Tagged: “Southern Region”

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.

Youth Captures: Our Life After Hurricane Michael (A Youth-led Photo Voice Project)

Hurricane Michael made landfall at 2 pm EDT on October 10, 2018 in Bay County, FL with top sustained winds of 155 mph; altering the lives of families profoundly to this day. One of the greatest challenges has been housing. Thousands of families have been displaced from their homes, leaving climate-induced trauma to children.

Bay District Schools has been reporting on this trauma, and continuously advocates for resources and support for their students. Five months after the hurricane, Bay Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt spoke before the State Board of Education about homelessness and the mental health struggles of Bay County Schools.

“More than 70 percent of the apartments in Panama City are uninhabitable. Before the storm, there were 738 homeless students in the district. Now, there are more than 4,800,” Husfelt shared, “[There have been 700] Community of Care referrals to mental health agencies. We’ve had 70 Baker Acts since we’ve reopened, 35 since Feb. 25th, 62 since Christmas Break.”

As school begins this Fall and almost a year after Hurricane Michael, the effects of the storm continue to linger. Families are still living in temporary or sub-standard housing, including: RVs, tents, sheds, cars, substandard trailers or houses, living with friends or families, FEMA trailers, hotels, motels, and weekly rentals with no lease.

This Photo Voice project is meant to help 10 teens in Bay County, Florida share their stories in their own voices, with their own pictures, and see the world through their eyes. It will be a close look into the reality that they and their families have to endure. With their photos, people will see the stories that aren’t usually covered by traditional media.

Initially, their photographs will be shared with the Bay County Community during a special event later this year, and subsequently with other coalitions and organizations via a pop-up exhibit.

The life journeys of our youth inform our future. Lived events shared in personal stories have the power to open hearts and minds, and inspire us to collective action. People can change their communities for the better, and understanding the lives of people in difficult circumstances better prepares us to work together to change conditions that affect their lives.

What is a Photo Voice Project?
Photo Voice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.

About The Exhibit:
The exhibit will consist of 10 stories, with 5 images associated with each. The images will be printed on canvas; and a QR code will enable visitors to scan the code and listen to the narratives in the teens’ voices. If the budget allows, there will be a printed booklet of the images and accompanying narratives.

Who are the Collaborating Partners?
Our partner in Bay County is well positioned to support youth:  LEAD County Coalition of Bay County. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Empowerment, and Authentic Development.

The mission of LEAD Coalition of Bay County is to facilitate collaborative work toward increasing safety, building trust, and restoring neighborhoods in the City of Panama City and its surrounding areas. The LEAD Coalition of Bay County is a diverse, public-private partnership among a cross sector community organizations and agencies.

What are the Project Specifics?

Location: Project participants will meet weekly and at the LEAD Coalition’s Special Event unveiling the exhibit.
Timeline: September 2019 – November 2019
Point of Contact: The Project Manager will be a young adult affected by the Hurricane Michael housing crisis, and Ana Maria De La Rosa, Senior Grassroots Organizer for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will facilitate the project.

What is the process for this Photo Voice project?

  • Kickoff Meeting with UUSC facilitator
  • Photography and Weekly Gatherings with the Project Manager
  • Photo Selection and Narrative Polishing with UUSC facilitator
  • Exhibit Preparation with all partners assisting

The Budget Narrative:
Dollars donated to this campaign will be used to print the photographs on canvas, and prepare them for display. Funds will also be used to prepare the exhibit itself, including preparing the QR codes to accompany the display and the recordings prepared by the students.

The cameras, stipend for the Project Manager from Bay County, and funding for the UUSC facilitator will be funded by UUSC.

LEAD Coalition will provide grant administration, event planning for the exhibit showcase, and coordination with the high school. The high school will provide the meeting space, and facilitate the identification of students to participate in the project.

