E-mail UU-Valdosta at uuvaldosta@yahoo.com  

Phone:  229-242-3714 

New mailing address is P.O. Box 2342 , Valdosta , GA   31604


Page down or click the links to go to specific sections:

Sunday Services

Thank You! Thank You! New board members!
Board Notes   Social Action UU Activities and Announcements
JUUST Change  In memory of Virginia Branan....

What’s going on...July 2006


July 2

 10:45 AM


Service – “Civil Rights in Valdosta ,” Leigh Touchton and Rob Plumb

Meet & Greet Coffee after the service


July 9

  9:30 AM

10:45 AM


Guided meditation with Sadhvi Vrndaji Chaitanya

Service “Philosophy and Ethics in Action - Community Involvement,” Karen Costlow-Nolan

Meet & Greet Coffee after the service


July 10

11:00 AM

Break Bread delivery


July 15


Newsletter Deadline (Please see editors note elsewhere in this newsletter.)


July 16

  9:30 AM

10:00 AM

10:45 AM


Guided meditation with Sadhvi Vrndaji Chaitanya

Planning session for next Sunday’s Program and Lay Leading tips

Service – “Christianity:  The Life and Teachings of Jesus,” Michael Stoltzfus,

Meet & Greet Coffee after the service


July 23

9:30 AM

10:45 AM


Guided meditation with Sadhvi Vrndaji Chaitanya

Service – “Southern Soil, Southern Roots: Looking at Our Own Land and People,”  Layled Service

Meet & Greet Coffee after the service


July 30

9:30 AM

10:45 AM


Guided meditation with Sadhvi Vrndaji Chaitanya

Service – “Poetry by M.L. Williams,” read by the author

Meet & Greet Coffee after the service

July  Wonderful Sunday Programs! Thank You Helen Gerhardt for a job well-done!


In Memory of Virginia Louise Branan, 1937 - 2006

After a long illness Virginia Branan died peacefully and in her sleep.   Rev. Jack Ford, former minister to the church, conducted a memorial service for Virginia on June 20, at the Valdosta Unitarian Universalist Church.  Virginia was a longtime member of this congregation, one of the first.  She and her husband John joined October 1, 1971.  She was an active member of the congregation, holding essentially every office and often single-handedly ran the religious education program for children.  She was also a social justice activist in the Valdosta community and statewide.  She was a friend to many of us, a mediator, conciliator, and consensus builder.  She truly lived our UU Principles. Mary Higgins, the Florida District Director says “I am so sorry to hear of Virginia Branan’s loss.  I always counted on her steadfast commitment and gentle spirit when times were trying.  Life in Valdosta just changed forever.  What a blessing to have known her.”

We miss you Virginia .

Sunday Services

July 2 - “Civil Rights in Valdosta ” -  Leigh Touchton and Rob Plumb

 Leigh Touchton and Rob Plumb will discuss civil rights activism and how it pertains to the Valdosta City Council's refusal to consider the renaming of Barber Park .  Touchton and 14 others were arrested and spent 25 hours in the Lowndes County Jail for allegedly disrupting a Valdosta City Council meeting on May 5, 2005.  Plumb argued that the "Disruption of Public Meeting" statute was unconstitutional.  The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the statute.  They will discuss the broader implications of the case for civil rights in our own region.

Rob grew up in rural Maryland .  He received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1988 and received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg , PA in 1994. He practiced law in Maryland and the District of Columbia before moving to Valdosta in 1999.  He is a partner in the law firm of Langdale & Vallotton, LLP, in Valdosta where he specializes in civil litigation, real estate and municipal law.  He is the city attorney for Lake Park , Hahira and Cecil.

Leigh was born in Adel and spent her childhood as a "military brat"; her father was a Naval commander who flew reconnaissance missions from several aircraft carriers.  The family eventually returned to their Cat Creek farm.  Leigh graduated from Lowndes High School , received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia , and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Virginia .  Her scientific career has spanned research, medical sales, and teaching.  She is the first white woman to be elected President of an NAACP branch, the Valdosta Branch, and has just been appointed to the Georgia NAACP Executive Board. 

Leigh and Rob are married and have a four-year-old daughter, Kathryn.


July 9 -  “Philosophy and Ethics in action - Community involvement” -  Karen Costlow-Nolan

This presentation is part of the “Just Change” series in which local community leaders address needs and opportunities for change here in our own region.

