Welcome to our learning community!  We offer a variety of experiences – classes, workshops, small groups, and retreats – to foster learning and spiritual growth. We invite you to discover all the opportunities listed below (click on the title of the offering to read full details). Specific information can be found in our monthly newsletterweekly e-updates, and Sunday Times insert to the order of worship.

If you would like to have a conversation about the best ways to engage in the rich diversity of learning opportunities at Countryside Church UU or if you have an idea for a program or class, please contact our Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Mary Shelden. Mary can be reached by email, DLRE@ccuu.org, or phone 847-359-8440 ext. 4.

  • Spirit of Life Workshop Series
    Deepen Your Connections AND Your Spiritual Life in the New Year Our series, to begin January 15, will offer opportunities for aspiring, new, and experienced members to reflect together on aspects of their life journeys and to explore their Unitarian Universalist theology: Experiences or moments of ‘wow’; Feelings of oneness with the cosmos, the great mysteries, or the divine; Life celebrations and rituals; What calls out for your care and compassion; Connection to and relationship with the earth and our natural environment; The ways you show care, love, and respect – to yourself and others; The roots that ‘hold you close’ and the wings that ‘set you free’; The possibilities for expressing your life purpose. Each session, drawing on the words of our beloved hymn (#123 Spirit of Life), focuses on a different aspect of your spiritual life and gives you space to listen to the still small voice within you and to share your reflections with others. Activities invite you to give attention to your life and your choices so that you might live with mindfulness and intention. Just as each of us is responsible for discerning our beliefs, we are each responsible for practices that help us to live them. In our Spirit of Life worship series you will: Become familiar with a broad and inclusive definition of spirituality—one that includes those who do and do not affirm the existence of a supernatural spirit or deity; Evaluate your experiences of the spiritual during turning points in your life and during day-to-day living; Learn methods for being attentive to your spirituality; Discover the variety and value of spiritual practices as means of deepening faith and enhancing quality of life; Practice in speaking and listening with respect and authenticity Deepen your ties with other congregants as you learn more about one another and yourself. The sessions will be held 11:30am – 1:30pm on these Sundays: January 15, 22, 29; Feb 5, 26. While we hope you will want to join all of them, you can attend just as many as you like. Childcare can be arranged by letting us know your needs. Register below or reach out to Mary Shelden (dlre@ccuu.org) with questions. Please register on or before January 1.
  • New! Haiku Garden Workshop
    We will hold a monthly Haiku Garden Workshop in preparation for a spring opening of our Haiku Garden. If you would like to learn how to write modern haiku or to get suggestions about a haiku you have already written for the garden, please join Susan Auld on Sunday, November 20 from 11:30-1 in Classroom 1. Participants will be invited to share their haiku as part of our Haiku Garden, inspired by the 2022 Journeys Retreat. The vision for the Haiku Garden is that seasonal haiku written by church members will be displayed at sixteen different locations around the church grounds; more information about the Haiku Garden will be provided during class and in the October Focus newsletter.
