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Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

A Beacon of Light in the Northwoods

Volume 15, Number 5 – November 2013


We Are a Welcoming Congregation


Upcoming Services

Services are on alternate Sundays at 10 AM

Don't forget to set your clocks back 1 hour on Saturday, November 2!

November 3: Rev. Dr. Bobbie Groth "From Crumbs To Community: The Story of an Odd and Wondrous Calling" This sermon will focus on the incredible story of an elderly man whose losses give him a platform on which to build social justice for hunger in his community, giving him and many others a new lease on life itself.

November 17: Rev. Denise Tracy "Five Kernels of Corn"  It is about Denise's own story and why she believes our churches need to be witnesses for social justice.


Adult R.E.: Adult RE is on alternate Sundays at 10 AM. We are studying "Why Evil Exists"

Nov. 10: Post–WWII Jewish Thought on Evil
Arendt—The Banality of Evil

Nov. 24: Life in Truth—20th-Century Poets on Evil
Science and the Empirical Study of Evil

The NUUF Men's Group will be meeting at the home of Mel & Kay Hoff on Wednesday November, 20th at 6 PM.  If you wish bring a dish to pass.  All male members and friends are welcome.  Hoffs' address is 1593 McKinney Lane.  From USH 51 and Hwy. 70 West in Minocqua go West on Hwy. 70 for 10 miles to McKinney Lane.  Turn right onto McKinney and go about 1.4 miles to their driveway.  (If you run out of asphalt road you are about 100 feet to far).

Thanksgiving Dinner at NUUF Yes, it's that time of year again. We will hold our annual Thanksgiving Day dinner at NUUF beginning at 4 PM on Thursday, November 28. You, your family, friends and neighbors are invited. Please contact Barb Beutler or Elinore Sommerfeld to RSVP and discuss what you'll bring.

NUUF T-Shirts: 12 shirts with a "Northwood Unitarian Universalist Fellowship" logo have arrived.  These shirts are in regular and women's sizes.  They are available for members to borrow for events which UU participates in.  (examples are work at the Food Pantry, Food for kids, Community Table, etc.) They will also be available for checking sizes if you wish to order your own.  Feel free to check them out at the Sunday services and R.E.  The cost for any size shirt is $14. We will put in an orders when we have a minimum of 12 signed up.

Report on the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's Fair Trade Project
Last year proceeds from Fair Trade sales at UU congregations like ours nationwide netted
$15,441.58 for the UU Service Committee's Small Farmer Fund. The fund supported Women Making Change in Kenya and United We Heal the Earth on the border of Uganda and Kenya.  These projects help to conserve the environment and support sustainable agriculture, assist young girls, and provide youth education on nutrition.
In addition, NUUF received a small dividend from the sales, amounting to almost $200 in 2012.
Thank you for supporting the Fair Trade project.  The way I see it, we help four ways: the farmers who grow the coffee, the UUSC who supports projects in coffee countries, the fellowship, and our own pleasure drinking the wonderful coffee or tea, eating or giving the chocolate and olive oil. Sherry Zoars

Joys and Concerns: An update from Lynn Denard: David is still unable to put any weight on his right leg and I am still giving him intravenous antibiotics twice a day. We hope to be able to leave in three weeks (mid-November). David's son is coming from San Diego to fly David to Florida. My daughter is coming from Colorado to help me drive our loaded van, and our dog, on the 3 1/2 day trip home. It's unlikely that my health will let us return to our wonderful Minocqua next summer. We will remember our UU friends forever. Our love to all. Please feel free to share this news and express our gratitude for notes of encouragement.


Getting to Know the NUUF Board: From Diane Reupert, Treasurer:

John asked the Board members to help him with “Message from the President” to acquaint the Membership with others in the church.

I am Diane Reupert and this is the second year I am serving as Secretary for the Fellowship. I had taken a hiatus from the Fellowship for a few years and I wanted to find a way to reconnect. The position on the Board has really helped me to get to know some of the newer members and reconnect with my friends of many years. I am also chair of the Social Action Committee and I am energized by the people who serve on this committee. We have focused our sights on understanding what actions the Members are interested in supporting. A survey will be circulating through email and the mail to encourage the sharing of ideas for social action for the Fellowship. The survey also highlights the many actions we are proud to be already supporting pertaining to issues of justice.

