Category: “Home Page”

Creating A Racial...

My name is Christopher D. Sims. I am a Unitarian Universalist community minister, artist, and community organizer. This collective idea is meant to combine our efforts across Unitarian Universalism as we tackle issues in regards to the movement for black lives, social justice, and racial justice. I am working with Unitarian Universalist committees and groups who are focusing on the serious work we are doing to help us obtain, or get closer to, the Beloved Community. In having these proximate relationships and connections with these groups, Creating a Racial and Social Justice Collective will be a vehicle and a database for successes of these groups that will help empower the overall work we are doing in our faith movement across the United States, and beyond. To give voice to these successes and efforts, the Collective will have an online presence. Physically, I will represent these voices at conferences or appearances in our faith movement to inform and encourage Unitarian Universalists to pursue or strengthen their social justice efforts.

The funds raised for this campaign will go towards maintaining an online database, staff, travel expenses, and materials needed to create books and pamphlets for the documentation of this project.

Humanist Collaboratory Travel Scholarships

The Humanist Collaboratory will meet for the 2nd time in March 2019, bringing together clergy in UU, Ethical Culture, and humanistic Jewish traditions–and this year, extending special outreach to organizers of humanist communities outside of those institutions. We seek to center the voices of people of color, queer folx, and women who have often been left out of institutional humanist leadership, as well as emerging leaders in humanism. Because many of those leaders don’t have the institutional support of congregations, travel to the conference (hosted by the Washington Ethical Society in Washington, DC, which will also provide home hospitality) may be prohibitive. Please help us to make it possible for these folks to join us at the Humanist Collaboratory, so that their voices can be centered in our work together and in our shared exploration of what humanism is today! YOUR GIFT WILL BE MATCHED by a generous grant from the UU Funding Panel!

Accessing West Virginia,...

Hello, and welcome to the UU Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn (UUAC) Senior Youth Group Faithify page! The Senior Youth Group (SYG) at UUAC is made up of high school aged young people in our congregation who want to be a part of an enjoyable and active justice-oriented program with their peers. In addition to the fun we have at our weekly meetings, we also aspire to live out our UU values in the world. This means anything from helping those in need in our community, to going to rallies to stand up for our beliefs, to going on service trips.

For one week in April, 13 youth and adults involved in SYG will be visiting West Virginia for a service learning experience sponsored by the UU College of Social Justice. Many parts of West Virginia are highly poverty-stricken due in part to the collapse of human labor in the coal industry. This poverty has deeply affected the quality of life and health for many who live in rural areas, and has caused communities to take matters into their own hands through grassroots organizing. Our first stop in West Virginia will be in Charleston where we will visit the UU Congregation of Charleston and learn about the local grassroots movements through the members of the congregation. We will then venture to a rural section of Appalachia to experience the daily lives of the citizens who face the struggles of poverty first-hand. Here, we will provide hands-on service and listen to the stories of the people who create change in rural Appalachia. Through this experience, we hope we can more deeply understand their culture and community, and how we, as visitors, can best serve them through a lens of justice.

However, it’s not only us who hope to help. Without your donations, this powerful trip would not be possible. It is essential that youth be exposed to service learning such as this so that we, as the next generation, may be better prepared to address issues of justice in our changing communities and world. Please consider donating, as you could help our group attain an affordable trip for all youth. By raising $2000, we hope to make this trip financially accessible for all who would not be able to afford this kind of experience otherwise.

2019 Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary

Help us put love into action.

As a congregation it is our hope that this one-day conference will be both a place where trans and gender non-conforming folk can gather, connect and learn and where cisgender folk can learn about being better allies. We are also hoping that by hosting this conference we will make a BOLD statement to our larger community that we are a safe and welcoming community because we really do want to build beloved community beyond the binary.

By doing this fundraising, we are able to offer a nationally known keynote speaker and excellent workshops at a sliding scale ticket price that is accessible to all. Your contribution will also allow us to provide FREE tickets to youth and FREE childcare to those who need it.

Exciting and NEW THIS YEAR, we are working on creating a “toolbox” that will be available to other UU congregations so that they too can host a successful Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary conference of their own.  Your support will help to spread our UU welcome throughout our Association.

 Our keynote speaker is J Mase III, who is  a Black/trans/queer poet & educator based in Seattle by way of Philly. As an educator, Mase has worked with community members in the US, UK, and Canada on LGBTQIA+ rights and racial justice in spaces such as K-12 schools, universities, faith communities and restricted care facilities. He is founder of awQward, the first trans and queer people of color talent agency.

