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Disaster Relief! Help...

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(no All-or Nothing goal for this campaign)

On Monday, July 8, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA) suffered extensive flooding and water damage when Arlington County, Virginia experienced severe weather when a month’s worth of rain fell in approximately just one hour. We are graciously asking for your generosity to help us repair and rebuild our community’s home.

The 100 year storm caused widespread flooding and significant damage in the Washington, DC area to public facilities, roads, businesses, and homes.

In terms of our church, the storm’s heavy rain resulted in almost 70 percent of our church’s lower level being covered in one to two inches of standing water – causing significant water damage to the affected areas.

The initial work to address the water damage will cost nearly $45,000. Repairing, rebuilding, and refurbishing affected areas will cost significantly more. Other items are still being assessed, so repair costs may continue to increase.

Until repairs are completed, we are unable to hold Religious Education classes or provide space to outside groups and community partners.

Because we are not in a flood zone or near any bodies of water, we only carried $10,000 in flood insurance. And, the storm has not been declared a federal disaster, so FEMA assistance is not available.

Updates on progress of repairs are on the congregation’s facebook page: UnitarianUniversalistChurchArlingtonVirginia

Youth Group Immigration Justice Immersion Learning Trip to Tucson, AZ

We have 9 youth from the Mount Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek, CA youth group and 3 adult advisors traveling to Tucson, Arizona on July 28th to Aug 1st to participate in a learning immersion experience on immigration justice. This is with UUCSJ’s Youth Activate program (uucsj.org/activatetucson/)!

In Tucson they will engage in a program of interactive immigration justice education in order to have a better understanding of immigration justice issues and develop skills for continued advocacy in our Contra Costa communities.

This Campaign will help us get there!

In preparing for this journey we have been fundraising within our congregation all year. Through congregational lunches, the Holiday Craft Faire, donut & bagel sales, grant money through UUCSJ, family contributions, and a car wash, we are well on our way to meeting our fundraising needs. This campaign is our last piece of the puzzle. We are within $3000 of our goal to fund this trip. This Faithify campaign is one of our last efforts to cover the added costs of sending such an abundance of people.

We are hoping to raise at least $1500 to help close the funding gap and ensure the program is accessible for all participants. If you donate and we raise $1500, or more, that money will be collected and go toward our travel funds (if we do not raise $1500 no money will be collected from anyone).

Any donations made that exceed our Faithify goal of $1500 will help us further meet the funding need of $3000!

 

Thank you from the youth group of MDUUC!

Why do we go to Tucson, AZ?

MDUUC has made a commitment to better understanding and working towards immigration justice through multiple methods, such as accompaniment efforts with immigrants and becoming a physical sanctuary church. This program is an opportunity for our teens to gain greater experience with the pressing issue of immigration justice and be able to connect with and support the work their congregation is prioritizing. By collaborating with local organizers who are welcoming and affirming across age, sexuality, gender, race, economics, and physical abilities, and participating on reflections of race and class our youth group participants will learn how to apply our faith’s values into the wider world.

Our participants will be sharing about their experience and what they learned at MDUUC’s August 11th worship service.

For your generous contributions to our campaign, and if we reach our goal, our youth and advisers will thank you in the following fabulous ways:

  • For a $15 contribution … you’ll receive a thank you in the worship service’s order of service on August 11th!
  • For a $30 contribution…you’ll receive the same thank you and an original “I support youth ministry at MDUUC Button!”
  • For a $50 contribution, or higher! …you’ll receive a personalized thank you note with youth group artwork on it as well as a all of the above!

Help Support Body...

Izabel has grown so much, from the shy young girl feeling “othered” by schoolmates and strangers, with deep doubts in herself, into a young woman strong in her identity as a capable and creative individual. What is more, she has developed a worthy, larger vision that includes others who have faced, and will face, similar challenges without a strong role model and advocate. Her first year was paid for with financial help from the school and from me and other family and friends. This year, while the school is offering some support, I cannot. I lost my partner Dana, to Lewy Body Dementia recently, and the financial toll has made it impossible for me to help. Dana and I have given and received a great deal as Unitarian Universalists over many years, not the least of which is an appreciation for the generous spirits of UUs. As members of this movement, this faith, and our shared commitment to support programs and people who seek to make a real difference in our communities, I wanted to reach out to you now. It’s a compassion issue. It’s a justice issue. It’s an opportunity to be part of a special young woman’s unfolding. Please, be as generous as you can. Help Izabel continue in school and build a space for people with disabilities and different abilities to thrive in the world of theater. The possibilities are great…and so is the financial cost. Please. And thank you in advance!

