UU Barn Blog

UUCNH Committee of the Month – Sunday Services Team

In the early days of UUCNH, we didn’t have a minister, so all of the Sunday services were lay-led and we didn’t meet during the summer. It worked pretty well. Still, we felt that, if we were to become a vibrant focus for liberal religion in the community, we needed to grow past that stage. So we did, and it has worked.

Our ministers have led us to become that vibrant church we dreamed of. But ministers need out-of- the-pulpit time to rejuvenate and do their other church business, and we do have a history of lay-leadership that can support that need. The Sunday Services Team (SST) is the group that does this. In “official-ese” the SST “is charged with providing high-quality, dynamic Sunday services for UUCNH, in concert with the Minister” and “planning and coordinating all Sunday services that are not led by the Minister.”

“Support” is the key word.  While we (the SST) have a lot of autonomy, Scott is the boss.  He usually lets us roll on, but if he needs to have the last word, he does.  By contract and design, the minister is out of the pulpit once every month and for several weeks during the summer.  We keep a file of available UU speakers, brainstorm among ourselves, and listen to congregational ideas to find subjects and speakers for those Sundays. For each of those days, one of us serves as a coordinator to help design a service that has a coherent, relevant message and that uses at least one “service element” that speaks to every individual. For example, some in the congregation need a time to meditate, some need music, and some need to see the children’s involvement. We try to include those, and more, to be sure each service speaks to everyone.

Besides issues of content and presentation, a lot of seemingly distinct issues can affect the services. Parking, seating, sound system quality, visual theme, music, lay leadership, and accessibility are a few of them. We are to be responsible for, or more commonly, to share responsibility for taking care of such issues. For the most part, other committees handle them quite well and we stay out of the way, but occasionally the buck stops here.

And after Sunday is done, we go over each service to discuss what worked well and what didn’t. We always try to improve. That’s something you can help us with, too.  We look forward to hearing from you. You’ll find a “Service Topics Suggestion Box” in Friendship Hall. We’ll be there, too, if you’d like to talk.

Sunday Services Team (Kathi Finch, James Clark, Mary Doubleday, Cris Graham, Julie Kant, Alex Landefeld, Randy Minnich)

Recycle EASY/MED Help minimize climate change, contamination of soil and water, and landfill usage

 Green Living Idea  

UUA Green Sanctuary    Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it!

Green Living Ideas for:   Recycling

What It Takes:  Easy/Med – Time and effort to buy recyclable items and recycle them

1) Buy items that contain recycled content and/or can be recycled after use.

2) Learn and follow the requirements of trash and recycling in your township, borough, etc. Unfortunately every municipality is different. To help make this easier, we will be adding links to the requirements for many townships to the UUCNH Website Green Sanctuary page.

3) Properly recycle Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). When possible buy less toxic products that do not require special handling. Check here  to see if your township picks up HHW.  If not, look for special collection events.

 4) Properly recycle electronic products. Electronic products are made from valuable resources which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling them conserves resources, avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials. Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. Recycling one million cell phones recovers 35,000 lbs. of copper, 772 lbs. of silver, 75 lbs. of gold and 33 lbs. of palladium.2 Check here to see if your township picks up electronics.  If not, look for special collection events.

5) Collection Events

Allegheny County “household chemicals” details here . NOTE ** All events 9am to 1pm

  • May 6 (North Park Pool parking lot, Allegheny County)
  • May 20 (Concurrent Technologies Corporation ETF Facility, Johnstown, Cambria County)
  • July 22 (Wild Things Park, Washington County)
  • August 19 (Boyce Park, Allegheny County)
  • September 16 (South Park, Allegheny County)
  • October 14 (Bradys Run Park, Beaver County)

Allegheny County “hard to recycle – e waste” details here . NOTE ** All events 9am to 1pm

  • Saturday, May 13th Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills
  • Saturday, June 24th Quaker Valley High School
  • Saturday, July 29th La Roche College
  • Saturday, August 12th Century III Mall
  • Saturday, October 7th Settlers Cabin Park

Find Butler County collection details here

Saturday May 6, 20, Jun. 3, 24, July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 14, 28, Nov. 18, Dec. 16

129 Ash Stop Road, Evans City, PA 16033 by appointment 

What You Get: A cleaner environment to live in 

World Benefit: Reduced landfill usage. Less contamination of soil and water. Less consumption of raw materials. Less greenhouse gas emissions. And, it creates recycling jobs 1

References: 1) https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics

                           2) https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling


Most Empowering Ideas so far: Eating and Consuming – Not just for the rich anymore

Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it!
We are just starting to explore ideas for green living and learn about the tradeoffs between competing ideas. It is clear that green living isn’t the same for any two people because everyone’s circumstances and priorities are different.
The weekly green living idea hopefully increases your knowledge and presents some alternatives. It is then up to you to make the choices that are best for your vision of green living, doing your best, in your circumstances and in your time.
Most Empowering Ideas so far: Eating and Consuming – Not just for the rich anymore
Get many of those cancer causing, endocrine disrupting chemicals out of your body, off your skin and out of your home. This knowledge empowers everyone even those on a very tight budget. It helps close the environmental gap between rich and poor (environmental justice). Maybe one of the best donations we could make to NHCO in the future, might be education on how to spend less while eating and consuming healthier.
Due to my circumstances, as a lymphoma survivor (blood cancer strongly linked to chemicals, particularly pesticides), chemical avoidance and removal from our environment is near and dear to my heart.  Your priorities are surely different. Send what is near and dear to your heart to conniemhester@yahoo.com  or share in the comments.

Promote Reuse EASY/MED Give used goods another life

Green Living Ideas for:   Promoting Reuse – Giving things another life

What It Takes:  Easy/Med – Time and effort to buy, sell, give and take used goods

1) Shop at rummage sales, yard sales, etc. The UUCNH rummage sale is just around the corner. You will get great items at great prices and support UUCNH at the same time. Be sure to tell all your friends. It is the perfect opportunity to try this green living idea.
2) Shop at consignment and resale shops or online for used goods. Some of the shops are also non-profits that give back to the community, like Wear Woof, and Treasure House Fashions making shopping there even more beneficial.
3) When you have an unwanted and usable item, pass it along. Sell it, give it to a friend or donate it to a good cause. Sell things at a consignment shop, yard sale or online. Want to donate it? Get it ready for the UUCNH rummage sale in May.  Practice green living and unclutter your home at the same time.

4) Below are just a few places to use. There are many more. 

Give and Receive on Freecycle https://groups.freecycle.org/group/PittsburghPA/posts/all

Not your typical item you want to buy or donate?
Building Material Reuse – Construction Junction https://www.cjreuse.org/
Not your typical item you want to donate?
Pet (fish tank, carriers, etc.) – http://www.animalrescue.org/
What You Get: You will save money, support good causes and/or make money.
World Benefit: Reduced Emissions, chemicals, and consumption of resources from producing and transporting a newly made item instead of reusing one.


Consuming – Med – Help eliminate toxic, cancer causing, and endocrine disrupting chemicals from our products and food

Green Living Idea For This Week

UUA Green Sanctuary   

Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it!

Green Living Ideas For Environmentally Conscious Consuming  

What It Takes:  Med – Time to educate yourself and make changes

1) Use Environmental Working Group, EWG.org, databases to check the score of products you currently use. EWG scores are backed by detailed scientific data and research results.  You can look at the consumer summaries of the recommendations or dig deep into the details of a specific product, chemical, food additive, etc. 1 EWG has extensive databases on: personal care2, cleaning3 and food products4.

2) Buy products and food that have lower EWG scores, i.e. less toxic chemicals and unhealthy additives. In addition to being better for your health, it helps to expand market demand for those items. As the market grows, more and more producers will choose to fill the demand for healthier and more environmentally friendly products, which in turn will make these products more affordable and available.

What You Get: Information to live a healthier life

World Benefit: Not buying products with hazardous chemicals and additives lessens demand, which in turn lessens usage and eventually production of those substances ridding the environment of them.


1) http://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides

2) http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ 

3) http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners

4) http://www.ewg.org/foodscores .


Green Living Ideas To Reduce Unwanted Catalog Junk Mail

Green Living Ideas For This Week

UUA Green Sanctuary   

Small changes made by many people make big changes for our world. Be part of it! 

What It Takes:     Easy – Time to enter catalogs you don’t want.

1) Make a pile of unwanted catalogs instead of recycling them right away.

2) When you have enough, use catalogchoice.org to stop catalogs you don’t want from coming to your house.  It is pretty straightforward. Just create an account, create profiles for each name, and then enter the information about the catalogs you want to stop. Then recycle the catalogs. Since marketing lists are prepared well in advance it may be 2-3 months before the catalogs actually stop coming.

 3) Repeat this process periodically as new catalogs you don’t want arrive.

What You Get: Less catalogs and paper to recycle.   

World Benefit: Saves trees, reduces chemical use and emissions from production, delivery and recycling of unwanted catalogs and reduces landfill usage.

References: 1) https://www.catalogchoice.org/


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