Speaker: Gaye Symington

Curiosity and open-heartedness during conflict

I hope to offer still-evolving reflections about approaching conflict without the baggage of advance expectations and righteousness. Our MMUUF fellowship’s covenant speaks of nurturing our spiritual curiosity. In it we promise to learn from others with open hearts and to assume the best intent in others. I will try to apply lessons from Amanda Ripley’s High Conflict in putting those promises into practice in responding to world events, presidential election cycles and more local disagreements. 
Gaye is a long-time member of MMUUF. She’s retired from a nonlinear career that included baking, managing mission-focused organizations, legislative service, and leading a grantmaking organization. Now her days change with seasons, but consistent elements include trying to keep up with her 90-something friends and role-models and serving on the board of VTDigger, a nonprofit news organization. She lives in Jericho with her husband, Chuck Lacy, and their two cats.

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.

Holding Land

Gaye will reflect on different ways of connecting and relating to land: land as home, as a neighbor, as a relative, as a source of livelihood and sustenance, as a view, and as a resource to share with future generations. Her observations come from a decade where her husband raised grass-fed beef in Jericho and from her own work supporting more sustainable farming practices. That work has challenged her to avoid moral judgment about land use based on what we see rather than what we know more deeply than a view allows.
Gaye is a long-time member of MMUUF. She is approaching retirement from a varied career working for mission-focused businesses and nonprofits, mostly related to food, land, and energy. She served in the Vermont legislature for 12 years. She and her husband, Chuck Lacy, raised three amazing kids in Jericho and were able to sneak in a Chicago wedding celebration for one of them last summer in a brief window between Covid surges.


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.


Engaging in a Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning

Earlier this fall Erica Baron spoke about the connection between truth and meaning, the key elements of the fourth Unitarian Universalist principle. On November 10th Gaye will explore some of the untruths imbedded in the stories she’s relied on to make sense of the world, and how she is rethinking those stories in her search for truth and meaning.

Also during this service, MMUUF will host a Service of Dedication and Welcome, celebrating the Fink and Greenblott families’ presence in our fellowship. During or after the service I hope you’ll take a moment to sign the certificates of dedication for each of the four children, Isla and Tahlia Greenblott and Sutton and Greyson Fink.

If other families would like to participate in the service, please contact Gaye at gsym@together.net.

During the dedication portion of the service Gaye will ask the fellowship, “Do you agree to dedicate MMUUF to support Kevin and Tresa and Dusty and Jenn, to honor and recognize their children, entrusted to the care of both family and community, and covenant to provide their children with a community of warmth and affection, equity and compassion and dedication to the creation of a world worthy of coming generations?”

It’s probably pretty obvious, but the answer she’s looking for is, “Yes” or “We do”.

Gaye lives in Jericho with her husband, Chuck Lacy, with visits from their three children who attended MMUUF in the 1990’s. She works in Burlington at the High Meadows Fund which provides grants and mission investments to promote sustainable farm, food and forest enterprises, reduce the use of fossil fuels in buildings, and improve Vermont’s resilience to climate change.


Sunday Service

This Service will introduce the theme for several of this year’s Services – the second principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association; Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles, which we hold as strong values and moral guides. We live out these Principles within a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience.

As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Living Into Covenant: Sharing Our Collective Work

At this special service, we will share the draft of the MMUUF Covenant along with reflections about the process and the purpose. There will be opportunities for discussion (and offline opportunities for wordsmithing). Please join us for this important reflection and discussion.

Please remember that each Sunday we ask Fellowship Members to bring a donation for the local Jericho Foodshelf. Our Fellowship has been asked to provide canned fruit when possible. Our contributions are critical to their important work!

Please send any announcements or gratitudes for the Order of Service insert to ad…@mmuuf.org. Deadline is the Friday before the service. Thank you.

Affirming the Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person, Even During an Election Campaign


The first UU Principle states: We affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
How can our UU faith help us move beyond contempt to recognizing, respecting, and sharing a community with people who hold different values? In this first service after Election Day, Gaye hopes you will help answer that question.

Please remember that each Sunday we ask Fellowship Members to bring a donation for the local Jericho Food Shelf. Our Fellowship has been asked to provide canned fruit when possible. Our contributions are critical to their important work!