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Past & Future Fora in 2009 at
Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

"The first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum."
-- Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965) , New York Times, Jan. 19, 1962

Since 1975, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) in Knoxville, Tennessee, has complemented its Sunday morning worship services with a "forum" on secular various topics. In 2009, there were (or will have been) a total of 48 fora (every Sunday except Christmas, Annual Meeting, 60th Anniversary Sunday, and once due to last year's tragegy), all of which are described below. Click here for information on the current forum and on future fora.

Click here for the home page of the church website.
Click here for a sample newsletter.
Click here for information on all past fora in 2007 at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
Click here for information on all past fora in 2008 at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Sunday, January 4, 2009 Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Humanism.” (This forum was postponed from Nov. 30, 2008.) Humanism puts the responsibility for ethical behavior upon each individual and focuses on rational rather than supernatural explanations. According to the UUA website, Humanism is the largest spiritual identity group within Unitarian Universalism. But -- according to former UUA president William H. Schulz -- UU humanists are often uncomfortable and fear that their number is dwindling. Rev. Howard Box signed the Humanist Manifesto II in 1973 and the Humanist Manifesto III (also know as "Humanism and Its Aspirations" in 2003. He will trace the history of American Humanism and review its status within UU'ism today. Howard resides in Oak Ridge and was minister of Oak Ridge UU Church from 1976 until 1991. He remains an active member of ORUUC, as well as the American Humanist Association (AHA) and the Rationalists of East Tennessee (RET).

Sunday, January 11, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Legacies of the Japanese Removal and Incarceration during World War II.” Jeffrey Kovac and Greg Congleton will discuss civil liberties and national security issues in the context of the Japanese removal, focusing on the story of Gordon Hirabayashi, a young Quaker who resisted the evacuation order. On Japan 15-16, TVUUC's Performing Arts and Lecture Series (PALS) will present "Dawn's Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi" starring Ryun Yu in the same role he created at the show’s L.A. premier in 2007, and UT will hold a two-day symposium on the removal and incarceration. Jeff Kovac is a member of TVUUC and professor of chemistry at UT. Greg Congleton is a local actor who will direct the two performances at TVUUC.

Sunday, January 18, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Martin Luther King, Jr., & Barak Obama.” On the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and two days before the inauguration of President Barak Obama, Knoxville lawyer and TVUUC member Harry Wiersema will lead a discussion of civil rights issues of the past and future. On inauguration day, the Knoxville Presidential Inauguration Celebration Committee will honor the following local "civil right pioneers:" [NB: Harry Wiersema never confirmed the plan for this forum, and he did not attend on January 18.]
Harry Wiersema - Arrested in the 1960's for protesting against acts of segregation; active in the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
Felix & Margret Gaiter - First black contractor at ORNL, connected to corp. Knoxville during years of work in social justice.
Guy & Candy Carawan - Folk musicians who turned “We Shall Overcome” into the fight song of the civil-rights movement.
The Maryville Six - Reintegrated Maryville College in 1954 after a fifty-year ban on blacks' being allowed to attend.
Harold Middlebrook - Pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ; staffer with MLK, Jr., in SCLC in Memphis.
Arnold Cohen - Knoxville attorney who has been involved with the Race Relations Ctr. of East Tennessee.
Avon Rollins, Sr. - Director of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center; founding member of SNCC.
Sarah Moore Greene - Retired educator; first black member of the Knoxville school board,.
Bob Booker - Historian, helped integrate the city’s lunch counters and movie theaters.
The Clinton 12 - Integrated Clinton High School in Anderson County in 1956.
Theotis Robinson, Jr. - First black undergraduate to integrate UT.
Betty Reddick - Leader of the labor movement in the 1960's.

Sunday, January 25, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Thinking about Liberalism and US Religion." What do we mean when we say Unitarian Universalists are "religious liberals"? And how much "liberalism" do we share with other American churches? Dr. Mark Hulsether, UT Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies, will help us find answers to these questions. After earning a M.Div. degree at Yale University Divinity School and a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Hulsether has studied the interplay of religion and social issues in US history. The most recent of his three books, "Religion, Culture, and Politics in the Twentieth Century United States," was co-published in 2007 by Columbia University Press and Edinburgh University Press. He is currently writing an article on liberalism and US religion for the Blackwell Companion to Religion in America.

Sunday, February 1, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "History of Tennessee Valley and Oak Ridge UU Churches”. Presented by Jeff Kovac and others. After several attempts -- including a Universalist Church in Harriman -- liberal religion finally became permanently established in East Tennessee in 1949. On February 8, we shall celebrate the 60th anniversary of both of TVUUC and of our sister church in Oak Ridge, and this forum is intended to review the highlights of our first 60 years.

Sunday, February 8, 2009 -- No forum today. Celebration this Sunday of TVUUC's 60th anniversary, including dedication of the Greg McKendry Fellowship Hall by Rev. Bill Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Associaiton of Congregations (UUA . Click here for celebration schedule. In the afternoon, Rev. Sinkford will deliver the first Linda Kraeger memorial lecture at West Side Unitarian Universalist Church. Greg McKendry (left image and Linda Kraeger were murdered at TVUUC on July 27, 2008.

N.B. This forum was scheduled but canceled due to the risk of emotional conflict with the sentencing of the shooter on February 9.

