Fall is, indeed, coming. I woke up this morning feeling cold. It felt uncomfortable and invigorating at the same instant. As I woke fully I thought of the coming cold, my cold season long runny nose, and the slow arrival of the dark. The winds of autumn, the dropping of the beautiful leaves, the dry edge of cold soon to be an everyday experience. And for a minute I grieved the loss of the warm high activity months (for us non skiers at least) especially the loss of all that light. Time is coming to go bravely inside, literally and figuratively. Embracing the dark. So we begin this new cycle of our church year poised between the two, the dark and the light. The theme for our services in October is courage. Whenever I hear that word, I think of the scene from the Puccini opera “La Boehme” (the Bohemians). In the last act the heroine, Mimi, is dying. Her lover Rudolpho is bereft. Their old friend, Colline, described as a philosopher approaches Rodolpho, having seen that Mimi has little time left, and quietly says, “corragio”, courage. The music then swells as Mimi breathes her last accompanied by Rodolpho’s screams of loss and grief. The curtain drops. Those are the moments when we most need courage in our everyday lives aren’t they? Accepting loss and pushing our way through our lives on the other side. Whether the death of a loved one, or the reality of a devastating diagnosis, these are the “borders of our lives.” And as we continue to explore, one of the primary reasons we find safe places, spiritual communities, to be a part of. To be reminded we are not alone. To be loved through the frightening, empty time to come. It takes corragio!
Rev Barry Bloom
Here we go again! The new church year begins on the 17th of Sept. I will return to the pulpit on a regular basis (1st and 3rd Sundays of the month, except for Sept). The new cycle of Religious Education programs begins this day for our younger ones. And the music program comes back to full life with Sam Henline at the helm. The theme for that day is, or course, WELCOME. It is also the UU theme for the month. We get to have the service, a shared pot luck, and a Julie led program about some good stuff happening in our beloved community. “A good time will be had by all.” Really!
As many of you know, this is also the beginning of my 2nd, and last, year as your minister. When I met with the then existing board in the summer of 2016, I committed to a two year agreement. With your having been through the previous three years of one and done ministers, I knew that my minimum commitment to you had to be two years. So that you and I could experience enough time together to, hopefully change UUCG’s one and out karma, and to do some deeper work that would bring present healing and future prosperity to the church.
Good changes have happened. And many more are coming. Getting organized for this New Year, and looking ahead to the future by beginning the search, now, for the right person to be in the minister’s role by Sept 2018. I have pledged my support to the board, and to all of you, to remain in a support role after my June 2018 paid time is over. I have offered to volunteer in whatever capacity would be helpful for a time, until you are ready to fly into the next definition of UUCG.
I look forward to seeing you all on the 10th. May we fly into an amazing future together.
Rev Barry Bloom
Missed seeing you this month. I am recovering well from my knee replacement surgery. Walking a mile or so, going to physical therapy, being mostly pain free during the day. However night time pain remains making it hard to get the usual sleep. I am told that “may” lift in another 2 weeks or so……I’m hoping!
I have stayed loosely in touch with the board and Margaret. Including Skyping in for part of the board meeting. I will be at the church on Saturday Aug 12 to lead the board retreat, along with Amanda. Then, we start building toward the symbolic start of a new year. I will be in the office on September 5 for the first time. Then, I am really excited about “coming home” again together on Sunday Sept 10. That’s when we start our new year in a big way. Stay tuned.
I especially want to thank all of you who so kindly sent me cards or emails for my healing. Know that they have been very much appreciated!
Look forward to seeing you all soon! Put Sept 10 on your calendar. Let’s celebrate together!!!
Rev Barry Bloom
I'm writing this Monday morning June 26th, and though I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about it, my knee replacement surgery is tomorrow June 27th. As you know, when each of us is facing a challenge it looms large on our personal radar. We temporarily forget that everyone else is going on with their own lives living with their own personal challenges. The one thing I would like to ask is for your prayers for a full recovery, as I will always pray for each of you when you face your personal challenges in life. All of us for each other. That is part of the meaning of living in a spiritual community. For those of you who do not “pray,” sending healing thoughts is a fine substitute.
I will be in Greeley on Aug 12 to help lead the board retreat, and I will be available via electronic means for a crises that might arise during July/August. If you need to talk with me check with Margaret and run it by her, then run anything unresolved by Julie and/or Kathy, then if you still need me, call or email. I will return to lead the service on Sunday Sept 10, the official beginning of our new church year. We will enjoy celebrating together then in ways to be announced. During the rest of 2017- 2018 I will be leading services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. In the meantime, I hope your July and August are filled with fun and meaning. I especially hope your “one wild and precious summer” gives you new hope, present joy, and a new energy for the work of UUCG. We have overcome, now let’s grow together in love!!
