Tagged: “UU”

Help Fund a...

Located in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, the Unitarian Church of South Australia maintains a gorgeous plot of native bush land which is home to the historic Shady Grove chapel, cemetery, and hut. Unitarian services have been delivered from the chapel from as early as 1856 and continue to this day. A later addition was the hut, which is regularly used for shared lunches, children’s camps, and retreats for adults and families.

But – a new heater is needed for the hut at Shady Grove to keep the chill away in the colder months and to allow the site to be used to its full potential as a special place for our Unitarian Universalist community. Please help us buy a good quality secondhand heater for the space. Any leftover funds will be used to improve the hut at Shady Grove, which could use some additional improvements.

In love and service,

Your friends from the Unitarian Church of South Australia

Help Save Our Historic Sacred Space From Stormy Weather

Project Description

The roof on our church building began leaking earlier this year and has already begun to damage our sanctuary’s plaster walls.  Unless we replace our roof, we risk more serious – and costly — damage, not only to the walls but to our historic organ.  The project includes shingle replacement, fascia repair and gutter replacement.  The total estimated cost is $38,000.

Olympia Brown served as minister of our church from 1878-1887.  Our church building is in Racine’s Historic Sixth Street Business District and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.  The church serves as a center of social justice activism both for our congregation and for many other like-minded people in our community.  The building is not just a physical home for our spiritual community engaging in this important work, it is a symbol to the wider community of the faith that we live, inside and outside our 123-year-old structure.    Replacing our roof is necessary to enable us to continue the important work we do unimpeded by worries about its future.

Our congregation is in a time of transition after enjoying 43 years with the same minister. Improving our long-term financial planning and operation are among the important tasks we are undertaking during this interim period. Ensuring that we have a sound and solid building is part of that agenda.

Last year we had a major repair project on our congregation’s annex building that exhausted our Building & Grounds Maintenance fund as well as drawing down our operating reserve.   That reserve will be the main source of funds for the roof repair.  We ask for your help through Faithify to defray the costs of our roof repair and to supplement our remaining operating reserve to pay for the project.

RELIEF FUND Hurricane Michael Rebuild

This is a Disaster Relief campaign. The “All-or-Nothing” goal is removed. All pledges made will be processed.

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall just east of Panama City, FL.  Michael was just two mph shy of a Category 5 according to USA Today.  The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bay County was hit hard.  The main building sustained roof damage but is otherwise ok.  The two Religious Education buildings sustained much more significant damage.  And approximately 63 trees have been broken and must be removed.  In addition to the damage to our church home, many congregation members’ homes have been damaged as well, and some have already been declared a total loss by their insurance adjusters.  This storm will take decades to recover from.

And yet, we have a lot to be grateful for.  Every person connected to this congregation survived the storm.  We have received some financial assistance for our main building, tree removal, and even to help some people in our community who were the most impacted by the storm.  What we haven’t found funding for yet, is to repair or replace our Religious Education buildings.  That’s where you come in.

As the community is working to put the pieces back together, our children need somewhere to gather.  They need a little glimmer of hope.  Maybe you can be that light?

This campaign is for $5,000 but that’s just a start to get us going.  Any help you can give would be appreciated.

Revisiting UU History:...

In our time, Unitarian Universalist congregations are challenged and called to come to terms with the white-centered culture and systems of oppression embedded in our congregational practices. Because our congregations reflect the dominant culture from which our two parent traditions emerged, it is important to revisit our history for a fuller understanding of the insights and oversights of our forebears and the cultural forces that shaped our tradition. How can we tease our liberating religious theology apart from the influence of a culture steeped in racial hierarchies and white supremacy? What little known stories of Unitarian and Universalist forebears of color can we lift up to offer both inspiration and a more complete understanding of who we have been, who we are, and who we are yet to fully become as we strive to more fully embody the promise of our radical theology? What wisdom and scholarship do historians and scholars of color have to share? How can we provide inspiration and help for congregations who seek to revisit their own histories, looking for narratives that help Unitarian Universalists meet this moment? These are but some of the questions the UU History and Heritage Society is asking as we consider why history matters and why the stories we tell about ourselves are important.

