Tagged: “UU”

Help John get...

My name is John Bloom-Ramirez, and I am a recent graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School.  I am scheduled to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee on September 28, 2018 and really could use assistance in funding my trip to Boston.  I am currently underemployed – working for now 7 hours a week for a local church as their office administrator, so we are living off my husband’s income as an hourly supervisor at Disneyland.  Making ends meet otherwise has been rough, and this assistance will help me complete this extensive journey toward fellowship!

Help create bail...

Should someone be in jail simply because they cannot pay bail–even if the amount is as low as $100? For most of us, the answer is a no-brainer. And yet it is happening at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, New Hampshire, and while many New Hampshire citizens have been working to change the law on bail, it’s a stubborn problem, and the jail continues to resemble a 19th century debtors’ prison. Fortunately, there’s a way to help people even under the current system. We are a coalition of Unitarian Universalists in partnership with the Manchester NAACP who hope with your help to bring change.

The people being held have been charged but not convicted of anything. Their jail time costs the general public $100 per day or more in taxes. On a typical day, more  than 60 people are held in Manchester because they can’t pay bail of $1,000 or less (New Hampshire Public Radio). On a recent visit to the jail a reporter for The New Hampshire Union Leader found a 66-year-old being held on $200 bail who is on his eighth day in custody who is charged with throwing someone’s clothes into a laundromat dumpster while intoxicated. Another woman was being held after missing court dates for a longstanding dispute stemming from a bad check she wrote to keep her heat on back in 2012.

A number of court and correction officials, including David Dionne, superintendent of Valley Street Jail, have spoken out against the use of bail in many low-level cases. Dionne told the Union Leader that people who are held on bail can have their Social Security retirement of disability benefits cut off, and some may lose Medicaid and have difficulty getting it reactivated once they’re released. “People with low bail like that–$100, $250–they shouldn’t be here,” he said. New Hampshire Public Radio quotes Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau:  “we get into trouble when we set low cash amounts because we think somebody might be able to post it, and really the people we’re seeing are poor and can’t.”  According again to NHPR, “many will spend more than a month behind bars awaiting court dates.”

Pretrial detention disproportionately affects people of color. NHPR reported in 2016 that while only 8 percent of Hillsborough County’s population is black or Hispanic, these groups make up 16 percent of county arrests and 27 percent of those who are locked up while awaiting trial.

Ideally, the whole institution of bail should be challenged, but this isn’t going to happen immediately, and meanwhile people are suffering. Our plan is to create a fund that would pay the bail of those recommended by a public defender, generally for those owing $500 or less. The good news is that eventually the court will return most of this money, so that your generous contribution will be multiplied again and again as accused people make their court dates and the money gets returned to the bail fund.  Such funds have proved successful elsewhere.

Right now–as in so many other ways–the deck is stacked against those at the bottom, who may lose jobs and have their lives torn apart while they languish in jail needlessly.

It’s time to change this!

Installation of our first settled Minister in 35 years

Our Fellowship was founded 35 years ago as a lay-led congregation, and eventually hired a string of quarter-time consulting ministers. In 2013, the congregation went through its first formal search committee process and hired Rev. Erika Hewitt as a half-time consulting minister. Both of us — congregation and minister — quickly realized that our shared ministry was a perfect match between beautifully imperfect parties. The Fellowship voted unanimously to call Erika as their first settled minister in December 2017. Now we’re pulling out all the stops to celebrate this milestone in our congregation’s life.

This ceremony will be following the time-honored Unitarian Universalist tradition of celebrating settled ministry. Our principles and values will be present in the ceremony, with visiting UU clergy invited to speak, intentional hospitality to the surrounding congregations and community and with a worship service celebration of the congregation. Acclaimed UU singer Joe Jencks will provide the music for the ceremony, as well as a mini-concert preceding the service.

The installation service will take place on August 19, 2018 at 4 pm at Second Congregational Church in Newcastle, Maine.

Thank you for your generosity! Any amount will be gratefully appreciated.

Shelter Neck Summer...

Shelter Neck Summer Youth Camp, located in Burgaw, NC, provides a haven for UU youth across the state to grow in their identity. Each summer, youth come together for an engaging week at our historic UU property. Camp is staffed by UU adults from several congregations, including religious educators, seminary students, former campers, and folks committed to ministering with children and youth. Campers’ needs are at the top of our list, and providing a safe, fun, fulfilling and joyous experience is an endeavor that not every family can afford. Because of our commitment to UU youth, we provide generous scholarship funds to families who may not otherwise have the resources to send their child(ren) to camp. Please help us meet the needs of these families so that we can continue our mission and build fellowship.

