Archives: Services

Poetry: The language of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all

Poetry has long been at the heart of building community and of building and sustaining movements of peace, liberty, and justice. As poet Major Jackson says, “Once a reader has fully internalized the poem’s machinations, she collects a chorus within her and is transformed. This ritual generates empathy and widens our humanity.” And as poet Janice Lobo Sapigao states, “Poetry is activism because, line by line, it contains the potential to ask difficult questions, to participate in literary spaces, to push past discomfort, and to build worlds where possibilities drive us. People say they are often movedheld, or taken by poems–and aren’t those actions the basis of activism? Poetry, this way, is a movement.”
In this interactive service, we’ll reflect on and celebrate the power of poetry to drive us toward the 6th principle goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. 
We ask our fellowship members and guests to share poems that have challenged, moved, and sustained them in working toward this goal themselves.
Danielle Thierry is a member of MMUUF, where she’s active in the Last Minute Choir and the Religious Education and Cares and Concerns committees. Danielle previously served as the organizer/executive director of the Burlington Writers Workshop, where she focused on broadening access to free and supportive writing workshops, retreats, and publishing opportunities and co-founded the community-led literary journal Mud Season Review. Danielle has a master’s degree in creative writing and journalism from Rowan University and has taught writing in community college, workshops, and other settings. She currently works on initiatives to make federal government benefit programs more accessible and equitable through clear language and people-centered design.
Ann Bonanno is a member of MMUUF, and has chaired the Sunday Service Committee for the past decade.  After all this time, she is beginning to define her spirituality, which is clearly based in the natural world and the connections between all living things.  Ann believes strongly in living in gratitude, and spends some time each day grateful for the beautiful state of Vermont and the MMUUF community.

Celebrating the Return of Spring!

For thousands of years, country folk around the British Isles celebrated Earth and sky cycles that occur every year.  In spring, in May, the holiday of Beltane was celebrated.  We can imagine how people felt when the winter was over, and the green plants and luscious flowers again emerged, a miracle once more!   We will participate in our usual service, with a short Beltane ritual during the usual sermon part.  At the end of the service, weather permitting, we will dance around the Maypole with fiddle music from Sarah Hotchkiss.

Evergreen Erb is a member of the MMUUF fellowship, and loves to be in community with such wonderful folks.  She is deeply in love with the Earth, and has been especially enjoying deep dives into learning more about birds, ferns, and mosses.  She has learned that the more you learn about the natural world, the more there is to learn.  Who needs to travel the world, when the world right here has so much to teach us? After many years living in Jericho, Evergreen now lives up a mountain in Huntington, where she is grateful to be in a large forest with great views of Huntington.

The Power of One

This talk will help us understand the transformational impact one person can have on the lives of those around us. It will strive to enhance awareness of the needs of our struggling community members with minimal social capitol and supports, and inspire us to show up more directly with our own time and resources to ensure all in our community have the opportunity to live happy and healthy lives and meet their human potential.

We will hear of Will Eberle’s lived experience with trauma, poverty, homelessness, addiction, and mental health challenges, the transformative impact individual people have had on his life, inspiring stories he’s encountered in his human services career in Vermont, and ideas about how we can all do more to help struggling Vermonters.


Will trains, consults, speaks, and informs policy on human services, homelessness, and mental health and addiction recovery nationally. Will is the Executive Director of Recovery Vermont/The Vermont Association of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery – Vermont’s largest non-profit state-wide mental health and addiction recovery organization and the founder and principal of Mission Driver Consulting. Will oversaw daily operations across two counties of Vermont for the Vermont Agency of Human Services for six years as a Field Director. He was the Executive Director of the mental health drop-in center Another Way for five years where he implemented Vermont’s Federal Mental Health Transformation grant. He started his human services career as a mental health peer support counselor, street outreach worker, and vocational trainer and mentor for at-risk youth.

Will is a Curtis Scholar with a Masters of Public Administration degree from Norwich University and a Bachelors of Psychology degree from Johnson State College. He is a graduate of the Vermont Agency of Human Services Leadership Academy and a member of the Snelling School of Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute class of 2023. Will Eberle is a person in recovery who experienced homelessness, ACEs, and crushing poverty as a child in the Mountain West. As an adult, Will has overcome trauma, mental health challenges, addiction, homelessness, and abuse – he models resilience and neuroplasticity in his life and work.

Will lives in Northfield, Vermont with his wife and three kids. He serves on his local school board and coaches youth baseball and soccer. He loves cooking, reading, writing, cooking, building projects, trail running, playing and listening to music, yard sales, canoe camping, knitting, and fishing.

Resurrecting Animism, Decolonizing Easter

Easter is a complicated holiday for those of us who identify as spiritual but not religious. And yet Easter remains a significant day in our culture when many Americans return to church and participate in other traditions like egg hunts and hot cross buns. Maeve, raised an atheist and now a self-described queerstian contemplative, will share her thoughts on this holiday and its pagan roots, its womanist elements, and its messages for our current hot mess times. How might we turn to our ancestry, our traditions, and our ancient stories for support and guidance to navigate the crises before us?

Maeve is an organizer and activist, mother, writer, contemplative, and all around earth lover. Maeve has led lay worship in Unitarian Universalist congregations and spoken often on the topics of climate change, grief, and racism. Currently, Maeve is busy starting a cooperative farm in Jericho, fundraising for worthy causes, and pursuing movement chaplaincy. Maeve is a white cis queer woman of European descent.

