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I had a pretty busy Saturday at my church. First I went to a memorial service for a longtime church member who passed away recently. I had decided to attend an all-ages party that was being held at that church that same evening so I went to the memorial service, hung around for the reception that followed afterwards, then headed for the nearby Starbucks that is located inside of a Target where I brought my laptop with me and killed time by surfing the Internet until it was time for the second event to begin at my church.

We ended up having a pretty light turnout. The high point was that someone had brought Play-Doh and soon everyone—both adults and children alike—were playing around with the stuff.

I ended up joining in as well. I used to love playing with Play-Doh as a child but I outgrew it once I was around 9 or 10 years old. I haven’t really touched it in years. So I played around with it. I began to remember the old Saturday Night Live sketches featuring The Mr. Bill Show, which satirized children’s TV shows by featuring a character made entirely from clay who would end up getting abused in a gruesome yet hilarious fashion. I attempted with making Mr. Bill’s head but I was relying 100% on memory so I know it’s not that great.

It turned out to be all for naught because only one other person present got my Mr. Bill reference. Everyone else were either too young to remember Mr. Bill’s late 1970s heyday or they were way older than me and they could’ve cared less about Mr. Bill even when he was popular enough to spawn a line of t-shirts. (I still remember having my own Mr. Bill shirt when I was in high school.)

After that attempt, I took out a dolphin-shaped cutter and I began to just roll out the blue Play-Doh then used the cutter to cut out dolphin shapes. I ended up making this pattern of clay dolphins.

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My Unitarian Universalist church congregation had hired a new minister about six months ago. As part of the hiring process, we had a Ministerial Start Up Workshop that was led by our region’s contact in the Unitarian Universalist Association.  I was asked to take pictures of this workshop. The only reason why I’m writing a blog post about this is so I can prove to people that, yes, I can take pictures of events.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

The workshop began after the usual Sunday service ended and it started with lunch.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

The Reverend Megan Foley of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) led the workshop.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Everyone sat in a circle in order to make it easier to communicate with each other face-to-face.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Basically much of the time was spent on describing the history of our congregation, what were its successes and what were its mistakes and things of that sort.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Our congregation’s new minister, Rev. Rachel Christensen, spoke outlining her hopes for the congregation’s future.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

The workshop ended with a communal art project but one didn’t have to be an accomplished artist to take part.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

A bag was passed around that was full of foam Valentine heart stickers in a variety of colors (ranging from light pink to deep red) and styles (some had glitter on them). The idea was to choose the hearts we liked the best.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

Here’s the set of hearts I chose.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

We stuck our hearts on a board. Here is what the board looked like when it was finished.

Ministerial Start Up Workshop at Paint Branch UU Church, January 21, 2018

My church was hosting a special all-ages congregation-wide Friday night party last week and I was recruited to take pictures for this event.

Basically the theme of this party was a celebration of all of the birthdays that happened last year. The main room of the Meeting House (where Sunday services usually take place) had 12 tables with each table representing a month along with decorations based on what that month usually represents.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

The party started with dinner. Each participant was requested to sit at the table of our birth mont. So I sat at the December table where two other people also sat. We started talking about our shared experiences with having birthdays so close to Christmas while eating our meal.

There were times when I got up and took a couple of pictures.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

Here’s a view of the decorations and the rest of the Meeting House room as taken from behind the December table.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

We had a Bingo game where we had to match the squares that all had the names of famous Unitarian Universalists.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

Then it was time for serving the birthday cakes. Each table got its own birthday cake with different flavors and decorations based on the particular month.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

The next photo shows the cake for the December table, which was naturally decorated with a winter Christmas theme. (Of course this event took place so soon after December so the memories of the winter holidays were still fresh in my mind.) The cake also tasted very good.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

I took pictures of the other cakes and I tried a few slices as well.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

The evening basically ended with the adults and teens socializing among each other while the kids played.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

Santa Claus

My Unitarian Universalist congregation had its annual Kwanzaa service on New Year’s Eve this year (mainly because New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday in 2017) where lunch was served following the end of the service. Here are my photos of the food and the decorations from that day.

Santa Claus

Since Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year, my church did a special all-ages Christmas pageant for the Sunday morning service where people re-enacted the nativity scene. Here are my photos from that day.

People did some socializing after the service ended.

Here’s a photo of the Christmas tree and poinsettias.

I had volunteered to stay after the service to help with the clean-up chores. While I was in the kitchen I noticed an Ouija board. You know you’re in a Unitarian Universalist church when you see an Ouija board out and no one raises a peep about it. (I can only imagine how a fundamentalist evangelical Christian church would react if one of its members brought an Ouija board to its facilities. LOL!)

