Samara’s Grad School Fund
This is a UU Religious Professional Credentialing/Development category campaign and all gifts will be immediately processed.
Stretch Goal Added: $5,000
**EDIT, I’ve added my first FAQ! You can view it in the FAQ tab above if you’re so inclined. Thank you!**
First, the TL;DR
- Money is appreciated!
- Alternatively, subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on Instagram @wiggle_fitness
- High fives and supportive comments appreciated!
The long version:
As a previously unchurched and newly-identified atheist, I would not have thought there was a religious community that would suit me. Little did I know that there was a denomination that perfectly matched my spiritual needs! Unitarian Universalism supports my developing and maintaining a clear-eyes state of wonder that meshes with critical thinking and justice-oriented acts of compassion and resistance.
In the Summer of 2016, about 6 months after diving into the community in 2015, I had a “call to ministry,” meaning I had a moment of deeply personal, powerful inward recognition about my purpose: that a service-oriented life centered on UU principles and founded on a theological education was the path forward into my 5th life (long story, but you could’ve knocked me over with a feather).
It took me 2 years of part-time study to complete my undergraduate degree, which I did in 2018. I applied to one school to pursue my Masters of Divinity, Meadville Lombard (one of the two UU-identified seminaries in the US), and was accepted in January of this year, with a $10,000/year institutional scholarship. My home congregation of UU Fellowship of Gainesville has formally sponsored my studies and my credentialing path, and I am very blessed to have a supportive community of loved ones from a wide variety of backgrounds.
I am a white, middle-aged single mom. I have many sources of privilege that I will lean on heavily and areas of challenge for which I will be seeking support during my three year program. I felt a lot of trepidation about posting a money-ask, but the fact remains I am about $10,000 per semester ($20,000 per year) shy of meeting my expenses. If you are one of the people with means to do so, or who asked to contribute, I thank you for considering helping a mama defray the cost of following this dream. There are a few reasons I set my goal at $1,000: First, these campaigns run a maximum of 60 days, so I wanted to set what seemed like a reasonable goal, especially since I may do this a couple of times a year. Second, there is no penalty for exceeding my goal! Third, I am hoping to flesh out most of that total $20,000/year with additional scholarships, for which I have been actively applying.
Other ways to support, if finances are not your bag: Subscribe to and share my Wiggle-Fitness (*koff koff* body ministry) channel on YouTube, or find and follow me on Instagram! Becoming a community supporter means a great deal <3.
Thank you for considering any or all of the above!
Help Send Justice Leaders on a Silent Retreat to Restore Their Spirits
This past year has been traumatic for so many people, in so many different ways. But it has been especially challenging for UU Justice Leaders – seminarians, clergy, and lay leaders in congregations and community. These leaders are called to be on the front lines of movements towards justice, challenging us to be agents for change, strategizing in the face of opposition, and comforting those affected by trauma.
This is an opportunity to offer a healing experience for those standing at the forefront of our UU justice efforts. Your contributions will help provide full or reduced tuition at SpiritRest Silent Retreat.
Now in our sixth year, SpiritRest offers a 5-day silent retreat for UU’s seeking a place to restore their spirits, settle their bodies and recover from day-to day challenges. It was established by UU minsters who felt called to offer the power of silence to other UU’s. At SpiritRest, justice leaders will have time for healing and restoration in the company of trained spiritual directors who create an environment of high touch and high care.
For justice leaders, SpiritRest Silent Retreat cultivates the spiritual practices that sustain justice work. SpiritRest’s mission from our earliest formation has been to invite and encourage deep spiritual engagement and practice. We see spiritual practice as key to healing what is broken in our world.
This year our retreat will be grounded in the work of trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. He writes of the importance of a self-care routine: “Caring for your body, your psyche, and your soul is not optional. It’s crucial to your health, sanity, happiness, and healing, and it is an essential part of being human.” This is especially true for our Justice leaders.
SpiritRest will also teach the skills to ground leaders and sustain their work. Our retreat experience is designed to strengthen the skill of settling the body. As Resmaa Menakem writes, “Few skills are more essential than the ability to settle your body. When you can settle your body, you are more likely to be calm, alert, and fully present, no matter what is going on around you.” When your body is settled you are better prepared to respond with clarity and purpose to life’s challenging realities.
We welcome all UUs who seek the healing power of silence in community, but in 2021 we are giving special focus on healing from trauma and preparing for the work of dismantling white supremacy. Many of us have experienced more vividly than others the wide and painful chasm between those who have bountiful life sustaining resources needed to survive and thrive, and those who barely have enough to survive. Recognizing and living with this ugly and shameful reality, in large part created and perpetuated by white supremacy culture, has had its own traumatizing effect. We seek to create a retreat environment where participants can rest, recover, and deepen their spiritual muscles for the work that lies ahead.
