Tagged: “UU”

Support the Ordination of Walter Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One New Mexico Gospel Choir/Challenge Grant

Kelontae Gavin joins our final rehearsal!

In collaboration with New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee, First Unitarian applied for and received a grant from the UU Fund for Social Responsibility, to support this year’s production of the One New Mexico Gospel Choir concert featuring guest artist Kelontae Gavin. The concert draws singers from over a dozen churches in Albuquerque, including several predominantly Black churches. All leaders in the project are African American musicians with deep grounding in historical and contemporary gospel music. The goal is to come together as a community and forge ongoing relationships, through the power of Black gospel music. For white musicians who participate, it is an opportunity to learn about and honor the history of Black gospel music. The project culminates in a free concert that attracts an audience from all over the city, part of Albuquerque’s Black History Month Festival.

Our grant and matching grant money will cover concert expenses, for example: hall rental, band musicians, fee and travel expenses for our guest artist.

All Souls’ Children’s...

Nowhere is the shadow of racism longer in American than when it comes to educational disparities. You can change this.

Our six-week, evidence-based program, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund, has been proven through rigorous research to improve literacy skills, build character and engage parents. During our first two summers, All Souls hosted the only CDF Freedom School in the state of Indiana. In 2017, we got 501(c)3 status, and in 2018, our parternship launched a second site. This will be our fifth summer offering this impactful program.

Thanks to our donors last year, 84% of our scholars experienced no summer-learning loss of gained literacy skills. Normally their peers would lose 2-3 months of reading ability; such summer learning loss, compounded year-after-year accounts for 50% of the achievement gap. Faithify is our single largest individual donor source, covering just over 20% of our program costs. $125 covers the cost of a scholar’s program for one week. Thank you for helping us mitigate the educational disparity gap that keeps so many of our children behind.

There have been three waves of “Freedom Schools” in American history, and Unitarian Universalists have been part of all three. Northern whites, often women, went to the South soon after emancipation to teach formally-enslaved persons to read. Then in 1964, as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the National Council of Churches and SNCC formed summer “Freedom Schools,” focused specifically on literacy, humanities, science and math. These schools, often “taught” by white, northern college students, also had a larger purpose: to show young, Southern black Americans that they were valued and to engage them in community problem-solving.

The Children’s Defense Fund has initiated the third wave with the development a modern, evidence-based summer learning and family engagement model. The model retains the historical focus on offering a culturally-appropriate program designed to empower and promote civic engagement and literacy. The model is defined by five essential components:

  • High-quality academic enrichment, which includes age- and culturally-appropriate books that are part of an Integrated Reading Curriculum involving reinforcing activities, field trips and games.
  • Parent and family involvement at multiple levels, from morning introductory activities to classroom assistance to supporting community projects.
  • Social action and civic engagement by our children and youth so that they are prepared to be active citizens. Participants engage in solving community problems and do social justice work, including through a Children’s Defense Fund yearly National Day of Social Action.
  • Intergenerational servant leadership development, by engaging college students and recent graduates to deliver the program, many of whom have had Freedom School experience themselves.
  • Nutrition, health and mental health, by requiring programs to provide—at a minimum—two USDA-compliant meals and a snack each day of operation, while training staff to recognize the importance of providing therapeutic health and mental health services.

With your financial support, All Souls Unitarian Church would offer six-weeks of programming for 40 school-age children in summer 2020. Indianapolis has pervasive educational and opportunity disparities and our congregation sits in a high-need community. The church is in close proximity to two struggling public elementary schools. Robert Lee Frost is 87% African-American and over 80% free and reduced-price lunch. In 2014, only 51% of students passed both English and Math in ISTEP. Only 65% of students passed the IREAD-3. At Brook Park, 76% of students are African-American or Hispanic and over 76% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Only 52% passed ISTEP in 2014. Opportunity disparities in is high. Nearly 25% of individuals in the All Souls zip code (46226) live in poverty and nearly 40% of children live at or below the poverty level. We know from national-level research that poverty is correlated with fewer summer learning and other enrichment opportunities.

All Souls has already begun to build a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals committed to making a Freedom School a permanent fixture in Indianapolis. Our partners include, but are not limited to, the Indianapolis Freedom School Partnership (the umbrella organization we helped form), the neighborhood elementary schools near the church, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, neighborhood organizations, the League of Women Voters, the Indianapolis Public Library, and the education departments of Indiana University, Butler University, and Marion University.