Sunday, February 15, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "What is Heroism? A Discussion of 7/27” As shots rang out on July 27, 2008, five church members immedately rushed the shooter, and one paid with his life. Why did they take this risk? Were they "heroes"? John Bohstedt, Terry Uselton, and Michael Wilson will recount what they did and what they think about it now. It may be surprising that they had different motives and perceptions, that some of them don't think their actions were particularly "heroic," and that all three prefer to praise the congregation. After telling their own stories, the three men will open a discussion of what happened on 7/27 and how they and other church members and friends responded.

P.S. John Bohstedt had planned to hand out the following article during this forum:

"The Moment" by Amanda Ripley, Time Magazine, February 2, 2009

A plane crash is not a natural time for optimism. But maybe it should be. The ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River [on January 15, 2009], coming in the dark of winter in a country short on confidence, was more revealing than it was astonishing.

Let's start with the statistics: First, most plane crashes are more like this one than we think. More people survive than die. Aircraft in distress don't drop, screaming, out of the sky into the fires of hell. They end up on the ground or in water, and people must get out quickly. Those who fare best are usually those who are prepared: the pilot who has flown for four decades and trained for calamity; the man in the exit row who has read the safety card.

The rest of us, case studies say, become obedient and quiet. An instant camaraderie unifies strangers on a sinking ship or a bombed-out subway car. The overriding sound track is silence. After the Hudson crash, TV reporters badgered passengers, incredulous that there had not been shoving and hysteria. But if we asked all the survivors of all history's mishaps, we would hear the same patient reply: No, people were pretty calm, actually. Which is not to say they weren't terrified.

Imagine if this had been a scene from 24, if terrorists -- not geese -- had taken out the engines. The heroes would have been the rescuers -- Special Forces soldiers dangling from helicopters, Jack Bauer speedboating down the Hudson -- and the passengers would have been shrieking, panicking, useless.

The truth is more instructive, especially now. It turns out that even with grave danger all around, leaders can make gutsy decisions that end up being right. Regular people are quite capable of wresting open exit doors. Ferry captains, without waiting for orders, will make a beeline for trouble. We have the power to save ourselves. And we are more resilient than we think.

N.B. This forum was scheduled but postponed due to the illness of the presenter.

Sunday, February 15, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Human Aggression," As the shooter's trial approaches, we do not wish to discuss his circumstances -- or cause pain for anyone else -- but our thoughts naturally turn back to the tragedy of last July 27. Dr. Joe Barnhart has had many identities: Baptist minister, professor of philosophy and religious studies, novelist, skeptic, rationalist, and Unitarian Univeralist. He co-authored "Trust and Treachery: A Historical Novel of Roger Williams in America" with family friend Linda Kraeger, and their two families were sitting together at TVUUC on July 27, 2008, when Linda and Greg McKendry were killed. Long before this tragedy, Joe developed a personal interest in the subject of human aggression. He will share some personal insights and then lead a discussion of this troubling topic. This is the first of a series of three or four fora indirectly related to the shooting on July 27, 2008.
N.B. Rev. John Buehrens (UUA President 1993 to 2001, TVUUC Minister 1973 to 1981) will visit TVUUC on February 15.

Sunday, February 22, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Child Sexual Abuse Awareness & Prevention," presented by Susan Suafoa-Dinino, president and founder of SpeakingOut Against Child Sexual Abuse, Inc. (aka SpeakingOut). Child sexual abuse is a very REAL problem in today’s society. Most children who experience sexual abuse tell no one and therefore suffer alone. SpeakingOut raises awareness of this crime on behalf of all children who are being or may be sexually abused -- and on behalf of the adult survivors of sexual abuse. SpeakingOut also tries to remove two of the greatest obstacles in protecting children from sexual abuse -- denial and lack of education. But child sexual abuse is everyone's problem. And everyone needs to be aware of sexual abuse and to help agencies like SpeakingOut bring about its prevention.

Sunday, March 1, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Non-Violence," presented by Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA). Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., are the most famous practitioners of non-violence. Today the principle they espoused has many applications -- from international relations to social change to our local community and to our families. In 2008, OREPA proposed that Knoxville celebrate an official Year of Non-Violence. "I guess our message was heard," Ralph says. "The city replied, 'We don't do years, but we'll proclaim a Day of Non-Violence.'" Ralph is a Presbyterian minister and presented fora at TVUUC in 1999, 2001, and 2007. This is the second of our series of fora indirectly related to the shooting on July 27, 2008.

N.B. This forum included a presenttion by Isaac Kimes, TCASK Field Oganizer, Nashville, TN.

Sunday, March 8, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The Death Penalty Dilemma.” Tennesse has executed only five people since the death penalty was reinsated in 1976, but one execution just took place on February 4, and 94 people are still on death row -- the 10th highest number in the US. Rev. Marcia C. Free will explain how executions are decided and will advocate the position of the Tennessee Coallition to Abolish State Killing (TCASK). Rev. Free was minister of churches in Tampa, Florida, and Fresno and Torrance, California. She moved to Knoxville in November 2006 and serves here as a United Church of Christ chaplain, counsellor of the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, chair of the Knoxville Chapter of TCASK, and member of the Church of the Savior. The is the third of our series of fora indirectly related to the shooting on July 27, 2008.
N.B. Rev. Bob Swain (TVUUC Minister 1982 to 1989) will visit TVUUC on March 8.
N.B. March 8 is also the start of Daylight Savings Time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- " Adrift on American Streets" Sixteen-minute multimedia presentation, followed by disucssion. Photographer David Habercom, news broadcaster Matt Shafer Powell and musician Bob Deck worked on this project for two years. It consists of portraits and voices of 27 homeless people, and it is pretty powerful. Originally called "The Other Side of the Street," their colaboration is now on a DVD entitled "Adrift on American Streets." David has exhibited some of his photograhs at TVUUC. Matt has broadcast some of the voices on WUOT, and he received a broadcast journalism award for the work. He has also delivered sermons at TVUUC & ORUUC based on them. They view the presentaion as a tool for changing the conversation. The only voices are those of the homeless themselves, and Bob's music enfolds them with such solemnity, it pulls in the audience immediately. No matter what assumptions or posture a person brings, it crumbles in face of such a direct and personal presentation. Major Don Vick of the Salvation Army, who saw an early preview of this project, said, "Even we don't get to hear this."

