December 2015 Connection


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Issue No. 1812

Venice, FL

December 2015


Sundays at UUCOV

Services: 9:30 and 11:00am. Youth Religious Education at 9:30am (starts in the Sanctuary), Forums 9:30am and Adult RE at 11:00am, in Asta Linder House Room A.

Sunday Services: 9:30 & 11:00am

December 6, 2015: "A Change in the Waiting"

Rev. Khleber Van Zandt. UU author John Taylor writes, "If there were no Advent, we would need to invent one." As days shorten in this season of increasing darkness, we light the flame of hope and begin a long wait.

December 13, 2015: Service "'Tis the Season (Almost)"

Rev. Khleber Van Zandt. As our northern friends begin to return to this area, the seasonal shifts become more apparent - more traffic, longer lines in restaurants, and more complaints about overpopulation. We're glad to have everybody back... aren't we?

December 20, 2015: Service "The Longest Night"

Rev. Khleber Van Zandt. Today we celebrate Winter Solstice, singing songs and telling stories about the journey into darkness and back out into the light.

December 24, 2015: Christmas Eve "When the Trench Stole Christmas" 6:00pm

Rev. Khleber Van Zandt. Christmas, 1914, was most unusual for those stuck in the trenches of World War I. In this traditional Christmas Eve service, weâ??ll remember 1914, read some stories, sing some hymns, and celebrate a season of hope together by candlelight.

December 27, 2015: "A Song Fest" 10:00am

On this last Sunday of the year come together in a single service at 10:00 am. No sermon, but rather a song fest with Steve, our music director. Bring your hearts and voices to sing all the verses to many of our favorite hymns. Let music unite and lift us up as we move to a New Year.


Sunday Forums: 9:30am, Asta Linder House

December 6, 2015: "'Tis the Season"

Barbara Walker reveals ancient symbols and legends now associated in the traditions of Christmas.

December 13, 2015: "Life Saving Skills"

Dr. Coke Levin will show us life saving skills everyone should know.

December 20, 2015: No Forum

December 27, 2015: No Forum

Adult Religious Education: 11:00am, Asta Linder House

December 6, 2015: "Islam"

The Muslim Community. Faith, politics, and culture. Great Courses DVD series with discussion to follow.

December 13, 2015: "Islam"

Muslim Practice. Islamic law, Shariah, and Islamic mysticism, Sufism. From the Great Courses DVD series. Discussion to follow.

December 20, 2015: "Islam"

Islamic Revivalism. Modern day movements. From the Great Courses DVDs. Discussion to follow.

December 27, 2015: No Adult RE

Special Offering

December 13, 2015: Season of Sharing

Season of Sharing helps individuals and families who are on the verge of homelessness. The program, created by the Herald - Tribune Media Group and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, provides funds for rental assistance, utility bills, child care, transportation, food vouchers and other expenses associated with helping families get back on their feet. The need is great and your generosity will be much appreciated. Please make checks out to UUCOV with "Season of Sharing" on the memo line.

Minister's Corner

The Holidays Are Here

Rev. Khleber Van Zandt

glasses-books 250x137“Is that your mail?” the little girl asked.

I was in a hurry. I had done several nice things for people already that morning and now I was late for work. I had thrown a bunch of stuff in the car and started to walk toward the end of the block to take one lonely piece of mail to the mailbox. As I walked, I thought through the list of things I hadn’t gotten done yet that week - phone calls, e-mails, a newsletter column.

It was a bright, sunny day but it had turned a little cooler and I should have noticed the hint of fall in the air. Before I got to the corner, I looked up from my worries and saw the back of a small figure huddled against the cool breeze, almost blocking my way to the mailbox. I had to step around the brown, hooded jacket to open the mailbox and drop the envelope in.

As I turned to go, just the least bit exasperated, the little girl smiled, “Is that your mail?”

Shocked at the brightness of her eyes, I stammered, “Yes, it is...” She quickly replied, “A lot of people send their mail from here. Have you noticed that?”

“Yes,” I said, “I see a lot of cars stop here so people can mail letters and...” “I mailed a letter to Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday from this very mailbox,” she said proudly, “I sent my grandma a letter and a picture and a drawing she can put on her refrigerator. Thanksgiving’s gonna be here in a few weeks and I don’t want my grandma to believe I’m not gonna be thinking about her on such an important day.”

“Is your grandma in Atlanta, Georgia?” I asked. She nodded her head. I said, “I’ve never really been there, but I hear it’s nice.” “I’ve never been there, either,” she said, “but I sure hope I get to go to my grandma’s for a Thanksgiving someday.”

