Tagged: “Southern Region”

Safe Playground Needed!

Wider Beloved Community,

In March of this year, our minister, Rev. Julie Conrady, was retrieving her 2 year old, Ezio, from a two story piece of our church’s playground equipment, when the wooden stair collapsed under them. Rev. Julie cushioned her toddler’s fall with her own body, and because the equipment was too close to the church building, she hit her head on the church building, giving her a concussion that neurologists say will take months to heal (but will heal, thank goodness!).

After a safety inspection of our playground, it was determined that multiple wooden structures were infested with wood rot, and our small but humble playground was too dangerous for our children. We have removed all dangerous equipment from the playground at this time.

Our RE program had 80+ kids pre-pandemic, and we are already back to over 45 kids at the time of this writing. We desperately need a safe playground for these children – the future of Unitarian Universalism in Birmingham, Alabama.

We want to install a commercial grade, metal playground to counter the buckets of rain Alabama receives each year. 2021 is one of the wettest summers on record here, and it rains daily from May through well into October. Our wooden playground, as gorgeous as it was, could not bear the brunt of climate change.

We have raised over $6,000 from our own congregation, but the playground we hope for is $31,000. It is not large or extravagant, and provides pieces for each stage of development. It is, however, built to last, and thus the price tag. We are hoping to raise $20,000 through this Faithify campaign so our children have a safe playground again.

Please help us to rebuild our playground! Our children (and all of our congregation) are so appreciative for your generosity.

For More Details: Playground Committee Presentation

Oak Street Meeting House Project

The Oak Street Meeting House is a proposed venue for dinner church, social events, an outreach office, and an **accessible** restroom. Accessibility is a big issue for our old church building. First Universalist Church of Camp Hill is an aging congregation and there is no way to make our sanctuary wheelchair accessible.

It is architecturally impossible to do. However, the adjacent parsonage, which we are renovating, offers us wonderful opportunities.

Dinner church is something that is already in our DNA as a congregation. Potluck traditionally follows service here and as our numbers have dwindled, and we now gather in the fellowship hall for our Sunday worship, the space between the worship and the food which follows has become thin. However, to make that final leap, we need a modern fully equipped kitchen.

Several of our members are involved in the local music scene and once the updates are complete, we can use also the Meeting House as a place for concerts, as others are already doing in similar spaces in nearby Opelika once the Pandemic wanes.

We also need an outreach office for our Church. We maintain a food pantry here, serving our local community, and we also maintain an animal ministry, providing not just food, but spaying and neutering services, vet care and forever homes for the stray animal population of Camp Hill, AL. We cannot do this work from anywhere else.

Oak Street Meeting House is named as a nod to Mary Slaughter Scott who co-founded the similarly named Charles Street Universalist Meeting House; Mary was from here in Camp Hill, AL and together with her husband, Rev. Clinton Lee Scott, worked to modernize the denomination and ensure a place for humanism within what became our faith.

She is buried in Slaughters Cemetery which we maintain.

We were not the first Universalists here in Alabama. The very first federal judge to hold court in Alabama had been a Unitarian. In the 1830s, there had been a joint venture between the Unitarians and Universalist in Montgomery. However, ours is one of the oldest, surviving Universalist and later UU congregations in the Deep South, having been founded by Rev. Shehane back in 1846 with the support from such families as the Slaughters and Hesters.

We have a deep history and a legacy worth preserving. We have struggled to be on the right side of history, often falling short, but never stopping short. We have kept going and we are not done yet. We have been working to reconnect to our community, to find innovative, inclusive, and exciting ways to acknowledge worth and honor the legacy of enslaved people whose stories are also a part of us.

We have the vision, the grit, and the determination; we need the funding.

Send Us to GA Please

This is a General Assembly Costs campaign and all gifts will be immediately processed.

We have been attending the UU Church of Columbia via zoom during the pandemic and also the Church of the Larger Fellowship. This is really different for us and changes our faith perception in many ways. After 14 years in Myrtle Beach with a very small congregation we are searching.

