Adult Life Enrichment (ALE) Program

The mission of BRUU’s adult religious education program (also known as Adult Life Enrichment, or ALE) is to offer our adult Members and Friends a wide variety of courses, seminars, workshops, and discussion groups in which they can broaden their understanding of life and living, as reflected in the 7 UU Principles (see below). We hope you will find many offerings that speak to your own spiritual quest so that you may grow in your knowledge of Truth as you define it.

If you wish to attend one or more of the courses below, please consult the end of this catalog for directions on how to register.

Spring

The ALE Committee publishes the Adult A.L.E. catalog three times a year: fall, winter, and spring. The educational opportunities are coordinated by volunteers and taught by volunteers.

We invite anyone who is interested in fostering development of adult courses to propose a course of their own. Contact any member of our committee, or read Guidelines for ALE Instructors where you will find our convenient online tool to propose courses.

You may also want to consider joining the ALE Committee. Contact our committee chair at re.adult@bruu.org.

The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism

UU’s agree to uphold the following principles to the best of their ability:

  1. Recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  2. Observe justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
  3. Accept one another and encourage spiritual growth in our congregations.
  4. Pursue a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
  5. Respect the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregation and society.
  6. Build a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all.
  7. Respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

BRUU ALE Committee (ALEC)

  • Frank Gregorio, Chair
  • Paul Galvin
  • Marti Giese
  • Kathy Sobrio
  • Kristin Worthington

Course Offerings

Bacteria – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

bacteria
The oldest, most numerous, toughest, most dangerous and most varied forms of life on Earth, are the microbes we call Bacteria. Collectively, there are far more of them than all the animals, plants, reptiles, fish, insects, protists, fungi — all other life forms on Earth combined. They are the oldest life on Earth. In fact, they appear to be our very first ancestors — the first life forms from which all other life has evolved, including us (sorry, Adam and Eve). They are practically indestructible and have been found in every hellish condition on Earth. They probably exist in space and maybe on other planets and moons.

Bacteria may seem like creatures we should fear because they can make us sick, but in truth, we would not be alive without them. The good things they do for us far outweigh any pathogenic effects they have. What are they like? How many kinds are there? How do they eat, reproduce and die? How and when do we think they first formed on Earth? Why have they changed so little over billions of years of Earth history? What good things do they do for us and other lifeforms on Earth? Why do only some of them make us sick? How do we get sick and how does our bodies fight back? What are antibiotics and antibiotic resistance? What are superbugs and how dangerous are they?

Join master Teacher Frank Gregorio for a fascinating 2-hour multimedia lesson into the amazing world of Bacteria.

When:
Tuesday, May 15, 2018; 7:00-9:00pm
Where:
Fellowship Hall
Facilitator:
Frank Gregorio (ale.frankg@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Providing a search for truth and meaning

Viruses – The Most Dangerous Chemicals On Earth


Most folks would say that viruses are alive, but in fact, they are not. They are really nothing more than complex chemicals, able to be stored in jars for hundreds of years. They are not made of cells, do not eat, metabolize, give off wastes, move or sense their surroundings. They do not even reproduce on their own. Yet  they have killed billions of animals and plants on Earth, and may be as old as life itself.

What are viruses? Where do they come from? How old are they? If they are not alive, how do they prosper, evolve and reproduce? How many kinds are there? How do they cause disease in all life on Earth? How does our body fight them? Are there any good things viruses do? What are vaccines and how do they work? Are many of our diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s possibly caused by viruses? What is bioterrorism and how could we have used viruses as biological weapons?

Join Master Teacher Frank Gregorio for an exciting 2-hour multimedia journey into the mysteries of the Virus.

When:
Tuesday, May 22, 2018; 7:00-9:00pm
Where:
Fellowship Hall
Facilitator:
Frank Gregorio (ale.frankg@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Providing a search for truth and meaning

Living the BRUU Congregational Covenant – Acceptance


Acceptance of one another is part of the third UU principle – but what does that mean? What does this principle call on us to do? Is it as simple as live and let live? Why is acceptance so important?
We are comfortable with the familiar. Yet everyone is unique in their own way. Differences are what make things interesting – and also where we pause or stop. What does it take to truly accept another human being? Where do we draw the line about what we don’t accept? How can we talk about our differences? More importantly, how do we get past them?