SpiritRest residential program includes all meals, daily workshops, worship services, and individual spiritual direction at a cost of $1,120. Our goal is to raise $3,500 in order to offer at least 3 full-cost or 5 partial cost scholarships with travel expense reimbursement.
On behalf of our justice leaders, we are grateful for your contribution.
UU Wellspring Emerging...
UU Wellspring is a spiritual deepening program designed to inspire UUs to live into their UU faith and to connect with one another soul to soul. It’s time our emerging young adults also had this transformational opportunity.
The Faithify Campaign will cover the cost of our first group so there will be no cost to participants. The funds will go toward development of the program, additional promotion for more programs and co-leaders who are fairly paid.
The UU Wellspring program begins by deepening participants’ understandings of the UU Sources. These 90-minute weekly sessions draw emerging young adult UUs together at a time when they may be losing hope. The connections made with peers and the introduction of a regular spiritual practice aims to brings gratitude, beauty and hope.
Over 50 congregations and hundreds of adults have been transformed in UU Wellspring small group ministry over the past fifteen years. Since the pandemic, many have found UU Wellspring to be the primary link to their faith and their anchor in these challenging times.
UU Wellspring has been generously funded by grants from both UU Funding and the Unitarian Sunday School Society grant.
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.
Scholarships for Gender-FUUL retreat for Non-Binary/Transgender/Agender participants at UBarU
The Genderfuul retreat is an affirming retreat where trans, non-binary & agender UUs can build community with each other. From nature walks to spiritual discussions and crafts, we hope that each person is able to relax and connect with the sacredness of being genderful. Our chaplain understands trans and non-binary issues and speaks inclusively (i.e. doesn’t use phrases like “men and women of the church” or “brothers and sisters” as if they include everyone). Our chaplain will foster an environment where everyone is encouraged to acknowledge and value the wide variety of identities, experiences, feelings, vocabulary and traumas that come with existing in an often oppressively gendered world.
Our gendered world is discriminatory against those who identify as transgender, agender and non-binary. The discrimination can manifest in many ways and can lead to financial challenges. With this campaign, we hope to provide financial support for those who need help to come to camp for this GenderfUUl retreat.
Any additional funds will go to our Youth camp scholarships.
Thank you for your support!
Help Send Two...
NEW for 2020: All funds pledged will be immediately processed for General Assembly campaigns. (No “All-or-Nothing” Goal on this campaign.)
We would like to offer financial aid to two members of our congregation who have never attended General Assembly before. These funds will be available to members who would like to attend General Assembly but have not been able to afford registration, room, and board previously. The members who use these funds will serve as delegates for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo at the 2020 General Assembly in Providence, RI.
International Youth Pilgrimage
The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and the Országos Dávid Ferenc Ifjúsági Egylet (ODFIE)—the youth wing of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvania and Hungary—are proud to collaborate on a pilgrimage and summer camp in Transylvania. The pilgrimage/camp will take place in July 2020. The UUPCC and ODFIE last collaborated on a highly successful summer camp in 2016. ODFIE runs the largest Unitarian or Unitarian Universalist youth camp operation in the world.
The UUPCC interviewed an impressive number of applicants before selecting fifteen North American youth who will go on the trip. The exceptional youth accepted on the trip come from coast to coast. ODFIE will choose a roughly equal number of Transylvanian youth to join in the experience.
During the pilgrimage and youth camp, we intend to foster community through encouraging personal connections between cultures and empowering youth through discussion groups, home visits with local families, camp games, etc. The group will also visit culturally and religiously significant sites in Unitarianism to help them grow in their own spirituality and knowledge of our faith. These sites will include Déva where Francis David died in prison, Torda where the Edict of Torda was debated and proclaimed, and Gyulafehérvár where early Unitarian leaders King John Sigismund and his mother Queen Isabella are buried. ODFIE will choose a service project for North American and Transylvanian youth to work on together. Before the pilgrimage and youth camp, we will work with youth and their advisors to ensure their cultural competency and preparedness for an intense and transformational journey. This will include Zoom sessions as well as a few days together in New York City before flying to Transylvania.
Visiting Transylvania—in many ways the birthplace of Unitarianism—and getting to know kinfolk in faith from a different country will help North American youth participants grow deeper spiritually and become more skilled at intercultural engagement. They will experience firsthand some of our most important religious roots, as well as our faith’s rich past and deep, complicated present. Building cross-cultural community through shared activities, worship, common meals and visiting sacred sites will help participants sharpen their community building skills and create lifetime friendships. More than anything, they will learn about themselves and their spiritual journey through leaving their ordinary rhythm and living in a liminal space full of adventure and opportunity. Through this pilgrimage/camp, they each have the possibility to return home a changed person.
