Revisiting UU History:...
In our time, Unitarian Universalist congregations are challenged and called to come to terms with the white-centered culture and systems of oppression embedded in our congregational practices. Because our congregations reflect the dominant culture from which our two parent traditions emerged, it is important to revisit our history for a fuller understanding of the insights and oversights of our forebears and the cultural forces that shaped our tradition. How can we tease our liberating religious theology apart from the influence of a culture steeped in racial hierarchies and white supremacy? What little known stories of Unitarian and Universalist forebears of color can we lift up to offer both inspiration and a more complete understanding of who we have been, who we are, and who we are yet to fully become as we strive to more fully embody the promise of our radical theology? What wisdom and scholarship do historians and scholars of color have to share? How can we provide inspiration and help for congregations who seek to revisit their own histories, looking for narratives that help Unitarian Universalists meet this moment? These are but some of the questions the UU History and Heritage Society is asking as we consider why history matters and why the stories we tell about ourselves are important.
One of the gifts the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society (UUHHS) offers to Unitarian Universalists and to our faith tradition is an annual lecture at General Assembly. Named in honor of Conrad Wright, the lecture provides a chance for UU religious professionals and lay leaders to hear from scholars whose work illuminates our history and sheds light on today’s challenges. The UUHHS Board has established an endowment to offset the program’s necessary expenses, such as honorarium, travel, lodging and General Assembly fees for the presenter. Income from the fund will allow us to continue revisiting the complexities of our history as new movements call us to live our values more completely.
The Conrad Wright Lecture was inaugurated in 2008 to honor the scholarship and influence of one of the most important historians of our liberal religious tradition. As Professor at Harvard Divinity School for decades and the author of innumerable books, papers and articles, Dr. Wright contributed significantly to the understanding of our history and heritage. Honoring Conrad Wright’s work, the lecture encourages us to move further and deeper into our understanding of our own history and heritage, just as he did in his time.
Through the Faithify campaign, we offer a chance for others who believe with us that knowledge of our past helps us navigate present challenges to be part of this effort. The fund has a goal of $20,000. To date, about $12,000 has been raised from members of the UUHHS Board and others close to the society. We ask for your contribution to this campaign, helping UUHHS to make significant historical scholarship available to all Unitarian Universalists.
Find out more about the UU History and Heritage Society at www.UUHHS.org.
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.
New Living Learning Laboratory at The Mountain!
And, we want even more people of all ages to experience what our unique Western North Carolina mountain environment has to offer. With your support of this innovative project, you can help us realize our vision of creating dynamic, experiential education center–our new Living Learning Laboratory. Perhaps you have been to The Mountain, recently or in the past, as a camper, program participant, retreat guest, volunteer or day visitor. If you have never been to The Mountain, we hope this exciting new project will motivate you to come and experience it for yourself.
What: The Living Learning Laboratory space will be the activity hub, resource center, and indoor work area for our Many Hands Peace Farm and established Farm Apprenticeship Program. This increased space will enable us to expand our educational programs for area school students and community groups, summer campers, retreat guests, and Unitarian Universalists from around the Southern Region.
The Living Learning Laboratory will be an organized educational space designed to be accessible, interactive, and inspiring for kids and adults alike. It will serve many functions: a demonstration space for examples of sustainable agro-ecology, a processing and storage station for produce and herbal products, farm stand, mushroom production, library, and classroom. This space will be the hub for our growing array of farm, wildcrafting, and edible forage tours, summer camp and local schools programming, and community workshop offerings. It will also house a year-round office space for the Farm Managers, seasonal farm apprentices, and volunteers.
This new facility will provide the necessary infrastructure to accomplish the following objectives:
- Educate 250+ summer campers each year with positive ecological solutions to real-world problems.
- Increase gourmet and medicinal cultivated mushroom production at least two-fold.
- Wash and process 100% of our harvests on the farm adhering to GAP standards.
- Sell produce and herbal products directly to farm visitors.
- Expand our indoor microgreen cultivation to at least three different varieties of crops.
- Increase and systematize product storage capacity for the farm.