His work has been featured on MSNBC, Essence Live, Everyday Feminism, Black Girl Dangerous, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, the Root, theGrio, Teen Vogue and more.

His current projects include being the head writer of the theatrical production, Black Bois and being co-editor of the #BlackTransPrayerBook.

Find him on Instagram (@jmaseiii) and www.jmaseiii.com!

J Mase will also be offering two workshops, in addition to the keynote – On Faith and the Criminalization of the Black Trans Body, Write Me Where It Hurts

Workshops

While workshops are being finalized, here are some topics we are planning to offer:

De-escalation and micro-aggressions

Parenting trans kids

How to make your classroom trans friendly and inclusive

On Faith and the Criminalization of the Black Trans Body

Write Me Where It Hurts

Legal rights

Preemptive Radical Hospitality

Trans 101

How to be a trans ally activist

Health issues and transitioning

This year we have a grant from the UU Funding Program – Yay!  Reaching our Faithify goal will allow to also access a challenge grant of 1500.00.  Please donate.

If you would like to register for the event click here

Muslim-Jewish Dialogue: Jerusalem-Hebron Religious Leaders Forum

The organizers

The project is co-coordinated and co-sponsored by the International Association for Religious Freedom and the Interfaith Encounter Association, one of its Middle Eastern member groups. The IARF, established at the beginning of the 20th century by Unitarians and European Free Christians, has since developed into a truly interfaith platform of exchange and collaboration between religious liberals of different faiths, represented at the UN and involved in a variety of projects in such diverse regions as Japan, Pakistan, India, Kenya, the Middle East, Europe and North America. These projects focus on interfaith dialogue and peace building initiatives, both local and intercontinental (such as our quadrennial Congresses), as well as human rights education and advocacy at national and international levels.

We are particularly proud of and excited about this cooperation with the Interfaith Encounter Association, our long-standing member in the Middle East. We have been greatly impressed by the passion and dedication of the local volunteers and have been supporting them as best we could since 2011. Still, their dreams and the needs in the region are far greater than our means, especially now that they lost an important funding source from the US when the Trump Administration terminated support of any such groups, which they previously enjoyed through a number of programmes.

Please consider supporting us in our strife to counter hostility and ignorance. You may read about the project below, at our website (iarf.net/projects/israel) and at the website of the IEA (interfaith-encounter.org).

The project

The purpose of the Jerusalem-Hebron Religious Leaders Forum is to create a uniquely effective path toward harmonious co-existence. The main Forum continuously recruits leading community religious leaders (Rabbis of synagogues and villages, heads and teachers in Yeshivot, Imams in mosques, community Sheikhs and others).

Currently the Forum consists of several Heads and teachers of Yeshivot, Chief Rabbi of the town of Efrat and several Salafi Sheikhs from Hebron and Yata. They are consistently exposed to each other’s teachings and practices through regular encounters of joint study and open conversation, while emphasizing mutual respect and sincere desire for understanding. The process leads them to get to know each other better and better, gain more knowledge about the religion of the other, and through that – become more respectful of the other and develop strong bonds of friendship and cooperation. Moreover, the process leads them to share their experience with their students, who are the future religious and social leaders of the Holy Land, and encourage them to form their own groups.

Out of the groups already formed, these are currently active: two groups with students of Otniel Yeshiva and young adults from Yata, students of Otniel Yeshiva and young adults from Hussan, and young adults from Jenin and Gilboa. In addition – a group was formed in Hebron and another group of families from Jericho and Jerusalem. Three branches of the Forum are now in the process of formation: a group of religious leaders in the Tel Aviv area, a group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims and a group of religious leaders in the Galilee. With time, the Forum and students’ groups will develop into a regional forum whose voice is heard by the people who live in the region between Jerusalem and Hebron, and hopefully other parts of the Holy Land. In parallel the forum will work to recruit support from top leaders, who will also visit occasionally the encounters, even if their time will not permit regular participation.

Due to their position as community religious leaders, the ripple effect will be especially significant. They will convey the message of harmonious coexistence in two ways by incorporating it into their regular teachings, and in responding publicly and jointly to occurrences of xenophobia or prejudices.