Rev Barry Bloom
June is often a month of transition. From wet and cold to the searing heat for which the West is famous. For me, and us, it is also a time to prepare for changes. I undergo knee replacement surgery on my right knee on June 27, the payoff for being a runner for 25+ years, and will be out of commission for several weeks, I am told. Fortunately it coincides with the two months that I am off as your minister. When I was hired last summer the understanding was that I would come for less money than others might be able to pay and, in return, I would take both July and August off. That does not mean, however, that I am not your minister for those two months. It simply means I will not be making the trip to Greeley during that time. I will be available via electronic means. And I will meet with the board to help keep our new momentum going. And may show up for other good stuff.
In the meantime, I want you to know how optimistic and pleased I am about UUCG. We are on a good track. Our new lay leaders are supportive of where we are headed, and I hope you all will be as plans are made and carried out. Julie, Kathy W., Jean, Kathy V., and Sharlene will lead well and I look forward to working with them. And speaking of lay leadership, I want to acknowledge someone who has been working incredibly hard for us. Danelle Beauvais has been the Chair of the Worship Committee for some time. It is one of the toughest jobs in the church responsible, as it is, for the scheduling and quality of all the services at the church not led by me. She got pretty tired by the end of this church year and is, coincidentally having major surgery done soon on her upper back and neck. She needs our thanks for good work done, and our support while she is incapacitated. She tells me this will require 10-15 days in the hospital after the surgery. Here is a great opportunity to put love into action for us all. She will not continue as chair of the committee in the fall but, she will continue on the committee itself. THANKS DANELLE. May you return in the best of health. And to all the rest of you, us. May we all get the re-birth life is driving us to.
Be well and blessed be.
Rev. Barry Bloom
Life flows on eh? Spring, then soon the hot dry days of Colorado’s brown summer. Being present with it all is an opportunity to keep learning how to be conscious in a changing world. How to breathe in life. Every day I start with a prayer to be present, really awake and present in this beautiful world. It helps. I have been gimping around on a right knee that has no cartilage left. None. After experimenting with all the lesser healing strategies, I have given in to the dreaded process of knee replacement surgery. I say dreaded because I do not handle the meds well with which they will treat my pain afterward. So, I am searching for alternatives to opioids and other strong stuff. If you have any ideas, let me know. I was originally scheduled for a late May operation, but as I learned more about my projected painful state during the first 3-4 weeks after the surgery, and knowing all that is going on here in May/June, I opted to re-schedule for June 27. So starting then I will not be here in person during much of the summer (July and August) but will be available both during recovery, and after, once a week or so, to address church business electronically.
I am delighted that we have a number of new folks, and some who have been around awhile, to participate in the Joining Ceremony on May 7 during the service. Anyone who has “signed the book,” but has not been through the ceremony, is invited to join us. Let Margaret know.
The Annual Congregational Meeting will follow the service on May 21. It is another opportunity to practice a meaningful experience passed to us by our ancestors, namely, the practice of pure democracy. Thomas Jefferson’s writing about democracy in the 1760’s and 70’s were inspired, in part, by the Cambridge Platform, the agreement made by the Congregationalists of New England in 1636 (which included us at the time) to practice church life (congregational polity) through a one person one vote process. No top down leadership, instead governance by sacred agreement (covenant) to make decisions through friendly, respectful debate to reach decisions that reflect the spirit of the congregation. That remains our goal today. There are worries that abound right now about the state of the world. May we pray and act to make a difference in that world that needs us.
I am very excited about how we are doing. Socially, spiritually, financially, personally. All is not perfect, of course. If it was I would be incredulous.
What I am excited about is the wonderful leadership the present Board has provided, and the coming opportunity for them to retire from that work and prepare the way for new leadership. This is one of the gifts of congregational polity. The passing of the baton to those who then take on the true leadership of the church. Not symbolic, but, in our faith, real and responsible leadership.
I am also excited to lead the first of many Pathways to Membership Classes coming this month. We don’t know the exact date but will let you know as soon as all is clear. Watch for congregational emails with details.
For newcomers, know that this class is the way that we welcome you into the fold. During those three + hours we will, first, eat, then we will do welcomes, experience a couple of exercises to help us get to know each other.
There will be an opportunity for you to explore your beliefs and discover others who believe just as you do. A little UU history will be mixed in. Enough to help you know where we come from. Then you have the opportunity to “Sign the book.” That is, to become a pledging member.
