Blog

Opening Words from Sun. February 18 by Joan Walker

February 18, 2024
Category:

Good Morning. My name is Joan Walker. I’m a long time member of the Ethical Society where I met and married today’s speaker.

Early in our relationship, Claude and I talked about favorite authors. We connected over our appreciation of Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Wagner. I’d like to relate how these two authors imagined interactions between humans and aliens.

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For Love of the Land: A Journey into Regenerative Agriculture

February 16, 2024
Category:

“Scientists estimate that 8 percent of the carbon in the upper layers of Earth’s soils has been released into the atmosphere over the past centuries. Bringing that carbon back home through regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities to address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers.”  —Project Drawdown

What if, in your “second act”, you could do something new, challenging and meaningful that would also address the problem of climate change?  Our speakers, Marcia and John, have embarked on a new chapter in their lives, establishing a family farm based on the principles of soil health that are the foundation of regenerative agriculture. They will share what they have learned to date and offer thoughts on what we can all do to support this important change in agricultural practices.

John Raney’s education and early work in forest management preceded a long career in Information Technology leadership. Marcia McCabe recently retired from her work as a clinical psychologist at Washington University School of Medicine.  They are now the owners of Monmouth Farm in Berryton Kansas, where they continue to expand their understanding of regenerative agriculture.

Presenter

John Raney and Marcia McCabe

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • TBA

Related Links

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Uganda Humanist Schools – Invaluable Support from the Ethical Society of St. Louis

February 13, 2024
Category: ,

By Steve Hurd from the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust

The Ethical Society of St. Louis in the United States is a close and much valued partner organisation of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust. UHST and the children, teachers and communities at Humanist Primary and High Schools in Uganda are immensely grateful to Ethical Society members for their prodigious fundraising efforts. Over the years, Society members have funded scholarships to enable bright girls from challenging circumstance to attend the Humanist schools. They raise funds for sanitary products so that no girl misses lessons owing to menstruation, and members have made major contributions to infrastructure improvements in the schools, not least a dormitory home for 96 girls at Mustard Seed School.

In January 2024, St. Louis members have raised a massive total of £52,772. This will secure full boarding scholarships for 21 girls attending Isaac Newton Humanist High School and for 15 girls at Mustard Seed Humanist Secondary School. These scholarships give life-transforming opportunities for the girls, their families and communities. 

Senior 1 scholarship students starting at Isaac Newton School in February 2023

A substantial sum of money has been generously donated by a family from the Ethical Society to enable Isaac Newton Primary School to bring its classrooms up to standard. During Covid, Isaac Newton’s neighbouring primary school became bankrupt when support from an Evangelical Christian Foundation in the U.S. stopped. The local community rejected a bid from a Turkish Cultural Centre to turn the school into a Muslim madrassa and asked for help from Isaac Newton School, whose work they had come to appreciate. UHST supporters mobilised funds to enable the school to buy the land and buildings. Some buildings were later found to be unsafe and this left the school with a problem.

UHST stepped in with funds to replace the 3 kindergarten classrooms for children aged 3 to 5. A Humanist from London, UK now living in Greece also helped by generously funding 4 replacement junior classrooms for children aged 9 to 12. These will be ready for the start of the 2024 school year in February. The donation from the St Louis family will provide the school with the final 3 infant classrooms for children aged 6 to 8, and toilets for boys, girls and staff. Construction of the toilets has already begun and work on the infant block will begin later this month. 

Since Isaac Newton took over the primary school, enrolment has grown from 40 to 250 children. So new bigger classrooms would have been required in any case. The latest help from St. Louis will ensure that by April all children at the Isaac Newton Primary School will be able to learn in decent and safe classrooms. 

Unsafe Infant classrooms from the former Evangelical school, which will be replaced by a new block funded from St. Louis

Less than twenty years ago, half of the working age adults in the villages around the Isaac Newton Schools died from HIV/AIDS. The schools have brought new hope to the families that survived this tragedy. The schools have brought decent standards of education and welfare to a once destitute community. Acts of human kindness, such as this one by members of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, change lives and help to make the world a better place for us all. The local community in Uganda is genuinely moved by this unselfish act of generosity from people across the world whose only connection with them is their shared humanity. 

