Category: “FAITHIFY News”

Complete MUUSJA’s “Wider Circles” Matching Grant

MUUSJA , Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance, is pledged a matching grant of $7,500 to support our 2022 “Wider Circles” initiative, if we raise that same amount during 2021. The pledged match is from the UU Funding Program ($5,000) and from a Minnesota philanthropy ($2,500).

MUUSJA unleashes courageous leadership and collective power to build a more just and loving world. We organize 30 UU congregations across Minnesota, North and South Dakota in spiritual reflection, learning, connection, and action for social and environmental justice. In 2021, our work to #StopLine3, #ProtectImmigrantWorkers, & #UutheVote mobilized hundreds of volunteers, mostly UU’s, co-leading with frontline community partners, and attracted national support.

Our 2022 Wider Circles initiative will broaden the scope & impact of MUUSJA’s justice work & coalition-building.  Wider Circles will require additional staff hours to communicate, recruit, train and organize with our congregations. We aim to sustain existing programs while exploring three new areas of social justice which MUUSJA has not previously addressed:

  1. “Making the Koolaid” will be a social justice teaching/learning forum for children, youth, and parents focused on how to engage young families in social justice action.
  2. “Access for All” will be a forum for all UU’s centering people with disabilities, including elders, focused on how to make social justice work accessible.
  3. “All Ages Need Apply” will be a forum focused on strategies for engaging seniors in the work of #UUtheVote in 2022.

Throughout the year, MUUSJA also will continue our regular programming. We amplify opportunities and organize UU congregations & teams regionally to participate in events and forums for learning, reflection, connection, and action to resist oppression and exploitation, and build Beloved Community with local, regional, and national partners. This work includes:

  • March 15th, 2022, Day on the Hill with people of faith for affordable housing and anti-poverty legislation, with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition;
  • Earth Day observance with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light;
  • Truth and reparations work related to Dakota, Lakota, and Anishinaabe genocide, with Honor the Earth and the Dakota 35+;
  • Pride parades and festival booths across our region, with OutFront Minnesota and the Welcoming Congregations committees of UU congregations;
  • Collaboration to share, apply, and amplify programming from the UUA Organizing Strategy Team (Side With Love), UUSC, UUCSJ, UU-Rise, and UU Ministry for Earth/Create Climate Justice.

The planning/partnering/debrief teams associated with particular events or forums are ongoing participants in bi-weekly Convening Circles which currently include four groups:

  1. Climate Justice and Honoring Treaties (which grew out of the StopLine3 work);
  2. Defending Democracy (regional work to implement #UUtheVote);
  3. Sanctuary and Immigration Justice (resisting detention & deportation);
  4. Racial Justice (anti-racism and Eighth Principle implementation).

Full Hearts. Full Plates.

Families across the nation continue to face exacerbated hunger levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are approaching another holiday season with empty plates and worried minds.

Supporting the Schools and Education Leaders Helping Fill Kids’ Plates

This Fall, No Child Goes Hungry has received a significant number of grant requests from schools, social workers, and teachers building daily meal support programs for students. In our new reality of childhood hunger, weekend backpack programs are no longer enough. Teachers and school staff recognize that many students need snacks and meals daily to support what they receive at home and from the school’s free meal assistance programs.

Staff and supply chain shortages are complicating matters further. Simply getting a granola bar, apple, small fruit cup, and juice box into a child’s hands before getting on the bus has become a more significant challenge than ever before. In some cases, the shortage of school bus drivers results in students arriving at school after the free breakfast program has closed for the day—leaving them with nothing to eat before starting schoolwork. Some teachers pay out-of-pocket to keep something in their desk drawers to feed students, which adds a financial burden to our teachers.

No Child Goes Hungry supports students in need and their school heroes and wants to ensure that our teachers don’t have to use their hard-earned salaries to help feed students. We’re sending healthy food boxes all over the country where the food supply chain is sorely interrupted with not enough truck drivers. The typical response is gratitude and comments like, “This is like Christmas. I can feed the kids something before they get on the bus.”

