International Youth Pilgrimage
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.
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.
New Couches for First UU Syracuse Youth Group
The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse youth group, Teenz, currently has five couches. Four of the couches are like the one pictured below. These couches are plastic, and are cold and uncomfortable to sit on. The blue one pictured is also broken.
As a result, a past group of teenagers went to the church’s annual garage sale and physically carried a couch from the sale back to the teen room. That couch is pictured below.
Couches may seem to fade into the background. In reality, though, they are a cornerstone for warm and welcoming youth ministry. They set a tone for the room, and literally support youth in their faith formation. These current couches have held joy and laughter and leadership and companionship. They are also now past due to be replaced.
We want our Teenz know that, while they are clearly resourceful, they don’t have to scrounge for used couches at a garage sale. Our teenagers are amazing. Let’s give them, and future youth, something new and beautiful.
We estimate that new couches will cost about $3,000. Fortunately, a generous youth parent has offered to match donations dollar for dollar up to $1,500. Please donate, and help us reach our goal of providing a more loving space for First UU youth.
Youth Captures: Our Life After Hurricane Michael (A Youth-led Photo Voice Project)
Hurricane Michael made landfall at 2 pm EDT on October 10, 2018 in Bay County, FL with top sustained winds of 155 mph; altering the lives of families profoundly to this day. One of the greatest challenges has been housing. Thousands of families have been displaced from their homes, leaving climate-induced trauma to children.
Bay District Schools has been reporting on this trauma, and continuously advocates for resources and support for their students. Five months after the hurricane, Bay Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt spoke before the State Board of Education about homelessness and the mental health struggles of Bay County Schools.
“More than 70 percent of the apartments in Panama City are uninhabitable. Before the storm, there were 738 homeless students in the district. Now, there are more than 4,800,” Husfelt shared, “[There have been 700] Community of Care referrals to mental health agencies. We’ve had 70 Baker Acts since we’ve reopened, 35 since Feb. 25th, 62 since Christmas Break.”
As school begins this Fall and almost a year after Hurricane Michael, the effects of the storm continue to linger. Families are still living in temporary or sub-standard housing, including: RVs, tents, sheds, cars, substandard trailers or houses, living with friends or families, FEMA trailers, hotels, motels, and weekly rentals with no lease.
This Photo Voice project is meant to help 10 teens in Bay County, Florida share their stories in their own voices, with their own pictures, and see the world through their eyes. It will be a close look into the reality that they and their families have to endure. With their photos, people will see the stories that aren’t usually covered by traditional media.
Initially, their photographs will be shared with the Bay County Community during a special event later this year, and subsequently with other coalitions and organizations via a pop-up exhibit.
The life journeys of our youth inform our future. Lived events shared in personal stories have the power to open hearts and minds, and inspire us to collective action. People can change their communities for the better, and understanding the lives of people in difficult circumstances better prepares us to work together to change conditions that affect their lives.
What is a Photo Voice Project?
Photo Voice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.
About The Exhibit:
The exhibit will consist of 10 stories, with 5 images associated with each. The images will be printed on canvas; and a QR code will enable visitors to scan the code and listen to the narratives in the teens’ voices. If the budget allows, there will be a printed booklet of the images and accompanying narratives.
Who are the Collaborating Partners?
Our partner in Bay County is well positioned to support youth: LEAD County Coalition of Bay County. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Empowerment, and Authentic Development.
The mission of LEAD Coalition of Bay County is to facilitate collaborative work toward increasing safety, building trust, and restoring neighborhoods in the City of Panama City and its surrounding areas. The LEAD Coalition of Bay County is a diverse, public-private partnership among a cross sector community organizations and agencies.
What are the Project Specifics?
Location: Project participants will meet weekly and at the LEAD Coalition’s Special Event unveiling the exhibit.
Timeline: September 2019 – November 2019
Point of Contact: The Project Manager will be a young adult affected by the Hurricane Michael housing crisis, and Ana Maria De La Rosa, Senior Grassroots Organizer for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will facilitate the project.
What is the process for this Photo Voice project?
- Kickoff Meeting with UUSC facilitator
- Photography and Weekly Gatherings with the Project Manager
- Photo Selection and Narrative Polishing with UUSC facilitator
- Exhibit Preparation with all partners assisting
The Budget Narrative:
Dollars donated to this campaign will be used to print the photographs on canvas, and prepare them for display. Funds will also be used to prepare the exhibit itself, including preparing the QR codes to accompany the display and the recordings prepared by the students.
The cameras, stipend for the Project Manager from Bay County, and funding for the UUSC facilitator will be funded by UUSC.
