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.
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.
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!
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.
Student Debt Reduction...
We have all heard about rising education costs and student debt; this trend absolutely extends to those who pursue a seminary degree. National data from the The Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary indicates both the number of students entering seminary with debt and the amounts they have to pay back upon entering the workforce are increasing substantially. It is not unusual for new ministers to be carrying $70,000-$80,000 or more into their fledgling careers.
As Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship installs Rev. Laura Thompson as their next settled minister, we take a moment to pause and reflect on the financial costs and sacrifices that enabled her to be called. In recognition of those costs and in celebration of her ministry and her future with MVUUF, we invite you to contribute toward a gift of reducing her student debt. Thank you for your generosity!
Kansas Poor People’s Campaign Legal Fund
The Kansas Poor People’s Campaign is a participant in the national Poor People’s Campaign. With cities across the state participating, including Wichita, Manhattan, Lawrence, Topeka, Lenexa, Kansas City Kansas, and many participants from rural towns as well, our campaign highlighted the issues of poverty, racism, militarism and the environment and the way in which they are linked.
With weekly press conferences and rallies, we organized moral direct action/civil disobedience designed to draw attention to the conditions in Kansas and across the country that are causing inequality to increase and creating barriers to civic participation. In one action, we occupied the conference room of Kris Kobach, one our state’s most infamous leaders whose voter suppression policies have been touted nationally to conservative leaders trying to decrease the voter turnout of communities of color and communities of poverty. In addition, his anti-immigrant policies and anti-LGBTQ policies and pro-gun policies have been among the worst ideas to be introduced in our state and beyond.
We visited the Governor’s office and pointed out the ongoing refusal of our state’s leadership to expand Medicaid to the 150,000 people in Kansas (many of whom are disabled and/or working) who fall in the gap between the ACA and our current Medicaid qualifications. We stood in front of our Department of Children and Families and highlighted the extremes issues we have had with this agency and as well as the work overload it faces due to the increase in poverty in our state and systemic underfunding by our legislature. 2,000 more kids are in foster care because parents can’t afford childcare and are working too much to try to make ends meet. Our agency has lied and purposely hidden information about child deaths in abuse cases that were inadequately investigated. Missing foster care kids and contractors keeping kids in offices overnight when they unable to place them have also been hallmarks of this dysfunctional institution. We highlighted the simultaneous hyper funding of military efforts around the world and the recruitment of poor kids and kids of color into military programs where they are underpaid in stark contrast to the millions and even billions being made by private contractors. Our young adults come home broken in mind and body and are virtually abandoned–leading to a high suicide rate among veterans and families on the brink of disaster. 15-35 people agreed to commit civil disobedience each week with 100-200 other participants supporting the actions.
Working with a local attorney and an ACLU attorney, we were able to negotiate some of our fees and bonds, but each participant in civil disobedience likely will spend a minimum of $200. Many participants are themselves low income and several participated in civil disobedience more than once.
We hope to raise funds to assist them and to have on hand for the next campaign. As this work continues, we hope to support more and more low income and people of color wanting to commit civil disobedience who have been concerned about the costs.
Building Sanctuary in Madison, WI
Faithify Project Description
This past November, James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Madison, Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to support the New Sanctuary Movement by becoming a host site for an immigrant facing deportation. To answer this call of witness and action, we will need to convert part of a large multipurpose room at the rear of our church into a guest room, install a shower in an existing bathroom, and make other renovations to conform to local codes. A professional architect from our congregation has drawn up plans and solicited construction bids. We expect the cost for the entire project to reach up to $30,000. Our Sanctuary Leadership Team at James Reeb is seeking small grants and also planning fundraising events to generate the rest of the funds necessary to complete the project.
We are not alone in this endeavor! James Reeb belongs to the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, which organizes congregations and organizations to provide physical sanctuary to our immigrant friends and neighbors at risk of deportation. We do this as part of the national New Sanctuary Movement.
There are currently seven congregations (at four sites) that offer sanctuary in Madison. Two are Unitarian Universalist, two United Church of Christ (UCC), one Lutheran, one Mennonite and one Jewish. (James Reeb is the only potential hosting site on the east side of Madison.) A dozen other congregations and several other community organizations offer other forms of support. Plymouth Congregational UCC, our neighbor on Madison’s east side, is also partnering with us on this project. We all continue to take our lead from two local organizations, Voces de la Frontera and Centro Hispano.
Our coalition opposes mean-spirited, cruel and immoral immigration policies that terrorize communities and violate human rights. Our faith teaches us that all people have inherent worth and dignity and that everyone deserves to live free from violence and deprivation. When our government tears apart families, executes unarmed immigrants, and sends refugees into the hands of their persecutors, we find ourselves compelled to act. This vision impels us to stand together in solidarity with our immigrant and refugee friends and neighbors, to offer our support and help, and to provide Sanctuary to those in need. We invite you to join us in this work! Please donate generously to our Sanctuary building fund.
Oceti Sakowin & Beyond at General Assembly 2018
The Oceti Sakowin Camp and water protectors convergence at Standing Rock was a historic, transformative space that drew thousands of people from across the world together for protecting water, indigenous sovereignty, and the sacredness of Mother Earth from the Dakota Access Pipeline and the ongoing devastation caused by continued fossil fuel extraction and repression of Indigenous peoples.
