Category: “Home Page”

The Ordination of Justin McCreary

In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, it is the privilege and responsibility of the congregation to ordain a minister.

Following this tradition, the ordination of Justin McCreary is sponsored, with excitement, deep love, and respect, by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson, Mississippi. UUCJ would like to share this special privilege with the many individuals, organizations, and churches who have benefited from Justin’s passion, energy, and encouragement through the years. Your generous donation will be used for the ordination ceremony of Justin as he has been an example of a liberal faith minister in the heart of Mississippi.

Any funds raised above the needs of this ordination will go to benefit the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund in alignment with the first Principle of UUA beliefs.

Sponsorship of Asylum-Seeking Immigrants

In response to the hostility and injustice aimed at immigrants to this nation, The Community Church created our Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Ministry.  Last year, after a lengthy period of self-education and discernment, our congregation voted overwhelmingly to become an official Sanctuary Congregation.  As such, we pledge to open our hearts and our church to poor and oppressed people who come to our borders seeking survival, safety and well-being.  Our mission extends to people needing church sanctuary to avoid deportation, refugees in need of emergency housing assistance, and asylum-seekers, who arrive from Latin America and elsewhere seeking asylum due to the extreme dangers they face in their home countries.  

The Manse (former parsonage) has been refitted to house immigrants.

Our church campus includes an old minister’s residence or manse which is located in a secluded space.  In recent years, it had fallen into disrepair.  We have worked long and hard to clear out, clean up and repair this structure to make it a habitable and welcoming space for immigrants in need of housing and other supports to avoid deportation.  In January of this year we completed this work and announced to the larger community our readiness to receive an immigrant into sanctuary.

Concurrently, another related and urgent need surfaced. Individuals fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the United States are in desperate need of safe options as they wind their way through the asylum processes.  Because of the backlog of cases, asylum seekers are waiting a year or more before their asylum determination hearing.  Escalating stresses on the system suggest the backlog may grow dramatically in the coming months and years. Those seeking asylum cannot enter the U. S. until they have a sponsor; the sponsor or a surrogate is required to pay the bond that must be posted before the immigrant can be released to the sponsor.  Often there are no family members available or able to fulfill the related responsibilities, which are considerable. Beyond the bond are the burdens of adding another person to a household when the new addition is not allowed to work for at least five months after arrival. Churches are beginning to mobilize to meet the needs of those awaiting asylum.   

In April, our Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Ministry determined that we could best use our physical and human resources by making ourselves available to someone in the slow pipeline of asylum determination.  After contacting a church-affiliated “matching” organization, we were put in contact with lawyers working at the southwest border near San Diego, California.  We were matched with a 21-year-old female asylum-seeker from El Salvador who, since November, 2018, was held in detention in California awaiting a sponsor.  At her bond hearing on May 15th, her appearance bond was set at $5,000 of which Community Church has paid $2,000, plus transportation to North Carolina.  She arrived with few clothes, no personal hygiene products, no English language skills and genuine gratitude that she has found a community to welcome and support her.

Bike safety check with a church volunteer Our current guest goes through a bike safety check with a church volunteer.

Meeting the bail and plane fare expenses has been burdensome.   Ongoing costs are considerable and include housing, medical and dental care, clothing and personal care needs, food and transportation, acculturation experiences including language classes and safety.  We are writing this request to help defray these costs and to maximize the help that we can provide.  We have already been asked to take in a second asylum-seeker, and in May we had a refugee from Cuba who stayed with us for four weeks. We are hopeful that once we have secured adequate funds to afford the needs of our current resident, we will be able to meet the needs of additional immigrants.  

Community Church Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Steering Committee Steering Committee session.

Fund Hope: Sponsor an Incarcerated UU

Thank you so much for supporting our Faithify campaign and for your interest in learning more about what Prison Ministry at the Church of the Larger Fellowship is like. This Faithify campaign is so important to the incarcerated members of the CLF.  What we’re asking you to do is support the membership of our over 1,000 incarcerated UUs who live behind prison walls all across the country.

Through our Worthy Now Prison Network, we are able to provide vital programming for people who live in various forms of incarceration across the United States.  In practice and on principle, we do not ask for membership dues from any of our incarcerated members. The programming we offer 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 CLF Quest magazine

Every dollar you donate will be doubled!

Can you give $50 to fund hope today?

