My answer to the question “Why do I keep coming to East Shore?” has changed over time. I started attending to get my stepsons some religious education and then continued with spiritual exploration for myself. Over my 30 years here the answer has become because of the community. My life is richer and fuller for the connections and exposure to other thoughts and viewpoints that I have found here.
Within this church, I have experienced the creativity generated by a group or a committee. I’m enchanted by the process where we go from floundering around to having something take shape from those miscellaneous bits. Let me share an example.
Raise your hand if you know what a mondegreen is. Let me say that before last week, I had no idea what a mondegreen was. Then Rev Denis supplied this word, mondegreen, and it applied exactly to what we were talking about. A mondegreen is a word or phrase that results from mishearing or misinterpreting a statement or song lyric. The word was coined in the mid-1950s by author Sylvia Wright who, as a child, had heard a Scottish ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray" and believed that one stanza went like this:
Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands
Oh where hae you been?
They hae slay the Earl of Murray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual words were “laid him on the green” but young Sylvia heard it differently: Lady Mondegreen. A Christmas example of a mondegreen would be The Good King wants his applesauce for the feast this evening.
When the Capital Campaign committee met a few weeks ago, we were tossing around ideas for a campaign theme. There were five of us including Diana Jackson, Rev. Denis, and myself. We talked about many things – dream home, Holding the Hope, high maintenance, ice dams on the roof, Spirit of Life. Diana told us that Mike Sievers (a former Finance Chair) thought for a good while that the line in Spirit of Life was “Ruth hold me close”. Rev Denis said “Roof hold me close?” and we laughed. That laughter was the springboard to our capital campaign theme. Rev Denis quickly wrote the Ode to the Beacon also known as Roof Hold Me Close, the final shape of those various bits. Naturally, it would be part of the kick-off service.
Some of you know about East Shore’s history with songs being parodied for fundraising activities or roasting an outgoing minister. The Rev Bruce Clary holds the record for his complete re-write of three Broadway musicals for the entertainment portion of the Stewardship Dinner. One of these included his version of The Music Man with Professor Sheryl Shill (that was me). Rev Denis’ Ode to the Beacon is the latest musical parody installment – light-hearted with nuggets of truth.
Everything was ready to go; the brochure was back from the printers and then an issue popped up. It turns out that Carolyn McDade, the composer of Spirit of Life, is on record voicing strong objections to her copyrighted song being amended. In a related matter, the UU Musicians Network is currently in a confrontation with the UUA over not being compensated fairly – to the point that the Network is boycotting the 2020 General Assembly. Tensions have escalated.
What does that have to do with us? While there is a fair use exception for copywritten material that would apply for Ode to the Beacon, in this time of instant communication, we decided to sidestep a potential social media battle with McDade’s supporters within the Musician’s Network. So, we won’t be singing Ode to the Beacon today; just know that it was inspired by Spirit of Life and hum any tune that comes to mind when you read the words.
People may wonder ‘Why have a capital campaign now?’ The short answer is that our 20-year-old building, our Beacon of Hope, is in need of big-ticket maintenance and repair. The roof and siding need attention, the parking lot is also on the list. Our goal for this campaign is $200,000. It would be paid over 3 years starting in July of 2020 and finishing in June 2023.
We have pledge packets for each household today. Inside the packet you will find a letter from me, a FAQ page, a pledge card to be returned by Dec 29 plus an envelope and a brochure. The brochure tells a story and has helpful information like a giving chart showing how we can reach our $200,000 goal and possible ways to fulfill your pledge.
We would like to have the pledging portion of the Capital Campaign completed well before the 2020 Annual Stewardship activities. While Unitarians Universalists don’t believe in eternal damnation for sinners, as humans, we still feel guilty when we procrastinate. Lighten your load: turn your pledge card in before December 29.
Immediately after the service today is our complimentary Capital Campaign Kick-off brunch. We have breakfast casseroles for vegetarians, carnivores, and a gluten-free option. We hope you all will join us. Please take a moment to pick up your pledge packet from the table by the door. Enjoy some food with your community. Maybe you can talk about how we can keep our Beacon of Hope lasting for another 20 years.