Community Ministry Sunday Resources
By long tradition, Community Ministry Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday in February.
Below are a few resources. If you develop or find relevant resources for Community Ministry Sunday,
please send them to us: uuscministry at gmail . com! Thank you.
"Community Ministry Sunday"
By Rev. Cat Cox
Did you know that Community Ministry Sunday is an official date on our UUA calendar for the first Sunday in February of each year?
The date was chosen to honor The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Chaplains,” who were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel during the sinking of the troop ship Dorchester on February 3, 1943, during World War II. (See below for the whole story.)
They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship. The four men were relatively new chaplains who all held the rank of first lieutenant. They included Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox, Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Ph.D), Roman Catholic priest the Reverend John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling.
The Four Chaplains are emblematic of the reality, lifted up by our own President Peter Morales in Congregations and Beyond, that so much of the work for and witnessing to the values of our faith is done out in the world, often in interfaith contexts, both by ordained clergy and by committed lay leaders serving in a variety of capacities.
Community ministries of both pastoral and prophetic kinds make real in the larger world the commitment of all Unitarian Universalists to the shared mission of this faith: to do all we can to contribute to the creation of the “tipping point” whereby the values we affirm in our UUA Seven Principles may lead us to a just, healed and transformed world.
Lifting up the work we do in celebratory ways is renewing, energizing and inspiring. We need to spread the good word that community ministry is for everyone who takes seriously the calling of our faith to engage more broadly and creatively in building the world we want to live in.
Please consider creating (or advocating for) a Community Ministry focused worship service – which is certainly not restricted to that first Sunday in February date. However, maybe next year you’ll speak up, as I do, with a reminder about being sure it’s on the church calendar. Let’s be proactive in bringing the work of community ministry — as it is now and for its enormous potentials — into the life of our congregations and larger movement.
Ways to enliven your Community Ministry Sunday event:
1) Tell the story of your community ministry. When did you have a sense of call, and what did you do to follow it?
2) Reach out to the congregation as a whole, inviting members to think of the ways they offer or have offered services contributing to healing, learning, personal development and/or social justice in the world. Invite them to think of this work as a lay ministry and part of the shared ministry of our faith. Put together a service featuring brief homilies from several lay leaders talking about their lay community ministries.
3) Show one or more of the wonderful YouTube videos, "Where the Hell Is Matt?", which feature a young American man extemporaneously dancing with people all over the world. Invite the congregation to get up and dance with him and one another - note that in one segment of the video some dancers are in wheelchairs.
4) Create a ritual in which congregants embody in some way their wishes to contribute to healing and justice in the larger world. Some possibilities include: everyone placing a stone in a bowl of water and naming the land which it stands for, or writing notes on small pieces of paper which are gathered and buried or burned.
5) Review the hymnals for chants which involve everyone in both singing and listening to one another in rounds.
6) Co-create a mixed-media piece of art which represents the hopes of the congregation for the community – local or global.
7) Create a Quaker-style service in which a simple reading begins a time of silence into which people speak their heartfelt wishes for the local community and wider world and speak about the service they have given or wish to give.
8) Lead the congregation in a guided visualization in which participants “travel " and find a "place of peace in renewal” from which they can restore their energy to give to the world and then visualize finding a treasure chest with a gift they want to offer. Follow this with small group sharing about the treasures they find.
9) Create an intergenerational service which groups people by decade and invites a spokesperson from each decade to speak about the service they hope to offer or have offered to contribute to the well-being of our community, world and planet.
10) Create a blessing ritual in which members name the service that they give have given or wish to give and bless one another.
11) Plant a community garden.
12) Create a service that is entirely based on music, poetry and movement that celebrates connecting with the needs of the world.
13) Lead a silent “walking meditation” around the congregational property focusing on places of beauty as well as those calling out for care. Lead a sharing circle about what this evokes for participants in terms of their desire to care for the world.
14) Weave in some quotes (see below).