- And provide a classroom to offer a wide array of onsite workshops, rain or shine.
For several years we have partnered with local school groups to plan farm field trips. These field trips offer students an opportunity to engage with and learn about the possibilities of regenerative farming and to understand how their food and medicine can be sustainably produced. As of 2018 we offer wild edible and medicinal plants tours, as well as workshops to summer campers, adult groups, and local community members. In 2019, we will be offering a new Farm Camp week to our already popular summer MountainCamps programming.
Another recent development is the Many Hands Peace Farm Food Forest, an educational and perennial foodscape designed to demonstrate an alternative agro-ecological system for food production. The Food Forest is newly established, with a goal of producing regional foods, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration services, while educating visitors on the possibilities for regenerative farming in other wooded areas.
The farm borders a small high-altitude meadow and bird sanctuary habitat protected and managed by local partners to increase native pollinator habitat. The Mountain and our Farm staff were fortunate to receive a Bayer Feed a Bee grant in 2017, for the purpose of developing our pollinator forage habitat.
We want to build upon these highly successful initiatives by creating this Living Learning Laboratory. With your donation of any amount through this Faithify project, you can make this vision a reality!
Why: Many Hands Peace Farm was founded in 2009 as working and educational farm intended to inspire learners of all ages with agro-ecological examples of positive change that can be brought back to their communities. The farm is located on conservation land trust property in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, which shapes all we do to responsibly manage the property and land use. We are committed to sustainability and the practices of low/no-till cultivation, completely natural fertilizers and supplements, and ethical wildcrafting practices, and demonstrating the possibilities of producing food and medicine without degrading soil, water, and wildlife habitats.
We believe in the importance of harvesting one’s own food and other beneficial plants with reciprocity and sustainability in mind. Our commitment is to facilitate the formation of personal relationships with the land, to nurture, sustain, and heal our natural environment and wildlife, as well as ourselves. In accordance with these beliefs, the Living Learning Laboratory facility will enable our Many Hands Peace Farm staff to expand our educational programs. immersive and practical farm tasks such as harvesting, seeding, planting, mushroom inoculation, and mixed-flock rotational poultry management.
How: We will be renovating an underused vintage stable structure to convert it to a functional and accessible facility for the functions and purposes described above. Some funding has already been raised toward the costs of basic materials for renovating the structure–flooring, electrical wiring, insulation, doors, windows, lighting and heating. This Faithify funding will enable us to complete these renovations and create the classroom, storage, and work spaces.
And guess what? There is even greater incentive to inspire you make a gift to this Faithify project and double your awesomeness…thanks to two generous Mountain supporters, we can double your donation up to $5,000!
When: The stable renovation and conversion process is scheduled to take place between November 2018 and the April 2019, in time for spring farming and environmental programs to begin. Most of the renovation will be done by skilled volunteer crews and work programs, under the supervision of our Facilities Manager and designed in collaboration with our Farm Managers.
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!
Fund Hope: Sponsor an Incarcerated UU
CLF incarcerated membership is rapidly growing, and this means that the cost to serve nearly 890 prison members has also increased. It costs the CLF at least $150 per prison member to provide UU programing, and we need the continued support of friends, members, and the community. Many individuals across the United States living in prison are hearing about Unitarian Universalism for the first time. Some learn about the UU message of acceptance and inclusivity through CLF outreach or from a friend, family, or a cell mate.
Can you give $25 or more today?
Every dollar you donate will be doubled! *
So by contributing to the success of this Faithify Campaign,
you will be helping over 130 UUs living in prison.
Your financial support of the CLF Prison Ministry provides vital programming and services to over 800 incarcerated Unitarian Universalists:
~Worthy Now Prison Ministry Newsletters
~Reading Materials from Skinner House and Beacon Press
~New UU Classes
~Tapestry of Faith RE Correspondence Classes
Your generous contributions also help the CLF Prison Ministry run its letter writing ministry, otherwise known as our pen pal program. This ministry provides one-on-one contact between UUs in the free-world (that is, you and me) and one of our members living in prison. There are about 300 of these letter writing partnerships, and we have free-world letter writers living all over the world. Every year thousands of letters are forwarded through the CLF office in Boston to our members living in prison. This program is the heart of our ministry—it is the lifeline to many of our members.
