Re-Imagine Religious Education
“If we are to bring the the love and grace of this faith to our families’ lives, we must intentionally support the faith formation of children and adults.”
– Kimberly Sweeney, The Death of Sunday School
A “ReVision “team was formed in March 2020 at Second Unitarian Church in Omaha, Nebraska with the goal to reimagine religious education.
- The traditional model of Sunday School is labor intensive and ineffective – only 12% of our UU youth remain UUs.
- Many churches (including Second Unitarian) are finding Sunday School unsustainable in our present culture.
It has long been recognized that parents and families play a significant role in faith development. Faith formation is a life long journey.
PreCOVID Flower Communion Worship in our sanctuary.
- Children (and adults!) need rituals. Rituals help us to find comfort and wisdom in the celebration of our faith and the ups and downs of life. Rituals help us to celebrate who we are as Unitarian Universalists.
- We all need a Beloved Community where we ‘belong,’ and a community of good role models in life. We also need special time with our UU peers of similar age
- There is a strong need for intentional ministry to young families, for their sake as well as for the future of our church.
- Beloved Community encompasses all ages and abilities.
“Faith development is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is the faith we teach. The congregation is the curriculum.”
– religious educator Connie Goodbread
The vision – what we expect religious education in action to look like
We desire to connect all ages to a cohesive faith message.
- Supporting faith development in the home
- The monthly Soul Matters themes will be used in worship and supplemental curricula
- Children and adults of all abilities will be welcomed as part of the Beloved Community in worship on three out of four Sundays
- On the last Friday of the month, September – May, we will have an evening meal and short vespers service, followed by related activity options to close out the worship theme for the month. This is intended to be for all ages, and it is especially intended to be parent friendly.
- Children will be welcomed to participate in Social Justice causes to live their faith and be with role models that demonstrate living our faith. We are active in social justice causes: we want to give our children and youth more oppotunities to be involved.
- There will be a variety of faith formation opportunities for adults.
- The DRE will be involved in overseeing religious education for all ages, including adult programming.
- Teen Ministry will consist of YRUU, teen/adult groups such as a “Popcorn Theology” movie discussion or book discussions, and Coming of Age programming culminating in a service where teens have an opportunity to share their Credo statements.
- Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality classes will be offered periodically for the different age ranges K-adult. We want more regular OWL programming for all ages to serve our community.
- Vacation Summer Camp could be offered with an emphasis on the history of our faith with lots of play, acting out of the stories and fun activities
Religious education happens when people in our church listen, value and encourage us toward our better selves. In order for Second Unitarian to carry out these inspirational goals, we need the guidance and support of our very gifted Director of Religious Education. We want to increase her hours to provide faith formation, Support ReVision, and coordinate childcare. To do so fairly and to adhere to suggested UUA salary guidelines, we would need to raise $4700.00.
Solidarity with UU’s Imprisoned in Illinois
UU Prison Ministry of Illinois asks your help supporting people returned from prison as well as UU’s still in prison. One way we do this is through small grants to “solidarity circle leaders” with crisis needs such as housing, clothing, transportation, or medical care.
For UU’s in prison we organize UU pen pals and make small additions to their commissary accounts to help buy sanitary supplies or food. We also are piloting a program with UU’s in prison to work with their pen pals to guide our advocacy work for alternatives to incarceration and to reduce the harm caused by incarceration.
Reaching the $3000 goal would provide emergency assistance to 2 solidarity circle leaders for a year and commissary contributions for 60 UU’s in Illinois prisons.
Reaching the stretch goal of $6000 would do this and provide funds for supplies and staff time to run the pilot advocacy program.
UUPMI consists of UU volunteers from Illinois who organize people in prisons and jails based on UU principles. We connect people inside with UU pen pals in our congregations. We organize reentry solidarity circles centering around leaders returning to the community. We promote systemic change to end incarceration and to build justice, and carry this message to UU’s through sermons by our UU minister and workshops for UU’s. We partner with UU Advocacy Network of Illinois and other organizations on advocacy. We are supported financially by UU’s individually and by over a dozen UU congregations in IL with shared offerings.
