads “Marriage is a civil right.” (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Oak Cliff Unitarian church has moved beyond tolerance and acceptance and has been doing equality for a long time, leaders say

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

At the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, the LGBT community isn’t just accepted. LGBT members are an integral part of the church.

The church is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Rev. Mark Walz said that his church was the first in the country that was chartered after the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist denominations in 1961. He said that actually 15 churches were admitted that day, six of which are still in existence. But in the records, the Oak Cliff church was first.

Board member Michael Cipolla has been a member of UUCOC for two years. He was raised in the Catholic Church and tried a number of other faiths, including Mormonism. But then he and his partner found UUCOC.

“For the first time, I feel incredibly normal,” he said.

Cipolla is not the first gay board member and he doesn’t know who was. He said the church has just been “doing equality” for a long time.

Walz said that the first time he presided over a same-sex wedding was in 2004. He was almost embarrassed that his first took place so late because the denomination had embraced marriage equality long ago.

“That was the first time I was asked,” he said.

The denomination was one of the first to welcome gays and lesbians and one of the earliest to openly welcome LGBT clergy.

Walz said he has mixed feelings about denominations that finally get it and open their ordination to everyone. He said he’s glad that they’re finally doing the right thing, but what’s different now than 15 minutes ago?

Like Cipollo, congregation president Kimberlyn Crowe was also not raised Unitarian but has been a member for about 10 years. She said that at UUCOC she can put her values in action.

“I can only be enriched by supporting someone else’s journey,” she said.

Member Kelley O’Conan said, “I was afraid to come to this church because I didn’t think I would fit in.”

The group laughed at that idea but agreed that she was different from most of the church’s members — she’s fairly conservative.

Crowe said one issue that the congregation is dealing with now is immigration. O’Conan said her views on immigration might not be the same as many other members. But at UUCOC, differences are not just tolerated, they’re embraced.

Walz said that it was so freeing to be in a congregation where he can let everything go. He called all the prejudice that so many people live with a burden.

Because the Unitarian Church is liberal in a conservative area, Walz said he gets hate calls. One recent caller asked if he required every member to be baptized. He said that while most were, it wasn’t a requirement to come to his church.

“You’re going to burn in hell,” the caller told him.

Walz was amused that someone who probably considered himself religious would call another church with that message.

The Rev. Marcia Shannon was ordained a Methodist minister and is the church’s director of religious education.

“It’s freeing not to have to worry about prejudice of people around you,” she said.

She is surprised that more people do not know more about the denomination.

Universalist churches across the South were integral parts of the Underground Railroad and Unitarian churches in New England and across the north worked to abolish slavery.

Walz said that a misunderstanding of history leads fundamentalists to claim that the country was based on their right-wing Christian values. At least five presidents were UUs including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. More signers of the Declaration of Independence were associated with their faith and other founders like Paul Revere and Ben Franklin were also Unitarians.

But part of the Universalist belief was that God doesn’t play favorites.

Each of the members of the Oak Cliff church just wanted others to know how welcoming their church is — even if you’re conservative.

O’Conan said, “And it’s the only church I’ve ever been in where you can bring your dog into the sanctuary.”

—  John Wright

Where to wed • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Many local gay-affirming churches are happy to help couples jump the broom

A NEW IDEA | The new Interfaith Peace Chapel at the Cathedral of Hope, designed by gay architect Phillip Johnson, performs same-sex ceremonies.

Some folks are happy with a private ceremony expressing their love, but others appreciate the sanctity of a officiant declaring their union in the eyes of God. Here are some churches that embrace same-sex couples.

………………………

AGAPE MCC — 4615 E. California Parkway (SE Loop 820), Fort Worth. 817-535-5002. Agapemcc.com. Revs. S. David Wynn, Sr., Teri Lubbers and Robert Myers. Require pre-service counseling.

Ascension Lutheran Church — 4230 Buckingham Road, Garland. 972-276-0023. Ascensiontexas.org. Pastor Kurt Friederich. Blessing service for church members; no weddings for non-members.

Bethany Presbyterian Church — 4523 Cedar Springs Road. 214-528-4084. Called “an open, caring, inclusive, multicultural ‘More Light’ congregation.”