About No Child Goes Hungry

When NCGH was founded in 2016 and through 2019, it awarded 56 different grants in three and a half years, 14 to 16 grants a year on average. Then 2020 hit and the number of grants NCGH receives on average soared, and it distributed 71 grants—more than all the other years combined. 2021 and the pandemic have shown no slowdown. This year, NCGH has already given 71 grants with more in the wings to give before the year ends. Before 2020, NCGH received two to three applications a week. Now, it receives that many each day.

NCGH provides grant money and mentorship opportunities so that community organizations can build hunger advocacy programs that will thrive and grow as their communities continue to tackle the problem of local food insecurity. Such sustainable programs include afterschool backpack programs, little free pantries, community food pantries, and donation programs.

Here’s a video detailing how our model works: No Child Goes Hungry Business Model Video

NCGH also strives to educate the community on food insecurity issues and arm people with the knowledge to help. NCGH offers age-appropriate lesson plans to help local organizations to talk to people of all ages about the issue of food insecurity, helping to fuel future generations of childhood hunger advocates. The lesson plans are designed for schools, churches, or any group that would like to learn more about what they can do to eliminate childhood hunger in their community and are available to use at no cost. Lesson plans are available for Preschool-Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-7, Grades 8-12, and Adults.

To adapt to the changing needs of hunger advocacy groups, NCGH has partnered with new and different groups and individuals and brainstormed with them how to first get food and how to either deliver it or make it easily accessible.

Here are just a few examples of the critical partnerships we have forged this year and the impact that donated dollars have made for children in need:

Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, Bronx, NY

No Child Goes Hungry donated nonperishable food items to Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in Bronx, New York. The donated items are helping keep the school’s free food pantry stocked with nonperishables, toiletries, and clothing for students and their families in need. Many of the students at Fannie Lou Hamer come from families that suffer from significant food insecurity. The school’s food pantry is one of several critical support opportunities in the area for families and children in need.

Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP) of Brooklyn Center, MN

No Child Goes Hungry provided a $1,000 donation to CEAP of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The grant is helping fund its children’s Birthday Bag program. The initiative provides parents in need with party décor, favors, plus a cake or cupcake to ensure that every child feels celebrated and cared for on their birthday. The cost to provide one birthday bag plus CEAP essentials for one child requires $30 in financial support.

 

Mott Haven Fridge

In collaboration with the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation, No Child Goes Hungry provided Mott Haven Fridge Network with a $2,000 grant. The funds enabled the non-profit to add and winterize a third community refrigerator to its hunger-relief network in Uptown Manhattan and the Bronx.

Two sixth-grade teachers founded Mott Haven Fridge Network in response to the widespread food insecurity they witnessed among their students’ families. Today, Mott Haven Fridge maintains two outdoor, freestanding refrigerators that provide community members in the poorest congressional district in the United States with 24/7, no-questions-asked-access to fresh produce and other essentials. The fridges are stocked by donations from individuals, local businesses, and community partners and cleaned and maintained by a grassroots community volunteer network.

El Cajon Valley High Community Garden

No Child Goes Hungry donated $1,000 to  El Cajon Valley High School in El Cajon, California, to support the construction of its community garden initiative. The garden is operated by students and parents and provides fresh food options for the El Cajon community. In addition, NCGH’s donation helped fund the purchase of wood from a local lumber business to construct separation boxes in the garden.

Blackburn Community Outreach in Todd, North Carolina

No Child Goes Hungry provided a $1,000 grant to Blackburn Community Outreach in Todd, North Carolina, a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to engage and mobilize the Todd Community for social, economic, and environmental vitality. The grant helps financially support the season’s youth apprentice in the organization’s Beatitude Garden. This year’s summer intern, a 16-year old young man named Bebo, who is of Cherokee heritage, will work as an intern in the gardens for ten hours a week for 20 weeks this season.

Still, more help is desperately needed. The need is vast, and it continues to grow. Every dollar donated to NCGH is used to help feed a child in need. Help us create full plates and full hearts this holiday season.

Let’s Feed Some Kids!

BUC Lower-Level Flooding Repairs

DISASTER RELIEF: All donations processed as they are given.

classsroom with flooded floor Classrooms became indoor swimming pools. (Photos post-remediation)

Classroom with cabinets torn out Ruined cabinetry has been torn out.

