Tagged: “UU”

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).

Mental Health First Aid

I am a UU who has a passion for improving the lives of those impacted by mental illness. As the mother of 2 sons with bipolar disorder, I have returned to school so I can help affect change. This month I finished my first semester at Boston University’s School of Theology. I plan to become a UU Chaplain and educate and advocate through a mental health ministry.

The intersection I am standing at in the picture is where one of my sons was in 2010 when he was having a mental health crisis. He stood in the middle of the street throwing CD cases at cars and yelling. Most motorists swerved around him and some screamed in anger. There was just one woman who stopped. She unrolled her car window and asked if he needed help. He replied, “Yes,” and she got out of her car and led him to the curb. This stranger sat and talked with him until the police came. We never found out who she was, yet she made all the difference that day.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour training that teaches how to assist someone who is facing a mental health or substance use challenge. I want to teach MHFA because 1 in 5 people has a mental health condition, and anyone can encounter someone in crisis like my son was that day. I have a strong foundation for teaching the course. My background is working as an RN, and I recently completed a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

A great place to start in providing mental health education is within our churches. Your contribution will allow me to attend an MHFA 5-day training in June, covering the cost of the course, travel, and lodging. Completing this training will certify me to teach the class which I will then be able to offer UU ministers and congregants in the greater Boston area. You can find out more information regarding MHFA at https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. Thank you for your support.

Donate to Color/Full...

Hi! My name is cameron, and I am thrilled to invite you to contribute to a faith-building, multicultural project I call Color/Full.

As a young convertee to Unitarian Universalism, I have attended 3 General Assemblies so far. This photography project is an extension of the creative outreach I’ve done to UUs of Color in the last three years. Please view my previous work here: https://www.facebook.com/cameronwhittenpdx/media_set?set=a.10207994556582191.1073741837.1846435264&type=3

If you’d like more details about Color/Full and why it matters, please read below. And please, please share this link and DONATE!

Color/Full project mission:

To honor Unitarian Universalists of Color through creative vehicles that highlight their beauty and their stories, and provide a compelling, alternative vision of what the future of the Unitarian Universalist community can look like.

Why it matters:

Since the founding of the Unitarian and Universalist faiths, white culture has been accepted as the norm in both the structure and spirit of the church. While many people of color are inspired by the message and values of Unitarian Universalism, those who choose to belong to Unitarian Universalism are typically expected to assimilate into white culture. This lack of space for diversity and self-determination often leaves people of color feeling invisible and isolated, and has led to many people of color to abandon any formal affiliation with Unitarian Universalism. There remains so much work to be done on racial justice — and it is critical for UUs of color to have a sense of agency and empowerment in this work.

Color/Full is a photovoice project that provides an authentic path for creative and spiritually driven action on racial justice in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, with a mission to create lasting change on the individual, cultural, and institutional level. Through the confluence of photography, community engagement, and storytelling, this project creates a venue to honor and affirm the  presence, experiences, and cultures of UUs of color.

Our Unitarian Universalist Principles call us to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of each person and to uphold justice, equity, and compassion in all human relations. Color/Full is a promising opportunity to promote a multicultural UUism that decenters whiteness and helps us get closer to making our core principles a reality.

Objectives:

  • To publish 300 photos, names, and transcribed stories of UUs of color that attend the 2018 General Assembly, posted on a Facebook page and website created exclusively to promote this project.
  • To support the new UUs of color to grow in comfort with the UU faith community.
  • To build confidence, excitement, and community among new, current, and former UUs of color.
  • To raise the visibility of UUs of color and encourage understanding and solidarity with the struggles of UUs of color.
  • To shift Unitarian Universalist Association policies that are either adopted or in consideration in regards to reconciliation on racial justice.

Faith beyond cultures: A Retreat for UU African Francophones

Think back to the first time you heard about Unitarian Universalism. What was it that excited you? Maybe it was a specific community. Maybe it was the principles. Or the idea of combining freedom of religious thought with spiritual exploration. Think back to the feeling of excitement that drew you to explore UUism and now, imagine carrying all that excitement and enthusiasm only to discover that almost all of the materials about Unitarian Universalism were written a language you do not speak and read. Having nearly exclusively English materials means that UUism is only accessible to one in five people. There are 115 million people in Africa alone, speaking thousands of languages.

