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Sunday, June 1, 10:30 A.M.
Pete, the Pope, and Piketty
Rev. Michael Brown
Today is New Member Sunday and we also have a congregational meeting after church. This is UUism in action. In our service we will sing some of the songs of Pete Seeger, UU troubadour, and see how his ideas about inequality fit with those of the new pope and the new hot selling economics author, Thomas Piketty. The meeting after church will include lunch, child care, and important decisions to make. Join us for the last "regular" service of the year.
Sermon
Sunday, May 11, 10:30 A.M.
Mothers Are Our Source
Rev. Michael Brown
Mothers are the source of life. Today we honor our mothers and the many interwoven levels of what they do and mean for us. Everyone has a mother to honor, for mothers are our source of life.
Sermon
Sunday, May 4, 10:30 A.M.
Celebration Sunday - Join the Team!
Amy Popp, CRE and Rev. Michael Brown
Join our UU team as we celebrate our church history and the "Join the Team of Generous Hearts" campaign. This will be a service for all ages intertwining church legends with legends of baseball. Join us for music, history, fun stories; and if you haven't turned in your pledge yet, today would be a great day to do so!
Sermon
Sunday, April 27, 10:30 A.M.
Never Give Up on Anyone
Rev. Michael Brown
Congressman John Lewis came to Peoria and Bradley University to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Bill. He made a plea for unity, proclaiming "never give up on anyone." As a person who was beaten nearly to death on Bloody Sunday, what could he possible mean? Today we will also recognize our RE teachers and share our appreciation of them.
Sermon
Sunday, April 20, 10:30 A.M.
Rebirth and Long Term Prospects
Rev. Michael Brown
Today is Easter, a major Christian holiday with deep pagan roots. Another spring is bursting forth with new life all around us. There is a wonderful feeling of rebirth in the air. Earth is gorgeous, but what are her long term prospects? We need a short term celebration and a long term plan.
Sermon
Sunday, March 16, 10:30 A.M.
The Lady with the Lamp
Rev. Michael Brown
160 years ago Crimea was engulfed in war and today the same part of the world is a source of deep tension and concern. Florence Nightingale was a woman of Unitarian leanings and Universalist theology who pioneered the modern concept of nursing on this bloody battlefield. What can we learn from her example of how to change the world?
Sermon
Sunday, March 9, 10:30 A.M.
The Tiger and the Truth
Rev. Michael Brown
Is religion a force for good in the world or does it cause more problems than solutions? Looking deeply into human history and the role of religion yields a complex and fascinating picture.
Sermon
Sunday, March 2, 10:30 A.M.
My Spiritual Odyssey
Dr. Wally Mead
Dr. Wally Mead is a regular visitor to our church, often seen in the company of church member, Norma Rossi. He is also an ordained Methodist minister, a retired professor of Political Science and Philosophy, and an expert on the work of Michael Polanyi, who did groundbreaking studies on science and religion. We welcome him to our pulpit today.
Sermon
Sunday, February 23, 10:30 A.M.
The New Jim Crow Breaks into Cultural Consciousness
Rev. Michael Brown
Six months ago we offered an Adult RE course on The New Jim Crow and it was new ground for many of us. Now these ideas are in the news almost every day. How do the war on drugs, mass incarceration, racial profiling and other factors fit together to create this phenomenon called The New Jim Crow and how did our culture suddenly wake up to these issues?
Sermon
Sunday, February 16, 10:30 A.M.
Competition and Cooperation
Rev. Michael Brown
The Olympic Games are simultaneously the most competitive and the most cooperative of human institutions. How is it that these two tendencies coexist in one cultural event? In this paradox lies some real wisdom about our human life. Why do we love these games and the beautiful pageantry that frames this planetary festival of super intense experiences?
Sermon
Sunday, February 2, 10:30 A.M.
Evolution Sunday
Rev. Michael Brown
This month many houses of worship will celebrate Evolution Sunday. Can there be a reconciliation between religion and evolution? There is a creative edge of thought in the world right now around this question. Let's explore some of these new ideas and see where they might lead.
Sermon
Sunday, January 26, 10:30 A.M.
After the Tributes
Rev. Michael Brown
King Luncheon keynote speaker Michael Eric Dyson urges us to look beyond the King of the past to how Martin Luther King would respond to the challenges of the present. His roof shaking speech was a call to reevaluate, to get real and get active. We will try to share a taste of his message and what we can do, now that the tributes are over for another year.
Sermon
Sunday, January 19, 10:30 A.M.
The Future of Love
Rev. Michael Brown
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that love is a force that can transform oppressors into neighbors. Does it look like that faith statement has a future? How is his legacy doing after 50 years? The choir will sing "MLK" by U2 as we celebrate the birthday of an American hero.
Sermon
Sunday, January 5, 10:30 A.M.
Theological Options for UUs
Rev. Michael Brown
In a church that has no creed, is there anything we believe in? Actually there is a wide spectrum of possibilities each of which has been meaningful to UUs and other religious liberals. Today we will explore this spectrum and get a sense of the paths that many UUs find inspiring.
Sermon
Sunday, January 12, 10:30 A.M.
Boundlessness: One Size Fits All
Rev. Michael Brown
Mystical experience is a form of human consciousness that occurs in virtually all cultures, all religions, and to those with no religion at all. What can we learn from this universal human experience?
Special Music: Mark Filip, clarinet
Sermon
Click on Year below to show previous year's audio
2013
Sunday, December 29, 10:30 A.M.
Kwanzaa and the Struggle for Wholeness
Rev. Michael Brown
Kwanzaa celebrates the African cultural wisdom that is available to all people, but especially meaningful for African Americans. Can we see clearly enough to realize that our struggles to live complete and whole lives are all interconnected?
Opening Words | Sermon
Tuesday, December 24, 10:30 A.M.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Rev. Michael Brown
Bring your whole family (kids and adults) and your out of town guests to our traditional Christmas Eve service with candles, carols, stories, and treats. Our choir will sing and we are delighted that Emmy Holmes-Hicks will play for us. Bring your grandparents, aunts, uncles, children and grandchildren as we celebrate a night full of hope, light and joy. Bring cookies if you like, but just come!
Special Music: Emmy Holmes-Hicks, violin and the choir will sing.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 15, 10:30 A.M.
A Multidimensional Holiday
Rev. Michael Brown
What we call the holiday season is a glorious mixture of solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, socializing, feasting and economic frenzy. Is there anything that unifies the season into something coherent? And why do most of us find at least some parts of it meaningful? Perhaps we are creatures who have a taste for tradition and ritual.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 8, 10:30 A.M.
Mr. Potter Meets the Pope
Rev. Michael Brown
About two weeks ago the new Pope shocked the world again by declaring that capitalism is becoming a new form of tyranny. Some of our favortie Christmas stories fit well with this theme. What does Christmas say about the rich and the poor? And which way is our American story going? 'Tis the season to take such questions seriously.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 1, 10:30 A.M.
Sexuality and Religious Communities
Rev. Michael Brown
Sex and religion; what a combination! These two have always had a tense relationship; no less so in our contemporary world. How does a liberal faith envision the role of sexuality within a healthy community? Our UU faith has been seeking a good answer to that question and has some ideas to offer.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, November 24, 10:30 A.M.
Gratitude after a Storm
Rev. Michael Brown
We are entering the holiday season, which in this part of the world traditionally begins with giving thanks. This year that tradition is complicated by the losses caused by the recent tornadoes. But perhaps giving thanks always has its own inherent complications. Today we are grateful for new members who have chosen to make this their community.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, November 17, 10:30 A.M.
The Digital Self
Rev. Michael Brown
We all know that the internet is changing the way we look at the world, but could it actually be changing the way we define ourselves as human beings?
Sermon
Sunday, November 10, 10:30 A.M.
Why We Continue to Believe Nonsense
Dr. Robert Fuller, Bradley University
Why do people believe the strange things they believe? What can religious scholars say that might shed light on this fascinating tendency to compartmentalize human thought processes? Dr. Fuller is an ever popular speaker at our church and we look forward to his latest insights.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, November 3, 10:30 A.M.
Can We Change the World?
Rev. Michael Brown
Our society seems to be disjointed and lacking in common purpose. Much of what our leaders do seems lacking in wisdom. To what extent can we change the world? And what does it mean to try to do so? What chances do we have? Following today’s service, we will have a congregational meeting to select our social impact projects for the year. A light lunch will be provided as well as child care. Please come and hear what is happening and help us make thoughtful decisions.
Sermon
Sunday, October 27, 10:30 A.M.
Dia de los Muertos - A Service for All Ages
Rev. Michael Brown
Today we celebrate the holiday called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Dia de los Muertos is a day to remember loved ones who have died. There is sadness but also celebration, music, special foods, stories and family gatherings. We are delighted to have the mariachi band, Mariachi Campiranos, join us. You are invited to bring a photo or other object of remembrance to place on the ofrenda during the service. Dia de los Muertos has become a wonderful tradition for us.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 20, 10:30 A.M.
The Long March Toward Equality
Rev. Michael Brown
Our UU principles affirm "the worth and dignity of every person," and "justice, equity and compassion in human relations." As the Illinois legislature moves closer to a vote on Marriage Equality, these principles will be sorely tested. Our UU tradition has a clear message to speak on this crucial issue.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 13, 10:30 A.M.
The Pope, The Bishop, and the Candlesticks
Rev. Michael Brown
In recent weeks Pope Francis has made a series of surprising statements about social issues that have gotten the whole world's attention. There is a wonderful scene in Les Miserables that seems to echo a similar action by a church leader. Is the world's largest church heading in a new direction? Pete Driscoll will play selections from the musical.
Special Music: Pete Driscoll, piano
Share the Plate: Children’s Home
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 6, 10:30 A.M.
Searching for Home
Rev. Michael Brown
Searching for home is one of the great universal story lines of humanity. From the Odyssey to the children of Israel to Dorothy in the Land of Oz, the world’s great stories remind us that we all are searching for home, a place that feels right.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, September 29, 10:30 A.M.
Different Paths
Rev. Michael Brown
When we seek out a church or any other religious community, we come for different reasons and often with different goals in mind. If we can develop a sense of what paths our friends and neighbors may be following, we can become a more accepting and more effective spiritual community.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, September 22, 10:30 A.M.
Never Give Up On the Glimmers of Grace
Rev. Jim Eller
Human rights work is hard, challenging and essential. By engaging in this soulful work we maintain our own humanity, while saving lives and insisting on the humanity of both the victims and violators. Our Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is dedicated to humanitarian relief work, environmental and economic justice, but their human rights work will be the focus of this Sunday’s service.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, September 15, 10:30 A.M.