Izabel says :

My goal is to use my education to change the face of disability representation in theater and film, and I need your help to do it. I am a daughter, a sister, a lover of dogs, music, art, makeup, acting, dancing, singing. I am also a disability advocate; I was born without my right hand and with a partial right foot.

When I was little this did nothing to stop me. I played freely without a care in the world about what I looked like or how I presented myself to other people. I was determined and creative. I existed with my disability, and I saw it as a part of me that I worked with and adapted to. I learned how to do the monkey bars, I played the violin, I skied and ran cross country. I was unstoppable. Middle school proved more difficult for me. I became extremely self-conscious about my physical difference. A lot of this was because I never saw people like me doing the things I was interested in. I loved music and acting and dancing, but I saw no representation in the music and films and plays that I idolized. At the time, I just accepted that that was how it was.

Because I was born with a limb difference, it often feels that, in my everyday life, I am confined to being one type of person: “disabled.” People who look like me are rarely featured, and if they are, their entire character arc and personality is that they are disabled even though oftentimes the actor playing the character with the disability isn’t even disabled themselves!

In tenth grade, I decided that despite this extreme doubt that I had in myself, I wanted to act. I started auditioning for–and getting cast in–shows at my local youth theater and high school. These years in high school when I began acting and theater were a revelation. I knew the first moment I stepped on stage and found confidence in my uniqueness that I could be whoever I wanted to be, and that this was what I wanted to do. When I’m acting I can forget that label of “disabled,” and explore other aspects of being human while adapting to whatever comes my way.

I knew I wanted to act seriously not just because of the euphoria that comes with performance, but because I never wanted children like me who were born with a disability or lost a limb to feel like they didn’t exist or that they couldn’t pursue what they were passionate about just because they didn’t see anyone like them doing it.

I knew when I applied and got excepted to NYU Tisch School of the Arts for Drama that I wanted to use my degree to represent body diversity in theater and film. In the future I hope this will involve much more than just acting; I would love to choreograph for disabled bodies and direct accessible and adaptive shows.

I believe that I was given this opportunity and accepted to this amazing program, in a city that is the heart of theater and film,  to make this difference. My first year at the program completely opened my eyes and further confirmed that this is what I need to pursue. I fell in love with the program and all of my classes and teachers and long studio days. I am in the Meisner studio, and I spent nine-hour days, three days a week there, learning acting and voice and speech and movement and clown and stage combat and crying and laughing.

I noticed, though, that apart from one other girl who was in a different studio, I was the only one who had a physical disability in the drama department at NYU. That’s ridiculous! That under-representation is ridiculous. I know for a fact that there are many talented and creative disabled actors out there, and the under-representation in the industry which is reflected at my school makes me sad.

One community to whom this project is important is a group I am a part of called the Helping Hands Foundation. This is a group of people and families with limb differences. I started going to their gatherings when I was two years old, and now I see the little kids in that community growing up. I want to be a role model for them and help create a world where they can see themselves reflected on screen and stage. At every winter gathering of this community, there are guest speakers (limb different athletes, models, scientists, etc). It would be amazing to stand up in front of that community as a working actor, director or choreographer!

This program at NYU is so important to me. In one year I have grown and changed so much, and I can feel that this is the right place to be in pursuit of all of these things that I’ve mentioned. However, as of right now, I cannot afford to return. After weeks and months of back-and-forth with the financial aid office, I still do not have enough money to attend next fall.

I understand that it is a privilege that I even got to go for one year and that many students cannot afford higher education. But I also understand that this is an important opportunity, and I will do everything in my power to make the most out of it because it is about so much more than me and my getting a college degree.

The total cost of attendance at NYU for next year is $72,000. Here is a breakdown of what I’ve got so far:

$37,000 covered by loans ( I am borrowing the maximum amount I can), scholarships, parent contributions, friend contributions, and summer work

$15,000–help from my great aunt

$21,000—this is what I still need

NYU is notoriously stingy with financial aid. As part of my package, they included a $51,000 parent loan (for one year). My mother is a single mom and a teacher (and I have a younger brother, too), and this loan is larger than her annual salary, so we could not accept it. I knew when I decided to go to Tisch that it would be a massive financial stretch and might not work out. Against my mother’s practical advice, I decided to try to make it work. I would not have succeded without the help of literally hundreds of people who made small contributions last year; my first year was, in part, a gift from my community. This is part of what makes me want to see this through. I don’t want to let them down!

