November UCF News

On November 7th, we will hold our Veterans Day worship service outdoors, followed by a pot luck meal. The picnic pavilions at Fort Macon offer ample space for us to gather, so please join us to see old friends face to face. Attendees are asked to bring one dish to share, and supply their own place settings, beverages and any other additions (grills are available). Once again, this will be a hybrid in-person-Zoom service but will be at the Beach Access picnic shelters instead of the visitor center.

Reflections from Rev. Ma

Dear beloveds,

Many of us have been socialized to keep a stiff upper lip, carry on, don’t let them see you’re afraid. Keep your chin up. Fake it ‘til you make it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with fear. Fear keeps us safe. Fear keeps us from going down dark alleyways at night; fear makes sure we check the that the doors are locked and the stove is off before going to bed at night; fear keeps us from jumping off of high places without security devices. Fear is as much a part of life as sunsets and moon phases and seasons.

And there is much to fear, these days. Gun violence. Climate change. COVID-19 and its many variants. Those are some big fears, and there are also the smaller, day-to-day fears. Fear of rejection. Fear of spiders. Fear of burning your mouth on food that is too hot. Life is full of fears, and many of them are reasonable.


I believe that fear is the opposite of love. I can’t love what I fear, and I can’t fear what I love. Fear keeps me from taking risks, and love demands risks. Love is not safe. Love sends us into dangerous situations. Love is what propels us to reach out to strangers. Love compels us to climb trees—and save them. Love encourages us to hold hands and skip across a theme park, no matter how silly it looks to others. Love sent me up to the locked in-patient mental health unit in the Cleveland VA hospital during a deadly pandemic, day after day. Love has erected a new church building on 2900 Bridges Street in Morehead City.

Yes, there is a lot to fear, and perhaps some fears that you have not spoken aloud, not even to yourself. Fears like, “Are we going to be able to pay for the new building?” “What’s going to happen in the next election?” “How are we going to find new members?” “What if the com-munity changes in a way that I don’t like? Am I going to be left behind?” “What are we going to do about climate change?”

We can’t help fearing, and we can always choose love. Love is a choice. We can choose to be vulnerable. We can choose to be silly. We can choose to be gracious. We can choose to hold hands. We can choose to create resilient, compassionate community. We can choose to build bridges.

We can choose to be brave.


Rev. Michelle Ma

Board of Trustees Business

• The Board has changed our monthly meeting time to the second Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM. Our purpose for doing this is to accommodate those who work during the day to visit our meetings if they desire. For now, we are still meeting on Zoom. If you wish to visit a Board meeting, please ask any Board member for the Zoom link.

• The Board has been working on the Building Safety policy and has created documents for review on the Pandemic Policy and the Major Storm policy. These documents will be sent for review to the relevant parties.

• The Board has been working closely with the New Building Team as we finalize the schedule, the particulars of the design, and necessary votes on budget items.

President’s Column

Happy November, My Friends:

I recently felt the need to learn whether a GOOD leader feels fear when faced with upcoming transitions in their organization. I wanted to know whether a really good leader is just oblivious to this kind of fear. Do they see every transition as a landscape to courageously explore? Do they see every change as an adventure in leadership? Well, according to everything I read, it appears not. My search showed me that leaders who don’t feel fear are just plain oblivious to the challenges of leadership and the needs of the people they lead. In fact, I learned that we should be afraid of leaders who don’t feel fear. The key to GOOD leadership of any consequence, it appears, is facing one’s fear and choosing courage.

Sometimes it may not feel like it, but your leaders face the same fears you do about the upcoming transitions at UCF. To be honest, every single time we meet, we must sideline our own fears of change and instead choose to be courageous or we could never move forward fulfilling your hopes and dreams for UCF’s future. We freely acknowledge our fear of the changes UCF faces. Heck yeah! Acknowledging our fear pulls it out of the shadows and opens the window to our ability to lead. And YOU deserve GOOD leaders.

UCF’s leaders are members of this congregation, just like you. Because we are all interdependent, we share and acknowledge the congregation’s feelings. As your leaders, we hope acknowledging our fears will inspire your courage so it flows through the congregation we love. Courage will not eliminate our fears, but it will be a solid step toward putting them in their proper place.

One way to make courage easier is by creating points of certainty. Uncertainty evokes fear in all of us. Let’s think about and highlight things that aren’t changing at UCF. For example. changes do occur in the building project every day at the Bridges Street campus, but we can feel courage and comfort in that change. We can know that we will soon have a physical home where we will all be able to join in community. We know that we have raised the money to pay for it. We know it will accommodate us and be our home for many, many, many years. Knowing this certainty brings peace and opens the way to embrace courage in things that don’t have as much certainty.

Another way to transform fear into courage is through establishing a purpose and preparing for it. Facing uncertainty without purpose makes chickens of us all. For a long time, we have certainly been focusing on UCF’s purpose by establishing powerful reasons for moving forward. We have decided to create a stronger presence in the larger community by offering a meeting place for like-minded groups. We have decided to create a more multigenerational and multicultural congregation and the programs that support that change. We want to live our values of harmony with the earth and be an example of those values to the larger community. We want to be an even more prominent beacon of progressive thinking and action inside and outside our new facility by partnering with others to achieve our goals. Our congregation definitely has a purpose and powerful reasons for moving forward. This is a wonderful reason to transform fear into courage.

Please join with me and your other leaders in acknowledging your fears about upcoming transitions at UCF and find your courage in UCF’s purpose. Let’s take each other’s hands and keep stepping toward our future.

All the best to you! ~Melva