From Detention to Asylum
Stretch Goal- Housing for Ana (description below)
Consistent with the Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person with justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; we declare ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation in alignment with the Iowa Sanctuary Movement.
In July, 2020 a person from Central America seeking asylum in the United States was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and arrived in the Quad Cities. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) arranged for the asylum seeker to be released, with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities (UUCQC) as their sponsor.
It is legal to enter this country to seek asylum, but in recent years many black and brown asylum seekers have been removed from the United States while awaiting decisions on their cases. Others have been locked in detention centers where they have little or no access to legal or other help and are now in danger of contracting Covid-19.
Support during the legal process, which is expected to take a year or more, is being provided by the Sanctuary Project of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Quad Cities Sanctuary Coalition. This person is living with a member family of the Congregation, so current housing costs are covered. All other needs and legal fees are being provided through community fundraising. The asylum seeker is taking the opportunity to learn English and how to navigate in this new culture.
It is estimated that supporting one person for a year will cost $10,000, of which at least $5,000 is for legal fees. Due to more ICE appointments than initially anticipated, transportation costs for each 350 mile round-trip appointment have increased our funding needs by at least $2,000.
Please join us opening your heart in the support of our guest asylum seeker by making a donation today.
Uptown Community Podcast
The Uptown Community Podcast (UCP) raises Unitarian Universalism and its values in discussing the legacy and future of its community. UCP has recently doubled its listenership across generations. Although this podcast is called the “Uptown” community podcast, the ideas expressed have much broader appeal.
The UCP is a program of The Peoples Church and Preston Bradley Center. The building also houses a transitional housing shelter, artist studios, performance spaces, and other churches. The content of UCP is similarly active in its promotion of the arts, culture, and the inherent value of every person.
The building is named for Rev. Dr. Preston Bradley and is located in Uptown, Chicago. He led one of the first broadcast ministries in the country and also provided radio stations with short inspirational messages. His charismatic preaching helped Chicago through The Great Depression and WWII. The UCP offers contemporary commentary on his messages and Unitarian faith. The UCP reviews these short inspirational messages in-between conversations with Uptown’s own inspirational community.
The UCP is a recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Funding program. Additional funding is needed for updated hardware, simultaneous recording, and costs for streaming and hosting digital content. Would you give generously to spread the good news of Unitarian Universalism in Uptown?
Help Families with...
Chalice Sparx Family Camp and Retreat features Unitarian Universalist style worship services and multigenerational learning opportunities for all ages. We are an intentionally welcoming space for LGBTQ+ families and particularly for families with a member or members who are Trans* or non-binary. Informal mentoring opportunities are welcome from the Trans and non-binary adults who attend the camp. We are a diverse group ethnically and racially with some of our annual families being transracially adoptees, children raised partially or completely by grandparents, and children being raised in a polyamory family or LGBTQ+ families. At this camp, children and youth are not whisked away to explore with camp counselors; at Chalice Sparx we are an intentional multigenerational environment that is friendly to the many and diverse configurations of families that are Unitarian Universalist.
UU Fellowship of Dubuque Historic Building Preservation
The UU Fellowship of Dubuque is a small, primarily lay-led congregation with a 35-year history of actively working to create a more just, equitable, compassionate world. Our church is the only one in Dubuque, Iowa in the Carpenter Gothic style, distinguished by its pointed arch windows, steep-pitched roofs, and decorative wood millwork – familiar architectural features in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting.
Recently, our building caught the eye of historic preservationists, including one who saw an old photo of the belfry and offered to help pay for its restoration. With the help of the wider community – we can bring this charming building back to its original spirit and beauty.
