Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chi Town in the Winter Time!

(Taken outside my bedroom window which faces the parking lot for University of Chicago's (U of C) shuttle buses  (see background). The "snow movers" have been working overtime to remove the snow. This is a small one compared to the 18 wheelers they use. U of CThey are running out of places to put it. lol )

(I live three blocks away from Meadville Lombard Theological School (MLTS) where I work. As many of you know, MLTS is partnering with Andover Newton to create an interreligious university that will debut this summer, 2011. The building shown in the picture is our main administrative building that we now have a contract on and which we will vacate December, 2011. While there is a lot of sadness about the loss of this historic building (and our other three properties) there is also excitement at the prospect of having a building that holds all our students, faculty and staff. During our recent January Convocation and Intensives faculty experienced "smart classrooms" that allowed us with the push of a button to show power point presentations, go on line to surf a website and show cds and DVDs. We do not currently possess any of this technology. Our classrooms consist of blackboards. lol

The prospect of being able to house our library in more modern facilities including the Sankofa Archives is an important consideration in our move. It has been years since we have been able to house everyone in the same room at Meadville when we come together.  Sankofa Archives is currently stored at MLTS and features the contributions of UUs of Color. A new facility would allow exhibits of historic pictures, documents and artifacts which we have been unable to display appropriately because of lack of space.)

(A Wayside Pulpit at 1st Unitarian Church of Chicago featuring Sunday's upcoming service, Yes We Can! for upcoming Stewardship Sunday and luncheon. Rev. Dr. Nina Grey has just returned from a 3 week Spanish immersion class in San Jose, Costa Rica. I will experience a similar contrast next week. I will be attending the UU Ministers Association Center Day for a week in Pacific Grove, CA where the average temperatures are in the 70s.
1st Unitarian, located across the street from MLTS, is my home congregation. It is celebrating its 175th anniversary! I believe it is the oldest UU congregation in the Chicago area. They will be in search beginning fall, 2011 when the minister, Nina Grey will resign after almost ten years of ministry.)

(Both MLTS and 1st Unitarian Church of Chicago are located at the intersection of 57th St. and S. Woodlawn Ave (that is 1st Unitarian Church in the background). This intersection has been the scene of many significant ceremonies (graduation)and has witnessed students and faculty hurrying to Wednesday night Vespers. For years students utilized Vespers as a "preaching clinic" to practice sermons. A few bombed but many celebrated the emerging prophetic voices of soon to be ministers.
The intersection is located in the heart of the University of Chicago and is a main thoroughfare for students headed to various destinations that include Kinkos, Medici's (great restaurant located on 57th St.), museums and public transportation.

(This lovely and peaceful scene is the Midway Plaisance, is a popular site on the University of Chicago's campus and one of the landmarks I encounter to and from work. It is a "dividing point" between the UofC and the Woodlawn community in South that is predominantly Black. For many years the UofC students were encouraged to avoid Woodlawn. MLTS until recently did not venture into this or other nearby communities. Our community sites that are required in the students first year have shifted those dynamics. Beginning September, 2011 MLTS will discontinue the admission of residential students. My formal contacts with the community via MLTS have decreased considerably. However, being a resident in the community allows me continued involvement. )

(This is one of four properties owned by MLTS.  This property was recently sold to Chabad House. Formerly known as Fleck House the building was dedicated as the Sofia Lyons Fahs Religious Education Building. Besides formerly housing classes on the first floor, student apartments on the 2nd floor and many of the Religious Education archives it also housed the Sankofa Project Archives and offices. I offer accolades to Rev. Dr. Michelle Benley for pioneering almost single handedly the Sankofa Project Archives. Her vision and perseverance funded and created a physical site with office space (donated by MLTS) to locate the documents and archives of UUs of Color. Michelle donated her services as Director and made an invaluable contribution to a much needed repository for the scholarly works of UUs of color. Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison Reed continues in this vein with his research on the presence of "Afro American" UUs while teaching students research skills as they explore historic personalities and the history of race relations at their home congregations as they are immersed in the vital contributions of UUs of Color.

May the Jewish community enjoy the building as much as Unitarian Universalists at Meadville Lombard Theological School have over the years! May we continue to hold a vision of theological education that is edgy and prophetic - producing ministers for times such as these!)

(1st Unitarian's architectural design depicts the grand elegance of the european gothic cathedrals. This outdoor picture is a mere preview to the high ceilings and stained glass with its stone walls and columns. The building houses a crypt in the basement where several generations of UU families remains lie in repose. The architecture of 1st Unitarian and MLTS's administrative building are consistent with University of Chicago's grey stone gothic images that line the buildings block after block, almost seamlessly engaging the eye with little interruption.)

Hyde Park, the location of University of Chicago (Uof C, MLTS, and numerous other seminary's) houses the largest concentration of seminary's in the world. Right down (up) the street from work/home is the Chicago Theological School (CTS) depicted in this picture. They recently sold their building to U of C and are building a state of the art building in the area. An announcement about the selection of MLTS's future site will be forthcoming in the next 2-3 months. Faculty awaits with bated breath! lol

(Life goes on in the face of inclement weather as depicted by this man and child early Saturday morning headed out into the elements.)

(This final picture was taken outside my bedroom window through the screen.

It is time to get back to work, sermon writing, course prep, and research. By the way, I am reading a book titled, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown, M.D.

ps I have just heard a weather announcement that more snow is predicted tonight!

Oh that I may become a big white polar bear that loves to frolic in the snow
or maybe a big black bear that hibernates  all winter and comes out rejuvenated in the spring!
Perhaps I will just be who I am - someone that loves to view the winter from the warmth of indoors - who ventures out after the blizzard has ceased and the snow is shoveled , ready to explore - ready then to claim its beauty!

Q. How can you claim the good in that which seems less appealing?
Q. When was the last time you ventured past your comfort zone and stepped boldly into the unknown?

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

A Chant to President Barack Obama

Below you will find a message from Karen Mooney, a seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Karen wrote a beautiful and moving chant to President Obama. Read her message below and go to UTube to view the video.

Q. When was the last time you meditated on world peace?

Q. Can you find some time today to begin or add to your present meditation time?
Blessings Rev. Qiyamah

Hello friends, family and colleagues -

When we are engaged in the world we are sometimes challenged. Peace is a notion that seems at once impossible and the only thing that can ever truly be hoped. What if we can make a difference, what if what we do matters, what if the peace we think so elusive is actually possible today in the wake of our faith.

In 2009 our president Barack Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize not only for what he had already accomplished but for the promise he held.

For a seminary class I wrote a chant to some of the words of his acceptance speech. As the winds of a winter storm pounded our home I finished this project, an exploration of hope in image and sound.

peace -
Karen Mooney

We must do that thing we think we can not. - Eleanor Roosevelt