What is the role of charitable organizations in maintaining peace in the land? When the market fails to respond to the needs of citizens or residents of the nation, and governments in cutback mode argue against funding programs for youth in trouble, for children, for education, to fight racism, to provide healthcare and for myriad other needs, it seems that we are overlooking an essential aspect of the sector’s work and in many cases its raison d’etre. Organizations fulfill critical needs, and should not act as if they "exist only due to the kindness of stranger". Erna Gelles, Assistant Director, Institute for Nonprofit Management and Assistant Professor, Division of Public Administration, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government believes there is an unrecognized role of the nonprofit sector in maintaining domestic tranquility. She contends that the mission of the United States government is contained in the Preamble to the Constitution which states, without apology, that in order to form a more Perfect Union the Government was ordained to establish Justice, ensure Domestic Tranquility and Promote the General Welfare. Gelles proposes that we shift the entrenched paradigm and ask about the implications of funding gaps, and in this regard what our cities, our towns, our communities, our streets, and our way of life would be without competent, well-funded nonprofit organizations. Should we reframe a fundamental approach to funding essential services?

A licensed Social Worker with a Masters Degree from Valdosta State University and Bachelors Degree in Computer Programming, Karen Costlow-Nolan has served our community as Executive Director of the United Way, Executive Director and Founder of 211 of South Central Georgia,  (non-profit organization serving 18 rural counties), Board Chair for Valdosta/Lowndes Habitat for Humanity, and as president of the Georgia Alliance of Information and Referral Systems.  Karen was originally scheduled to speak with us in May but had to postpone her presentation because the United Way Board would not allow her to speak.  She is no longer with the Valdosta United Way .


July 16 – “Christianity:  The Life and Teachings of Jesus” -  Michael Stoltzfus

Michael Stoltzfus, VSU professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, will investigate the little we know about the life and teachings of Jesus as contextualized in the cultural and historical context of 1st century Palestine .  He will explore the differences between the Jesus of history and the Christ of tradition and criticize contemporary Christian practice based on the teachings of the founder.   This presentation is a continuation of this year’s series on world religions delivered by Michael Stoltzfus.


July 23 “Southern Soil, Southern Roots: Looking at Our Own Land and People”

This layled service will celebrate the land, water, plants, animals, and people of the South through song, story, poetry, and our own reflections.  In preparation, please join us the week before on Sunday, July 16 at 10:00 AM to practice layleading skills as we plan this special service. Several people have already contributed music and readings and we invite you to bring further selections to this planning session. Most of all, on July 23 we invite you to bring short remembrances and impressions of this, our habitat and home, to be shared during a special time during the service.


July 30  “Poetry by M.L. Williams” read by the author

Poet M.L. Williams' publications include How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets (with Christopher Buckley and David Oliveira) and “Knowers and Makers” in The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science (edited by Kurt Brown). His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best of the Prose Poem, Verse and Universe, The Geography of Home, Solo, Rattapallax, New Virginia Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. He currently teaches Creative Writing at Valdosta State University and is the poetry editor for The Snake Nation Review.

An Appointment With Oneself

Six-week Guided Meditation Series with Sadhvi Vrndaji Chaitanya will continue 9:30-10:00 AM Sundays: July 9, 16,  23, and 30 at the UU Church:  Bring Yourself and an open mind.

During the course of each day, we keep a number of appointments. In fact, the whole life seems to be lived from appointment to appointment --One keeps appointments at our place of work, with employers and co-workers. Then one has appointments with doctors, dentists, etc. One also keeps appointments with family members, colleagues, and friends. But when was the last time one had an appointment with oneself?  What would an appointment with yourself look like? What would one wear to greet oneself? Or, what might one need to "take off" to meet oneself, to recognize oneself in and through the various roles one plays in the course of one's life?  Come and find out in this continuing guided meditation series with Sadhvi Vrndaji Chaitanya  Give yourself the present of your presence!   Acharya Sadhvi Sri Vrndaji Chaitanya is a Vedic Monk, and the disciple of Pujya Sri Dayananda Saraswati Swamiji, a world-renowned teacher of Vedanta and Sanskrit. Vrndaji has taught Vedanta at several institutions of higher education including the University of California, Berkeley, University of Oregon, Eugene, and Valdosta State University . Vrndaji has participated in several UN and international NGO initiatives for world peace and social justice, and is the convener of the Global Diversity Coalition, an international non-profit organization that is engaged in organizing interreligious dialogues between indigenous spiritual traditions and mainstream religions.  The Global Diversity Coalition also strives to preserve religious and bio diversity by supporting the practitioners of indigenous cultures, and traditional ways of being that are endangered by globalization.

Annual Congregational Meeting: May 21, 2003

Lars Leader , President, opened the meeting.  In attendance were: Lars Leader , Helen Gerhardt, Doug Tanner, Jim Ingram, Josette Ingram, Dee Tait , Julie Halter, Michael Green, Pat Strickland , Pete Mahan, Sue Bailey, Karen Morris and Rosie Asbury.