Sunday, March 22, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: From First Steps to the Heavy Lifting.” Presented by Elizabeth Peelle, environmental sociologist and "lifelong observer of bureaucracies." At Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for 38 years, Elizabeth specializes in interactions between citizens and experts over such issues as nuclear power, nuclear waste, solar technology, and bioenergy. Her presentation on carbon footprints stems from work on global warming and carbon trading which she did for the National Farmers Union (NFU). Elizabeth has degrees in chemistry and sociology and an honorary Doctorate in Jurisprudence (JD). She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and was, for many years, the social action chair of Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church.

En Valle Sacrado de Peru, 30 ninos sin padres vive como un familia.

Sunday, March 29, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- " Mis viajes en todo el Perú." Jacob Green (age 19) shows slides and relates what he learned while traveling throughout Peru from January 20 until March 3, 2009. For part of this time, Jake lived and worked at Casa de Milagros in the Sacred Valley of the Incas near historic Machu Picchu. Founted by Mama Kia and operated by the Chandler Sky Foundation, Casa de Milagros (Home of Miracles) is a orphanage which heals the mind, body and spirit of many abandoned children living in poverty on the streets of Cusco and surrounding towns. Here at home, Jake and his boyfriend Conrad Honicker are active members of TVUUC's Spectrum Cafe and work to spread diversity and tolerance in Knoxville.

Sunday, April 5, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Meet Our New Lay Ministers,". Our senior minister, Rev. Chris Buice, will introduce as many as possible of our fifteen new lay ministers: Pat Bing, Melody Bolds, Jerry Bone, Nina Lee Braden, Shonna Cole, Terri Combs Orme, Larkie Gildersleeve, Ruth Martin, Mike Matvy, Carol McCold, Annette Mendola, Jim Reynolds, Carolyn Rogers, Ray Weeden, and Anne Whitney. After hearing a few words from each of the lay ministers, Chris will facilitate a discussion of the purposes and administration of the lay ministry program. This forum was arranged by Carolyn Rogers, TVUUC's lay ministry coordinator.
N.B. Rev. Ken MacLean (TVUUC Minister 1964 to 1972) will visit TVUUC on April 5.

Sunday, April 12, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- “The Memorial Garden: Our Sacred Ground.” The TVUUC Memorial Garden is a place of quiet retreat, as well as a dignified interment and memorial site for members of the church and their families. Nanne Johnson-Morgan (Chair) and other members of the Memorial Garden Committee will present this Easter Sunday forum. They will relate the history of the Garden, explain how you can reserve a site and/or purchase a nameplate, and tell how families are assisted during the interment process. Rev. Chris Buice will discuss the service, and other options, at the time of interment. This is your opportunity to learn more about the Memorial Garden. Informational brochures and application forms will be available, and you are invited to tour the springtime Garden during or after the second worship service.

Sunday, April 19, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The Story of Stuff.” Next Wednesday is Earth Day, and this forum is presented by the TVUUC Environmental Concerns Committee. Screening of the annimated film, The Story of Stuff, followed by a discussion led by Gene Burr and other committee members. According to the producers, The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. It exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
N.B. Church picnic today after second service, marking the end of TVUUC's 60th anniversary celebration (which began February 8, 2000).

Sunday, April 26, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Human Aggression," Dr. Joe Barnhart has had many identities: Baptist minister, professor of philosophy and religious studies, novelist, skeptic, rationalist, and Unitarian Univeralist. He co-authored "Trust and Treachery: A Historical Novel of Roger Williams in America" with family friend Linda Kraeger, and their two families were sitting together at TVUUC on July 27, 2008, when Linda and Greg McKendry were killed. Long before this tragedy, Joe developed a personal interest in the subject of human aggression. He will share some personal insights and then lead a discussion of this troubling topic.

N.B. This forum was scheduled for February 15, 2009, but postponed due to the illness of the presenter.

Sunday, May 3, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Yesterday and Today.” A screening of the special 20-minute slide presentation honoring TVUUC's 60th anniversary, followed by a discussion of TVUUC's first sixty years (1949-2009). The slide show was produced by past president Francis Jones, is narrated by current president Ted Jones, and features music by the TVUUC choir. Many TVUUC members appear in photographs taken by Debbie Ellis, Jenny Arthur, Karen Krogh, Ted and Francis Jones, and unidentified photographers of the past. Members of the TVUUC History Committee -- Jeff Kovac, Alan Moore, and Karen Yarbro -- will attend this forum in order to answer questions and to promote discussion of church history.