One of the gifts the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society (UUHHS) offers to Unitarian Universalists and to our faith tradition is an annual lecture at General Assembly. Named in honor of Conrad Wright, the lecture provides a chance for UU religious professionals and lay leaders to hear from scholars whose work illuminates our history and sheds light on today’s challenges. The UUHHS Board has established an endowment to offset the program’s necessary expenses, such as honorarium, travel, lodging and General Assembly fees for the presenter. Income from the fund will allow us to continue revisiting the complexities of our history as new movements call us to live our values more completely.

The Conrad Wright Lecture was inaugurated in 2008 to honor the scholarship and influence of one of the most important historians of our liberal religious tradition.  As Professor at Harvard Divinity School for decades and the author of innumerable books, papers and articles, Dr. Wright contributed significantly to the understanding of our history and heritage. Honoring Conrad Wright’s work, the lecture encourages us to move further and deeper into our understanding of our own history and heritage, just as he did in his time.

Through the Faithify campaign, we offer a chance for others who believe with us that knowledge of our past helps us navigate present challenges to be part of this effort. The fund has a goal of $20,000. To date, about $12,000 has been raised from members of the UUHHS Board and others close to the society. We ask for your contribution to this campaign, helping UUHHS to make significant historical scholarship available to all Unitarian Universalists.

Find out more about the UU History and Heritage Society at www.UUHHS.org.

Justice Associates Curriculum

Training Leaders and Doers: 

We are seeking to develop a curriculum for training and nurturing congregational and community leaders who are interested in becoming Justice Associates – centering the needs of our next generation of leaders. This training will incorporate practical skills with a focus on faith formation. Spiritually grounded, the curriculum seeks to combine 21st-century innovative solutions and a multiplicity of perspectives to better equip leaders to engage in the spectrum of support needed in justice work from a religious grounding. The Justice Leaders Initiative is built on the understanding that our leaders should feel spiritually fed by the work to build the Beloved Community, in addition to being better practical and administrative leaders.

Supporting Spiritual Grounding:

Our tradition has models for training Pastoral Care Associates and Worship Associates, but there is no equivalent for supporting the swell of leaders in our congregations and beyond who are focused on Justice as one of their main spiritual practices. At the UU Fellowship of Huntington, we wanted to come up with a way to support our leaders in their work for justice, while deepening their spiritual grounding and supporting their overall development as leaders. In discussions with many parish ministers and UUA program consultants, there is overwhelming desire to develop such a program. While some congregations and individuals have tried to achieve such a program through various means, our hope is to develop a unified program with widespread support and implementations.

The Justice Leaders Initiative seeks to address this gap – supporting individuals, strengthening ties between lay leaders within congregations, but also across our congregations. Some locations may use it internally, while others might use it in congregational clusters.

Collaborating for the Future:

While the genesis of this project grew out of one congregation, it is our hope that it will be a resource for the whole denomination and beyond. That’s why the curriculum will be developed through the synergetic, exploratory process of the “curriculum incubator” at the Fahs Collaborative.

Fahs has created several other curricula through this incubator model with varying formats. One such curriculum is the UUCSJ Study Guide for Cross-Cultural Engagement. Another project from Fahs you may know is the Beloved Coversastions Curriculum.

Working with the Fahs Collaborative ensures the project will be built on the cutting edge of faith formation and supported by a team that is passionate about faith formation for all ages. In their words, “Fahs Curriculum Incubators gather experienced educators to grow a seed of an idea into a full and useful learning encounter, or create new curricular strategies for solving stubborn faith formation challenges. Members of the incubator teams are invited to join projects that match their skill-set, disposition and experience of breaking social molds.” The values inherent in the Fahs approach to development will be instilled in the project.

