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November / December 2011 Newsletter



LETTER FROM OUR SPIRITUAL LEADERS, by Hillary Bittman

Letter from our spiritual leader - Stew

Stew and I have begun our inter-faith ministry studies (see more on this elsewhere in this newsletter). Deep gratitude to all of you, who are helping us in this endeavor, whether you contributed financially to our school (Minister’s) fund, held us in prayer or shared a word of support with us. Often, since starting as Spiritual Leader, 4½ years ago, it seems as I have felt my way along like a person in a long tunnel without light. I know that I am here to fulfill my spiritual mission; however, I am not always sure of what that will look like. I have learned to trust in my inner guidance and flow with those places that seem scary or a big stretch to me.

Have you ever experienced times like that, and the deep reward you experience when you come through into the light with a big, “Aha, this is what it looks like”? And to feel satisfaction and joy as your external life reflects the inner yearning to have a meaningful life, where you share your gifts, your love, you feel yourself as part of the whole? If you are longing to bring this possibility into your life, please know that it is there waiting for you as surely as the spirit of Life is the animation of your body and the spirit of Love is the Source of all that you are. It is a good daily practice to examine whether we are being the Way of Love/God/Truth or whether we are being in the way. So often, because I have a daily practice of reflection, I notice I am in the way. What Unity has taught me is that all that matters is that in this moment of noticing I have a choice.

So here we are at a new juncture in UATL’s history. The commitment to our spiritual ideals (thank you to all the shoulders we are standing upon) has led us to a deeper commitment to create a permanent spiritual center for our community. Have you thought about what that might mean to you specifically and what is yours to do? Or, what is UATL’s to do in the community now that we have this sacred space? Ideas and conversation exploring that are always welcome.

For me, there is a willingness to be used more, which is perhaps how I got here in the first place. Six years ago I sang the words to the prayer chaplains’ dedication song, “Here I Am, Lord,” never dreaming the form that would arise from that willingness. And so I have stretched myself to talk on Sundays; again, thank you all for your support and encouragement. What I really enjoy, though, and know I am good at and miss very much, is a more intimate contact with you. Part of a minister’s “job description” is spiritual counseling. I encourage everyone to use me (and Stew, of course) more. It is often so helpful to have someone else to just listen and reflect back to us what is heard, then it somehow gets even clearer within our own minds – nothing more is needed, just a witness. Sometimes, we have so many thoughts going on, we don’t recognize the decision we have already made and to have our thoughts reflected back to us allows for that recognition. Sometimes, in the middle of that murkiness, an eye that sees you clearly for the truth of you and/or a prayer affirming that truth, allows us to move through the murk and gain clarity and strength on what is ours to do.

I am so grateful for the folks in my life that are that for me, Stew, my Prayer Chaplains and my Council. They hold a safe container for me to be able to share honestly when I am working on regaining my center and always help remind me how wonderful I Am. We all need that, and indeed, I believe we all yearn to have a safe place like that when we can’t find it within ourselves. Maybe we see it as a weakness to reach out or maybe we’re afraid we’ll be judged. Let us be that for you—it is our honor.


OFFICE HOURS: (office phone will remain as is 530-544-2266):

TUESDAYS 12-2 and WEDNESDAYS 10-2

Stay tuned to your weekly updates as we expect to have expanded hours in our new sacred space.

You are cordially invited to come by and sit in the sacred energy, browse the lending library, or just say hello! It’s a wonderful space!!

Of course our Spiritual Leaders, Hillary & Stew, are ALWAYS available and eager to meet with you (except Sundays or Mondays, unless an emergency) during the week for spiritual counseling and/or prayer, to talk over the Sunday talk or Unity principles… or just to chat. Feel free to call the office anytime and make a date with them.You are cordially invited to come by and sit in the sacred energy, browse the lending library, or just say hello! It’s a wonderful space!! Of course our Spiritual Leaders, Hillary & Stew, are ALWAYS available and eager to meet with you (except Sundays or Mondays, unless an emergency) during the week for spiritual counseling and/or prayer, to talk over the Sunday talk or Unity principles… or just to chat. Feel free to call the office anytime and make a date with them.

Click Here To Request the Weekly Email Update


SPECIAL HOLY-DAY EVENTS:

Bear a thon Unity at the Lake

Bear-a-thon

Nov 27, Dec 4, 11, and 18

We will be collecting NEW bears, only (actually, any stuffed animal as long as its soft and cuddly), at Sunday service or during the week.

Over the years, we have collected over 1,000 bears that have been a comfort to our local children in an emergency.

   

Tree of Remembrance

Wednesday, December 7th, 5:30-6:30pm at the Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church. OneVoice will once again perform and bless this healing ceremony.

