Archives: Services

Song at the Sea: a Celebration of Freedom

In the Jewish cycle of reading Torah, this week we arrive at the moment when the Israelites cross the Sea of Reeds and begin their new journey towards becoming a nation. This week’s Sabbath is also known as “Shabbat Shira/the Sabbath of Song” and therefore we’ll talk about freedom, song, and what it takes to create a society that is formed through sacred covenant.

Rabbi Jan Salzman was ordained in 2010 by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. In 2016, she created Ruach haMaqom, the first Jewish Renewal congregation in Vermont. Previously, she served 6 years as the Assistant Rabbi and Cantor at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, Vermont. She was blessed to have been a student of Reb Zalman. Rabbi Jan serves in the capacity of President of OHALAH, an international professional Association of Renewal Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors. She is on the board of Living Tree Alliance located in Moretown, VT. Rabbi Jan has lived in Vermont for over 40 years, is married to her “rebbitzmon”, Loredo Sola, and has two grown children and two grandchildren.

A Fierce Unrest

We humans are never satisfied. No matter what we achieve, we always want more, or want things to be different.  But at the same time, what we fear and avoid most is almost any sort of change.  What are the consequences of this contradiction on our world and ourselves, and what should we do about it?
Nancy Weis has been a committed UU since her college days and is a member of the Rutland UU Church, where she speaks a couple of times a year.  She is a visual artist, and has spent her professional life teaching, and working as a librarian and administrator at various colleges.  She spends her spare time reading, horseback riding, and thinking about all sorts of things.


Christmas Eve Service

The Mount Mansfield Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will host a Christmas Eve service at 4pm on Zoom on Thursday, December 24th. The theme is “Sharing Our Light”: a celebration of community, traditions, and shared light in dark times. Songs and readings will be shared. We will close the service with our tradition of lighting candles and singing Silent Night so please have a candle ready at home. All are welcome. Please email us at to receive Zoom connection information.


Happiness for Everyone: Our Moral Obligation to Change the Economic Paradigm

Happiness is not just an inside job. We are all also governed by systems, beliefs, paradigms – and measures.  Measures like salary, the price of gas or our weight not only guide many of our personal decisions but also can dictate sometimes wildly skewed public policy, like the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, paradigm which dictates how success is measured much more than it should, and at too high of a price. This sermon highlights the need to adopt a more holistic set of measures for greater well being for all, and to step away from the GDP which is leading to economic devastation and undermining collective happiness and well-being.

Ginny is a co-founder and past president of Gross National Happiness USA, and is currently on the GNHUSA advisory board. In 2011, Ginny started the Happiness Paradigm as a platform for writing, teaching about, and advocating for greater personal happiness and systems change for well-being. She has been a speaker on these topics in Costa Rica; Seattle; Santa Fe; Charlotte, North Carolina, and  and city and state officials crafting a well-being index in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Burlington, Vermont.  Ginny has a masters in Mediation and a Certificate in Positive Psychology. She has brought her education, experience, and insights about happiness to Unitarian Universalist pulpits since 2013. In 2020, Ginny published a book of these sermons called Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World, a book the Midwest Book Review describes as “Deftly written, impressively informative, exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking.” Ginny is a member of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, and is very happy to be back


Radical Leadership

Radical leadership: To truly embrace resistance (to fascism and far right ideology), we must be willing to welcome radical leadership. Not “radical”, the noun. I mean “radical”, the adjective. Radical, meaning essential, fundamental and profound: a model that fully embraces the ideology of being broad-minded, open to new opinions and ideas, willing to discard outdated modes of thinking and acting. Radical leadership elevates the voices of others; making space as we learn and practice how to stand together—when it’s uncomfortable, even when we’re unsure of the outcome.

Becca Balint is the Majority Leader in the Vermont State Senate and represents Windham County.  She was just re-elected to her fourth term and is poised to become the first woman to become Senate President Pro Tempore and the first openly gay person to lead either legislative chamber. Before entering politics, Becca had a career in education, teaching in both public and private schools, and at the Community College of Vermont. She’s written a popular weekly editorial column in the Brattleboro Reformer for the past 8 years. Becca’s an avid outdoorswoman and runner, and in the last few years, she’s also taken up trumpet and bought a motorcycle. She lives in Brattleboro with her spouse, Elizabeth Wohl, and their two children. She’s promised all of them she will not play trumpet while riding her motorcycle.


UU Strategies for Foxholes

This week a friend reminded me of the saying, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” 2020 has felt like a year of being in a foxhole, with nightmare scenarios pressing in from a range of existential disasters: a global health pandemic, pervasive structural racism, climate change exacerbated wildfire and hurricane seasons and political brinksmanship that feels just a step away from civil war.

In this service I will build on thoughts that emerged from the early October RExploration, where we talked about whether Hope is a necessary ingredient to managing through a crisis. What touchstones or tools can keep us going if Hope seems elusive or truly is no longer present? Where do we draw the presence of mind and heart to place one foot in front of the other in those situations.

Needless to say, you should not come to this service expecting clear answers to these questions. But, with readings and poetry and a few reflections, I imagine we can connect, exchange stories and thoughts, and provide support for each other from our socially distant Zoom box foxholes.

Gaye Symington lives in Jericho and has been a member of MMUUF since 1993. She is the lead staff of the Burlington-based High Meadows Fund which provides grants, mission-focused investments, and collaborative thinking to promote a healthy natural environment and long-term economic vitality in Vermont. And she hoping to shake off a masochistic habit of signing up to lead the first service after a presidential election two cycles in a row.


Engage or Shelter?

In this service, Dana Baron will explore the role of our spiritual community in addressing the social and political chaos that is unfolding around us. Many of our members and friends are taking action individually, but is there or should there be a role for our Fellowship as a whole? Should we engage in the struggle collectively? Or should our Fellowship provide shelter – spiritual, emotional, and even physical – from the storm?
Dana Baron is a long-time member of MMUUF and has served in many roles. Now retired, he has recently moved from Essex to Shelburne with his wife Karen.


Slow Democracy: Reaching for Understanding in Uncivil Times

These extraordinary times of political polarization call for special attention in our everyday thoughts and words. A contemplation of the qualities we can nurture to strengthen our communities and democracy.

Susan Clark is coauthor of Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home; and All Those In Favor, a book about Vermont town meetings (with Frank Bryan). Susan consults with communities across the northeast on how to build inclusive, deliberative and empowered public engagement. She is Middlesex town moderator.

Gathering the Waters

On Sunday, we will come together to begin our new Fellowship year – via Zoom. As is our tradition, we will take time to share with each other some of our experiences from the summer. Where have the past three months led you on your spiritual journey? As you ponder that question, prepare a sentence or two to share with the Fellowship. It has been a summer like no other, and we all have much to share. But please keep your remarks brief and focus more on your spiritual journey than your physical journeys.

Collecting Water at the Barn
If you would like to mingle some water that symbolizes your journey with the common waters of the Fellowship, you can come to the barn anytime before the afternoon of Saturday September 12 and pour your water into the container you’ll find near the main entrance. Please be sure it is well sealed as you leave. And if you can’t join us on Sunday, send an email with the words you’d like to share and we’ll read it to the Fellowship.