Tagged: “Central East Region”

Justice Associates Curriculum

Training Leaders and Doers: 

We are seeking to develop a curriculum for training and nurturing congregational and community leaders who are interested in becoming Justice Associates – centering the needs of our next generation of leaders. This training will incorporate practical skills with a focus on faith formation. Spiritually grounded, the curriculum seeks to combine 21st-century innovative solutions and a multiplicity of perspectives to better equip leaders to engage in the spectrum of support needed in justice work from a religious grounding. The Justice Leaders Initiative is built on the understanding that our leaders should feel spiritually fed by the work to build the Beloved Community, in addition to being better practical and administrative leaders.

Supporting Spiritual Grounding:

Our tradition has models for training Pastoral Care Associates and Worship Associates, but there is no equivalent for supporting the swell of leaders in our congregations and beyond who are focused on Justice as one of their main spiritual practices. At the UU Fellowship of Huntington, we wanted to come up with a way to support our leaders in their work for justice, while deepening their spiritual grounding and supporting their overall development as leaders. In discussions with many parish ministers and UUA program consultants, there is overwhelming desire to develop such a program. While some congregations and individuals have tried to achieve such a program through various means, our hope is to develop a unified program with widespread support and implementations.

The Justice Leaders Initiative seeks to address this gap – supporting individuals, strengthening ties between lay leaders within congregations, but also across our congregations. Some locations may use it internally, while others might use it in congregational clusters.

Collaborating for the Future:

While the genesis of this project grew out of one congregation, it is our hope that it will be a resource for the whole denomination and beyond. That’s why the curriculum will be developed through the synergetic, exploratory process of the “curriculum incubator” at the Fahs Collaborative.

Fahs has created several other curricula through this incubator model with varying formats. One such curriculum is the UUCSJ Study Guide for Cross-Cultural Engagement. Another project from Fahs you may know is the Beloved Coversastions Curriculum.

Working with the Fahs Collaborative ensures the project will be built on the cutting edge of faith formation and supported by a team that is passionate about faith formation for all ages. In their words, “Fahs Curriculum Incubators gather experienced educators to grow a seed of an idea into a full and useful learning encounter, or create new curricular strategies for solving stubborn faith formation challenges. Members of the incubator teams are invited to join projects that match their skill-set, disposition and experience of breaking social molds.” The values inherent in the Fahs approach to development will be instilled in the project.

Crafted for Congregation & Community:

As soon as funding is secured, the Fahs Collaborative will gather development participants to draft the curriculum – hopefully in the early months of 2019. The final project will likely be a curriculum of 12-15 hours of content in the form of six to seven 2-hour lesson sessions, or one 6-hour retreat plus six to nine additional learning session hours. A group of three to four writers will meet in one location for several days to develop the curriculum plan based on our goals, then work virtually to produce the learning materials. Then, the program will then be piloted in the Spring at the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY. After a final assessment and revisions based on feedback from the pilot, the Justice Leaders Initiative will be available to congregations and faith communities via the Fahs Collaborative catalog of curricula.  

Your support makes it possible! 

We have already secured funding from three other sources: the Fahs Collaborative, the UUA office of Youth and Young Adults, and the UU Fellowship of Huntington.

But, we need your help to close the gap. And that seems so fitting – in the work for justice and our Unitarian Universalist faith, we are supported and uplifted by the gifts and effort of the individual for the whole. So please, donate what you can to help make this project a success, not just for the UU Fellowship of Huntington, but for all those working for justice in the name of Unitarian Universalism.

Thank you.

Help Launch UU At Home

Parents are the primary religious educators of their children. We know this because of research, because of the amount of time that parents spend with their kids compared to the amount of time that families are present physically in our congregations, and because even parents themselves acknowledge this in surveys. But what a daunting prospect! Our families are busy and overwhelmed, and adding the job of teaching kids about Unitarian Universalism, especially for parents who are relatively new UUs themselves can feel like just one step too much. So, we want to help!

Our congregation is launching a weekly email column from our minister for our families called UU At Home. Aimed at parents, this column will include ideas about family rituals, ways to approach major holidays with a UU perspective, ways for families to reflect on the UU Principles in their home, the story of the month from our Religious Education program to help families engage it in a deeper way, and other resources for parents to use at home. The column will be short enough to not overwhelm, full of practical ideas, and grounded in the lived experience of UU children and parents.

The money we raise from this campaign will help to pay for the staff time to develop the column, as well as any materials we want to purchase for distribution through the column. Thank you so much for your support!

Create Justice, Not...

Buffalo, NY and the surrounding Western New York region is one of the most segregated areas in the country. There are sharp divides here that separate people by race and class. The work that UU Class Conversations is doing to educate Unitarian Universalists on race and class divisions and how to make changes toward becoming more inclusive will be a vital and important collaboration that will help Unitarian Universalists in Western New York work more effectively toward dismantling systems of racism and class oppression.