Because of your past support, membership has included something exciting and new this year:
We asked all of our members who are incarcerated what their number one justice issue is while living in prison. The response was heart-breaking: The cost of medical care for people who barely make a wage came up over and over again in the letters. From this information, the CLF team of delegates, volunteers, and staff organized to propose an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) at the 2018 General Assembly. We are so excited to share that our AIW, Dismantle Predatory Medical Care Practices in Prisons and End Prisons for Profit, was one of the three AIWs that were chosen by the body of UU delegates.
Most importantly, this wouldn’t have happened without the response of our members living in prison. They gave us the information we needed to share with the delegates. It was their passion that led the call of our campaign and made it such a successful and rewarding way to live our UU values.
“Sharing this news with our members living in prison is the absolute highlight of my work at the CLF. What a blessing for all of us!”
—Mandy Goheen, Director of CLF Prison Ministry and Worthy Now Network
But that is not where the story ends. There are other justice issues our members share with us that are equally important. For example, they have described significant problems with living conditions, food, solitary confinement, guards, and so many other examples it’s hard to keep track of them all.
Mandy came across one that she thought all UUs would want to know about. In a religion that values learning so highly, it is important to know that access to information such as books and newspapers and religious materials and publications are all limited by the rules of each particular prison.
Our so-called Library here at Lumberton Correctional Institution, is a broom closet about 10 x 10 ft, there’s no table to do book research and no seating. And proper research books especially legal books are non-existent.
—Jackie Morehead, CLF Member whose facility only allows 5 books per person (including religious books)
One of the benefits of CLF membership is our reading packet program. In an amazing partnership with Beacon Press and Skinner House Books, we are able to send reading materials to our members in prison. Because of the many rules and regulations surrounding books in prisons, we can only do this by the generous sharing of text from Beacon Press and Skinner House Books of UU identified books. The CLF has permission to print a chapter at a time and share them in letter form. This way people like Jackie Moorehead have access to more books—more than what’s in a small broom closet.
But we need your help!
There is significant paper, printing and postage costs that go into this program.
By funding all or part of the $150 membership program cost,
you are amplifying our important message that people living in prison
are Worthy Now of Love and Justice.
Last year we sent over 641 reading packets to our members!
Wouldn’t it be cheaper to send books? Possibly, but prison regulations across the country are diverse and the rules around books are so complex that this is the best way for us to share Unitarian Universalism with our CLF members living in prison. Books such as Testimony; UU Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism; Amethyst Beach: Meditations; Our Seven Principles in Story and Verse; and Everyday Spiritual Practice ~ Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life are bringing Unitarian Universalism to CLF members experiencing incarceration.
Can you give $25 or more to sponsor a UU experiencing incarceration?
* Thanks to the generous challenge grants supported by the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock and Unity Church-Unitarian in St Paul Minnesota, every dollar given to this Faithify campaign will be matched.
Families and Faith: Next Steps for LUUP
Longmont Unitarian Universalist Presence is an emerging ministry initiated jointly by the UU Church of Boulder and Boulder Valley UU Fellowship of Lafayette in 2016. Together, we are growing our UU presence in Boulder County, Colorado.
Our goal is an innovative, multicultural, and multigenerational spiritual community for families. We are committed to intentionally creating opportunities that are engaging and collaborative. We are exploring a new model of church beyond bricks and mortar, using a multicultural ministry model, and grounded in strong lay and ministerial leadership.
With care, we have nurtured relationships between Longmont members of our two root congregations, tending to the joys and challenges of our shared histories. We are now including Namaqua Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Loveland into our leadership and reach. Our members gather around poetry, meditation, books, and meals. We deepen our connections at monthly community gatherings which are soulfully moving and meaningful. Social media is helping us reach new people familiar with Unitarian Universalism but unaffiliated with a congregation.
It’s time for the next step. Time to reach out in love and involve people new to our UU movement and searching for a deep and spiritually grounded community. We are ready to partner with other community groups and serve Longmont’s families.