Cathedral of Hope/Interfaith Peace Chapel — 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 214-351-1901, ext 109. Cathedralofhope.com. Senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson. Contact Brian Parman, director of the Interfaith Peace Chapel, for information. The Sanctuary of the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ features beautiful faceted glass windows and can accommodate up to 750 guests. Reception accommodations are also available.

Celebration Community Church — 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth, 817-335-3222. Celebration-community-church.com. Pastor Carol West; ask for wedding/holy union coordinator. Non-denominational Christian congregation.

Center for Spiritual Living — 4801 Spring Valley Road, Suite 115. 972-866-9988; CSLDallas.org. Senior minister Rev. Petra Weldes; Rev. Dr. Marsha Meghdadpour. Marriage or commitment ceremony. United Centers for Spiritual Living.

Community Unitarian Universalist Church — 2875 E. Parker Road, Plano, 972-424-8989. Communityuuchurch.org. Rev. Patrick D. Price. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Congregation Beth El Binah — Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. 214-521-5342, ext. 1784. Bethelbinah.org. Email Sandy Horwitz, shorwitz@bethelbinah.info or Diane Litke, dlitke@bethelbinah.info. Reform Jewish congregationReform Judaism recognizes marriage between two Jewish men or women; however the rabbi will perform an interfaith service.

First Unitarian Church of Dallas — 4015 Normandy Ave. 214-528-3990. Dallasuu.org. Rev. Dr. Daniel Chesney Kanter; Associate Minister, Rev. Aaron White. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

Grace Fellowship in Christ Jesus — 411 S. Westmoreland Road. 214-333-9779. Pastor Tony Hoult. Perform holy unions.

Harvest MCC — 3916 E. McKinney St., Suite B, Denton. 940-484-6159. Harvestmcc.org. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas — 1840 Hutton, Suite 100, Carrollton. 972-243-0761. Mccgd.org. Revs. Colleen Darraugh, Steven Pace, Kay Seitz. Provides pre-marital counseling and performs weddings or holy unions. The church facility is available for non-members to rent.  The MCC can also connect couples with musicians, photographers and caterers.

Midway Hills Christian Church — 11001 Midway Road. 214-352-4841. Midwayhills.org. Rev. Terry L. Zimmerman. Performs union ceremonies.

Promise MCC — 2527 W. Colorado Blvd. 214-623-8400. Promisemcc.org. Senior pastor Rev. Jon Haack. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Trinity MCC — 1846 W. Division St. Suite 305, Arlington. 817-265-5454. Trinitymcc.org. Performs weddings or holy unions.

Unity Church of Christianity — 3425 Greenville Ave. 214-826-5683. Dallasunity.org.  Rev. Steve Colladay. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies. The minister is openly gay and supported by the congregation.

White Rock Community Church — 9353 Garland Road. 214-320-0043. Whiterockchurch.org. Pastor Douglas Shaffer. Contact wedding coordinator Mary Marshall for information. Performs holy unions, commitment ceremonies or weddings — “whichever the couple is comfortable with.” Activities center for receptions.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff — 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. 214-337-2429. Oakcliffuu.org. Rev. Mark Walz. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs weddings and supports full marriage equality.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Local Briefs

Razzle Dazzle Dallas announces launch of new event website

Organizers of the newly revived Razzle Dazzle Dallas have announced the launch of a new RDD website, where interested individuals can keep up with the latest news on the event, set for June 1-5, and register to become RDD volunteers or corporate sponsors.

The 2011 Razzle Dazzle Dallas will benefit eight local LGBT or HIV/AIDS organizations: Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Dallas Legal Hospice.

The new website is at RazzleDazzleDallas.org. For more information, e-mail info@razzledazzledallas.org or call 214-450-8238.

Oak Cliff UU Church holding special ‘It Gets Better’ service, video filming

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff will present a special service Sunday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. in honor of the “It Gets Better” Project, started in response to the suicides of LGBT teens who had been bullied and harassed, and all those who stand against hatred and intolerance.

After the services on both Feb. 13 and Feb. 20, the church invites the community to share “It Gets Better” stories, which will be recorded, edited and posted online.