Suggested Budget Spending:

Personnel
Ana Maria De La Rosa                                                         Covered by UUSC                                            

Project Manager Stipend                                                     Covered by UUSC

Supplies

10 Cameras                                                                             Covered by UUSC

Exhibit/QR Code Supplies                                                 $500
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)

Printing

50 Photos on Canvas                                                            $2,000
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)

Travel

Ana Maria De La Rosa                                                        Covered by UUSC

Miscellaneous

Grant Administration                                                          Covered by the LEAD Coalition

Exhibit/Gala                                                                           Covered by the LEAD Coalition

Freedom Summer Camp at the Museum

How do children and teens in Rural and Low-Income Communities spend their summer when school is over? In Opelousas, St Landry Parish, Louisiana, Summer School is provided by church congregations and a few local public schools. However, this year 2019, a large number of students won’t be able to attend Summer School after the burning of three black Baptist churches in St Landry Parish by an arsonist during a string of 10 days in April 2019.

The burning of black churches was a common intimidation tactic during the Jim Crow era.

For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community.

The burning of the Saint Landry Parish black churches was classified as a hate crime.

With a predominantly agricultural community with a deep pride in a francophone heritage, Black Baptist churches in Saint Landry Parish, LA offer church-based educational programs, from after-school tutorials to summer schools, computer classes to family science activities. Black churches have an historic commitment to education, and educational agencies see black churches as their best link to children in neighborhoods beset by poverty, violence and school failure.

To accommodate our Community and help our youth in Opelousas, St Landry Parish, LA the Rural African American Museum has offered to sponsor a summer camp for the children of the congregations affected by the destruction of their churches, the suppression of their place of worship and the suppression of their churches’ activities ensuing struggles.

I offered my Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana Congregation members the opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values

The Rural African American Museum will offer a summer Camp program from 2-6pm at the Rural African American Museum, in Opelousas, with focus on providing educational services to youth of Opelousas during 4 weeks in July 2019 (July 1 – 26, 2019).

This all day program will be free, except for administrative fees.

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, the local Committee “Rural African American Museum” will monitor and visit the home of any child who may miss summer camp. The Committee “Rural African American Museum” is composed of Board members, educators and local leaders who will be following up to ensure that the children will complete the summer camp program at the African-American Museum.

At a time where there is a continued rise in racial and religious based hate crimes, Opelousas is facing a situation that requires an immediate effort on the part of Louisiana government and local organizations to support underprivileged children who are marginalized due to issues of economic class. It is imperative to support these youth by providing technical assistance and educational tools that could enable them to benefit from a good education that meets their needs.

Recognizing the critical importance of education to community empowerment and economic development in St Landry Parish, Louisiana, to help the local youth acquire the skills necessary in communication, help them believe in themselves, to empower their success and self-esteem.

The Rural African American History Museum was formed to establish, collect, hold, and preserve exhibit as a way to relate to the history of Rural African-American in St Landry and rely only on donations. Sponsoring the Summer Camp will help our local youth establish links, relate to their culture and respect their roots even in the face of adversity and hate crime.

This campaign will support the summer school to raise $ 3,500, which is needed to meet the budget expenses.

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM

The program for the Summer camp will be offered to ten St Landry Parish school students age 12-15, with the following activities:

ACTION and RESEARCH PROJECT “POETRY and CIVIL RIGHTS”

  1. First week: RESEARCH and CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS

ENHANCING STUDENTS‘ CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS: a Social Studies research project using Chromebooks laptops, books, articles and artifacts available at the Rural African American Museum. 

As I raised educational funds in 2018 for my Community in St Landry Parish to equip my students with technology, summer school students will have the opportunity to work with chromebooks for their research and presentation.

  1. Second week: Computer literacy SKILLS

Applied Digital Skills to improve digital literacy with Google, using Google classroom. Students will use Google slides to present their research findings.

Students will incorporate French poetry to their presentation.