Join Mike Cleary for a deep dive into the meaning of the BRUU Congregational Covenant and in particular, its theme of Acceptance. We’ll talk about identity, differences, the active side of acceptance, boundaries, and compassion. We’ll even talk about how we can make BRUU a safe place for seeking and service.

You can attend this 90-minute-long session independently or in conjunction with the other two sessions on Living the Congregational Covenant.

When:
Sunday, April 8; 1:00-2:30pm
Where:
Flamingo Lounge
Facilitator:
Mike Cleary (ale.mikec@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
3 – Accept one another and encourage spiritual growth

Living the BRUU Congregational Covenant – Integrity

integrity
Each of us has responsibilities – in our jobs, in our families, in our relationships. The covenant reminds us that we have responsibilities to each other, but also to ourselves.

Responsibility can be a burden – but it can also be a gateway to meaning. How do we conduct a free and responsible search for truth and meaning? How do we honor our inherent worth and dignity, as well as those of others? How do we honor the interdependent web of relations in our own congregation, let alone in our community at large? In each of these pursuits, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. More than that, being true to ourselves can yield the greatest insights in all these areas.

Join Mike Cleary for an exploration of the BRUU Congregational Covenant and the role of personal Integrity. We’ll talk about several dualities: authenticity and ego, the connection between humility and inherent worth and dignity, and how the covenant calls for personal and spiritual growth by being open to others while being true to ourselves.  You bet we’ll talk about seeking and service.

You can attend this 90-minute-long session independently or in conjunction with the other two sessions on Living the Congregational Covenant.

When:
Sunday, April 15; 1:00-2:30pm
Where:
Flamingo Lounge
Facilitator:
Mike Cleary (ale.mikec@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
1 – Recognize the inherent worth and dignity of everyone
4 – Providing a search for truth and meaning

Living the BRUU Congregational Covenant – Conflict Resolution

conflict
We’re thoughtful, intelligent people, right? We look out for each other and we have everyone’s best interest at heart. So how do we dwell together with the nudnick that just doesn’t get it?

Then again, the person we see as a pest might be thinking the same thing about us. It’s a matter of perspective, and sometimes it’s hard to see someone else’s point of view. Then there are issues where people understand each other, and still disagree. Can’t we all just get along? And what’s wrong with just deciding we’re right?

Not always and more than you might think. Join Mike Cleary to see how the BRUU Congregational Covenant challenges us to deal with Conflict Resolution. We’ll talk about where conflicts come from, what to do about them, and why it’s worth the effort, even if you don’t get your way. We may end up talking about ALL the seven UU principles. The mission statement is fair game too – we’ll talk about how to keep the congregation safe in the face of conflict.

You can attend this 90-minute-long session independently or in conjunction with the other two sessions on Living the Congregational Covenant.

When:
Sunday, April 22; 1:00-2:30pm
Where:
Flamingo Lounge
Facilitator:
Mike Cleary (ale.mikec@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Providing a search for truth and meaning

What You Always Wanted To Know About LGBTQ People But Didn’t Know Who to Ask

LGBTQ
You can ask US!  We don’t know every single thing there is to know, but we can give you some insight into our lives that may help you support someone you know or love.  We represent most of the categories above, and live our lives dealing with both the good and bad aspects of being a LGBTQ.

  • What is it like to be “different”?
  • When did we know?
  • How did we cope initially, and then later in life?
  • Have our families and friends been supportive, or not?
  • Did we find it necessary to finally “come out”, and why?
  • What level of hostility (if any) have we encountered from our community?
  • What joys and happiness does being LGBTQ provide us?
  • How has BRUU welcomed us and made us feel part of the UU worldwide community?

Join Lois Montgomery, Angie Carrera, and a panel of knowledgeable folks for a 90-minute fascinating exploration of being LGBTQ.

When:
Thursday, April 19, 2018; 7:30-9:00pm
Where:
Flamingo Lounge
Facilitator:
Lois Montgomery (ale.loism@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
2 – Accept equality and compassion in one another
3 – Accept one another for who they are

Crafting for Calm Workshop (Spring Edition)


If you want to find ways to spend time with some fellow BRUUers mating the ability of crafting’s spiritual side with your creative side, this will be a positive class for you!

We will be making several types of crafts that help you get in touch with your 5 C’s: creativity, calmness, comfort, compassion, and contemplation.