Crafted for Congregation & Community:

As soon as funding is secured, the Fahs Collaborative will gather development participants to draft the curriculum – hopefully in the early months of 2019. The final project will likely be a curriculum of 12-15 hours of content in the form of six to seven 2-hour lesson sessions, or one 6-hour retreat plus six to nine additional learning session hours. A group of three to four writers will meet in one location for several days to develop the curriculum plan based on our goals, then work virtually to produce the learning materials. Then, the program will then be piloted in the Spring at the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY. After a final assessment and revisions based on feedback from the pilot, the Justice Leaders Initiative will be available to congregations and faith communities via the Fahs Collaborative catalog of curricula.  

Your support makes it possible! 

We have already secured funding from three other sources: the Fahs Collaborative, the UUA office of Youth and Young Adults, and the UU Fellowship of Huntington.

But, we need your help to close the gap. And that seems so fitting – in the work for justice and our Unitarian Universalist faith, we are supported and uplifted by the gifts and effort of the individual for the whole. So please, donate what you can to help make this project a success, not just for the UU Fellowship of Huntington, but for all those working for justice in the name of Unitarian Universalism.

Thank you.

New Living Learning Laboratory at The Mountain!

People love The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center and its Many Hands Peace Farm!

And, we want even more people of all ages to experience what our unique Western North Carolina mountain environment has to offer. With your support of this innovative project, you can help us realize our vision of creating dynamic, experiential education center–our new Living Learning Laboratory. Perhaps you have been to The Mountain, recently or in the past, as a camper, program participant, retreat guest, volunteer or day visitor. If you have never been to The Mountain, we hope this exciting new project will motivate you to come and experience it for yourself.

What:  The Living Learning Laboratory space will be the activity hub, resource center, and indoor work area for our Many Hands Peace Farm and established Farm Apprenticeship Program. This increased space will enable us to expand our educational programs for area school students and community groups, summer campers, retreat guests, and Unitarian Universalists from around the Southern Region.

The Living Learning Laboratory will be an organized educational space designed to be accessible, interactive, and inspiring for kids and adults alike. It will serve many functions: a demonstration space for examples of sustainable agro-ecology, a processing and storage station for produce and herbal products, farm stand, mushroom production, library, and classroom. This space will be the hub for our growing array of farm, wildcrafting, and edible forage tours, summer camp  and local schools programming, and community workshop offerings. It will also house a year-round office space for the Farm Managers, seasonal farm apprentices, and volunteers.

This new facility will provide the necessary infrastructure to accomplish the following objectives: 

  • Educate 250+ summer campers each year with positive ecological solutions to real-world problems.
  • Increase gourmet and medicinal cultivated mushroom production at least two-fold.
  • Wash and process 100% of our harvests on the farm adhering to GAP standards.
  • Sell produce and herbal products directly to farm visitors.
  • Expand our indoor microgreen cultivation to at least three different varieties of crops.
  • Increase and systematize product storage capacity for the farm.
  • And provide a classroom to offer a wide array of onsite workshops, rain or shine.

For several years we have partnered with local school groups to plan farm field trips. These field trips offer students an opportunity to engage with and learn about the possibilities of regenerative farming and to understand how their food and medicine can be sustainably produced. As of 2018 we offer wild edible and medicinal plants tours, as well as workshops to summer campers, adult groups, and local community members. In 2019, we will be offering a new Farm Camp week to our already popular summer MountainCamps programming.

Another recent development is the Many Hands Peace Farm Food Forest, an educational and perennial foodscape designed to demonstrate an alternative agro-ecological system for food production. The Food Forest is newly established, with a goal of producing regional foods, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration services, while educating visitors on the possibilities for regenerative farming in other wooded areas.

The farm borders a small high-altitude meadow and bird sanctuary habitat protected and managed by local partners to increase native pollinator habitat. The Mountain and our Farm staff were fortunate to receive a Bayer Feed a Bee grant in 2017, for the purpose of developing our pollinator forage habitat.