“Indiana Black Expo, as the backbone support organization for the Your Life Matters Initiative, is in full support of All Souls’ endeavors with the development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis.” – Tanya Bell President & CEO Indiana Black Expo, Inc.

“The development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis is an important service and support for youth in the northeast part of our city. I applaud All Souls Unitarian Church for its vision and for making social justice visible for children who need a supportive community and gifts that participation in a Freedom School provides.” – Dr. Cindy Jackson, Positive Discipline Coordinator, IPS district, and member of the education committee of the Your Life Matters Task Force

Project Update: I...

"We will continue this important work, as we at the NH Bail and Bond fund believe that no one should stay in jail because they can’t afford bond."

Support Seminary Students...

This spring, Starr King School for the Ministry is running its first-ever pilgrimage in the Holy Land within its ECO model of educating to counter oppressions and build just and sustainable communities.

This semester long-course, entitled “Reviving Pilgrimage: Decolonizing Religious Travel to the Holy Land,” involves a 10-day pilgrimage mid-semester of Spring 2020 in order for students to both engage in historical forms of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish pilgrimage while also challenging the paradigm of pilgrimage and the religious pilgrim’s role in colonization.

Over the course of the semester, students will ask the questions: What does it mean, as a religious leader, to visit the Holy Land in these times? Is pilgrimage possible in the midst of occupation and colonization? How is bearing witness to injustice a political tool in liberation movements, and what more is required of us? How does travel to the Holy Land require of us responsivity to the moral and political crisis on the ground? How can we challenge the white/western saviour complex in the way we travel? How can we move from charity to solidarity? How can we move from religious tourism to pilgrimage? How do we, as people of faith, put faith into action?

In our times, we desperately need religious leaders with a critical awareness of and engagement with the political realities of the Holy Land today. Help Unitarian Universalism be a model for training its leaders for this crucial ministry. Your donation will go to off-set student travel costs, rendering this trip affordable for a socioeconomically and religiously diverse student body. Class registrants include students from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions.

We need an additional $6000 in the next 30 days to make the trip possible for this upcoming cohort of faith leaders. Can you support us?

Class Instructor and 2 students featured in video

Course instructor Faryn Borella and two of the registered students, Lisa Kynvi and Ariel Aaronson-Eves, recorded the segments in the video for this campaign explaining the concept of the trip and its importance to them.

This fundraiser is cosponsored by Starr King School for the Ministry, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, and Friends of Sabeel North America

Thank you for your support.

International Youth Pilgrimage

2016 pilgrimage village horse cart ride

The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and the Országos Dávid Ferenc Ifjúsági Egylet (ODFIE)—the youth wing of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvania and Hungary—are proud to collaborate on a pilgrimage and summer camp in Transylvania. The pilgrimage/camp will take place in July 2020. The UUPCC and ODFIE last collaborated on a highly successful summer camp in 2016. ODFIE runs the largest Unitarian or Unitarian Universalist youth camp operation in the world.

The UUPCC interviewed an impressive number of applicants before selecting fifteen North American youth who will go on the trip. The exceptional youth accepted on the trip come from coast to coast. ODFIE will choose a roughly equal number of Transylvanian youth to join in the experience.

During the pilgrimage and youth camp, we intend to foster community through encouraging personal connections between cultures and empowering youth through discussion groups, home visits with local families, camp games, etc. The group will also visit culturally and religiously significant sites in Unitarianism to help them grow in their own spirituality and knowledge of our faith. These sites will include Déva where Francis David died in prison, Torda where the Edict of Torda was debated and proclaimed, and Gyulafehérvár where early Unitarian leaders King John Sigismund and his mother Queen Isabella are buried. ODFIE will choose a service project for North American and Transylvanian youth to work on together. Before the pilgrimage and youth camp, we will work with youth and their advisors to ensure their cultural competency and preparedness for an intense and transformational journey. This will include Zoom sessions as well as a few days together in New York City before flying to Transylvania.

Planning the 2016 joint work project

Visiting Transylvania—in many ways the birthplace of Unitarianism—and getting to know kinfolk in faith from a different country will help North American youth participants grow deeper spiritually and become more skilled at intercultural engagement. They will experience firsthand some of our most important religious roots, as well as our faith’s rich past and deep, complicated present. Building cross-cultural community through shared activities, worship, common meals and visiting sacred sites will help participants sharpen their community building skills and create lifetime friendships. More than anything, they will learn about themselves and their spiritual journey through leaving their ordinary rhythm and living in a liminal space full of adventure and opportunity. Through this pilgrimage/camp, they each have the possibility to return home a changed person.