We hope that the pilgrimage/camp will deepen youth participants’ sense of UU identity and strengthen their commitment to continue engaging with our faith as they bridge into adulthood. Young adults who have had deep experiences of our faith such as this will help our faith thrive for many decades to come. In their own unique way, each youth who goes on the pilgrimage/camp could make important and lasting contributions to U/U congregations in North America and internationally.
The North American youth will be accompanied by three adults over twenty-five years old. The advisors will include a minister and a religious educator. The process of selecting the advisors and every aspect of the trip will be guided by the UUA’s youth safety guidelines.
The cost for the North American youth and adult advisors to go on the trip is around $2,100 per youth. A grant from the UU Funding Program and (hopefully) a successful Faithify campaign will help make the trip affordable for every youth who has been accepted into the program. Reaching the Faithify campaign goal of $10,000 will pay for about 60% of the youth overseas airline tickets. Additional funding will come from the UU Partner Church Council, fundraisers at the youths’ congregations, and youth families.
“Building a Movement...
The “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” conference is designed to spark conversation and action to bring about legislation which addresses the climate crisis and economic inequality. Hopefully after the 2020 election there will be an opportunity to enact powerful legislation which will move our country away from a carbon based systems and toward renewable energy while creating well paying jobs for all. This legislation can be found in House Resolution 109, known as “The Green New Deal”.
“Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” conference will provide the language and ideas for participants to build support for the Green New Deal and to bring this language back to their congregations and communities.
The conference begins September 15 at 11:15 a.m. after the Sunday service at All Souls Unitarian church in Washington D.C. Reverend Rob Keithan, the Justice minister at All Souls, will lead a program in grounding the efforts of “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” in Unitarian Universalist values. This will be followed by a keynote panel discussion led by notable local Unitarian Universalist activists in the environmental movement. Following there will be a panel discussion of a coalition of UU organizations with UU’s Ministry for the Earth, UU’s for Social Justice and UU’s for a Just Economic Community discussing ways to work together toward a Green New Deal.
Partnering with UU’s for a Just Economic Community for the conference “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” include: UU’s Ministry for the Earth, UU’s for Social Justice, All Souls Unitarian Church, UU Service Committee, UUA and Side with Love.
On September 16 after a light breakfast there will be presentations from experts and persons of influence speaking on the intersection of environmental and economic issues.
On September 17 at 8:30 am the conference participants will gather in the Capital Visitor’s Center to hear speakers, deliver letters to representative offices and speak with staff of the elected officials encouraging support for the Green New Deal.
The 1st UU Songleaders Convergence will be a gathering for songleaders of all kinds to share skills, best practices, wisdom, and of course, songs. We’ll gather for a week of learning and networking, to nurture a deeper culture of community singing in our congregations and wider community.
We’re inviting songleaders from across the faith and all those who love community singing to converge for a what promises to be a transformative gathering of resonance, harmony, and rhythm. In order to make this the powerful and historic gathering that we’re envisioning, we’re asking our wider UU community to fund $5,000 for scholarships for leaders and participants of color, and for first time attendees to the Musicians Conference. We’ve received a $5,000 matching grant from the UU Funding Program, which means that if we make our goal, there will be $10,000 available for these scholarships!
Workshops & Sessions
- Confident & invitational songleading.
- Songleading for worship and in the streets.
- Deepening cultural context, story, worship, and preaching through songleading.
- Harmony singing, vocal technique, circle songs, and more!
- Ministers and seminarians.
- Religious Educators
- Choir members and singers ‘only-in-the-shower’.
- Musicians both professional and amateur.
- Anyone leading or wanting to lead songs in worship, around the dinner table, at the board meeting, or in the streets.
The Songleaders Convergence will be part of the annual gathering of the Association of UU Music Ministries. Some programming, events, and worship will be shared in plenary with the rest of the musicians’ conference. Many events and workshops will be tracked specifically for songleaders.
We’re particularly excited to have this scholarship money available to make this convergence as accessible as possible for new leaders and participants of color.