One who takes his/her/their responsibility seriously to make a difference in the world. There is NO pressure to pledge more than you can afford. AND, it is important that all of us stretch to do what we can. I do. It’s important. This is an age when people are flocking AWAY from churches in increasing numbers. A more secular time than when many of us grew up. But one time of the year always brings many back for one Sunday. Easter. There is so much to take from that celebration. The combination of spring and its flowers and bunnies, and the hope of the resurrection make for a powerful time. We will have many visitors, we hope, that day. Please go out of your way to greet them and make them feel truly welcome. A chance for each of us to come out of our own dark places and turn our faces to the light. Many Blessing to you all. Barry
Happy Holidays…..or how I stayed exhausted for a month!!
Actually, I Hope you are preparing for a warm and loving Christmas with family and friends. And we hope you will bring everyone, especially the kids, to our Christmas Eve Family Candlelight service at 5 pm on that day. There will be carols, readings, and quiet celebration ending with lighting the candles that are so much a symbol of the holidays. Then some goodies and off to home for the evening.
The regular services that I am leading this month are focused on the holidays too, in a way. Designed around this month’s theme of Presence, Dec 4 is focused on the presence of evil. The service on Dec 18 on the presence of the holy. They have more in common than you would guess.
Thanks to all who donated the many warm coats and blankets that we collected in the foyer, then were taken by the Native American Club at UNC to Standing Rock. May they warm and nurture hearts as well as bodies.
This year, both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays. There will not be a service on Christmas Day, but the church will be open during regular service hours. Julie Miller will be here with goodies to share and support to offer anyone who drops by. And I will be leading the service on New Year’s Day. It doesn’t have a name yet but will, of course, be about making resolutions to start a new year with positive goals. It is a time of power and purpose if we make it so.
In the meantime, stay warm. Keep your hearts open. And reach out to those in need. This is a time when it is most needed and most appreciated.
Peace and good will to you all.
Rev Barry Bloom
This fall has been beautiful beyond beautiful. The color of the leaves, the quality of the light, the awesomeness of the harvest super moon, the mild temps have all combined to regularly put me in a state of wonder. My work has been to fight to stay conscious, to not take for granted but to stop and breathe and smell and look carefully. You know the saying, “take the time to smell the roses.” This has been, “take the time to take in nature at its most beautiful.”
Speaking of beautiful, I want to say something about the board which “runs” this church. You and I know that perfection is never fully realized in any walk of life no matter how driven we may be to achieve it. This group of your friends and fellow members have been working hard under, at times, difficult circumstances, to oversee the overall direction and daily operation of the church. I, personally, would like to thank them. This is what it means to be part of a spiritual community, to support each other in loving ways. In order to not generalize and thank the “board” though, I would like to thank Marcia Free, Marika Barth, Erika Coan, Josette Schaffer, Dennis Francen, and Michelle Noftsker, who make up the board. And I invite each of you to do the same. Thanks for doing a difficult job in an imperfect way, just like any of us would do.
So you can be thinking of it well in advance, there will be a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5:00 pm on, of course, that Saturday evening. On Christmas Day, which falls on Sunday this year, there will be no service but the church will be open and Julie Miller will host. There will be some goodies to eat and a warm feeling of community to greet you.
In the meantime, may we celebrate this month of Thanksgiving by being generous to those who are in need. Remember, “There but for the grace of god go I.” Let us be thankful.
Blessings to you all.
This is my first time to share with you in this format as your minister.
It has been an interesting, exciting, and somewhat daunting few weeks. I have enjoyed getting to know many of you. There are many themes in common among us, of course, and it is lovely to discover them. (BTW: In order to serve this process of coming to know you please bring and wear your name tag to church. It helps both me and new visitors.)
During the next month I will be talking to you about covenant, the form of agreement that UU's have been using for over 300 years to bind themselves to each other (in a good way). Agreeing to stick together and support each other, no matter what. I will also be preaching about the process of healing, individually and collectively.
Having grown up in a rural area with colleges and light industry, Greeley feels pretty familiar to me. I just returned from Central Missouri last weekend. I shared a eulogy for my dear friend of 45 years in Columbia. The large Episcopal Church was almost filled with his friends and family. I thought, I hope that is true for me. It seems just right given all the lives he touched. We all want that, don't we? At our end to have been loved by many, a testament to how we lived our lives. It is up to each of us how much we reach out and touch others while we ARE alive isn't it? If we love well, then, at our end, the church will, indeed, be filled.
If I haven't met you yet, please come up after the service and introduce yourself. I look forward to knowing you all.
From the minister
A reflection on our theme each month.