“Well, I know your grandma is gonna have a great day when she gets that letter you sent her.” I turned to go and then thought to ask, “Are you okay here?” “Yes, the bus will be here in a minute to take me to school.” I nodded, took a few steps, and looked over my shoulder to yell, “You have a Happy Thanksgiving!” She waved and yelled, “Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!”

There are so many ways to divide up the people of this world: by age, race, gender, class, just to mention a few. With simple words, this little girl had reached across all of them and invited me out of myself, taught me once again to notice the ways love speaks across the miles and across the divides.

I hope her grandma appreciates the gift she gets in the mail. I know I am thankful I showed up there on the corner that morning, because that’s when the real holiday season began for me, announced simply but emphatically by the expectant questions and the bright smile of a young child.

See you in church,


How to Contact Us

Mailing Address: UUCOV
1971 Pinebrook Road
Venice, Fl 34292-1563


Minister: Rev. Khleber Van Zandt V
Phone: 314-223-0551
Office hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10:00am-1:00pm
Email or phone anytime to meet at a different time.

Office Administration: Nan Kritzler
Phone: 941-485-2105
Office hours: Monday - Friday 10:00am -Noon

Music Director: Steve Hanson
Phone: 630-346-1842

From the Board

Next Steps

Your Board and Minister believe the Next Steps Weekend was very beneficial and say a big THANK YOU to all who participated. Consultant Mark Ewert noted our strengths - our minister and staff and the dedicated, passionate lay leaders. He noted, too. our challenges - adjusting to a settled minister, our space challenges with our abundance of activities, and deciding where we are going. Mark asked that we be flexible and to move, reschedule or relocate meetings and gatherings when necessary and be willing to serve where needed. Lastly, he requested that we be as generous with our pledge as possible.

President's Message

JoelMorrisonWelcome back to those members and friends returning from the North. We have saved plenty of warm weather for you; at least, through mid November we experienced late-summer temperatures.

For almost four months, Florida Power and Light prevented us from turning on our Solar Panels. Throughout the working to resolve the disagreement, Harriman’s, our installers, were of considerable assistance to UUCOV, even running an experiment for us. We finally prevailed and got the go-ahead from FPL on November 18.

KaboLindaWebErin Fangboner has resigned as Secretary of the Board of Trustees and has taken on the duties of cleaning the three buildings on our campus, in addition to serving as our Sexton. She replaces Nan Kritzler who had performed the cleaning services under contract to UUCOV for a number of years. Board member Bill Dowling has agreed to take on the duties of Board Secretary for the remainder of this fiscal year. That left a vacancy on the Board; following our By-Laws, Article VI Section 5, the Board has appointed Linda Kabo to fill the vacancy until the Annual Meeting in March.

Speaking of Annual meetings, mark your calendars : the Board has set March 19 for our Annual Congregational Meeting. We have moved the meeting to Saturday, so as to interfere less with our two service Sundays.

The Board also approved a request from Brad Jenkins to have a second Congregational meeting each year, and set the date for January 24. Agenda items must be submitted in advance, in writing, to the Board. Already we have accepted two items for discussion/action: (1) the congregational vote on the CSAI initiative submitted by UUCOV and accepted for the agenda at GA this spring, The title is Passing the 28th Amendment: “Corporations Aren’t Persons, Money Isn’t Speech”. (2) Consultant Mark Ewert’s detailed report of the “Next Steps” weekend will be discussed. This report will be made available before the congregational meeting.

Again welcome back and be prepared to work hard during these exciting UUCOV times.

 -- Joel Morrison

Congregational Life

Under The Wire

Ornaments002Latest possible reminder – Sunday, Nov.29th is the deadline for signing up to attend the winter holiday party. Sign up on the lanai for the Dec. 6 event at the Jacaranda Country Club, Cocktails at 5; dinner at 6:15. $35.

Caring Team Meeting - All Welcome.

Thursday, December 3, at 3pm in Waters Hall. If you have an interest in doing things for others in our congregation, when they are in need of personal support, assistance or just an extra dose of friendship, please join us as we "formalize" our Caring Team plans and activities for 2015-16. Also on the agenda will be discussion of "CONFIDENTIALITY" -- How we honor the wishes of each other, as we "SHOW HOW WE CARE".