LEAD Coalition will provide grant administration, event planning for the exhibit showcase, and coordination with the high school. The high school will provide the meeting space, and facilitate the identification of students to participate in the project.
Suggested Budget Spending:
Ana Maria De La Rosa Covered by UUSC
Project Manager Stipend Covered by UUSC
10 Cameras Covered by UUSC
Exhibit/QR Code Supplies $500
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)
50 Photos on Canvas $2,000
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)
Ana Maria De La Rosa Covered by UUSC
Grant Administration Covered by the LEAD Coalition
Exhibit/Gala Covered by the LEAD Coalition
Help a Small Congregation offer OWL
Free Church Unitarian is a congregation of 50 members in Blaine, Washington. The congregation will be offering Our Whole Lives programming for youth for fourth, fifth and sixth grade youth. Our Whole Lives is comprehensive fact-based sexuality education. The class helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality. OWL empowers youth to make informed responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. Your contribution will support UU youth and a thriving small congregation.
The OWL class is supported by the minister Reverend Amy Moses-Lagos, the Religious Education Coordinator Lisa Moeller, and the Board of Trustees of Free Church Unitarian. Two members of the congregation plan to take the OWL training in Bellevue, Washington in September. The class for youth will begin in October. Of the money raised, $590 will cover the registration fee and travel costs for two adults to participate in the teacher training. $120 will cover the cost to purchase the curricula. $300 will cover the cost for a hotel room for 2 nights.
Youth Group Immigration Justice Immersion Learning Trip to Tucson, AZ
We have 9 youth from the Mount Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek, CA youth group and 3 adult advisors traveling to Tucson, Arizona on July 28th to Aug 1st to participate in a learning immersion experience on immigration justice. This is with UUCSJ’s Youth Activate program (uucsj.org/activatetucson/)!
In Tucson they will engage in a program of interactive immigration justice education in order to have a better understanding of immigration justice issues and develop skills for continued advocacy in our Contra Costa communities.
This Campaign will help us get there!
In preparing for this journey we have been fundraising within our congregation all year. Through congregational lunches, the Holiday Craft Faire, donut & bagel sales, grant money through UUCSJ, family contributions, and a car wash, we are well on our way to meeting our fundraising needs. This campaign is our last piece of the puzzle. We are within $3000 of our goal to fund this trip. This Faithify campaign is one of our last efforts to cover the added costs of sending such an abundance of people.
We are hoping to raise at least $1500 to help close the funding gap and ensure the program is accessible for all participants. If you donate and we raise $1500, or more, that money will be collected and go toward our travel funds (if we do not raise $1500 no money will be collected from anyone).
Any donations made that exceed our Faithify goal of $1500 will help us further meet the funding need of $3000!
Thank you from the youth group of MDUUC!
Why do we go to Tucson, AZ?
MDUUC has made a commitment to better understanding and working towards immigration justice through multiple methods, such as accompaniment efforts with immigrants and becoming a physical sanctuary church. This program is an opportunity for our teens to gain greater experience with the pressing issue of immigration justice and be able to connect with and support the work their congregation is prioritizing. By collaborating with local organizers who are welcoming and affirming across age, sexuality, gender, race, economics, and physical abilities, and participating on reflections of race and class our youth group participants will learn how to apply our faith’s values into the wider world.
Our participants will be sharing about their experience and what they learned at MDUUC’s August 11th worship service.
For your generous contributions to our campaign, and if we reach our goal, our youth and advisers will thank you in the following fabulous ways:
- For a $15 contribution … you’ll receive a thank you in the worship service’s order of service on August 11th!
- For a $30 contribution…you’ll receive the same thank you and an original “I support youth ministry at MDUUC Button!”
- For a $50 contribution, or higher! …you’ll receive a personalized thank you note with youth group artwork on it as well as a all of the above!
Family/youth participation for UUA GA 2019
My name is Elshender Taylor. I am asking for your help to go to the general assembly as a youth leader in Spokane, Washington in June. My vision is to help with a summer camp that my church is beginning and to expand our congregational youth program within the coming year. The TORCH youth group at our UU Clearwater congregation is a highlight of my social life. We are interested in things that make a difference in our community and world such as race relations and actions that will impact climate change. I am a sophomore at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts studying stage design and management.
My parents live separately, near each other and both are supportive of my interests and studies. I also participate in a Sea Scouts troop and assist seniors at a nursing home where my father works as a nurse.
I intend to help with a summer camp this summer and become a leader in my youth group, especially since there is going to be many more young people join our youth group, we anticipate to our group being 140% larger when school starts.