The Case for Optimism
Rev. Michael Brown
Is optimism a kind of shallow lack of knowledge or is it a genuine tool for strength in the face of adversity? Can we trust God, or evolution, or the moral arc of the universe to lead us on a positive path? Our liberal religious heritage offers a possible answer that is neither shallow nor hopeless.
Special Music: Traveler’s Dream Vocal Duet
Share the Plate: Central Illinois Friends of People with AIDS
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, September 8, 10:30 A.M.
Riding the Waves
Amy Popp, CRE & Rev. Michael Brown
Help us celebrate the start of a new cycle of life with our annual water service. If you brought water from a meaningful experience of your summer, remember to bring it with you to share. If you didn't bring water, no problem, we will have "symbolic water" that can stand for any place you want it to. Let us remind ourselves how deeply we are connected to each other and to all other creatures on earth. It is good to be with one another once again.
Opening Words
Sunday, June 2, 10:30 A.M.
With Each New Dawn
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
There is a gift with each new day, each new opportunity, each inkling of possibility. What pulls us forward into the newness? Please join us for Erin’s final sermon of her internship. We will also celebrate with the high school seniors their “bridging” into young adulthood.
Special Music: Craig Curtis, guitar
Share the Plate: Interfaith Alliance
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, May 19, 10:30 A.M.
On Becoming a Grown Up
Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Kansas City, Missouri
Rev. Kendyl Gibbons has the unusual distinction of having been an internship supervisor for both Erin Dajka (1 year ago) and Michael Brown (23 years ago). And she is someone that Erin and Michael both respect and admire. She will preach on spiritual maturity as the center of what any religious community is, or ought to be, about, and a consideration of what that might mean for our conglomeration of theological diversity. Kendyl has been a seminary professor, a leader in UU humanism, and served as national President of the UU Ministers Association. This is a great opportunity to meet her and hear her thoughts.
Special Music: Main Street, USA
Share the Plate: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Peoria County
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, May 5, 10:30 A.M.
Celebration Sunday
The UU Players
Today is the 170th anniversary of the founding of our church. Please come and join the celebration! We will have a working time machine with visitors from the past and maybe the future too! There will be cake! The choir is singing “You Are the New Day”, and it’s true, we are the new day. Don’t miss this once every 170 years celebration! If you haven’t yet turned in your pledge, please bring it to church this Sunday. This is a service for all ages and for the ages. See you on May 5!
The Choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Peoria County
Sermon
Sunday, April 28, 10:30 A.M.
Peace Is a Marathon
Rev. Michael Brown
Today is New Member Sunday. We have the pleasure of welcoming our new members and of celebrating the joy of belonging. With the very real difficulties in our world, it is good to remember that our ideals may take a long time to achieve, but the moral arc does bend toward justice.
Special Music: Peoria Recorder Consort
Share the Plate: Look! It’s My Book!
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, April 21, 10:30 A.M.
A World of Awe
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
The morning before the world officially celebrates Earth Day, let us focus upon our relationship to the world around us. In what ways do we notice what is happening in nature? How does it affect our lives and our hearts? These will be questions we explore as we consider how the virtue of reverence may come into play.
The Choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Look! It’s My Book!
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, April 14, 10:30 A.M.
Jazz Sunday
Maureen O’Haenny
Celebrate the uninhibited world of jazz - an annual tradition. Our feature vocalist is Ellen Monteith. She will be performing with John Miller on guitar and Andy Crawford on bass. For more information, see the article on the back cover.
Share the Plate: Look! It’s My Book!
Opening Words
Sunday, April 7, 10:30 A.M.
The Chimps and the Bees
Rev. Michael Brown
In his book, The Righteous Mind, Jonathon Haidt talks about the chimps and the bees as two different dimensions of human nature. He says that we are 90% chimps and 10% bees, but that 10% makes a huge difference. Come and discover what the difference is, why it matters in our lives, and how it might offer new insight into the meaning of community and stewardship.
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 31, 10:30 A.M.
The Plagues and the Flowers
Rev. Michael Brown
Hopefully if it stops snowing it will soon be spring, when flowers return and our spirits experience a lift. Two of our most celebrated holidays, Passover and Easter, offer insight into how we can overcome the difficult challenges of life. The flowers show it by example.
The Choir will sing and Pete Driscoll will be performing a piano solo.
Share the Plate: Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 24, 10:30 A.M.
Acknowledging the Peoria Nation
Dave Weiman
Dr. Michael Wiant, Director of the Dickson Mounds Museum, will speak on the Peoria, an important nation of the Illini Confederacy, who lived on this land when French explorers, traders, and missionaries began travelling in the area during the mid-1600s. This multi-generational service will include Native American drums, singers, flutes, stories, and a pipe ceremony. (The Sermon audio is an Introduction, Story for All Ages, and Pipe Ceremony)
Special Music: Rainbow Drum Circle
Share the Plate: Planned Parenthood of Illinois
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 17, 10:30 A.M.
Out of the Land Itself
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
The seventh principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association states that we affirm and promote “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” Let us explore how that interdependent web connects us, the earth itself, and the indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico. How can our interconnections with the land and to one another bring about global economic justice?
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Culture Change Coalition of Peoria
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 10, 10:30 A.M.
Living With Compassion
Rev. Michael Brown
What do Karen Armstrong, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have in common? They all affirm that compassion is a universal ethical principle that can work across boundaries of nationality, religion and culture to guide human life. But to make compassion work we need to practice it like we might practice an art form or an exercise plan. Karen Armstrong provides us a valuable roadmap for this journey.
Special Music: Zephyr Recorder Ensemble
Share the Plate: Culture Change Coalition of Peoria
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 3, 10:30 A.M.
Creativity at the Heart
Rev. Michael Brown
We are very close to the opening act of the greatest display of creativity on earth, the annual production called spring. Many people experience creativity as a spiritual path. Where does creativity come from and how does it express itself, in nature and in us?
The choir will sing Dirait-on, a musical interpretation of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke is a shining example of one whose path was creativity.
Share the Plate: Culture Change Coalition of Peoria
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, February 24 10:30 A.M.
Growing in Love
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
Valentine’s Day has passed, but the importance of love in our lives and the world shall never fade. What is love? From the sciences to theology, we will consider this question and reflect on the presence of love in our lives.
Special Music: East Peoria Community High School Chorale, Director Pete Driscoll
Share the Plate: Mental Health America of Illinois Valley
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, February 17 10:30 A.M.
Would You Rather Have Order or Freedom?
Rev. Michael Brown
As the Catholic Church prepares to name a new pope, it relies on traditions that go back hundreds of years. As religious liberals we are much more free about what we do, and also considerably smaller and less organized. Why would different people want contrasting styles of religion? Could it be due to genetics, climate, politics, or personality type? Or is it something in human nature? Wouldn’t it be great if we could understand these differences better?
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Mental Health America of Illinois Valley
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, February 10, 10:30 A.M.
Deep Gladness, Deep Need
Rev. Barbara H. Gadon
How do you know what you're meant to do in life? Where do you find a sense of purpose? Fredrich Buechner offers some helpful words: Look for "where your deep gladness meets the world's deep needs." Our guest preacher, Rev. Barbara Gadon will explore the meaning of personal mission for Unitarian Universalists. Rev. Barbara H. Gadon is the interim senior minister for the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. Over her 15 years in ministry, she has served congregations in Michigan, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. She is joyfully married to Robert Gadon, and is a collage artist and line dancer.
Special Music: Wes Sedrel, guitar
Share the Plate: Mental Health Association of Illinois
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, February 3, 10:30 A.M.
The Thread
Denny Davidoff
“Something is very gently, invisibly, silently, pulling at me – a thread or net of threads.” The poet, Denise Levertov, captures my attention and imagination. What are the sources that have guided my life work, past and present? On her remarkable UU path, Denny Davidoff has served as President of the UU Women’s Federation, Chair of the GA Planning Committee, UUA Moderator (leader of the UUA Bd. and the GA), and founder (with other religious leaders) of the Interfaith Alliance. She is currently a Senior Consultant at Meadville/Lombard Theological School. Even if you don’t know all these acronyms, don’t miss this chance to meet and hear a genuine leader of our faith tradition. Denny will also host a discussion after the service to talk about how we educate ministers and other matters.
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Center for the Prevention of Abuse
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 27 10:30 A.M.
Non-violence and Guns
Rev. Michael Brown
Now that we have celebrated the birthday of Dr. King, and praised non-violence as a way of life, how do we reconcile this ideal with the gun control debate storming in our society? This is one of those times when decisions are being made that will determine the character of our nation.
Special Music: Harvey Thomas, tenor solo
Share the Plate: Center for the Prevention of Abuse
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 20 10:30 A.M.
Justice Seeking
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
This week is a time for a focus on justice. We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, and Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. What can we learn from the efforts toward justice of the past? What work have we yet to do to continue seeking justice?
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Center for the Prevention of Abuse
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Atheist Spirituality
Rev. Michael Brown
Is atheist spirituality an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp? Or could it work in some paradoxical way? Let’s explore how one might live a spiritual life, or something very similar, without any deities. Many Unitarian Universalists seem to be on this path. Why not?
Special Music: Eli Hosbrough, trumpet solo
Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Six Ways of Looking at an Elephant
Rev. Michael Brown
Is it possible that different people look at the same thing and actually see different realities? That seems to be how things work in our American culture. Where are the opportunities for cooperation in such a world? Can we find a way to all get along?
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Opening Words | Sermon
2012
Sunday, December 30, 2012
The Beginning is Near
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister

