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A voice of progressive religious tradition since 1843
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Sunday, November 20, 10:30 A.M.
Gratitude Anyway
Rev. Michael Brown
We are in the season for gratitude. Gratitude is always in season, but what if life is tough and things don't go our way? What happens to gratitude then? We all have a stake in answering this question..

Sunday, November 13, 10:30 A.M.
Who is Wounded, Who Can be Healed?
Rev. Michael Brown
Let us ponder today some of the wounds that divide us as a people and what the prospects are for healing. What resources do we have, religious and secular, to heal the wounds? How can people who see the world very differently find a way to live in peace together?

Sunday, November 6, 10:30 A.M.
Confronting the Frightening Jabberwock
Rev. Michael Brown
This week our country chooses a new President and votes to fill many other important and powerful positions. It has been a surrealistic election season. Maybe Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem, sung today by our by choir, says it best, "Beware the Jabberwock, ...the Jubjub bird, ...and the Frumious Bandersnatch!" Let's hope we all survive this exercise in something that aspires to be democracy.

Sunday, October 30, 10:30 A.M.
Healing Our World
Rev. Michael Brown
In our mission statement we affirm that "Healing Our World" is part of what we are about. Is it really possible to heal our world? How do we go about doing that? Let us ponder that question and then make good decisions.

Sunday, October 16, 10:30 A.M.
The Cure for Democracy
Rev. Michael Brown
Did you know that democratic process is one of our seven UU principles? Our UU churches came out of the town hall traditions of the New England colonists. We've become a tradition that believes that democracy is the best way for humans to live. How is democracy doing these days? Can a cure be found?

Sunday, October 9, 10:30 A.M.
Destination or Journey?
Rev. Dr. Ruth Gnagey
Does it matter if you perceive your spiritual life as a journey or a destination? We will explore the ramifications and the geometry of these two constructs. Rev. Dr. Ruth Gnagey, Affiliated Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington Normal will deliver the sermon and her husband, Dr. William Gnagey will share a parable.

Sunday, October 2, 10:30 A.M.
What Would a Healthy Religion Look and Feel Like?
Rev. Michael Brown
Religion in general is not doing great in public opinion these days. So many questionable and downright mean things have been done in the name of religion that it's no wonder that so many people are suspicious of all religion. What would a healthy religion look and feel like? What would be its practices, its ethics, its boundaries? Is healthy religion possible at all? Let's explore that possibility.

Sunday, September 25, 10:30 A.M.
Welcoming the Stranger
Rev. Michael Brown
We are a welcoming congregation but what does that mean? Do we welcome everyone or just some? Do we welcome everyone equally? And how do we welcome? What customs and practices do we have for welcoming? Our nation and other nations are also struggling with the questions about welcoming. Welcoming the stranger is an ancient human and sometimes religious practice but it's not always easy to follow that advice.

Sunday, September 18, 10:30 A.M.
No Hell Unless You Really, Really Want It
Rev. Michael Brown
Our Universalist roots began 250 years ago with an affirmation that there is no hell. Today the doctrine of hell is losing ground all the time but some folks still believe in it. We will look at some of the ways theologians seek to save hell, and why our UU tradition doesn't think that's a good idea.

Sunday, August 21, 10:30 A.M.
Unconscious Politics: How Strange Tactics May Surprisingly Work
Rev. Michael Brown
This election cycle is truly different. All kinds of strange things are happening. I will offer some reflections on the weirdness of our politics using the insights of George Lakoff, a linguistics professor who brings his expertise to the world of politics. Why do politicians do the things they do? Maybe on some level it all makes sense.

Sunday, August 14, 10:30 A.M.
Geek Church
Brad Keefauver
In a secular world, where do we turn for values, meaning, and defining stories that shape our worldview? For more and more people, the answers are things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, The Avengers, The Walking Dead, and so many others. Join Brad Keefauver and your fellow geeks for a Sunday service built around modern fan culture.

Sunday, July 24, 10:30 A.M.
El Camino de Santiago, A Pilgrimage
Terry Matthews
Pilgrims have followed "the Way of St. James" since the 10th century. Join Terry Matthews, her niece, and fellow pilgrims on a 150-mile walk and 150-mile bike trek from Lisbon, Portugal to Santiago, Spain and also explore Fatima, Tomar, and Oporto. Get an overview of the area’s history, religion, culture, and people.

Sunday, July 17, 10:30 A.M.
Killing the Buddha
Jean Sloan
"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" This famous saying from Zen Buddhism speaks to how we venerate our view of spiritual truth. When, why and how should one "kill" the Buddha?

Sunday, June 19, 10:30 A.M.
Liberation Theology
Jack Ryan
"If it doesn't liberate, it isn't theology." Liberation Theology, what's it all about? What happened to it? Why did the Ronald Reagan administration and the Vatican under Pope John Paul II conspire to destroy it?

Sunday, June 5, 10:30 A.M.
What I Have Learned in 25 Years
Rev. Michael Brown
When I came to this church 25 years ago, it was much smaller, less confident, not so complex, and ready for expansion. Much has changed over these 25 years, but we still maintain our character as an open, loving, and activist community. Today I will share some of what I have learned from these fruitful years.

Sunday, May 29, 10:30 A.M.
Islamophobia and the Syrian Refugee Crisis
Senior High Youth Group
At our last youth con in St. Louis, the youth group learned about the crisis faced by refugees from Syria, prepared care packages for a group that had recently arrived in the area, and protested against fear. We would like to take this time to share what we learned with the broader congregation and to encourage action to meet this humanitarian crisis.

Sunday, May 22, 10:30 A.M.
How to Build a Genuine Community
Rev. Michael Brown
Today is New Member Sunday when we have the joy of welcoming new members into our community. How do we build genuine community? What is the formula? We will take a look a certain core elements that make for real community, something that is precious in our individualistic and materialistic world.