We want to build upon these highly successful initiatives by creating this Living Learning Laboratory. With your donation of any amount through this Faithify project, you can make this vision a reality!

Why:  Many Hands Peace Farm was founded in 2009 as working and educational farm intended to inspire learners of all ages with agro-ecological examples of positive change that can be brought back to their communities. The farm is located on conservation land trust property in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, which shapes all we do to responsibly manage the property and land use. We are committed to sustainability and the practices of low/no-till cultivation, completely natural fertilizers and supplements, and ethical wildcrafting practices, and demonstrating the possibilities of producing food and medicine without degrading soil, water, and wildlife habitats.

We believe in the importance of harvesting one’s own food and other beneficial plants with reciprocity and sustainability in mind. Our commitment is to facilitate the formation of personal relationships with the land, to nurture, sustain, and heal our natural environment and wildlife, as well as ourselves. In accordance with these beliefs, the Living Learning Laboratory facility will enable our Many Hands Peace Farm staff to expand our educational programs. immersive and practical farm tasks such as harvesting, seeding, planting, mushroom inoculation, and mixed-flock rotational poultry management.

How:  We will be renovating an underused vintage stable structure to convert it to a functional and accessible facility for the functions and purposes described above. Some funding has already been raised toward the costs of basic materials for renovating the structure–flooring, electrical wiring, insulation, doors, windows, lighting and heating. This Faithify funding will enable us to complete these renovations and create the classroom, storage, and work spaces.

And guess what? There is even greater incentive to inspire you make a gift to this Faithify project and double your awesomeness…thanks to two generous Mountain supporters, we can double your donation up to $5,000! 

 When:  The stable renovation and conversion process is scheduled to take place between November 2018 and the April 2019, in time for spring farming and environmental programs to begin. Most of the renovation will be done by skilled volunteer crews and work programs, under the supervision of our Facilities Manager and designed in collaboration with our Farm Managers.

From all of us at The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center and the Many Hands Peace Farm, we THANK YOU for your support of this Living Learning Laboratory project!

Wellness Yoga for Petree Elementary School Students

 The UU Fellowship of Winston Salem, NC, is raising $4,000 to enable Petree Elementary School to continue and expand its highly-effective yoga program.

Our Fellowship has a longstanding relationship with this Title I majority-minority school in our community. In 2015, with the help of a grant from the Mayor ‘s office and instruction from a non-profit called “Breathing Access,” the school implemented a yoga program for third-grade students to help them cope with the stress of crucial end-of-grade testing.

Yoga teaches a life-long practice of stress reduction and physical health. Yoga instruction improves behavior and focus, reduces anxiety and aggressive behavior, and supports children dealing with trauma. At Petree Elementary yoga has been used as an alternative to detention and other punishments with great success.

Although the program showed positive results and great potential, funding for this year is insufficient to continue and expand the program.

Our Goal:

Funds we raise will reinstate the vital third-grade program and expand the program to fourth and fifth-grade students for a weekly elective class. This money will also give staff training in how to assist children exhibiting behavioral issues and to assist children dealing with trauma.

BUILDING LIFELONG SKILLS FOR PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING


Yoga empowered the students at Petree to feel in control of their bodies, and it gave them tools to calm their minds. As the children work together, they see each other as partners and develop compassion and empathy for each other. This program is extremely important for all students, especially those who have experienced trauma. Yoga helps them build resilience and teaches them a skill which can benefit them throughout their lives.

Christine Bloomfeld, yoga instructor at Petree


Dr. Essie McKoy, the principal of Petree Elementary who initiated the yoga program, observed an improvement in the behavior of the third-grade students participating in yoga. According to Dr. McKoy, those benefits included:

  • Fewer disciplinary issues and fewer out-of-school suspensions;
  • Less reactive behavior and an increased ability to reflect and devise alternative responses to conflict and stress inside the school, in the home, and in the community;
  • Creation of relationships with other students outside of their normal interactions due to the different team techniques incorporated during yoga;
  • Cohesion and trust within the small group exercising together;
  • Increased creativity and increased enjoyment in being involved;
  • Increased self-confidence.