My tuition payment is due the first week in August. If I have not raised the funds by then, I will move on to plan B. This would either be studying at a non-degree (less expensive) studio in New York or living at home with my Mom in rural Vermont, working at the local general store, and taking some community college classes.

Here is a link to my NYU program if you would like to read more about it.

https://tisch.nyu.edu/drama

Thanks so much for considering my project!

“Building a Movement...

The “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” conference is designed to spark conversation and action to bring about legislation which addresses the climate crisis and economic inequality.  Hopefully after the 2020 election there will be an opportunity to enact powerful legislation which will move our country away from a carbon based systems and toward renewable energy while creating well paying jobs for all. This legislation can be found in House Resolution 109, known as “The Green New Deal”.

“Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” conference will provide the language and ideas for participants to build support for the Green New Deal and to bring this language back to their congregations and communities.

The conference begins September 15 at 11:15 a.m. after the Sunday service at All Souls Unitarian church in Washington D.C. Reverend Rob Keithan, the Justice minister at All Souls, will lead a program in grounding the efforts of “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” in Unitarian Universalist values. This will be followed by a keynote panel discussion led by notable local Unitarian Universalist activists in the environmental movement. Following there will be a panel discussion of a coalition of UU organizations with UU’s Ministry for the Earth, UU’s for Social Justice and UU’s for a Just Economic Community discussing ways to work together toward a Green New Deal.

Partnering with UU’s for a Just Economic Community for the conference “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” include: UU’s Ministry for the Earth, UU’s for Social Justice, All Souls Unitarian Church, UU Service Committee, UUA and Side with Love.

On September 16 after a light breakfast there will be presentations from experts and persons of influence speaking on the intersection of environmental and economic issues.

On September 17 at 8:30 am the conference participants will gather in the Capital Visitor’s Center to hear speakers, deliver letters to representative offices and speak with staff of the elected officials encouraging support for the Green New Deal.

Freedom Summer Camp at the Museum

How do children and teens in Rural and Low-Income Communities spend their summer when school is over? In Opelousas, St Landry Parish, Louisiana, Summer School is provided by church congregations and a few local public schools. However, this year 2019, a large number of students won’t be able to attend Summer School after the burning of three black Baptist churches in St Landry Parish by an arsonist during a string of 10 days in April 2019.

The burning of black churches was a common intimidation tactic during the Jim Crow era.

For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community.

The burning of the Saint Landry Parish black churches was classified as a hate crime.

With a predominantly agricultural community with a deep pride in a francophone heritage, Black Baptist churches in Saint Landry Parish, LA offer church-based educational programs, from after-school tutorials to summer schools, computer classes to family science activities. Black churches have an historic commitment to education, and educational agencies see black churches as their best link to children in neighborhoods beset by poverty, violence and school failure.

To accommodate our Community and help our youth in Opelousas, St Landry Parish, LA the Rural African American Museum has offered to sponsor a summer camp for the children of the congregations affected by the destruction of their churches, the suppression of their place of worship and the suppression of their churches’ activities ensuing struggles.

I offered my Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana Congregation members the opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values

The Rural African American Museum will offer a summer Camp program from 2-6pm at the Rural African American Museum, in Opelousas, with focus on providing educational services to youth of Opelousas during 4 weeks in July 2019 (July 1 – 26, 2019).

This all day program will be free, except for administrative fees.

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, the local Committee “Rural African American Museum” will monitor and visit the home of any child who may miss summer camp. The Committee “Rural African American Museum” is composed of Board members, educators and local leaders who will be following up to ensure that the children will complete the summer camp program at the African-American Museum.

At a time where there is a continued rise in racial and religious based hate crimes, Opelousas is facing a situation that requires an immediate effort on the part of Louisiana government and local organizations to support underprivileged children who are marginalized due to issues of economic class. It is imperative to support these youth by providing technical assistance and educational tools that could enable them to benefit from a good education that meets their needs.

Recognizing the critical importance of education to community empowerment and economic development in St Landry Parish, Louisiana, to help the local youth acquire the skills necessary in communication, help them believe in themselves, to empower their success and self-esteem.

The Rural African American History Museum was formed to establish, collect, hold, and preserve exhibit as a way to relate to the history of Rural African-American in St Landry and rely only on donations. Sponsoring the Summer Camp will help our local youth establish links, relate to their culture and respect their roots even in the face of adversity and hate crime.

This campaign will support the summer school to raise $ 3,500, which is needed to meet the budget expenses.