Families and Faith: Next Steps for LUUP

Longmont Unitarian Universalist Presence is an emerging ministry initiated jointly by the UU Church of Boulder and Boulder Valley UU Fellowship of Lafayette in 2016. Together, we are growing our UU presence in Boulder County, Colorado.

Our goal is an innovative, multicultural, and multigenerational spiritual community for families. We are committed to intentionally creating opportunities that are engaging and collaborative. We are exploring a new model of church beyond bricks and mortar, using a multicultural ministry model, and grounded in strong lay and ministerial leadership.

With care, we have nurtured relationships between Longmont members of our two root congregations, tending to the joys and challenges of our shared histories. We are now including Namaqua Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Loveland into our leadership and reach. Our members gather around poetry, meditation, books, and meals. We deepen our connections at monthly community gatherings which are soulfully moving and meaningful. Social media is helping us reach new people familiar with Unitarian Universalism but unaffiliated with a congregation.

It’s time for the next step. Time to reach out in love and involve people new to our UU movement and searching for a deep and spiritually grounded community. We are ready to partner with other community groups and serve Longmont’s families.

This fall, LUUP will hold focus groups with local families to explore their longings and hopes, struggles and wisdom. Our programming will evolve and reflect our new learnings about the families and current opportunities of Longmont. We will continue to gather, make friends, and care for each other. Your donations will fund increased time for our ministerial organizer, space rental, community outreach, and curriculum. Donations of all amounts are valued. We have set a participation goal of 150 people. Show your support!

New programming possibilities:

  • Covenant groups for parents
  • Parenting and spirituality seminars
  • Our Whole Lives lifespan sexuality education classes
  • Summer youth camp
  • Harry Potter as a Sacred Text group for youth and parents

Since our first meeting together, we have known that relationships are at the heart or our work. We are learning along the way together. What does it mean to be a UU in this time and place? Our strength comes from the efforts of many, past and present, directly and indirectly, who have opened their homes, engaged in challenging discussions and showed up for others in countless ways.

LUUP Facts

  • Emily Conger serves as our current ministerial organizer for 15 hours per month.
  • We receive ministerial support from Reverends Kelly Dignan, Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry, and Laurel Liefert.
  • We receive financial support from BVUUF and UUCB.
  • We received a Mountain Desert District Chalice Lighter Grant in 2016.
  • In addition to our ministers, the following people have generously supported us by leading our Monthly Community Gatherings and providing music: Rev. Julia McKay, Rev. Cindy Pincus, Kim Mason, Christopher Watkins Lamb, Cole Hart, Tracy Bush, and Clint Brown.
  • We have collected over $1,000 in offerings and given half of that to groups that support our values such as BLUU.
  • We have sought support and guidance from Pacific Western Region consultants Rev. Tandi Rogers and Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong.
  • Leadership attended denominational gatherings, including the Intercultural Development Inventory Workshop and Mosaic Makers Conference in San Diego.
  • Our monthly newsletter reaches over 200 people.
  • Find us on Facebook and Meetup. Contact us at info@theluup.org

Kansas Poor People’s Campaign Legal Fund

The Kansas Poor People’s Campaign is a participant in the national Poor People’s Campaign.  With cities across the state participating, including Wichita, Manhattan, Lawrence, Topeka, Lenexa, Kansas City Kansas, and many participants from rural towns as well, our campaign highlighted the issues of poverty, racism, militarism and the environment and the way in which they are linked.

With weekly press conferences and rallies, we organized moral direct action/civil disobedience designed to draw attention to the conditions in Kansas and across the country that are causing inequality to increase and creating barriers to civic participation.  In one action, we occupied the conference room of Kris Kobach, one our state’s most infamous leaders whose voter suppression policies have been touted nationally to conservative leaders trying to decrease the voter turnout of communities of color and communities of poverty.  In addition, his anti-immigrant policies and anti-LGBTQ policies  and pro-gun policies have been among the worst ideas to be introduced in our state and beyond.

