I Am UU: Innovative Liberal Religious Outreach
Crowdfunding Completed: January 3, 2018
Amount Funded: $0
Project Owner: Thomas Earthman
Short Description of Project
Raising the money to create a full-time paid position out of running the most popular UU-themed social media ministry.
How was this project connected to UU?
The name of my ministry is "I Am UU". It's tagline is "Missional, Evangelical Unitarian Universalism". My goal is to encourage and support others in saying "I Am UU" more often. I truly believe that I do that.
"Thomas has sacrificed much in his life in order to dedicate himself fully to Unitarian Universalist ministry, which speaks of his commitment to growing Unitarian Universalism in the wider world. His online ministry through the I Am UU project is part faith development, part evangelism, part public witness, and part community organizing. The depth of theological and historical knowledge as well as the grounding in the faith that is required to reach the breadth and scope of this ministry is downright astounding. Thomas produces all of the content for the project as well as fosters the relationships across boundaries in order to get the curriculum into the hands of people who need it the most... For all Unitarian Universalists, the I Am UU project offers connection to the UUA by focusing on common reads, Statements of Conscience, and Actions of Immediate Witness. I dare say that the I Am UU ministry is more connected to the works of the Association than many congregations."
~ Natalie Briscoe, Southern Region Congregational Life staff in her recommendation letter for my membership in the UU Society for Community Ministries.
(I was not only accepted for membership in the UUSCM, but I also currently serve on the Board of Directors.)
I work hard to live up to these words, because I absolutely believe Unitarian Universalism is a force for positive change in the world. I've seen what it is capable of doing, and it can be life saving. I see so many conversations when someone shares my work, or the comments I get about how important liberal religion is to someone; I know the value of liberal religion, and that is why I am so moved to share it and invite others to join us.
The image above has been seen by around 50,000 people on Facebook. It has been shared 650 times, including over a dozen congregational pages, at least of few of which have or still are using it as their profile picture. I know that it started many conversations about what it means to be a UU between the people who shared it and their friends.
Other graphics are used as cover images or group headers. They are shared by congregations all across the US, in Canada, and even Hong Kong and India. I am proud of creating works that connect Unitarians and Universalists around the world.
My writings from the page and website have been used as readings in services, opening words, and have filled in for staff columns in congregational newsletters. Unitarian Universalism has embraced my work at every level, and I could not be more honored or take that responsibility more seriously.
Full Description of Project
How often do you say, “I am UU”? Do you feel confident that you can answer questions? That you can explain how we form communities without a shared creed? Do you worry about having resources to share if someone actually shows an interest? My ministry is to make Unitarian Universalism easier to understand and share and to give people the confidence to tell friends and family, “I am UU.”
The I Am UU project is a social media ministry, currently focused on Facebook and creating sharable content for congregations and individuals. In an average week, we reach 20,000 people through our Facebook page, plus the unknown reach of other pages using our graphics or posting our links.
That work takes a lot of time and specialized skills. It is work that isn’t being done by many other individuals, congregations, or the UUA itself. It is work that is worth a lot of money, but my calling is to share liberal religion. While I have done work for a few congregations, I have not been able to make a living. I am asking you all to change that.
The job I have been doing is part administration, part religious education, and a lot of design (More on that in the Unitarian Universalist Connection tab!). I work from home, but I require a lot of books, subscriptions to professional software, and have a need to keep my equipment up-to-date. My goal is only $2500 a month. My hope is to raise $30,000 to cover the whole year. That isn’t very much, but it will allow me to focus on my ministry, full time. That’s my real ambition.
What it means for you:
The I Am UU project already posts a short reading every week, an inspirational quote every week-day, and original graphics every month. We also lift up some of the best news about Unitarian Universalism by posting links for you to share with your friends. With additional funding, I’ll be able to provide even more.
My first commitment is that for every $2500 raised in this campaign, I will not post about fundraising for a month.
If I raise $7500, that affords me 3 months to learn the software and how to create engaging videos so that I can begin posting to YouTube, where I feel liberal religion is grossly under-represented.
If I am funded for 6 months, I will able to attend conferences, workshops, and General Assembly. I commit to attending at least one such event per month on average (some months don’t offer much). I will continue to improve my knowledge and skills to make the project more engaging and professional.