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!
New Goal Exempt...
Now all UU Religious Professionals can raise funds for education, credentialing, and development exempt from the goal threshold.
Help Jon Sallée Attend Seminary
Jon Sallée, currently a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont, and previously of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Illinois, has been called to serve should-to-shoulder, ministering to the soldiers and families of the Vermont Army National Guard (VTARNG) as their chaplain. Jon seeks to bring peace to soldiers as they contemplate purpose and meaning, navigating the moral complexities of citizen soldiership.
Unitarian Universalism, as a liberal theological tradition, is uniquely situated to meet both the spiritual needs of soldiers in the least religious state in the US as well as the interfaith orientation of the Chaplain Corps. Jon also has affiliation with Buddhism (through the Fo Guang Shan Chicago temple, in the Chan tradition), a frequently-requested topic of inquiry from religiously-unaffiliated soldiers.
His current status as a Chaplain Candidate and Second Lieutenant allows Jon to serve in the Guard while completing seminary, and while there are normally tuition benefits, none will apply in his specific situation. While Meadville Lombard Theological School has granted Jon a generous named scholarship, the remaining balance and related expenses are still significant.
Support Seminary Students...
This spring, Starr King School for the Ministry is running its first-ever pilgrimage in the Holy Land within its ECO model of educating to counter oppressions and build just and sustainable communities.
This semester long-course, entitled “Reviving Pilgrimage: Decolonizing Religious Travel to the Holy Land,” involves a 10-day pilgrimage mid-semester of Spring 2020 in order for students to both engage in historical forms of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish pilgrimage while also challenging the paradigm of pilgrimage and the religious pilgrim’s role in colonization.
Over the course of the semester, students will ask the questions: What does it mean, as a religious leader, to visit the Holy Land in these times? Is pilgrimage possible in the midst of occupation and colonization? How is bearing witness to injustice a political tool in liberation movements, and what more is required of us? How does travel to the Holy Land require of us responsivity to the moral and political crisis on the ground? How can we challenge the white/western saviour complex in the way we travel? How can we move from charity to solidarity? How can we move from religious tourism to pilgrimage? How do we, as people of faith, put faith into action?
In our times, we desperately need religious leaders with a critical awareness of and engagement with the political realities of the Holy Land today. Help Unitarian Universalism be a model for training its leaders for this crucial ministry. Your donation will go to off-set student travel costs, rendering this trip affordable for a socioeconomically and religiously diverse student body. Class registrants include students from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions.
We need an additional $6000 in the next 30 days to make the trip possible for this upcoming cohort of faith leaders. Can you support us?
Course instructor Faryn Borella and two of the registered students, Lisa Kynvi and Ariel Aaronson-Eves, recorded the segments in the video for this campaign explaining the concept of the trip and its importance to them.
This fundraiser is cosponsored by Starr King School for the Ministry, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, and Friends of Sabeel North America.
Thank you for your support.
Help Midwife Seminarian...
Peace and civility can only be manifested through forging personal relationships by way of interfaith dialogs, across secular lines, and taking our message of peace into the public square. I consider myself an artist of that ministry.
Sunrise Lake Michigan Painting
I see myself as a religious leader, poised through my training to teach people how to forge relationships civilly and bring about real change. I am to respond to situations of growth, conflict and change pastorally and creatively. The degradation of peace is often lost in the discourse when people are afraid to sit in discomfort in order to make this world just. So often peace is equated with ease. Peace comes in examining problematic behaviors in ourselves and our communities.
Weaving together marketing, arts and public relations with ministry has been the way I’ve shaped my vision to grow peace and civility in today’s world. I enroll people in our movement for peace by making it voluptuous, gorgeous and reverent. When humans are engaged by splendor, they are in a better space to hear one another and can engage in the deep listening required to reach peace in our hearts and actions. Art and beauty invite people in. It softens the discomfort. I affirm what Toni Cade Bambarayou says: “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” As an artist of ministry, I use all my tools to make our movement irresistible. Won’t you support me, so I can take this next step toward becoming an artist of ministry on the canvas of our movement?
I see the MFC on December 6. I travel to Boston. I have had to prepare tests, reviews, photos, and more to get to the MFC. Now I need to travel, eat, take transportation and lodging while there. Your donation of any amount will help.
All who donate $100 or more will receive a postcard set of five of my art prints suitable for framing.
I have spent decades sharing our ideologies outside of our churches in places where people are struggling. Knowing how to harness the power of media is necessary to our movement. When we dance, sing and display beauty outside the church walls, we can appeal to people and open their hearts.
Autumn Trees: Falling Forward Reaching Back
Systems of oppression need to be dismantled and that only comes from 1:1 relationship. If we cannot love our mother earth, our transgender siblings, our unhomed neighbors, our queer children and our immigrant cousins as much as we love our god, how will we claim grace?