Girls sponsored by Ethical Society of St. Louis 2024

YearMustard Seed Humanist Secondary SchoolIsaac Newton Humanist High School
1
2
Nakato ShamimMukodha FatumaNatukunda Moliver

Biira KittyMaliba PraiseMuhindo MaureenMutoni AllenNalikka SudayyahNamugga ShamulaNazziwa ChristineNabatta Immaculate Tracy
3
Asaba Gorgine Hanifa AyinzaBenah Namakula Victoria Nakayima Phiona Namagira

Nankaya RahumaMasika Habiba Nankya Veronica Nankoba Prossy Wanjanda Shadia
4
Kisakye BrendaJackline Victor NaigagaRoset KiraboBrenda Namaganda

Swabrah NampijjaBrendah NamwangaPatrica NabirongoSandra Rosemary NampiijaSaldat Biira
5
6
Elizabeth Aidah BangiGabriella Kiyonga Brenda Kagoya

Olivia Nabalemba Bushillah MuhammadGidah Nakawungu

Opening Words from Sun. February 11 by Jim Rhodes

February 11, 2024
Category:

Good morning, everyone! My name is Jim Rhodes, and my pronouns are he and him.

When Claire asked me to do Opening Words, I wasn’t sure how to approach this. I’m not a regular part of the Ethical Society’s music program but I love the music we have here, and we are so lucky to have talented musicians like Amy and Claire and Kyle and his band and our Ethical Voices.

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Leader Search – Member Update

February 8, 2024
Category: , ,

We have begun the important step of letting the world know about our search. Our focus has been on AEU societies and contacts, UUA publications and contacts, humanist organizations in the U.S. and Europe, liberal religious organizations, and divinity schools. At this point, the employment opportunity is posted on 10 job boards, and we have sent emails to more than 50 people asking them to share the opportunity with people they know who might be interested in applying. The position will soon be promoted on additional job boards and on more than half a dozen social media sites, and we aren’t done yet. If you know anyone who could be a good fit for our next Leader, please let them know about the opportunity. The best link to send is: https://www.ethicalstl.org/leader-search/

Opening Words from Sun. February 4 by Amelia Wood

February 4, 2024
Category:

A year ago, I found myself sitting on my couch on a Sunday morning, happily separated from my old religion, but missing the ritual and the community. I was aware of the Ethical Society and had a vague notion of what it was about; I figured it couldn’t hurt to drop in and see how it felt. In the span of a single morning and afternoon, I found a new home and met some of my best friends.

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Opening Words from Sun. January 28 by Scott Wright: “Strong Roots, Strong Branches”

February 1, 2024
Category:

Good morning. My name is Scott Wright, and I am incredibly nervous because two of my least favorite things are public speaking and asking people for things, so please bear with me as I publicly ask you for things.

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Leader Search – Member Update

January 29, 2024
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The Leader Search Task Force has been making steady progress. Using what we learned during the Listening Sessions, we completed a detailed job description which we submitted to the Board for consideration at their January 9 meeting. Task Force co-chairs, Don and Carole Beere, attended the meeting to answer questions about the document and other aspects of the search. The Board members made a few suggestions, which have been implemented, and they approved the release of the job description.

The Task Force finalized the search-related documents for the Ethical Society’s webpages, and the pages are now operational. There are two parts: one for Society members and one for potential applicants. To access them, go to the lower right-hand corner of the Ethical Society’s home page.

Leader Search – Member Update

January 25, 2024
Category: , ,

Recognizing that the search for our next leader is important to all of us, the Leader Search Task Force is committed to keeping you apprised of our work. This is the first of many communications. We also value your thoughts, so please feel free to contact us through email at ESSLsearch24@gmail.com. Emails sent to this address are only available to the Task Force members (Katie Borders, David Brown, Cy Henningsen, Lindsey Nissenbaum, Brian Vandenberg, and co-chairs, Don and Carole Beere).

For those who may not have been through this process at the Society, here is a brief review of how the search works: once the job posting is approved by the Board, the Task Force will post it; the Task Force will review applications, select the top applicants, interview them, and check their references; the Task Force will identify one finalist, and the name, along with all supporting documentation, will be referred to the Board. If the Board is in agreement, that candidate will be invited to the Society to meet the congregation and give a Platform. The congregation will vote on whether to hire the individual.

Except for holiday breaks, the Task Force has been meeting weekly since October 1. Because we are very concerned that the search accurately reflects the priorities of the congregation, we have held seven Listening Sessions, three on weekday evenings (one of which was via Zoom), one on a Saturday morning, and three on Sundays (two after Platform, one before). Seventy-seven people, in addition to members of the Task Force, attended the sessions, which asked three questions:

  • What credentials should a leader have?
  • What are the most important responsibilities of a leader?
  • What personal attributes are most important in our leader?

We are now organizing the responses from the Listening Sessions and the emails we received to understand the priorities of the congregation. Thank you to everyone who attended a Listening Session. Your input is very helpful.