By contributing to the success of this Faithify Campaign,

you will be helping over 1,000 UUs living in prison.


Additionally, with your help, we are able to 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.  Perhaps the best thing of all is, 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).

These pen-pal relationships are often the lifeline for giving and sustaining hope within the 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, or your congregation found it in you to sponsor an incarcerated member’s cost of $150 dollars.  That is less than $0.50 a day to fund this hope-giving ministry to an incarcerated UU. 

Maybe that’s a little bit too much, maybe fifty dollars is more in your price range.  The truth is, whatever you can give every dollar counts, every dollar helps bring programming and the message of hope and love to people in prison all across this country.


We have over 1,000 incarcerated UU’s depending on us.

Can you give $50 or more to fund hope?


Click here to enlarge and interact with this map of incarcerated UUs.

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable standing on street corners and professing your faith but perhaps you would feel comfortable blessing someone’s life with the hope of Unitarian Universalism today!  Won’t you bless someone with a membership to the CLF who is living behind prison walls?

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

Nurture Justice Ministry in NH!

The mission of UU Action New Hampshire is to amplify Unitarian Universalist voices and values in the public square throughout New Hampshire. After running for two years as an entirely volunteer organization, this spring, we hired Tristan Husby as our first Executive Director, in order to take our work to the next level. Your donations will help us fund Tristan’s new position, which is funded in large part by a matching grant from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility.

As our only staff member, Tristan is growing our organization through relationships, education, and action.

Our goal is to build and sustain relationships with communities directly impacted by the injustices we oppose: Tristan will deepen our connection with the immigrant communities in New Hampshire, which we have formed through our work on the NH Immigrant Solidarity Network as well as the NH Bail and Bond Fund.

In the 2019-2020 church year, Tristan will travel to UU congregations across New Hampshire, both our member congregations and currently unaffiliated congregations. By building these intra-faith relationships, Tristan will foster collaboration among congregations and ensure that churches share effective methods and actions with each other.

He will also remain in touch with our membership by maintaining our online presence, including our newsletter, website and social media accounts. Through these channels, Tristan will ensure NH UUs know when and how to contact their elected representatives on bills such as granting drivers licenses to immigrants without social security numbers and raising the cap on net-metering.

In collaboration with partners such as the UU College of Social Justice, Rights and Democracy NH and others, Tristan will host workshops designed to sharpen the skills and analyses of NH UUs to make effective change. We currently have such workshops scheduled for Saturday, October 5.

Finally, Tristan will help UUANH foster new projects, particularly around climate justice in NH.

Your donation today will ensure that we can support all of this programming, as well as administrative work, that is necessary to take our State Action Network to a new level.

Help us REOPEN Downtown Church in Greenfield MA after asbestos found

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

-Click the “Updates” tab to read the latest news on this project.-

What’s wrong?  Greenfield All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church is totally closed, sealed by the Greenfield Health Department due to a  public health contaminant discovered during a demolition and rehabilitation attempt.  Church members and volunteers gutted a former mold and water damaged classroom in preparation for productive use of the space.  Just as the demolition was almost complete it was discovered that many of the materials contained asbestos.  Now Department of Environmental Protection is mandating remediation which will cost us over $17,000. 

We are a “Little-Engine-that-Could” congregation of about 70 members who are desperately seeking funding to re-open the church as soon as possible.   Our current operating budget is so slim that we are currently lay led.  Recently a group approached us about using our spaces during the week and we jumped into action to make those spaces habitable and ready.  That’s when our disaster struck us and closed down our beautiful home and vibrant community gathering place.  There are no funds available to rectify this emergency without your help!

All Souls Church is a Unitarian Universalist Congregation located in the historical downtown section of Greenfield, Massachusetts.  We are a very active social justice oriented church with a small membership.  We’re a downtown church, in one of Massachusetts’ lowest income communities, Greenfield.  In addition to our Sunday services; we host the Stone Soup Café, Wednesday evening AA groups, recitals and concerts, community forums, our annual Anti-racism Film Festival, we host a myriad of economic and green justice initiatives.  The Stone Soup Café (thestonesoupcafe.org) provides a weekly Saturday meal, feeding lunch to 90 – 150 guests on a pay-as-you-can basis. Stone Soup also serves 700 – 1,000 people at an annual Free Harvest Supper and supports many other community non-profits with food donations as well as catering from our kitchen.