I answer this question with the sentiments of Alfred S. Cole and John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?”
It is in that loving, carrying beauty in one hand and our message of peace in the other across lines of faith, that we will bring about true and lasting peace.
Please come with me on this journey.
Seminarian Seeks Support...
Denise Cawley is Unitarian Universalist seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She seeks funds to offset the cost of food and lodging for General Assembly (GA) and plans to use leadership and arts of ministry tools she learns about at GA to serve our UU faith. Denise provides spiritual and emotional care chaplaincy at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and writes about the intersection of abortion and spirituality. Denise has long been a pivotal player in Milwaukee and Door counties working on diversity, inclusion, marriage equality and voting rights. Denise has written about and continues researching Florence Buck, one of our queer, anti-oppression Unitarian heroes few know enough about. Denise will use connections at GA to further her research in both abortion and UU women’s history to benefit our faith.
Denise has overcome many challenges to pursuing seminary and it has been said that there is never any doubt she will make it, the only question is how. Classmates and professors describe her as both prophetic and pastoral. The congregation she serves in Kenosha, WI have said many wonderful things about her service there including:
“Denise has the ability to turn the subject of stewardship from awkward to inspiring.”
“Denise responds to local events in a constructive manner, most recently co-authoring an article in the local newspaper addressing sexual harassment in the school district.“
“I see Denise as a thought leader in a larger congregation. She holds the big picture, has a great handle on the mission and can raise positive energy.”
Her committee on ministry reports: “She digs in, motivates us and executes. Denise has brought Bradford’s presence to the wider community through networking and media work. Denise has established boundaries that allow her to connect to us without hampering the professional relationship. Many of us have been on ministerial search committees in the past. We have been told that ministers are expected to be good administrators/fundraisers, good preachers and good counselors; and that if your minister is 2 out of 3 of these the congregation is fortunate. Denise is good at all three and as she continues in this internship and her education, she will be excellent at all 3.“
For these reasons and more, supporting Denise’s additional training and classes at GA, Ministry Days and the Ministerial Formation Network events in Spokane, we will be investing in our faith. Any additional money raised will be used for seminary expenses for her classes in Chicago this summer as well as the many books she needs for the MFC.
Help Rachel Attend GA and Present About Disabilities!
I am a person with multiple invisible disabilities pursuing ministry to help all religious spaces become more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. My proposal was chosen which is amazing and wonderful but I need help getting there. I would love to experience all of GA. Help me reach my goal! My program info is below:
PROGRAM TITLE :
Dis-Abilities: A Discussion on Inclusion, Accessibility and Identity
SCHEDULED DATE & TIME:
Saturday 6/22/2019, 1:30:00 PM – 2:30:00 PM
FACILITY AND ROOM:
Convention Center — 300A
People with disabilities often struggle with accessibility and inclusion within religious spaces. How do we have meaningful discussions within our congregations on how to be truly welcoming to people with disabilities? Join Rachel Carter, an advocate and person with multiple disabilities as we discuss this topic, share ideas, and stories.
The breakdown of funds are:
$1009 Flight and Car
$375 Home Hospitality
Help John get...
My name is John Bloom-Ramirez, and I am a recent graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School. I am scheduled to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee on September 28, 2018 and really could use assistance in funding my trip to Boston. I am currently underemployed – working for now 7 hours a week for a local church as their office administrator, so we are living off my husband’s income as an hourly supervisor at Disneyland. Making ends meet otherwise has been rough, and this assistance will help me complete this extensive journey toward fellowship!
Mental Health First Aid
I am a UU who has a passion for improving the lives of those impacted by mental illness. As the mother of 2 sons with bipolar disorder, I have returned to school so I can help affect change. This month I finished my first semester at Boston University’s School of Theology. I plan to become a UU Chaplain and educate and advocate through a mental health ministry.
The intersection I am standing at in the picture is where one of my sons was in 2010 when he was having a mental health crisis. He stood in the middle of the street throwing CD cases at cars and yelling. Most motorists swerved around him and some screamed in anger. There was just one woman who stopped. She unrolled her car window and asked if he needed help. He replied, “Yes,” and she got out of her car and led him to the curb. This stranger sat and talked with him until the police came. We never found out who she was, yet she made all the difference that day.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour training that teaches how to assist someone who is facing a mental health or substance use challenge. I want to teach MHFA because 1 in 5 people has a mental health condition, and anyone can encounter someone in crisis like my son was that day. I have a strong foundation for teaching the course. My background is working as an RN, and I recently completed a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
A great place to start in providing mental health education is within our churches. Your contribution will allow me to attend an MHFA 5-day training in June, covering the cost of the course, travel, and lodging. Completing this training will certify me to teach the class which I will then be able to offer UU ministers and congregants in the greater Boston area. You can find out more information regarding MHFA at https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. Thank you for your support.