   
Tree of Remembernce

Christmas Caroling: We will be practicing and enjoying general merriment, hot cider and treats Saturday, December 17th, at 1195 Rufus Allen Blvd., in the Annex, which is what we are calling the smaller building to the left of the Sanctuary building. Bringing treats is welcomed. We will also be decorating the building. Bring an ornament that will become part of our holiday tradition. OneVoice will then be heading to Heavenly Village to serenade the passerbys with our caroling. Sunday Dec. 18th we will take our caroling out into the community at Barton Skilled Nursing.

Christmas Eve Service: 7-8pm, Saturday, Dec 24th, at the Senior Center (3050 Lake Tahoe Blvd.). 12 Powers Candle Lighting Ceremony. Join us beforehand for caroling with OneVoice and light refreshments from 6:30-7pm.

Christmas Day: Please note that we will NOT have Sunday service on Christmas Day.

Adopt-a-family/Hands and Hearts: We have decided to serve 1 family this year with holiday gifts, based on our current Hands & Hearts fund balance. We are expecting the fund to grow, as most people contribute to it at the end of the year. As this happens, we can always choose to adopt additional families from the Women’s Center.

Burning Bowl Ceremony: Saturday, December 31st, 7-8 pm at the Senior Center (3050 Lake Tahoe Blvd.).


ONGOING EVENTS IN THE OFFICE (we’ll remain at 2489 Lake Tahoe Blvd at least through December):

Wednesdays, NOON-12:45, PRAYER/MEDITATION CIRCLE is the best 45 minute God vacation/spa package you can give yourself. As with everything in Unity, we start with ourselves, sitting to align with the Divine Presence of Love we are in Truth. From that consciousness we are able to hold a new perspective of hope, clarity and well-being, grounded in wholeness, for ourselves, everyone in our prayer list and the entire world.

Awakening Wednesdays, every Wednesday evening, 6:45-8:15pm A time where we can take the principles we talk about and bring them deeper into our understanding. Through meditation, circle sharing, book studies and shared tools we create a fun and inspiring time to share and grow together. Please join us! Our book study on Ernest Holmes’, “How to Change Your Life” begins November 2nd…please join us anytime even if you haven’t read the book or attended prior classes. After we conclude this one we’re considering studying the newest book by Conversations with God’s author, Neale Donald Walsch, entitled The Storm before the Calm.


SUNDAY CELEBRATION SERVICES: (we’ll be at the Senior Center at least through November…check your email updates or call for the date of our 1st Sunday in the new space!) Click Here To Request the Weekly Email Update

As a loving reminder, our Celebration Services begin right on time at 10am. We appreciate your support in this.

12 POWERS TALKS:

arrow November 6th: The power of Release: “Lost in Space” (wear russet)

arrow December 4th: The power of Life (wear red)


FROM THE COUNCIL: (by Karen Sanders)

What an interesting year it has been so far, in so many ways! Shortly after being elected to your Council, I considered resigning due to a health diagnosis I received around the time of the election. However, I thought “well here I am, and God must have a plan and will help me through this. I must be here for a reason.” I am very glad I stayed and am on the Council. No matter how I feel going into a meeting or other activity, I always feel uplifted afterwards and that I am a part of something meaningful and worthwhile. Unity at the Lake has held a special place in my heart for many years. It has been my refuge, my family and my place of spiritual growth. And now, things are even more exciting! After so many years of “holding the space” and visioning and praying for our own building – it’s here!! Soon we will be in our own building which will be a reflection of a co-creation by so many of our dedicated members. I, surely along with everyone else, am thrilled about the prospect of having a space that we can call our own. A space that will be ours every day of the week and that will represent who we are. A building that will be a warm and welcoming presence in the community, open to all who seek to grow in their spiritual awareness. Surely this is a lesson in patience and faith! I am very honored to be a member of your Council of Trustees during this very momentous transition in the life of Unity at the Lake! I trust and hope that I am making a positive, forward transition as well! I pray the same for all of you.

Peace, Love & Blessings


SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES:

Youth Empowerment Program: We had a meeting a few Sundays ago and some wonderful ideas were presented. We are very excited to be beginning a new chapter in UATL history. This includes a beautiful permanent space for our Youth program(s) and for the time being at least our own playground equipmentJ. It is also a perfect time for a new YEP coordinator. This has always been (and remains) a paid position. What better way to usher it in than with a strong core of adults to encircle our special young ones and let them know we value them and that their journey is of primary importance to us?

Greeter: If you enjoy smiling and giving hugs, and it is important to you that everyone is lovingly welcomed who walks through the doors on a Sunday morning, you are the perfect person to be a greeter. Join the team regularly or just once in a while. We are looking for a greeter for Sunday, November 11th and any Sunday beyond.


FUN(D)RAISING:

Our Harvesting Our Dreams event at Harvey’s was a blast! Besides the tremendous fun and dancing (thank you Unitics!!) as well as food and camaraderie we shared, Unity at the Lake netted approximately $3300 (which means the Women’s Center will receive a check for around $330). Our funraising team will be looking to expand on all the very successful events we had this year, which also included the Murder Mystery Dinner and yard sale.