Winter Solstice Celebration

father winter solsticeOn December 20 at 4:30 in the Sanctuary, we celebrate the Winter Solstice with a Heritage Potluck and a full pagan service, ending with a bonfire and s’mores!
4:30 – Heritage Potluck
5:30 – Winter Solstice Service
6:30 – Bonfire and S’mores

Bring a dish to share from your ethnic and/or cultural background and then gather together at sunset to celebrate the Solstice in true pagan form. Bring your drums and other percussion instruments to play during the service and around the bonfire! Let us cast off the troubles of this past year and bring in the new with hope and light and laughter.

Non-alcoholic drinks and disposable dinnerware will be provided for the feast. If you can, spare Mother Earth the added trash and bring your own reusable dinnerware. If you want to ring in the light of the new year with something a bit more hardy than apple cider, it is BYOB. Volunteers to help with set-up and clean-up are always welcome. Contact Stephanie Zoernack, , Suzie Smith, , or Karen Griffin, with questions or to volunteer.

Sign Up Now for 2016 Revolving Dinners

foodThis is an opportunity for UUCOV members to get to know other members of the congregation in small group settings. Members will be assigned to groups of 5-7, and one person or couple will be the host for each month. Dinners may be a potluck in a home or a gathering at a local restaurant. This program runs from January through April, which means members will be assigned to be a host one of the months.

Please note that there will be no signup at church. Instead, e-mail Anne Utschig at . Please include your name, e-mail address, and telephone number. Anne will confirm by e-mail. The deadline for signing up is December 21, 2015. Lists will be e-mailed to all participants after the holidays. If you don’t have an e-mail address or have any questions, please call Anne at 715-523-1231.

UUCOV's Amazing Auction

GavelIt's that time of year again! UUCOV's annual service auction will be held Saturday, 16 January, 2016 from 5:00pm - 8:00pm in the Sanctuary. Each year we come together for an evening of fun, food and laughter at our Auction of fabulous donations from our generous members. This is our biggest fund raiser for UUCOV - last year we raised well over $9,000. Join us for a great evening of hors d'oeuvres, cash wine & beer bar, and great company...and there is NO admission fee!

But before this popular event can happen, we need donations to auction off. Once again, we are looking for your donations of events and services in these categories: Dining, Specialty Events, Outdoor Activities, Learning Opportunities, Services, Vacation Opportunities - and some Tangibles, such as themed gift baskets to raffle, and a painting or hand-made rug or basket. Deadline for donations is December 6. Forms will be available Sunday, or you can download one at 

Contact Bev Morrison  or Marilyn Marcus -  with any questions.

Save the Date and Start Reading

Just MercyWhen? January 22-24, 2016

What? Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Why? This book, a NYT bestseller is selected as the UUA denominational read for 2015-2016. Along with other congregations across the country, the Worship Committee is sponsoring a series of events based on this book and the messages it sends.

Tell Me More? Bryan Stevenson is a Harvard Law School educated attorney who has devoted his life and work to helping those most in need: the poor, the wrongfully convicted, the mentally ill, those awaiting execution with little or no adequate legal counsel. This book is riveting!! Using real life cases and experiences he highlights the bias of the American Judicial System against the poor and mentally ill. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world with over 2.3 million in our prisons. One out of three black males will be incarcerated during their lifetime. Studies have found that race of a victim is the greatest predictor of who will receive a death sentence. In Georgia, for example, defendants are 11 times more likely to be sentenced to death if the victim is white rather than black. Another way we say that black lives do not matter?

What events will take place? We expect to have at least one discussion group focused on the book. Rev. Khleber's sermon on January 24 will focus on the themes of this book. We are hard at work to bring in some outside speakers familiar with aspects of the judicial system in Florida and are working to improve situations for inmates, particularly young offenders. Spiritual Fellowship Groups will be encouraged to choose a related topic for one of their sessions close to these dates. In short, everything we can put in place to achieve a wide variety of programs and discussions.

How can I get the book? The book is widely available commercially as well as through the UUA bookstore. Kindle and Nook editions are available. The Sarasota County public libraries have copies. Copies are available and can be borrowed from UUCOV. Please speak to Khleber, Jaye Williams or Bonnie Norton to obtain one of these copies.

Arts and Crafts Sale

artHave your coffee/tea in Waters Hall, 10:30-11, Dec 6 and 13, while you shop. A portion of every purchase goes to UUCOV.

Help Needed

clickerAttend the Service of your choice, sit where you want, and hold a ‘clicker’ in your hand. When images are projected onto the screen in front (hymns being sung, readings by minister and congregation,etc) press that clicker to advance what’s being shown on screen (e.g.1st verse of song to 2nd ). We need a handful of members to be ‘clicker’ people, so we can share the task Sunday to Sunday. Bonnie Norton (941-497-0462) or Dick Smith (941-408-1729) will be thrilled to hear from you.

