UU Barn Blog

Children and Youth Faith Development Classes OPEN HOUSE – Sunday, March 26, 2107

People often wonder what we mean by Faith Development in Unitarian Universalism. One way of understanding different stages of faith development is to use an analogy of trees. SAPLINGS are those folks, regardless of age, who are relatively new to Unitarian Universalism, perhaps coming out of a faith tradition that didn’t work for them, who define themselves by what they DON’T believe. TREES are those folks who have engaged with Unitarian Universalism and who define themselves by what they DO believe. And OLD GROWTH trees are those, from youth through adulthood, who define themselves by what they Do believe and what they DO to act on those beliefs.*

Our goal in Faith Development is to grow UUs who integrate their beliefs and core values with their actions. What does it mean to be part of the “interconnected web of existence” in this faith community? How do we grow and mature into being a congregation that has the strength to change ourselves and our world?

Some say it starts with the children…so even if you are not involved with the Children and Youth program at UUCNH you are invited to our Open House to meet people and find out what is going on in this part of our faith community.

This Sunday, March 26, during coffee hour, you are invited to come to the classrooms upstairs and in the nursery wing. Look around, chat with teachers, and collect leaves from each class.  If you present leaves from each room to Melissa Nelson in the library, you will be entered in the drawing for a terrific gift basket donated by the Stewardship Team to be raffled that day.

Sapling, Tree or Old Growth, we invite you to make connections with our classes.  With nurture and care our roots will go deeper and wider…

Jennifer Halperin
Interim Director of Lifespan Faith Development

*This analogy by Starr Austin, UU Credentialed Educator

PSI (Philosophical, Spiritual Insights) Group

The goal of this group has been to look for meaning and connection in the Worlds of Science, Philosophy and Spirituality. As an off-shoot of the Jesus Discussion Group in 1995, the members began with a search for an understanding of Christian Fundamentalism but quickly moved on to the mysteries of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Evolution.

From there, topics ranged even further, from Spirituality and the Brain, to the nature of communication with the Divine, to the development of human nature through Darwin’s theory of Sexual Selection, an upcoming topic for 2017 based on The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller.

Psychology was also investigated, from man-woman relationships through verbal self-defense. A particularly popular topic was the psychological nature of Evil, and the notion that despite the horror of the evening news, humanity as a whole is becoming more moral with passing years.

Each topic was/is based on at least one landmark book in its field and presented once a month in open discussion form. As with the Jesus Discussion Group, questions and differing opinions are encouraged and afforded respect.

PSI has also seen a few hundred attendees over the years. Some stay for an entire topic, as many as 6-7 sessions, some for a few years. Please join us!

Tony Palermo

Green Living Ideas to: Take Action for our Health and Environment

What It Takes:  Easy – Time to Sign EWG Petitions you Support

1) Review petitions for which Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) is requesting support. 1

  • Tell FDA to Remove Lead from Cosmetics
  • Tell Cosmetic companies to disclose fragrance ingredients
  • Tell EPA to Take action on Chromium-6 (Erin Brockovich chemical) still in tap water of all 50 states
  • Tell the EPA to Take action on Bee-killing pesticides
  • Tell FDA to ban PFCS in food wrappers
  • Tell Big Food to label GMOs
  • Tell EPA to Ban Endocrine-disrupting weed killer –banned in other countries
  • Grow Organics
  • Tell Congress to Label packaging with BPA
  • Thank the Big Food companies that have agreed to label GMOs
  • Tell Sara Lee, Weight Watchers and others to take endocrine disruptor propyl paraben out of our food
  • Tell Nail Polish Brands to stop using endocrine-disrupting chemicals
  • Tell food companies to stop using cancer causing potassium bromate in their products

2) Take action. Click here to sign ones you support: http://www.ewg.org/take-action

What You Get: Knowledge to avoid many products and reduce consumer demand for them

World Benefit: Less cancer causing and endocrine disrupting chemicals in our food, products and environment.

References: 1) http://www.ewg.org/take-action

Green Living Ideas: Clothes Washing – Help minimize climate change and save money

Green Living Ideas: Clothes Washing – Help minimize climate change and save money

 What it takes:  EASY – Habit change

Wash items in cold water when hot water is not needed for sanitation purposes. Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer1. New laundry detergents are designed for cold water. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains or items that need additional sanitation such as underwear, towels, facecloths, etc. 2, washing in cold water will generally do a good job of cleaning. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.

Run full loads. Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load.

Run full, but not overfull loads.  