We visited the Governor’s office and pointed out the ongoing refusal of our state’s leadership to expand Medicaid to the 150,000 people in Kansas (many of whom are disabled and/or working) who fall in the gap between the ACA and our current Medicaid qualifications.  We stood in front of our Department of Children and Families and highlighted the extremes issues we have had with this agency and as well as the work overload it faces due to the increase in poverty in our state and systemic underfunding by our legislature.  2,000 more kids are in foster care because parents can’t afford childcare and are working too much to try to make ends meet.  Our agency has lied and purposely hidden information about child deaths in abuse cases that were inadequately investigated.  Missing foster care kids and contractors keeping kids in offices overnight when they unable to place them have also been hallmarks of this dysfunctional institution.  We highlighted the simultaneous hyper funding of military efforts around the world and the recruitment of poor kids and kids of color into military programs where they are underpaid in stark contrast to the millions and even billions being made by private contractors.  Our young adults come home broken in mind and body and are virtually abandoned–leading to a high suicide rate among veterans and families on the brink of disaster.  15-35 people agreed to commit civil disobedience each week with 100-200 other participants supporting the actions.

Working with a local attorney and an ACLU attorney, we were able to negotiate some of our fees and bonds, but each participant in civil disobedience likely will spend a minimum of $200.  Many participants are themselves low income and several participated in civil disobedience more than once.

We hope to raise funds to assist them and to have on hand for the next campaign.  As this work continues, we hope to support more and more low income and people of color wanting to commit civil disobedience who have been concerned about the costs.

Transylvania Village Life Festival

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia, (Oakton, VA) and the Szentgerice Unitarian Church in Transylvania have been partners since 1992.  Over the years, more than 150 youth and adults from Fairfax have visited Szentgerice.  Our partnership has matured from a social justice project to a true sharing of faith and friendship.

In October 2018, Fairfax will get a chance to reciprocate hospitality when 14 youth and adults from the Szentgerice congregation travel to Virginia, the largest group ever to visit.  They are coming to commemorate our quarter century of relationship and to give back — (1) by helping to build a peace garden on the grounds of the Fairfax church, and (2) by demonstrating/teaching Hungarian dancing, crafts, cooking and baking at a Transylvanian Village Life Festival.  Our guests will be staying and sightseeing with Fairfax members.  This will be a rich opportunity to explore the common and different threads of our faith and cultures, to find new growth just outside of our comfort zone, and to make new friends through fun and shared experiences.

The $10,000 cost for the trip is being shared by both congregations. Fairfax is seeking your help in raising at least $2,000 toward our share of the expenses for airfares, insurance, meals and activities during the visit.  Please help us strengthen the bonds between the partners and make this a memorable trip for both congregations.
.

The Lane Lyceum at First Parish in Needham

When Reverend Catie Scudera, Minister at First Parish in Needham, MA, drafted the eulogy for Ed Lane’s July 2017 memorial service it was 15 pages long! There was so much to say about this extraordinary and humble man.

For many of us who knew Ed during his 21 years as a member of First Parish, we simply knew that he was the beloved husband of Helen and a retired UU minister.  Those who were fortunate enough to hear Ed lead a service or speak at the First Parish Lyceum, knew that there was much more to learn about Ed.

Ed was ordained in May of 1957 and first served as the minister in Winchendon, MA. Ed got involved immediately in denominational affairs. He began attending General Assembly annually, as well as UU Ministers Association events nationally and locally, which he kept up until his retirement.  He went on to serve churches in Cherry Hill, NJ, Westport, CT, Cambridge, MA and in Waltham, MA where he retired in 1996.

Ed’s work beyond parish ministry was extraordinary. In March 1965, Ed took part in the third and final Selma march, both in support of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a world without racism, militarism, or poverty, and in memory of his friend Rev. Jim Reeb, who was murdered by white supremacists after the second attempt of a Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights march. Ed was chair of the Beacon Press Board that published the classified Pentagon Papers in 1971, detailing government secrets about the Vietnam War. Thirty-some other publishing houses had turned down Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel’s request to publish, but, as chair, Ed pushed Beacon Press to do the right thing and bring the truth to light. Ed considered this among his most important lifetime contributions.

First Parish in Needham bestows the “Doctor of Durability” award to members on their 90th birthday.  Ed would have turned 90 on June 19, 2018 and the congregation thought it would be an appropriate honor to rename the First Parish Lyceum, the Lane Lyceum.  The church is raising funds to support continuing education at First Parish with the Lyceum as the focal point.