  • New! White Lies Discussion Series
    Monday evenings, Oct 17 through Dec 5; 7 to 9 pm; online only The attack and death of the Rev. James Reeb in Selma, AL in 1965, just a few days after Bloody Sunday, is a familiar story to most Unitarian Universalists. UUs are generally proud to hear of the white UU clergy who responded to Dr. King’s call to support civil rights activists in Selma, and some even call Reeb a UU martyr. Many UUs point to participation in the Civil Rights Movement as the thing that solidified their commitment to activism. Until now, only the basic details of the attack, its aftermath, and the trial of three white men accused (and acquitted) of the attack, were really known. The White Lies podcast is a feat of investigative journalism in which two reporters, who were once UU Youth and are the hosts of the podcast, spent years interviewing people and searching out obscure and buried records in an attempt to tell the real story of what happened. In an eight-session discussion series, facilitators Rev. Denise Cawley and Dr. Mary Shelden will engage each episode of the podcast from the perspective of Unitarian Universalism today, as well as current events. In this “post-Jim Crow” era, what might we learn about the long term effects of systemic racism? Please sign up to attend the series: https://ccuu.breezechms.com/form/WhiteLies. Participants need not attend all sessions, however, if you drop in, please listen to the episode for that day AS WELL AS all previous episodes. Obviously, the more you participate, the more you get out of this great course.  Discussion Schedule: Oct 17: episode 1-Introducing White Lies Oct 24: episode 2-The Murder of the Rev. James Reeb Oct 31: episode 3-The Who and The What Nov 7: episode 4-The Counternarrative Nov 14: episode 5-The Sphinx of Washington Street Nov 21: episode 6-The X on the Map Nov 28: episode 7-Learn Not to Hear Dec 5: episode 8-A Dangerous Kind of Self-Delusion Course is on ZOOM only. You do not need to be a church member to attend this covenantal series; guests are welcome. This Lifespan Religious Exploration course is available for Senior High and Adults. 
  • Reading Roundtable
    formerly Great Books Discussion Group meets 2nd & 4th Wednesdays at 10 am Reading Roundtable started a new book on September 14, 2022, called The Civically Engaged Reader. This is a great time to join us! This anthology is a collection of short readings that range across literature, philosophy, and religion. Meant for people engaged in volunteer work, philanthropy, service organizations, and other forms of civic activity, the book addresses what it means to work to serve others in our community. Published by the Great Books Foundation, the book includes discussion questions that encourage close reading. We will discuss one short (2–10 page) reading each time we meet. Our schedule through December: 9/14: “Earliest Impressions” (pp. 33–42) 9/28: “What We Don’t Talk About…” (pp. 148–154) 10/12: “The Sweetness of Charity” (pp.190–191) 10/26: “The History Teacher” (pp. 276–277) 11/9: from Democracy in America (pp. 54–57) No meeting on 11/23 12/14: “Dry Dock” (pp. 100–103) No meeting on 12/28 1/11: “Four Traditions of Philanthropy” (pp. 210–217) 1/25: The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegie (pp. 194–203) 2/8: from “Self-Reliance” by Emerson (pp. 204-205) 2/22: from the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides (218-219) and “A Bed for the Night” by Brecht (pp. 208-9) 3/8: from The Souls of Black Folk by Du Bois and “Theme for English B” by Hughes (pp. 58-64) 3/22: “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison (pp. 65–80) 4/12: II Samuel Ch. 11-12 (pp. 236-237) The Civically Engaged Reader explores various themes through classic and contemporary readings. How, why, and with whom do we associate? What sustains our bonds with others, and how do these bonds determine who is excluded from a group? What are our motives for volunteering? Does service address inequalities in our society? What does it mean to give and receive? The readings are diverse. Alexis de Tocqueville claims that the egalitarianism of American democracy is the cause of our many civic associations, but an excerpt from W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk analyzes the great lack of equality between the races in America. An essay by Andrew Carnegie ponders how to give away a large fortune, while Dave Eggers describes trying to give money to strangers and not feeling right about it. A short story by Toni Morrison tells of two girls who meet living in a homeless shelter. Jane Addams reflects on how her father instilled “moral concerns” in her as a child that help explain why she opened Hull House. We meet the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a great time to join! All are welcome.
  • Living the Pledge to End Racism
    Begins January 26, 2022 – registration now open During our MLK Service on Jan 16, Rev. Hilary and Dr. Mary will introduce the CCUU Pledge to End Racism. In order to make the Pledge something that becomes an integral part of our daily lives, we’ve designed a workshop for signers of the pledge to reflect, learn, and practice how to develop and maintain this commitment. As part of the workshop, participants develop a community of support and an understanding of how to use support in deepening our work in building a just and equitable multicultural world. The workshop series is for CCUU members and non-members who have engaged in other anti-racism/multiculturalism training and for those who never taken a class about racism. Full details can be found at https://ccuu.org/living-the-pledge-to-end-racism/.
  • Feminine Divine Women’s Group
    The Feminine Divine Women’s Group provides a welcoming sacred space for women to form a bond with each other and with the feminine divine. We strive to be inclusive, compassionate, and understanding of women and their challenges, joys, and spiritual history. At our September meeting, we typically select a book with a feminine divine or feminine historical theme to study & discuss over the course of the year. We usually present a summer worship service and do a group service project for the church or the community. We meet the last Saturday of the month at 9:30 am.
  • Transitions
    The mission of the Transitions group is to provide a forum for mature adults to explore life transitions with a supportive community during daytime hours. We meet the 4th Thursday of the month at 10 am (3rd Thursday in Nov & Dec to avoid meeting on holidays.) Program topics are chosen based on participant surveys and are often presented by group members or invited guests. All are welcome to join us; feel free to invite a friend!
  • Book Circle
    We meet on Sunday evenings about every 6-8 weeks to discuss non-fiction books within a spiritual and ethical context. Discussions are informal and open, and centered on issues that impact our lives and society. We discuss books that explore nature and the environment, science, psychology, philosophy, sociology, culture, religion and politics. Books are chosen through consensus and new suggestions are always welcome. Stay tuned to the weekly e-updates and monthly Focus newsletter for details.Facilitator/Coordinator: Gail Wisniewski, BookCircle@ccuu.org
  • Journaling Circle ~ Writing Together for Self-Discovery
    1st Thursdays at 10:00 am. Each gathering opens with a short meditation. We then free write and write from prompts related to our monthly themes. Through sharing our writings, we also share life’s journey and deepen relationships within our community. We are continuing to meet online; stay tuned to the newsletter or weekly e-updates for meeting info. Have a notebook/journal and a pen handy, as well as your desire for personal exploration and growth. Facilitator/Coordinator: Peggy Graves
  • Open Forum Discussion
    Forum is a weekly, moderated discussion focused on topics of interest to our participants, including current events and social issues. We agree to discuss such issues in a spirit of authentic self-expression, while honoring the CCUU covenant and welcoming the diversity of views that may be expressed. Forum is currently meeting via Zoom on Sundays, 9:00-9:50 am.  Facilitator/Coordinator: Vid Axel We abide by our group covenant: In the Open Forum Discussion, we agree to discuss the issues of the day honestly and respectfully, welcoming the diversity of views that may be expressed on any given topic. Some elaboration of our covenant: The “issues of the day” are the issues we choose to discuss, which often have some connection to current events, including political, local, national, and world events, or otherwise newsworthy events, but which also sometimes include more personal or philosophical topics. Please remember that in our discussions, we welcome disagreement about topics. We may voice our opinions, but we do not welcome criticism of other participants’ motives, character, knowledge, or wisdom.
  • Last Mondays Book Discussion
    Join us the last Monday of the month at 7:00 pm. We discuss primarily works of fiction. We are currently meeting via Zoom; stay tuned to the weekly e-updates for Zoom mtg info.
  • Buddhist Study Group
    We meet 2nd Sundays of the month, 11:30 am – 1 pm. We read selected Buddhist texts, discuss them, and try to apply the principles and techniques to our everyday lives. Topics include mindfulness, meditation, and deepening our spiritual understanding. We practice mindful breathing, walking meditation, stress management, and cultivate the capacities to be kind and compassionate and to bring joy into our lives. Facilitator/Coordinator: Melanie Terbovic
  • Agnosticism, Humanism, Atheism (AHA) Discussion Group
    We meet the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm to discuss issues related to Atheism, Agnosticism, and Humanism, with related videos and reading materials. Examples of past meeting topics include: the Reason Rally and annual Atheist gathering in Washington D.C., and videos featuring the ideas of Hitchens, Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. Facilitator/Coordinator: Andrew Cranberg