Sunday, May 10, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Camp Quest of the Smoky Mountains: It's beyond belief!" Non-Christian children have a tough time growng up in the Bible Belt. Their situtation will be discussed by Jonas Holdeman, member both of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church (WUUC) and of the Rationalists of East Tennessee (RET). Jonas directs Camp Quest Smoky Mountains which -- since 2002 -- has provided a supportive summer experience for the children of Unitarian Universalists, Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, and others who hold to a naturalistic and not supernatural world view. In partnership with the Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS), this year's Camp Quest will take place July 26-August 2, 2009, at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in the Great Smoky Mounains National Park. See the website or phone 865-966-6478 -- or attend this forum -- for further information.
N.B. Today is Mother's Day. Rev. Lynn Strauss (TVUUC Minister 1991 to 2001) visits TVUUC today.

Sunday, May 17, 2009: -- No forum today -- N.B.: No forum on this date because of the TVUUC Annual Meeting. This is also the first Sunday of TVUUC's summer schedule. On subsequent Sundays (and until the winter schedule resumes on August 23), the forum will take place at 11:15 AM after the single worship service at 10:00 AM.

Sunday, May 24, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Tomorrow: Tragedy and healing in Knoxville.” This forum honors TVUUC teenager Olivia (Livy) Spooner, winner of the 2009 Youth History Prize of the Unitarian Universalist History Society (UUHS). Livy will read from her prize-winning essay, and a discussion will follow. Organized around the lyrics of the song "Tomorrow," the essay is a beautiful and sensitive chronicle of the tragedy during last summer's performance of Annie, Jr. and of the months of healing which followed. See inside this newsletter for the text of the resolution which the Knox County Commission adopted on April 27 to honor Livy. Go to for the on-line text of her 16-page essay.

WHEREAS, high school junior Olivia Spooner has been awarded the "Seed of Change Award" from Community Shares; and
WHEREAS, according to Community Shares, Olivia "has acted as peer educator for Planned Parenthood, an advocate for the spiritual development of other young people and a leader who calmly directed children to safety after the shooting at Tennessee Valley UU Church last summer;" and
WHEREAS, Olivia Spooner has also been awarded the Youth History Prize by the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society (UUHS) for her essay, "Tomorrow: Tragedy and Healing in Knoxville;" and
WHEREAS, Olivia has done a great amount of volunteer work in our community, some in conjunction with Academic Excellence Upward Bound, such as River Rescue, REACH, and clearing trails at Ijams Nature Center; and
WHEREAS, Olivia has volunteered over 100 hours at St. Mary’s Medical Center as a Volunteen, and has worked with special needs children as a Sunshine Ambassador; and
WHEREAS, Olivia is also involved in the Teen Advisory group at Fountain City Library; and
WHEREAS, at church, Olivia volunteers in the Religious Education classes, with Family Promise (a program for homeless families), and helps to coordinate "reunions" for the Annie cast kids (especially for those who could not bear to come back to the building), maintaining contact to help them, especially in the weeks after the shooting; and
WHEREAS, most recently, Olivia has initiated and now facilitates a Small Group Ministry specifically for the Annie cast children who attend TVUUC, which has been a pioneering effort in the Unitarian Universalist Association, to have a youth-led group; and
WHEREAS, Olivia participated in the Knoxville pilot program for peer education for Planned Parenthood called FYI, and was selected as one of 60 participants nationwide for Planned Parenthood’s Youth Leadership Summit; and
WHEREAS, Olivia is also helping coordinate AIDS awareness activities in Knoxville.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COMMISSION OF KNOX COUNTY AS FOLLOWS: The Knox County Commission is proud of Olivia Spooner, and proud to have this opportunity to honor her and her service to our community.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution be presented to Olivia Spooner.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution is to take effect from and after its passage, as provided by the Charter of Knox County, Tennessee, the public welfare requiring it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Give Me the Simple Life," presented by Dr. Robert M. DeRycke, TVUUC member and active in the Coalition for Mediation Awareness in Tennessee (CMAT). Bob has been a seeker of answers to life’s mysteries as long as he can remember. A native of Belgium, Bob taught French at UT for thirty years, consulted with companies, volunteered in prisons, hospitals, schools, and wrote countless essays on the art of living. He says “the simple life” allows us to turn challenges into opportunities, based on the idea that “we can have only one thought at a time.” Bob expects the forum audience to give him a vigorous challenge. To prepare for this forum, Bob asks you to recall the song popularized by Eartha Kitt and Rosemary Cloony:
"Give Me the Simple Life"
I don't believe in frettin' and grievin'; Why mess around with strife? I never was cut out to step and strut out. Give me the simple life.
Some find it pleasant dining on pheasant. Those things roll off my knife; Just serve me tomatoes; and mashed potatoes; Give me the simple life.
A cottage small is all I'm after, Not one that's spacious and wide. A house that rings with joy and laughter And the ones you love inside.
Some like the high road, I like the low road, Free from the care and strife. Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeed-y; Give me the simple life.
N.B.: Today begins the third year of fora organized by the present TVUUC forum committee.

Sunday, June 7, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth: Now What?” Presented by Prof. Richard N. Weinstein. Rick teaches general and cell biology at the University of Tennessee. He has been on three research expeditions to Antarctica, two of which were “deep field” projects involving several months of camping in remote areas. He is one of approximately 1,200 volunteers who have been trained by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore to present a version of the slide show featured in Gore's Academy Award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth. (Gore's ongoing work is directed by the Climate Project, a nonprofit organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.) This forum was proposed and arranged by Lorraine Hart.