Use the high speed spin or extended spin option. This will decrease the amount of time it takes your clothes to dry.

What you get: Reduces water heating and electric bills. Reduces drying time.

World Benefit: Reduces the pollution created from generating energy you no longer use. 

References: 1) https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances/clothes_washers?qt-consumers_product_tab=2#qt-consumers_product_tab 2) http://www.medicaldaily.com/laundry-bacteria-could-be-your-clean-clothes-ways-reduce-germ-growth-your-wash-253557

Green Living Ideas: Clothes Drying – Help minimize climate change and reduce your bills

Green Living Ideas:   Clothes Drying – Help minimize climate change and reduce your bills

 What it takes:  EASY – Habit change

Use sensor drying instead of timed drying on your clothes dryer. This ensures the dryer will automatically shut off when clothes are dry1. This feature saves energy and reduces wear and tear on clothes from over-drying.

Use the low heat setting for clothes drying unless high heat is needed for sanitation purposes. Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting use less energy1.

When extra sanitation is required consider hanging clothes outside in the sun. The sun is just as effective as bleach and considered to be one of the toughest killers of germs2.

Run full loads. Run full, but not over packed loads.

Use the high speed spin or extended spin option on your clothes washer. This will decrease the amount of time it takes your clothes to dry.

What you get: Reduces energy bills, drying time and wear and tear on clothes.

World Benefit: Reduces the pollution created from generating energy you no longer use. 

References: 1) https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances/clothes_dryers

2) http://www.medicaldaily.com/laundry-bacteria-could-be-your-clean-clothes-ways-reduce-germ-growth-your-wash-253557

Green Living Ideas: Eating – Reduce your greenhouse gas footprint and eat healthier

Green Living Ideas:   Eating – Reduce your greenhouse gas footprint and eat healthier

 What It Takes:  Easy/Medium – Eating habit change, maybe additional food cost

Lifecycle assessments of total greenhouse gas emissions reveal that all protein is not created equal.1 As you can see from the chart below the number of kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per kg (kg CO2e/kg) of food varies significantly. 

Make small changes to exchange foods with high emissions to ones with lower emissions.  Eating 4 oz. of beef is the equivalent emissions of driving your car over 6 miles.1 Just switching from beef to pork makes a difference. Incorporating more plant based protein makes an even bigger difference.

Minimize food waste. Just buy what you need. It is estimated that 20% of produced meat is discarded.1

Eat appropriate portion sizes. Meat is important in many diets to get needed vitamins, minerals and protein. However, eating a lot of red and processed meats has been associated with increased risks of heart disease, certain cancers and in some studies, diabetes. 1 If you eat the equivalent of one less burger per week for a year, it is like taking your car off the road for 320 miles.1  

Eat more grass-fed, no antibiotic/hormone, and/or pasture raised meat, eggs and dairy. Eat wild fish. This reduces grain-fed emissions, antibiotic resistance and exposure to hormones and toxins. 1 Try reducing portion sizes of more expensive proteins and adding more plant based protein to offset most of the increase in cost while maintaining proper nutrition.

What You Get: Eating less, greener and healthier meat is good for your health

World Benefit: Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves animal circumstances. 

References: 1) http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/ This link includes extensive references to data sources including emissions and health studies. EWG.org Environmental working group is a powerhouse of well researched information on chemicals in/on everyday products, food, etc. It allows consumers to make informed choices for personal health and the environment.

Green Living Ideas for: Bringing a reusable instead of bringing home a disposable

Green Living Ideas for:   Bringing a reusable instead of bringing home a disposable 

What It Takes:  Easy/Medium – Planning Ahead

If you already own the reusable, then bring it along. If you don’t own a reusable version, then you need to consider the number of times you will use the item.  Then decide if a reusable makes more sense than using a disposable. In some cases, the disposable may be the most environmentally friendly option from a climate change perspective even if it is less environmentally friendly from a landfill perspective. 

When you buy a cup of coffee or a drink, bring your own mug or cup. Some coffee shops offer a 10 cent discount, if you bring your own. 

When you go out to eat, bring your own container to carry home your leftovers. If you bring a container you can use to reheat the food and/or eat from then it is no more dishwashing or energy usage than if you brought food home in a disposable and transferred it to another dish for reheating and/or eating. 

When you go to the store, bring your own bags. If you don’t already own reusable bags, then just reuse the ones you got at the grocery store last time. Production of the plastic bag produces less greenhouse gases, uses less water and chemicals compared to paper or cotton.1 Aldi’s has durable reusable plastic bags with handles for 10 cents each.