Our next step is to develop a draft of the job posting. We plan to have this ready for the Board’s consideration in January. Once a job posting is approved, we will be listing it every place we think might attract someone who fits the job description. If you have ideas of places to list, please let us know. Also, let us know if there are individuals to whom we should send a job announcement. Our goal is to cast a wide net.

Opening Words from Sun. January 21 by Christine Politte

January 21, 2024
Category:

Hi. My name is Christine Politte, and my pronouns are she/her. I’ve been a member for about three months now, and I wanted to tell you a little about how I got here.

My story begins in the summer of 2018, the summer after my sophomore year of college. It was my first summer away from home, and I was living in the dorms at the University of Southern California, working two jobs and generally enjoying my freedom.

That is, until the pain started.

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Reproductive justice action in Missouri

January 20, 2024
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“Missouri was the first state to officially outlaw abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade…”

Society members, including Kayla Vaughn and Allison Hile who are pictured, at a 2019 reproductive justice protest under the arch. The photo was featured in a New York Times article (18-Jan-2024) about the 2024 state-wide initiative to undo the abortion ban.

Society members Kayla Vaughn, Allison Hile, and Mary Ann Tipton at a 2022 rally under the arch.
Society members Kayla Vaughn, Allison Hile, and Mary Ann Tipton at a 2022 rally under the arch.

Leader Search 2024

January 20, 2024
Category: ,
Peak of Ethical Society roof

Seeking a full-time Leader, equivalent to a Minister, Pastor, or Rabbi for the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is a humanist congregation, founded in 1886. Our mission is to inspire ethical living by affirming the worth and dignity of every person and advocating the primacy of ethical behavior above any creed. We function like a traditional religion, but our programs are non-theistic and involve no prayer or traditional religious rituals.


For our next Leader…

January 20, 2024
Category: ,

Employment Opportunity

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is seeking a Leader, equivalent to a minister, pastor, or rabbi.  Check out a detailed description of this opportunity and learn how to apply.

Screen at the front of the auditorium with a welcome sign

Learn More About Us

We are proud of our humanist community.  Learn who we are and about our community.

Website Highlights

Much can be learned about us from our website. Several pages may be of particular interest to applicants.

People standing in the foyer of the Ethical Society.

Our City

There are many qualities that make ours a great city to live in.  Check out some of the things we like best.

Leader Search Task Force

Seven members of the Ethical Society of St. Louis are working to find our next Leader.  Learn more about us through our bios.

Sunset over the arch and St. Louis

Questions, please contact us at ESSLsearch24@gmail.com.

Leader Search Information

January 20, 2024
Category: ,

Seven members of the Ethical Society of St. Louis have been appointed to the Leader Search Task Force to identify the next Leader of our Society. 

Questions, please contact us at ESSLsearch24@gmail.com

Updates

  • Leader Search – Member Update

    We have begun the important step of letting the world know about our search. Our focus has been on AEU societies and contacts, UUA publications and contacts, humanist organizations in the U.S. and Europe, liberal religious organizations, and divinity schools. At this point, the employment opportunity is posted on 10 job boards, and we have sent emails to more than 50 people asking them to share the opportunity with people they know who might be interested in applying. The position will soon be promoted on additional job boards and on more than half a dozen social media sites, and we aren’t done yet. If you know anyone who could be a good fit for our next Leader, please let them know about the opportunity. The best link to send is: https://www.ethicalstl.org/leader-search/

  • Leader Search – Member Update

    The Leader Search Task Force has been making steady progress. Using what we learned during the Listening Sessions, we completed a detailed job description which we submitted to the Board for consideration at their January 9 meeting. Task Force co-chairs, Don and Carole Beere, attended the meeting to answer questions about the document and other aspects of the search. The Board members made a few suggestions, which have been implemented, and they approved the release of the job description.

    The Task Force finalized the search-related documents for the Ethical Society’s webpages, and the pages are now operational. There are two parts: one for Society members and one for potential applicants. To access them, go to the lower right-hand corner of the Ethical Society’s home page.

  • Leader Search – Member Update

    Recognizing that the search for our next leader is important to all of us, the Leader Search Task Force is committed to keeping you apprised of our work. This is the first of many communications. We also value your thoughts, so please feel free to contact us through email at ESSLsearch24@gmail.com. Emails sent to this address are only available to the Task Force members (Katie Borders, David Brown, Cy Henningsen, Lindsey Nissenbaum, Brian Vandenberg, and co-chairs, Don and Carole Beere).