Sunday, June 14, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Where Women Rule: The Philippine Case.” Presented by Justin Green. Women run the show in the Philippines and in many other Southeast Asian nations. Justin thinks he knows why Southeast Asian women became so important, how they maintain their high status, and the ways this effects both the culture and politics of their countries. He hopes that the discussion following his presentation will cause someone to ask: "How can we make that happen in this country?" Justin is a TVUUC member and former Professor of Political Science at Villanova University. He gained his PhD at Syracuse University, wrote his doctoral dissertation on "Women Leaders of the Philippines," and was the first invited male member of the Women's Caucus of the American Political Science Association. . NB: Today is Flag Day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Stonewall Anniversary Celebration" Today is the beginning of Pride Week celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising which gave birth to the gay liberation movement and allied movements, such as that of transgendered people. TVUUC's "Stonewall Committee" is coordinating a week-long series of events, starting with today's forum presented by the Greater Knoxville Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Forum presenters Jaime Combs (Director of PFLAG's South Atlantic Region), Lorraine Hart, David Massey (one of the adult volunteers for TVUUC's Spectrum Cafe), and other PFLAG members will discuss -- in the light of Father's Day -- the struggles and triumphs experienced by parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children.

"If I should ever decide in the future to discuss my deep Christian beliefs
and condemnation and sinfulness, I would use another forum besides Playboy."
-- President Jimmy Carter (b. 1924 , repenting for
the “lust in his heart” remark he made to Playboy Magazine.

Sunday, June 28, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Kids, Chemicals, and Environmental Justice.” TVUUC member Mary Rogge, M.S.W., Ph.D., will talk about ways that children -- especially children of color and from low income families -- suffer disproportionately from pollution and environmental contamination. An associate professor in the UT College of Social Work, Mary’s research centers on environmental, social, and economic justice; children’s risk from pollution; technological and natural disaster management; and community-based participatory research. Her talk is based on two interdisciplinary research projects -- the federally funded UT Alton Park/Piney Woods Environmental Health and Justice Collaborative in Chattanooga and the UT Youth Environment And Health Research Group (UT YEAH) -- for which she is principal investigator.

Sunday, July 5, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Civil Rights Movement & the American Dream." Presented for the July 4 weekend by Rev. Gordon D. Gibson who will argue that in its civic dimension the civil rights movement was an attempt to rescue the American Dream. Gordon is a member of TVUUC and president of the UU Historical Society (UUHS). He has degrees from Yale, Tufts & Starr King School for the Ministry. He lived in Mississipi (1969-1984), was minister of the UU Fellowship of Elkhart, Indiana (1985-2005), and is currently writing a book on UU's in the civil rights movement. Left image shows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with two white ministers from Massachusetts after they were released from jail during a voting rights demonstration in Selma, Alabama, on February 15, 1965. Rev. Gibson is the minister on the far right.

Sunday, July 12, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Rage on the Radio.” July 27 will be the first anniversary of the tragic shooting which took two lives and injured five people in our sanctuary. The shooter was clearly influenced by hate filled books and radio talk shows. Bill Moyers Journal interviewed Rev. Chris Buice about hate speech and give him a starring role in "Rage on the Radio" which PBS broadcast on September 12, 2008. The Moyers film will be reshown at this forum, and a discssion will follow facilitated by Dr. John Bohstedt, recently retired professor of history at the University of Tennessee. John helped subdue the shooter on July 27 and has done a lot of thinking since then about hate speech and its connnection to our tragedy. At UT, John specialized in modern Britain, Ireland, European social and economic history, riots, and revolutions. You can see "Rage on the Radio" at home by going to YouTube (, and you can read the text by going to Bill Moyers' website (

Sunday, July 19, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Still Moving Forward.” July 27 will be the first anniversary of the tragic shooting which took two lives, injured five people, and scarred many. What have we done to work toward recovery as individuals and as a church? This forum will be an opportunity to join together to recount progress as individuals and as a community. What has helped? What might we expect in the year to come? Clinical social worker Dianne Britton conducted two TVUUC fora last year: "Moving Forward" on August 17 and "How Far We've Come" on September 14. As she did last year, Dianne will talk about the next steps forward and cover as many of our questions about this stage of our recovery as time will allow. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW).

N.B. Ann Gallaher, LCSW, led this forum in lieu of Dianne Britton who was called away to counsel employees at ConAgra's SlimJim factory in Garner, North Carolina, which suffered a major explosion on June 9, 2099, killing three and woulding over forty, including three firefighters.

Sunday, July 26, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Becoming White -- My Family's Experience as Slaveholders -- And Why It Still Matters." Presented by Margaret Blackburn White, retired from Norwich University (Northfield, VT), resident of Teaneck NJ, and a "summer member" of TVUUC. Dr. White's recent book follows three of her ancestral families as they came from Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland to Jefferson County, Tennessee. She will relate how these families first came into contact with enslaved Africans, and how they "became white" in the process. Margaret's story is a parable for everyone's family history. Whether we came here long ago or last year; whether we are of European, African, Hispanic, Asian or Native American heritage, we have all been affected by the experience of being enslaved or of holding slaves. Click here to read excerpts from the book.

Sunday, August 2, 2009: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "TVUUC Social Action in Action." At the end of 2008, TVUUC awarded small grants ($100 each) to people of various ages for social causes near and dear to their hearts. At this forum -- coordinated by past-president Ted Jones and environmental committee chair Gene Burr -- each grant recipient will talk about his or her social action project. And we'll find out if this type of grass roots, few-strings-attached funding produced positive results -- for the causes at hand, for the grant recipients, and for TVUUC.