Working in a region that is no stranger to conflict, we strive to use a grass-roots approach to facilitate lasting social change. The Forum incorporates the knowledge and experience of regional leaders who have lived their lives within the conflict. Participation alone is a powerful signal of the willingness of people of the region to move towards peace. It is also important to note that Jerusalem and Hebron themselves hold deep religious significance for Islam and Judaism. It has been the setting of ancient and recent conflict. It is essential to the future of both communities to work together to create peace since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not only affects the citizens in the region, but is also used as a rallying point for tensions and even hatred all over the world. The Jerusalem Hebron Religious Leader’s Forum is coordinated by an energetic and resourceful pair, a Rabbi and a Sheikh. Each of the student groups is coordinated by a Jewish-Muslim team. The Forum meets on a consistent basis every 5-10 weeks, totalling 5-10 encounters during the year. The encounters includes 10-20 influential religious leaders of both the Jewish and Islamic faith who reside in the region around Jerusalem and Hebron.

After mutual greetings, each encounter will start with presenting the theme chosen for it from the Jewish and Muslim perspectives. In the second part, participants study the theme in depth for about an hour – in light of the presentations and the religious texts of both religions. The last part, of around 30 minutes (more/less as needed) is dedicated to identifying public issues that need to be jointly addressed and working to address them, and planning the next encounter. A few specific examples of possible joint projects to combat xenophobia are: making public statements, writing joint editorials, newspaper columns, etc. In parallel: the coordinators of the Forum work to invite more community religious leaders to join the Forum and to recruit the support of top religious leaders (such as the Chief Rabbis of Israel, heads of Islamic courts, heads of religious academies, heads of leading families in the region etc.)

Testimonials

You can find more stories and extensive reporting at the website of the IEA. 

Abdallah Abu Ghanem
I grew up in a single-parent family after my dad had left us and my mother, who is illiterate, raised us by herself.I was born in 1967 in Jerusalem, which means that I grew up after the Six-Day-War and I was taught to hate the Jews (due to the consequences of that war). In elementary school I started learning Hebrew and our Jewish teachers were very kind to us. This caused an internal conflict in me because on one hand I was taught to hate the Jews but here I witnessed how nice and kind the Jewish teachers were behaving towards us. After I graduated from High school I applied to the university but the first Intifada broke out in 1987 and the universities were shut down. As a result I started working and developed relationships with Israeli Jews. I discovered wonderful people (just like those Jewish teachers) – unlike what I had been taught about the Jews till then. This revelation motivated me to start reading about “the other” and engage in conversations with “the other” in order to get to know Jews by talking TO them and not ABOUT them. Then I discovered the Interfaith Encounter Association, started attending encounters and found the place I had been looking for. I believe that G’d created nations and tribes so that we would strive to reach out and get to know each other, as it is mentioned in the Quran. Otherwise, He would have made us all one nation.

Nurit Shoshani-Hechel
Two years ago I joined encounters between Jews and Muslims through the Interfaith Encounter Association. I am currently a part of a group of Jews from Jerusalem and Muslim-Arabs from the Hebron area and we get together once every three or four weeks. During the encounters wonderful friendships were formed between the participants. I discovered over time that even though we had and still have disagreements about politics, we have plenty of similarities as well. Close ties and fondness were forged between the participants from both sides and I have to admit that on a personal level I became more tolerant and understanding towards the Palestinians and the difficulties they were facing and I think the same process took place on the other side as well. Nowadays we are all looking forward to the encounters and upon one of the participants’ suggestion we started teaching each other Hebrew and Arabic. I find myself trying hard to learn new words in Arabic and the motivation to get to know each other grew tremendously. We sometimes had difficult conversations that challenged us to think deeply but then more peaceful conversations followed that allowed us to feel connected and develop our friendship. I would like to express my deep respect and appreciation towards the Interfaith Encounter Association, in which no matter who you are, whether you are religious or secular, left-wing or right-wing, a settler or a staunch opposer of settlements, a supporter of normalizating relations with Israel or opposes normalization – the door is open to all. I believe that the Interfaith Encounter Association is truly unique in its openness and tolerance. It does not require any prerequisites from any of its participants but rather provides a platform for people who are willing to listen and express their views and find the similarities. I hope that the association’s activities will continue and the organization itself will grow and expand because I have no doubt it is of high value and importance.