This is a time to reflect and to look forward, to recognize within our lives and our calendars that something new is about to begin. Every ending is a beginning, and this morning let us look forward to what may be. With Christmas past and the New Year just before us, we will mark the passage of time this Sunday through a ritual of letting go of the old and preparing for the new.
Special music: Jay Parker, Vocal Solo
Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Opening Words | Sermon
Monday, December 24, 2012
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Rev. Michael Brown
Join us for music, candles, carols, and legends as we celebrate the night before Christmas. Bring your out-of-town guests, bring the kids, bring grandma and grandpa, bring your neighbor. Goodies will be served after the service. Come and celebrate the enduring, hopeful message of Christmas.
The choir will sing.
Special music: Erin Dajka, Cello Solo
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Peace on Earth, Peace in Connecticut
Rev. Michael Brown

How can we learn from the tragedy in Connecticut so that our society becomes less violent and peace on earth becomes more than just a seasonal wish.
Special music: Ethan Hosbrough, French Horn Solo
Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Our “Journey to Christmas”
Amy Popp, CRE
For this year's winter holiday service, we are planning a “Journey to Christmas” Children's Pageant as part of our annual multi-generational service. This year, our pageant will include the holidays of Solstice, Hanukkah, and the first Christmas as we trace the traditions that led us to our modern-day Christmas experience. The congregation will be participating in our service in some small, but significant, ways as we make our “Journey to Christmas.” The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Solstice
Sunday, December 9, 2012
How Much Light Do We Have?
Rev. Michael Brown
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is often portrayed as similar to Christmas, but it’s a completely different story. It asks us to consider how much strength we really have and how we can recover from disaster. It also has historical meaning that bears on our very existence as a religious tradition. Come and experience the season of light through a new lens.
Special music: Peoria Area Accordian Club
Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 2, 2012
An Altered State of Mind
Rev. Michael Brown
We are now in the holiday season, a truly different state of consciousness. What in the world is going on? What elements are behind our annual plunge into an altered set of behaviors, attitudes, and customs? Today we recognize church volunteers and Global Village provides fair-trade gifts for your holiday shopping. Welcome to the season!
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Bringing Back Hell
Rev. Michael Brown
A number of UUs, including our church treasurer, have suggested that we need to resurrect the threat of hell. Let’s ponder carefully the advantages and disadvantages of such a move. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming!
Special music: David Woessner, saxophone
Share the Plate: Common Place
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Boxes Upon Boxes
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
Each of our lives is shaped by metaphorical boxes of various sizes and shapes, those we create for ourselves, those created by others for us, and those in which we put people we know and meet. These boxes are necessary to make sense of the world, but we must take care with how we use them, as well. In this service, we will consider all of our boxes and our relationships to them.
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Common Place
Sermon
Sunday, November 11, 2012
The Future of Our Faith
Rev. Michael Brown
By today’s service the election will be over, and there will be both joy and sorrow in our land. We don’t yet know who will have the joy and who will have the sorrow. But our lives continue and our church is a place of hope, no matter who wins or loses. Today, we have the pleasure to welcome new members and reflect on the emerging role of our liberal religion in the community and in our world.
Special music: LuAnn Stoskopf, flute
Share the Plate: Common Place
Sermon
Sunday, November 4, 2012
The Cure for Democracy
Rev. Michael Brown
Is our democratic form of government healthy? Do we feel our process is fair, open, and honest? Do we feel confident that our government is working diligently to do the people’s business? In our UU principles, we say we believe that democracy is the best way to organize human affairs. Is that our experience? Francis Moore Lappe says she has “the cure” for democracy. On Sunday I’ll tell you her prescription. The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Prairie State Legal Services
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Dia de los Muertos- A Service for All Ages
Rev. Michael Brown
Today, we celebrate the traditional holiday of Dias de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. We will honor our loved ones with traditional Dia de los Muertos customs, including an ofrenda. During the service, you will be invited to place a picture or another object on the ofrenda to remember your special loved one. We will hear traditional Mariachi music and enjoy special Dia de los Muertos treats. It is always sad to lose those we love, but this special holiday mixes the sadness with playfulness and celebration.
Special music: Mariachi Campiranos
Share the Plate: Prairie State Legal Services
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Religion and Capitalism
Rev. Michael Brown
Have you ever wondered why in our country conservative religion is allied with the interests of wealthy capitalists? It turns out there are some historical and theological reasons why this is so. Come and find out how these strange bedfellows met and then became more than friends.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 14, 2012
It Only Works with Love
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
At the recent congregational meeting, the members of our church voted to support our involvement in Don’t Shoot, the City of Peoria’s efforts to end gun violence in the city. What does this mean for us? What effect can I, or our congregation, have on such an issue? In this service, we will explore how our Universalist faith in love connects us to Don’t Shoot Peoria, gun violence, and the work of justice.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Discovering America
Rev. Michael Brown
October 8 is Columbus Day, a holiday that has very different meanings to different people. In addition to reflecting on some of those diverse messages, let us see if we can discover the America of today. What kind of land is this? What kind of people live here? Are they friendly? Where is this huge, creative nation headed in the next few years?
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, September 23, 2012
This Is the Time
Erin Margit Dajka, Intern Minister
As I begin my work with this congregation this year, it is evident that one church year is a short period of time. It begs the question of what we shall do with the brief, blessed moments that we have.
Sermon
Sunday, September 16, 2012
An Inclusive Way of Life
Rev. Michael Brown
As we celebrate the beginning of our 170th year, it’s an auspicious time to reflect on what have been the threads running through all these years.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Water Is Life
Rev. Michael Brown; Amy Popp, CRE; Erin Dajka, Intern Minister
Today is the annual Water Ceremony that begins our new church year.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Gay Marriage, the Bible, and Civil Rights
Rev. Michael Brown
The issue of gay marriage has dominated our cultural dialogue as never before with the endorsement of both the President and Vice President. Pundits and religious leaders are weighing in. The African American community is particularly divided. What does our Unitarian Universalist tradition have to say about this hot button issue of our time?
Special Music: Ballet — The faculty of the Cornerstone Academy for Performing Arts perform: Rebekah von Rathonyi, Artistic Director; Jennifer Reiter, Academy Director; and Rhea Keller, Instructor; accompanied by Pete Driscoll
Share the Plate: Interfaith Alliance
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 13, 2012
A Celebration of Mothers
Rev. Michael Brown
On this Mother’s Day let us celebrate our mothers and all they have done for us. Let us also remember the first Mother’s Day — an anti-war demonstration organized by Unitarian Julia Ward Howe. From heroines to goddesses to our moms, we honor the mothers of our lives.
Special music: Peoria Recorder Consort
Share the Plate: Look! It’s My Book!
Sermon
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Youth Group Sunday
Youth Group
Today our dynamic Youth Group will present a multigenerational Sunday service on the topic of homelessness. Come and enjoy their choices of music, readings and message. The youth will be spending the night before the service here at the church in their Cardboard City to raise awareness and funds to help the homeless. Be sure to offer them your support. Our annual Salad Lunch will take place after the service.
The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Look! It’s My Book!
Sermon
Sunday, April 29, 2012
What Kind of Church Is This?
Rev. Michael Brown