The congregation approved the slate of officers presented for the 2006-2007 Board of Directors.  Those elected were:

                President:                                              Lars Leader

                Vice President/Program Chair:           Dee Tait

                Treasurer:                                             Doug Tanner

                Secretary:                                              Rosie Asbury

                Membership:                                         Sue Bailey

                Building & Grounds:                             Jim Ingram

Helen Gerhardt, Vice President, presented the proposed programming for Sunday speakers for the coming year.  She gave a brief background on each of the three speakers who will be invited to speak on a regular basis. There was a discussion on other possible speakers. The congregation approved the proposed programming for Sunday speakers, to include two regular monthly speakers, Michael Stoltzfus and George Bennett, and a monthly visit with Sunday service and ministerial functions by ordained UU minister, Jane Page.

Doug Tanner, Treasurer, presented the proposed budget for 2006-2007, which the congregation approved unanimously


Social Action Activities

Break Bread Together

Our date for meal deliveries with the Break Bread Together program is the 2nd Monday of each month.  If you can deliver meals on this day beginning about 11:00 AM, please contact Frank Asbury.

Welcome to New Members

Several people who have been attending our services regularly have recently signed our Membership Book.  We welcome Pat Strickland (May), Karen (Mo) Morris (May), Chuck Griece (June), and Susan Bailey (April).  It has been our custom to include short biographies of new members in our newsletter so that we can all get to know each other better.  I hope our new members might be willing to send me a couple of paragraphs about what they would like for us to know about them and, if they are comfortable doing so, their personal religious journey.  A special membership recognition service is in the planning stages for some time in coming months.  You’ll hear more about it from Dee Tait .


If you are interested in becoming a member of our fellowship, we encourage you to talk with our President, Lars Leader .  We welcome your questions, and we extend an open invitation to all who want to join our liberal community of faith.


 About Our Members and Friends

v     Helen Gerhardt will be leaving Valdosta later this summer.  She is headed to Pittsburgh to begin graduate work in creative writing.  Watch for an announcement about an opportunity to celebrate her work with our congregation and a chance to wish her well in her new venture.  Helen has done everything from cleaning to contacting speakers and planning wonderful programs to keeping us and the general public informed about our programs.  Her shoes will be hard to fill.  Thank you Helen for being a Lay Leader-Janitor-Public Relations Person-Service Planner!  We’re going to miss your energy and ideas.

v     Goody bye to Joan Cline who moved to points north of Valdosta , but south of Atlanta , in June.   We think a wedding may be in the plans for July!  Your editor hopes she will send us something about her new life and her contact information when she sees this note.  Best Wishes from all of us Joan.  We will miss you.

v     Congratulations to Jason who graduated 9th in his Lowndes High class of 500 plus.

v     Sean will be taking VSU classes his junior high school year.  Good work Sean.

 Keep in your thoughts …

v     Our members and friends who have experienced the loss of loved ones or who are caring for family members.


Editor:  Betty Derrick  

Website:  Carol Stiles

July 15: deadline for the August newsletter.  (Please be sure to send items via e-mail on or before this date.  Time will be tight this month.  Thanks.)

UU Board News:   

In attendance June 18, 2006 were: Lars Leader , Helen Gerhardt, Doug Tanner & Rosie Asbury.

The Board discussed the possibility of finding some organizations to rent our church for their meetings or functions. The Board approved an advertisement in The Valdosta Daily Times, The Community Calendar and the UU List serves, that space is available for groups to rent our church. The contact person is Doug Tanner.  There was a brief discussion about the Memorial Service for Virginia Branan on June 20, 2006, which will be held at the UU church. Some of the church members spent a few hours last Saturday to spruce up the church.  Helen Gerhardt revised the Service Contribution List and presented it to the Board for suggestions and approval. The list of duties will be passed around during each Sunday service.  The Board ended the meeting by thanking Helen for all the work and time that she contributed to the UU church. She will be leaving Valdosta sometime in August, and she will be greatly missed.  The next meeting of the Board will be announced.