Hallway after water damage Main hallway is unusable.

Elevator shaft showing water level Elevator shaft taking forever to dry.

Water pooling outside building Standing water fixes needed: never again!

Yikes: water damage! Please help Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan repair our lower level and restore community activity!

Flood damage due to historic rapid rainfall in the Detroit metro area this summer affected the entirety of BUC’s lower level: 2400 square feet of classrooms plus kitchen, furnace and electrical room, and elevator. We want to not only remediate but also to protect our facility from likely future rainstorms like this.

Returning our lower level to usable space will help us bring back (COVID-safe) Religious Education programs and congregant meetings, as well as restore rental opportunities to groups such as AA that depend on our facility as much as we do on rental income.

The BUC community has grit and a DIY spirit. For example, several congregants helped with clean-up and one person bought 25 Rubbermaid tubs, packed, and carried our choir’s many years of sheet music upstairs to a safe space. In 2019, BUC completed a capital campaign to make our facility completely accessible, so we’re experienced in raising funds. But the type of renovation needed now is beyond our current ability.

The following hard cost of $180,000 is based on obtaining several estimates from local contractors (all of whom are swamped with this type of work):

  • $62,000 (actual cost, spent) for immediate remediation: water removal, cleanup, and tear-out of damaged walls, flooring, cabinetry, and furniture
  • $93,000 for interior build-back: flood-resistant flooring, drywall, baseboards, wall-hung lower cabinets, and some replacement furniture
  • $25,000 for exterior repairs and improvements to storm drainage systems to prevent future flooding

Our resources to fund the above are the $25,000 maximum allowed from flood insurance as well as cash from church savings and our endowment funds, plus a most welcome UUA disaster fund grant. We still are $12,000 short of what we need for restoration and, therefore, our request today.

We sincerely appreciate BUC’s family and Faithify friends for considering our beloved community for your charitable donation; thank you!

Worthy Now: Sponsor an Incarcerated UU

This Faithify campaign is so essential to the incarcerated Unitarian Universalists who are members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. What we’re asking you to do is support the membership of our over 1,300 incarcerated members who live behind prison walls all across the country.

Through our Worthy Now Prison Network, we are able to provide programming for UU’s who live in various forms of incarceration. In practice and on principle, we do not ask for financial stewardship from any of our incarcerated members. The programming we offer to our incarcerated UU’s comes in the form of receiving a variety of printed material which includes:

  • Two prison ministry newsletters a year
  • A printed copy of the UU World magazine
  • A printed copy of the monthly CLF Quest magazine.  

Additionally, with your help, we can offer our UU incarcerated members a number of the Tapestry of Faith classes which we have converted into correspondence format.  These rich materials supply valuable religious education to our incarcerated siblings. 


Every dollar you donate today goes TWICE as far.

Thanks to the generosity of the Unitarian Universalist Funding program, every donation will be matched dollar for dollar.


Perhaps our most popular program, after becoming members and completing the New UU Class, they are eligible to receive a pen pal connection with a free-world person (that’s you and me who live our lives outside of prison walls).

Eileen Raymond, a free-world pen pal, details her experience exchanging letters with a UU in prison. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

These pen pal relationships are often the lifeline for giving and sustaining hope within prison walls. It is the connection to the Power of We that is so vital to our Unitarian Universalist faith. Can you imagine hearing that you’re worthy of love and justice inside a system that often dehumanizes your very presence?

The cost of all this programming is about $150 per person.  It would mean so much to the lives of these members if you, your friends, and your congregation could sponsor an incarcerated Unitarian Universalist (or several!) That is less than 50 cents a day to fund this spirit-sustaining ministry. 

And we know that perhaps a different gift amount may be more in your range. The truth is, whatever you can give, every dollar counts; every dollar helps bring programming and the message of hope and Love to Unitarian Universalists living in prisons all across this country.

Being loud and proud about our faith comes in many forms, so we invite you to consider if this is the way you can bless someone’s life with the hope of Unitarian Universalism.  Sponsor a sibling UU who is living behind prison walls!


