A Memorable Memorial Sunday

May 30, 2011 06:30 – 06:30

Yesterday, we rose early and had Weis muffins for breakfast. Then we headed to UUFCC. Mark Hayes greeted us when we arrived, just a little before 9:30. In the chapel, I met Art, who sings with the choir and does their sound. I listened to Matt Sheppard, their new choir director, take the choir through a choral arrangement of In Flanders Fields. Art set up a microphone for me, balanced somewhere between voice & guitar, and I was all set.

The structure of UUFCC’s service is a bit different from MVUC‘s. First, there is no recitation of a covenant following the first hymn (which was a seated singing of I Know this Rose Will Open). Next, there was no “for all ages” portion of the service, after which children leave—I didn’t seen many, if any, children. I don’t know if that’s because this was a “summer” service, or if that’s the way things are always done. At MVUC, during “summer” services, the children immediately go to class, and don’t come to the service. The rest of the year, the children at at the service for the first 15-20 minutes. So… I don’t know if this really was different or par for UUFCC’s course.

Another definite difference is that they have vocal sharing of joys and concerns, during which a wireless mic is taken around. In MVUC’s services, our joys and concerns are expressed through the silent lighting of candles during the offering. This method would be unwieldy at MVUC, I think. I vaguely recall that we might have done it that way when we first started attending MVUC, but that we stopped for that reason.

The choir’s presentation In Flanders Fields was quite nice. I counted about 20 voices, which seemed like a good turnout for a hot memorial Sunday service. (The chapel is not air conditioned… something that wouldn’t work for us in the DC area.) The seats seemed about 70-80 percent filled in the congregation—also a good turnout for a holiday weekend.

I sang during the offering. I don’t usually like to sing during MVUC’s offerings because the passing of the baskets and the lighting of candles means that people are distracted, and sometimes chatting. Yesterday, however, people were not distracted, and were very attentive. They seemed to appreciate The Heart of It All, which most had not heard before. I offered an SATB arrangement for their choir, which I’ll send to Matt when I get home.

The main hymns were Let It Be a Dance and Gather the Spirit—two of my favorites. The former was requested by one of the congregants, a fourth generation Unitarian from England, whose wife died several weeks ago. He also gave a touching memorial account of how he met his wife, their life together, and her last few days in home hospice care.

After the service, we spoke with a number of members, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We agreed to meet up with Emily and Jonathan for dinner at the Corner Room in downtown State College.

After saying our goodbyes to Mark, we headed back to the room to change into upper-80s-compatible clothing, and then headed for the Berkey Creamery and the Palmer art museum. When we saw how long the creamery line was, we decided to hit the museum first. Some two hours later, unfortunately, the line was no better at 3 than it had been at 1. About 45 minutes later, we finally had our ice cream. Karen said hers was worth the wait. For me personally, almost nothing is worth a 45 minute wait in line.

While in line, we were treated to annoying whistling and humming from an attention-starved right wing guy behind us from the west coast. But, from the thoroughly pleasant people from New Jersey in front of us, we also got the scoop on the volleyball tournament—which was the cause for hotels being fully booked and the long line at the creamery. There are over 200 teams competing here, with about 10 high school girls per team. With coaches and family, this means that about 5,000 or more people descend on State College each Memorial Day weekend. The volleyball mom who provided all this information should be in one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. She had the most perfect Jersey accent I’ve ever heard.

After the creamery, we explored a bit more around the campus of Penn State, and the decided to head to a couple of adjoining communities. We took the highway towards Bellefonte, then followed the meandering Spring Creek through town. Bellefonte has a lot of beautiful and interesting houses and other buildings. After Bellefonte, we continue northeast to Milesburg. Unfortunately, we didn’t go through Bald Eagle State Park. I didn’t realize until this morning that it’s just northeast of Milesburg. Even if I had realized it, however, it was getting close to dinner time, and we needed to head back to State College.

We met Emily & Jonathan at the Corner Room, and enjoyed a lively conversation during dinner. The others appeared to enjoy their food. I ordered the fajita salad with beef tips. For someone who enjoys pickled peppers, my salad would have been wonderful, since that was the main taste ingredient. Were I to eat there again, I’d go for a chicken Caesar salad, instead.

And… that was our Sunday. Today, we plan to do some additional exploring before heading home. On the agenda, we’ll see if we can find a winery, and I want to drive through Huntingdon and Juniata to see if there are any Folk College events in evidence.

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