fallin-leaves 2019


Rev Pam

From the Minister…
Dwell in Possibility

As I ease back into church life and ponder the beginning of a new year, I am eager to see how we can be together. After rest, contemplation, prayer and introspection, I bring to you a renewed sense of my own deeper and wilder interior spaces. Grief often breaks open parts of the soul previously unknown, offering new vistas and places for growth, and I am trying to live into that.

My time this summer included reading the book Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and listening to a series discussing the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Both look at the evolution of human consciousness, albeit from vastly different perspectives. We now live in a time when it is possible to be conscious of so much more than any previous generation. At the same time, this existence lies within a cacophony of voices, ideas and convictions passionately shouted into that consciousness. I’ve become convinced that, as Unitarian Universalists (and friends), one of the most helpful and counter-cultural things we can do is to slow down; to be still. The deepest truth of our being is with us in every breath. If we are too busy running, reading, worrying, and accomplishing, we might never notice its presence.

Karen and I traveled to Concord, Massachusetts and visited Walden Pond in August (and yet I forgot to collect some for water communion!), finding stillness where his cabin stood, amid a deep, conserved woods. His words spoke across time: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.” It made me wonder: how can we rout out all that is not life-affirming or life-giving?

During my sabbatical, I have pondered the profound why of our community. What does it mean, in this particular time and in this particular place, to be people of faith? Can we stop during our busyness and really listen for the answer? Can we let go of rules and directions left over from earlier times and begin exploring what might work for human beings in 2019?

Inspired by Thoreau, my challenge for the coming year is not to do more, but to do everything I can with more attention, with more presence, with the whole of my being entering into the moment. I invite you to join me.

As we prepare to celebrate 150 years of liberal Unitarian and Universalist religious folks on our acre, we are offered a great opportunity. We can take the time to ask: Who are we? Where are we going? What do we need for our next 150 years? Let us ponder the answers that are true for each of us – and then begin to bring our whole self into our gatherings this coming year. We may not be able to save the world, but we can be present to it. And just maybe, if we are truly paying attention, we might have exactly what is needed in the present moment.

I’m looking forward to a year of wonder and attention, and to the great joy of working together with whole hearts, hands and minds.  Blessed be~

Posted Ministerial Availability:

Sunday: on site
Monday: Sabbath
Tuesday ~ Saturday: Available by appointment between 9am & 8pm

Office hours: Tues, Wed, Thurs 10 am – 3pm & Friday mornings but do call first!

Cell: text or call 440-570-9812

I will be available to schedule appointments to meet with folks any day except for Monday.  Friday and Saturday are sermon-writing days.


Update & Thanks from your minister~

Revs Pam and Karen want to thank everyone who has been so supportive and generous while Karen was being treated for Endometrial cancer this spring.  She finished sixteen weeks of chemotherapy in June and has been steadily regaining strength, feeling in her feet, and health over the summer months.  As part of ensuring her continued health, Karen stepped down from her position as director of UU Prison Ministries of Illinois, although she will continue to volunteer in various ways with them. She intends to focus her energy on changing what she can in her life to remain healthy and enjoy life.  Karen writes:

Thank you UCH folks for your cards, your encouraging stories, words of wisdom, books, and your ongoing support. Your presence filled our home with the glow of glad tidings in so many ways. We have felt truly appreciated and loved. Know that a sense of belonging in this world to good people has been a huge part of my recovery. I look forward to working with you around the church in the coming year.

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Greetings from the UCH PresidentIMG_0668.JPG

I’m looking forward to the new church year even though, as a member of the Board of Trustees, I realize the year clearly began 7/01/19! The first thing on my mind as I write this is how much I enjoyed the summer services. Thank you to everyone who volunteered this summer – worship leaders, worship associates, musicians, ushers, greeters, and notably, our technical experts and UCH staff! I found the process of preparing for a service a bit too stressful, but I did enjoy working on it with Benjamin and Rafael. The positive feedback made it all worthwhile. Last week I was late for church and feeling crabby about going, but as soon as Anita’s first speaker stepped up and told us her story, I was instantly restored and grateful. To everyone who shared – your stories were so good and so well delivered. Thank you!!