La communauté Sans Frontières is an online Francophone Ministry that seeks to serve UU Francophones around the world through a combination of online services and face to face activities. This is a fundraising for the annual retreat of this budding ministry. This annual retreat seeks to bring together UU Francophone Africans from 5 countries for a 5-day gathering August 1 – 5, 2018. The retreat will be an opportunity for fellowship, to know one another through sharing personal and community stories, to deepen our faith through morning worship services. We also plan to discuss the relevance of UUism in the African context and how our respective cultures can balance its best elements with the timeless elements of UUism. An expert in Ubuntu Philosophy will join us to do a workshop that allows us to explore ways to make our faith relevant in our lives and communities. This third retreat in our growing ministry will be an encouragement to go back home and build something relevant to the local community.

Some of the participants to this retreat are people who are Unitarians or Unitarian Universalists but are not connected to communities or congregations because there are no communities in their countries. This is the case for Congo Brazzaville. Other participants are Unitarians who are part of communities and find it hard to nurture their faith because most of the available materials are in English. These include Burundians who are active in the Burundi Unitarian Church.  There are also people who used to be part of Unitarian Communities but are now refugees and not part of Unitarian communities. La communité Sans Frontières will be one way for them to be connected to a larger network in a language they can understand.

All participants will benefit from a time of deepening our faith and gaining skills such as designing meaningful worship by taking into account the culture and the local practices. Apart from the individuals people who will participate and benefit from the retreat, communities will also benefit from the skills that members will bring back. We hope that new communities may be be formed as a result of people who have enough confidence in their understanding but also a learning community they can go back to for questions and future  exchanges.

The retreat is one aspect of a larger project that will be implemented in the coming year.  The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) has signed on to support the Canadian portion of the project through the Northern Lights grant that will support our online capacities and other activities.

The people involved in this project bring various skills.  The coordinator of the retreat is Rev. Ndagijimana Fulgence who now lives in Canada as a refugee as has been working with Burundian Unitarians both those who stayed in the country and those who are refugees in East Africa and in other countries. You can read more about Rev. Fulgence’s journey, theological reflections, and experience here. 

An African from Congo Brazzaville who is an expert in Ubuntu Philosophy will lead a workshop during the retreat and help participants explore how Ubuntu and Unitarian Universalism can be integrated. There will be a seminary student from Meadville who will be attending and will help facilitate the work happening during the retreat. We expect to have 30 participants.

La Communauté Sans Frontières believes in partnership and will put our forces together with Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) to make the retreat happen. BLUU will help us cover a big portion of the cost of the retreat. Plans are underway to allow several members from the BLUU Organizing Collective to attend the retreat, with translators, it will be a moment of connection across the African and Black diaspora. We are excited about this growing partnership. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis (UUFC) has been working hard to accept donations to support Burundi Unitarians wherever they are and are will once again facilitate the collections of donations for this campaign.

A model of this ministry has existed for decades and serves isolated UUs around the world and prisoners in the USA. The Church of the Larger Fellowship has been helpful in sharing their experiences of serving communities separated by distance. We are grateful for them to have accepted to share their experiences of doing similar ministry. We learned a lot also from the Spanish Ministry as they serve Spanish speaking people in different countries.

This is a project that will bring together people from different countries for the retreat.  The people will stay connected through the rest of the work that will happen online. Worship services will be held starting from September and it will be easier for people who had an opportunity to meet during the retreat. There will also be small group ministry meeting online and face to face in different parts of the world.  The project will share its learning through the website which is being built and other groups and people will be able to learn from that model and adapt it as needed and appropriate to different contexts.

The outcomes we expect from this retreat are leaders who have a deep knowledge of our faith and how it can transform lives. Skilled Unitarian Universalist leaders who can help communities thrive and a community of accountability and support throughout Francophone Africa. An active and strong small group ministry online and in person depending where people live in isolation or in proximity with other Unitarian Universalists.

BLUU will match every dollar given through this Faithify up to $5,000! Please give generously. The reason the amount is $5,800 is to cover fees associated with processing credit cards so in total, if we are successful with this campaign, we will raise just over $10,000 toward making this African Francophone Retreat happen in Rwanda. Please make your gift today! 

