Tagged: “UU”

Lift our voices with a new sound system

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!

Save Chrisma from...

Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Chrisma is a 29-year-old asylum seeker from Republic of Congo (ROC). He speaks French, Lingala, and his English is improving every day. Now he is living in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester New Hampshire and he is being hosted by the congregation.

Before that, Chrisma survived thirteen months in detention.

In the ROC, Chrisma was part of a large extended family. After several of his family members were victims of violent killings, Chrisma fled for his safety. He first arrived in South America, then made his way to Mexico, and finally to Texas, where he applied for asylum.

Chrisma is intelligent, sociable, and very adaptable. Back in the ROC, Chrisma studied Computer Science. Someday, he hopes to work in this field in the United States. Tragically, Chrisma’s asylum appeal was denied and now he is facing a deportation hearing that will send him back to the country from which he fled. Luckily, we – his hosts at UU Manchester – found an Immigration Attorney experienced in Removal Defense.

We have already raised enough money for Chrisma’s case to begin. However, we still need to raise another $4,000 to complete the case. Any excess funds from this campaign will be used to assist legal fees for other asylum seekers.

Please help Chrisma who is facing this existential threat of being returned to an extremely unstable and dangerous situation in his home country.

Summertime Can Be Hunger Time

In the United States, 22 million kids get free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. The programs are an essential source of food for many children. However, during summer vacation, only 16 percent of kids who need USDA-funded summer meals can access them, making summer the hungriest time of year for too many children, resulting in long-term consequences.

Many of us remember fondly summer vacations living easy, breezy, carefree days. However, for too many children, summertime can be hunger time. Even though schools are back in session and kids have access to free and reduced-cost lunch programs again, teachers and social workers are seeing firsthand how challenging it is for many parents to feed their families, especially those still out of work and struggling to recover from the pandemic’s economic consequences.

This summer, No Child Goes Hungry is committed to supporting local schools, community organizations, faith-based groups, and grassroots non-profits committed to providing childhood hunger relief in their communities. We’ll be reaching out to little free pantry owners, backpack programs, and other generous organizations to help keep them stocked with the food and supplies they need to keep our children fed until schools re-open their doors this fall.

NCGH is dedicated to the elimination of childhood hunger, one kid, one meal at a time. With funds donated by churches, private organizations, and individuals, NCGH works with faith communities and other organizations to alleviate hunger locally.

Over the past several months, we have begun partnering with heroic organizations to make preparations to ensure continual student meal support over the summer. Some of our current partner programs include:

Peyton Randolph  Elementary School PTA’s Food Pantry

NCGH provided a grant of $1,500 to the Payton Randolph Elementary School to use in a match fundraising drive that raised $4,000 more for a total of $6,500 for the program. With the dollars raised, the PTA now has enough funds to offer food weekly for several months. Rev. Kären Rasmussen first heard of the Randolph Elementary School from her colleague, the Reverend Amanda Poppei. Amanda is the senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia. Amanda heard about the much-needed work to feed kids in Arlington from Bethany Zecher Sutton, the Randolph Elementary School PTA’s Food Pantry Coordinator, and made the introductions all around. Read More.

“I’ve known Kären for years and have watched her organization grow—especially in the way that she is able to support hyper-local groups as well as bigger non-profits,” said Rev. Poppei. “When Bethany told me about the growing need to feed kids right in her own neighborhood, I just had a feeling these two could collaborate and combine their efforts.”

NCGH Helps Sponsor Intern at Blackburn Community Outreach

NCGH provided a $1,000 grant to Blackburn Community Outreach in Todd, North Carolina, a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to engage and mobilize the Todd Community for social, economic, and environmental vitality. The grant will help financially support the season’s youth apprentice in the organization’s Beatitude Garden. This year’s summer intern, a 16-year old young man named Bebo, who is of Cherokee heritage, will work as an intern in the gardens for ten hours a week for 20 weeks this season.

The YMCA of Walla Walla, WA

NCGH provided a $1000 donation to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Walla Walla (the “Walla Walla Y”). The funds will be used to purchase snacks and juice for children participating in its newest summer enrichment program in Athena, Oregon. The Walla Walla Y serves 13 rural communities in Washington and nearby Oregon, where over 15 percent of the families are below the poverty level, and over 60 percent of the children qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. For seven to nine weeks each summer, when school is not in session, the Walla Walla Y offers week-long enrichment programs that nurture children ages 5 to 14 and support their cognitive, social, and physical wellbeing. The Walla Walla Y provides nutritious snacks and meals for the children during each day of the program. Read More.

