Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
M U F L I N K S

Frequently Asked Questions

The only foolish question is the one not asked...

 

Newcomers can occasionally find their first experience at MUF a bit overwhelming; it's so big, with so many people, and so much going on! Here is a list of the most common questions newcomers have. However, this list is by no means exhaustive! If you have a question that's not on the list, or would like further clarification of one that is, please feel free to ask.

 

Questions about UUs


How can I learn more about Unitarian Universalism?

Are there any traditions or rituals that define the UU experience?


What does the Flaming Chalice symbolize?

 

Questions about our Services and Faith


What are Sunday Services like?


Does MUF hold Sunday services during the summer?


What is appropriate dress for Sunday morning services?


What is a "talk-back"?


Which holidays are celebrated at MUF? How?


Can an atheist or agnostic fit into the MUF community?

 

Questions about Newcomers and Members


Why am I asked to identify myself as a "newcomer"?


Are there any restrictions on what I can do as a "newcomer"?


Why does everyone wear a nametag? How can I get one?

What is the Welcome Table?


Do I have to be a member to participate in activities or join committees?


What is expected of me if I become a member?


How do I join the Fellowship?


Questions about How We Operate


How is the Fellowship organized?


What are the Fellowship's main values?


What is taught in the children's Religious Education (RE) classes?


Is MUF wheelchair accessible?

 

Answers about UUs


How can I learn more about Unitarian Universalism?


The Welcome Table, near the main entrance in the Great Hall, has several brochures that explain a bit more about our faith. We have a page on our site that explains Unitarian Universalism.  There is also a wealth of good information on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website at http://www.uua.org.

Are there any traditions or rituals that define the UU experience?


While there are few (if any) hard and fast rules about Unitarian Universalism, there are several traditions that many UUs share. Here is a sampling:

  • Flower Sunday - A "Flower Communion" meant to symbolize sharing, beauty, and non-materialism. At MUF, it is also a Rite of Passage for our first and second graders.
  • Lighting The Chalice - As a symbol of "bringing light into the world," we light our chalice at the beginning of each service. When we blow it out, it is in the hope that we have "internalized" that light and will take it with us when we go.

What does the Flaming Chalice symbolize?


Originally designed as a "logo" for a UU organization (USC) helping people escape Nazi persecution, the Flaming Chalice serves as a symbol of the sacredness of light and liberty. On a more symbolic level, the chalice has been identified as representing nurturing, sustenance and generosity. A flame traditionally means knowledge, spirituality, vision and power. The exact meaning of the Flaming Chalice has never been nailed down. Like much in the UU world, it is left up to the individual to take from this symbol whatever is most appropriate for their beliefs.

 

Answers about our Services and Faith

What are Sunday Services like?


Here at MUF, Sunday Services are like the weather: if you didn't like it this week, next week will be something completely different! Seriously, this is a difficult question because our services ARE very varied.  The services organized by our Sunday Services Committee strive to raise the spirits and consciousness of the congregation, and may feature talks, skits, poetry, musical presentations, dance or whatever else the participants come up with.  Topics of our services have ranged from giving, to reaching out, to death, to discussions of other religious paths, to how we can make a difference in the world.

Does MUF hold Sunday services during the summer?


Summer services are usually held once each Sunday, at 10:00. They are run entirely by volunteers and tend to be more "relaxed" than those during the rest of the Fellowship year, but just as fun and interesting.

What it appropriate dress for Sunday morning services?


We like people to dress however they feel most comfortable (within reason, of course). Some have come to services in suits and ties or dresses; some have worn jeans and t-shirts. Most people tend to dress in the style usually associated with "business casual": skirt or slacks, khakis and polo-style shirt or blouse.

What is a "talk-back"?


Some of the topics raised at Sunday services raise questions, concerns, interest or ire that people feel they must express. To facilitate this, some of these services end with a "talk-back" session, in which the congregation has the chance to discuss these issues with the presenters.

Which holidays are celebrated at MUF? How?


MUF celebrates pretty much every holiday. In the spring, Easter, Passover and the Vernal Equinox are all honored. In the winter, we celebrate Yule, Hanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. And the holidays in between are given the same courtesy.


For the most part, Sunday services tend to pick a central theme that runs through all the holidays of that time of year, and uses traditions from each holiday to explain and honor that theme. Often, special services are held in the evening to focus on one particular holiday (such as our Christmas Eve service and our celebration of Rosh Hashanah).

Can an atheist or agnostic fit into the MUF community?


They can and do. MUF is the home to many atheists and agnostics; several of them have even presented Sunday morning services on their beliefs. Furthermore, they have been involved in other services, just like any other member.


On the (fairly rare) occasions when "God" is mentioned, it is with the understanding that "we use words as tools, not dogma." To us, "God" is a shorthand for that which we find most important. To some, "God" is a Supreme Being. To others, "God" is the consort to the "Goddess." Still others may view it as an all-pervading power or force in our Universe. The atheists may think of it as the best part of each person. Everyone uses the word in a different way, which is how we prefer it.

 

Answers about Newcomers and Members

Why am I asked to identify myself as a "newcomer"?


In some (i.e., most) places, the newcomer is left to their own devices and expected to find their own way. Here at MUF, we prefer to offer a helping hand to those who are new, and make sure they have as much (or as little) guidance as they need. To make sure that nobody "slips through the cracks," we ask the newcomers to introduce themselves so that we can greet them properly. However, this is totally voluntary, and if someone has a phobia about speaking in public, they can stay quietly in their seat and still be welcome at the Fellowship!