Today we welcome new members into our church. How fortunate we are to have friends who want to share this journey with us. But what kind of church is this? Is church the right word for what we do here? What do we do here? These questions may have some interesting answers. The choir also sings today. Share the Plate: Look! It’s My Book!
Sermon
Sunday, April 15, 2012
To Pay or Not to Pay, That Is the Question
Rev. Michael Brown
No greeting or sermon was recorded for this day.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Life + Death = Life
Rev. Michael Brown
Easter is one of the great celebrations of Spring. Easter is a particular story that has meaning within a tradition but it is also a universal story that shares a common message with countless other legends and myths. What are these stories trying to tell us? Something very uplifting, I think.
Sermon
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Making It Happen
Rev. Michael Brown
Our church has a new set of goals. If we did the things we have named as goals, our already lively church would be unbelievably energized. Join us today as we consider what we could become and how we can get there. The choir will sing a beautiful Paul McCartney song. Share the Plate: Common Place
Sermon
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Respecting the American Indian
Dave Weiman
This multi-generational service will include Native American drums, singers, flutes, stories, and a pipe ceremony. A full explanation of the ceremonies, instruments, and regalia will enrich the experience of the service. A short talk will clarify how the American Indian culture can be honored, respected and appreciated.
Special music: Spirit of the Rainbow Singers.
Share the Plate: Common Place
Honoring In A Good Way | Pipe Ceremony
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Muhammad and the Three Goddesses
Rev. Michael Brown
Most of us do not know much about Islam and how it developed. And yet Islam is a huge factor in our 21st-century world and in American society as well. Today we will learn something about the prophet Muhammad—where he came from, what he taught, and his relationship to three goddesses. The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Common Place
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Myths of America: The Land of Freedom
Rev. Michael Brown
America is the place to come and be free. America defends freedom. This is the freedom land. Live free or die. Since our earliest days, our country has been entwined with the ideal of freedom. How does this myth continue to shape our lives? Is it true? Special Music: The L R Band with Craig Curtis, Mat Timm, and Steve Tippett will play some freedom songs for us.
Share the Plate: Carroll County Haiti Mission Project
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, March 4, 2012, 10:30 A.M.
Myths of America: The Titanic
Rev. Michael Brown
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. What does this sad story tell us about our cultural identity? What does it show us about our blind spots? And what is the good news, the positive side of the story? It does have one. The choir will sing.
Share the Plate: Carroll County Haiti Mission Project
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, February 26, 2012, 10:30 A.M.
Myths of America: The Promised Land
Rev. Michael Brown
Every culture has its myths and we have them as well. To say a story is a myth is not a criticism. Myths are stories that shape the way we look at the world. Is America the promised land? In many ways that is our story, our myth. Join us for an exploration of how this story shapes our world. Special Music: East Peoria Community High School Chorale, Pete Driscoll, Director
Share the Plate: Carroll County Haiti Mission Project
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Evolution Sunday
Rev. Michael Brown
Each year houses of worship all over the United States celebrate an Evolution Sunday to demonstrate that evolution and religion do not need to be enemies but can coexist and perhaps even have healthy dialogue. Today we join in that movement as we honor the wisdom of science and ask ourselves what it might mean to be religious in the age of evolution. The choir will sing.
Sermon
Sunday, February 12, 2012
In Celebration of Poetry
Anonymous
We will explore various topics—from romantic life to love of the earth and everything in between through the eyes and shared words of poets among our congregation. Special music presented by Wes Sedrel.
Opening Words
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom
Rev. Michael Brown
Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, appears not only in the Bible but in countless other legends as well. What does it mean to be wise, and what does Sophia have to teach us about wisdom? If wisdom is knowing what to do in life, then that is what we all need. The choir will sing.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Theodore Parker, Transcendentalist Activist
Rev. Michael Brown
Theodore Parker is one of the most fascinating characters in Unitarian Universalist history. Transcendental, scholar, abolitionist, minister, and author of some of the most famous words ever written. Called a Unitarian heretic by some, he remains an inspiring figure. After the service we will have a birthday celebration for Jane Ising who turns 110 this week! The choir will sing.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Stone Soup
Rev. Michael Brown
The old story of the stone soup provides us a window on religion. Can you make a soup out of nothing but a stone and water and still have a tasty treat? It sounds unlikely but it just might work!
Special music: Zephyr Ensemble and Friends
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, January 8, 2012
It’s What’s In Between That Counts
Annie Gonzalez
We do not exist outside our relationships. So say some Buddhist philosophers and process theologians. Our UU 7th principle holds a similar message about the interdependent web of existence. What do these ideas mean for us today in our individualistic and self-centered culture? Annie Gonzalez, a Union Theological Seminary student in New York, grew up in our RE program. We welcome her back in a new role. The choir will sing.
Opening Words | Sermon
2011
Sunday, December 18, 10:30 A.M.
“Celebrations of Light”; Multi-generational
Rev. Michael Brown
For this year’s winter holiday service, the children will perform a “Celebrations of Light” Pageant for the congregation. The pageant features various faiths’ winter holidays that celebrate bringing light into the darkness. The choir will sing.
Opening Words
Sunday, December 11, 10:30 A.M.
Ancient Wisdom in the Turning Year
Rev. Michael Brown
The solstice holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, and Kwanzaa all speak of returning light and renewed hope. There is something about this time of year that invites a special kind of consciousness. The Peoria Accordion Club will play today to lift your holiday spirits.
Opening Words | Sermon
Sunday, December 4, 10:30 A.M.
Scrooge or Marley, Bailey or Potter. Take Your Choice
Rev. Michael Brown
As we enter full steam into the holiday season, two classic Christmas stories speak to the ever-present tension between the haves and the have-nots. According to these two stories, Christmas has something to say about how this tension can be resolved. The choir sings today and Global Village will be here to assist your holiday shopping.
Share the Plate: Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 27, 10:30 A.M.
Counting Our Blessings
Rev. Michael Brown
We are in the holiday consciousness once again. What a vast explosion of interconnected cultural messages—some more profound than others. Among these is the message of gratitude which has stood the test of time and has real benefits when practiced faithfully. Research even supports this claim. Welcome to this special time of year. Special music: Pete Driscoll, piano.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 20, 10:30 A.M.
Standing on the Side of Love – Unity in Diversity
Rev. Mark Kiyimba
Rev. Mark Kiyimba is the founder of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda. In addition he has founded both an orphanage and a school for children who have lost parents through HIV/AIDS. He is a leading advocate for GLBT rights in Uganda; the current UU World has an article on his excellent work. Mark will also give a public lecture tonight at 7:00 p.m. at our church. The choir will sing.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 13, 10:30 A.M.
Where Does Our Path Lead?
Rev. Michael Brown
Today is New Member Sunday. What is the nature of the community that our new members have joined? Where are we headed? How do our skills and the world’s needs intersect? These are good questions for all of us as we look to the coming years. Should we try to set a direction or just let it flow? Special music: LuAnn Stoskopf on flute.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 6, 10:30 A.M.
How My Journey Brought Me Here with You
Rev. Ellen Culpepper
Our guest today is a Disciples of Christ minister from Bloomington-Normal who is in transition to becoming Unitarian Universalist. After serving 39 years as a Disciples of Christ (mainline Protestant) senior minister, Ellen reflects on what it means to find a settled home now with Unitarian Universalists. The choir will sing.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 30, 10:30 A.M.
Dia de los Muertos
Rev. Michael Brown

