Winter 2021 – CUUPS Newsletter - Archived
CUUPS Newsletter
Winter 2021
A Year of Reflections
Musings from Om • CUUPS Meetups
A Call for Board Members • Online Circles
Renew Membership!
A Year of Reflections
As the first light snow starts to fall outside of my window, I reflect on the past year. CUUPS accomplished much due to the work of a marvelous group of board members, chapters, and members.
As the pandemic continues, meeting with one another has continued for many through various video conferencing technologies. Some are attempting to come together in person as each state opens up. The innovation to invent new rituals, meetings, and such is becoming a new norm. In the community anything is possible.
In June, CUUPS successfully created two presentations for this past General Assembly. Cat R. worked with so many chapters to create a chapter-led ritual and Om Prakash led a discussion with luminaries in the Pagan and Earth-Centered community. We also were a sponsor of the General Assembly.
Thanks to Debra and Cat, all of the chapters who say they are chapters were vetted. We realized the need to know accurate contact information and if the chapters were actually chapters of the organization. This was a large portion of the year. The team spoke with chapter leaders themselves if they were able to be contacted. If not then they spoke with ministers, board members, and congregation administrators. The board learned much from those that spoke with the team. The new information will go up on the website soon and replace all current chapters listed.
CUUPS became a sponsor of the Parliament of the World Religions for the second year. The board participated in their worldwide online conference in October inside of our commitment to expanding interfaith dialogue. The depth of voices in the Earth-Centered and Indigenous people was strong this year from all over the planet through presentations, discussion groups, and musical presentations. It was clear that faith communities from around the world have focused on climate change, caring for others, and working together.
The one area the board felt disappointed with was our Annual Membership Meeting. We were excited and had high expectations when close to 40 people signed up. Unfortunately only 15 participated. The meeting could not be counted as an official meeting. However, we received lots of great input and ideas and for that, we were and are grateful.
As we move into this time of honoring the returning Sun/Son, may the ever-growing light brighten your heart. Hold those you love close. Care for yourselves. Keep reaching out. Have faith.
Warm blessings,
Jerrie Hildebrand
In The Time of Darkness
By Cat R. with Reading Printed with Permission by Rev. Bruce T. Marshall • Image by Cat R.
Last night the church sanctuary was aglow. The A/V team was busy checking equipment. The Winter Solstice speakers and Words for All Ages skit players were also busy finding props and blocking out movements. While gazing over the Christmas tree, amid the poinsettias surrounding the pulpit stage, I took a pause to breathe before starting the rehearsal.
This is my favorite time. The time of darkness. The winter sun has “traveled” the solar analemma curve in the sky and now sits at the very bottom of its annual journey. It will seem to hang there for three days before starting to make the climb back up again reaching higher and higher in the sky as the days lengthen and grow.
Rev. Bruce T. Marshall wrote a piece in the 1980s that we really love and he graciously gave me permission to reprint it for the CUUPs blog. We have used it in our Winter Solstice celebrations many times over the years as a responsive reading. The person in the pulpit starts us off and the congregation responds with the words in bold. This year they take on additional meaning for me.
“We Live in Many Darknesses” by Rev. Bruce T. Marshall
We live in many darknesses. We are often uncertain. We are sometimes afraid.
In the darkness, we light a candle of hope.
We all have sorrows. We have known pain. Each of us carries special regrets.
In the darkness and pain, we light a candle of forgiveness.
We are sometimes lonely, and the world seems cold and hard.
In the darkness and loneliness, we light a candle of warmth.
We have experienced times of joy and happiness and have received numerous gifts of the heart.
In the darkness, with gratitude, we light a candle of thanks.
We have known awe, wonder, mystery; glimmerings of perfection in our imperfect world.
In the darkness, with wonder, we light a candle of praise.
We come together with our uncertainties, sorrows, joys, and wonder.
We bring together many candles, many lights. May our separate lights become one flame, that together we may be nourished by its glow and befriend the darkness.
This year as we put out the candelabra and candles to go along with this reading, I was thinking about how the COVID pandemic has affected holiday celebrations. I know how it has impacted my family and friends. I gazed over the empty pews. I have no way of knowing who might come this year in person or attend as an online guest over a live stream. I have no certain way of knowing how they have been faring, what darkness they might carry. I’ve noticed those missing at online events. I hoped they managed to make it to our online “Blue Christmas” service earlier this month to comfort those facing the first holiday season after the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or other difficult challenges.