Another Possibility, Waiting

We tend to agree readily with Rev. Rebecca Parker’s well-known advice to “Choose to Bless the World,” but should we be focusing on doing more of it collectively as visible communities of UU’s? Rev. Barnaby Feder, a lifelong UU now in his 11th year leading our Middlebury congregation, reflects his experiences with the challenges, pitfalls, and most promising ways toward making Love effective together.

Rev. Barnaby Feder has been the Champlain Valley UU Society’s Lead Minister since Aug., 2012. He will be retiring on June 30, with plans to remain in Middlebury doing part-time ministry work around New England, writing and teaching projects, and volunteer community work. Rev. Feder is a San Francisco Bay Area native. He was raised in a UU congregation in San Mateo, Calif., that his late mother helped organize. His transition to New Englander began with extended summer visits to relatives in the region. He entered Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) in 1968 and lived in Putney, Vt., in 1970 to work in the “Phil Hoff for U.S. Senate” campaign. After graduating from Williams, he became a reporter for the nearby North Adams Transcript. After a break from 1974-77 to obtain a J.D. Degree at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, he resumed worked as a journalist. He spent 27 years with The New York Times, covering business and technology from New York City, London, and Chicago. He was one of the writers on the award-winning Portraits of Grief project memorializing the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Barnaby entered seminary at Drew Theological School in 2008. Prior to being called to Middlebury, he served as a ministerial intern in Morristown, NJ., and half-time interim minister in Stroudsburg, Pa.

A Personal Reflection on the Importance of Community

In this sermon, Mike will share his own experience of how he found himself in a place of isolation due to a combination of being a stay-at-home dad and developing chronic pain from a degenerative condition. He’ll share how he has found a sense of personal peace and meaningful contribution by seeking out and contributing to communities of caring individuals. And he’ll share his thoughts on the importance of nurturing deeply connected communities during a time of great technological and social change to restrengthen our democratic culture and work toward the goal of peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Mike Sweeney is an active volunteer in the Jericho and wider Vermont community. He currently serves as the secretary of MMUUF steering committee, the town chair of the Jericho Democratic Committee, the secretary of the Chittenden County Democratic Committee, and a Jericho justice of the peace. He also serves as a mentor through the Spectrum Youth Services program. 

Mike has a background in the arts, education, and owning a small business. He has been the primary caregiver for his 2 children for several years and homeschooled his children for 5 years. 


Peace, Justice and Liberty: More Messy Verbs Than Holy Nouns

People often think of having peace, justice or liberty, as if they were things. Some think of these as harmonious states of being that should be provided by the government, and others view them as ongoing struggles in which they are righteous participants. But perhaps we should see these three as opposing forces that need each other for balance, and that the balancing is our fraught co-responsibility.

Kevin Geiger has worked in regional planning in Vermont for 30 years. He also spent a few years with the National Park Service as a wildland firefighter. He is the town moderator for Pomfret, where he lives, and is a sporadic member of the North Universalist Chapel Society in Woodstock. He is a decent cook, devoted gardener, chatty apple pruner, ex soccer coach turned referee, good husband, proud father of two, and is half dog. He thinks a lot.

Memorial Service

The Cares and Concerns Committee of MMUUF will be hosting a memorial service honoring our beloved dead. Members and guests will have an opportunity to remember a beloved one no longer with us. This could be a person, or dog or cat, or any creature that caused your heart to swell with grief. Folks are asked to bring some items for our beloved dead altar, even if they aren’t speaking. But we would love to have people, members or guests, share a two or three minute memory of whoever you are honoring. Children may also share before they leave for RE classes. It will be received with respect and love.

What Can I See Now That I Couldn’t See Then?

In this service Gaye will look back to February, 2020, to consider how her perspective on history and pretty much everything has shifted given the events and lessons of the past three years. Years where, together, we witnessed George Floyd’s murder for 9 minutes on video, where, together, we experienced a pandemic that claimed lives disproportionately by race and income, and where our legislative leaders acknowledged and apologized for state policies that caused lasting harm to our Indigenous, disabled and low-income neighbors. Gaye’s learning journey is a work in progress and she’ll invite others to share their perspective. She has been a member of MMUUF since 1993 and lives in Jericho.


About “home” the author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou wrote, “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we and not be questioned.” Graham Rowles, a gerontology professor at the University of Kentucky, said “We have a need for a place that is called home. Home provides security, control, belonging, identity, and privacy, among other things. But most of all, it is a place that provides us with a centering– a place from which we leave each morning and to which we return each evening.” What does “home” mean to you? This talk about home explores loss, perspective, gratitude, and hope.

Hilary has devoted her career to ending homelessness. She has worked in shelters, supervised street outreach teams, and administered permanent supportive housing programs in Boston, New York, and Vermont. She helped pioneer the evidence-based Housing First model in the 90s in New York City and brought the Housing First model to Vermont in 2009. As the founding Executive Director of Pathways Vermont, in addition to permanent supported housing programs, Hilary has developed alternative community mental health initiatives to meet the unmet needs of Vermonters experiencing mental health challenges. These include the Pathways Vermont Community Center, Support Line, and Soteria House. Hilary is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, having served four years in Benin, West Africa. She holds an MFA degree in creative writing/poetry and lives with her family in South Burlington.