You knock at the door of reality, shake your thought-wings, loosen your shoulders, and open. – Rumi
There is a community of the spirit. Join it, and feel the delight of walking in the noisy street and being the noise. – Rumi
We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul. – Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Proceedings of the 11th Women’s Rights Convention, 1866
We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk. – Eleanor Roosevelt
There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham. – Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
We are afraid of religion because it interprets rather than just observes. Religion does not confirm that there are hungry people in the world; it interprets the hungry to be our brethren whom we allow to starve. – Dorothee Solle, Death by Bread Alone, 1975
There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them. -- Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942
Spiritual warrior’s pledge: Not for myself alone, but that all the people may live. -- Brooke Medicine Eagle, Buffalo Woman Comes Singing, 1991
Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. -- Marian Wright Edelman
If I can stop one Heart from breaking / I shall not
live in vain / If I can ease one Life the Aching / Or
cool one Pain / Or help one fainting Robin / Unto
his nest again / I shall not live in Vain.
- Emily Dickinson
"To be of use"
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
- Marge Piercy, "To be of use" from Circles on the Water. Copyright © 1982 by Marge Piercy. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Ask not what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Rev. Howard Thurman
Shoulder the world, my son, and drink your beer. - A.E. Houseman
In order to create harmony with another person, you must care enough to listen, share his struggle and be with him while the frightened parts of his personality come to the surface. – Gary Zukov
Hate is a bodyguard for grief. - Sarah Fields
God, protect us from and keep us from being
Blamers and complainers
Snake oil salespeople
Takers and just talkers
Fair weather workers
Magic bullet seekers and sellers and
God, send us and help us to be
Organizers and mobilizers and
to save our children.- Marian Wright Edelman
The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings.- The Buddha
to be a bold participant,
rather than a timid saint in waiting,
in the difficult ordinariness of now;
to exercise the authority of honesty,
rather than defer to power,
or deceive to get it;
to influence someone for justice,
rather than impress anyone for gain;
and, by grace, to find treasures
of joy, of friendship, of peace
hidden in the fields of the daily
you give me to plow.- Ted Loder
As I travel through my life
Times of joy and times of strife
I pray now to realize
The whole within – energize
My spirit self to align
With Universal All Divine.- Beverly Shapiro
Make us worthy, Lord,
to serve others throughout the world
who live and die
in poverty or hunger,
Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread,
and by our understanding love,
give peace and joy.- Mother Teresa
May I be a protector to those without protection,
A leader for those who journey,
And a boat, a bridge, a passage
For those desiring the further shore.
May the pain of every living creature
Be completely cleared away.
May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For all sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed.
Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the life
Of all the boundless creatures.
And until they pass away from pain
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space.- Shantideva, quoted in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
The practice of loving kindness must find its root deep within us. The story is told that Mohandas Gandhi once settled in a village and at once began serving the needs of the villagers who lived there. A friend inquired if Gandhi’s objectives in serving the poor were purely humanitarian. Gandhi replied, “Not at all. I am here to serve no one else but myself, to find my own self-realization through the service of these village folk.”
As Gandhi wisely points out, even as we serve others we are working on ourselves; every act, every word, every gesture of genuine compassion naturally nourishes our own hearts as well. It is not a question of who is healed first. When we attend to ourselves with compassion and mercy, more healing is made available for others. And when we serve others with an open and generous heart, great healing comes to us.- Wayne Muller, Legacy of the Heart
We are here to do,
and through doing to learn;
and through learning to know;
and through knowing to experience wonder;
and through wonder to attain wisdom;
and through wisdom to find simplicity;
and through simplicity to give attention;
and through attention
to see what needs to be done …- Ben Hei Hei, in Wisdom of the Jewish Sages
Do all the good you can
by all the means you can
in all the ways you can
in all the places you can
at all the times you can
to all the people you can
as long as ever you can.- John Wesley
Come into the circle of love and justice.
Come into the community of mercy, holiness, and health.
Come and you shall know peace and joy.- adapted from Israel Zangwill, #418, Singing the Living Tradition
Oh Spinner, Weaver of our lives,
Your loom is love.
May we who are gathered here
be empowered by that love
to weave new patterns of Truth
and Justice into a web of life that
beautiful, and everlasting.- Barbara Wells, #431 SLT
May we be reminded here of our
and inspired to bring our gifts of
love and service to the altar of
May we know once again that we
are not isolated being
but connected, in mystery and
miracle, to the universe,
to this community and to each other.- Anonymous, #434 SLT
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.- Albert Schweitzer, #447 SLT
Life is a gift for which we are grateful.