Sunday, May 8, 10:30 A.M.
Mothers and Babies: a Mothers' Day Celebration
Rev. Michael Brown
Today we honor the mothers of our lives and take the opportunity of this special day to dedicate new babies from several church families. What could be more important than a mother? And what could be more joyful than new life? Come and celebrate.

Sunday, May 1, 10:30 A.M.
Having a Mind of Our Own: Psychological Characteristics of Being Liberal or Conservative
Dr. Robert Fuller
In an election year when we are already very conscious of differences between red/blue and conservative/religious, what light can psychologists shed on what makes some of us religious seekers/liberals and others of us religious knowers/conservatives? Dr. Fuller is a professor of religion at Bradley and one of our favorite recurring guest preachers.

Sunday, April 17, 10:30 A.M.
The Theology of John Shelby Spong
Rev. Michael Brown
This past week we had the great pleasure to host a lecture with questions and answers by John Shelby Spong. Jack, as he likes to be called, is a retired Bishop in the Episcopal Church and author of 25 books on religion. He gave a powerful presentation which was attended by over 250 people. Today, both for those who attended and those who couldn't, I will highlight some of his vision of religion, which is a cutting edge worldview built on non-literalism and inclusion.

Sunday, April 10, 10:30 A.M.
Selling Elephant Parts: Is Everyone Equally Right?
Rev. Michael Brown
The old fable of the blind villagers and the elephant exists in many traditions and asks a basic question about human experience. Are we all equally right? Can we be tolerant and still have strong convictions? Our culture seems to really be struggling with this issue.

Sunday, March 27, 10:30 A.M.
The Earth Awakes Again
Rev. Michael Brown
As we enjoy the explosion of life that happens every spring, what is our human role in this great creative process? The Easter story says that rebirth is deeply imbedded in the nature of reality, so what are the chances for ecological and social rebirth for Earth's people?

Sunday, March 20, 10:30 A.M.
The Creative Search Church
Rev. Michael Brown
How do we define our community without a firm creed to answer all the big questions? How can a creative and essentially improvisational community sustain itself over years and decades? How can we be both institution and free, irreverent and spiritual? Welcome to our liberal faith.

Sunday, March 6, 10:30 A.M.
Are Muslims Our Neighbors?
Rev. Michael Brown
On March 7, the Islamic Foundation of Peoria has invited the Peoria community to an Open House at their mosque. They are extending the hand of friendship. Are we ready to see Muslims as our friends and neighbors? How can we process the various emotions that come up for us, sometimes even unconsciously, when we see certain styles of dress or speech? Sometimes friendship requires a conscious intention.

Sunday, February 28, 10:30 A.M.
Five Smooth Stones of Religious Liberalism
Rev. Michael Brown
What does it mean to be a religious liberal? Perhaps this is another way to ask what does it mean to be a UU. Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams proposed an answer based on the metaphor of five smooth stones. Come and find out what these five stones mean and the story behind them.

Sunday, February 21, 10:30 A.M.
Finding Happiness and Contentment
Bhanti Sujatha
"The pursuit of happiness" is a common bond that unites so many of us -- regardless of our economic or social position, regardless of what we've acquired along the way, nearly everyone on the planet is actively engaged in finding sustainable happiness. It's this mysterious wind that seems to come in, fill us with joy, then leave as unpredictably as it arrived. We search for ways to capture it -- to keep it around and within us long term, but inevitably it escapes and we find ourselves searching again. We can't buy it, we can't build it -- but we can cultivate a simple mindfulness practice that leads to sustainable happiness that will permeate every aspect of our lives. Mindfulness in everyday life is easy to learn, simple to practice and an essential element in creating a happy life.

Sunday, February 14, 10:30 A.M.
The Alchemy of Love
Rev. Michael Brown
One hundred years ago, psychoanalyst Carl Jung proposed a relationship between the symbolism of the ancient alchemists and the stages of romantic love. That may not seem immediately obvious but you may be surprised. This theory gives new meaning to the experience of "chemistry" between two people.

Sunday, February 7, 10:30 A.M.
Evolution and the Mystery of Life
Rev. Michael Brown
Today we celebrate Evolution Sunday, a widespread movement that seeks to emphasize the positive relationship possible between evolution and religion. As early as 1882 an article in our church newsletter speaks positively about evolution and Universalism. Let us support the movement to drop the harmful war between evolution and religion and instead move forward together to address the more serious challenges of our age.

Sunday, January 31, 10:30 A.M.
The Space Between Fundamentalist and No Religion
Rev. Michael Brown
Are fundamentalist and no religion the only two religious choices available to us? Although these two alternatives may suffice for some, it is worthwhile to be aware of the wide range of spiritual and religious paths in human culture. In our tradition we look freely at the many choices and then go where our conscience leads us.

Sunday, January 17, 10:30 A.M.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Elusive Quest for Justice
Rev. Michael Brown
Today we join with people all over the world in celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One can not help but wonder how King would respond to events today. Or perhaps a better questions is, how might we respond in light of King's vision?

Sunday, January 10, 10:30 A.M.
Do Religions Cause Wars?
Rev. Michael Brown
Just before the Parliament of the World's Religions in October, I began reading Karen Armstrong's new book, Fields of Blood. During the Parliament, I heard her speak twice and I just finished her brilliant book. The question is: "Do religions cause wars?" I will tell you what she says.

Sunday, January 3, 10:30 A.M.
Hopes for a New Year
Rev. Michael Brown
Can you believe it will be 2016 when this service happens? How can this be possible? This is the time for new possibilities, new ideas, new hopes. What do we hope for the new year? What can we do to make these things happen? Our choir will sing today to start the new year.

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