Are there any restrictions on what I can do as a "newcomer"?


For the most part, no. Non-members are not allowed to vote on the topics that concern the congregation during our annual meeting. However, they are still welcome at Sunday Services, work parties, concerts and special programs. Of course, it is our hope that they will want to become members after they see everything MUF has to offer!

Why does everyone wear a nametag? How can I get one?


Nametags are just a way to make people feel like they belong and to break down some barriers. They eliminate the awkwardness of seeing someone you spoke to just last week and forgetting their name. And since newcomers' name tags are a different color than members' tags, they make newcomers stand out so we can greet them.


Nametags can be obtained at the Welcome Table in three forms. Nametag stickers are available for visitors who will only be coming once (for instance, people who live in another state but are travelling in the area this week). Regular newcomer nametags can be made on the spot by writing your name on the card and putting it in the badge plate. These are kept waiting for the person next week, and are for people considering becoming members or making a full-time commitment to MUF. Once such a commitment is made, the newcomer can order a permanent, calligraphic nametag, like those worn by our members.

What is the Welcome Table?


Pretty much what the name implies: a table, set up in the Great Hall, which serves as a "base" from which we welcome people (especially newcomers) as they walk in the door. Newcomers may stop by to have any questions answered, to get a nametag and fill out a survey card, and to pick up some literature (including our latest newsletter).  Come by before our regular 9:00 am service or in between regular services (between about 10:15 and 11:00 am).

Do I have to be a member to participate in activities or join committees?


No. Only members are allowed to sit on the Board of Directors, of course, but we've had non-members involved in many other committees. It is our hope, of course, that anyone who supports us enough to work on a committee will want to join us as a member.

What is expected of me if I become a member?


All members are asked to make a financial pledge to the Fellowship to help support the important ministries we do. Furthermore, while it is not a requirement, we strongly urge members to find a committee that speaks to their souls and get involved in its work.


Like many groups, MUF has people who are "card-carrying" members and nothing more. However, membership in our Fellowship is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out (as cliched as that may sound).

How do I join the Fellowship?


All potential members are asked to attend a few services and/or activities, to be sure you feel at home here. If so, you'll need to meet with our minister for a brief discussion about their intentions and desires for membership. After that, all you have to do is sign the Membership Book, and you will be a member of the Fellowship.

 

Answers about How We Operate

How is the Fellowship organized?


Some would jokingly suggest that organization in a UU congregation is an oxymoron! Despite this notion, however, MUF has a sound structure. Our minister leads the attempts to tend to the spiritual and educational needs of our members. She has other professionals helping her, including the Director of Religious Education and the Music Director. Other volunteers, including the Caring Committee, also work with this team.


The day-to-day and long-term planning for the Fellowship's governance is the duty of the Executive Board, which is lead by the President. These five offices are all elected positions, with two-year terms. Supporting the Board is our eight-person Board of Trustees, which oversees the property of the Fellowship. There are also numerous committees at work here, such as the Grounds Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Building Committee.
Naturally, all of the positions are ultimately answerable to the members of the Congregation. Major issues (such as annual budgets) are voted on by the Fellowship at our regular meetings. For more information on these individuals and groups, see the Committees page and the Congregational Leaders page.

What are the Fellowship's main values?


These are best stated in the Mission and Covenant Statement and Congregational Goals. In a nutshell, however these are the values MUF strives to promote and live by: unity, acceptance, generosity, nurturing of self and others, and spiritual growth.

What is taught in the children's Religious Education (RE) classes?


Since our RE program ranges from 6 months to 18 years old, it is hard to answer
this question simply; it is best answered on the RE pages. However, the main goal of the program is to provide a safe place for our children to study age-appropriate material so that they can formulate their own beliefs. They begin with simple play and stories for the youngest of the group. As they get older, they will learn more about the history and values of the UU faith, as well as exploring religions of the world. Finally, in their teen years they will delve into the life issues they are currently dealing with, as well as reaching out to others by working in a local Soup Kitchen and helping Habitat for Humanity build a house for an underprivileged family.

Is MUF wheelchair accessible?


Partly. While the age and style of the building did not take wheelchairs into account, MUF has strived to make our home open to all. There is a ramp on the main entrance to enable wheelchair access to the first floor. Due to the "3-tiered" nature of the Meeting Hall, access there is limited to the top tier. We hope to modify our facility to have more accessibility in the future.

 

Common Definitions and Abbreviations

DRE - Director of Religious Education - The person responsible for overseeing the ministry of our Religious Education classes.


GA - General Assembly - The annual meeting of the congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, where policies are discussed and voted on by member delegates.


MUF - Morristown Unitarian Fellowship - A friendly Unitarian Universalist congregation in Morristown, New Jersey.


OWL - "OUUr Whole Lives" curriculum - A part of the Religious Education program for Junior High School students, OWL deals with human sexuality from a UU perspective, with the emphasis being placed on communication skills, relationships, attitudes, openness and accurate information.


RE - Religious Education - A series of classes held at MUF on Sunday mornings. These classes offer safety and knowledge to our younger members, from birth through high school graduation.


UU - Unitarian Universalist - Both our faith and the people who belong to it.


UUA - Unitarian Universalist Association - A central body of Unitarian Universalist congregations, offering support to its members.


UUSC - Unitarian Universalist Service Committee - A UUA affiliate that offers counseling services to UU members at reduced fees.

 


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Copyright 2008 Morristown Unitarian Fellowship

Page last updated February 25, 2014