We gather in community to
celebrate the glories and the
mysteries of this great gift.- Marjorie Montgomery, #452, SLT
"Rank by Rank" (additional verse)
By Kendyl R Gibbons
Never from that summons swerve;
Hark the prophets' living chorus!
Truth and freedom still to serve
Show the present path before us.
As we dream, so shall we dare;
Hands to service, hearts to prayer.
Clouds of witness call us on,
That a nobler day may dawn.
#208 – “Every Time I Feel the Spirit”
#6 – “Just As Long As I Have Breath”
#95 – “There Is More Love Somewhere”
#34 – “Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire”
#18 – “What Wondrous Love is This”
#108 – “For All the Saints”
#114 – “Forward Through the Ages”
#298 – “Wake Now My Senses”
#124 – “Be That Guide”
#1008 – “When Our Heart Is In a Holy Place”
#1017 – “We Are Building a New Way”
#1028 – “Fire Of Commitment”
"The Four Chaplains"
It was dark and cold in the early morning hours of February 1943. An elderly coastal liner, the Dorchester, had been pressed into service as an Army troopship. She was making her way slowly throughthe frigid waters of the North Atlantic towards Greenland. She was carrying 904 men, many of whom were new recruits. Because they were in submarine infested waters, the Captain had directed the men to keep life jackets on at all times.
During the difficult and uncomfortable passage, the four Army chaplains on board worked tirelessly to maintain everyone’s morale. Chaplain George Fox was Methodist, Chaplain Alexander Goode was a Jewish Rabbi, Chaplain Clark Poling was Dutch Reformed, and Chaplain John Washington was a Catholic priest.
At 12.55am on February 3rd, the Dorchester was caught in the crosshairs of U-456. One torpedo was launched and slammed into the Dorchester amidships. The wound was mortal. The ship began taking on water listing to starboard.
In the ferment of struggling men, there came a fragment of hope and strength. These four Chaplains. They calmly led men to life boats, distributed life jackets, and coaxed men frozen in fear over the side of the ship. In the midst of men crying, pleading, praying, swearing and dying, these four preached courage.
And when all the life jackets were gone, each took off his and gave it to a soldier. As the deck of the ship started to sink, the four Chaplains, with arms linked, began to pray. Those men that could, drew close.
There were no more outcries, no panic, just words in Latin, Hebrew and English addressing to the same God. One survivor recalls, “It was the finest thing I have ever seen or hope to see this side of Heaven!”
Well over a half-century later, the legend of the four chaplains speaks something deep in our hearts. For Father Washington didn’t call out for a Catholic when he handed over his life jacket, nor Rabbi Goode for a Jew.
They gave them to the next soldier in line -- and then stood shoulder to shoulder in mutual supporting faith. This is the ideal of brotherhood. This is what we all want in America. This is what the four chaplains gave us.
"Each of us ministers to a weary world"
There is too much hardship in this world to not find joy,
There is too much injustice in this world to not right the balance,
There is too much pain in this world to not heal,
Each of us ministers to a weary world.
Let us go forth now and do that which calls us to make this world
more loving, more compassionate and more filled with the grace of divine presence,
- Darcy Roake
And now, may we have faith in life to do wise planting that the generations to come may reap even more abundantly than we. May we be bold in bringing to fruition the golden dreams of human kinship and justice. This we ask that the fields of promise become fields of reality.- V. Emil Gudmundson #693, SLT
Be ours a religion which, like
sunshine, goes everywhere;
its temple, all space;
its shrine, the good heart;
its creed, all truth;
its ritual, works of love;
its profession of faith, divine
living.- Theodore Parker, #683, SLT
Take courage friends.
The way is often hard, the path is never clear,
and the stakes are very high.
For deep down there is another truth:
You are not alone.- Wayne B. Arnason, #698, SLT
May love and strength be in my hands
May love and courage be in my heart
May love and wisdom be in my mind
May love be with me and work through me today
And in all my days.
Amen.- Kate Braestrup
Let your soul lend its ear to every cry of pain
As a lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun
Let not the fierce sun dry one tear of pain before
you yourself have wiped it from the sufferer’s eyes.
But let each burning human tear fall on your heart
and there remain, nor ever brush it off!
Until the pain that caused it is removed.- Traditional Vedic Meditation