Church has also touched our family in many practical ways over the past several months. Rafael’s private flute lessons and weekly tutoring came to us via our UCH family.  Benjamin has fellow Citizen Climate Lobby members at UCH. I found support and practical advice for my upcoming career change from UCH members. Thank you! This past week I started an MSW program at Dominican University. I’m getting over being the oldest person in class and am thrilled to finally be on a new career path. I’m also a little nervous: work, side projects, UCH Board of Trustees, school, an 8th grader, a busy husband! Speaking of busy husband, when I say, “We’re so busy!” he always says, “But it’s mostly good stuff, right?” Yes, it is.

As many of you know, our BOT Treasurer, Deidre Waltz, is relocating to sunny Florida. She will be missed!  The finance committee has accomplished so much over the past few years, and the church’s finances have become more streamlined and manageable. The finance committee has some new members, but we are still in need of a board treasurer. The current board members agreed to take turns attending the finance committee meetings, but this is not a sustainable model. One of the wonderful things Deidre did was create a Treasurer job description. If you are interested, please talk to Julia Beckman or contact me about the position.

Look forward to seeing you soon,

Liz Reyes, President, BOT


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Rev Ed Seart

The Memorial Service for The Rev. Ed Searl

will be held at 2:00 pm on September 21, 2019, at the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, 11 W. Maple Street, Hinsdale, IL 60521. An Edward Searl Memorial Fund has been established, with all donations to benefit the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale. Ellie hopes to see many of you at Ed’s service – a bittersweet, wonderful reunion of dear friends and family celebrating a life well-lived. There will be a reception following the service.

Article from Chicago Tribune 8-26-19: 

Former Hinsdale Unitarian Church pastor and La Grange resident Edward Searl’s life to be celebrated at Sept. 21 memorial service

Edward J. Searl, former pastor of the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale and longtime La Grange resident, was a history buff, author and poet who loved to share what he learned.

The Rev. Searl wrote numerous books, including collections of religious and secular writing such as, “In Memoriam: A Guide to Modern Funeral and Memorial Services,” and “Beyond Absence: A Treasury Of Poems, Quotations, And Readings On Death And Remembrance.”

He died July 28 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania at the age of 71.

“Ed was a fairly young minister,” when he came to Hinsdale’s Unitarian Church in about 1982, said Julia Beckman, who has been the church’s choir director since 1974.

“He was very empathetic and interested in people,” she said. And he always had an open door.

“He was always very patient and interested in learning what a person had to say,” said Marilyn Ludwig, who was the church’s religious education director for 12 years. “You would go in his office and be talking to him for awhile, and then when you’d leave and realize he had not said anything about himself.”

“He did probably the best, the most meaningful memorial services,” Beckman said. “They were always about the person or the person’s family.”

People from other churches who attended memorial services the Rev. Searl presided over often commented how personal they were, Beckman said.

The pastor also had a great sense of humor, his friends said.

“There was a picture in his office of a bride and groom and their whole wedding party. And he is standing with them with Groucho Marx glasses on,” Beckman said.

The pastor, who grew up in Delaware, had studied history as an undergraduate and a graduate student at the University of Delaware and the University of Vermont, respectively, before earning his master’s degree in theology from the McGill University of Montreal, Quebec.

His love of history was obvious, church members said. When he moved to La Grange, he set about learning the local history, specifically Chicago’s.

“He took us on walking tours in different neighborhoods in Chicago, like Pilsen, a Polish neighborhood, an African American neighborhood,” Beckman said. “He had never lived in Chicago and I’m a native of this area, and I learned things I didn’t know,” Beckman said.