We hope that the pilgrimage/camp will deepen youth participants’ sense of UU identity and strengthen their commitment to continue engaging with our faith as they bridge into adulthood. Young adults who have had deep experiences of our faith such as this will help our faith thrive for many decades to come. In their own unique way, each youth who goes on the pilgrimage/camp could make important and lasting contributions to U/U congregations in North America and internationally.

The North American youth will be accompanied by three adults over twenty-five years old. The advisors will include a minister and a religious educator. The process of selecting the advisors and every aspect of the trip will be guided by the UUA’s youth safety guidelines.

The cost for the North American youth and adult advisors to go on the trip is around $2,100 per youth. A grant from the UU Funding Program and (hopefully) a successful Faithify campaign will help make the trip affordable for every youth who has been accepted into the program. Reaching the Faithify campaign goal of $10,000 will pay for about 60% of the youth overseas airline tickets. Additional funding will come from the UU Partner Church Council, fundraisers at the youths’ congregations, and youth families.

2016 group at the airport before departure

Immigrant Housing in Chalice House

The need for housing for immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. is critically important. In a recently released report, the National Immigrant Justice Center described immigration detention centers as a “sprawling network of wasteful prisons operated by for-profit companies, county jails, and a small number of processing centers owned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that are interchangeable from jails in structure and practice.”

Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist (Palatine, IL) currently owns a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, and we are partnering with Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants (ICDI) to convert this home into transitional housing for immigrants seeking asylum.

It’s our goal for the home to be ready for a family by sometime in 2nd Quarter 2020.

Chalice House is a shared project whereby ICDI provides ongoing services and support to its asylum-seeking clients, while Countryside and donors like you provide housing and hospitality. Community-based housing such as Chalice House offers alternatives to detention while an immigrant’s case is pending so that families can stay together and immigrants don’t experience additional trauma in immigration detention centers.

ICDI is a non-profit, faith-based organization that provides housing and other services to immigrants released from ICE detention. An ICDI case manager connects people to educational, ESL, religious, health, and legal services. By providing a supportive and caring environment and trauma-informed care, ICDI seeks to help people heal and adjust to life in the U.S. while they wait for future court dates or work permits.

Chalice House is a way to build the beloved community right here, right now. But we can’t do it alone — this is where the support from you can come in. In addition to seeking the support (both financial and volunteer) of areas congregations and community groups, we are seeking support from individuals who support this cause.

If, for any reason, Chalice House does not come to fruition, all funds will go directly to ICDI to support other community housing for immigrants.

Help rejuvenate this...

Our Unitarian Universalist church was built almost 170 years ago by a group of abolitionists, including our main founder, who was not a funeral director but drove a hearse around town as a means of helping formerly enslaved people find their ways to freedom. One of our other early members went with a group of women to Town Hall on Election Day, where they demanded to vote — before the vote for women was officially allowed in 1920. (She was not a woman to be crossed, and the group was allowed to vote.)

Dr. Edward Everett Hale, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson and many other key thinkers of their day have given lectures in our church hall (yes, the very hall we’re trying to renovate).

UCMH church hall We’ve have a lot of fun in the old hall, including after church services during coffee hour.

We’ve been working to keep our founders’ dreams alive ever since the church began, making social justice a cornerstone of our community — raising money for Habitat for Humanity, hosting community suppers, becoming a Welcoming Congregation, hosting educational events about racial, economic and climate justice, holding Amnesty International letter writing campaigns, and holding a vigil and fundraiser to help reunite separated immigrant families.

Thing is, our church is really starting to show its age despite our small congregation’s best efforts, and we’re trying to increase our outreach to include everyone we can in the awesomeness of our beloved community. Under the rubric of our Spiritual Growth and Community Center, we host dozens of programs every year that are open to the community and that take place in Union Hall.

Recent and ongoing programs include: the Sessions open mic and coffeehouse, Japanese playgroup, drum circles, annual clothing giveaway, murder mystery dinner theater, potluck suppers, games nights, Mooncircle full moon rituals, labyrinth workshops, Red Tent events, Dungeons and Dragons, “Shake Your Soul” Yoga Dance, yoga, a rank choice voting informational musical event, Halloween Harry Potter-themed open house and fundraiser, winter blues beach party and many more. We also lend our space to Hudson town conservation meetings and the downtown holiday stroll.

UCMH church hall wall The hall is in dire need of some updating.

We’d love to do even more, including increasing our attractiveness to outside renters as a way of improving our financial self-reliance. But be honest: If you didn’t already know and love us, would you really want to hang out in a place with cracked paint that’s in semi-darkness? (Neither do we, but we really need coffee after the service. You know.)

So, please, consider helping us buy new tables, upgrade to dimmable LED lights, cover Ye Olde Radiators with pretty fabric, and buy paint (for a DIY project). If our Faithify goal is exceeded by $1,500, we will also upgrade the wiring for the stage and the hall in general. (Yes, we have a stage, from the days before television, when folks used to engage in quaint activities like putting on plays and making music to entertain themselves and to raise money for the church.)

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for any help you can give us. And whether you donate or not, please visit us in wonderful downtown Hudson, Mass. – we’d love to meet you! (Even if the lighting is suspect, at least we’ll be able to offer you some coffee. And there are lots of great restaurants and cool shops to check out afterward.)

For more information about our church and our wonderful minister and staff, head to www.ucmh.org.

Sanctuary for Rosa!

I took sanctuary because I love my children and do not want to leave my country. I want to fight from here. -- Rosa Gutierrez Lopez

Eighteen months after voting to become a sanctuary congregation, Cedar Lane welcomed our first guest into physical sanctuary.

Rosa Gutiérrez López was scheduled for deportation the morning of December 10, 2018.  She would have left behind three U.S.-born children and a full life – work, her own church community, friends, and more.  Instead, she made the difficult decision to come into sanctuary at Cedar Lane, determined to continue to fight her legal case.

Imagine Rosa were your mother. Your daughter, your sister, your wife. I want you to imagine that until it hurts your heart. Until it disturbs your mind. Unti it makes you weep and you find the courageous love to fight for Rosa and end these cagings, separations, and deportations. -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President, Repairers of the BreachImmediately our Sanctuary Leadership Team sprang into action.  Putting the finishing touches on what would be Rosa’s living space and stocking the fridge were first on the list, but they quickly moved on to training volunteers, creating systems for communications, and seeking answers to all the questions we never anticipated.

We are now eleven months in – and Rosa’s three children have joined her in residence at Cedar Lane.  Her children’s presence is a blessing.  Rosa deeply missed them while they finished the school year in their home town.  She is gratified to see them every day – preparing their meals, checking homework, guiding their growth and development.

Cedar Lane congregants and others have stepped up in ways we only hoped for, giving generously of their time, talent, and financial support.  But we cannot do this alone.

We are now turning to you, the greater UU community and beyond, to help us support Rosa through this next phase of sanctuary.  The costs of sanctuary are more than Cedar Lane can bear alone, and due to the long delays in the immigration court system, we expect our guest and her family will be with us for as long as 18 more months – or perhaps longer.

Can you help us raise $12,500 in the next month?

Your donation will help cover the cost of groceries and personal care items; school supplies; new clothes as the seasons change and Rosa’s children grow; educational outings and fun activities for the kids; background checks for volunteers; and out of pocket healthcare expenses, as well as other professional support for the family as they navigate this new reality.

Meeting our goal will help ensure our sanctuary program is on strong financial footing for whatever may come — and however long it may take.

Thank you.  Thank you for your support of Rosa, her family, and Cedar Lane.  Thank you for your commitment to building a more just world.

***

Our partners:  We would not have been able to sustain our sanctuary work to date without the support of hundreds of volunteers who give thousands of hours of their time each month.  In addition to Cedar Lane members, many come from religious institutions that are members of Congregation Action Network, a group of 70+ congregations in the DC/MD/VA area that is committed to providing support and solidarity to our neighbors who fear being detained, deported, or profiled.  CAN has provided trusted guidance to Cedar Lane’s lay leaders and staff.

Read more:  Rosa’s story has garnered media coverage from across the globe.  You can read some of the most comprehensive stories here:

Sanctuary is saying ‘yes,’ to our deepest religious and spiritual values, those values that compel us to care for the vulnerable, to welcome the immigrant, to organize society around the needs of the poor. Sanctuary is calling on our elected officials to fix our broken immigration system, so that congregations such as ours no longer have to use our physical spaces to protect human lives. -- Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Cedar Lane UU Church

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