  • Mandala Coloring
  • Worry Bracelets and Keychains
  • Scented Satchels, Bath Salts, and Stress Balls Oil Aromatherapy

All supplies are provided.

When:
Saturday, May 12, 2018; 9:00am-12:00pm
Where:
Room 304
Facilitator:
Michelle Luman (ale.michellel@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
3 – Encourage acceptance and growth in each other

Understanding True Islam

islam
Discover what True Islam is directly from Muslims. Learn about and discuss the eleven truths about Islam. Subjects include non-violence, equality for women, and a universal declaration of human rights.  Guest presenter Ayesha Noor is the Deputy Spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and is the Social Media Coordinator of the True Islam campaign.  Inquisitive and open hearted minds are invited for an educational and enlightening presentation, followed by Q&A.

When:
Wednesday, May 2, 2018; 11:00am-1:00pm
Where:
Room 305
Facilitator:
Ayesha Noor (ale.ayeshan@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Search for truth and meaning
6 – Build a world community

The Coral Reefs of our Blue Planet

coral reefs
Earth is 70% ocean, yet we landlubbers never visit it, and rarely understand its beauty or its problems. The BBC is helping us overcome that limitation. They produce the “Planet Earth” series, and this time, they have outdone themselves. This year, they released “Blue Planet II”, a seven-part series choreographed to the music of Hans Zimmer, that takes us into our oceans in spectacular fashion.

In one amazing hour, their show on Earth’s coral reefs is almost beyond belief. Spending four years filming around the world, their 4K high definition cameras and microphones take us into the nursery of half of the species of life in our oceans. We see scores of aquatic creatures living day to day, cooperating with each other to obtain food, hiding from predators and being a predator, using shells to build homes to lay eggs, spawning in one night of frenzy … We witness one place on one reef on only one night a year, where 10,000 huge groupers congregate to mate with each other, while hundreds of reef sharks swarm in to eat them.

We also discover that our reefs are in serious trouble. Global warming is warming the oceans and coral reefs do not like changes in temperature. They go into serious stress. It can kill them. In fact, 2/3rds of Earth’s biggest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, has died or is dying. If our reefs die off, the nursery for much of the fish in the sea will be gone!

Join master Biologist Dr. Larry Underwood for viewing and discussion as he guides this fascinating documentary on our Coral Reefs.

When:
Thursday, May 10, 2018; 7:00-9:00pm
Where:
Fellowship Hall
Facilitator:
Larry Underwood (ale.larryu@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Providing a search for truth and meaning

The Strength of our Ancestors


Modern society is in real trouble. All over the world, we are engaged in wars and conflict. Governments are struggling to govern, corrupted by influence peddlers, power and money. Billions of people are sick, anxious, stressed, combative, and unhealthy. Refugees are starving and dying in dozens of locales. Mental trauma has become a global catastrophe, and suicides are common worldwide, particularly in our teens.

Yet, our ancestors would trade places with us all in an instant. Imagine what you would be like if you had no home, lived in caves or animal skin tents, had to hunt or dig in dirt for EVERY meal, had no refrigerators, toilets, clean water, toothbrushes, forks or knives, clothing, beds, mattresses, cars, TV’s, cell phones, eyeglasses, or fingernail clippers? Consider the trauma you would experience if weekly, your family was attacked by other men armed with spears or clubs, trying to kill you, take your meager belongings and steal your daughters and wives?

More recently, consider your daily life living in a NY tenement cold-water flat, with rats, no hot water and buckets on the floor as your toilet, or in a one-room shack in coal country, with outhouses, lice, ticks, poverty and disease as daily companions. My father and mother experienced this. You think we have problems today …. THINK AGAIN!

We can learn from our ancestors. They not only dealt with all of this, but they did so … and survived! They are still with us in spirit! Join Frank Gregorio for a dramatic multimedia visit back to the time of our ancestors. Learn a new perspective on how to look at life today.

When:
Tuesday, May 29, 2018; 7:00-9:00pm
Where:
Fellowship Hall
Facilitator:
Frank Gregorio (ale.frankg@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
7 – Respect for the web of existence

How to Find Peace in a Time of Chaos


Your job — Your commute — Your kids — Your love life — Your time crunch — & those blasted disturbing news images!
Or the latest surge in personal family drama?