    For those who may not have been through this process at the Society, here is a brief review of how the search works: once the job posting is approved by the Board, the Task Force will post it; the Task Force will review applications, select the top applicants, interview them, and check their references; the Task Force will identify one finalist, and the name, along with all supporting documentation, will be referred to the Board. If the Board is in agreement, that candidate will be invited to the Society to meet the congregation and give a Platform. The congregation will vote on whether to hire the individual.

    Except for holiday breaks, the Task Force has been meeting weekly since October 1. Because we are very concerned that the search accurately reflects the priorities of the congregation, we have held seven Listening Sessions, three on weekday evenings (one of which was via Zoom), one on a Saturday morning, and three on Sundays (two after Platform, one before). Seventy-seven people, in addition to members of the Task Force, attended the sessions, which asked three questions:

    • What credentials should a leader have?
    • What are the most important responsibilities of a leader?
    • What personal attributes are most important in our leader?

    We are now organizing the responses from the Listening Sessions and the emails we received to understand the priorities of the congregation. Thank you to everyone who attended a Listening Session. Your input is very helpful.

    Our next step is to develop a draft of the job posting. We plan to have this ready for the Board’s consideration in January. Once a job posting is approved, we will be listing it every place we think might attract someone who fits the job description. If you have ideas of places to list, please let us know. Also, let us know if there are individuals to whom we should send a job announcement. Our goal is to cast a wide net.

Getting Missouri Beyond Coal – Climate Action Now!

January 15, 2024
Category:

A conversation about decarbonization and electrification opportunities for Missouri residents and the utilities that serve us.  Get updates on the Inflation Reduction Act’s newest incentives for residents and Ameren’s long-range energy plan.  Jenn will discuss how the Beyond Coal campaign is pushing Ameren to end its dependence on coal and to invest instead in renewable energy.

Jenn DeRose is an equity-focused climate activist, sustainability enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, music lover, cyclist, gardener and proud St. Louisan.  Join the Climate Action Now! team in welcoming Jenn to our forum.

Event information

Presenter

Jenn DeRose, Senior Beyond Coal Organizer of the Sierra Club

Suggested Actions for CAN!

Related Links

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Opening Words from Sun. January 14 by Clark Hotaling: “The Power of Community”

January 14, 2024
Category:

Good morning. For those that I haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet, my name is Clark Hotaling. I started coming here just about 1 year ago and became a member last Fall.

My wife and I recently binged watched the 4-part Netflix series ‘Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones’. Author Dan Buettner takes us around the world to five unique communities where people live extraordinarily long and vibrant lives. At each stop, he dives into the community to see what unique characteristics they exhibit that might explain why they are a ‘Blue Zone’—Communities where members live well into old age.

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Opening Words from Sun. January 7 by Samantha White

January 8, 2024
Category:

Have you ever walked away from an interaction and wondered: Did I represent my best self? Was my impact on the other person the one I intended? I won’t make you raise your hands, but I imagine (and I hope) that everyone in the room has done this type of reflection from time to time. Reflecting on personal choices, actions, and words helps us grow and learn and adapt into the best possible versions of ourselves and it is a big part of my daily practice. Becoming and maintaining our best selves while building positive relationships with others is a continual process and requires continuous effort, which is one of the reasons I am excited about our newly adopted Community Agreements. They ask each of us to be intentionally proactive in the healthy maintenance of our Ethical Society relationships. 

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Fresh starts and new beginnings: Platform January 7, 2024 – Amy L. Miller

January 8, 2024
Category:

It was Heraclitus, an ancient Persian scholar, who coined the words “The only constant is change”, and I think that’s a reasonable thing to keep in mind around the first of the year. The Ethical Society of St Louis has a responsibility to continue to change in service of the mission and values you claim for yourselves. Samantha provided information about one path forward to holding ourselves accountable to the values we espouse as an organization .

How much additional change we want to make in the next year is up to us as a community. We set some goals for ourselves this morning in Forum, and those are for you and from you. As I said a year ago, I am merely here as a guide.

In the interest of a new year and opportunity for reflection, I thought it would be a good time to discuss change in general.

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Embrace Ethical Action

December 22, 2023
Category:
Cartoon image of three people holding signs that say Invite Your Friends

“Embrace Ethical Action” is a collective commitment to turn our values into tangible deeds, fostering positive change within and beyond our organization. Throughout the year, we’ll share stories of impactful initiatives and provide resources to support your journey. In January, our ethical action will be simple yet profound: extend an invitation

Whether it’s inviting a friend to Sunday gatherings or encouraging participation in an Ethical Society function, let’s be intentional about inviting and including others to build a stronger, more interconnected community. Join us in shaping a year of purposeful action towards living our core values.