Meet Our New Members

Dick NelsonDick Nelson
7068 Denmark St.
Englewood, FL 34224
941 473 9597

I was raised by loving parents in New Jersey where I met my beautiful wife Irene. We have been married almost seventy years now. We have five grown children and are enjoying visiting our grandchildren who live in many corners of the country. I was fortunate enough to work with young people for all of my career. I have been an high school English teacher, a college professor training new teachers, and now in my retirement years having been a volunteer at a local grammar school. We have lived in Rhode Island except for a few years spent at the University of Wisconsin. I enjoy traveling, reading, fishing, attending the theater, baseball and playing cards. I have been a peace activist carrying many signs and attending many rallies.

My spiritual journey has finally carried me to a place where I am comfortable calling myself a humanist .....UUCOV.

HancockSylviaWebSylvia Hancock
1318 Still River Drive, Venice

Sylvia Hancock spends almost half a year in Venice enjoying the beaches, the Sarasota Opera, Venice Symphony and Theater, SILL and Orioles baseball. She also is a member of the Life History Writers' Group at the Senior Friendship Center and volunteers at the Venice Women’s Resource Center.

In May she returns to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State where she lives on a beach with views of Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic mountains. There she hikes and is active in politics. She was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She attends the Olympic Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

Her career in Washington D.C. Included a staff position with. U.S. Senator Henry M. Jackson, as well as working for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She has also been an expert witness on behalf of customer interests before federal and state commissions regulating electric utilities and gas pipelines and the Securities and Exchange Commission. She was one of the first women in that profession.

Sylvia has three children and seven grandchildren. Her husband died in December 2014, just after they celebrated fifty years of marriage.

Lifespan Education

From Our Director of Lifespan Religious Education

I am in awe at the amazing ambassadors our children are for what UUCOV stands for. They created a loving and welcoming space for our Family Promise children in November. Set your eyes a bit lower as you enter for our Sunday service, as you might be fortunate enough to be welcomed and handed the order of service by a young person who is changing our world.

The Sunday Adult RE (11:00 in Asta Linder House) is meeting with great success! So much so, that Bonnie Norton is providing a second "airing" of the program with discussion following on Tuesdays at 1:00.

We are beginning to build our Lifespan RE programming to take us through May. I want to hear from you regarding ideas, interests and needs for our Lifespan RE program. -- Jaye Williams, Director of Lifespan Religious Education, or 941-587-2981.YREFieldTrip

Interest Groups

Book GroupBook Group
The book Group is meeting on Thursday, Dec 10 at 1:30pm. The book is "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" by Dai Sijie. Barbara Smith picked up a book bag from the library, so you can borrow one from her, but you need to return it at the meeting. Contact her at or 941-408-1729.

Meeting Life’s Challenges
The support group for UUCOVers dealing with some challenging life situation or event meets the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, 10-12, at Asta Linder House. Check out the brochure on the lanai for details.

platocolorPlato’s Circle
Ann Werner will lead the discussion on The Purpose of Life. Does AGE render life purposeless -or- is my purpose for living only now becoming visible? How can I live this last period of my humanity as a summit-time of my life? Recommended reading is The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister. All are welcome: Wednesday, Dec. 2. 1-3pm, Asta Linder House.

Three O’Clock Poets
Attention all poets and poetry lovers! Meetings will be held the first and third Thursdays of the month in the Waters Hall living room.

Spanish Club
The Spanish Club invites everyone who is interested in practicing Spanish language skills in an informal setting. Bring any resources you have. Meets weekly in Waters Hall Sundays at noon.

socratescolorSocrates Cafe
If you enjoy interesting discussion, you are welcome to join the Socrates Cafe every third Wednesday of the month 1-3pm in Waters Hall.

14Mindfulness Meditation
Wednesdays, 6:00pm in Waters Hall. Monk San leads the group the first two Wednesdays of each month. Linda Kabo leads the remaining Wednesdays.

Social Justice

World AIDS Day – Remembring the Names.

There will be a candlelight vigil and name reading in the Memorial Garden on Tuesday, December 1 at 7:00pm.AIDs Ribbon

A Family Promise Christmas

FamilyPromiseAfter a successful first Family Promise host week in October, we look forward to hosting homeless families again during Christmas week. The families will spend the evenings and stay overnight at Asta Linder House from December 20 to 26. UUCOV’s Family Promise Coordinating Team is currently scheduling volunteers for the week and making plans to provide a joyous holiday for the families. If you would like to help in any way, please contact Georgia Blotzer, , 941-375-8249, or Barbara Griffin, , 941-497-2733. Thank you for your interest in helping homeless families become independent.