This fall, LUUP will hold focus groups with local families to explore their longings and hopes, struggles and wisdom. Our programming will evolve and reflect our new learnings about the families and current opportunities of Longmont. We will continue to gather, make friends, and care for each other. Your donations will fund increased time for our ministerial organizer, space rental, community outreach, and curriculum. Donations of all amounts are valued. We have set a participation goal of 150 people. Show your support!
New programming possibilities:
- Covenant groups for parents
- Parenting and spirituality seminars
- Our Whole Lives lifespan sexuality education classes
- Summer youth camp
- Harry Potter as a Sacred Text group for youth and parents
Since our first meeting together, we have known that relationships are at the heart or our work. We are learning along the way together. What does it mean to be a UU in this time and place? Our strength comes from the efforts of many, past and present, directly and indirectly, who have opened their homes, engaged in challenging discussions and showed up for others in countless ways.
- Emily Conger serves as our current ministerial organizer for 15 hours per month.
- We receive ministerial support from Reverends Kelly Dignan, Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry, and Laurel Liefert.
- We receive financial support from BVUUF and UUCB.
- We received a Mountain Desert District Chalice Lighter Grant in 2016.
- In addition to our ministers, the following people have generously supported us by leading our Monthly Community Gatherings and providing music: Rev. Julia McKay, Rev. Cindy Pincus, Kim Mason, Christopher Watkins Lamb, Cole Hart, Tracy Bush, and Clint Brown.
- We have collected over $1,000 in offerings and given half of that to groups that support our values such as BLUU.
- We have sought support and guidance from Pacific Western Region consultants Rev. Tandi Rogers and Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong.
- Leadership attended denominational gatherings, including the Intercultural Development Inventory Workshop and Mosaic Makers Conference in San Diego.
- Our monthly newsletter reaches over 200 people.
- Find us on Facebook and Meetup. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith beyond cultures: A Retreat for UU African Francophones
Think back to the first time you heard about Unitarian Universalism. What was it that excited you? Maybe it was a specific community. Maybe it was the principles. Or the idea of combining freedom of religious thought with spiritual exploration. Think back to the feeling of excitement that drew you to explore UUism and now, imagine carrying all that excitement and enthusiasm only to discover that almost all of the materials about Unitarian Universalism were written a language you do not speak and read. Having nearly exclusively English materials means that UUism is only accessible to one in five people. There are 115 million people in Africa alone, speaking thousands of languages.
La communauté Sans Frontières is an online Francophone Ministry that seeks to serve UU Francophones around the world through a combination of online services and face to face activities. This is a fundraising for the annual retreat of this budding ministry. This annual retreat seeks to bring together UU Francophone Africans from 5 countries for a 5-day gathering August 1 – 5, 2018. The retreat will be an opportunity for fellowship, to know one another through sharing personal and community stories, to deepen our faith through morning worship services. We also plan to discuss the relevance of UUism in the African context and how our respective cultures can balance its best elements with the timeless elements of UUism. An expert in Ubuntu Philosophy will join us to do a workshop that allows us to explore ways to make our faith relevant in our lives and communities. This third retreat in our growing ministry will be an encouragement to go back home and build something relevant to the local community.
Some of the participants to this retreat are people who are Unitarians or Unitarian Universalists but are not connected to communities or congregations because there are no communities in their countries. This is the case for Congo Brazzaville. Other participants are Unitarians who are part of communities and find it hard to nurture their faith because most of the available materials are in English. These include Burundians who are active in the Burundi Unitarian Church. There are also people who used to be part of Unitarian Communities but are now refugees and not part of Unitarian communities. La communité Sans Frontières will be one way for them to be connected to a larger network in a language they can understand.
All participants will benefit from a time of deepening our faith and gaining skills such as designing meaningful worship by taking into account the culture and the local practices. Apart from the individuals people who will participate and benefit from the retreat, communities will also benefit from the skills that members will bring back. We hope that new communities may be be formed as a result of people who have enough confidence in their understanding but also a learning community they can go back to for questions and future exchanges.