In addition, some parents reported that their children lost unwanted weight during the program.

Dr. McKoy’s aim was to address the needs of the whole child. As the program unfolded, Dr. McKoy noticed that the children’s vocabularies increased as they were exposed to new postures and techniques. Yoga practice increased the students’ mental capacities and gave them a new sense of belonging to something special. More importantly, the children became excited about the program and specifically asked for the “yoga lady.”

This program, along with Dr. McKoy’s emphasis on the “whole child” improved academic scores. Petree began with a -3.32 EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) growth index, and in a short amount of time, achieved a +2.24 EVAAS growth index, exceeding expected growth. As a result Petree became a “Piedmont Signature School.”


BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN 

Dr. Marlynn Wei wrote in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog:

Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children (ages 6 to 12). Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.

Emerging research studies also suggest that yoga can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving the core symptoms of ADHD, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can also boost school performance in children with ADHD. A growing number of schools now integrate yoga and mindfulness into physical education programs or classroom curriculums, and many yoga studios offer classes for school-age children. Yoga can be playful and interactive for parents and children at home, as well.

Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor, “More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children,” posted January 29, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/more-than-just-a-game-yoga-for-school-age-children-201601299055

__________________________________________________________

“Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children ages 6 to 12.” ~ Harvard Medical School Health Blog

__________________________________________________________

Most children in under-served schools in our county do not have the opportunity for the enrichment that this yoga program provides. Nevertheless, these students are the most in need of practices to help them with in-school and out-of-school stress and trauma. Yoga enables them to self-calm and to be less reactive in stressful situations.

 Your generous contribution will ensure that this program is renewed. Please help us create a focus that is positive and restorative.

“Mothers of a...

My commitment is to help my home congregation live our 6th Principle by bearing witness to the experiences of the Palestinian people and reporting back to them and the UUJAZ network and other faith and justice groups in Arizona so that we can build capacity to answer the call to justice in that region.  Although this will be (literally) new ground for us, Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation has always shown readiness and willingness to “answer the call of love.”    http://www.vuu.org/opportunities/social-action/

For more information about the Tree of Life foundation and the tour, see

Tree of Life Journey – March 2019

Help Launch UU At Home

Parents are the primary religious educators of their children. We know this because of research, because of the amount of time that parents spend with their kids compared to the amount of time that families are present physically in our congregations, and because even parents themselves acknowledge this in surveys. But what a daunting prospect! Our families are busy and overwhelmed, and adding the job of teaching kids about Unitarian Universalism, especially for parents who are relatively new UUs themselves can feel like just one step too much. So, we want to help!

Our congregation is launching a weekly email column from our minister for our families called UU At Home. Aimed at parents, this column will include ideas about family rituals, ways to approach major holidays with a UU perspective, ways for families to reflect on the UU Principles in their home, the story of the month from our Religious Education program to help families engage it in a deeper way, and other resources for parents to use at home. The column will be short enough to not overwhelm, full of practical ideas, and grounded in the lived experience of UU children and parents.

The money we raise from this campaign will help to pay for the staff time to develop the column, as well as any materials we want to purchase for distribution through the column. Thank you so much for your support!

Create Justice, Not...

Buffalo, NY and the surrounding Western New York region is one of the most segregated areas in the country. There are sharp divides here that separate people by race and class. The work that UU Class Conversations is doing to educate Unitarian Universalists on race and class divisions and how to make changes toward becoming more inclusive will be a vital and important collaboration that will help Unitarian Universalists in Western New York work more effectively toward dismantling systems of racism and class oppression.

Our goal is to raise money to off-set the cost of bringing UU Class Conversations’ “Create Justice, Not Walls” workshop to Buffalo on November 10, 2018. We want to be able to provide this programming to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of income status. With a successful campaign, we will be able to off-set the cost of the workshop and provide this essential programming to a wider audience.