Common Good

uujfPeople ask what they can do to help Common Good Committee efforts at UUCOV. Here are two ways:

1. Help put an important amendment on the ballot in 2016 and raise money for UUCOV at the same time. In the next 8 weeks, gather signatures for an Amendment for Solar Choice. Floridians for Solar Choice will donate $1.00 to our congregation for every signature as a way of saying ‘thanks’. If we each took FIVE petitions to our friends and neighbors and got them signed and brought back to church, Kindra will turn them in weekly under UUCOV’s name. This is a great cause and easy way to help UUCOV! Contact Kindra at 941-497-1764 or  if you will help.

2. Come to City Council or County Commission meetings on specific occasions to address critical issues, and add your voice. Tuesday, November 17th was such an occasion, when a number of UUCOVers spoke out against the sudden switch of voting machine vendors in Sarasota County to a former “problem vendor” without competitive bidding.* Only a few people from Sarasota showed up--everyone else probably thought the decision to switch to ES&S voting machines was "baked in the cake"--and sure enough, it was, but we challenged the decision, raised questions, and had our voices heard. Although we didn’t win, it was a great experience, and a reminder that elections matter, at all levels, and our civic participation is the eye-opener.

* See the original article on the Facebook page at (scroll down to Nov. 11th.)  If you would like to get on the list for Common Good email alerts, contact Kindra at  or 941-497-1764

Denominational Affairs

Spong to Speak at UU Sarasota

spong"Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead." So said Bishop John Shelby Spong before retiring as Episcopal Bishop of Newark in 2000. Those were the opening words of the first of twelve theses that Bishop Spong drew from his 1998 book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die.

The rest of his first thesis was "God can no longer be understood with credibility as a Being, supernatural in power, dwelling above the sky and prepared to invade human history periodically to enforce the divine will. So, most theological God-talk today is meaningless unless we find a new way to speak of God."

Curious about his meaning and the reactions? Ask him! Bishop Spong will speak at the Unitarian Church of Sarasota on February 12 and 13. See the UUCS website for details, fee, and registration info.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Comments, kudos, questions, concerns, musings - all welcome. 325 word maximum. Send yours to

Dear Editor –

An Outreach Officer from the police department came to my daughter’s classroom. They talked about how police officers do not just to deal with people who behave badly, but are also in our community to help keep us safe. We talked about how if she ever got lost or somehow got separated from the adults she was with, that she should seek out a police officer, if possible, for help.

Then it struck me how confident I was that she would be helped. She would not be looked at as some recalcitrant child or potential criminal, even when she got older. If she and her sisters happen to walk down the middle of a neighborhood street wearing hoodies on a chilly winter afternoon, I do not have to worry that a police officer or neighbor will automatically assume they are in the neighborhood to cause trouble. I was reminded how my family benefits so profoundly from White Privilege. My heart aches for those mothers and fathers out there who do not have that confidence or peace of mind – who instead have a constant fear that one day their child may be the victim of the very same police officer or neighbor. Can you imagine having to live that way?

That is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so critical. I do not know why as a congregation we are not flying a banner proudly supporting the movement in which our denomination has been involved almost from the beginning. It does not matter that we live in an area with only 2-5% minority representation. The fear does not go away for those living in this area just because there are fewer people in their situation. Imagine how it might make minority members of our community feel if they knew they had allies in this struggle in this traditionally conservative, white community where allies may be few and far between?

Karen Griffin

Publication Deadlines

Connection: Articles and announcements for the Connection are due on the 20th of each month for the next month's edition. Please email your submissions to .

UUCOV Happenings: Events submissions are due at Thursday 9:00am for inclusion in UUCOV Happenings. Please email your submissions to .

UUCOV Mission and Covenant

Our mission is to build a welcoming and diverse community which encourages growth of the human spirit, the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and active participation in social and community issues.

In a climate of joy, goodwill and trust this congregation covenants

  • to treat one another with kindness and respect,
  • to listen with openness and acceptance,
  • to support and protect the environment of which we are all a part,
  • to solve problems responsibly as we grow and change,
  • to encourage learning and nurture the growth of diverse human spirits, and
  • to dedicate time, talent and re- sources in an effort to make a difference in local and world communities.

In the spirit of our free religious heritage, we promise these to one another.


UU Principles

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:

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

UU Sources

The Living Tradition we share draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.


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