PUBLIC RELATIONS:

This team is currently being organized and its vision is to spread the good news of our teachings, services and activities with our greater Tahoe community. This will involve, among other things, ways to use our new tagline (celebrating and inspiring a positive spiritual life) as well as making sure everyone knows about our new, beautiful sacred space and the unlimited ways it will allow us to serve the community. Please let us know if you are interested in joining either this or our fun(d)raising team, or if you just have an idea to pass along.


FAITH IN ACTION:

In accordance with universal spiritual law, Unity at the Lake tithes 10% on every dollar we take in. We joyfully affirmed and celebrated our abundance thru tithing to the following during July-August, 2011: * Masankho Banda *SLT Women’s Center Girl’s Empowerment Program *West Central Region, Unity Worldwide Ministries *Unity in the Community *Diane Bush *Unity of Joplin *Unity Institute Total of outgoing tithes for this period was $1,226.36. Thank you, God!

As of 8/31/11, our bank balances are as follows: Bank of the West Checking: $4,343.83 (covers everyday spending and bills) Bank of the West Savings (our Hands and Hearts for Christmas fund): $129.49 Everbank Checking (general reserve fund): $18,016.99 (of which $3523 constitutes the Ministerial fund) Everbank Money Market (building fund): $27,244.32


SPECIAL THANKS:

Thank you to Holly & Karen, from “Holly’s Place” (our new next-door-neighbors) for hostessing our guest musician, Chris Waltz. He was well-taken care of in a place filled with love.

Special thanks to everyone for just being you, marvelous you; for holding the dream, for your yearning to bring your wholeness alive, for all you do coming from that place of all you are.


FROM OUR PRAYER CHAPLAINS, by Kristina Hoffman

It was truly a blessing to participate in this year’s International Day of Peace! On September 21st, our Unity at the Lake Prayer Chaplains shared a beautiful ceremony at Regan beach…we blessed our peace pole and proclaimed “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 8 different languages, we sang some wonderful peace chants together and we each read aloud selected prayers from different faith traditions and cultures. What a sacred time to honor our oneness and create more harmony & peace in the world! I would like to share with you the prayers that called to my heart:

“My Morning Prayer” by Abby Willowroot

Bless this day, keep me safe and whole, kind and compassionate
Bless my path today, help me to act with wisdom and live in perpetual gratitude
Bless my human family who are everywhere and everyone
Bless the creatures and plants May all life be blessed this day

A Prayer for the World” by Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges,
The bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender, or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun be so strong that we will see all people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain, bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven. Amen.


SOME INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES:

“I dwell in possibility”, Emily Dickenson

“Where love reigns the impossible may be attained”, Indian traditional


CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE:

UNITYATTHELAKE.ORG! Our Sunday talks are now available on our website, beginning shortly after each Sunday service. Tell your friends! This is a wonderful way to introduce other folks to the Unity message. You can make donations (for regular tithes, building fund, Minister’s Fund and Hands and Hearts) and purchase all of OneVoice’s CDs, Stew and Hillary’s meditation CD Journeys to the Heart, plus CDs of Sunday celebration services, directly from the website via PayPal or credit card.


Update from the Bittmans’ on their ministry training:

We’ve enrolled in a 2-year program to become ordained Interfaith Ministers. The school, located in New York City, is called the International Center for Interfaith Studies (ISIS). The school directors have been training Interfaith Ministers for 30 years and their former school had NGO status with the United Nations (as will ISIS, but it’s a brand new school).

All the course work will be done online, by listening to CD recordings of the actual classes, and over conference calls. There are other requirements as well, all of which we can do right here in our community. The regular curriculum for this first year officially begins in January, but we’ve already started doing reading assignments, writing papers, and participating in conference calls. We will be attending 1 on-site retreat at the end of each school year (which we’re very excited about, both being born and raised in NYC and not having been back in almost 25 years).

We tremendously appreciate Unity at the Lake’s financial and emotional support in this endeavor. We’re excited to deepen our understanding of the many paths to God, and to a bridge, bringing even more of an energy of openness and unity to our community. Ordination will be in June of 2013. To contribute to the Minister’s Fund, please mark your check accordingly. You can also go online and use Paypal or use the little yellow envelopes at Sunday services, checking off “Minister’s Fund”.


A Fun Bio Sketch to know about Paige Rice, Council Vice-President:

Occupation: Dog slave

Hobbies/interests: Travel, animals

Favorite movie: “Out of Africa”

Favorite music: Country

Favorite other pastime: Hiking and skiing, learning new things (especially about other cultures)

Greatest influence on your life & why: My dad, because he taught me about integrity very early in my life

Best advice you were ever given: From my dad, “Do something you want to do for your living and don’t give up your dream”r

Describe yourself in 5 words: persistent, positive, compassionate and never settle

unity

If you miss the format of our past newsletters and would like to volunteer your skills in that regard in the future please let us know!


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