We started to attend FUUSE in November, 2016, like many others, after a very disheartening election. It was a time when we were searching for a group of people to heal with, to plan with and to fight with, and we found all three at FUUSE.
I grew up here, at FUUSE. When I was almost 10 years old we moved into our house in Exeter, which just happened to be located right behind the Loosigians’ family home. We soon had a path that stretched from our backyard to theirs as they instantly welcomed us to the neighborhood. It was at their suggestion that my mom started taking me and my younger brother to FUUSE. We had been attending another local church that was just not the right fit. FUUSE quickly became a familiar place, where I always felt welcomed and supported. I made lifelong friends and connections here that I am so grateful for. FUUSE has always been a source of comfort for me and a place where I could just be myself. Growing up, music was a huge part of my life and source of inspiration. It still is. I have been singing here at FUUSE for as long as I can remember. As a teenager I would play the flute or sing a song during service. I definitely remember putting on silly skits and musical numbers in the “No Talent Talent Show” too. I can’t say that as a teenager I was always willing to get up “early” on Sunday mornings and come to church, but I always loved being here. I have such fond memories of the friends who were in RE with me and of our minister at the time, Neal Ferris. I learned so much from him, and he helped us as we tried to navigate a tricky time in our lives… being a teenager is no joke! I did have a hiatus from FUUSE during my college years … I was having adventures and learning life lessons. 😉 It wasn’t until I met my husband, Justin, that I returned. We were married here by the same minister from my childhood, Neal Ferris. We came to church occasionally, but weren’t living nearby at the time. Some time later when we ended up settling back in the Exeter area, it only made sense that I’d fit right back into the FUUSE community and try to convince Justin to join me. Fortunately after attending more services Justin felt the same draw to the community here at FUUSE. I started singing in the choir and getting to know everyone at FUUSE again. We have since had our two daughters who now get to have the same opportunity I had as a child, to grow up here. It’s such a special thing, to watch my kids become comfortable in this space, become more comfortable with themselves, make new friends and connections and learn about our principles through stories and action. Watching as this community supports my children and takes an interest in their well being just warms my heart. It feels as if it has all come full circle in such a wonderful way. These are just a few of the reasons I choose to support FUUSE financially. I am so hopeful for the future of FUUSE. I am looking forward to finding a new music director to continue to help music weave its magical thread throughout our services. I am excited to have an RE program again and hope that will translate into more families joining FUUSE. For EVERYTHING that FUUSE is now and has been to me over the years, I choose to pledge my support. Elizabeth Clark
I’m so grateful for the way this congregation supports and nurtures each other.
There’s a joy that permeates the air on a Sunday morning at FUUSE.
I believe in FUUSE’s mission statement:
“At FUUSE we seek to build a caring, inclusive community where we can ground ourselves spiritually, pursue justice in the larger society, and work to heal the natural world.”
Every day I see FUUSE leadership, members, and volunteers living this mission, and their actions motivate me to do the same.
When my daughter-in-law and all the family were stunned by her cancer, the FUUSE congregation were overwhelmingly supportive, and I knew that FUUSE would be important in my life.
I particularly enjoy the high level of activism at UU churches. I am thankful for all this congregation is doing!
I am Joanie Pratt, and I have been a member of FUUSE for 10 years now. I grew up with a positive experience in another kind of church, including one in Exeter when I moved here in 1966 with my husband, Charlie, and our two very small children. Then in the 1980’s our family moved four short miles west to an apple orchard in Brentwood, still known as Apple Annie. Our two kids were now in college and this (we later realized ) was to be our “empty nest” move.
At that point, Church, as in being attached to one church, kind of disappeared for me. Somehow the gently sloping hillside, the twisted old apple trees in their neat parallel rows, the wide open garden spaces, the quiet country road and birdsong everywhere brought me into the world of nature and consumed my thoughts and energies, although I was still teaching part time at UNH.
Growing food for ourselves and apples and apple products for the community provided new challenges of all kinds, but mostly those relating to the changing climate that we were experiencing in agriculture ourselves as farmers even back in the 1980’s and 90’s, and, of course, ever since.
This is the background for my joining FUUSE. After 27 years of farming, in 2011 we sold the orchard to Wayne and Laurie Loosigian, good friends in Exeter and Unitarians as well. As we were working through a 5-year transition to new ownership, we probed them about the Unitarian faith and the Exeter church. We were also aware that we already knew a number of members of the church, even Kendra and John, and concluded on our own that something must be working well there!
