Meditation & Prayer Group
Erik Felker has been a member of UUSCV since near its inception. He has prepared and presented sermons, established and runs our library and regularly volunteers in the RE program. The Meditation and Prayer group is a more recent brainchild. When asked why he conferred with our then minister, Rev. Hoyt to establish the group, he responded, “It seemed to me there was a need for it at our church.”
It meets once a month at 9:15 before regular services. All are welcome. Erik established an eclectic approach that he sees as appropriate in a Unitarian Universalist setting. Erik may be the founder and he keeps an eye on scheduling but he does not influence how the session leader will direct the meeting. The gatherings are lead each month by a different volunteer from the regular attendees.
The session leader may present techniques of meditation they use on their own or introduce the group to the teachings of a spiritual guide that they have found meaningful. They might introduce a theme, topic or technique, which may be inspired by a holiday, personal experience or practice. There is a time for response and sharing usually ending with a silent meditation. The following are Eric’s responses to questions on the topic
How does a Meditation and Prayer practice fit into the UU life?
I see a personal practice fitting into the lives of many kinds of people, including people who use meditation for health reasons and many Buddhists who don’t address the issue of God at all. If religion is, in a broad sense, in its original sense, “re-linking,” then mediation and prayer can both be useful techniques.
Do you have to be a theist to pray?
I feel that in Western society in general -- and I can certainly say that this is true in my own life -- the traditional differences between atheism and theism are breaking down. I don’t even know how many people in our group have traditional ideas about God and how many believe in something like a Universal Spirit or something else. The question seems to arise only in an individual’s P&M presentation, and not even then in all cases.
What difference does your practice make in your life?
My spiritual practice, by which I mean in this context the time that I set aside for such things as prayer, chanting, or meditating, is an expression of my beliefs, and I very interestingly find that my practice sometimes nudges my beliefs. For example, something in my practice starts to feel inauthentic, and I know that I need to ask why that is. Also, experimenting with a new practice can open new questions or unexpected reactions. For example, if one is accustomed to making an offering as part of one’s private worship, how can that be brought into agreement with the idea of a divine force who/which has no specific identity? Who/what “receives” the offering? Is it received by a part of ourselves? By the entire universe?
Why do you think some people are put off by the idea of meditation or prayer?
Meditation and prayer seem to me to be the simultaneous taking of steps that travel inward and outward. Again, the concept of linking or re-linking is something of an undertaking. A certain amount of internal questioning is necessary, and some people may not care for that process, or may not feel prepared for it. (Most of us aren’t, of course, but resources are easy to find these days.)
How does meditation translate to Western culture in this age of instant everything?
Perhaps one of the many purposes of meditation and prayer is to contest the idea of “instant everything”. Like the “slow food” movement that opposes “fast food,” meditation and prayer show a different way to live.
Is there anything you want to add?
Only to say that our group welcomes people who have a deep interest in meditation or prayer. We do not teach others how to meditate or pray, but we do function as a support group for people who want to deepen or broaden their interest or practice. I hope that we will make connections with other groups in the church where there are common interests.
Spiritual Reflections is a respectful yet open and lively discussion about concepts presented in the Sunday morning worship hour. After services, all members or visitors may choose to remain in the main sanctuary and participate in coffee hour or you may choose to attend a Spritual Reflections discussion.
Topics are generated from the worship service -- anything that stimulates your interest, questions or introspection, whether that be the sermon, music, poetry or readings. Spiritual Reflections is a fluid group. You do not have to formally join a team or attend every session. Simply show up on the day that you wish to discuss your reactions or thoughts with fellow seekers.
All sessions are run by a facilitator and are held in Room 2A from 11:45 to 12:15pm (informal discussion may continue afterwards and is encouraged!). Our hope is for these sessions to become a valuable opportunity for individuals to nurture their souls, ask those existential questions, develop meaningful connections with others and grow their spiritual beliefs.
new to UU classes
Every month, classes are offered on the basics of Unitarian Universalist faith, either held prior to or after one of the Sunday services. The class is designed for recent visitors to the church, and is facilitated by our minister and lay leaders of the congregation.
Each session of the class focuses on a different aspect of the basic information necessary for a grounding in Unitarian Universalism: Theology, History, Organizational Structure, and our local Santa Clarita congregation. Class participants are welcome to begin the series with any of the four sessions. Attending at least one session is a pre-requisite for church membership.