Although my mother is not currently a Unitarian, I have convinced her to go with me to the GA along with my father, older brother, and his girlfriend. My father will serve as our congregational delegate. He had emergency surgery this month which makes our financial commitment to the GA more difficult. My goal is to get 1220 dollars to cover my portion of the expenses for attending the GA.
$1220 in total for my goal
Which is $312 for 6 nights lodging.
The registration fee for GA is $240 and the Airfare is $518 and $150 for meals and incidentals.
Help Send Crash...
Crash (they/them pronouns) is a dedicated, vital member of the youth group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. They are raising funds to attend Thrive Leadership School this summer in order to deepen their connection to their Unitarian Universalist peers of color, explore their faith, and enhance their leadership skills.
They are raising funds to help offset the cost of registration and transportation from Buffalo, NY to Minneapolis, MN.
“Crash has been an amazing leader in our youth group and the congregation at large. They have made deep and profound connections among the Unitarian Universalist youth of upstate New York. Making sure that Crash has the funding to attend Thrive this summer so they can connect with other UU youth of color is an utmost priority of our youth program.” – Sarah Martin, Director of Religious Education, Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo
First Parish Youth Group (Portland, Maine) West Virginia Service Trip
The members of the First Parish Youth Group are 9-12th graders from the greater Portland, Maine area. This year they have been learning about how coal mining practices in rural West Virginia have devastated the lives and economic stability of the local communities.
In August we will be working in partnership with the UU College of Social Justice to travel down to West Virginia. After stopping in the state capital to learn more about West Virginia and hear an overview of many of the challenges residents face, we will travel deep into the Appalachia region of the state to have a hands-on experience working with and learning from communities struggling for a new, post-coal future.
Social Justice Work at Safe Passage in Guatemala
In July, youth from the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady will travel to Guatemala City, where we will spend time working with youth of Camino Seguro (Safe Passage), a top-rated charity organization begun in 1999 by Hanley Denning and members of the Guajero (dump picker) community. Camino Seguro has grown from an educational reinforcement program serving 46 children, to current day, providing more than 550 children and 100 parents with education, social services, and the chance to move beyond the poverty their families have faced for generations. According to their website, “Safe Passage is a refuge for children facing difficult situations marked by extreme poverty, neglect, and abuse. Safe Passage is a gateway out of poverty. Safe Passage is hope.”
Our congregation has been working with Safe Passage for 14 years. We have developed deep, meaningful, and lasting relationships with the children, youth, and adults at Safe Passage. Each time we go, we collaborate with Safe Passage to determine which project we will work to fund. We work for an entire year to raise the funds we need for Safe Passage. We pay for own travel and housing expenses. We create lesson plans for the children in addition to the project we fund. This year, our project is to fund the Quinceañera (a favorite, both for our group and the youth in Guatemala). A Quinceañera is an important Coming-of-Age ritual for the Guatemalan girls who are turning 15 and their families. The funding we raise helps defray the costs of the Quinceañera educational program, which includes classes on self-esteem, higher education, and healthy sexuality. It also includes a celebration for the girls and their families and friends. Without our work, it would not be possible for Safe Passage to host the classes or the celebration. As Fredy Maldonando, one of the founding members of Safe Passage, said to us during our last visit, “The most important thing is that you are giving the girls something special, something unforgettable, something that is about dignity. They will never forget it. This is so important to the girls and their families, the dump.”
Funds raised will go toward the Quinceañerea and program fees for Safe Passage.
UU Asheville Coming...
This amazing group of Asheville-based teens is seeking to put their compassion and UU values into action this summer!
In support of UU Principle 4: a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the youth have been fundraising and planning for a culmination trip for their Coming of Age class.
This trip will not only expose them to historic sites of social justice and immerse them in UU culture as they meet and engage with 3 other UU congregations, but it will also allow them the unparalleled opportunity to volunteer and learn about animal rescue and grassroots organizing (including legislative work) at Farm Sanctuary in upstate NY.
Farm Sanctuary was selected in part due to this group’s interest in UU Principle 7: the interconnectedness of all life which is supported by their love of animals and nature.
Farm Sanctuary is one of the original factory-farm animal rescue operations in this country, helping downed (i.e. sick and/or injured) animals and lobbying for a change to a more compassionate (and eco-friendly) system. While there, the kids will learn about their history and current efforts while helping with the day-to-day operations of keeping a sanctuary running.
Additionally, during their visit to the UU congregation in Ithaca, NY, they will tour Cornell University – including their world-famous ornithology lab – and experience some of the amazing natural wonders of the area’s National Parks.
Please help support them in these efforts!
Ramapough Lenape Art...
STRETCH GOAL ADDED: $800 – see below for details.