Charlie had never been a church goer, but we agreed that in our retirement we would “ try this out”. Unfortunately, cancer suddenly intervened, and he never got to join me here, but after his death I joined this church and have never looked back.
At FUUSE I found a new community to fill the “ holes” I would experience both as a widow and in retirement. (Sure, my family, now two grown kids, their spouses and five grandkids all now in their 20’s do fill the family void, but they are all busy with their lives and are all over the place). The FUUSE community has amply filled my volunteer time and provided so many new relationships …. I mean the Caring Committee, Outreach, doing meals for Seacoast Family Promise, Social Justice Committee, which brings together Social Justice, Racial Justice, and Climate Justice all with a goal of focusing on certain issues that affect us all and being impactful with respect to them. I am looking forward to our new settled minister and trust that the selection committee will represent us well in making their choice. I personally found Kendra’s ways of exploring spirituality in nature and community inspiring and have widened my own practices of yoga and meditation thanks to the workshops provided by Joanna Macy and her friend Colleen several years ago.
I see how important it is to revive our wonderful music program and also The RE program …. Music and children enrich every service and will both attract new members, as will the whole renovated church as we get to spend more time in it. I hope more groups will take advantage of the Ingeborg Locke grant which can make money available for speakers or workshops on issues important to our living though these difficult years together.
I personally have felt this year, as we emerge from COVID, albeit tentatively, that I
will search deep, DEEP in my pockets to support this church that I feel so grateful to have become a member of and that has supported me so completely over the last ten years.
From Religious Education to choir, to lighting candles, to thoughtful and thought provoking sermons, to knitting ministry, to retreat and small group ministry, it’s been and continues to be a deeply meaningful part of my life.
What remains constant is the critical need for a liberal religious viewpoint for the NH seacoast. We most value this community’s openness to accept many faith beliefs and the intellectual discussions around these different points of view.
I’m a Unitarian Universalist because my great confidence in my great doubt is as much affirmed by my congregation as anyone else’s belief.
Our family began attending FUUSE in 1984, at the suggestion of Donna Schlachman and Rob Becker. At that time FUUSE was in a period of transition. We had no minister, and the congregation was very small. In the almost four decades since then, the congregation has grown exponentially and the church has experienced a magnificent facelift.
Our children grew up in this Church. Our daughter Karen and her wife, Cecilia, are serving as Religious Education coordinators this year. Georgia, our granddaughter, is the designated microphone holder for our Story For All Ages – an intergenerational activity that Karen and Cecilia restarted after a long period without this fun experience. Our son Andrew and his family attend the Beverly [MA] Unitarian Church, where Andrew has served as a coordinator for their OWL program (the UU sexuality education program).
Both Karen and Andrew have lifelong friends from [FUUSE].
It warms our hearts to see three generations of our family actively involved in Unitarian Churches.
Over the years we have supported FUUSE financially and in service because we value this spiritual community of folks who are intellectually curious, thoughtful, sensitive, and caring. We joyfully say that most of our best friends attend this church.
In the future, we look forward to supporting:
more intergenerational activities
expanded music offerings
educational opportunities concerning racial equity and social and climate justice
workshops and discussion groups addressing how we all can be at peace in an often turbulent and constantly changing world
and social gatherings where we can get to know those of you who are new to us, and to have you get to know those of us who already know each other well.
Every Sunday I am excited to come to service. It renews my spirit again and again.
What will give me that sense of strength, safety and security so that I can recommit to engaging in the world? Like a stand of trees with deep roots – when we stand together in this community, our roots intertwine and feed each other. We hold each other up in the stormy times and offer protection under our branches. This community grounds me, makes me feel the sense of belonging that gives me courage to face the uncertain future.
We appreciate having our boys excitedly attend Religious Education classes where they are hearing the same messages that they hear at home, but from other voices.
I feel a deep sense of connection to my FUUSE brothers and sisters who knit prayer shawls, play their instruments, shovel snow and cut the grass, make coffee for us each Sunday, stand at Town Hall with placards, write letters to the editors, march on Washington, NYC, Boston, organize Thanksgiving baskets, coordinate Secret Santa for Seniors, each month generously contribute to a Give it Away cause.
[They] work hard to make the world a better, greener, and more just place to live.
I appreciate FUUSE for the opportunity it provides to think for oneself, to pursue my involvement in social justice and to deepen compassion in human relations.