Camelot Elementary School

NCGH supplied non-perishable food items and a shelving storage unit to Camelot Elementary School in Annandale, Virginia. Some may say, “practice what you preach,” but when NCGH Founder and Director Rev. Kären Rasmussen says it, she takes it to heart. When Rev. Rasmussen leads worship in her community, her sermon’s message invites listeners to connect with their local school and see what they need to help feed their kids. Rev. Rasmussen decided she needed to practice what she preaches, so she reached out to the school two blocks from her home to ask how she could help support the food insecurity needs of students’ families. She worked with Rebecca Stebbins of the Camelot Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Food Pantry on behalf of No Child Goes Hungry to provide much-needed food and new shelving for their school’s food pantry. Read More.

Still, more help is desperately needed. The need is vast, and it continues to grow. We feed kids, one meal at a time. It matters. Every meal matters.

NCGH provides grant money and mentorship opportunities so that community organizations can build hunger advocacy programs that will thrive and grow as their communities continue to tackle the problem of local food insecurity. Such sustainable programs include afterschool backpack programs, little free pantries, community food pantries, and donation programs.

NCGH also strives to educate the community on food insecurity issues and arm people with the knowledge to help. NCGH offers age-appropriate lesson plans to help local organizations to talk to people of all ages about the issue of food insecurity, helping to fuel future generations of childhood hunger advocates. The lesson plans are designed for schools, churches, or any group that would like to learn more about what they can do to eliminate childhood hunger in their community and are available to use at no cost. Lesson plans are available for Preschool-Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-7, Grades 8-12, and Adults.

Let’s Feed Some Kids!

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.

New Goal Exempt...

Now all UU Religious Professionals can raise funds for education, credentialing, and development exempt from the goal threshold.

Solidarity with UU’s Imprisoned in Illinois

UU Prison Ministry of Illinois asks your help supporting people returned from prison as well as UU’s still in prison.  One way we do this is through small grants to “solidarity circle leaders” with crisis needs such as housing, clothing, transportation, or medical care. 

For UU’s in prison we organize UU pen pals and make small additions to their commissary accounts to help buy sanitary supplies or food.  We also are piloting a program with UU’s in prison to work with their pen pals to guide our advocacy work for alternatives to incarceration and to reduce the harm caused by incarceration. 

Reaching the $3000 goal would provide emergency assistance to 2 solidarity circle leaders for a year and commissary contributions for 60 UU’s in Illinois prisons. 

Reaching the stretch goal of $6000 would do this and provide funds for supplies and staff time to run the pilot advocacy program. 

UUPMI consists of UU volunteers from Illinois who organize people in prisons and jails based on UU principles.  We connect people inside with UU pen pals in our congregations.  We organize reentry solidarity circles centering around leaders returning to the community.  We promote systemic change to end incarceration and to build justice, and carry this message to UU’s through sermons by our UU minister and workshops for UU’s.  We partner with UU Advocacy Network of Illinois and other organizations on advocacy.  We are supported financially by UU’s individually and by over a dozen UU congregations in IL with shared offerings.

Fund The VUU: A Unitarian Universalist Talk Show

The VUU is a weekly Unitarian Universalist talk show discussing important faith-based topics from an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural perspective. Every Thursday for the past 7 years, the hosts of The VUU have welcomed guests from every corner of Unitarian Universalism. Our guest lineup includes scholars, writers, activists, and religious thought-leaders who are shaping Unitarian Universalism for the 21st century and beyond.  The VUU has been committed to bringing you episodes that are newsworthy and entertaining!


Over 320 episodes,

with more than 800 guests,

and countless hours of research, preparation, and production.

We need your help to keep The VUU going!


Since 2013, the Church of the Larger Fellowship has dedicated thousands of staff and volunteer hours to producing and streaming episodes of The VUU. Each one-hour episode requires several hours of preparation. It takes time and resources to find qualified guests, outline a script and set up the technological requirements to stream live to Facebook and YouTube. After each episode is aired, a staff member or Learning Fellow allocates time from their work schedule to edit, re-master, and upload The VUU episode as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

When you donate to this campaign, you support:

  • In-depth topic curation and research
  • Qualified and knowledgeable guests
  • Increased accessibility (such as captioning)
  • Staff hours to prep and produce each episode
  • Resources to make each episode available after it is aired live
  • Graphic design needs
  • Educational material for viewers

The VUU has been downloaded over 95,000 times,

with hundreds of weekly viewers,

and thousands of monthly listeners.

A donation of any amount helps continue this ministry.


The VUU streams live on Facebook & YouTube every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET // 9:00 a.m. PT. The VUU aims to get people informed, inspired, and connected. Thousands of people have fallen in love with The VUU‘s inclusive, conversational format and enjoy that the show focuses on inviting a new guest each week to discuss issues that they are passionate about and matters that are close to their heart. The passion and commitment of both the hosts and the guests is tangibly felt, even though the screen. The Church of the Larger Fellowship is proud of the past 7 years of producing The VUU and hope, with your help, we can continue to air episodes of The VUU long into the future.