I went to the annual Holiday Warm-Up Party at my church where I ate food, socialized with people, helped a little bit with trimming the Christmas tree, and I took a bunch of photos. We had a variety of crafts and activities centering around both Hanukkah and Christmas. I had a blast being with my friends on the first night in December.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

One of the crafts involved making ornaments using oranges and cloves.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

People of all ages helped with decorating this year’s Christmas tree.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

The church served dinner during this party, including pizza as well as a variety of other food.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

The Director of Religious Exploration lit the chalice, which is a ritual that is usually performed in Unitarian Universalist churches to indicate the start of an event, such as Sunday service or a more social event like this party.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Puzzles and coloring pages about Christmas and Hanukkah were available for anyone to use.

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

We also had a singalong of various holiday hymns like “Deck the Halls” and “Light One Candle.”

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

Here is what the Christmas tree looked like at the end of the party.


Holiday Warm-Up Party, December 1, 2017

I shot this video of the Chalice Dancers doing a performance to the song “Peace Before Us” during Sunday service at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland on December 3, 2017.

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The Sunday before Halloween was jam-packed for me. I spent the bulk of that day at my church. First I attended a special all-ages intergenerational Sunday service that dealt with Halloween/Samhain. Many people in the choir were dressed up in costumes and there were appropriately spooky decorations at the church as well.

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Someone brought this really cool looking Halloween cake that tasted delicious as well.

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Here is how I decorated my car trunk for Trunk or Treat.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

The only thing I regret not photographing is what I gave away. I purchased one package containing 24 small boxes that had temporary Halloween tattoos. The other were a bunch of tiny notepads that were shaped like mummies, witches, frankensteins, ghosts, and other Halloween creatures. I purchased them at Target for only $10. They were such a hit at church that I ran out and I ended up having to buy Halloween pretzels so I would have something to give out to the trick or treaters on Halloween itself. Oh well. In any case, here is how other people decorated their trunks.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Someone brought a portable sandbox for children to play with.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

There were games and face painting that the kids could participate in. Plus there was plenty of food to munch on.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

I also shot a short video that included people dancing the Time Warp (yes, they played the song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and children engaging in a wheel-type race.

If all that weren’t enough, I stayed behind after the party because, this fall, I’ve been serving as a volunteer teacher of English to recent immigrants as part of my church’s social action program. The class runs from 1:15-3:15 p.m. so I was definitely tired by the time I finally returned home.

My Unitarian Universalist congregation threw a pizza party in the glen after Sunday service on July 2. Since it was held during the throes of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend it was lightly attended. But the people who were there had a great time. I took a few pictures with my camera.

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Ramadan

A few months ago I went on the annual Women’s Retreat that was held at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland. During that day-long retreat I learned that the church has an extensive yarn stash.

Here’s some background information. When I first joined that congregation years ago, there was an elderly woman named Ottille Van Allen who was in her 80’s at the time but she was incredibly active. I could write a whole series of separate blog posts about the stories she used to tell me and others in that congregation over the years from being born in Germany when Kaiser Wilhelm II ruled that nation with an iron fist to immigrating with her parents to the U.S. because her father was a socialist and the Kaiser took a dim view of people like him to how she was immediately placed in an English-only class at school because there was no such thing as ESOL at the time.

Ottille Van Allen was a very avid knitter and she would spend much of her time knitting hats and mittens. (She was a retired schoolteacher.) She would sell her hats and mittens at a table during the church’s annual auction in the fall. She would continue to sell her inventory after regular Sunday service until mid-December. Whatever inventory didn’t get sold was donated to homeless shelters and various groups that serviced the poor in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

As Ottille Van Allen’s age increased, she had a harder time keeping up with her knitting. By the time she reached her mid-to-late 90’s, she wasn’t able to handle it any more. (She would die at the age of 103 or 104.) Other church members were moved by her plight and they wanted to continue the tradition she started of selling hats and mittens so a Handcraft Circle sprung up where people would gather after Sunday service a few times a month with their latest knitting or crocheting projects as they made hats and mittens for sale. (I have to note that this Handcraft Circle came into being long before it became trendy for women to form Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting circles that meet in libraries, coffeehouses, and other public places.)

Over the years as people involved in the Handcraft Circle moved elsewhere or died, either they or their families would donate extra yarn to the church for the Handcraft Circle to use for the hats and mittens. When I was at the retreat I found out how much yarn the church has amassed over the years. I saw that there were at least 10 large bins full of yarn of various colors and thickness and I was told that there were more. The church had so many yarn skeins that it could easily open its own yarn store as a side venture if it wanted to do so.

Basically the church would like to get rid of the excess yarn. So I took several skeins home with me. I purchased a circular knitting loom at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts and started making hats. I found that using the loom is easier than the traditional needles because I don’t have to count rows and stitches nor do I have to worry about how many stitches should be knit and how many should be purl. The only thing I have to do is to periodically measure the length of what I knitted in the loom so the hat would’t be too big or too small.

Here are the photos of what I’ve knitted so far.

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