Unitarian Universalists were among those who mobilized and were transformed by the experiences and relationships formed — especially the UU Fellowship and Church of Bismarck-Mandan, the only church in Bismarck that joined the water protectors. One continued blessing to our faith community that came into being through these experiences at Oceti Sakowin was an invitation to be in ongoing relationship and collaboration with the Indigenous-led InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC), and Stories and Songs of the People. For more info check out https://www.initc.net/about-us
Yet another blessing is that members of these collectives have accepted our invitation for them to join us and speak at the UUA General Assembly in Kansas City, June 2018. Six Indigenous elders, friends, and relatives with the InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC) & Stories and Songs for the People will be joining our UU faith convergence in Kansas City and presenting a workshop on Saturday, June 23rd:
OCETI SAKOWIN & BEYOND: CREATING TRANSFORMATIVE COLLABORATION
Saturday, June 23 | 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 2103 B
What does it mean to be human? How do we relate with one another and the environment? The InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration will share experiences and insights of the Oceti Sakowin water protector camp and create opportunities to practice cultural safety, decolonizing conversations, interfaith and intercultural relationships, and well-being.
Your gift to this fundraiser will greatly help the INITC and Stories & Songs of the People to comfortably attend the full General Assembly: building and deepening relationships with members of our UU faith, and celebrating the ordination of Rev. Karen Van Fossan (minister of the UU Fellowship and Church of Bismarck-Mandan) during the Service of the Living Tradition. Thank you for your generosity and support!
Photos witnessed by Wil Sterner
Help Us Release Our Fundraising CD “If I Knew The Way”
Always seeking new sources of fundraising, we thought why not give folks some music from our church that they could take home with them? We have captured some wonderful performances of UUCE’s singers and instrumentalists including our handbell choir and our newly revitalized vocal choir. We are asking for your help to bring this project to fruition so we can sell it to help fund our church’s programs and dreams.
At UUCE we are fortunate to have many talented musicians. Music used in our worship draws on a diverse array of sources ranging from UU minister, Rev. Meg Barnhouse and Emma’s Revolution to the likes of James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sam Cooke and even The Grateful Dead!
Every song on this project has been featured in worship at our church–some going back many years and some as recent as the last few months. They all embrace UUism in some form and they all bring an uplifting, positive message.
Parts of the project that have been donated:
- Time and talents of the performers
- Many hours of studio time, including engineering, editing and mixing
- Album art
The objective of this campaign is to pay for:
- Licensing the music so the writers and composers get their fair share
- Mastering the final mixes to get the most sparkle and punch from our music
- Duplicating 300 CDs, including printing Earth-friendly Ecopack covers and full color imprint on disc
- Printing and loading music and art on 50 flash drives
Funding this final phase of our project will enable us to realize 100% of our sales as profit. With your help we can sell our music and fund our dreams!
In addition to CDs the flash drives will contain the music in both mp3 and high resolution (44.1K) format to accommodate the folks who no longer buy CDs. As a bonus the drives will offer additional data storage space.
Owensboro Interfaith Center Preparation
We understand ourselves as Faithfully Interfaith. We are a full service Unitarian Universalist ministry in Western Kentucky (MidAmerica Region) with an interfaith mission and 10 years of deliberate work building partnerships with our Muslim, Humanist, Jewish, Baha’i, Christian, Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist neighbors. A year of prayerful discernment and congregational consultation made it clear that Owensboro KY needs an Interfaith Center to focus on nothing but interfaith work. We wondered if we should change our identity? So we considered it very carefully and the answer was clearly, “No.” We decided we can contribute though: We can offer space.
We own our building at a great location in the heart of Owensboro. Our interfaith partners know it as a safe and hospitable space. Our identity as a Welcoming Congregation applies to everything on the premises. So we have decided to convert the basement into the first home of Owensboro’s Interfaith Center. The Center will be established as a separate legal entity with a UU-Partner Board and housed here. We are working with the Ministerial Association on programming plans. There’s just one problem…Slowly but surely the basement has been slipping away due to leakage and due to increased storms, it became unusable in the past year. A forensic architect has advised us on how to fix the problem permanently. The project costs $15,000-17,000 and must be done before renovation. We must wait 6 months between waterproofing and renovation.
Unfortunately our bank considers the waterproofing a separate project because of the delay between phases of contractor work. We’d rather not have two separate loans so we have established a separate Capital fund for waterproofing and have raised $4990 thus far. Yeah! Only $12,010 to go!
Then this cool thing happened! We received a pledge for a matching gift of $5000 if we can raise the balance by 1 July. As it goes, we are great at making scheduled payments, but not so strong on quick fundraising. There are only 27 of us but the energy is good. We are setting up restaurant fundraisers, yard sales and service sales and… think that we can get $2,000 of it. The minister is good for $10 so just $5,000 more to match the pledge! If we get this done now, we can finance renovation (@$60K) next winter and the Interfaith Center can open by Annual Meeting 2019.
With Our Muslim Partners
With Our Jain Partners