The retreat is one aspect of a larger project that will be implemented in the coming year. The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) has signed on to support the Canadian portion of the project through the Northern Lights grant that will support our online capacities and other activities.
The people involved in this project bring various skills. The coordinator of the retreat is Rev. Ndagijimana Fulgence who now lives in Canada as a refugee as has been working with Burundian Unitarians both those who stayed in the country and those who are refugees in East Africa and in other countries. You can read more about Rev. Fulgence’s journey, theological reflections, and experience here.
An African from Congo Brazzaville who is an expert in Ubuntu Philosophy will lead a workshop during the retreat and help participants explore how Ubuntu and Unitarian Universalism can be integrated. There will be a seminary student from Meadville who will be attending and will help facilitate the work happening during the retreat. We expect to have 30 participants.
La Communauté Sans Frontières believes in partnership and will put our forces together with Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) to make the retreat happen. BLUU will help us cover a big portion of the cost of the retreat. Plans are underway to allow several members from the BLUU Organizing Collective to attend the retreat, with translators, it will be a moment of connection across the African and Black diaspora. We are excited about this growing partnership. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis (UUFC) has been working hard to accept donations to support Burundi Unitarians wherever they are and are will once again facilitate the collections of donations for this campaign.
A model of this ministry has existed for decades and serves isolated UUs around the world and prisoners in the USA. The Church of the Larger Fellowship has been helpful in sharing their experiences of serving communities separated by distance. We are grateful for them to have accepted to share their experiences of doing similar ministry. We learned a lot also from the Spanish Ministry as they serve Spanish speaking people in different countries.
This is a project that will bring together people from different countries for the retreat. The people will stay connected through the rest of the work that will happen online. Worship services will be held starting from September and it will be easier for people who had an opportunity to meet during the retreat. There will also be small group ministry meeting online and face to face in different parts of the world. The project will share its learning through the website which is being built and other groups and people will be able to learn from that model and adapt it as needed and appropriate to different contexts.
The outcomes we expect from this retreat are leaders who have a deep knowledge of our faith and how it can transform lives. Skilled Unitarian Universalist leaders who can help communities thrive and a community of accountability and support throughout Francophone Africa. An active and strong small group ministry online and in person depending where people live in isolation or in proximity with other Unitarian Universalists.
BLUU will match every dollar given through this Faithify up to $5,000! Please give generously. The reason the amount is $5,800 is to cover fees associated with processing credit cards so in total, if we are successful with this campaign, we will raise just over $10,000 toward making this African Francophone Retreat happen in Rwanda. Please make your gift today!
South Church Senior...
The 2018 South Church Senior Youth Trip to the San Diego area is an opportunity to learn and grow in relation to the topic of immigration justice.
This year, in preparation for our trip, the 14 participating youth have attended local discussions about immigration concerns in our local community. In particular, we have learned about how new deportation policies are impacting the Indonesian people who live in our community.
Our group has read a book called Enrique’s Journey and then engaged in a discussion about the book. It tells the story of a young child on the path of hardship and trauma that immigrants face as they attempt to get to the United States from central America. This book helped us understand the intensity of the challenges facing families who are separated from one another due to extreme economic hardship and the hope for better opportunities in the United States.
We are hoping this trip will open our eyes to the real facts of immigration in the United States. Politics lie and stray from the truth to keep people in favor of controlling immigration. What we see on our trip will show us how much of those lies are said, allow us to ask questions in connection with things we’ve heard, and allow us to have deeper knowledge to engage politically on this issue.
As participants in this trip, we are aware that this journey is mostly for our own benefit. We are not doing a whole lot to help by traveling to San Diego and Tijuana beyond serving as witnesses to the trauma through which the people we meet are navigating. The real point of this trip is to learn together, to reflect, and to build a connection between this experience and our Unitarian Universalist faith. Every time our youth group gets to be with each-other for extended periods of time, the most valuable friendships and memories are made. We are all closer then most kids our age and so, in addition to learning more about immigration, this trip is also another opportunity for our group to deepen our connection with one another.