The church exterior will be restored – including replication of the belfry, which was removed about 70 years ago. The limestone block foundation and basement walls will be reinforced, exterior masonry will be cleaned, repaired and repointed.
Entrance doors and entryway transoms will be repaired and restored. Exterior wood surfaces will be repaired and repainted. Wood shingles on the walls and the current roof will be replaced. A drop ceiling will be removed to uncover the vaulted ceiling and pointed arch windows.
In addition, we currently do not have an elevator to access the lower level of the building, and the existing staircase is narrow and uneven – so the lower level is unusable for most events. We look forward to installing a lift, which will double our usable space.
Investing in Our Community
We are not only restoring the bricks and mortar of this building, we’re renewing our commitment to serve as a resource to Dubuque – opening our doors even wider for community events and conversations. We invite speakers from area nonprofits, businesses, organizations and other religious traditions – Hope House, Temple Beth El, Path of Hope Immigration Services, Resources Unite, Tri-State Islamic Center, Dubuque Rescue Mission, Presentation Lantern Center, and Catholic Charities Jail & Prison Ministry – to present at services.
We host the Historic District Coffeehouse, giving local musicians, poets and storytellers from Dubuque and Tri-State region a platform for sharing their talents with an appreciative audience. People from the neighborhood join us as performers and audience members.
We make our parsonage available to Families First, a state-sponsored organization that provides a home-like setting for supervised visits uniting parents and children separated by the courts – helping restore family unity. Many families are from the Jackson Park neighborhood.
The total estimated cost for the restoration project is $1.5 million: $465,000 to replicate the belfry; $410,000 to restore the exterior; $625,000 to renovate the interior. We have generous donors who will match $2 for every $1 we raise – and for every firm pledge we receive – through December 31. This triples the impact of donations! Our application for $300,000 in historic tax credits is under review. With over $60,000 in pledges already in-hand – we need to raise $140,000. We aim to raise $3,500 through Faithify, which with the 2:1 match will equate to $10,500!
Our goals for this project are to increase our visibility to our community, to rededicate and invigorate our membership’s commitment to neighborhood service, and to increase the functionality of our building to enable us to live our mission: to provide a welcoming community that inspires growth by encouraging individuals and families to examine their religious and spiritual beliefs, to explore new ideas, and to respect and enjoy each other’s differences.
Assist Iowans Recovering from the Derecho
DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately
(Please see Update tab for more information)
Low-income apartment building destroyed by the storm
No one expected hurricane force winds of up to 140 miles per hour to blow through Iowa August 10. While many members of People’s Unitarian Universalist Church had no power for a week and damage to their homes and trees, they are most concerned with those who had lost their homes, particularly those most vulnerable.
Immigrant resident shares his story of the storm
Low income families, including immigrants and refugees spent a week in tents after their housing was destroyed. Still homeless, this population faces food insecurity. In addition, some families have lost all the contents of their homes when a roof blew off their apartment building.
Our Faithify campaign promises to provide relief by directing all of the money pledged to non-profit organizations in the community hit by this storm that ravaged one third of Iowa. These organizations include the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, and the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank, as well as the food bank of the People’s UU Church. The funds will be distributed where there is the most need. We invite all to open your hearts and reach out to those in such dire need.
Unitarian Universalists lend a hand with a lunch distribution
How is this project connected to UU?
Our principles inspire us to reach out to others with justice, equity and dignity, to strive toward peace and liberty for everyone, and recognize that we are all a part of an interdependent web. We cannot ignore the deep injustices and indignity of those most in need made worse by an unexpected storm of unprecedented magnitude.
The People’s UU Church in Cedar Rapids started their own food pantry to address food insecurity in the community. This congregation also and has long-standing associations and support for both the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. Nearby in Coralville, the UU Society regularly sends volunteers and financial support to CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank.
Champaign County COVID-19 Relief
DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN:
ALL donations will be processed immediately
(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)
Food insecurity has skyrocketed in Champaign County as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign has created a Faithify crowdfunding campaign to help ease the suffering and uncertainties of families in our community experiencing hardship.