“What we ‘long-haulers’ [referring to COVID] need is a ministry of hope, of love, of a celebration of life that teems all around us. My CLF writing partner, Quest, CLF, and the denomination and its ministry brings this to us if we but open ourselves to what is before us. Thank you for all of you and especially folks like you, who take time to drop a line to us when we need it so much. To show we are persons and not just numbers, not just faceless addresses on the mailing list means so very much to each of us.”

—Jack, incarcerated in Texas


One of the incredible benefits that we can offer our CLF incarcerated members is our reading packet program. In a fantastic partnership with Beacon Press and Skinner House Books, we can send reading materials to our members in prison. Because of the many rules and regulations surrounding books in prisons, we can only do this by the generous sharing of text from Beacon Press and Skinner House Books of UU-identified books. The Church of the Larger Fellowship has permission to print a chapter at a time and share them in letter form. This way, people like Jack in Texas have access to beautiful books filled with learning and faith.


But we need your help!

There are significant paper, printing, and postage costs that go into this program.

By funding all or part of the $150 per person program, you amplify our important message that people living in prison

are Worthy Now of Love and Justice.

Last year we sent over 2,600 mailings to our members!


Wouldn’t it be cheaper to send books? Possibly, but prison regulations across the country are diverse. The rules around books are so complex that this is the best way to share Unitarian Universalism with our CLF  members living in prison. Books such as Testimony; UU Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism; Amethyst Beach: Meditations; Our Seven Principles in Story and Verse; and Everyday Spiritual Practice ~ Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life are bringing Unitarian Universalism to Church of the Larger Fellowship members experiencing incarceration.


We have over 1,200 incarcerated UU’s depending on us.

Can you give $50 or more to fund our Worthy Now ministry?


Thanks to the generous challenge grants supported by the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program, every dollar given to this Faithify campaign will be matched.

Sound Improvement

The UU Church in Meriden, Connecticut is a small congregation with a small residential home as a church building.   We need a portable sound system with enough power and volume to use for outdoor services and concerts.  We are currently holding worship services outdoors on our front porch and front lawn due to the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the recent increase in severity of the virus and updated public health recommendations.

Our church building is on a residential street that gets a modest amount of traffic, but behind our property is a major Interstate highway with a constant rumble (at best) and roar (at worst) of traffic noise.

We have a sound system built into the sanctuary with speakers and multimedia throughout the building. This is wonderful when we can use the sanctuary, but the sanctuary is small with a capacity of 50 people. Public health recommendations currently have us holding services outside as meeting indoors with masks and social distancing would severely limit our capacity.

The only sound system we have that we can use outside is an old 25-watt guitar amplifier with a microphone. It’s far from ideal and far from loud enough, so we have been borrowing small portable sound systems.  It looks like outdoor services will be the norm for the fall. Given the pandemic, we may need to be outdoors in the spring as well.  Many of our members are having trouble hearing due to competing noise and lack of amplification power.

During the last year we produced a successful series of online concerts and in person outdoor concerts as fund-raisers.  The live, in person concerts have required artists to bring their own sound system. It would help us continue this small but important income stream if we had a portable sound system with enough power to get over the traffic noise.

We are looking at the Electro-Voice Evolve 30M Portable Column PA System – 1000-watt Portable Powered Column System with 8-channel Digital Mixer, 10″ LF Driver, 6 x 2.8″ HF Drivers, DSP, Onboard Effects, and Bluetooth.   Retail price is $1299.

Our board of trustees has approved a grant from our Memorial Fund and along with some fundraising last year, we already have $600. We need to raise $700 more.  Your kind gift will help us reach our goal!

The UU Church in Meriden began as a Universalist congregation in the 19th century.  We are the only Unitarian Universalist congregation between Hartford and New Haven along route 91.  We promote Unitarian Universalism and represent our tradition in our social justice work, which includes raising thousands of dollars to assist our undocumented neighbors during the pandemic, support of Moral Mondays Connecticut, and housing an undocumented scholar from Indonesia and his wife in sanctuary.  A sound system of our own is a necessity to keep the voice of our liberal faith alive in central Connecticut.