What You Get: Less trash to dispose of and possible discount for bringing your own.

World Benefit: Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from production of the disposables and reduces trash.  

References: 1) https://cascade.uoregon.edu/fall2012/expert/expert-article/

Green Living Ideas: Eating – Help rid the world of dangerous chemicals used on food

Green Living Ideas:  Eating – Help rid the world of dangerous chemicals used on food

What It Takes:  Medium/Hard Time to educate yourself and change eating habits
Eat Organic. If you can afford it, do it. It is good for your health, the health of the people growing the food and the environment. 


You can do a lot! Much more than I ever thought. EWG.org figured out how people can eat well on a SNAP allowance ($6.67/day). EWG shows you how to pick foods to minimize chemical contamination and cost while maximizing nutrition. Over 1200 items were evaluated. Details for each are provided in the methodology PDF.  EWG hand-picked the best 100+ that pack in nutrients at a good price with the fewest pesticides and contaminants. 1 See the sample shopping list in the PDF below to eat well on $35/week. Be sure to update recommendations based on the just released 2017 dirty dozen and clean 15 lists and price changes. Things change, pears used to be on the clean list but, recent tests show they are now heavily contaminated with chemicals. For every $25 spent on food, spend $6 on vegetables, $5 fruits, $4 grains, $4-5 proteins, $4 dairy and $1-2 oils/other. EWG teaches you how including recipes to make it delicious too. 

Buy organic at Sam’s Club, Costco, etc. Their fresh choices are limited, but some of the prices are comparable to non-organic. For example, one lb. of organic spinach, kale mix, or spring mix today were $3.98 at Sam’s Club. 

Avoid the 2017 dirty dozen and buy the 2017 clean 15, if not organic.

  • DIRTY (most residual chemicals) 2 strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes
  • CLEAN – (least residual chemicals) 3 sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit 

Buy one organic item per week. Buying just one increases demand which, in turn, will increase availability and affordability. Organic is much cheaper today than it was even a few years ago.

What You Get: Information to minimize chemicals and maximize nutrition per dollar spent.  You might even save money.

World Benefit: Less toxic chemical exposure to consumers, growers and people living in agricultural areas. Less use means less demand and less production.

References: 1) http://www.ewg.org/goodfood/ website with methodology
http://static.ewg.org/reports/2012/goodfood/pdf/goodfoodonatightbudget.pdf  with $35 shopping list
2) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php
3) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean_fifteen_list.php

Green Living Idea – Dishwashing


Let your dishwasher do the work whenever possible. Use the dishwasher for items that are dishwasher safe. The dishwasher uses 85% less water and about 40% less energy to clean a 12 piece place setting as compared to hand washing according to a European Study. (see references below)

Skip rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Just scrape off the solid remains and skip the rinse. Today’s dishwashers are designed to power off mess.
Run full loads. It takes the same resources for one dish as a full load.

Saves time spent on hand washing and rinsing. Reduces water and energy bills.

Reduces the energy and chemical usage for water treatment as well as the pollution created from treating water and generating energy you no longer use.

1  )landtechnik.uni-bonn.de/research/appliance-technology/all-projects/a-european-comparison-of-cleaning-dishes-ht1by-hand

Have a green living idea that works for you?  Please forward to conniemhester@yahoo.com for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.

Jesus Discussion Group

With the goal of presenting the Jesus of history and scholarship, this group has met, one Sunday per month, at UUCNH since 1992. Over 300 people have stayed an average of 5-6 sessions.

Presentations involve an approximately 2 year cycle, beginning with the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus, and then delving into what the evidence, mostly biblical, tells us about the man from Galilee: his family, occupation, philosophy and quotes, along with his birth religion and cultural milieu.

From that point, the gospels are discussed in detail: authorship and time of composition, as well as editorial concepts. Special note is made of the trajectory of various notions of Jesus’ status on the way to divinity.

Stopping points along the way include the Nativity stories [purpose and divergences in Luke & Matthew], the events of his week in Jerusalem – arrest, death and resurrection – and the development of thought about Jesus as the Son of God, a process covering 300 years of history and “heresies.”

Some topics have been added by request: Jesus and Mysticism, the epistles of Paul, Gnosticism and the Apocryphal Gospels, among the most popular.

The presentations are open. Questions and discussions are always encouraged, and usually happen. Attendees in the past have ranged from Christians to agnostics to atheists to Eastern. All points of view are respected.

Tony Palermo