  • Third Week: Performing arts SKILLS

Theatre techniques to build youth communication skills and self esteem.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

  1. Fourth week:

Art skills: Organizing, framing artifacts for the Rural African American Museum display.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Bridge geographic and generational borders using 21st century technologies

Material:

Technology: Three Chromebooks will be available for students to use for students’ research and presentation findings, with a projector for display. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

ARTS / Performing Arts: Colors, crayons, paper, mic. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Library: Use of books, articles, artifacts available at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Budget expenses:

Teachers’ Salary (2 teachers)

  • Teaching artist spoken word, slam poetry                      $1,500

Teaching Artist qualified and certified

  • Teaching Creative writing and performing Art                 $1,500

Teacher qualified and certified

  • Art workshop supplies (craft, notebook, frames, colors)   $   500 

TOTAL Expenses:                                                                   $ 3,500

My claim as a UULALA Congregation Social Concerns Co-Chair and member of the Unitarian Universalism Association

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Lower the walls between existing congregations
  • Members of the Baptist Black Churches will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.
  • Members of the UULALA (Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana) will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.

Our Congregation voted unanimously June 4, 2019 in favour of the project at our UULALA Congregation executive meeting.

I offer my UULALA Congregation members an opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

Background information on the Opelousas, LA churches’ fire:

As June 12, 2019, a young man from Opelousas, Louisiana, was charged by a federal grand jury for a hate crime

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/louisiana-man-charged-federal-hate-crimes-setting-fire-three-st-landry-parish-churches

Family/youth participation for UUA GA 2019

My name is Elshender Taylor. I am asking for your help to go to the general assembly as a youth leader in Spokane, Washington in June. My vision is to help with a summer camp that my church is beginning and to expand our congregational youth program within the coming year. The TORCH youth group at our UU Clearwater congregation is a highlight of my social life. We are interested in things that make a difference in our community and world such as race relations and actions that will impact climate change. I am a sophomore at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts studying stage design and management.

My parents live separately, near each other and both are supportive of my interests and studies. I also participate in a Sea Scouts troop and assist seniors at a nursing home where my father works as a nurse.

I intend to help with a summer camp this summer and become a leader in my youth group, especially since there is going to be many more young people join our youth group, we anticipate to our group being 140% larger when school starts.

Although my mother is not currently a Unitarian, I have convinced her to go with me to the GA along with my father, older brother, and his girlfriend. My father will serve as our congregational delegate. He had emergency surgery this month which makes our financial commitment to the GA more difficult. My goal is to get 1220 dollars to cover my portion of the expenses for attending the GA.

Goal:

$1220 in total for my goal

Which is $312 for 6 nights lodging.

The registration fee for GA is $240 and the Airfare is $518 and $150 for meals and incidentals.

Philosophy of RE...

This particular module is The Philosphy of RE. Any funds raised will be used for registration and reading materials related to the class. Any left over will be put towards my next training.

The overall goals of this module are:

Increased knowledge of foundational questions of religious education: what, when, who, where, how, and why.
Increased ability to articulate one’s own religious faith and religious education philosophy.
Increased clarity about the purposes of lifespan religious education.
Increased comfort and competence in sharing a philosophy of religious education with teachers and parents.
Increased comfort and competence applying new knowledge, worship processes, and educational awareness in the congregation.

Travel and Lodging...

I am attending GA for the first time. My goal is to arrive in time for the Liberal Religious Educators Association Professional Day. This is my first year as a Director of Children and Youth Ministry, I am serving at First Unitarian Church of Orlando, and I am thoroughly enjoying my journey! I am a member of LREDA and SELREDA. The connections and education I receive when gathering with other UUs is irreplaceable. I can’t even imagine what I will be gaining by attending GA.

Kaylyn Goes to GA

Kaylyn Elizabeth Miller-Benson is the Chair of the Member Care Committee at High Street Unitarian Universalist Church in Downtown Macon, a lay leader and social justice advocate in Macon, GA. She has made the ambitious goal of going to General Assembly this year in Spokane, Washinton to grow deeper in her faith and bring back valuable experience to her congregation. She is seeking funds to fly to Spokane and back, and Lodging while she is there. Registration and food costs have been covered. Any and all help would be appreciated.

A Food Forest...

We have been offering farm tours and foraging dinners for Mountain guests, campers, and local visitors.