Sunday, August 9, 2009 (Tentative Date): Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Health Care Reform: What About Us?" Come, and see a "community organizer" in action. TVUUC member Beth Usleton is East Tennessee Regional Organizer for the non-profit Tennessee Health Care Campaign (THCC), and her job is getting people engaged in the process of health care. Several health care proposals are competing in Congress -- Obama's and at least two others -- and Beth will help us sort them out by sharing the nitty-gritty. She'll also suggest some action items which people can do to work towards health care reform.

Sunday, August 16: Forum at 11:15 AM -- "Peace Pilgrim's Wisdom” Peace Pilgrim was an American pacifist, vegetarian, and peace activist. In 1952, she became the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season. Starting in 1953, she vowed to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food." She walked for 28 years, crossing the United States seven times and speaking frequently at churches, universities, and on local and national radio and television about ways to attain inner peace and about the meaning of non-violence. Peace Pilgrim will bring her persona and strong voice to TVUUC this morning (courtesy of Karen Houck from Gatlinburg).

Sunday, August 23: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The Longevity Dividend." Social Security and private pensions are collapsing, whereas people are living longer. Maybe we should rethink the retirement age and even the meaning of "old age." This forum is based on a recent article in Forbes Magazine and is presented by its author, Glenn Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor at the UT School of Law. Reynolds is a "libertarian transhumanist" (someone who believes "that humans should have the right to transcend their physical limitations as technology allows -- and that advanced technology should be used to expand human liberty") . In 2001, he created InstaPundit, one of the most influential blogs of all time. His 2006 book An Army of Davids described how the new media allow social movements to form. In April 2009, Reynolds helped lead the anti-tax "American Tea Party" protests. In May, he launched InstaVision, a talk show on Pajamas TV. Reynolds is married to Dr. Helen Smith, the forensic psychologist who produced the film "Six" about the 1997 murder of an entire family by six teenagers.

N.B.: August 23 is the first Sunday of TVUUC's "winter" schedule. On this and subsequent Sundays (and until the "summer" schedule resumes in May 2010), the forum will take place at 10:05 AM between the first worship service at 9:00 AM and the second worship service at 11:15 AM.

Sunday, August 30, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Market Square: The Most Democratic Place on Earth." Jack Neely, Associate Editor of Metro Pulse and author of the award-winning weekly column “Secret History,” introduces his newest book. According to Neely, you can talk about the whole of American history -- from the Constitutional Convention to the Cyberspace Age -- without leaving Knoxville, and almost without leaving Market Square. Neely was born in Japan during the reign of the Emperor Hirohito. He is a UT graduate and, among other things, a former truck driver, piledriver-crew supervisor, Egyptian museum guide, criminal-defense investigator, and an editor for humor, fiction, and other magazines published by Whittle Communications. He has lectured on journalism, history, architecture, music, and literature and advised both the BBC and Garrison Keillor about East Tennessee.

"Why Market Square is The Most Democratic Place on Earth" by Jack Neely
This is actually a quote from a 1900 newspaper. (The full text is engraved in marble in the middle of the Square today.) It’s one of the few places where blacks, immigrants, society matrons, and backwoods mountaineers brushed shoulders. It’s one of the few places in America, surely, that hosted both Union and Confederate veterans’ lodges simultaneously, and there the Women’s Christian Temperance Union shared an acre with several popular Irish saloons. You can tell the history of America since 1854 through how it was all reflected in this one place. The list of things that have happened there is longer than the list of things that haven’t.

A tidbit or two: Market Square played a role in the birth of country music, and in the career of the most influential publisher of the New York Times. It’s been praised by everybody from Carl Sandburg to Norman Mailer, and has been described in thick detail in novels by Cormac McCarthy (two, actually), James Agee, and others. It was where RCA discovered the music of Elvis Presley, and its ability to motivate the masses. And it’s where Knoxvillians first encountered Coca Cola, bicycles, phonographs, and internet cafes. The amazing thing to me is that it still serves, today, most of the purposes it served in, say, 1875, including the sale of fresh local produce.

Sunday, September 6, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Greece: A Journey in Sacred Space.” Presented by Allan Morgan who lived in Greece as a young man and has been going back for the past 40 years. His forum deals with the topography of Modern Greece, as well as the art, architecture, and mythology/religion of Classical Greece. Using images and sound, Allan will share his personal recreation of the sacred as the ancient, pagan Greeks experienced it. Allan says, "I think this will interest TVUUCer's because of their own personal, non-conventional, and syncretistic search for the sacred wherever it may reveal its beauty." Allan has been a member of TVUUC since the mid-1970's. He has served TVUUC as Membership Chairperson (for the past 4-5 years), as Hops and Hope Octoberfest Celebration co-ordinator (for the past 8 years), and in many other ways. He was executive director of the Knoxville Track Club (KTC) from 1986 to 2004. N.B. September 6 is the day before Labor Day.

Sunday, Sepember 13: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Change Happens at General Assembly 2009." This year's General Assembly (GA) in Salt Lake City elected a new president (Rev. Peter Morales) and adopted a new public advocacy campaign ("Standing on the Side of Love") inspired by the positive reaction of TVUUC and WUUC to last year's shooting. At this forum, our GA delegation (Jerry Bone, Chris Buice, Gene Burr, Brian Griffin, and Alan Moore) will report on major denominational issues and share their personal impressions of the largest annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists, including what they think the new president may do to affect the UUA. Our denomination is changing, and these changes will affect us as a congregation. So come to this forum to get a preview of the future.

