Friday, December 7, 2012

FAQs about FLGBTQC Mid-Winter Gathering

from the Frequently-Asked Questions page:

Are straight, cisgender people welcome at FLGBTQC Gatherings?
Yes! We are called "Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns" because we welcome all Friends (and Quaker-friendly folks) for whom LGBTQ issues are important. Our gatherings tend to be LGBTQ-oriented spaces, where many or most people speak from experience as LGBTQ folks, and the hetero- and cis-centeredness of much of the rest of the world is explicitly challenged. The straight allies who have been valued members of our community at various times have given a great gift in their willingness to engage lovingly and thoughtfully on LGBTQ issues.
Where can I find out more about how to be fragrance-free? What products are safe to use?
As a good starting resource, we recommend this website, written by an active participant in FLGBTQC. It includes information on why fragrance is an important access issue, as well as practical advice on how to go fragrance-free and what products to use.
I'm flying into Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport. What flight times should I be looking for?
Midwinter programming generally starts with dinner on Friday, and ends with lunch on Monday. So, factoring in distance from the airport and arriving early to check in, ideal flights would arrive between about noon and 4pm on Friday, and depart after 4pm on Monday. That being said, there tends to be a lot of variation in when people arrive and depart based on when they can get an affordable flight, so if you're flying via Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, we'll probably be doing later runs (until 10pm or so) on Friday and earlier runs (starting with the earliest morning flights) on Monday than the limited window of "ideal times."
I'm a teenager and I'd like to attend Midwinter without my parents. Can I do that?
Yup! You will need permission from your parent or legal guardian, and you'll also need to identify an adult who IS attending Midwinter who can sponsor you. If you don't know any adults who are coming, let us know. We may be able to work with you on finding a sponsor.
I'm a parent attending with kids of different ages. How will my family be accommodated in housing, etc?
We have a few different housing types available that will allow for a variety of configurations for families, including motel-style (two big beds, private bathroom), the "inn" (three twin beds, bathroom shared between two neighboring rooms), and bunk rooms. Let us know what you need, and we'll work with you to figure out a good arrangement for your family.
How do I donate to FLGBTQC to help make more scholarship money available for this, or other, gatherings?
You can donate to FLGBTQC through our website. General donations to FLGBTQC are used for travel assistance grants to people attending our gatherings, financial support for Midwinter, publishing our newsletter, and a few other small administrative costs. If you'd prefer to donate directly to increase financial aid for Midwinter 2013, you can include a donation with your registration fees, or use the "contact us" page to work out another method with us as needed.
How much financial aid is usually available? Can you cover my entire registration fee?
General affordability, paired with financial aid for those who can't pay the published registration fees, is a major commitment for us, though of course funds are not unlimited. It is unusual, but not unheard of, for us to cover an individual's entire registration cost. Please request what you feel you need to in order to realistically afford to attend Midwinter. We want you there, and we also want to give assistance to others!
Is assistance available to help with my travel costs?
Yes. FLGBTQC has specifically designated a separate fund to assist people with the cost of travel to and from our gatherings, including airfare, train or bus tickets, or a new chain for your bicycle (just kidding... maybe?). It is a separate process to request travel assistance than to request financial aid for registration costs. Submit your travel assistance request through the "contact us" form, where it will be forwarded to the co-clerks of FLGBTQC. Include information about your total transportation costs, what mode of travel you're using, specific amount that you are requesting from them, and contact information for you.
Do I need to make my travel arrangements before I register?
No, you can register before making travel arrangements. But make sure to let us know what your plans are are once you've made them, even if you don't need to arrange a shuttle with us!
Can I bring my baby?
Please do! Our youth programs welcome all kids under 18, and we'll be happy to work with you on how to accommodate food, naps, bedtime, and any other particular needs of your small child.
Can I come for a day or two, but not the whole weekend?
Yes, we welcome part-time attenders at Midwinter. However, we will not be providing airport shuttles on any days other than Friday and Monday, and on-site housing is available only as a package for the entire weekend. There are several hotels nearby where you can stay if you only want to overnight for a day or two-- contact us if you need help finding them!
What kind of housing is available?
Bryn Mawr Mountain Retreat offers motel-style rooms (two queen-sized beds in a room with attached bath), the "inn" (three single beds with bathrooms shared between two rooms), and large bunk rooms with shared bathrooms in the "lodge." In addition to these options, we welcome commuters staying with friends or in one of the nearby hotels.

Calling Friends (Quakers) and Fellow Spiritual Travelers of all descriptions who hold lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people close to your hearts!

from the Planning Committee:

Calling Friends (Quakers) and Fellow Spiritual Travelers of all descriptions who hold lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people close to your hearts!
You are enthusiastically invited to gather at the Bryn Mawr Mountain Retreat and Conference Center in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, February 15-18, 2013.
Together we will seek spiritual growth and renewal through unprogrammed worship, learning, fellowship, and play under the care of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC).
We will be blessed by the ministry of Friend Niyonu Spann, founder of Beyond Diversity 101 workshops.
For more information and to register, go to and click on Midwinter Gathering and/or contact us by email: or phone: 267-713-8694.
Please help us spread the word via word of mouth, email, newsletter, facebook, twitter.