Treasurer's Report

Doug Tanner

FUND BALANCES at May 31, 2005                

General Fund                                        $19,958.92

Restoration Fund                                 $15,214.64

Total (Cash in Bank Accounts)         $36,558.24

OUTSTANDING DEBT                     

Mortgage                                              $20,901.74                             

OPERATING RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS:                                                       May                        Eleven Months


  Plate                                     129.00                       1,121.19

  Pledge                                  785.00                     10,587.00

  Rent                                      240.00                       2,840.00

  Interest Income                       0.00                         721.77

TOTAL RECEIPTS         1,154.00                       15,269.96


  Mortgage                              500.00                     5,500.00

  Repairs and Maint.              200.00                     3,834.61

  Repairs                                       0.00                        326.00

  Supplies                                    45.48      562.91

  Insurance                            1,268.00                    1,314.00

  UU Conf. Attend.                     0.00                        193.78

  UUA Dues                                0.00                     1,960.00

  Utilities                                  159.20                     1,834.98

  Advertising                           350.00                        434.80

  Other                                        15.00                        156.00

TOTAL DISBURSEMENTS                                                                                                               2,537.68                  16,786.08

NET RECEIPT (DISBURSEMENT)                                                                                   ($1.383.68)             ($1,516.12)

 New Contact Directory: Our directory is quite out of date and one of Helen Gerhardt’s last projects was to make a new one for us.  Helen has sent versions of the directory to the UU group list for corrections and will be distributing the directory shortly.   You don't need to be a member to be listed, however, the directory is for the use of members and friends of the church.  Please contact a member of the board for further information.


Thank You! Thank You!

For serving on the Board of Directors this past year and making it a great year for the congregation: Lars Leader , Helen Gerhardt, Rosie Asbury, Doug Tanner, Jim Ingram, Joan Cline

For agreeing to serve on the Board this next year: Lars Leader , Dee Tait , Rosie Asbury, Doug Tanner, Jim Ingram, Sue Bailey

For representing our congregation at UUA General Assembly: Lars Leader

For layleading this past month: Doug Tanner, Karen (Mo) Morris, Dee Tait , Lars Leader , Theresa Thompson, Helen Gerhardt.

For providing music support for church services: Karen Morris, Dee Tait , Shawn Seat

For flowers for Sunday services: Mya Storey, Rosie and Frank Asbury, Lars Leader , Josette Ingram and thanks to those who haven't yet 'fessed up bringing in the lovely arrangements that have appeared on the piano and chalice table.

For greeting visitors: Helen Gerhardt and others

For serving as a Meet and Greet host: Mo Morris , Joan Cline , and Mya Storey

For delivering Break Bread meals in June: Frank Asbury

For cleaning the church and purchasing supplies: Frank and Rosie Asbury, Dee Tait , Lars Leader , Karen Morris, Helen Gerhardt, Chuck Giese

For taking care of recycling and trash: Dee Tait , Pat Strickland , Helen Gerhardt, Doug Tanner

For helping with the Saturday clean-up in June: Helen Gerhardt, Betty Derrick, Dee Tait , Lars Leader , Jim Ingram, Mo Morris ,

For hanging pictures: Betty Derrick

For providing food for the Branan Memorial Service: Diane Holliman, Dee Tait , Helen Gerhardt, Rosie Asbury, Jim and Josette Ingram , Kimberly and Doug Tanner, Hanna Carroll, Anne Zipperer and John Tait, Stephanie Kiyak , Laurie Sommers and Dave Winder, Patricia and Dennis Marks

For providing food for home bound members: Betty Derrick, Dee Tait , Josette Ingram, Helen Gerhardt, Maria Taylor, Diane Holliman, Jane Elza, Sue Bailey, Mo Morris

For coordinating the food calendar for homebound members: Josette and Jim Ingram

For everything you do within the church and in the community to help make the world a better place.


At the Church-in-the-Woods

New Hope Christian Fellowship - Sunday evenings: Choir practice at 5:00 PM. Service at 6:00 PM.

Taoist Tai ChiThe group will continue to meet on Monday and Thursday evenings in July and August 6:00-7:30 PM at the church.  The group is discussing whether it will continue meeting at the UU Church in the fall and will let the congregation know its plans as soon as possible..

UU Activities and Announcements

Further information is posted on the bulletin board in the R.E. wing at the church.  Also check your Sunday Order of Service for announcements. 

July 23 –29, The Mountain School for Congregational Leadership, The Mountain near Highlands, NC
The program provides opportunities to explore your own leadership style, gain interpersonal and organizational skills, deepen your spiritual life, and network with people from small, mid-size and large Unitarian Universalist congregations.  Other programs and camp sessions are available. Check the website at www.mountaincenters.org.