We have been a major force for community-building and social justice in action in Greenfield; the inability to access our church creates difficulties not only for the congregation, but for the hundreds and hundreds of others we serve through our ongoing ministries. 

Your help is really needed! 

  • Until we are able to complete the asbestos abatement and pass all the tests, no one is allowed to enter the church.
  • The $17,000.00 clean up bill poses a serious threat to our ability to stay open. 
  • We are faced with at least tripling the cost for the renovation of this classroom space and will need as much help as possible.
  • Your assistance will be greatly appreciated by the congregation and all those that we serve.

Flash Flood Relief- Help...

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

ESUUC Pittsburgh

East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church (ESUUC) is small in size and large in goals. We have served the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh for 53 years as fair share congregation of the UUA. We have an active CUUPs chapter and our RE program has grown to two classes last year.

Unfortunately the church was flooded on July 21st and when the congregation removed carpet and padding we found out that there is crumbling asbestos tile that needs to be removed by abatement, a costly fix, before new flooring can be installed.

We call upon our sister and brothers UU’s to help us get back into the RE and Community Rooms in the building. We estimate the cost of abatement and flooring to be between $15 and $20K. We have $10K in reserves we are putting toward flooring.

Please help us get back up and running!

Youth Captures: Our Life After Hurricane Michael (A Youth-led Photo Voice Project)

Hurricane Michael made landfall at 2 pm EDT on October 10, 2018 in Bay County, FL with top sustained winds of 155 mph; altering the lives of families profoundly to this day. One of the greatest challenges has been housing. Thousands of families have been displaced from their homes, leaving climate-induced trauma to children.

Bay District Schools has been reporting on this trauma, and continuously advocates for resources and support for their students. Five months after the hurricane, Bay Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt spoke before the State Board of Education about homelessness and the mental health struggles of Bay County Schools.

“More than 70 percent of the apartments in Panama City are uninhabitable. Before the storm, there were 738 homeless students in the district. Now, there are more than 4,800,” Husfelt shared, “[There have been 700] Community of Care referrals to mental health agencies. We’ve had 70 Baker Acts since we’ve reopened, 35 since Feb. 25th, 62 since Christmas Break.”

As school begins this Fall and almost a year after Hurricane Michael, the effects of the storm continue to linger. Families are still living in temporary or sub-standard housing, including: RVs, tents, sheds, cars, substandard trailers or houses, living with friends or families, FEMA trailers, hotels, motels, and weekly rentals with no lease.

This Photo Voice project is meant to help 10 teens in Bay County, Florida share their stories in their own voices, with their own pictures, and see the world through their eyes. It will be a close look into the reality that they and their families have to endure. With their photos, people will see the stories that aren’t usually covered by traditional media.

Initially, their photographs will be shared with the Bay County Community during a special event later this year, and subsequently with other coalitions and organizations via a pop-up exhibit.

The life journeys of our youth inform our future. Lived events shared in personal stories have the power to open hearts and minds, and inspire us to collective action. People can change their communities for the better, and understanding the lives of people in difficult circumstances better prepares us to work together to change conditions that affect their lives.

What is a Photo Voice Project?
Photo Voice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.

About The Exhibit:
The exhibit will consist of 10 stories, with 5 images associated with each. The images will be printed on canvas; and a QR code will enable visitors to scan the code and listen to the narratives in the teens’ voices. If the budget allows, there will be a printed booklet of the images and accompanying narratives.

Who are the Collaborating Partners?
Our partner in Bay County is well positioned to support youth:  LEAD County Coalition of Bay County. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Empowerment, and Authentic Development.

The mission of LEAD Coalition of Bay County is to facilitate collaborative work toward increasing safety, building trust, and restoring neighborhoods in the City of Panama City and its surrounding areas. The LEAD Coalition of Bay County is a diverse, public-private partnership among a cross sector community organizations and agencies.

What are the Project Specifics?

Location: Project participants will meet weekly and at the LEAD Coalition’s Special Event unveiling the exhibit.
Timeline: September 2019 – November 2019
Point of Contact: The Project Manager will be a young adult affected by the Hurricane Michael housing crisis, and Ana Maria De La Rosa, Senior Grassroots Organizer for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will facilitate the project.

What is the process for this Photo Voice project?