Our goal is to raise money to off-set the cost of bringing UU Class Conversations’ “Create Justice, Not Walls” workshop to Buffalo on November 10, 2018. We want to be able to provide this programming to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of income status. With a successful campaign, we will be able to off-set the cost of the workshop and provide this essential programming to a wider audience.

Destination Dignity! Partnering with Refugees in Greece to Build a Vocational School and Worker’s Cooperative.

This a wonderful opportunity for UUs to partner with refugee communities in Greece as they seek to re-establish lives of worth and dignity. Over 65,000 refugees have been trapped in Greece for more than 2 years.  Many are beginning to lose hope and to despair of ever being acknowledged as anything other than a “refugee.”  This Worker’s Cooperative in Athens will be the first of its kind in Greece: designed, managed, and staffed by refugees….and supported by UUs!  

Our purpose:  to prepare people with vocational skills suitable for employment while also producing products and services for sale in Europe and the United States. Our on-site partners have skills in engineering, computer software, construction management, and numerous indigenous crafts.  The engineer who will manage the workshop has two years of experience making furniture for refugee camps and cafes from recycled wood and metal scavenged from the streets of Athens.

Our goal is to provide enough financial stability to support at least one year of operation. Your Faithify contribution in support of our $10,000 goal will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous private foundationTwenty thousand dollars will be sufficient to rent a workshop and to support vocational classes for 12 months.

Once established, we will seek sustainable support from individual donors, governmental agencies and foundations.  With skill, determination and some luck, the cooperative will generate supplemental revenue to support its workers and its vocational programs. Our local partners currently plan to offer training in welding, jewelry making, woodworking, embroidery, and computer software.  The board of the cooperative will make the final decision as to what skills offer their clientele the greatest possibility of employment and design their programs to accommodate those needs.  The board will then select skilled trainers who are best qualified to deliver its vocational training programs.

Shared Humanity plans to establish an on-going supportive relationship with individual UUs and UU congregations and invite donors to come to Greece to work in our cooperative community. We UUs are called upon to be supportive of people who have lost their livelihoods, their homes, their communities, and most tragically, their loved ones.  Our actions, and in-actions, will have a lasting impact on ourselves and those we hope to serve.  Now is the time to move towards rather than away from the refugee crisis.  Join us in supporting people who have as their ultimate destination……. Dignity.

Thank you!

For more information about Shared Humanity USA watch our in-depth video, Delivering Hope and Dignity in Greece

Endorsements:

“As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to live out our values of social justice in the world. Shared Humanity USA,  founded by  UU couple, Latifa and Colin Woodhouse, is an example of putting our faith into action. This program will give refugees the tools and skills that will affirm their inherent worth and dignity. They will work  collaboratively with each other to create a sustainable way forward for displaced people. I hope you will support this Faithify campaign in the way you are able.” Aisha Hauser, Director of Lifelong Learning at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, WA.

“Tragically, our world is experiencing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.  Martha and Waitstill Sharp, my grandparents and founders of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, risked their lives to save innocent people violently uprooted by war- and in doing so- left us a legacy that we Unitarian Universalists  honor by our steadfast commitment to justice, equity and compassion.  I am proud to be an enthusiastic supporter of Shared Humanity and invite you to join me in supporting this wonderfully innovative project that will be the first workers cooperative established in Greece by and for refugees.” Artemis Joukowsky III, PBS Producer and Co-director with Ken Burns of Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

“We support the Worker’s Cooperative in Athens as a way to give refugees a chance for a purposeful life.  This is a very innovative and well thought out approach to giving refugees the skills they will need to rebuild their lives.  The facts that this operation is fully staffed by refugees and the raw materials used are recycled show that not only do we care for people was also care for our mother earth.” Susan Goekler, Chair, Commission on Social Witness and Mac Goekler, Chair UU Peace Ministry Network

Transylvania Village Life Festival

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia, (Oakton, VA) and the Szentgerice Unitarian Church in Transylvania have been partners since 1992.  Over the years, more than 150 youth and adults from Fairfax have visited Szentgerice.  Our partnership has matured from a social justice project to a true sharing of faith and friendship.

In October 2018, Fairfax will get a chance to reciprocate hospitality when 14 youth and adults from the Szentgerice congregation travel to Virginia, the largest group ever to visit.  They are coming to commemorate our quarter century of relationship and to give back — (1) by helping to build a peace garden on the grounds of the Fairfax church, and (2) by demonstrating/teaching Hungarian dancing, crafts, cooking and baking at a Transylvanian Village Life Festival.  Our guests will be staying and sightseeing with Fairfax members.  This will be a rich opportunity to explore the common and different threads of our faith and cultures, to find new growth just outside of our comfort zone, and to make new friends through fun and shared experiences.