We have selected three organizations whose outreach to families in our community are both reliable and effective. They are
- CU Better Together
- CU FAIR’s Pandemic Response Fund
- Channing Murray’s Bucket Brigade
Funds during this campaign will be shared equally among these organizations. Our goal is to collect at least $10,000 in this initial round of fundraising. We will continue to offer this as rolling 30 day campaigns to meet the ongoing needs of these organizations.
Many of us have, or will be receiving checks from the government as part of the recent relief package passed by Congress. Would you be willing to donate some – or potentially all – of those funds to our campaign?
Even if you aren’t receiving a stimulus check, but are looking for the best way to help those in our community who are in need, this campaign will target the funds where they are needed. In Illinois the peak of the virus impact is going to be mid-May to mid-Jun so now is a critical time to act.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Social Action Committee
Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign
is a combined effort of several organizations to support families with school-aged children who are suffering from food insecurity during the pandemic. This project is designed to work within the food distribution structure set up by the Champaign and Urbana School Districts. It utilizes the large spaces available at the Stone Creek Church and the Vineyard Church for organizing food. Large initial donations came from United Way, the Community Foundation, the Stephens Family YMCA, and the C-U Schools Foundation. Several local churches and other organizations are supporting this project.
CU FAIR Pandemic Response Fund
Thousands of undocumented immigrants in our community do not qualify for unemployment benefits, and they are among those who need our help. Champaign Urbana Friends and Allies of Immigrants and Refugees (CU FAIR) has established a . They are working with local organizations such as the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, the PTA Council of Champaign, and the Immigration Justice Task Force of the to provide food and other support to our immigrant and refugee families.
Your funds will be used to purchase and deliver groceries and hygiene and health supplies, free of charge. Information about COVID-19 and how to access healthcare resources that has been translated into Spanish, French and English will be inserted into grocery bags, and emergency cash assistance is provided to those most in need.
Channing Murray Bucket Brigade
Cunningham Township Supervisor’s Office. These buckets have beans, rice, cereal, soup, eggs, and often some prepared meals. Each and every item is sanitized, then delivered to the doorsteps of the families served.has been preparing a #bucketbrigade of essential grocery deliveries for extremely low-income families in Urbana who are recommended by staff at the Champaign Township Office and the
Channing-Murray has been C-U’s home for social justice programming over many years, and now there is no better time to put our values into action! Your contributions will be considered a part of a local movement, to provide aid, to be courageous, and to choose a spirit of generosity over scarcity.
Volunteers cancel, Guatemala town struggles
Named after the Brazilian environmental activist, Chico Mendes, who lost his life protecting the rainforests, the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project was started in 1998, when the loss of forests and its consequences were evident to those living in Pachaj, Guatemala. This community is located near Quetzaltenango, in the Northwest Highlands of Guatemala. Jorge Armando Lopez Pocol, a respected forester, and his family established a nursery and organizes the village as well as international volunteers to plant seeds, grow seedlings, and protect trees. The average number of trees planted each year in the last five years is 15,000. Currently, Jorge Armando has 40,000 trees ready to be planted.
One of Jorge Armando’s main goals is to plant the pinabete tree on the mountainside near his community. The pinabete is the one tree where the rare Quetzal, national bird of Guatemala, will nest. Planting the pinabete thwarts mining companies from destroying the mountainsides and will ensure good water quality for the village.
See the Chico Mendes website: https://www.chicomendesguatemala.org
Because of the pandemic, nine volunteer groups scheduled to plant trees in Guatemala for The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project have canceled. This is devastating for a community that is living on the edge. The Project depends on volunteer groups to transfer seedlings and to plant young trees, which in turn helps support the reforesting of the mountainsides. In addition, income for the community is generated when volunteers pay to stay with families and take Spanish language classes. Without this income, the families and Spanish teachers will lack funds to feed their families.