  • Kickoff Meeting with UUSC facilitator
  • Photography and Weekly Gatherings with the Project Manager
  • Photo Selection and Narrative Polishing with UUSC facilitator
  • Exhibit Preparation with all partners assisting

The Budget Narrative:
Dollars donated to this campaign will be used to print the photographs on canvas, and prepare them for display. Funds will also be used to prepare the exhibit itself, including preparing the QR codes to accompany the display and the recordings prepared by the students.

The cameras, stipend for the Project Manager from Bay County, and funding for the UUSC facilitator will be funded by UUSC.

LEAD Coalition will provide grant administration, event planning for the exhibit showcase, and coordination with the high school. The high school will provide the meeting space, and facilitate the identification of students to participate in the project.

Suggested Budget Spending:

Personnel
Ana Maria De La Rosa                                                         Covered by UUSC                                            

Project Manager Stipend                                                     Covered by UUSC

Supplies

10 Cameras                                                                             Covered by UUSC

Exhibit/QR Code Supplies                                                 $500
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)

Printing

50 Photos on Canvas                                                            $2,000
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)

Travel

Ana Maria De La Rosa                                                        Covered by UUSC

Miscellaneous

Grant Administration                                                          Covered by the LEAD Coalition

Exhibit/Gala                                                                           Covered by the LEAD Coalition

Growing Green Burial the UU Way

In November 2016, Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, created Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary LLC, a non-profit 501(c)3 with the mission of “providing a natural or ‘green’ burial option in Greater Cincinnati while preserving a part of God’s creation for future generations.” Now, nearly three years later, we are in contract to purchase and preserve 40 beautiful acres of farmland in a rapidly developing suburb just east of town — land that would otherwise almost certainly become yet another shopping center or subdivision filled with cookie-cutter suburban homes.

Green burial is a growing movement in the U.S., designed to stop our culture’s wasteful and environmentally harmful burial practices by returning to age-old human rituals and traditions: simple, dignified burial without concrete vaults, metal caskets, or toxic embalming. Heritage Acres will be only the third such burial preserve in the state of Ohio, and the only one of its kind within a 150-mile radius of Cincinnati. And without a doubt, it will be the first green burial sanctuary in the world created and owned by a Unitarian Universalist church.

Our contract requires us to close on the purchase by Nov. 1, or the property will go back on the market and, most likely, be bought up by a developer. To date we have raised a little more than $250,000 of the $300,000 purchase price. In this Faithify proposal we are seeking just one percent of the total amount needed to buy and preserve this land — $3,000. Here’s your chance be part of the one percent! (Donors, if they wish, will receive a limited-edition “Donate Your Body to Nature” green burial bumper sticker to proudly display on your Prius, refrigerator, or wherever you like…).

By now we can almost hear you asking, “What will happen after you have bought the land?” Glad you asked! With an active and engaged Board that includes one member who has previously overseen a green burial preserve elsewhere — and with rules and regulations, zoning and other infrastructure already in place — Heritage Acres is ready to go operational and expects to be open to the public by the end of the year. Then, as with other green burial sanctuaries nationwide, we will use the fees paid by families for burial to maintain and preserve the land in a natural state, in perpetuity.

Learn more about us, and our vision for spreading the good news of natural burial, by visiting our website at heritageacresmemorial.org. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/heritageacresmemorial, or follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/greenburialcincy.

Scholarships for Dreamers in Arizona

Because Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation believes in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we created a scholarship for undocumented students enrolled at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. Please join us in helping DACA recipients attain their educational goals.

In Arizona, due to an Arizona Supreme Court decision on April 9th 2018, Dreamers must now pay out of state tuition even though they may have lived in Arizona since childhood. The increased intuition for these DACA recipients can be from $2,580 a year to $8,900 per year depending on the institution in which they are enrolled. As an example of this increase at Yavapai College, tuition jumped from in-state $152 per credit hour to out-of-state $451 per credit hour for a full-time nursing student.

The ‘Opportunity Scholarship’ is specifically designated for “Recipients [who] must not be eligible for any type of federal or state grants”. There are many students in our community who have been paying their own tuition and now fear they will not be able to finish their college education as a result of this ruling. Last year’s recipient was about to drop out before learning about this resource. Recipients are chosen by Yavapai College based on need and grade point average.

There is an urgent need to fill this fund. Please donate now!

Our goal is $2,000 on Faithify to provide a minimum of one scholarship, but with more money we can provide help to more students.