Re-Imagine Religious Education

“If we are to bring the the love and grace of this faith to our families’ lives, we must intentionally support the faith formation of children and adults.”

–  Kimberly Sweeney, The Death of Sunday School

A “ReVision “team was formed in March 2020 at Second Unitarian Church in Omaha, Nebraska with the goal to reimagine religious education.

  • The traditional model of Sunday School is labor intensive and ineffective –  only 12% of our UU youth remain UUs.
  • Many churches (including Second Unitarian) are finding Sunday School unsustainable in our present culture.

It has long been recognized that parents and families play a significant role in faith development. Faith formation is a life long journey.

Photo of a 1960s style church interior with a congregation standing and singing. Many are holding flowers PreCOVID Flower Communion Worship in our sanctuary.

  •  Children (and adults!) need rituals. Rituals help us to find comfort and wisdom in the celebration of our faith and the ups and downs of life. Rituals help us to celebrate who we are as Unitarian Universalists.
  • We all need a Beloved Community where we ‘belong,’ and a community of good role models in life. We also need special time with our UU peers of similar age
  • There is a strong need for intentional ministry to young families, for their sake as well as for the future of our church. 
  • Beloved Community encompasses all ages and abilities. 

“Faith development is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is the faith we teach. The congregation is the curriculum.”

religious educator Connie Goodbread

The vision – what we expect religious education in action to look like

A screen capture of the Soul Matters website We desire to connect all ages to a cohesive faith message.

  • Supporting faith development in the home
  • The monthly Soul Matters themes will be used in worship and supplemental curricula
  • Children and adults of all abilities will be welcomed as part of the Beloved Community in worship on three out of four Sundays
  • On the last Friday of the month, September – May, we will have an evening meal and short vespers service, followed by related activity options to close out the worship theme for the month. This is intended to be for all ages, and it is especially intended to be parent friendly.
  • Children will be welcomed to participate in Social Justice causes to live their faith and be with role models that demonstrate living our faith.4 individuals socially distanced standing outside our church building with a Black Lives Banner behind them We are active in social justice causes: we want to give our children and youth more oppotunities to be involved.
  • There will be a variety of faith formation opportunities for adults.
  • The DRE will be involved in overseeing religious education for all ages, including adult programming.
  • Teen Ministry will consist of YRUU, teen/adult groups such as a “Popcorn Theology” movie discussion or book discussions, and Coming of Age programming culminating in a service where teens have an opportunity to share their Credo statements.
  •  Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality classes will be offered periodically for the different age ranges K-adult.A screen capture of the OWL page on the UUA website We want more regular OWL programming for all ages to serve our community.
  • Vacation Summer Camp could be offered with an emphasis on the history of our faith with lots of play, acting out of the stories and fun activities

Religious education happens when people in our church listen, value and encourage us toward our better selves. In order for Second Unitarian to carry out these inspirational goals, we need the guidance and support of our very gifted Director of Religious Education. We want to increase her hours to provide faith formation, Support ReVision, and coordinate childcare. To do so fairly and to adhere to suggested UUA salary guidelines, we would need to raise $4700.00.

Summertime Can Be Hunger Time

In the United States, 22 million kids get free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. The programs are an essential source of food for many children. However, during summer vacation, only 16 percent of kids who need USDA-funded summer meals can access them, making summer the hungriest time of year for too many children, resulting in long-term consequences.

Many of us remember fondly summer vacations living easy, breezy, carefree days. However, for too many children, summertime can be hunger time. Even though schools are back in session and kids have access to free and reduced-cost lunch programs again, teachers and social workers are seeing firsthand how challenging it is for many parents to feed their families, especially those still out of work and struggling to recover from the pandemic’s economic consequences.

This summer, No Child Goes Hungry is committed to supporting local schools, community organizations, faith-based groups, and grassroots non-profits committed to providing childhood hunger relief in their communities. We’ll be reaching out to little free pantry owners, backpack programs, and other generous organizations to help keep them stocked with the food and supplies they need to keep our children fed until schools re-open their doors this fall.