“As a Religious Professional working outside of a congregation, The VUU keeps me up to date with what’s going on in UUism–but more than that–it’s the “water cooler” experience I miss with my colleagues! Feeling like I’m getting to sit in on conversations between The VUU hosts, and participate via chat, is the collegial community I need.”–Janine Gelsinger, Executive Director of UU Justice Arizona & Supporter of The VUU


If you haven’t already, we hope you visit our YouTube channel to watch a few episodes of The VUU. After you fall in love with the show, we know you will, we hope we can count on your support to keep this program alive.

For more about The VUU and our upcoming shows, visit questformeaning.org/vuu.

Due to the generosity of the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, every dollar you donate will be matched.

From Detention to Asylum

Stretch Goal- Housing for Ana (description below)

Consistent with the Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person with justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; we declare ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation in alignment with the Iowa Sanctuary Movement.

In July, 2020 a person from Central America seeking asylum in the United States was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and arrived in the Quad Cities. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) arranged for the asylum seeker to be released, with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities (UUCQC) as their sponsor.

It is legal to enter this country to seek asylum, but in recent years many black and brown asylum seekers have been removed from the United States while awaiting decisions on their cases. Others have been locked in detention centers where they have little or no access to legal or other help and are now in danger of contracting Covid-19.

Support during the legal process, which is expected to take a year or more, is being provided by the Sanctuary Project of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Quad Cities Sanctuary Coalition. This person is living with a member family of the Congregation, so current housing costs are covered. All other needs and legal fees are being provided through community fundraising. The asylum seeker is taking the opportunity to learn English and how to navigate in this new culture.

It is estimated that supporting one person for a year will cost $10,000, of which at least $5,000 is for legal fees. Due to more ICE appointments than initially anticipated, transportation costs for each 350 mile round-trip appointment have increased our funding needs by at least $2,000.

Please join us opening your heart in the support of our guest asylum seeker by making a donation today.

 

Help Create a Brighter Future for Vulnerable Transylvanian Girls

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR-NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

Background. At the height of nationwide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 1.6 billion children were affected by school closures, causing the largest mass disruption of education in modern history (Source: UNICEF). Many schools around the world, including in Romania, remain closed or experience intermittent closures, making remote learning essential to children’s education. Although Romanian authorities promised to ensure that all children have the necessary devices to join the online educational system, the distribution of devices has often not reached children from vulnerable groups.

What will the funds be used for? In times of crisis, access to digital technologies is critical. The International Women’s Convocation has teamed up with the Unitarian Providence Charity Organization to provide electronic devices (laptops) for girls who are disadvantaged or living with disabilities – from both rural and urban areas – so they will be able to attend school remotely.

Vulnerable girls cannot afford interruption in their education. Disruption to learning only exacerbates existing inequalities, leaving girls even more vulnerable to abuse, early pregnancy, and poverty. With your help, we can provide access to education for girls who may not otherwise have the chance in a COVID-19 world — and ensure that they have the choice to write their own futures. Thank you for your support!

Project Partner: Unitarian Providence Charity Organization, whose mission is to fulfill the vocation of the Hungarian Unitarian Church by serving people and communities in need without discrimination. The project benefits economically disadvantaged girls and girls with disabilities in Transylvania. Through this project, we are living our U*U values, bringing positive change in the world by connection, care, compassion, social justice, and service.


Project Endorsements

Rev. Attila Vagyas (on the right), Providence Organization (Gondviselés Segélyszervezet): Even though Romania is part of the European Union and thus beneficiary of EU’s social development programs, many are left behind. Our organization reaches many isolated rural communities, where we have gotten to know vulnerable girls full of potential. In these troubled times, when remote learning is the new normal, access to a digital device has become a matter of access to basic education – and an opportunity to make the most of one’s life. With your help, we can give some of these girls a hope for the future.


Some of the Beneficiaries

Klaudia Sebesi, Székelykeresztúr / Cristuru Secuiesc

Twin girls Erzsébet Emő Veres and Ilona Emilia Veres, Barót / Baraolt

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.

 

Virtual Worship Elements...

Hey, we get it- preparing virtual worship every week is hard! Please accept this gift for UUA congregations to help lighten the load. Here’s two paired elements, a “story” and a longer reflection, on the theme of Obstacles, Play, and Teamwork. Both elements were written and delivered by Credentialed Religious Educator and Faithify Project Manager, […]

The Joy (and...

What would it look like if teams were rooted in JOY, play, problem solving, and collaboration?