When he retired, Rev. Searl moved back to Delaware to care for his aging parents.

There, he wrote the book, “Around the Delaware Arc, 101 People, Places & Lore,” about northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Rev. Searl wrote and published 17 books, according to his obituary. Many were about mortality and death, but not all.

In the book, “A Place of Your Own,” he wrote about how to create a private place in your home for spiritual contemplation. His collection of writings, titled “In Praise of Animals,” explored the relationship between humans and the animal kingdom.

The pastor was married to Ellie Volckmann Searl for 51 years.

“Ellie was so supportive and wise,” Beckman said.

He also mentored about 15 ministerial interns over the years who all thought very highly of him, Beckman said.

In addition to his wife, Rev. Searl is survived by his daughter, Katie (Mike) Bodnar; his brother, Clint (Natalie) Searl; and two grandchildren, Brett and Bridget.

A memorial service for Rev. Searl will be held from 2 to 5 p.m., Sept. 21 in the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, 11 W. Maple St.

“It’s going to be such a reunion of people who knew and loved him and definitely a celebration of life,” Ludwig said.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Edward Searl Memorial Fund at the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, 17 West Maple St. Hinsdale IL 60521.

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It began with an often-patched leaking roof on the RE building. Then some members of Green Sanctuary, informed by staff, moaned about the 60-year old windows! and lack of insulation throughout that concrete block building! and how energy inefficient the whole place was! and that the boilers were on their last leg! and how WONDERFUL it would be to install solar panels!!!! Then a storm window fell off the church building. Kismet.

It became obvious that the timing called for action, but our needed work was beyond the scope of annual maintenance funds. Thus, in 2016, with a willing new minister, the Green Home Committee evolved, comprised of Diane Barnes, Julia Beckman,Charlie Fischer, Dave Lloyd, Karen McDowell, Ron Solberg, Steve Trout, and Benjamin Van Horne, whose expertise facilitated the solar installation.

Several months of discussions led to the capitol campaign. The plan was approved by the congregation, and work began to find contractors, secure permits, and collect the nearly quarter of a million dollars.

The RE roof was insulated, resurfaced, and covered with solar panels.  All windows were replaced, which eliminated six old air conditioners, and the exterior trims are now a uniform dark brown.

The church building got a new efficient dish washer and snug storm windows. Finally, this summer, after staff jumped through many frustrating hoops, the heat exchanging air conditioners were installed, first in the RE building (to the relief of then AC-less staff), and at last in the church in the nick of time for the summer services. They are quiet, efficient, and greatly appreciated. It may take a year to calculate and report the net benefit of all these energy saving efforts.

Green Sanctuary still aims to install bottle refill water fountains and an EV charging station, and improve lighting in Joshi auditorium, which were not included in the Green Home project.

These improvements uphold our seventh principle by reducing our energy consumption while providing a comfortable home in which to gather.  It was made possible by the generous contributions of time and money from so many members. It is tangible proof of the work we do together and the satisfaction that brings.

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re     2018-19 Church Year Curricula

Click here to see the full Religious Education Curricula!

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Animal Ministry Planning Activities for the New Church Year and We’d Love Your Input!


Animal Ministry, in addition to its regularly scheduled programming, has brainstormed a few possible activities for the new church year, and we’d love your input on which ones you’d like to attend and when. Please take one minute of your time to answer a few poll questions using the survey link below. We’d love to see some first-time attendees at our events this church year. For planning purposes, our regular meetings this year will be on second Sundays at noon starting in October. Anyone with an interest in animal issues is always welcome to attend. Thank you.

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 IL parole

IL Parole

Learn about it.
October 20 at Noon in the Sanctuary

Save the date for an eye-opening discussion about what we don’t have in Illinois.

The executive director of Parole Illinois will lead the discussion. Learn why this matters to you as a taxpayer and as a UU upholding our principles.  Find ways you can make a difference.