Good Cheer Platform 2023

December 17, 2023
Category:

Amy L. Miller, MSW, Interim Director

We had a program recently about Aging and Death in which a member mentioned life as being composed of seasons. I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the context of our human life cycle. When a person is safe, fed, and housed, they are free to traverse the seasons of life and explore the richness of each. This is my hope for each of us today and every day. So on this day, nearing the shortest and darkest day of the year, in what one might argue is a dark time for humanity, let us find inspiration in the hope for a light-filled future.  

The Spring season is well-represented in our children, who remind us of the freshness of youth. Anything is possible in spring. The first fragile flower buds push through, and if nurtured well, begin to grow. Our children, in the spring of their lives, are potential personified. There is an innocence and a simple beauty to Spring. Our children signify the hopes we have for a kinder and more just future for all.  

Warming into Summer, our early adulthood is sometimes a little too hot and a little too wild, to where there is comfort and relief in the slide into the Autumnal season. Autumn is confident. Knows itself. Autumn is here for the transitional beauty it embodies, but is mindful of its role of ushering out the heat of summer in preparation for the coming cold. There can be fear in the coming winter, or curiosity. 

I remember a poem I wrote when I was a late teen when I actually didn‘t know what I was talking about there in the spring of my life, but certainly thought I did. I wrote about the trees in the fall. I only remember these lines,  

The limbs twist and wave in the way of an arthritic old man  
Who knows he has just seen his last fall into winter transition  
And hopes it will not be a cold one.

We all wish for a not-terribly cold winter. The winter of life is the epic conclusion. It’s the shuttering down. The quieting. It’s a reflection of a seasons past.  

But winter is also the time for rebirth and renewal. The shortest days of the year that give way to lengthening days in preparation for another spring. We don’t know what happens after this earthly life, but that mystery is part of the beauty of it.   

Regardless of where you are in the season of your individual life, we are together in the midst of a tumultuous world where the greatest gift we can offer one another is the glow of our warmth. Peace on earth seems an impossible dream, but even while that is true, we can co-create a peaceful microcosm amongst ourselves.  

Here at the Ethical Society of St Louis, we do not rely on outside sources to tell us who we are, what to think, or how to be. I read something from former Christian pastor Jim Palmer recently that I’d like to share as a meditation to bring with you into the new year:

Many religions teach that human beings are born sinners and need to be saved to be good. Consider the possibility that this view abdicates personal responsibility. First, it implies that our misdeeds in the world are inevitable because they are a product of our flawed condition. Secondly, it puts the onus on an outside savior to fix it. 

Here’s an alternative mindset: 

  1. I was born a human being. 
  2. I have the capacity to be an instrument of goodness or corruption in the world. 
  3. I am responsible for my actions and their consequences. 
  4. My life experiences have wounded me in ways that contribute to the harmful things I do in the world. 
  5. I can take responsibility for who I am being in the world by addressing the root cause of my destructive and harmful mindsets and actions. 
  6. I am not perfect and never will be, but I can make a determined effort each day to tend to my liberation and wholeness. 
  7. I may face times or situations when I need help, and I will seek the help I need. 
  8. Even on the best days I will stumble and see ways I messed up, but I will offer acceptance, patience and compassion to myself, knowing that self-love and not self-condemnation will aid my growth and wholeness. 
  9. I accept that all human beings are in the same boat I’m in, and I will be ready to offer compassion to others in their challenges and struggles to be the best human being they can be.

The winter solstice reminds us of hope and light and joy as we enjoy the lengthening of days. It reminds us that these relationships between us, the ropes that tether us to one another and to life, and the ways we treat each other are the cornerstones of human relationships. We are all in the same boat. As such, we have a responsibility to each other to ensure safe passage. No one is safe unless everyone is safe.  

With any luck, we will all come to the winter season of our own lives with a sense of purpose and satisfaction for having lived in accordance with our values and in service of the light within each of us.  

I’d like to close with a poem called “The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper.

THE SHORTEST DAY BY SUSAN COOPER  

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world 
Came people singing, dancing, 
To drive the dark away. 
They lighted candles in the winter trees; 
They hung their homes with evergreen; 
They burned beseeching fires all night long 
To keep the year alive, 
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake 
They shouted, reveling. 
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them 
Echoing behind us—Listen!! 
All the long echoes sing the same delight, 
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land: 
They carol, feast, give thanks, 
And dearly love their friends, 
And hope for peace. 
And so do we, here, now, 
This year and every year. 
Welcome Yule!

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