Ed loved the First Parish Lyceum and was a frequent speaker.  We reached out to our former minister, Reverend John Buehrens for the history our Lyceum and to share our plans to honor Ed. He replied with the following:

As Ed knew, such programs, though modest, were an homage to the historic role played in New England by lyceums, especially after the financial Panic of 1837, to spread the discussion of the best thinking in science, religion, philosophy, and the arts beyond the parish churches to the wider community. Our Transcendentalist forbears knew this. They spoke at Lyceums far and wide. When I left Needham, I worried that the Lyceum would either become a burden to my successors or simply die. Ed chose to help keep it alive. Naming it for him now makes great sense. Offering even expenses, much less a modest honorarium, was always a struggle. I had a large Rolodex of contacts to beg for a free Sunday morning. That is not a sustainable model.

Ed’s name will be repeated many times over when referencing The Lane Lyceum. Our hope is that by honoring Ed in this very public way, today’s newer First Parish members and future generations will want to know, “Who is Ed Lane? Why is the Lyceum named for him?” And after learning about Ed, a minister who lived his life fully committed to UU values and devoted to service to others, they will be inspired to live their own best lives.

A small group of First Parish members have donated $38,000 in seed money and we are reaching out to all members and the greater UU world to help grow the Lane Lyceum Fund with donations through this page with the hope to raise a minimum of $5,000.  We would be deeply grateful if you would consider this opportunity to honor Ed and his tremendous contributions by donating today.

The Lane Lyceum Fundraising Team: Florence and Sam Graves, Reverend Catie Scudera, Nancy Simpson-Banker and Rick Vincent

Building Sanctuary in Madison, WI

Faithify Project Description

This past November, James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Madison, Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to support the New Sanctuary Movement by becoming a host site for an immigrant facing deportation. To answer this call of witness and action, we will need to convert part of a large multipurpose room at the rear of our church into a guest room, install a shower in an existing bathroom, and make other renovations to conform to local codes. A professional architect from our congregation has drawn up plans and solicited construction bids. We expect the cost for the entire project to reach up to $30,000. Our Sanctuary  Leadership Team at James Reeb is seeking small grants and also planning  fundraising events to generate the rest of the funds necessary to complete the project.

We are not alone in this endeavor! James Reeb belongs to the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, which organizes congregations and organizations to provide physical sanctuary to our immigrant friends and neighbors at risk of deportation. We do this as part of the national New Sanctuary Movement.

There are currently seven congregations (at four sites) that offer sanctuary in Madison. Two are Unitarian Universalist, two United Church of Christ (UCC), one Lutheran, one Mennonite and one Jewish. (James Reeb is the only potential hosting site on the east side of Madison.) A dozen other congregations and several other community organizations offer other forms of support. Plymouth Congregational UCC, our neighbor on Madison’s east side, is also partnering with us on this project. We all continue to take our lead from two local organizations, Voces de la Frontera and Centro Hispano.

Our coalition opposes mean-spirited, cruel and immoral immigration policies that terrorize communities and violate human rights.  Our faith teaches us that all people have inherent worth and dignity and that everyone deserves to live free from violence and deprivation.  When our government tears apart families, executes unarmed immigrants, and sends refugees into the hands of their persecutors, we find ourselves compelled to act. This vision impels us to stand together in solidarity with our immigrant and refugee friends and neighbors, to offer our support and help, and to provide Sanctuary to those in need. We invite you to join us in this work! Please donate generously to our Sanctuary building fund.

Plano, TX Youth Service Trip to New Orleans

We are sending youth and adults from Community UU Church to New Orleans on June 12-17. They will work with local partners to learn more about the rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina and to add their labor to current projects.

We can send our largest group ever if you help us meet or exceed our Faithify goal of $750.

Since the first New Orleans service trip in 2010, this service trip has grown to include more and more youth. Last year 7 youth and 7 adults participated. This year 12 youth and 7 adults signed up for the trip.

Our youth group is growing! The youth group has increased from 8 in 2017 to over 12 youth attending every Sunday. For the early May bake sale, 21-24 junior and senior high youth created wonderful treats in a member’s kitchen. The advisors regularly need to recruit additional volunteers to staff the youth classes. We are running to catch up with this growth.

Between fundraising throughout the year and grant applications, we are within $2200 of our goal to fund the service trip. This Faithify project is one of our last efforts to cover the added costs of sending such an abundance of people.

Why do we go to New Orleans? The recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina continues for many neighborhoods in the area. For the past eight years, members of Community Unitarian Universalist Church have been coordinating with local organizers in New Orleans to complete individual projects for area residents. Members have an ongoing relationship with the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (http://celsjr.org). The Center for Ethical Living has its offices in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (http://firstuuno.org).

This year our housing expenses will support another service organization. We will stay at Molly’s House, a mission of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans (https://www.trinitynola.com/mission).