Convergence Planning Team
Sofia Betancourt, Assistant professor at Starr King Seminary
Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, Director of Worship and Music at First UU of Ann Arbor
Sara Green, Youth and Young Adult of Color Ministry Associate at the UUA
Matt Meyer, Director at Sanctuary Boston
Humanist Collaboratory Travel Scholarships
The Humanist Collaboratory will meet for the 2nd time in March 2019, bringing together clergy in UU, Ethical Culture, and humanistic Jewish traditions–and this year, extending special outreach to organizers of humanist communities outside of those institutions. We seek to center the voices of people of color, queer folx, and women who have often been left out of institutional humanist leadership, as well as emerging leaders in humanism. Because many of those leaders don’t have the institutional support of congregations, travel to the conference (hosted by the Washington Ethical Society in Washington, DC, which will also provide home hospitality) may be prohibitive. Please help us to make it possible for these folks to join us at the Humanist Collaboratory, so that their voices can be centered in our work together and in our shared exploration of what humanism is today! YOUR GIFT WILL BE MATCHED by a generous grant from the UU Funding Panel!
Climate Impact & Environmental Inequity: Toward Justice for All
This assembly will promote dialogue among Environmental Justice Leaders, and with people of faith and conscience in order to foster relationships, catalyze collaborative efforts, and increase civic engagement.
We would like to provide scholarships to community leaders, who are fighting to get their neighbors organized to protect health and safety on the frontlines of climate change in the state of Florida; where existing inequities in infrastructure investment and disaster response compound chronic environmental health challenges posed by proximity to traffic and industrial waste in low income communities of color. After last year’s Assembly, FL-iCAN! decided to return to Parramore this year, to provide tours during the Assembly, to take up climate equity, and to involve leaders from Florida Environmental Justice communities on the frontlines of Climate Change in the design of the 2019 Assembly.
UUJF and the other affiliates of FL-iCAN! value the participation of the EJ leaders in the design of the assembly. The EJ Leaders have completed a survey regarding what programming would be meaningful for them. Lawanna Gelzer, the community leader from Parramore who will be coordinating the tours, has been serving on the Steering Committee Circle this year, and participating in program design. Programming will include: story and best practice sharing, tours of the Parramore neighborhood, communication skill-building, and time for praise and celebration of what’s been accomplished.
Here are some of the environmental justice leaders we would like to provide scholarships so they can attend:
Eric Bason is a resident of Shorecrest, Miami, which sits on some of the lowest lying land in Miami. He participated as a community leader in a UUJF Rising Together project in 2017 that addressed tidal flooding, and the public health effects of climate change in his neighborhood. He is currently providing leadership for his community in the Florida Disaster Resilience Initiative to increase resilience and hurricane preparedness, and to advocate for infrastructure upgrades.
Lawanna Gelzer is the founder of the Community Empowerment Project in Parramore, Orlando, a historically black community surrounded by highways, with two Superfund sites that have released volatile organic compounds and petroleum by products into the environment. Orlando has also created an Economic Opportunity Zone that is also a Brownfield area. This provides incentives for remediation of the toxins, and requires redevelopment after remediation. The Brownfield policy has fueled aggressive gentrification and displacement, and provides no funding for residents to test for toxins on their property. Lawanna’s non-profit, The Community Empowerment Project, educates residents about the environmental toxins, has advocated for a community health disparities study, and opened dialogue with the city about moving the dumpster storage site away from homes, where residents complain of rodents.
Crystal Johnson is the founder of Community Forum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit in Dunbar, Ft. Myers that supports programs that help children and families living in underserved areas, and empowers the community through education and collective collaborations. In addition to their work on improving communication between parents and schools; promoting dialogue among the faith community, the police and the community; and promoting wellness, the Foundation is taking on hurricane preparedness to address the inequities in disaster response experienced after Hurricane Irma.
Janice Lucas is a civic leader in Panama City in Bay County, which is still in a critical phase of recovery from Hurricane Michael. In her position as After School Program Director of the LEAD Coalition of Bay County, Janice has seen the effects of Hurricane Michael on her community, and especially on families with children. She is currently working with a church to create a micro enterprise loan fund to offer startup business loans that have training or education as a requirement.
Kina Green-Phillips lives in South Bay, Florida, where she has started Her Queendom Ministry to teach girls and women about how to protect their health and the health of their families. A big part of that is learning the truth about the “black snow”: ash that falls from the sky when the sugar companies burn the fields. Kirin is providing leadership for her community in a Sierra Club effort to get Green Harvesting rather than sugar cane burning due to its effects on the health of residents and their quality of life.
Here is the portion of the Assembly Budget devoted to Scholarships for Environmental Justice Leaders:
Environmental Justice Expenses
|Van for Parramore Tours|
|Scholarships (EJ Community Guests: 8 Traveling Guests/Spokespersons + 17 Parramore residents)||25||$60||$1,500|
|Guest/Spokespersons||Quantity||Attendees||Tax & Surcharge||Unit Cost||Line Item Total||Category Total|
|Food not covered by Assembly fee||4||8||$1||$15||$480.90|
|Total EJ Expenses||$3,799|