Sunday, September 20, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Approaching Disability.” Longtime TVUUC member Bill Dockery will talk about the complexity of our culture's response to disability and how our faith community can extend a welcome to people of all abilities. Bill is a 2008 graduate of the Partners-in-Policymaking Institute of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) and presents workshops for the institute on communicating disability issues. As a member of Mayor Haslam's Council on Disability Issues (CODI), Bill took an active role in advocating continued full Knox Area Transit LIFT service for people with disabilities. CODI (and Bill) are now looking for ways the city can respond to the impending crisis in state support for people with mental illness. Beil was recognized recently by the Knoxville disAbility Resource Center (DRC) as the "Spirit of the ADA" Disability Advocate of 2009. (ADA is the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Buy Fresh, Buy Local.” The TVUUC Environmental Concerns Committee has published on behalf of TVUUC "Taking Back Our Food," an informational brochure on Farmers' Markets, Community Gardens, and area farms to better inform folks about local sources of produce. This was a major issue at the recent General Assembly in Salt Lake City and is part of TVUUC's Green Sanctuary program. This forum will introduce the new brochure and explain the need and benefits of buying locally. Guest panalists will be Khann Chov (Beardsley Community Farm), Robert Hodge (Executive Director of El Puente, The Bridge), and John Mayer (Vegetarian Society of East Tennessee). Each panalist will present aspects of the food issue - sources, quality, nutrition, availability - from their organizational perspectives. Gene Burr, Chair of the TVUUC Environmental Concerns Commitee, will moderate the discussion.

N.B. Later the same day, the Environmental Concerns Committee, the Tennessee Water Resources Center, UT Extension, and TVA will present a free information session "Rain Barrels: Savings for a Sunny Day." Come back to TVUUC 1-2 pm to learn if they are right for your property, how they can save you money, how they help the environment, popular styles, what features to consider when purchasing, and how to install and maintain one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Speaking about the Unspeakable.” Lynn Sacco, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor of History, University of Tennessee, will speak about her book -- Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). Prof. Sacco draws on sources from medicine, law, social reform, and popular culture to show how widely held popular assumptions about incest -- that it rarely occurs -- and then only among socially marginalized families -- were shaped in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She explains how cultural mores and political needs distorted attitudes and medical knowledge when the nation believed in an idealized white family. Against several different historical backdrops -- public accusations of incest against "genteel" men, the epidemic of gonorrhea among young girls, and adult women's incest narratives -- Sacco demonstrates that attitude shifts about patriarchal sexual abuse were influenced by a variety of individuals and groups seeking to protect their own interests. This forum was proposed and arranged by Jenny Arthur.

Sunday, October 11, 2008: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Justin Green Predicts Health Care Reform." The forum committee's own political scientist, Justin Green, predicted last November's election within one percentage point. Now he's agreed to apply his analytical skills to the health care debate. As usual, Justin will go out on a limb and predict the outcome. If the outcome is now obvious, he will use polling data to explain why it's obvious, when the numbers changed, and what factors tipped the balance. Justin expects everyone who attends this forum to argue with him. (Bring your saws to cut his limb.) A Professor Emeritus of Political Science from Villanova University, Justin has been a UU for fifty years, but he's been predicting elections even longer than that. (He won't say how successfully.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The World As It Is, The World As Its Should Be" Community organizers use this phrase to describe the bridge they must cross to achieve social change. And they draw on many traditions to help them cross -- the Settlement House Movement of Jane Addams [1860-1935], the "Rules for Radicals" of Saul Alinsky [1909-1972], his "Back of the Yards" methods from Chicago, civil rights work, faith-based organizations, and recent identity movements. What does it mean to have a former community organizer in the White House? And what's all this talk about ACORN? Our own Walter Davis will explain what it means to be a community organizer today. Walter has been an organizer, a union leader, and a trainer of organizers for over three decades. He directed the Southern Empowerment Project (SEP) from 2004 to 2007 and is now Executive Director of the National Organizers Alliance, based in Washington, DC, and Maryville, TN.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 Forum at 10:05 AM -- "How Ireland, the Philippines & East Tennessee Shaped My Life". Marcus Keyes will trace how each phase of his life deepened his commitment to social justice. He went to the Philippines as an Irish Catholic priest, then married Glenda Struss-Keyes and returned with her to East Tennessee. Both studied under Father Thomas Berry [1914-2009], founder of the New Story movement in religious ecology, then served the Diocese of Knoxville as co-directors of its Office of Justice–Peace–Integrity of Creation (JPIC), the mission of which is "to celebrate life, act on behalf of justice, and participate in the transformation of the world." Marcus now directs the Commission on Justice of the Glenmary Home Missioners, who serve rural communities in Appalachia and the South. He and Glenda live at the Hogskin Valley Landholders Association Land Trust adjacent to the Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center in Washburn, Tennessee.

Sunday, November 1, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- Our Year of Living Graciously: Recovery, Resilience, and Rebirth. After the tragedy of 7/27/08, Karen Krogh began a year long quest to document through photographs the journey of recovery by Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. The abundance of flowers and cards as they filled our hallways and hearts. Church staff going about their jobs. Volunteers and members alike providing sustenance and support in every imaginable form. The First Anniversary Service on 7/26/09. The Instruments of Peace Concert on 7/27/09. And much, much more. Come bear witness to scenes from the remarkable story of an amazing congregation during an unforgettable time in our lives.