It all adds up to stress! We all feel it. How do you cope? Maybe you’ve got ways that might help me. Maybe I’ve got ways that might help you. Together, maybe we can all cope better. Let’s discuss it!

When:
Thursday, April 12, 2018; 7:00-8:30pm
Where:
Youth RE room
Facilitator:
Angie Carrera (ale.angiec@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Providing a search for truth and meaning

A Course in Miracles (ACIM): Experience the Transformation

butterfly

(continuing classes offsite)
(voluntary donations accepted)

Translated into 24 languages, ACIM is studied around the world and by thousands of Unitarian Universalists. ACIM’s foundational teachings dovetail with all 7 UU principles and offer an additional path to appreciating their significance.

New to ACIM? Join Marti Giese hosting an introductory group to learn about the principle teachings of ACIM. Discover a different way to think about time and space, one that challenges commonly held perceptions and brings peaceful fullness to life.  Call Marti to see if this study is for you. This class is ongoing and can be started at any time. You do not have to begin it on any set schedule.

Required text: The Other Voice.blossomforth logo

When:
Continuing – Wednesdays; 10:30am – 12:00pm
Where:
Manassas – Address will be provided via email after registration
Facilitator:
Marti Giese (ale.martig@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Search for truth and meaning

Already familiar with ACIM? Join us for a closer look at the magnificent teachings of A Course in Miracles and benefit from the rich discussion of experienced students. This class is ongoing and can be started at any time. You do not have to begin it on any set schedule.

Required text: A Course in Miracles.blossomforth logo

When:
Continuing – Thursdays; 10:00 – 11:30am
Where:
Manassas – Address will be provided via email after registration
Facilitator:
Marti Giese (ale.martig@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Search for truth and meaning

Meditation: Finding the Teacher Within

mediation

(classes offsite)
(voluntary donations accepted)

Meditation is an important tool for finding the inner peace needed to navigate our tension-filled world. The health benefits of meditation have been proven in study after study regardless of one’s theological beliefs.  So, why don’t we do it?  Getting started is usually not the problem; maintaining it is the difficult challenge.  This spring, join Marti Giese to learn new techniques for overcoming that limitation.

New to or returning to meditation? Join me for a session or two about how to set up or resume a meditation practice that lasts. We’ll dispel any myths you may have, and outline what to consider before beginning your practice. Call for an individual appointment.

Already familiar with meditation? Join our group to experiment with different meditation gateways and formats. Learn the art of studying single seed thoughts to gather insights to share with others.blossomforth logo

When:
Wednesdays, April 11 & 25, May 9 & 23 and June 6, 2018; 12:30 – 2:00pm
Where:
Manassas – Address will be provided via email after registration
Facilitator:
Marti Giese (ale.martig@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
3 – Encourage acceptance and growth in each other

Summer Solstice Eve Celebration

summer

Bring a side dish or dessert to share (beef and vegetarian BBQs provided)
(class offsite)
(voluntary donations accepted)

Summer Solstice occurs when the Earth’s axis is most inclined toward the sun. It is a time of intense beauty and color as Mother Nature responds passionately to the bright warmth of the sun. Join Marti Giese and Shaman Nancy Chrisbaum and Dennis Chrisbaum for a potluck BBQ on Summer Solstice Eve. Learn how Shamanism relates to the solstices, discuss animal totems, and blow prayers into our closing ceremonial fire.

About Shaman Nancy Chrisbaum: Nancy is an author, filmmaker, Reiki Master, and Certified Luminous Energy Healer. She served on staff at Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) in Virginia Beach for 17 years. She is a graduate of the Four Winds’ Light Body School, which specializes in shamanism in the Peruvian tradition.blossomforth logo

When:
Wednesday, June 20, 2018; 6:00pm BBQ; 6:45 – 9:00pm program
Where:
Manassas – Address will be provided via email after registration
Facilitator:
Marti Giese (ale.martig@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
7 – Respect for the web of existence
Note:
Bring a side dish or dessert to share

Spiritual Laws: Flexibility, Responsibility, and Perfection

(classes offsite)
(voluntary donations accepted)

What do these words have in common? They name three of the five spiritual laws of the universe that we will examine. These laws do not limit or restrict, only free us to live with others in peace and harmony. They are keys to a fulfilling life, according to Dan Millman, author of Laws of Spirit. Join Marti Giese for a five-week discussion of the five laws. Share your understanding of the laws and gather insight about how others make use them. blossomforth logo

When:
Wednesdays, April 18, May 2, 16 and 30, and June 13, 2018; 12:30 – 2:00pm
Where:
Manassas – Address will be provided via email after registration
Facilitator:
Marti Giese (ale.martig@bruu.org)
UU Principle:
4 – Search for truth and meaning

Course Registration

Like what you see? It’s time to REGISTER!