Today we celebrate the traditional holiday of Mexico and other countries called Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. We will make an ofrenda, or altar, to honor those who have died, and you are invited to bring a photo or other momento of a loved one to place on the ofrenda. Dia de los Muertos is both mournful and celebratory in its mood. Our choir will sing and we have a mariachi band as our special guests. This is a service for all ages. Today’s music: Enjoy traditional Mexican mariachi music as well as our own choir.
Ofrenda
Sunday, October 23, 10:30 A.M.
Occupy the World
Rev. Michael Brown

The widespread demonstrations of the last month have focused our attention on issues of economic justice. What is fair and just when it comes to taxes, bonuses, bailouts, public employees, campaign fundraising, entitlements, PACS, and wealth distribution? People are really taking these questions to heart. Is there such a thing as economic justice, and if so, what is it? Special Music: Musical trio: Sydney Campen and Darren and Sarah Seymore
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 16, 10:30 A.M.
The Ins and Outs of Immigration
Rev. Michael Brown

Immigration is a painful issue in our society right now and our Thursday night course has made it clear how complex this issue is. Without grabbing at simple answers too quickly, we will seek an approach that genuinely addresses the diverse needs involved and also the ever-present obligation to treat people of all backgrounds with respect and dignity. The choir will sing today and we will learn the Spanish version of Spirit of Life.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 9, 10:30 A.M.
Making Amends
Rev. Michael Brown

Twelve Step groups talk about making amends as a necessary part of a healing process and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur sets aside this time of year to make amends and seek reconciliation. Can we affirm our UU aversion to using guilt as a motivator and still earnestly seek to do the right thing about some aspect of our life that is broken? Special Music: Erica Graves The Involvement Fair follows the service.
Sermon
Sunday, October 2, 10:30 A.M.
The Arrow of Evolution
Rev. Michael Brown

Does evolution go in any particular direction? It's a question that could make a big difference in how we see the world and our role in it. Drawing on thinkers like Charles Darwin, Michael Dowd, and Robert Wright we'll follow the arrow and try to see where it lands, if possible. The choir will sing.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, September 25, 10:30 A.M.
What Does It Mean to Be Fair?
Rev. Michael Brown

Our lives are permeated with issues regarding fairness. If one child gets a strawberry cone and the other gets vanilla, is that fair? How do we decide who gets what? If the issue is immigration or taxes, what is fair? Following the service we will meet in Fellowship Hall to select our social outreach projects for the year. The choir will sing.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, September 18, 10:30 A.M.
The Need of Our Time
Rev. Michael Brown

As we begin a new church year and see our world full of strife and our nation with a deep cultural divide, can we discern what kind of direction would be helpful for humanity? Can our religious path offer such a direction? Let's explore that possibility.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, August 21, 10:30 A.M.
The Stories We Don't Know
Jim Parrish

The stories we know and are comfortable with become who we are. How can we become a more diverse denomination capable of working good in this world if we don't know the story?
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, June 5, 10:30 A.M.
Twenty Years of Life
Rev. Michael Brown

Today I will offer some reflections on the last twenty years. What are some of the events that stand out and define us as a community? What do we have to celebrate? What might the future look like? Special music: Mat Timm and Craig Curtis. Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity. Our annual Salad Lunch follows the service.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 29, 10:30 A.M.
Evil and the Reptilian Brain
Rev. Michael Brown