My husband, Ron, and I joined the church around 1987. Our children were of the age where they needed some guidance or understanding about religious beliefs. We were fortunate to have other families interested in the same thing. The Children’s Religious Education was very active and dedicated. Both of our daughters, Jessica and Mackenzie, participated in the Coming of Age programs through NUUF. Along with the other children, Jess and Kenzie were funded by the Fellowship to visit Boston and experience a place where Unitarian Universalist roots are deep. It has continued to be an important part of their growing up. I was raised Catholic and was relieved to have a more liberal structure with which my own children could explore their spiritual/moral journeys.

I am interested in ways through our community to influence or communicate the importance of peaceful discourse in order to improve the quality of life for all. It has gotten harder rather than easier to achieve this but it continues to be of the utmost importance to me. I thank John for the opportunity to share some of my experiences



Closing Thoughts: The following is a very thought provoking, if a bit lengthy, article, originally posted on Facebook. I thought it was worth sharing. It's reprinted with the author's permission.

An Appeal for Cultural Humility by Jody Wiley Fernando

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, with many Asian Americans challenging Rick Warren for an offensive Facebook post that featured a picture of the Chinese Red Guard. (See Kathy Khang’s blog for more details). Some of the ensuing comments asked how people could be so easily offended, suggesting they needed thicker skin or more forgiving hearts.

Inside, I ached. This is not a new conversation to me – the ignorant assumptions, the temptation to just stay quiet in the face of such stifling, belittling language. But over the years, I have sat with many aching hearts – even those of my own family – over the ignorant, belittling comments of others. The feeling in the pit of my stomach grew as I watched the week’s events unfold. While I was grateful to hear of Rick’s eventual apology, the whole situation highlighted a all too common occurrence between the majority and minority experience that, in my observation, most white people don’t understand.

In case you’re white and are starting to feel defensive, please know that I’m white too. I hope this fact helps to lower defenses, because I want to address this post is to “my people,” to white Christians in the American Protestant church. I’m concerned because I know firsthand how good-hearted and well-intentioned our actions often are, and also how often we do not understand the sometimes harmful impact of that intent. I write as someone who has made the ignorant comment, asked the stupid question, made the racist assumption, and feared offending others by opening my mouth. I write also as the only white person in my household who, for well over a decade now, has had the great fortune to see through others’ eyes on a daily basis.

When the Rick Warren news broke, I was already chewing on the power dynamics of race and gender represented in this Christian music video that was popping up on my FB newsfeed. I felt conflicted after watching this video, for I could clearly see that the creators were trying to showcase the beauty of God’s diverse world, but I was also uncomfortable with the persistent pattern of a white man leading the world in song, and very random video shots of the non-whites doing things like carrying bananas and standing in mud. I understand why some are quick to defend the pure intention behind the video, but the hackneyed tropes still struck a weary chord in my heart of a sad song that echoes through our history.

These tropes feed into what is sometimes called the “white savior” mentality; and it is far too prevalent and accepted in the American evangelical church. We often don’t even see it because it’s such a significant part of our narrative. Without words, that narrative communicates that 0 Comments of holding the power strings. It places us as central, and others as peripheral. It is one of the cultural tragedies built by the variations of formal and informal colonialism that few of us want to face:

We didn’t do it, right?

That’s not our story.

My family didn’t own slaves.

But we still benefit. The system is set up for us, and it often gives us power without us even having to ask for it. We can be white without even knowing we’re white.

To be fair, the church is not alone in mindlessly offering this message. Hollywood also loves to tell white savior stories rather than stories from within cultures that represent strength unattached to the people group in power. Don’t even get me started on how the news media portrays race.

I could give numerous examples of ignorant cultural and racial blunders in the church, but for the white hands who hold the reins of historical and institutional power, it basically boils down to this: We want to say that everything that happens in church is about Jesus, but it’s simply not. There’s a whole lot of culture, power, history, and social structure in there as well. Until we acknowledge how these realities shape our thinking, we’re going to hurt our Christian family members.

We say we want to be a “church of many nations,” and we cheer for videos like the one above, but sometimes our arrogance, ignorance, and unwillingness to listen communicate that we really view “the nations” as our minions, not as our partners. In other words, they exist to make us look good, and we often use them to serve our own ends:

  • Put the black guy on stage to read the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day prayer = I care about civil rights.

  • Take pictures of all six minorities in our institution to display prominently in our publications = We support diversity, but may or may not support you, especially if you say things contradictory to what we already know we know.

  • Sing white hipster music in Spanish = You, too, can be just like me, even in your language!

  • Host an international event with ethnic food and clothing? Awesome, but this is only the top layer of who people are. Do we want to know the complex depths of people’s realities, or are we satisfied to simply skim the surface and maintain an all too safe distance to the complexities and harder realities of real relationship?