Oceti Sakowin & Beyond at General Assembly 2018

The Oceti Sakowin Camp and water protectors convergence at Standing Rock was a historic, transformative space that drew thousands of people from across the world together for protecting water, indigenous sovereignty, and the sacredness of Mother Earth from the Dakota Access Pipeline and the ongoing devastation caused by continued fossil fuel extraction and repression of Indigenous peoples.

Unitarian Universalists were among those who mobilized and were transformed by the experiences and relationships formed — especially the UU Fellowship and Church of Bismarck-Mandan, the only church in Bismarck that joined the water protectors. One continued blessing to our faith community that came into being through these experiences at Oceti Sakowin was an invitation to be in ongoing relationship and collaboration with the Indigenous-led InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC), and Stories and Songs of the People. For more info check out https://www.initc.net/about-us

Yet another blessing is that members of these collectives have accepted our invitation for them to join us and speak at the UUA General Assembly in Kansas City, June 2018. Six Indigenous elders, friends, and relatives with the InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC) & Stories and Songs for the People will be joining our UU faith convergence in Kansas City and presenting a workshop on Saturday, June 23rd:

OCETI SAKOWIN & BEYOND: CREATING TRANSFORMATIVE COLLABORATION

Saturday, June 23  |  1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 2103 B

What does it mean to be human? How do we relate with one another and the environment? The InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration will share experiences and insights of the Oceti Sakowin water protector camp and create opportunities to practice cultural safety, decolonizing conversations, interfaith and intercultural relationships, and well-being.

Your gift to this fundraiser will greatly help the INITC and Stories & Songs of the People to comfortably attend the full General Assembly: building and deepening relationships with members of our UU faith, and celebrating the ordination of Rev. Karen Van Fossan (minister of the UU Fellowship and Church of Bismarck-Mandan) during the Service of the Living Tradition. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Photos witnessed by Wil Sterner

Assist with Ordination Funding

The worthy process of ordaining a minister is costly to both the individual and their congregation.  As a liberal religious association we welcome all people and all levels of contribution into our churches.  Some people give generously of their presence, some of their time, some of their financial resources.

We ask now that you donate a meaningful monetary amount to assist Cindy Pincus and First Unitarian Society of Denver to complete this faith journey in a good way.  Hosting an ordination will include costs like stipends for good speakers, money for healthy food and drinks, payment for use of beautiful buildings, and gifts of liturgical elements and robes for the ordinand to do her job fully and well.

Any extra money will be split evenly between two charities: one to support retired ministers who have led this faith well, and the other to support Queer Nature; a queer-run nature education and ancestral skills program serving the local LGBTQ+ community.

Help Cassie get across the ocean to attend GA!

A friend here in New Zealand gave me $20 NZD towards my Faithify! Check out the pretty polymer bills here: this one has the Karearea on it.

I am a young adult seeking financial support to recoup travel costs to work at GA 2018. As the junior co-facilitator for YA@GA and delegate for Auckland Unitarian Church, I am asking for your support to help me get to General Assembly in Kansas City 2018!

The UUA generously provides accomodation and food for volunteer staff during General Assembly, but the budget only accounts for domestic flights. The maximum stipend for flights is $600 USD, but the international flights and travel insurance are well over twice that! Such a large expense cannot be managed easily as a graduate student, so please consider giving a few dollars (or more) or sharing this Faithify on social media. Keep reading for a little bit more about me and my role at GA 2018/2019…

As the Junior Co-Facilitator I have been learning from some of our brilliant young adult leaders, in preparation for stepping up as the Senior Co-Facilitator for GA 2019. My role involves working with the Young Adult and Campus Ministry staff at the UUA in creating roles and the selection of our yearly volunteer YA@GA staff, organising workshops and social events for General Assembly, and ensuring everything runs smoothly at the event itself.

As for me, as a life-long UU and expatriate to the US, I am personally and spiritually delighted to be able to return to the US to participate in GA. I grew up in what is now the Southern District, at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Texas. I attended UU summer camps in Oklahoma (SWUUSI) most of my childhood and into young adulthood and even Maine (Ferry Beach) a few summers as a preteen.