In theology the problem of evil is considered one of the most difficult things to explain. What do we mean by evil and where does it come from? Maybe it has to do with the dinosaurs. Today we will hear from several graduating high school seniors who have grown up in our church. Special Music: Eli Hosbrough; Alex, Cindy, and Courtney Silver. Share the Plate: Prairie State Legal
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 22, 10:30 A.M.
How the Unitarians and the Universalists Got Together and Created Something That Works
Rev. Michael Brown

Today we welcome new members into our church. Each new member will bring new gifts into our common life, gifts that will enrich our community. We also celebrate the union of the Unitarians and the Universalists that took place 50 years ago this month. Main Street, USA, a great vocal quartet led by our own Jinny Gunnar, will share special music. Share the Plate: Prairie State Legal
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 8, 10:30 A.M.
Universalism Behind Three Doors
Rev. Michael Brown

Last week Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed had some inspiring remarks about the message of Universalism and its timeliness in our ever-challenging world. Today we offer several ways this timeless message can be framed; ways that fit a variety of theological stances. Which will you take—door number one, number two, or number three? Special music: Peoria Recorder Consort Share the Plate: Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 1, 10:30 A.M.
Dragged Kicking and Screaming Into Heaven
Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed

Early in the 19th century Universalism swept across our young nation finding a popularity it never again achieved. It proclaimed a truly radical message. Is it time for us to return to the message that God’s love brooks no resistance that Universalism re-articulated for the 21st century? The choir will sing Annie Laurie. Our guest is a Meadville/Lombard faculty member and keynote speaker at our district assembly. He preached his first sermon outside of seminary in our church many years ago. Let us welcome him back to Peoria. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Mental Health Alliance
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, April 24, 10:30 A.M.
The New Wave of Universalists
Rev. Michael Brown

Universalism is on the move in the 21st century. It’s the cover story in this week’s Time magazine. What do these new Universalists tell us about what’s happening in our world? Amid a lot of chaos, a hopeful twist on an old message is changing religion in America. Special Music: Jay Parker will sing and Marcia Henry Liebenow, Concertmaster of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra will play violin. Share the Plate: Mental Health Alliance
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, April 17, 10:30 A.M.
The Tolerance Paradox
Rev. Michael Brown

Tolerance is a word we use in a positive way, but are there limits to tolerance? How can one honor the spirit of tolerance and yet respond in healthful ways to those who are not tolerant? Where is the balance point between tolerance and foolishness? The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Look, It’s My Book
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, April 10, 10:30 A.M.
A Vision for the No Hell Church
Rev. Michael Brown

This Sunday we will unveil the new Vision Statement that we will be voting on in May. What kind of vision of the future would be worthy of such a creative, dynamic, and historic community? And how might we go about realizing such a vision? Come and find out. Special music: Mark Filip, clarinet. Share the Plate: Look, It’s My Book
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, March 6, 10:30 A.M.
The Path of Polydoxy
Rev. Michael Brown

Polydoxy is a word used by Jewish philosopher Alvin Reines to describe an approach to religion built on freedom of belief. What would it mean to take this path seriously, to embrace freedom? I was introduced to this idea by a high school friend of mine who became a rabbi and studied under Alvin Reines. Could polydoxy be another way to describe Unitarian Universalism? The choir will sing. Share the Plate: The Center for Prevention of Abuse
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, February 20, 10:30 A.M.
The Critical Mind and the Open Heart
Rev. Michael Brown

Sometimes it seems as if the light of critical thought, shined on religion, causes faith to just shrivel up and die. But perhaps faith is not dead after all. This stage of growth and its questions are very much alive within Unitarian Universalism. This exploration will use some of the ideas of James Fowler’s Stages of Faith. The choir sings today as well. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: The Center for Prevention of Abuse
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, February 13, 10:30 A.M.
Turn the Principles Upside Down
Rev. Gail Lindsay Marriner

Creativity consists of looking at the familiar with new eyes. This sermon reflects what might happen if we were to look at our UU principles in a new way and read them starting with the seventh and ending with the first. Rev. Gail Lindsay Marriner has served congregations in Massachusetts and Texas and is currently serving the UU Congregation of Duluth, Minnesota. While getting her M. Div. from Harvard she won the Billings Prize for preaching. Special Music: East Peoria Community High School Chorale under the direction of Pete Driscoll. Share the Plate: Friends of People with Aids
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, February 6, 10:30 A.M.
Stages of Faith Development
Rev. Michael Brown

Are There patterns in the way that we human beings grow spiritually? Using work by James Fowler, Lawrence Kohlberg, and others, let's examing the possibility that there are such patterns. Of course, we as UUs might not follow the pattern, but then again, maybe we do after all. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Friends of People with Aids
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, January 30, 10:30 A.M.
A House Divided
Rev. Michael Brown

Are there creative ways to understand the deep divisions which seem to plague our society? Are there any paths to finding a sense of unity that can include all the differences? Religion plays a surprisingly large role in this cultural drama. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Friends of People with Aids
Sermon
Sunday, January 23, 10:30 A.M.
A Chance for a Stance
Dave Weiman

It isn’t often that we, as individuals or as a community, have the opportunity to address a core cause of a social and civil injustice. Today we look at just such an issue that has negatively affected Native Americans for over 400 years. Special music: Pam Greenslate, Native American flute and Spirit of the Rainbow, Native American drums. Share the Plate: Families Against Toxic Waste
Sermon
Sunday, January 9, 10:30 A.M.
Religion and the Placebo Effect
Rev. Michael Brown

A new study shows that placebo drugs can work even when the patient is told that they are placebos! This is just too amazing to not pay attention to. Are there any parallels with religion? You betcha! Special music: Jay Parker, vocal solo. Share the Plate: Families Against Toxic Waste
Sermon
Sunday, January 2, 10:30 A.M.
Breaking Through
Rev. Michael Brown

It’s a new year, believe it or not! What can we do with the gift of one more year? Our congregation has been designated a Breakthrough Congregation, but what does that mean? How can we as individuals and as a community break through the boundaries that hold us back? The choir begins a new year of music today too. Share the Plate: Interfaith Alliance
Greeting | Sermon
2010
Sunday, December 5, 10:30 A.M.
The Light of Freedom
Rev. Michael Brown and Norma Rossi

As we continue our journey through the holiday season we will explore the symbolism of Hanukkah, one of the winter celebrations focusing on light. As the light returns at the time of winter solstice so in the story of Hanukkah a people return to their sacred place. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Guest at Your Table
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 28, 10:30 A.M.
The Biology of Belief
Dr. Robert Fuller

Professor Fuller of Bradley is known to many of us and is always a welcome and interesting speaker. Today he addresses the connections between religion and biology, how our bodies affect what and how we believe. We look forward to his insights. Special music: Pete Driscoll. Share the Plate: Guest at Your Table
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 21, 10:30 A.M.
Giving Thanks in Anxious Times
Rev. Michael Brown

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday with food, friends, and family. But times are not great, and problems abound in our public and private worlds. How do we find an attitude of gratitude in difficult times? The choir will sing today. Share the Plate: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Peoria County
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 14, 10:30 A.M.
Jenkin Lloyd Jones and How Unitarianism Got to Illinois
Rev. Michael Brown

Today on this New Member Sunday we look at one of the heroes of 19th century Unitarianism, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, who among other things, helped create the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He also founded Unitarian churches all over the Midwest and probably preached in Peoria as well. Join us as we welcome our newest UUs. Special music: LuAnn Stoskopf, flute and Jacqueline Schwab, piano. Share the Plate: CASA of Peoria County
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 7, 10:30 A.M.
Dream Big
Rev. Michael Brown