Please see my next post for Frequently-Asked Questions (and answers!)

p.s.  I was in a workshop co-facilitated by Niyonu at FGC Gathering last summer, and I'm very much looking forward to experiencing her ministry at Mid-Winter Gathering!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to use "A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual" for a Winter Solstice Celebration of your own

A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual book and compact discI've had a couple of conversations again recently where people seem to think the only way to use A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual is with a big group, a choir, etc., etc.

Definitely not, I promise! 

When my co-author and I put together the book and cd, one of the things we thought could be useful would be if groups of different sizes could use it to put on these Winter Solstice Celebrations.

We'd only worked with large-ish groups, with Celebrations open to the community, but what if individuals and solitaries, and isolated Covens, and small groups who weren't Covens and maybe didn't know each other well, and groups we hadn't even thought of yet, could use the book and cd to do this Winter Solstice Celebration?

From the feedback I've received, and from the experience I've had during the time I lived in different parts of the US and now in Scotland, it works as we'd hoped.

I've used (experienced!) A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual in a bunch of different ways:
  • with small and medium-sized vocal groups and volunteer narrators and readers, in Celebrations open to the community
  • with a group of drummers and the cd, narrating myself and with all of us sharing the reading
  • with 13 people who sight-sang it in an unheated gazebo and no artificial lights, passing reading around the circle
  • by myself in my living room in the dark
  • with four other adults and a preschooler in my living room during a snowstorm, with the cd, with one narrator and the rest of us sharing the readings
  •  in an open community Celebration, using the recording for some pieces, with one person leading group singing for the other pieces, about four people who'd learned songs ahead helping to anchor the singing, and one person anchoring drumming (everyone was invited to use other percussion as moved)

Who has done this?  Not an exhaustive list, but:
  • individuals
  • families
  • many Unitarian Universalist congregations, either with their own choirs or in partnership with community choirs
  • community choirs, especially feminist and LGBTQ choirs
  • Pagan community groups 
  • private covens
  • Christian churches
  • Quaker Meetings
  • YM/YWCAs
  • LGBTQ community centers
  • peace centers
  • community groups that aren't Pagan or religious at all, who have wanted to do some multi-faith community-building around/during the winter holidays, and/or have wanted to escape the commercialism of the season
  • music therapy groups
  • drumming groups

Okay, that sounds like fun!, you say.  How do I do it?  How do I use A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual for a Winter Solstice Celebration? 

Host an event on your own or with some family or friends. 
  • You can do it by yourself, using the book and cd.
  • You can do it with a small group of friends and/or family, using the cd for music, and asking people to narrate and do readings.
  • You can get together a group of friends to learn the songs, and do it at one of your homes, either for family and friends or just for yourselves, and ask people to narrate and do readings.

Partner with an organization.
  • Find out if a choir or chorus you know is interested in doing this as an alternative to a Christmas concert, as a community-building event, and/or as a fund-raiser.  (For example, a women's choir, LGBTQ choir, peace choir, or some other kind of community group you or somebody you know sings in.) 
  • Find out if your spiritual community or congregation is interested in doing this as a service, as an multi-faith community-building event, or as a fund-raiser.

If you're part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation:
  • ... and your congregation has a music program, talk to your music director or some of your musicians to see if they're interested in this as a service.  My co-author and I are members of the UU Musicians Network, and we can put you in touch with other UU folks who have done this. 
  • ... and you have a CUUPS group (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans), ask them if they're interested in doing this. 

Start your own singing group. 
  • You can do this with a group of friends, or cast a wider net in your community.  

For some examples, see the Past Locations pages:

Feel free to contact me directly for encouragement, advice, practical assistance, and spiritual support. You can also join our Facebook group

We have a Facebook group for anyone who's been part of A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual in any way -- Been to a Celebration or a workshop, participated as a singer, reader, congregation, behind-the-scenes organizer, etc. -- or is interested in hosting it.

There are lots of practical suggestions in the second half of the book.  If you need to order books and cds for your group, please contact the publisher:

For lots more information, see the main Winter Solstice page at my website:

But most of all, have fun!  Enjoy the music, sing along, take time for the silence, and appreciate both the gifts of the sacred Darkness and the rebirth of the Light.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Solstice 2012

bread and roses spiritual nurture

The 2012
Winter Solstice Celebration
Celebrate the Darkness and the Light
with Songs and Stories

Saturday, 22nd December, 7:00-8:45 pm
doors open 6:45 pm

St. Mark's artSpace

Unitarians in Edinburgh

7 Castle Terrace, EH1 2DP
  • Songs, stories, candle-lighting, silent meditation, singing, and more  
  • Suitable for children and adults
  • Sliding-scale donation requested to cover the costs of hall hire and supplies; all are welcome
  • For disability accessibility reasons, please do not wear perfume/essential oils or other personal care products with fragrance

More information:

Facebook event page:

by Julie Forest Middleton & Stasa Morgan-Appel

For locations in other cities and countries, please see