New District Director: May 30, 2006 We are delighted to announce that the Reverend Kenneth Hurto has accepted our offer to serve as District Executive for the Florida District, beginning this fall. Kenn currently serves as the senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Florida. Prior to receiving his call to SW Florida , Kenn has served the Unitarian Universalist faith in a wide array of parish ministries for over 30 years. Additionally, Kenn has served on two District Boards (including the Florida District), as the Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association Continuing Education team (CENTER), and as the Vice-President of the UUMA. Rev. Hurto, who was privileged to study directly for 12 years with Rabbi Dr. Edwin H. Friedman, has been in frequent demand by his colleagues for consultation in applying systems theory to congregational life. Among his many writings, Kenn recently authored two chapters for the UUA Congregational Handbook on family systems theory, church leadership, and conflict management. A native of Chicago, Kenn is a graduate of Augustana College ( Rock Island , Illinois ) and the Divinity School at Harvard University . Kenn is married to Sharon Kelly of Melbourne , Florida . "I welcome this opportunity to serve our broader movement, helping us all fulfill our promise by creating a culture of radical hospitality in our congregations."

Message from Mary Higgins: June 1, 2006 This will be the last packet that we send from this office while I am your District Executive. I leave on July 1 to begin my trek north to assume the role of District Executive in the New Hampshire/Vermont and Northeast Districts. I will be living in Concord , New Hampshire . I want you to know what an honor it has been to serve you and your congregations for the past ten years. The years have gone by so quickly, though our work has not always been the easy kind! When I think of all we have managed to do together I am very proud. You are a strong, committed, growing and visionary group of people. The Rev. Kenneth Hurto from Ft. Myers will be assuming this role sometime in the fall. I hope that you will treat him with the same kindness, respect, attention and good humor as you have honored me. We are a strong faith here in Florida . We have so much we can do together to meet not only the needs of our current members but the members who have not yet dreamed of this liberating religion. For all the ways you have expressed your commitment to the future of our faith, I thank you. Kenn Hurto is a lucky man to have you to serve. You are lucky to have someone so experienced and well respected to serve you. Together you will do great things. I will watch with abiding joy and a deep sense of satisfaction from afar. Thank you for the opportunities of these last ten years. I would not have grown nearly so well without you. In Faith, Mary Chulak Higgins District Executive Florida District UUA -Focusing on skill-building in order to strengthen overall congregational leadership.

UUA TRUSTEE TIDBITS                            Joan Lund

General Assembly, 2006 is history as you read this column but I will wait until the August column to write of the highlights. The summer months are often a time when congregation life slows a bit, hopefully a time to think about the upcoming church year, perhaps strategies for improving services for members and how to achieve growth in numbers and vitality. Recently, I received a wonderful email from a friend I have not been in communication with for many years. This friend found my name when researching a web site called beliefnet.com. From there the friend must have gone to the UUA website and found me as the Florida Trustee. To quote the email, “…I want to tell you that they have a series of questions regarding religion and philosophy which when summed up puts you in the church where you belong. Guess what? I am a Unitarian Universalist at heart. My sister and my daughter took the test and came out the same as I did. I suspect that there are many people who have the same orientation that Unitarians have but don’t have the courage of their convictions”.

Haven’t all of us voiced the last sentence in that quote? What can/should we do to attract and hold these valuable folks? I came across something called, “Simple Ways You Can Help Your Congregation Grow”, developed by Art Brewer, which states that research shows the single, most effective way for a congregation to grow is to practice an OUTWARD ORIENTATION. What follows is an abbreviated list of some personal ways you, as an individual, can practice an outward orientation:

Bring someone to a Sunday service…wear your name tag at every Sunday service…tell a visitor that you’re glad they came or came back if this is a return visit…put a UU decal on your car or home window…wear UU jewelry…be a Sunday morning greeter…tell people about your congregation’s web site…participate in a community event that reflects UU principles…link your favorite social justice cause to the congregation…host a party and invite members and non-members of your congregation…wear a UU t-shirt…if you are a member of a small group, invite a non-member to one of your meetings…give a copy of a sermon or presentation you liked to a non-member…talk to non-members about your congregation…display our “Seven Principles” at home or work…carry “Seven Principles” cards to give to people when they ask…give a copy of World magazine and/or your congregation newsletter to someone you think would like to learn more about us…include UU content on your personal and/or business web site…attend a District meeting…attend General Assembly…tell someone about a provocative thought you heard at church, then ask for their opinion…put a chalice in some place of honor in your home.

Cannot fit in all of the ideas but I am certain you can create your own. UU evangelism is a good thing when done in keeping with our values. Thanks to all of you who write to comment about Trustee Tidbits and my periodic reports. You help to motivate me to do, and be the best I am able. I can be reached at jlund@uua.org  for further thoughts.


{ { { { { { { { { { { {

Thank you for reading our newsletter!
The Newsletter Team  (click here to meet us!)

to home page  of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Valdosta