Wendy has been a GA delegate and volunteer in previous years, but neither will work for her aspirations or identity in this current year. Still we made it to GA through an anonymous donor and WE ARE GRATEFUL! THANK YOU. Our wi-fi in West Virginia continues to be an issue.

Wendy spends a lot of time supporting causes in the community that would better the experience of our black, brown, and LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors. Living in the south has it’s challenges. She created a video to promote our faith that has been on YouTube for a long time. There are so many interviews and out takes from that project that could make a longer production but time and money have prevented this, maybe one day.

Crowd funding is not easy to understand. Life moves so fast sometimes. The video is linked in the media section. And here: Diverse Natures

Connectivity and Community – we hope to deepen these important values with your contribution to our ask. Thanks Again.

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!**

Hello, loves!

First, the TL;DR

  1. Money is appreciated!
  2. Alternatively, subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on Instagram @wiggle_fitness
  3. 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!

Lift our voices with a new sound system

Stretch Goal Added: $3,000

See description below

Be a part of our return.

We are the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson, Mississippi.  Since 1951, UUCJ has been a voice of liberal religious expression and social justice in our state.

Like churches everywhere when the 2020 pandemic struck, our church had to cease in-person gatherings. We began to livestream our services for the first time. Our church is small, with no equipment for creating video or for streaming, so we borrowed what was needed from our congregation: A webcam from one member, a laptop from another, cords and cables from all over. It wasn’t pretty, and there was a huge learning curve at first, but we did okay.

Streaming our services kept our congregation together during the stress and isolation of the pandemic. It also helped our church reach a wider audience than we ever thought possible. So we decided to continue streaming once in-person services resumed. To do that, our church needed to purchase its own video equipment.

Then, right on cue, our aging sound system began to die. Now, we needed an all-new video and audio system, and quickly.

After much research, we found a reasonably-priced, expandable setup including a mixing board, speakers, cameras, a laptop, and assorted stands and cords that would give us a PA system and allow us to keep live streaming once our church resumes in-person services in the near future.

Our congregation members have already raised almost $1700 towards this project! With an additional $2000 raised through Faithify, UUCJ can purchase the new A/V equipment we badly need. Please give what you can to help bring our church’s services back in-person and online for now and into the future.

Thank you!

Project Update: Student...

The UU Congregation of the Lowcountry (Bluffton, SC) sends us an update on their successfully funded project, Student Tech Connect: Our Faithify campaign raised $4,100 for Student Tech Connect. These funds came from generous donations of UU Congregation of the Lowcountry (UUCL) members and friends, and from UU friends across the country. Hear inspiring stories […]

Student Tech Connect

Your money is needed to further Student Tech Connect. Student Tech Connect has successfully helped financially underprivileged students connect online with their teachers and classrooms. Still, many more students need help. Beaufort county, on the coast of South Carolina, is a wealthy county. There are a string of counties along the I95 corridor known as the corridor of shame due to long term chronic underfunding of their school districts. Students in these districts are in dire need.

The youth of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry (UUCL) realized the impact that the coronavirus had on classmates who don’t have access to their online teachers and classes. Members of the UUCL’s Social Action committee were concerned about the pandemic’s pandemic’s growing disparity of educational opportunity. So the two committees joined forces to become the Religious Education Social Justice committee (RESJ). Although many synergies were discovered in the combined committees, we quickly realized the problem’s size and complexity meant we would need partners.

The RESJ joined forces with the Martin Luther King committee for Justice to add their weight to Student Tech Connect, a program to help financially underprivileged students connect online with their teachers and classrooms and improve their learning experience. The partnering by itself was a huge success, with nearly 10% of our congregants newly serving on MLK committees and establishing working relationships.

The next step in the process was to identify the underprivileged students and what they need to connect with their teachers and classrooms. Obviously, we don’t know which students were underprivileged, but the school district has that information. So we partnered with the school district and its Superintendant, Dr. Frank Rodriguez. Dr. Rodriguez had already negotiated a very favorable discount for internet connectivity for needy students.