NCGH is dedicated to the elimination of childhood hunger, one kid, one meal at a time. With funds donated by churches, private organizations, and individuals, NCGH works with faith communities and other organizations to alleviate hunger locally.

Over the past several months, we have begun partnering with heroic organizations to make preparations to ensure continual student meal support over the summer. Some of our current partner programs include:

Peyton Randolph  Elementary School PTA’s Food Pantry

NCGH provided a grant of $1,500 to the Payton Randolph Elementary School to use in a match fundraising drive that raised $4,000 more for a total of $6,500 for the program. With the dollars raised, the PTA now has enough funds to offer food weekly for several months. Rev. Kären Rasmussen first heard of the Randolph Elementary School from her colleague, the Reverend Amanda Poppei. Amanda is the senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia. Amanda heard about the much-needed work to feed kids in Arlington from Bethany Zecher Sutton, the Randolph Elementary School PTA’s Food Pantry Coordinator, and made the introductions all around. Read More.

“I’ve known Kären for years and have watched her organization grow—especially in the way that she is able to support hyper-local groups as well as bigger non-profits,” said Rev. Poppei. “When Bethany told me about the growing need to feed kids right in her own neighborhood, I just had a feeling these two could collaborate and combine their efforts.”

NCGH Helps Sponsor Intern at Blackburn Community Outreach

NCGH provided a $1,000 grant to Blackburn Community Outreach in Todd, North Carolina, a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to engage and mobilize the Todd Community for social, economic, and environmental vitality. The grant will help financially support the season’s youth apprentice in the organization’s Beatitude Garden. This year’s summer intern, a 16-year old young man named Bebo, who is of Cherokee heritage, will work as an intern in the gardens for ten hours a week for 20 weeks this season.

The YMCA of Walla Walla, WA

NCGH provided a $1000 donation to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Walla Walla (the “Walla Walla Y”). The funds will be used to purchase snacks and juice for children participating in its newest summer enrichment program in Athena, Oregon. The Walla Walla Y serves 13 rural communities in Washington and nearby Oregon, where over 15 percent of the families are below the poverty level, and over 60 percent of the children qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. For seven to nine weeks each summer, when school is not in session, the Walla Walla Y offers week-long enrichment programs that nurture children ages 5 to 14 and support their cognitive, social, and physical wellbeing. The Walla Walla Y provides nutritious snacks and meals for the children during each day of the program. Read More.

Camelot Elementary School

NCGH supplied non-perishable food items and a shelving storage unit to Camelot Elementary School in Annandale, Virginia. Some may say, “practice what you preach,” but when NCGH Founder and Director Rev. Kären Rasmussen says it, she takes it to heart. When Rev. Rasmussen leads worship in her community, her sermon’s message invites listeners to connect with their local school and see what they need to help feed their kids. Rev. Rasmussen decided she needed to practice what she preaches, so she reached out to the school two blocks from her home to ask how she could help support the food insecurity needs of students’ families. She worked with Rebecca Stebbins of the Camelot Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Food Pantry on behalf of No Child Goes Hungry to provide much-needed food and new shelving for their school’s food pantry. Read More.

Still, more help is desperately needed. The need is vast, and it continues to grow. We feed kids, one meal at a time. It matters. Every meal matters.

NCGH provides grant money and mentorship opportunities so that community organizations can build hunger advocacy programs that will thrive and grow as their communities continue to tackle the problem of local food insecurity. Such sustainable programs include afterschool backpack programs, little free pantries, community food pantries, and donation programs.

NCGH also strives to educate the community on food insecurity issues and arm people with the knowledge to help. NCGH offers age-appropriate lesson plans to help local organizations to talk to people of all ages about the issue of food insecurity, helping to fuel future generations of childhood hunger advocates. The lesson plans are designed for schools, churches, or any group that would like to learn more about what they can do to eliminate childhood hunger in their community and are available to use at no cost. Lesson plans are available for Preschool-Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-7, Grades 8-12, and Adults.

Let’s Feed Some Kids!

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Risking in Community

Uncertainty can feel really horrible. Uncertainty can feel invigorating. It depends on what is at risk, how grounded we feel in the moment, and what we have to lose.