Do I have to register?

As a courtesy to the instructor, yes. That way (s)he knows the class has attracted the minimum number of participants desired for conducting the class.

As a courtesy to yourself, yes. Since registration includes your email address and phone number, you’ll save time and gas not coming to a cancelled class, if the Instructor has to cancel. (We would’ve called you if only we knew…)

What if I’m not sure I can make it?

Register anyway. You can always contact the class Instructor before the class begins. Meanwhile, the class can go forward because the minimum number of signups has been met.

Is it okay to just drop into a class at last minute?

Sure. Just give the instructor a courtesy call or email.

How can I register?

We prefer that you register online, since it is easy and facilitates notification to instructors of your intent to attend.


Teacher Bios

Angie Carrera

Angie Carrera is retired but continues to run her mini-business, Interpretation Excellence, training bilinguals how to become qualified or certified foreign-language interpreters for government, business, or nonprofits serving the limited-English residents of Northern Virginia. She lives in Manassas Park with her spunky 95 year-old mother, dog Astara, and cat Bartelomeow. Angie writes fiction and poetry in her spare time.

Mike Cleary

Mike Cleary is a former business reporter who now works as a project manager in the IT industry but remains a writer at heart. Raised as a UU, he has always liked studying religious ideas, and went on to get his degree in philosophy.

Mike has been a member of BRUU and the choir for over 10 years now, and is in his third year on the board. He likes dancing, cooking, talking politics, and learning Spanish.

Marti Giese

Marti Giese’s work career includes teaching special needs children, counseling domestic violence victims, and providing chaplaincy to senior adults and hospice patients.  Her education includes an M.Div. in pastoral counseling and metaphysical/ esoteric wisdom teachings, and an M.A. in Human Resources with a focus on adult education. Marti’s avocation is Blossomforth, a spiritual community where seekers unite to participate in discussions focusing on spiritual growth techniques that enable participants to step into the power of self-healing.  Call Marti to get on the Blossomforth email list.

Frank Gregorio

Frank Gregorio is a retired Science teacher for Prince William County Schools. With degrees in Earth Science and Biology and 35 years of experience as a practicing teacher, a CEO and corporate scientist of an international biotech company, and a government scientific investigator for FDA, Frank is well prepared to share his scientific knowledge with us. He also operates a popular educational YouTube channel.

Michelle Cole Luman

Michelle Cole Luman is an archaeologist with an M.A. in Applied Archaeology and a B.A. in Historic Preservation. She currently works as a technical report writer. Her training also includes museum studies, cultural anthropology, ethnography, geography, GIS, architectural history, folklore and world religions. Michelle is also a skilled facilitator of crafting for calm.

Lois Montgomery

Lois Montgomery is a happily retired Fairfax County Science teacher with 38 years of experience in the middle school and high school classroom. She spends her time now volunteering with the Virginia Master Naturalists, teaching adults in the Life Long Learning Institute of Prince William County, and working at various capacities in her Bull Run Unitarian Universalist church. In the evening, Lois collects things from local dumpsters that do not belong in the trash stream and repurposes and recycles them.

A modern Ms. Wizard, Lois enjoys using discrepant activities to teach science concepts to kids and transports her laboratory to schools, birthday parties and other gatherings of curious folks.

Ayesha Noor

Ayesha Noor is the Deputy Spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and is the Social Media Coordinator of the True Islam campaign. She is active in Muslim outreach in our local area.

Dr. Larry Underwood

Dr. Larry Underwood has been an environmentalist most of his adult life. He lived in Alaska for 25 years where he conducted research in cold adaptation and Arctic ecology. He has also taught Biology courses at the University of Connecticut, the University of Alaska, Northern Virginia Community College, and George Mason University. Recently, he became the Citizen’s Climate Lobby’s Liaison to U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock.

Kristin Worthington

Kristin Worthington is the Director of Religious Education at the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Manassas, Virginia.