Sunday, November 8, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- Meet Your New UUA Trustee. A conversation with Rev. Jake Bohstedt Morrill, Minister of Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church (ORUUC). Jake was recently appointed to complete the final two years of Anna Olsen's elected four-year term as UUA Trustee from the Thomas Jefferson District. Here's our chance to to get acquainted -- or better acquainted -- and to hear about the UUA Trustees' adoption of "Policy Governance," intended to make UUA's doings more open, accountable, and based in right relationship. (NB: This ain't one of the formally designed dialogues which UUA Trustees use to collect input.) Jake is the son of John Bohstedt, was ordained at TVUUC, and is a graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Divinity School. More importantly -- according to Jake -- he is also a graduate of the RE program of TVUUC. He and his wife, Molly, have two sons.

FYI, Jake will also lead both worship services today. His sermon topic is “Joan of Arc in the Bottom of the Ninth.” Joan of Arc was a humble 15th-century French peasant girl, who rose up to lead an army and crown a king, before her execution at the age of nineteen. Perhaps even more incredible was that she risked it all at a time when there seemed to be no hope—France was weary from decades of the Hundred Years’ War. But Joan of Arc was undaunted. Perhaps few would better understand Joan’s particular pluck than the Boston Red Sox team of mid-May, 2007, who overcame a 5-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Baltimore Orioles. In a moment when many might give up and turn away, what is it that makes some dig deeper and go on? When there is no hope to be found, how can we find it anyway?

Sunday, November 15, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- Refusing War, Affirming Peace. During World War II, 12,000 conscientious objectors (CO's) were herded into 152 Civilian Public Service Camps. TVUUC's Jeff Kovac has just published a history of the largest and best known of these camps: "Refusing War, Affirming Peace: A History of Civilian Public Service Camp #21 at Cascade Locks [Oregon]." Jeff made a forum presentation December 7, 2007, about one aspect of this camp. Now he plans to tell us about some of the famous people who spent time there (e.g. actor Lew Ayres and Congressman George E. Brown, Jr.), the camp's arts program (including a literary magazine), and a study group called the School of Pacifist Living. Jeff is a professor of chemistry at UT, a recognized expert on scientific ethics, and the author of "The Ethical Chemist: Professionalism and Ethics in Science."

Sunday November 22, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Is the Buddha a Woman?" The Buddha is believed to be the epitome of manhood. But can the Buddha also be the epitome of womanhood? Miriam (Merry) Levering will look at gender in Buddhism -- not just what Buddhism says about women -- but what it says about men too. What is the relation of gender to one's spiritual self? Can a women be or become a Buddha? What is a Buddha anyway? A member of WUUC and a good friend of TVUUC, Merry is UT's expert on Asian religions. She is the author of "Zen: Images, Texts, and Teachings" (2000) and "Religious Feminism and the Future of the Planet: A Buddhist-Christian Conversation" (2003). Merry is preparing to move to Tokyo in January to work for Rissho Kosei-kai International, said to be the second largest religious organization in Japan.

November 29, 2009 (Thanksgiving Weekend): Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The Telling Takes Me Home," a 2004 film by Heather Carawan, daughter of Guy and Candie Carawan (who presented a TVUUC forum on June 8, 2008). Heather made this film to earn an MFA degree in San Francisco. According to Candie, "Heather's film looks at the work Guy and I have done culturally at Highlander, but also very much from her own point of view of growing up at the Highlander Folk School, and it's a real personal film. She's been able to crystalize in a half-hour a lot of things we've struggled with for years." Metro Pulse says, "Not many of us are tempted to make movies about our parents' lives. But as story subjects, the lives of Guy and Candie Carawan are extraordinarily obliging." Go to;ttTELLHOME.html for the words and music of the folk song which Heather used for the name of her film.

Sunday, December 6, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Peace Monuments Around the World.” Peace is universally desired -- but differently understood. Occasionally a group of people constructs a monument to express the kind of "peace" which they think is important at their time and place. Ted Lollis believes that we can learn a lot about the historic meanings of peace by visiting peace monuments, and his website now contains more than 1,400 monuments in all parts of the world. At this forum, he will present the same overview of peace monuments that he presented last year to the 6th International Conference of Museums for Peace in Kyoto, Japan, and a presentation of twenty-seven peace monuments in the State of Tennessee. Ted is a retired Foreign Service Officer (FSO) and thinks his interest in monuments developed while living in nine different countries and ten states.

Sunday, December 13, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "You Are Where You Live.” How the environment impacts our space bubbles, home turfs, orbits, territories, even our values and lifestyles. Presented by Sam Wallace, TVUUC member, Professor Emeritus, Sociology Faculty in Environmental Issues and Globalization, University of Tennessee, and editor of the textbook "Sustainable Urban Ecology." Sam's professional interests include social ecology, urban studies, human ecology theory, and environmental movements. Although many people view environmental issues as technical problems, sociologists like Sam recognize their social nature and therefore focus on ways in which social institutions and cultural practices influence human behavior, rather than attributing behavior to the characteristics of the individual.

Sunday, December 20, 2009: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "A UU Chaplain in BB Hospitals.” BB = Bible Belt. Physicians are trained to treat their patients' physical and mental illnesses, but when it comes to the spiritual issues that often arise during a health crisis, many are at a loss. That's when chaplains step in. Many hospitals are even integrating pastoral care into mental and emotional healthcare programs. Pati Cox is a UU chaplain at Catholic/Baptist Mercy Health Partners (and a ministerial intern at TVUUC). She'll tell us what it's like to be a chaplain and share some of her experiences working in the faith-based hospitals of East Tennessee which seldom see a UU.

Sunday, December 27, 2009: No Forum -- Sunday Closest to Christmas.

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