  • Send brochures with hungry-looking poor children = Give us your money. We know you feel guilty.

I know this all sounds harsh and a bit cynical. I’ve been right there with you, defending myself, confident of my pure intentions. But regardless of our intentions, the impact of our actions can be isolating and downright hurtful to people of color and cultures. White people, and especially those in church leadership, need to start acknowledging this and listening to others with utmost seriousness. This conversation cannot be in one direction only. If we do not listen to the voices that courageously share their experience with us, we are breaking the very body we so sincerely wish to build.

Culturally competency” is a popular term these days, and while I appreciate the sentiment of the phrase, I wonder whether it’s helpful. When it comes to race relations, I think we should expect some failure. For instance, I recently mistook an Iranian student for an Egyptian and suspected immediately that I’d offended him. I hadn’t meant to; I’d really just confused him with another student. But I couldn’t take my words back either, and I didn’t know enough about Middle Eastern culture to know how my mistake could have been offensive. After stumbling around a little, trying to retract my words, I didn’t try to defend my competencies in the end. I simply said, “I’m sorry,” I admitted. “I didn’t know. Please forgive my mistake.”

A colleague recently introduced me to the term “cultural humility,” and I instantly connected to it. I think it’s far more helpful than “competency.” Even with all my hard-earned competencies–being married cross-culturally, earning a degree in multicultural education, speaking several languages, traveling on 4 continents, and spending my days with immigrants from around the world–I often feel culturally incompetent. I only speak two languages fluently, not six like some of my students. I grew up in a monocultural cornfield and have had to work hard to learn about the rest of the world, which still feels like not really enough. I have always lived in my country of birth, and don’t have near the depth of experience or insight about cultural adjustment that the world’s resilient immigrants know.

Culturally, I am far from competent. But cultural humility? That makes sense to me.

Instead of “Get over it!”, cultural humility responds, “I don’t understand. Can you help me understand more deeply?” Instead of replying with some variation of “quit whining” to some who feels wronged, cultural humility responds, “I’m so sorry this hurts you. How can I walk alongside you in this? What do I need to learn?” Instead of reading and listening to only the white megachurch types, cultural humility also seeks wisdom from Christian leaders from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Instead of saying, “Why do you keep causing problems?”, cultural humility responds, “I’m sorry I keep hurting you. It seems like I’m missing something big. How would you recommend I start to better understand your experience?” Instead of keeping quiet because you don’t know, cultural humility clumsily admits, “I’m a little embarrassed that I don’t know much about your background. I don’t even know how to ask you questions about it, but I really would love to learn more.” (God bless the dear man who actually said this to my husband.)

While all of this might sound a lot like a zero-sum cultural game, I want you, my white American evangelical Protestant brothers and sisters, to know that it does not have to be. While I have never lived in a different skin, I fiercely love those who do; their very DNA runs through my veins. I share my perspective here as a bridge between worlds. I long to see those on both sides listen to and love each other so much better than we currently do.

When white people don’t recognize how our position of cultural dominance influences and even benefits us – that is, when we don’t know that we’re being white – we can act like bulls in a china shop, throwing our weight around in damaging ways without even realizing what we’re doing. For us, this understanding begins with learning and practicing a discipline of cultural humility and seeking to understand another’s experience without judgment. May more of us boldly begin to walk on this long and winding path.

Jody Fernando does a lot of living between worlds.  A midwestern girl from the cornfields, she is married to a man from the Indian Ocean.  Together, they raise their bicultural and biracial children, and have family on four continents.  She explores the ins and outs of intercultural living on her blog Between Worlds, helps amazingly resilient immigrants learn to speak English, teaches a few university courses, and makes a mean curry.

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Megan Kratz 11-03

Faye Calvey 11-04

Dan Padberg 11-09

Jana Mirs 11-09

Ron and Diane Reupert 11-11

Bob Polfus 11-12

Dennis Kobes 11-15

Zach Boustead 11-15

Herb White 11-16

Rick Immler 11-19

Amy Holt 11-24

Celeste Gonder 11-25

Perry Junkermann 11-29

Patty Buehler 11-30



Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

P.O. Box 1881

Woodruff, WI 54568-1881



John Viste, President



The NUUSLetter is published monthly. Newsletter Deadline: 27th of the month. Please send submissions to Elinore Sommerfeld at esommerf@aol.com.


For distribution of announcements between newsletters or email/address corrections, contact Candy Sorensen at sorencan@yahoo.com.