Tagged: “UU”

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.

The Basics on Backers

Backers: Who are they and how many do you need for a successful campaign?

Let the Music Play!

Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship is blessed to have a vibrant music program and an energetic new music staff. With new staffing and new programming comes the need for new music. Some music can cost up to $2.50 per booklet of sheet music; with 20+ choir members, costs can add up quickly.

Staff and the music committee have been working hard going through our files to assess what music is still relevant in keeping and making room for new pieces. Your generosity will help in really lifting our new music program to new heights

Empower Marginalized Bolivian Women to Create Change!

Background. The project builds on a pilot leadership development program implemented with funds raised on Faithify in 2018.  It took place in District 7 of Viacha (near the Bolivian capital, La Paz), home to indigenous Aymara, where women are mostly street vendors (and thus part of the informal economy). The initiative consisted of bi-weekly training courses in sewing, hairdressing, and baking, over a three-month period (August-October 2018). The practical trainings were complemented with workshops addressing economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, leadership, gender and society (with a special topic on masculinity, machoism, and femicides), prevention of domestic violence, and spirituality and meditation. The training was an inspiring spark for the 45 participants to think about paths to better livelihoods and to confront their situation of gender marginality. Project leader Calixta Choque Churata, a Unitarian from Viacha, would now like “to move forward and reach more women and girls who feel the need to be trained and empowered.” Given the success of the pilot training, interest in the continuation of the program is high. Please read more information about the pilot program here.

How will the funds be used? Funds will be used to implement practical courses in cooking and developing healthy food habits, hairdressing, sewing and making eco products; as well as leadership training focusing on capacity building in areas such as self-esteem development, gender equality, economic empowerment and entrepreneurial skills, prevention of violence, environmental education, and women in environmental decision-making. The participants will be selected by the local organizing team. Training sessions will take place twice weekly, over three months. Funds will be used for educational materials, training supplies, logistics, and the cost of trainers. The participants will enhance their ability to better manage their finances, be confident of their rights, and have a marketable skill. These results will decrease their level of vulnerability and discrimination and increase their ability to be financially independent. Graduates of the program can become resource persons for future training sessions.

Project Endorsements

Calixta, in green, with graduates of the baking class

Calixta Choque Churata, project leader (text of the video above): Life for women in Bolivia is difficult. “Machismo” culture is deeply entrenched. Sexism, misogyny, and violence are everyday occurrences. Many women are economically inactive and have limited job opportunities. That is why I believe that this program is a great opportunity for economically disadvantaged and marginalized women in Viacha to acquire tools and skills, gain confidence, develop leadership competencies, and achieve greater economic independence. This program offers marketable job skills – such as sewing, cooking or hairdressing – as well as business and leadership training. When women and girls are provided with training and entrepreneurial opportunities, they can challenge patriarchal norms and stereotypes; they can enter the workforce, build better livelihoods, and take on leadership roles in their communities. They can become role models to others. They can even start their own income-generating businesses. Please consider pledging to this project to give these women a dream. A dream to improve her livelihood. A dream to reach her financial independence. A dream to become a leader in her community. A dream to create her own future. Thank you! Gracias!

Participants in the Pilot Program

Delia Alexandra Fernández Vargas: I am 18 years old. This is my last year of school. I want to go to the university. I am thinking of studying biochemistry. I took the hairdressing training course because I like to learn hairstyles, hair care, new looks. I learned many useful things: for example, skin lightening, facial cleaning, hair care, massages, hair and skin hydration, new looks, and types of hair dyes. The teacher was very good. She knows her profession. I see myself doing hairstyles, hair dyes, or facial cleaning. I can offer these new skills. This training will definitely help me in the future. I wish I could learn so much more. The training course lasted a short time. I am grateful for what I learned. My heartfelt thanks go to all the people who gave us the opportunity of taking these courses.