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM

The program for the Summer camp will be offered to ten St Landry Parish school students age 12-15, with the following activities:

ACTION and RESEARCH PROJECT “POETRY and CIVIL RIGHTS”

  1. First week: RESEARCH and CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS

ENHANCING STUDENTS‘ CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS: a Social Studies research project using Chromebooks laptops, books, articles and artifacts available at the Rural African American Museum. 

As I raised educational funds in 2018 for my Community in St Landry Parish to equip my students with technology, summer school students will have the opportunity to work with chromebooks for their research and presentation.

  1. Second week: Computer literacy SKILLS

Applied Digital Skills to improve digital literacy with Google, using Google classroom. Students will use Google slides to present their research findings.

Students will incorporate French poetry to their presentation.

  • Third Week: Performing arts SKILLS

Theatre techniques to build youth communication skills and self esteem.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

  1. Fourth week:

Art skills: Organizing, framing artifacts for the Rural African American Museum display.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Bridge geographic and generational borders using 21st century technologies

Material:

Technology: Three Chromebooks will be available for students to use for students’ research and presentation findings, with a projector for display. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

ARTS / Performing Arts: Colors, crayons, paper, mic. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Library: Use of books, articles, artifacts available at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Budget expenses:

Teachers’ Salary (2 teachers)

  • Teaching artist spoken word, slam poetry                      $1,500

Teaching Artist qualified and certified

  • Teaching Creative writing and performing Art                 $1,500

Teacher qualified and certified

  • Art workshop supplies (craft, notebook, frames, colors)   $   500 

TOTAL Expenses:                                                                   $ 3,500

My claim as a UULALA Congregation Social Concerns Co-Chair and member of the Unitarian Universalism Association

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Lower the walls between existing congregations
  • Members of the Baptist Black Churches will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.
  • Members of the UULALA (Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana) will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.

Our Congregation voted unanimously June 4, 2019 in favour of the project at our UULALA Congregation executive meeting.

I offer my UULALA Congregation members an opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

Background information on the Opelousas, LA churches’ fire:

As June 12, 2019, a young man from Opelousas, Louisiana, was charged by a federal grand jury for a hate crime

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/louisiana-man-charged-federal-hate-crimes-setting-fire-three-st-landry-parish-churches

Help Lift Up...

UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association (UURMaPA)

In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising (June 28, 1969), the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association (UURMaPA) has launched a UU Rainbow History Project, focused on collecting and preserving the history and stories of LGBTQIA ministers, their partners, and allies. 

Many of us have witnessed an amazing cultural shift over the past 50 years toward ever greater acceptance, inclusion, and celebration of LGBTQIA folk in our UU faith communities. Ministers have often led the way, and sometimes paid a harsh price for being in this vanguard. The stories are rich, stirring—and important. 

But time is not an ally in this process, so we want to move quickly to document the remarkable transformation of the UUA into a welcoming and affirming faith for people of all relationship choices and gender expressions. We are reaching out to draw forth memories from folks who remember the times and have valuable perspective on this evolution. Stonewall inspires anew, here among us today, exactly 50 years later!

The UU Rainbow History Project has begun gathering memories, photographs, sermons and other memorabilia on a website (www.uurainbowhistory.net) and in social media. Soon we will be working on producing a book to document this significant turning point in UU history. And all materials will be placed in UU archives, so future generations can learn about this incredible story, hopefully from many firsthand testimonials.

We are also sponsoring two conferences during this 50th anniversary year and if the October event is anything like the one last February (see pix below), it will again be powerfully meaningful. One attendee at the first conference remarked afterward, “This was a wonderful perspective on LGBTQ history—a breathtaking journey—and very uplifting. We have come so far. And I am so proud of the pioneers who lived in the disdain of society and bore such a burden.”

All this productive activity has a price tag, though, especially the technical developments and support for attendance at our conferences. And UURMaPA (which exists entirely on donations) has limited funding. The UU Funding Program has gotten us started, but through this Faithify Campaign YOU can help ensure that what we discern and discover about this pivotal era can become part of an enduring UU Rainbow History Project. Many thanks for your support!

Reverend James Reeb...

Many Unitarian Universalists know the story of Reverend James Reeb, the UU minister who was murdered in 1965 in Selma, Alabama after answering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nationwide call for religious leaders to come south to march in support of voting rights.

What UUs may not know is that James Reeb grew up in Casper, Wyoming, and served there as a Presbyterian minister before his faith journey led him to Unitarian Universalism and to civil rights activism. He eventually moved with his family to Washington D.C., where he served as the Assistant Minister to All Souls Unitarian Church. His next call to ministry and activism took the Reeb family to the Roxbury area of Boston where he worked for fair housing and advocated for people living in poverty.