Sunday, October 20 at noon after service. Look for more information coming soon, but save the date for now.  A light lunch will be served.


white fBrought to you by the UCH Social Justice Circle.

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Our Advocacy Partners are Critical to UCH Social Justice Work


The Social Justice teams and UCH members build relationships and partner with organizations that represent, connect with, or advocate for impacted communities. We follow their lead, supporting efforts they think will make a difference.

While our Social Justice Circle work includes service, education, advocacy, and public witness, this article focuses on our advocacy partners. They are faith-based advocacy groups who work with communities most impacted by injustice. These groups include UUANI, DuPage United, UUPMI, Community Renewal Society and Faith in Place.

Here’s an example of how we are connected to communities most impacted by injustice. We work with the Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Group of Illinois (UUANI), which provides UUs across the state with advocacy and legislative leadership. Through UUANI, you’ve probably promoted legislation when you sent in an Action of the Week or visited your legislators in Springfield.

This legislation is informed by UUANI partners including Faith in Place, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, UU Prison Ministry of Illinois, the Criminal Justice Advocates Coalition, Community Renewal Society, the Responsible Budget Coalition, UUSC, Protected by Faith, and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

DuPage United is primarily an interfaith advocacy group working on local and county (DuPage and Will) issues mostly with churches, mosques, synagogues, non-profit agencies, and associations. They, too, have partners who know firsthand about community issues. Another example is UUPMI. Their leadership includes people who were formerly incarcerated, who have that real-life experience, and who help set their agenda.

UCH partners with these organizations because it is important to have people affected by issues shaping the conversation.

Join the social justice work at UCH to be connected and to make a difference beyond our congregation…stop by the Advocacy Table or contact


Tracey Olson, Social Justice Circle Coordinator

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Caring Circle

The Caring Circle continues in our efforts to provide support to our church community in times of need, transition and celebration.  Our ability to provide support is made possible not only by the many volunteers who offer their time, but also by the information that is provided to us by our members so that we may reach out to those in need.

The Caring Circle provides support and coordinates assistance such as phone calls, cards, visits, and email. We are able to provide assistance that may include simple errands, rides, meals, and small chores.



AREA 1 (Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Burr Ridge, Oakbrook)

Linda Rio — (630) 269-3085
Pam Fodor —  (630) 795-0295

AREA 2 (Willowbrook, Darien, Westmont)

Jen Hopkins — (630) 488-9889
Sandy Buboltz — (530) 6137099
Jill Jackson  — (312) 231-9870

AREA 3 (Indian Head Park, Western Springs, Willow Springs)

Susan Hebble — (708) 784-1688
Char Cepek — (708-334-9361

AREA 4 (Elmhurst, Villa Park, Des Plaines, Roselle, Schaumburg, Itasca)

Lynn Brackett — (630) 279-5851
Karen Hays — (630) 272-2899
Kathie & Gary Noll (630) 217-2250

AREA 5 (Westchester, Brookfield, River Forest, Riverside, Chicago, Berwyn)

Nancy Keane — (708) 352-0454

AREA 6 (LaGrange Park, LaGrange, Countryside, Hodgkins)

Nancy Weill — (708) 352-9128

AREA 7 (Downers Grove, Lombard, Oakbrook Terrace)

KC Edgin — (773) 294-7773

AREA 8 (Woodridge, Plainfield, Romeoville, Shorewood, St Charles, Glen Ellyn)

Paula Sejut-Dvorak –(815) 210-1909
Janice Sejut — (630) 207-2856

AREA 7 (Downers Grove, Lombard, Oakbrook)

Jill Jackson — (312) 231-9870
KC Edgin — (773) 294-7773

AREA 8 (Woodridge, Plainfield, Romeoville, Shorewood, St Charles, Glen Ellyn)

Paula Sejut-Dvorak –(815) 210-1909
Janice Sejut — (630) 207-2856


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updated:  4/1/19