Katharin Maldonado Tarqui: I am 14 years old. I come from a family with very limited resources. I took part in the hairdressing courses, which helped me get a job as a hairdresser’s assistant, during weekends, to supplement our small family income. I would like to continue this practical workshop as well as learn as much as I can about leadership and entrepreneurship – which will help me in my future. Who knows, I may be able to put my training towards starting my own business!

Project Partners. The Bolivian organizing team is made up of Unitarians from La Paz and surroundings. The project leaders, Calixta Choque Churata and Xiomara Salinas, attended IWC’s 2015 Gathering in Bolivia; Xiomara also attended IWC’s Third Women’s Convocation in California (February 2017). Our project partner is also the Unitarian Universalist community of La Paz, Bolivia (Comunidad Unitaria Universalista Boliviana).

Sanctuary Travel Fund

The Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition (CISC) is a small group of Cambridge, Boston, and area congregations walking the journey with people facing deportation and unjust laws. 

CISC is committed to following the lead of people who are facing the greatest risks, while honoring their strength and resilience. CISC currently helps to support a woman (and her two children) who fears for her life if deported to her country of origin.

As part of our sanctuary efforts, there is an urgent, repeated, and ongoing need for funds to support the team of people who accompanies our guest to her out-of-state court hearings, and other important sanctuary journeys. This Faithify campaign will help off-set the cost of this vital travel, including food, airfare, and ground transportation. 

Supporting the travel fund helps us continue doing what we do. Thank you for being part of our sanctuary efforts.

Please don’t share this link through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) or your congregation’s website.

New Couches for First UU Syracuse Youth Group

The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse youth group, Teenz, currently has five couches. Four of the couches are like the one pictured below. These couches are plastic, and are cold and uncomfortable to sit on. The blue one pictured is also broken.

As a result, a past group of teenagers went to the church’s annual garage sale and physically carried a couch from the sale back to the teen room. That couch is pictured below.

Couches may seem to fade into the background. In reality, though, they are a cornerstone for warm and welcoming youth ministry. They set a tone for the room, and literally support youth in their faith formation. These current couches have held joy and laughter and leadership and companionship. They are also now past due to be replaced.

We want our Teenz know that, while they are clearly resourceful, they don’t have to scrounge for used couches at a garage sale. Our teenagers are amazing. Let’s give them, and future youth, something new and beautiful.

We estimate that new couches will cost about $3,000. Fortunately, a generous youth parent has offered to match donations dollar for dollar up to $1,500. Please donate, and help us reach our goal of providing a more loving space for First UU youth.

Open FirstSteps Re-entry House for People Returning Home From Prison to Champaign Co, Illinois

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign (UUCUC) is partnering with FirstFollowers to open FirstSteps, a re-entry house for people returning to our community after incarceration. UUCUC has already committed $5500 for this desperately needed program.  Many other congregations, community organizations, and government programs are also supporting this cause.  Funds raised from this Faithify campaign will be used to cover startup and operational expenses. The FirstSteps house is scheduled to open this Fall.  They have already raised 85% of the funds needed to open, this Faithify campaign could get them to 100%. Please consider supporting the FirstSteps home and sharing this campaign with your network.

FirstFollowers is a local non-profit supporting people returning to the community from incarceration.  Over the years of providing peer mentorship to people leaving prison, they recognized a stark need for housing.

Housing is very scarce for those with any history of criminal justice system involvement. Historically, the local Housing Authority has banned formerly incarcerated people from returning to their units, even if they have family members living there. This is slowly changing with advocacy, but the demand for public housing still far outstrips the supply. In Champaign, landlords are legally allowed to refuse to rent to people with certain felony convictions. Other obstacles, like application fees and credit checks, exclude most people returning home from prison. With nearly 400 people on state supervised release in Champaign County, there is a huge need for supportive services.

FirstFollowers is working with the Housing Authority of Champaign County to renovate a home on Ells Street in Champaign. FirstFollowers GoMAD scholars are young people with some criminal justice involvement who are being trained in construction skills.  GoMAD scholars are currently working side-by-side with contractors to ready the FirstSteps home for its first residents.  When the home is complete and enough funds are raised to launch the program, staff and volunteer mentors will welcome up to four residents at a time.