This past summer I worked with ministerial colleagues from Appleton, Wisconsin to present a workshop at the UUA General Assembly on growth. We each contributed ideas that we brought from our own experience. One of the Appleton ideas that impressed me was “Dream Big.” I’ll try to convey what that might mean. Today is also our potluck lunch after church to launch a mini pledge drive, and I hope you can join us. Our choir will sing as well. Share the Plate: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Peoria County
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 17, 10:30 A.M.
The Future of Unitarian Universalism
Rev. Michael Brown

Where is Unitarian Universalism headed? Do we have a future as a religious movement in America or in other parts of the world? What contributions can we make? Where is UU theology going? We can take a peek into the past and then see if we can discern where the road could lead for UUs. Today is Association Sunday and our Share the Plate recipient will be the Unitarian Universalist Association. The choir will sing.
Sermon
Sunday, October 10, 10:30 A.M.
Reading the Crystal Ball
Rev. Michael Brown

Today we look into the future of our church community. Did you know that just five years ago we were moving into this building? These have been pretty fascinating years. What will the next five years bring? That is our challenge to envision. Special music: Mary Greenhood, vocal solo. Share the Plate: Common Place
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 3, 10:30 A.M.
Evolution Toward What?
Rev. Michael Brown

Now that many of us have heard the thoughts of Michael Dowd, either through his book, DVDs, or in person, and we can think about evolution as having spiritual significance, where do we think this great creative process is going? Where are we going? What hints do we have? Today you will get to meet our new choir director, Dave Breeden. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Common Place
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, September 26, 10:30 A.M.
A Welcoming and Caring Community
Rev. Michael Brown

Is our church welcoming to those who come through our door? Certainly it is in many ways. But what does it mean to be truly welcoming and caring? What does it mean to love inclusively as we say in our mission statement? It’s not a trivial thing to do. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Planned Parenthood
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, September 19, 10:30 A.M.
Embracing Freedom
Rev. Michael Brown

Freedom is one of the core values of our faith. But freedom is not an easy road to travel. We human beings seem to be constantly tempted to curtail someone else's freedom whether it be in some distant land or New York City. How can we truly affirm freedom and why does it matter? Special music: Kathy Carter, flute solo, Share the Plate: Planned Parenthood
Greeting | Story for all Ages | Sermon
Tuesday, September 7, 7:00 PM
"Thank God For Evolution"
Rev. Michael Dowd
Come hear Rev. Michael Dowd share a gospel that's billions of years old. Michael's bold new book builds bridges, provides guidance, and restores realistic hope for people of any religion or belief system. Click here for a flyer of the event. At the end of his presentation Michael Dowd played a trailer for his book.
Michael Dowd Presentation
Sunday, June 6, 10:30 A.M.
Who Would Have Imagined!
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

It's been a good year to be an intern at UU Peoria! We will reflect on some of the themes shared along our journey together, and explore the use of imagination in religious thought. Special music: Pete Driscoll, vocal. Share the Plate: Prairie State Legal Services
Sermon
Sunday, May 30, 10:30 A.M.
Clara Barton, A Compassionate Response to War
Rev. Michael Brown

On this Memorial Day weekend, we reflect on the life of Clara Barton, part of our Universalist tradition and founder of the American Red Cross. Her response to war and human summering provides us with a powerful example of the best side of human nature. Special music: David Woessner, Saxophone. Share the Plate: Prairie State Legal Services
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 23, 10:30 A.M.
The End of Religion
Rev. Michael Brown

Is humanity outgrowing religion? Will science eventually make religion unnecessary? Is there a role for religion as we move into the Star Trek Age? These are a few of the questions we might ponder as we prepare to vote on a new mission statement at our congregational meeting after church. Come to church now while there’s still time! Special music: Flute trio: Kathy Carter, Martha Herm, and LuAnn Stoskopf. Share the Plate: Carroll County Haiti Mission Project
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, May 9, 10:30 A.M.
Flower Communion – Celebrating the Values of Belonging
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

Our culture tells the story of nurturing as belonging to “weaker” members of our society. That strength is inherent only in those who are willing to compete. But the truth is the values of Belonging are stronger and more inherent to our souls than competition. And when we practice Belonging, we “win” on many, many levels. We’ll share flowers during this multigenerational service in the spirit of Belonging. (Please bring a cut flower per person in your family to share!) Special Music: Peoria Recorder Consort Share the Plate: Carroll County Haiti Mission Project
Greeting | History
Sunday, May 2, 10:30 A.M.
How to Light a Candle Without Burning Down the Church
Rev. Michael Brown

Today is New Member Sunday when we have the pleasure of welcoming new members into our congregation. How do we balance the sometimes competing ideals of freedom, caring, tolerance, and social commitment? This question doesn’t have a simple answer, yet it is at the core of our tradition. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Carroll County Haiti Mission Project
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, April 18, 10:30 A.M.
The Miracles That Surround Us
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

What do you think of when you hear “miracle” used? Are miracles only odd stories in religious texts and fantasy novels, or an apparent healing or survival of danger? Does modern life have miracles? If so, where do we find them? Is a miracle the point or just a sign something important happened? We’ll look at how Unitarian Universalism has treated miracles and what religious people might consider a miracle to be today. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Children’s Home
Sermon
Sunday, April 11, 10:30 A.M.
What Do You Do When the Baby Cries at Night?
Rev. Michael Brown

We live in a divided culture as is evident every day. Linguistics expert George Lakoff contends that there are two different ways of defining a family in our culture and based on these two models, all the deep cultural and political differences make sense. What do you do, pick the baby up or let the child cry? Special Music: Mark Filip, clarinet soloist Share the Plate: Children’s Home
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, April 4, 10:30 A.M.
An Evolutionary Easter
Rev. Michael Brown

Come celebrate this traditional holiday and explore a new way of looking at an old and very widespread story. Evolution provides a surprising lens for viewing one of our most universal myths. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Children’s Home
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, March 28, 10:30 A.M.
The Country That Changed Its Mind
Rev. Michael Brown

American society is not the same as it was a week ago. Something has changed. Part of the change is about politics but some of it goes beyond politics and touches the spirit. Come and find out how. Special music: Zephyr recorder trio: Roger and Shirley Cunningham, Eleonore Hansen Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, March 21, 10:30 A.M.
How To Be a Christian without Killing Anyone
Brooks McDaniel

Ramakrishna, a Hindu mystic, is credited with saying, “God has made different religions to suit different aspirations, times, and countries...one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with wholehearted devotion.” Brooks McDaniel will explore the idea of many religions reaching an ultimate understanding, and the difficulty of the different paths understanding each other. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Sermon
Sunday, March 14, 10:30 A.M.
Diverse to What End … or Beginning?
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

Our version of Unitarianism and Universalism grew up in colonial United States. A very Eurocentric culture at its base, we inherited a polyglot of liberal religious ideas and ideals. Today we face the challenge of understanding our heritage in order to articulate a clear meaning for our present and to share it with the future of our nation and world—a world that is less and less Eurocentric/North American in culture, but needs our message none the less. Special music: Zach Richerson, violin Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, March 7, 10:30 A.M.
What Does Our Church Stand For?
Rev. Michael Brown

Can you state clearly and concisely what our church stands for? See if you can. Our Long Range Planning Committee has proposed a nine word mission statement for our consideration. Come and help us ponder what we stand for and how to say it. Whether we can do this or not makes a huge difference. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Habitat for Humanity
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, February 14, 10:30 A.M.
The Politics of Love
Rev. Michael Brown

As Valentine’s Day previews the birth of spring, our nation ponders “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and the question of whose love can be shared in a legal marriage. How did politics become part of love? Do we have so much love in the world that we need to make some of it illegal? If you ask, I’ll tell what our UU tradition says about these questions. Special music: East Peoria High School Chorale Share the Plate: Central Illinois FRIENDS of People with AIDS
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, February 7, 10:30 A.M.
Beauty: Moving from Chaos, Imagination, and Perfection to Hope
UU Minister, Kent McKusick

Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder? The poet Frederick Turner writes “Beauty… is the highest integrative level of understanding and the most comprehensive capacity for effective action. It enables us to go with, rather than against…” How can beauty emerge from chaos or escape the medieval understanding of it as perfection to inspire a journey of discovery, action, and hope?
Kent McKusick, is a UU minister who served as intern minister at All Souls in Kansas City, as chaplain at Ferry Beach (Conference Center in Maine), and at the Samaritan House in Fort Worth. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Central Illinois FRIENDS of People with AIDS
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, January 31, 10:30 A.M.
In the River
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

We will use the lens of a song by Peter Mayer, “God Is a River,” to reflect on a traditional aspect of being Unitarian Universalist—the ability to let go. The song is startling in its simple but powerful message of being able to change one’s religious perspective. We will explore how that message is reflected in stories of spiritual change in religious history, and how it calls to us today. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: The Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, January 24, 10:30 A.M.
The Subject That Cannot Be Discussed
Rev. Michael Brown

Too hot to handle! Today we will talk about that which we have the most difficulty talking about. Is it sex? No. Politics? No. But it is something we all care about and most of us want more of it. I'll give you a hint: It's the root of all evil! Share the Plate: The Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, January 17, 10:30 A.M.
The Universalism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. Michael Brown

Today we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and pay special attention to the ways that his path intersected with Unitarian Universalist thoughts and ideas. Was King a Universalist? I will present a possible answer to this question and the UU Bluuegrass band will play some of the songs of the era. Special music: UU Bluuegrass Band and the choir will sing. Share the Plate: The Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, January 3, 10:30 A.M.
Our Humanist Roots
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

Humanism took root with Greek philosophers rejecting the supernatural and looking for human explanations for our being and relationship to the world around us. It was revived in the Italian Renaissance and the philosophies of the Enlightenment and given modern words and religious meaning in the first Humanist Manifesto, signed by our own Universalist Minister Clinton Lee Scott. We will explore Modern Humanism and what it can mean to religious people today. Share the Plate: Common Place
Greeting | Sermon
2009
Sunday, December 27, 10:30 A.M.
Religion, Conflict, and Peacemaking
Rev. Michael Brown

Many of the conflicts in the world have a religious dimension. Often it seems like religion is the cause of our problems. How can religious people create peace and not more war? As we enter a new decade, this is a crucial question for our planetary future. Share the Plate: Common Place
Sermon
Thursday, December 24, 7:00 P.M.
Candlelight Christmas Eve Service
Rev. Michael Brown

Join us for a traditional Christmas Eve service with candles, stories, songs, and goodies after the service. Bring grandma and grandpa, your out-of-town guests, and the kids! We will listen to the ancient stories once again and discover what new messages we may hear.
Greeting | Thoughts
Sunday, December 20, 10:30 A.M.
The New Good News
Rev. Michael Brown

People in many parts of the world are celebrating the coming of Christmas, an ancient story that still carries important truths. Others celebrate solstice and other winter holidays. Are there any truths that speak to us as a planetary people? Today we will hear the news from a global gathering of religious leaders who have asked themselves that question. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Common Place
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, December 6, 10:30 A.M.
A Season for UUs, a Season for All
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

The end of the year brings a confluence of religious holidays—Hanukkah (Jewish), Christmas (Christian), Ashira (Islam), and Yule (Pagan). No matter the religious holiday, our culture has imposed a veneer of commercialism on top of the season. How do we choose what has religious meaning to us? What rituals do we hold onto and why? How do we navigate this “holiday” season as Unitarian Universalists? The choir will sing. Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 29, 10:30 A.M.
Why Should We Talk to People of Other Faiths?
Rev. Michael Brown

As eight members of our community prepare to leave to participate in the Parliament of the World’s Religions, let us consider what is to be gained by talking to people of other faiths. Is such dialogue just to make us feel good, or could it really make a difference? The choir sings today. Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 22, 10:30 A.M.
Living For Real
Rev. Michael Brown

Today we welcome new members into our community and reflect on some of the foundational values of our UU faith. How can we explain our way of being religious to others? How can we better understand it for ourselves? These are questions that deserve an answer. We will try to do them justice. Special music: LuAnn Stoskopf, flute. Share the Plate: UU Service Committee
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 8, 10:30 A.M.
The Dance of Being: The Individual, Community, and Ideals in Covenant
Jim Parrish, Intern Minister

The definition and how we use a covenant in Unitarian Universalist Polity is derived from early Congregationalist structure brought by the Pilgrims and Puritans to the colonies. To join a church one entered into covenant—the individual covenanting with the community and both covenanting with the “higher ideal” that they agreed upon: a sacred triangle, if you will. We’ll explore the relationship of the individual and community and that “higher ideal.” Special music: Zephyr Recorder Ensemble: Shirley and Roger Cunningham and Eleonore Hansen. Share the Plate: The Center for Prevention of Abuse.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, November 1, 10:30 A.M.
Dia de los Muertos
Rev. Michael Brown

Today’s service will be a celebration of the traditional Mexican holiday called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. You are invited to bring a photo or other reminder of someone you have lost and we will make an ofrenda during the service. An ofrenda is a traditional collection of pictures and other objects that honor and remind us of a departed loved one. We will enjoy the music of a Mariachi band and the choir will sing “Soon I Will Be Done.” Share the Plate: The Center for Prevention of Abuse
Greeting
Sunday, October 25, 10:30 A.M.
Theology of Possibilities
Rev. Michael Brown

The philosopher John Dewey would have liked the theme of our pledge campaign—Possibilities. He built a way of looking at religion based on the idea of possibilities and our yearning to explore them. The jazz music of Dave and Sherry Woessner will remind us that there is more than one way to interpret a melody and that we human beings love to explore the possibilities. Special music: Woodwind Duet, David and Sherry Woessner. Share the Plate: The Center for Prevention of Abuse
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 18, 10:30 A.M.
Standing on the Side of Love
Rev. Linda Berez

Standing on the Side of Love is a program of the Unitarian Universalist Association that grew out of the tragic shooting that took place in one of our UU churches last year. Rev. Linda Berez is traveling around our district to spread the message of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. She is also an Affiliated Community Minister of our church. The choir will sing.
Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, October 11, 10:30 A.M.
Beyond Theism and Atheism: A Spectrum, Not a Chasm
Rev. Michael Brown

We often hear that there are three religious possibilities: theist, atheist, and agnostic, but actually there are many, many more. We will try to explore at least some of the major alternatives and get a sense of what they say. Special music: Pete Driscoll, piano solo.
Sermon
Sunday, October 4, 10:30 A.M.
The Engineer and the Ocean: The Reason of a Religious Life
Intern Minister Jim Parrish

Unitarian Universalists tend to be people who understand religion in a different way from much (but not all) of the mainstream culture. I believe our understanding is closer to fulfilling the popular etymology of the word as related to religare or “to bind fast.” This “binding” for us tends to include as much of humanity and our ecology (what we live in) as we can get our arms around and understand. I will explore what pushed me onto the path of ministry, what that path looks like, and begin our theological conversation. The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Central Illinois FRIENDS of People with AIDS

Greeting | Sermon
Sunday, September 20, 10:30 A.M.
Searching for Community in a Divided World
Rev. Michael Brown

The present national debate over healthcare is historic, difficult, and far from over. The outcome is still unknown. Are there any compelling reasons why we should care whether other people have health care? The choir will sing. Share the Plate: Central Illinois FRIENDS of People with AIDS

Sermon