Go online to ItGetsBetter.org for information on the It Gets Better Project, and to OakCliffUU.org for information on and directions to the church. Interested individuals can also call Jan Brubaker at 214-907-9812 for information.

Bloomin’ Ball Launch Party set for Feb. 16 in private home

The 2011 Bloomin’ Ball Launch Party will be held Wednesday, Feb. 16 at a private home. The $10 suggested donation at the door includes complimentary light hors d’oeuvres, wine and valet parking.

The annual Bloomin’ Ball benefits AIDS Interfaith Network. For more information or to RSVP, contact Gretchen G. Kelly at 214-943-4444.

Researcher at UNT looking for participants for relationship study

The Center for Psychosocial Health Research from the University of North Texas is conducting a study of health and conflict within the LGBT population and is looking for LGBT individuals over 18 and fluent in English who have experienced conflict in a same-sex relationship.

Those who complete the survey will receive $20. For information on participating, email cphprojectheart@gmail.com or call 940-891-6844.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Anniversary

PETTIT-KINCAID  |  On Oct. 31, Larry Pettit and Dr. Tim Kincaid celebrate their 20th anniversary of being a couple. They met in 1990 at the Rev. Kay Hunter’s “A Course in Miracles” study group in Dallas. They were legally married in 2003 in Toronto, Canada. Pettit and Kincaid have a home in Keller and are active in the Pathways Unitarian Universalist church in Southlake. Pettit is a 26-year employee of American Airlines and Kincaid retired from AA in 2008 to finish graduate school and start his own consulting and life coaching practice and to teach. (Image by Shawn Northcutt Photography)
PETTIT-KINCAID | On Oct. 31, Larry Pettit and Dr. Tim Kincaid celebrate their 20th anniversary of being a couple. They met in 1990 at the Rev. Kay Hunter’s “A Course in Miracles” study group in Dallas. They were legally married in 2003 in Toronto, Canada. Pettit and Kincaid have a home in Keller and are active in the Pathways Unitarian Universalist church in Southlake. Pettit is a 26-year employee of American Airlines and Kincaid retired from AA in 2008 to finish graduate school and start his own consulting and life coaching practice and to teach. (Image by Shawn Northcutt Photography)

—  Kevin Thomas

DFW Unitarians holding progressive revival this weekend

From Staff Reports

Ruben Habito
Ruben Habito

“Revivals” have long been a staple of the more conservative, evangelical side of Christianity. But this weekend, revivals get a more progressive twist with the “Rediscovering Jesus and Communities of Hope” Revival/Retreat 2010, a national event for spiritual progressives, according to organizers.

The event, open to everyone, will feature talks by biblical scholar Brandon Scott, author and pastor the Rev. John Buehrens, SMU Perkins School of Theology professor Ruben Habito and more.

The revival began Thursday, Oct. 14, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 17, at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, 1641 W. Hebron Parkway in Carrollton.

The revival is sponsored by the national Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship.

Scott is a professor of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, a founding fellow of the Jesus Seminar and parables scholar whose newest book is The Trouble With Resurrection.

Buehrens is a past president of the Unitarian Universalist Association whose previous churches served include First Unitarian Church of Dallas. His newest book is A House For Hope: the promise of progressive religion.

Habito is the president of the Society of Buddhist Christian Studies and author of several books.

In addition to the keynote speeches and Habito’s talk on “Christian Faith and Buddhist Practice,” there will be worship services that include opening and closing services, Taizé sung meditation, communion, baptism, prayer and healing services.

There will also be workshops by Scott and Buehrens on “Re-Imagining the Resurrection” and progressive religion’s problems and promise. The Rev. Naomi King will speak on Jesus and queer christologies. And there will be workshops on Jesus and film, Universalist Christianity, Jesus and India and Jesus and Unitarian Universalism today.

Small group times, social times, bookstore, and service opportunity will also be available.

The Rev. Ron Robinson, executive director of UUCF, said the revival weekend will focus on “voices of old” that are “needed more than ever today” in finding an ‘authentic version of Jesus and what it means to follow in his radical spirit of hospitality and justice.”

Robinson stressed that “we welcome you at this event whether or not you are Christian, whether or not you are Unitarian Universalist.

We don’t think Jesus would have it any other way.”

For registration and more information, go online to UUChristian.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas