“All you need is love, ba-ba-da-da-da.” Sounds of merriment reverberated through UUCA’s Social Hall, as Terry Carpenter and Pam Kilmer opened November’s Coffeehouse event. The Beatles’ upbeat 1967 hit set the mood for an evening of joyful camaraderie. Congregants and guests filled the seats and gathered around the candlelit tables, while event organizers and volunteers lingered on the perimeter to welcome newcomers and serve wine and cookies.
UUCA’s Coffeehouse is part of our longstanding history of performance programming. Under the leadership of John Clum, the UUCA Performing Arts Coordinating Team (PACT) launched in 2015, continuing the creative work started by the UUCA Underground Theater at our former location on Cliff Valley Way. The Coffeehouse—and Wine, Cheese, and the Spoken Word, PACT’s other staple program, featuring poetry and music from local talent—have continued to thrive at the Tree House (our nickname for UUCA’s temporary quarters at 1190 West Druid Hills Road NE, Suite 150, Atlanta GA 30329).
This special program on Saturday, November 23, Shower the People You Love, beautifully demonstrated the musical talents of UUCA members and friends, encouraging folks to connect and have fun before succumbing to the stresses of the holiday season. Found Objects, a band made up of UUCA members Johanna and John Merkel, Lee-Ann Williams, Eric Pohl, and Rob Burgner, followed the Beatles cover with a few familiar songs, including “Angel from Montgomery” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” It was a joy to witness this example of the deep connections that exist at UUCA—where members are also partners, friends, and band-mates.
A warning, though: Band vocalist Lee-Ann Williams informed the audience that the band changes their name with each show—so be sure to pay close attention when you’re looking for their next performance!
At Coffeehouse events, you may find yourself flooded with a full range of emotions. Celebrating 30 years of marriage, Mria and Michael Dangerfield led a beautiful singalong to Art Garfunkel’s “All I Know.” The mood of the crowd deepened, as couples swayed in their seats and hands made their way to their neighbors’ arms and shoulders. As eyes welled with tears, our disparate voices melted into one voice, all of us overcome by the spirit of the room.
Early this fall, UUCA’s Reverend Taryn Strauss spoke to our Women Empowered group about moments like this: “When we chant together, matching pitches or finding harmonies like wellsprings attunement, we find alignment with one another, falling into soulful lockstep, our spirits reaching toward a communal, spiritual transformation. Together, when we sing, pray, and practice devotion, we lift our minds above the mundane and elevate our consciousness. We lose ourselves to holy synchronicity, letting our voices and spirits soar. We become transformed.”
Much like UUCA’s Sunday services, PACT creates opportunities to bring our whole, authentic identity to the UUCA ministry, a ministry supported by the beautiful and musical expression of the human spirit. PACT hosts monthly events on an alternating schedule: Coffeehouse, and Wine, Cheese, and the Spoken Word on alternate months. You definitely don’t want to miss out on any of these wonderful events. PACT’s next event, Wine, Cheese, and the Spoken Word: The Katherine Basden Journey, features performers sharing prose featured on the holistic products created by Katherine Basden. The event also includes 15 minutes of tai chi with Furman Riley.
The Performing Arts Coordinating Team brings the gifts of music, poetry, and community not only to UUCA, but also to the public. Community-building is an essential element of faith development at UUCA and for Unitarian Universalists around the globe. PACT’s programming ignites a spirit of sharing, vulnerability, and joy in our Unitarian Universalist congregation. PACT organizer Todd Wingfield explains, “PACT helps advance the ministry of UUCA by providing diverse programming across a range of performing arts, programming that helps to build community, provides a forum for diverse voices, and welcomes the broader community.”
Learn more about PACT and our arts programming on UUCA’s website at www.uuca.org/music-the-arts/. Want more information about the coordinating team and how to get involves? Contact Todd Wingfield at Todd.Wingfield@uuca.org.