Student Tech Connect has been so successful that we now have several funding sources so we have partnered with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. The Community Foundation disperses funds to the school district to purchase hardware and pay rental fees. The Foundation also disbursed funds to the internet service provider. The Foundation also has established donors that Student Tech Connect will be able to access.

Our partnerships with the MLK committee, the school district, and the Community Foundation have greatly increased UUCL’s incarnational growth. We are becoming much better known in the community for our justice work.

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!

Support the Ordination of Walter Clark

While the beginning and ending of a ministry may be hard to pin-point, there a certain milestones along the way: Acceptance and graduation from seminary, visiting the RSCC and MFC, and internships. One of the most celebratory of these milestones is the rite of ordination.

Rev. Andrew Millard and Walter at the end of his internship at the Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, VA 

On April 18th at 3:00 pm, I will be ordained by three different UU congregations. The Unitarian Universalist of Richmond is my home congregation. This is where I first came to love our faith and where the first calls of UU ministry were heard. Rev. Jeanne Pupke was my minister and my mentor and encouraged me to pursue the path of ministry at Meadville Lombard Theological School. There I met so many wonderful people who were all on similar paths for the faith, each with their own unique gifts. During my internship with the Richmond congregation, I was guided not just by Rev. Pupke, but by all the members of the staff: Rev. Sherman Logan, Rev. Sue Sinnamon, Rhonda Hodder, Desiree Woodson and others. The congregation was both graceful in helping me over hurdles and congratulatory when those hurdles were cleared. It was a wonderful 2 years in Richmond.

Bob Denniston, Nancy Brown and supporters at the US Supreme court demonstrating against gerrymandering 

After Richmond I served for a year and the Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, VA. Rev. Andrew Millard helped me to appreciate the different dynamics of a smaller congregation and DRE Joanne Dingus helped me with engaging the youth of the congregation. We worked through white supremacy training and raised a Black Lives Matter banner on our building. I learned about teaching adult education for the congregation and celebrated my first UU Christmas with them.

Rev. Jeanne Pupke, Rev. Elizabeth Ide and Walter at the Fight For $15 ralley in Richmond, VA 

For the last year and a half, I have been working with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VAin their pastoral and social justice ministries teams. The congregation has weathered some hard times recently and their resilience is clear. It has been awe-inspiring to work with the dedicated individuals that make up Arlington UU, who have taught me the importance of collaboration, clarity and kindness. Interim minister, Rev. Terasa Cooley has been both a mentor and colleague to me and has been a wonderful person to work with. The staff of the Arlington congregation have become like family to me and I have enjoyed all of collaboration between us.

The one thing I have learned is that ministry is not done alone. There are so many people who have loved me into ministry and I want to share my ordination with them all. However, there are so many people who want to attend, but are prevented from doing so due to travel costs. Usually congregations will help out with travel expenses for those participating in the service, and there will be some help in that regard. However, I would like to minimize the costs to the congregations so that they can put their resources towards their mission. All three of the congregations I have worked with are involved with major renovations or capital campaigns. Additional funding for an ordination has been hard to find.

That’s why I need your help. Any donation you can make will help offset the costs of the ordination service and make sure that my out of state ministerial colleagues will be able to attend. I am estimating the air fare alone for all of those flying in will be over $2,000.00. If I can raise that much money it will help defray the costs from the congregation and give those who have loved me into this ministry an opportunity to be with me on this most special of occasions.

Ordination and Installation of AJ van Tine

Headshot of AJ smiling AJ preaching next to a Water Communion altar

Sierra Foothills UU (SFUU) and the UU Congregation of Fairfax (UUCF) are honored to co-ordain AJ van Tine to the Unitarian Universalist ministry at an ordination ceremony on March 28, 2020. SFUU will also be installing AJ as their called minister at this event.

Ordination is an essential component in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, occurring after an individual has completed formal training and has been accepted into preliminary fellowship as a UU minister. Ordination is the final step that sets aside the ordinand as clergy and allows the title of “Reverend” to be bestowed.

AJ will be joined by congregants, family, friends, UU and interfaith clergy, and by those who have played an important role in his journey to becoming a UU minister. Your support of this campaign will help make this a meaningful and memorable event to mark AJ’s entry into service as Unitarian Universalist minister.