Marie Reeb, Reverend Reeb’s widow, still resides in Casper along with many of his extended family, and yet much of the Wyoming community is unaware of his legacy and this important Wyoming connection to America’s Civil Rights Movement.

Partnering with The Table, a downtown Casper dinner church, the Unitarian Universalist Community of Casper is raising $10,000 for a James Reeb Memorial Mural here in his hometown of Casper. Understanding that UUs and others involved in social activism across the country feel deep respect and reverence for Reverend Reeb, the UU Community of Casper is extending an invitation to be a part of this unique opportunity to promote James Reeb’s legacy, social justice, community partnerships, and interfaith engagement.

The James Reeb Memorial Mural project will also include a website, a short film, and several public events to heighten access and engagement with Reverend Reeb’s story. Public art is a beautiful way to introduce this amazing story to a larger audience. The mural will be ideally located across the street from David Street Station, downtown Casper’s new and popular public square, which hosts concerts, farmers markets, and countless other public events. The mural’s public unveiling will be held August 24, 2019. Reverend Reeb’s story will also be shared at an August 28th story telling event at The Table and at the UU Community of Casper’s August 25th Sunday service. In addition, Reverend Reeb will be honored at Casper’s International Day of Peace Celebration on September 21, 2019.

The UU Community of Casper’s fundraising goal for this project is $10,000 of the $30,000 estimated total cost of the mural, film, website and public events. The remaining two thirds will come from grants and public donations. Any amounts raised by the UU Community of Casper in excess of our $10,000 goal will be contributed to the James J. Reeb Memorial Scholarship Fund at Casper College, the local community college Reverend Reeb once attended.

Our interfaith partner, The Table, is a downtown Casper dinner church led by Pastor Libby Tedder Hugus. The Table has long been involved in the Casper Mural Project to beautify and revitalize downtown Casper’s public spaces through mural art. The Table follows the teachings of Jesus, and its members and friends value and seek to honor the truth found in wisdom traditions beyond Christianity. Many UU Community of Casper members and friends enjoy participating in The Table gatherings, and Pastor Libby has been a guest speaker at our UU church.

The James Reeb Memorial Mural committee consists of individuals associated with many other Casper groups and businesses. An integral member of this committee is Reverend Reeb’s granddaughter Leah Reeb, who has traveled nationwide to share her grandfather’s legacy with UUs and others. Local mural artist Tony Elmore is working closely with the Reeb family and is seeking their guidance during his creative process.

The timing of the project is fortuitous: National Public Radio recently launched the serial podcast “White Lies,” which tells the story of Reverend Reeb, his murder in Selma and the aftermath of failed justice. His story was also included in the 2015 Academy Award nominated film “Selma.”

Please consider accepting our invitation to be a part of the James Reeb Memorial Mural Project.

Bring Transylvanian Youth...

We plan to bring the Vadrózsák (Wild Roses) student folk dance troupe and musicians from the Berde Mózes Unitarian High School in Székelykeresztúr, Transylvania (Romania) to New England this coming fall (2019) to perform and teach ethnic Hungarian folk dances in Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont from   October 24 – November 5.

They will be based in Concord, MA, where they will perform and do home-stays with members of the First Parish congregation, and will also travel to Maine and Vermont. They will spend two nights at the Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center in Saco, Maine.

They will perform and teach at First Parish in Portland, and they will perform and participate in an international dance workshop in collaboration with members of the Yarmouth, Maine congregation at Ferry Beach.

They will also spend two nights in Vermont, where they will perform and hold another dance workshop, and they will be given hospitality by three congregations there: The UU Congregation of the Upper Valley in Norwich, The First Universalist Society of Hartland, and North Chapel in Woodstock. In addition, they will be hosted by the Youth Group of The First Church in Belmont MA (UU) for a performance and workshop.

These young people will be accompanied by several chaperones and a small delegation from Concord’s partner congregation in Székelykeresztúr; there will be twenty five travelers in all. This is a wonderful opportunity for these young people to share their passion for preserving their ethnic folk culture with us, and to learn about our culture. It will help strengthen the bonds of international partnership, as well as involve collaboration among several regional congregations in New England. It will bring together youth from Transylvania and America, and help them feel connected to and supported by our congregations.

We need $36,000 in all, and have raised $13,000 so far; we have another $8,000available to us. We have some other options for raising the needed funds, but this Faithify campaign is an important part of enabling us to reach our goal. Please help us make these young students’ dreams of visiting and performing in America come true with your donation.

For more information see our Partnership web page at https://firstparish.org/wp/connection/transylvanian-partnership

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