Before emigrated out of the north Texas area, I spent my Sundays at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, organising workshops for the young adults, facilitating Coming of Age, and teaching Adult/Young Adult OWL.

I am dedicated to doing anti-racism work, such as the White Supremacy Teach-In at Auckland Unitarian and Undoing Racism with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond at GA in 2017. I am a member of Allies For Racial Equity, and have done a White Supremacy workshop for Horizon UU in Carrollton, Texas.

Here in New Zealand I am studying the experiences of transgender and gender diverse people with their doctors, and a volunteer locally for teaching on LGBT+ issues for university faculty and student leadership. As a delegate to a church so far from the US, I present my congregation with a unique and rare opportunity to participate and engage with UUA politics and going ons.

The nitty gritty:

Flights from NZ to the US are about $1400.00 USD, my required international travel insurance will be around $160-$200.00 USD. With the UUA travel stipend of $600.00 USD, it will be about $1000. $1200 should safely cover my expenses, processing fees on the Faithify platform, and any unforeseen travel add ons! Any amount raised over the goal will be put towards the trip to GA 2019, where I will be the Senior Co-Facilitator for YA@GA.

Thank you for your time and energy, and I hope to see you at GA in Kansas City!

South Church Senior...

The 2018 South Church Senior Youth Trip to the San Diego area is an opportunity to learn and grow in relation to the topic of immigration justice.
This year, in preparation for our trip, the 14 participating youth have attended local discussions about immigration concerns in our local community. In particular, we have learned about how new deportation policies are impacting the Indonesian people who live in our community.

Our group has read a book called Enrique’s Journey and then engaged in a discussion about the book. It tells the story of a young child on the path of hardship and trauma that immigrants face as they attempt to get to the United States from central America. This book helped us understand the intensity of the challenges facing families who are separated from one another due to extreme economic hardship and the hope for better opportunities in the United States.

We are hoping this trip will open our eyes to the real facts of immigration in the United States. Politics lie and stray from the truth to keep people in favor of controlling immigration. What we see on our trip will show us how much of those lies are said, allow us to ask questions in connection with things we’ve heard, and allow us to have deeper knowledge to engage politically on this issue.

As participants in this trip, we are aware that this journey is mostly for our own benefit. We are not doing a whole lot to help by traveling to San Diego and Tijuana beyond serving as witnesses to the trauma through which the people we meet are navigating. The real point of this trip is to learn together, to reflect, and to build a connection between this experience and our Unitarian Universalist faith.  Every time our youth group gets to be with each-other for extended periods of time, the most valuable friendships and memories are made. We are all closer then most kids our age and so, in addition to learning more about immigration, this trip is also another opportunity for our group to deepen our connection with one another.

Send McKayla to...

Hello, everyone! Thank you for visiting my campaign page!

My name is McKayla Hoffman, and I am an aspiring minister who is fundraising in order to attend the 2018 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly!

About My Journey:

I found Unitarian Universalism in 2011, during my sophomore year of college. Most of my undergraduate campus at Bridgewater State University appeared as a blur of color to me. Like many college students, I was perpetually running either to class, a meeting, or one of my three on-campus jobs. However, the rainbow flag at First Parish Church always caught my eye. Since the first day I walked into First Parish to sing in the choir, the wonderful congregation there embraced, loved, and inspired me as a close (and very sassy!) family does. I realized after being involved for a couple of years that something was different about this religious community than any I had encountered before. This denomination’s message of radical love and justice enabled me to express myself fully and openly for the first time in a church community. Knowing that there was a group of people who knew and fully embraced my identity was transformational. 

I deeply appreciated Unitarian Universalism’s emphasis on honoring many truths and nurturing the daunting task of living in love among all of them. Probably like your UU community, the incredible people at First Parish embodied this transformative questioning and the complimentary maxim “love is goodwill in action” while creating a supportive spiritual home. I was inspired to add my own effort into supporting this home for present church members and for the new seekers who came through our doors.

Something that began as a very small impression at a young age grew exponentially during my first three years at First Parish. I assisted with a particularly moving service, and the thought suddenly hit me: I should pursue UU ministry. Even after I graduated college and started my career in archaeology and museums, I haven’t shaken this call (though I’ve desperately tried–and failed). In the wake of recent work to dismantly white supremacy in our denomination, I felt that if I wanted to begin serving our community of loving movers and shakers, I should start now and set my fear and trepidation aside.