The $10,000 cost for the trip is being shared by both congregations. Fairfax is seeking your help in raising at least $2,000 toward our share of the expenses for airfares, insurance, meals and activities during the visit.  Please help us strengthen the bonds between the partners and make this a memorable trip for both congregations.
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Help UUFNW Raise Our Roof!

We need your help.

Preserving and Sustaining Modern Architecture

Like so many other UU Congregations, UUFNW wanted a unique building that spoke of our faith as a quest for meaning and connection.  They turned to Victor Christ-Janer, a  famed artist and modernist architect. Built in 1970, our congregation’s home has been featured on architectural tours of the area as a paragon of the modern architecture movement. It was noted in Christ-Janer’s 2008 obituary for it’s groundbreaking use of earthquake-resistant concrete blocks that he designed. There are times that light streams into the building through the high, narrow windows in ways that are transcendent.

Now our building, built 48 years ago on a very low budget, needs to be brought into the 21stcentury so that we can grow and thrive here. We have made the commitment to do this work. Our most pressing need is to replace our roof, which leaks badly, before the structural integrity of the exposed wood deck and girders is compromised. Two layers of roof, dating back to 1970 and 1984,  need to be removed and replaced with an energy-efficient roof that will drain better when it rains. To help us define the scope of what needed to be done, we have engaged a professional roofing consultant. Our current hope is to complete this project during the third week of August, 2018; we cannot do this alone.

Environmental Sustainability

Our project has the added benefit of helping us live our UU values by making our building more environmentally sustainable. At present, our roof is uninsulated. An energy audit of our building found that the roof was the same temperature as the outside air, increasing our carbon footprint for heating through the cold New York winters. The new roof will be substantially insulated, saving on heating fuel and allowing us to move on to other sustainability projects in our building. This is a key component of our eventual Green Sanctuary certification.

Asbestos Abatement

The total cost of this project has proven to be a major stretch for this active but small congregation. Driving up the bottom line substantially was the discovery that the original roof contains a thin layer of asbestos felt—common in roofs installed before 1972. Asbestos abatement will need to be done by licensed professionals and timed for when the building (including the preschool that rents our space) is closed, and asbestos-containing materials will have to be specially disposed of. Air quality monitoring (both indoor and outdoor) during this abatement period has also been included in the project budget.

Financial Security for Our Congregation’s Future

Our total project budget is approximately $160,000. This includes the full replacement of the roof, asbestos testing and abatement, insulation and drainage, and the project manager/consultant. To date, members and friends of the congregation have raised over $30,000 and we have reasonable expectations of being able to secure a $100,000 loan. The congregation will use a portion of our financial reserves to cover the remaining costs—but to pay for the whole thing would deplete our reserves below a level we consider responsible. If we raise more than our goal, additional funds will be used to offset debt service and reduce the amount of the debt we incur in the project.

Our congregation’s mission calls on us to welcome, inspire, share and love. We would like to use our annual budget in a way that lives our values and mission to the community—for justice work in Northern Westchester, for faith formation and religious exploration, and for deep, creative worship for all ages. This project will allow our small congregation to focus on our mission in a building that is sustainable and dry while keeping ourselves in a strong financial position to invest in our future.

Support the Ordination...

It has been my deep joy and privilege to prepare for the role of a lifetime- that of a Unitarian Universalist minister. After several years of study and service, I will be ordained on June 10th, 2018 at the 4th Universalist Society in New York. Your support will allow me to fund the reception, photography, printing and other costs associated with this milestone celebration, which is open to the public. I am so excited to share this event with you!

So many people have shaped this journey- dedicated members of congregations, mentors, teachers, ministers and religious educators, and countless friends from all areas of my life. If you know me from the various ministries I have served- in Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut- if you have been touched or inspired by me, if you have worked alongside me, I thank you for your support of this special day in my vocational life.

A New Van for Unirondack

Unirodack’s current fleet of vehicles is aging beyond what we can maintain. Long winters and rough roads have taken a toll on our (now deceased) 1998 Chevy Blazer and our 2004 Dodge Sienna minivan.

We’re seeking to replace both vehicles with one 12-passenger van that will save us on gas by preventing caravan travel and allowing fewer staff to make off-camp trips happen.

This van will be used to visit nearby Eagle Falls, Mosier Falls, Stillwater Reservoir  Cranberry Lake, Panther Pond, various Lowville/Watertown field trips, and for trips to Whitaker Park and will have towing capacity for our canoe trailer as well as room in the back for packs filled with adventure gear!