From the three service-learning trips, many in our congregation have ties to the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project and have been supportive in past fundraisers. Our UU accreditation as a Green Sanctuary congregation was due in part from this partnership. In addition, we are knowledgeable about other groups who have traveled or were planning to travel there this spring and summer. We are also well connected to various environmental groups and will communicate the needs of this project to them.
The funds raised will go for seeds, fertilizer, tools, supplies, and staff salaries to maintain the young trees and protect the forests. Families who provide homestays and Spanish teachers will be compensated.
Contributions and support now will ensure the continuation and survival of the Chico Mendes Reforestation project. The welfare of these community members and the protection of fragile ecosystems in the Guatemala Highlands also depend on contributions to weather the current crisis caused by the pandemic. In the future groups will again take trips and plant trees with the villagers of Pachaj, hosted by Jorge Armando.
“When I was in Guatemala, I observed the Chico Mendes group grow healthy seedlings and plant trees where they had been cut down. Reforestation is an important job for humanity in terms of climate change.” -Dr. John Hartman, Plant Pathologist Emeritus, University of Kentucky
“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project not only provides clean air and water for the local people, but it also sends the message that sustainability is possible if everyone contributes. By donating to this cause, you will be improving the local people’s quality of life and showing the world how vital sustainability is for our well being”. -Justine Reschly, High School senior
“What most impressed me about the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Guatemala was the engagement and investment in youth. They didn’t just work on reforestation, but they educated, hired, and mentored youth to participate in their work. They understand the importance of youth education and involvement to bring change in future generations. “ -Meredith Gall, parent and participant
“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project is as much a community and social justice effort as it is an environmental justice organization. Planting trees and protecting the environment is intimately related to protecting and providing for the local community. The connection with the local community both supports Chico Mendes and also provides a community stake in both the project and their environment. Our family’s connection with the community was good for us, them and, I firmly believe, the wider world.” -Dan Gall, parent and participant
Roundtable Revival Mentoring Program for Persons Who are Reentering the Community
Persons returning to the community face significant barriers rebuilding their lives after experiencing contact with the criminal justice system (Coates, 2015). Examples include those citizens on probation or parole or those returning to the community after a period of incarceration in jail or prison. These challenges are being magnified by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Currently in Eau Claire County, WI, we do not have a comprehensive reentry program that can serve those being released from jail or prison, so even a brief jail stay could result in the loss of housing, employment, family disruption, health care coverage, or transportation. Recent estimates suggest that each year 15-20 women return to the Eau Claire area after release from prison. In 2017, the Eau Claire County Jail released 4,916 people. Roundtable Revival has a goal of providing resources and programming to support reintegration into the community and reduce recidivism.
We will ultimately offer a variety of reentry programs, including the Mentoring Program, Reentry Peer Support, a First Stop program for people being released from jail, and an alcohol-free tavern as a place where people can gather in the evening to socialize, relax, and have fun. Roundtable Revival utilizes a foundation of Certified Peer Support Specialists. Training for the Peer Support Specialist is provided by the State of Wisconsin and their hours are billable through Medical Assistance. These specialists have the advantage of having personal experience with the criminal justice system and have been trained in understanding the available community resources. Ultimately, we hope that any added programs will contribute to the goal of empowering returning citizens and enhancing their overall physical and mental health. We want to offer them the opportunity for an equal place at our roundtable.
Objectives: For the Mentoring Program, we plan to draw upon the power of a mentoring relationship to empower persons as they seek to negotiate the challenges of obtaining housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, healthcare, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. Funds raised will be used for start-up and initial operational expenses. The outcomes will consist of a tracking success across the areas of individual need and an evaluation of the mentoring program by the mentors and mentees.