I attended the 2017 UU General Assembly, which proved to be a consequential one amidst the current work of dismantling the systemic racism in our denomination. The voices that span generations, races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and abilities are each vitally important. This year’s GA serves as our chance to continue giving credence and legitimacy to each of these voices. Also, the opportunity for our united UU family to network and connect during these challenging times is incredibly beneficial. Last year’s GA gave me new tools to dismantle my own complicity in white supremacy and colonialism, which was important to me as an aspiring white minister. I was also overwhelmed to be able to spend time speaking with GA attendees who were young, queer, and had experienced the same fears and hurt that I did. They empowered me in a way I’ve never experienced. For these reasons, attending the 2018 GA would serve as an important step in my ministerial–and personal–formation.

I’m currently working for a nonprofit living history museum. It’s a phenomenal place that educates underserved, inner city youth about history and its consequences, including ingrained racism, class divide, ethnocentrism, the need for environmental sustainability practices, and more. Unfortunately, working in the nonprofit world comes with its setbacks; it serves the heart and mind, but certainly not the wallet. However, after speaking at length with our Revered about the opportunities that the 2018 GA would present, I decided that I should try my best to make it there! I am grateful for the network and platform that is Faithify, and that it is available to those who struggle financially.

In order to offset the cost of attending General Assembly, I applied for and received a scholarship that covered the cost of registration and a small portion of expenses. However, I still have $500 to raise.

If you would like to consider donating to my fundraising campaign, I would be deeply grateful. As a young professional who understands the deep value of every dollar, I’ll highlight the fact that there is truly no amount that is too small. I am blessed to know such incredible people, and to have such supportive family and friends. Nothing that I could ever do would express my gratitude for the support you all give me, and no matter where this road takes me, each step will be for you all. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

UUMN Matching Grant

Healthy congregations are singing congregations! Congregations with thriving, vibrant music programs help us articulate our Unitarian Universalist identity because what we sing is who we are. The experience of music in worship – especially congregational singing – is what defines us for most people in the pews, because it’s the primary way they participate in the worship service. Growing resources that strengthen music ministry in our congregations is one of the easiest growth strategies we could possibly devise. But what do our congregations actually need in terms of resources, and how do we assess those needs?

In 2017, the UU Musicians Network received a grant from the UU Funding Program to fund a comprehensive survey of music programs in Unitarian Universalist congregations throughout North America, with the goal of identifying specific needs for resources and support. In order to best serve music ministry in our congregations, we need to know what’s actually happening in those congregations in terms of music programming and staffing. Our 1,000+ congregations vary wildly in their approaches to music ministry, and gaining practical knowledge of these approaches is crucial for determining institutional support for music ministry from both the UUMN and the UUA. The goal of this project is simple – to spend a year collecting as much data related to music ministry in our congregations as is possible. We need to know:

  • Music program staffing (Volunteer? Paid? Hours per week worked? Relationship style with clergy? Participant in worship planning?),
    Program Details (Choirs? Number of singers in each choir? Children’s programming? Other musical ensembles? Piano/organ/other instrumentation?)
  • Budget for salaries and programs
  • Repertoire (Which hymnal(s) used? Musical styles/traditions engaged? Needs/hopes for new music?)
  • Is the person responsible for music ministry in the congregation a member of UUMN? If so, what’s the value of membership? If not, why not? Is UUMN membership/conference attendance supported through professional expenses? Is membership (and subsequent adherence to the UUMN code of ethics) a requirement of employment?
  • Liturgical realities (Number of musical works in typical Sunday service? How does worship space support/hinder music ministry? What’s the typical worship planning process?

The UU Musicians Network is working with the Rev. Jason Shelton (composer, choral director, and music minister-at-large) to carry forward and complete the survey which is at the halfway point of completion. In order to finish the project, which will culminate in a series of reports to the UUMN Board and annual conference, and the leadership of the UUA, we need your help!

This FAITHIFY campaign will unlock a $5,000 matching grant from the UU Funding Panel, and those funds will be used to complete the project outlined above, resulting in an incredibly valuable collection of data that will shape the course of our faith community’s music ministry for years to come.