Endorsements from Unitarians

Elizabeth Darr

Since 1975 I have been a member of the First UU Society of San Francisco, with whose support I became a Credentialed Religious Educator, Master Level (now retired). I have been a member of the IARF since about 1988, when our congregation was tapped for volunteers to work at the IARF World Congress held on the Stanford campus. Having served as Treasurer on the IARF international council for the immediate past term, and currently serving as co-chair of the US Chapter, I feel deeply connected to the projects that our modest organization is able to support.  Among them, the IEA may be the one I feel is most directly contributing to peace, to a diminishing of violence. When I think of world community, with peace and justice, I think that supporting this project is just about the most direct way I live that principle.

Robert Ince

As President of the International Association for Religious Freedom and as former Convenor of the General Assembly of Unitarians in the UK, I very much endorse the work of Interfaith Encounter Association. For me their work is entirely within the spirit of the 6th Principle of the UUA: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. The IARF and many Unitarian and Universalist communities throughout the world have supported this work over a number of years and, given the demonstrable success and growth that the IEA has shown, it seems to me to be essential that we encourage and publicise their work as a shining example of how to combat fundamentalism and bring peace in the Middle East closer to becoming a reality.

Rev. Dr. Richard Boeke

I add my name to those w ho support the petition to “Faithify” for support of Interfaith Encounters Association.
The IARF has given birth to both the Partner Church Council and the ICUU. To my mind it still deserves the support of UUs and other Faith Communities. If Faithify takes up the cause, I will contribute to support IARF Colleagues leading the Interfaith Encounters Association. Unitarians of Horsham gave £1,000 after Dr. Yehuda Stolov spoke at our Sussex Church. Shalom, Salaam Alaykum

What your donation can do

30$ – covers printing and communications costs for one encounter session.
60$ – buys food for one encounter session.
100$ – enables a Palestinian youth to come to Israel for an encounter session.
250$ – allows us to retain trained coordinators of one encounter session.
500$ – covers all the costs for one Palestinian and Israeli Encounter.
1,500$ – pays for one retreat.
‍5,000$ – can sustain one ongoing dialogue group for one year.

Help Fund a...

Located in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, the Unitarian Church of South Australia maintains a gorgeous plot of native bush land which is home to the historic Shady Grove chapel, cemetery, and hut. Unitarian services have been delivered from the chapel from as early as 1856 and continue to this day. A later addition was the hut, which is regularly used for shared lunches, children’s camps, and retreats for adults and families.

But – a new heater is needed for the hut at Shady Grove to keep the chill away in the colder months and to allow the site to be used to its full potential as a special place for our Unitarian Universalist community. Please help us buy a good quality secondhand heater for the space. Any leftover funds will be used to improve the hut at Shady Grove, which could use some additional improvements.

In love and service,

Your friends from the Unitarian Church of South Australia

Stretch Goal Added! Help Save Our Historic Sacred Space From Stormy Weather

STRETCH GOAL ADDED: $12,000

The project includes shingle replacement, fascia repair and gutter replacement.  The original estimated cost was $38,000.  With additional work done to complete the project, including interior repairs, the overall cost will end up being above $40,000.  While we’ve met our original $10,000 goal, please help us go a little bit further in helping to defray costs.

Update:

We’re so close to meeting our goal – thanks to the generous donations we’ve received. Please help us cross the finish line in the short time left in this campaign by becoming a donor. Please share this link with your friends or anyone else who might be interested in this campaign so we are able to continue the social justice work of Rev. Olympia Brown!

Project Description

The roof on our church building began leaking earlier this year and has already begun to damage our sanctuary’s plaster walls.  Unless we replace our roof, we risk more serious – and costly — damage, not only to the walls but to our historic organ.  The project includes shingle replacement, fascia repair and gutter replacement.  The total estimated cost is $38,000.

Olympia Brown served as minister of our church from 1878-1887.  Our church building is in Racine’s Historic Sixth Street Business District and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.  The church serves as a center of social justice activism both for our congregation and for many other like-minded people in our community.  The building is not just a physical home for our spiritual community engaging in this important work, it is a symbol to the wider community of the faith that we live, inside and outside our 123-year-old structure.    Replacing our roof is necessary to enable us to continue the important work we do unimpeded by worries about its future.

Our congregation is in a time of transition after enjoying 43 years with the same minister. Improving our long-term financial planning and operation are among the important tasks we are undertaking during this interim period. Ensuring that we have a sound and solid building is part of that agenda.

Last year we had a major repair project on our congregation’s annex building that exhausted our Building & Grounds Maintenance fund as well as drawing down our operating reserve.   That reserve will be the main source of funds for the roof repair.  We ask for your help through Faithify to defray the costs of our roof repair and to supplement our remaining operating reserve to pay for the project.