Funds for this campaign will be used for food and refreshments at the ordination/installation, compensation for guest musicians, and to support travel and lodging for clergy traveling from outside of the area. Any funds exceeding our ordination needs will be added to our offering collection for the Living Tradition Fund.

Thank you for your generous donation to this important event.

AJ with SFUU board members The outside of the SFUU church building on a sunny day

The Ordination of Justin McCreary

In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, it is the privilege and responsibility of the congregation to ordain a minister.

Following this tradition, the ordination of Justin McCreary is sponsored, with excitement, deep love, and respect, by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson, Mississippi. UUCJ would like to share this special privilege with the many individuals, organizations, and churches who have benefited from Justin’s passion, energy, and encouragement through the years. Your generous donation will be used for the ordination ceremony of Justin as he has been an example of a liberal faith minister in the heart of Mississippi.

Any funds raised above the needs of this ordination will go to benefit the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund in alignment with the first Principle of UUA beliefs.

Sponsorship of Asylum-Seeking Immigrants

In response to the hostility and injustice aimed at immigrants to this nation, The Community Church created our Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Ministry.  Last year, after a lengthy period of self-education and discernment, our congregation voted overwhelmingly to become an official Sanctuary Congregation.  As such, we pledge to open our hearts and our church to poor and oppressed people who come to our borders seeking survival, safety and well-being.  Our mission extends to people needing church sanctuary to avoid deportation, refugees in need of emergency housing assistance, and asylum-seekers, who arrive from Latin America and elsewhere seeking asylum due to the extreme dangers they face in their home countries.  

The Manse (former parsonage) has been refitted to house immigrants.

Our church campus includes an old minister’s residence or manse which is located in a secluded space.  In recent years, it had fallen into disrepair.  We have worked long and hard to clear out, clean up and repair this structure to make it a habitable and welcoming space for immigrants in need of housing and other supports to avoid deportation.  In January of this year we completed this work and announced to the larger community our readiness to receive an immigrant into sanctuary.

Concurrently, another related and urgent need surfaced. Individuals fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the United States are in desperate need of safe options as they wind their way through the asylum processes.  Because of the backlog of cases, asylum seekers are waiting a year or more before their asylum determination hearing.  Escalating stresses on the system suggest the backlog may grow dramatically in the coming months and years. Those seeking asylum cannot enter the U. S. until they have a sponsor; the sponsor or a surrogate is required to pay the bond that must be posted before the immigrant can be released to the sponsor.  Often there are no family members available or able to fulfill the related responsibilities, which are considerable. Beyond the bond are the burdens of adding another person to a household when the new addition is not allowed to work for at least five months after arrival. Churches are beginning to mobilize to meet the needs of those awaiting asylum.   

In April, our Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Ministry determined that we could best use our physical and human resources by making ourselves available to someone in the slow pipeline of asylum determination.  After contacting a church-affiliated “matching” organization, we were put in contact with lawyers working at the southwest border near San Diego, California.  We were matched with a 21-year-old female asylum-seeker from El Salvador who, since November, 2018, was held in detention in California awaiting a sponsor.  At her bond hearing on May 15th, her appearance bond was set at $5,000 of which Community Church has paid $2,000, plus transportation to North Carolina.  She arrived with few clothes, no personal hygiene products, no English language skills and genuine gratitude that she has found a community to welcome and support her.

Bike safety check with a church volunteer Our current guest goes through a bike safety check with a church volunteer.

Meeting the bail and plane fare expenses has been burdensome.   Ongoing costs are considerable and include housing, medical and dental care, clothing and personal care needs, food and transportation, acculturation experiences including language classes and safety.  We are writing this request to help defray these costs and to maximize the help that we can provide.  We have already been asked to take in a second asylum-seeker, and in May we had a refugee from Cuba who stayed with us for four weeks. We are hopeful that once we have secured adequate funds to afford the needs of our current resident, we will be able to meet the needs of additional immigrants.  

Community Church Sanctuary and Immigrant Support Steering Committee Steering Committee session.