FirstSteps is not just a house or a bed. Individuals living in the house will have the support of FirstFollowers peer mentors. Residents will also be connected with local resources and provided with access to opportunities for employment, training, and education. In addition, peer mentors will help them establish personal plans and goals offering social/emotional support through their networks of allies in the community.

First Followers’ mission is to build strong and peaceful communities by providing support, guidance, and hope to formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones through peer mentorship.

​FirstFollowers offers:

A safe stigma free environment

Peer mentoring

Assistance with employment searches

Job readiness training

Advocacy for individuals with felony convictions

Family reunification

Service referrals

View website:  https://www.firstfollowersreentry.com/

UUCUC is pleased to sponsor this Faithify campaign to help FirstFollowers acquire the necessary funds to make the FirstSteps home a reality.  FirstSteps will not just benefit the residents, but the entire community. We thank you in advance for your support. We hope to have many community members present on FirstSteps opening day, to not only celebrate, but to commit to a continuing partnership. Please read the UU Connections tab to learn how UUCUC came to support FirstFollowers and the FirstSteps transitional house.

“I Hope to...

 “I Hope to Find a Way Out”: Bonding out Asylum Seekers in New Hampshire

On August 24, some 200 marchers from four New England states met at the Strafford County detention center in New Hampshire where immigrants are held.  They conducted a mock funeral ceremony for immigrants killed at the Mexican border; as they marched by the prison they could see detainees pressed against the slim rectangular glass windows and hear them pounding against the walls.

The first speaker said:

We gather here today outside the Strafford Detention Center in solidarity, witness, grief, and hope.

We are here in solidarity with our siblings detained within.

We gather here to witness to a broken system that uses black and brown bodies for profit, dehumanizes Muslims, cages children and causes death.

We gather here today to mourn the dead, and we are here today to call for a different future.

The bond fund we are working to create aspires to be part of this different future.

Some immigrants came to New Hampshire just recently, seeking safety after suffering repression at home. Others have lived here for decades, working and raising families. Increasingly, ICE is imprisoning members of both groups. The good news is, many detained immigrants are eligible to be released on bond. But that takes money that they often don’t have. Here are some of their stories. Their names have been changed for their protection:

Harold escaped certain death in the Congo, his home country, for his ethnic identity. His family went into hiding, but Harold fled to the U.S. on a visa —only to be seized by ICE at the NH-Canadian border. His crime? Attempting to cross over to Quebec where people speak French, his native language. Thanks to help from our fund and other supporters, Harold was bonded out and is now living at the UU Church of Manchester while awaiting his day in immigration court. In the meantime, Harold has received his working papers, NH driver’s license, and he has landed a new job.

Sally, from Zimbabwe, was jailed by ICE on a routine traffic stop. She described jail to us as “the worst thing that can happen to a person.” Personal power and choice are taken away. Sally told us that no soap or lotion are provided and there is no opportunity ever to go outside. Officials took her documents and subsequently lost all of them. Sally was bonded out through the help of the United Church of Christ. Recently she had her asylum hearing and she won her case!

John   recently wrote us from the Strafford County detention center, where he’s been held for the past year. It’s been harder than he imagined it could be. “I got detained a month after my daughter’s birth,” he wrote. “I feel that I have failed her as a father. I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. She’s been through two surgeries already before she even turned one year old, and I wasn’t there for her…I am in a dark tunnel. I hope to see the light soon. I don’t know how long I can go on.”

Working in concert with immigrant organizers, UUs from across New Hampshire, and other communities of faith, the New Hampshire Bail and Bond Fund is working to pay immigrant bonds, which can be anywhere between $1,500 and $20,000 per person, and to provide other support to immigrants fighting for asylum.

The need for bond money is as great as the cause is compelling. As John wrote, at the end of his message “Because of you I might be saved. I hope to find a way out.”

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.