Mentoring Program Design: The program will be modeled after similar successful programs, best practices, and evidence-based models. Area churches and congregations, the Synagogue and the Mosque as well as the general community will be approached for support by providing weekly meals, Life Skills presenters, and Mentors. The program will meet weekly at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire for three hours with each session consisting of socializing and sharing a meal, group support and life story sharing, an educational presentation on life skills, and individual mentoring. Mentors will be trained prior to each cycle and will be asked to attend group mentor meetings periodically during the cycle. The initial focus will be providing a safe space for adult females who volunteer and are accepted into the program. If there is enough interest, a second site will serve adult men. We envision conducting mentoring program cycles in the fall and spring. A graduation ceremony will be held at the conclusion of each cycle.
All mentors will be asked to complete an initial six-hour workshop training. Group meetings of Mentors will occur prior to the weekly meetings every third week of the program duration. Mentors will be given a manual with a mentor job description and training materials.
Expected outcomes: Our mission is: To cultivate inclusive, accepting, and empowering spaces WITH people who face barriers due to a conviction history: Facilitating full reintegration into our community. We plan to link individuals with community resources for housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. An overall goal of Roundtable Revival is to foster a more responsive and collaborative system for the employment, housing, mental health, healthcare, and substance use and alcohol misuse treatment needs of returning citizens. In addition, we will instill a sense of community and belonging among individuals who are returning citizens.
How the project will be sustained: The Eau Claire County Department of Human Services operates two programs that will be a source of collaboration and support, The Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) and Community Support Program (CSP). We have also established a beginning relationship with the Eau Claire County Jail, the State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole and The Transition Center (day treatment center) in Eau Claire. Roundtable Revival is incorporated as a State of Wisconsin, certified nonprofit social service agency or 501(c)3.
The Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network
The Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network aims to build a statewide advocacy network employing the power of the collective voices of Unitarian Universalists in Wisconsin. We uphold the worth and dignity of every person while acting to further justice, equity, and compassion. Through a website and social media the Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network hopes to provide portals for Wisconsin UU congregations to share what they are doing and see what other UU congregations are doing to advance justice, equity and compassion, through the website and social media to provide in depth information about the issue critical to the citizens of Wisconsin, and to provide a forum for individuals to express their actions and need for justice, equity and compassion.
2020 MVUUF Teen Trek to UU-UNO Spring Seminar
UPDATE Mar 13, 2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this campaign has been closed. Any pledges made will NOT be processed. Thank you.
In light of recent developments with COVID-19, the UU-UNO has cancelled the in-person events for the Spring Seminar. Our MVUUF Teen Group will not be making the trip. Thanks to those who were willing to donate!
Original Description follows for archive purposes.
SUPPORTING A NEW GENERATION OF
CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTIVISTS
Your donation to this project will fund travel expenses for youth and sponsors to attend the 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar in New York City. Our youth and sponsors have each funded their own registration fees. Your Faithify donations will go towards transportation, meals, and other associated expenses for the trip as they travel from Dayton, OH to New York City. We have set our fundraising goal to match projected expenses, and we need $500 per traveler to cover our costs. Any extra funds raised this year will be put to use in future trips as we seek to make this a biennial event for the youth in our congregation.
The 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar theme is “All In For Climate Justice: People, Power, Planet.” The conference will take place April 16-18 in New York City. Through worship, panel discussions, skills-building workshops, and small-group collaboration, participants will learn and grow together as they explore UU centered responses to vital global climate challenges.
This year, we have six youth (Avery, Travis, Zane, Matthew, Yemaya, and Genna) and three adult sponsors (Shaun, Richard, and Lathe) registered to attend. This record attendance from our congregation is the best indication of the value of the conference to our youths’ growth in social activism. MVUUF Youth who participate in the trip will:
- Gain deeper understanding of the UU-UNO’s climate justice work with the United Nations and the world
- Develop a broader sense of UU community as they connect with UU youth from across the country and other nations who share similar values
- Practice leadership skills by engaging the MVUUF congregation in the UU-UNO mission upon their return
Some pictures from last year’s trip are included below!