I do know that the darkness doesn’t always have to be feared. Sometimes it can be embraced as a time to lay fallow, to rest. Just as the sun hangs low in the sky, it’s ok to hang low sometimes. Just as the sun seems to pause? It’s ok to take a breath and pause. It is a good time to turn inward to reflect, perhaps do some introspection. Think about what parts inside need release, what parts inside need encouragement to grow, and what parts simply need rekindling and restoring.
I created a simple printable papercraft to share with Children’s Religious Education and with the congregation. One could use it with just Rev. Bruce T. Marshall’s reading for a simple solo ritual. Or perhaps pair it with Patti Wigington’s sun candle ritual or write your own words to honor the seasons of the year.
I offer it to you this year with a blessing as we mark the passing of the Winter Solstice…
As each night disappears into the dawn, let us remember it is in the darkness that we slumber and rest. Let us not hurry too fast to leave it. Let us welcome the peace of sitting in stillness. Let us release that which no longer serves us. Let us breathe deeply to nourish and light our candles within. Then let us share our gentle glow with others in need of rekindling.
May it be so.
Cat Rigby is the current chair of Mystic Grove CUUPs at First Unitarian Church of Orlando. She also serves as secretary on the Board of Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans.
2nd Saturday
Brainstorm & Fellowship
Join Cat R. on 2nd Saturdays to brainstorm for the next ritual and talk about chapter topics.
On Jan 8, 2022 at 7 PM EST we’ll be talking about two things! First we’ll cover tips to make online rituals more engaging. We also talk about the upcoming monthly book group for “Pagan and Earth-Centered Voices in Unitarian Universalism.”
Email for more details. Register at:
Starting February on 3rd Saturdays – A Virtual Book Discussion Group
This series of 6 sessions is an experience for CUUPs chapter leaders to learn how to set up team teaching.
This will be a one-hour class at 7 PM EST on 3rd Sundays starting Feb 20, 2022.
In this particular book group you and your chapter can participate in three ways:
Be a Student – Attend by yourself or invite your chapter to sign up. To get the email and you will receive reminders when we are ready to begin.
Be a Guest Facilitator for a Session! You will lead a “table read” for 2 essays of your choice and provide 5 discussion prompt questions for each essay. You simply show up. Our CUUPS Zoom tech will run the meeting Zoom for you. We will send you a flier to promote the book group at your home congregation as being co-hosted by CUUPs National and YOUR chapter!
Interested in reading and writing? Participate in the project as a writer by contacting with which 2 essays you wish to write 5 prompts. You can do as many as you like, but at least 2.
Help us gather the questions, prompts, and such into one Discussion Guide that CUUPS can offer to congregations and chapters at a later date for this book.
Be a part of the creation of this new Adult RE program! For more info email
A Winter Poem
from Om Prakash
When Snow Falls Gently
In the late hours
when snow falls gently
it covers the broken ground,
and boards,
and twisted roots,
and cans,
and bottles.
When snow falls gently the world is smooth.
I can see your face chasing away the bitter cold.
Hold me close,
rock me in your loving arms singing lullabies that help me remember.
Teach me to turn back to my snow driven self,
dancing in the rapture of my first breath,
singing to the sound of music and arts,
moving to the poetry of rhythm in motion
that fills my heart every time I think of you,
my Beloved One.
I remember:
I don’t need to return,
I have never left.
You and I are one dancing in the silky smoothness,
beating back the cold with the rhythm of our dance-steps
filling the world with laughter
as the cold winds blow and our hearts,
like burning embers,
become the warmth of the sun carried on the winds.
Om Prakash Gilmore
© November 22, 2008
Join the CUUPS Board
  • Strongly identify as UU Pagan
  • A current paid member of CUUPS at the national level
  • In right relations with your own congregation
  • Familiarity with Zoom video conference or willingness to learn
  • Comfortable with Google Tools, Google Drive, and Gmail or willing to learn
  • Some experience serving on another “working board” such as a UU church board or local community non-profit board is welcome but not required.
  • Young Adults ages 18-35 are especially welcome
  • A willingness to work in a team environment
If you are interested, please contact to put the nominating committee in touch with you!
Many Thanks
We wish to thank Debra G. for her services as Membership and Chapter VP for the last several years.
While Debra is still working with membership and chapter issues she has stepped off of the board for some well earned rest and relaxation.
We honor all she has and continues to contribute.
Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Inc.
2692 Madison Rd., Suite 216, Cincinnati, OH 45208 | 330.892.8877
For more information log-in to our website

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