I am running this program as part of my internship for Community Ministry, with the Center for Earth Ethics, supporting indigenous rights and climate justice. My home congregation is the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, NY, my internship committee is at All Souls, NYC.
The Rampough Lenape are the original peoples of Connecticut, Rockland to southern New York and northern New Jersey. They are recognized by the state of New Jersey, but are not federally recognized, due to prejudice and racism. They continue to live in their ancestral lands and continue to experience encroachment by various entities. They have experienced toxic dumping on their lands which has caused cancer clusters and decimated many in the community.
Like many communities in the country, the Ramapough have had to deal with the effects of the opioid epidemic. The proposed after school program, Art & Literacy Lab, is a way to bring an educational program to the Ramapough youth, to allow them to process their concerns through literacy, art and creative expression and to create art connected to their Ramapough Lenape heritage.
The first session will begin with a small meal, followed by a sharing circle, where participants will discuss their interests in order for me to assess how to go forward. We will discuss how we will interact as community, setting norms or rules of engagement, in order to create a safe space. I will share with them my notebooks which demonstrate using art to create poetry. I will show them a selection of an image for them to respond to in writing. After they have written their response, they will share their observations for discussion. There will be individual work for students to choose literature from a variety of sources offered. The individual session will allow me to provide one on one support where needed. (Subsequent sessions will begin with a meal, sharing circle for check in and a sample piece of literature.)
A menu of options will be available for creative expression through writing, such as re-writing an ending, writing from another character’s perspective or changing one’s identity. Students could change a text to become a graphic novel, write a rap, continue journaling. Materials will be provided for drawing, painting, collage, modeling with clay. Use of DVD’s on history and culture will also be used in the program.
This program is a four-week, eight session program, two hours on Monday and Tuesday from 3:30-5:30. The program will begin in mid-March and end in mid-April. By the end of the program, students will have created a project to show to their families at the close.
I am a retired DOE teacher/administrator who has taught special education to Middle School students. The program will serve students from age 11-17. The funds raised will pay for books, journals, art materials, snacks for students and pay for gas and tolls to Mahwah, NJ from Westchester.
RAMAPOUGH Lenape NATION (MUNSEE)
March 6, 2019
To Whom It May Concern,
We at the Ramapough Lenape Community Center are looking forward to having an After-school program this spring. The Art and Literacy Lab will be a pilot program, six-weeks long, twelve sessions and will begin the work of providing an educational outlet for our middle to high school age students. I am looking forward to seeing our children engage in literacy and producing art work that they can be proud of as well as have the opportunity to engage in history and cultural practices. This is invaluable to our community and Mrs. Thombs is an experienced educator who will provide this program for us.
I heartily endorse The Art and Literacy Lab and am hoping that this program gets the funding support as it will greatly benefit our children.
Chief Dwaine Perry
Help send Valley UU youth on their Heritage Pilgrimage to Boston!
Valley Unitarian Universalist (Chandler, AZ) Congregation’s traditional Coming of Age youth heritage trip to Boston provides students with a week of history and hands-on experience for lessons that will last a lifetime. For youth whose closest sister congregation is a 45 min drive, imagine the thrill of 3 Unitarian Universalist congregations within walking distance of their hostel!
The Coming of Age program is a rite of passage in the lives of our faith’s teenagers. The youth participants have made a five-month commitment to exploring their personal beliefs, finding how their beliefs fit within the larger context of Unitarian Universalism’s history. During the program, and in preparation for the heritage trip, the youth meet regularly to discuss readings and journaling assignments and meet with leaders and mentors. They tackle a wide range of topics including Good & Evil, Unity & Diversity, Rituals, Spiritual Practices, and the afterlife. They select and carry out both a community service project and a social justice project. After crafting their own statements of personal belief, their credo, they present a Coming of Age service in late spring. The year culminates in a class heritage trip to Boston in early summer. UU history will come alive when the class visits many famous sites.
Unitarian Universalist’s past struggles for justice, reflections on humanity and our environment, decisions regarding ritual, and even choices regarding architecture will become real for our youth in the historic churches, graves, statues and other sites they will visit. We are looking forward to visiting the both the historic 25 Beacon St and the new Farnsworth St. UUA offices, the Boston Tea Party museum, the UU Social Justice offices, walking the Freedom Trail and exploring Kings Chapel’s Bells & Bones tour!
In the words of the Unitarian Universalist Association, “WHY PLAN A PILGRIMAGE? A youth pilgrimage can be a great learning experience for all involved, help in building community, and be fun. A trip to Boston can help to make our liberal heritage a real part of the lives of our youth. They can visit the churches where important events occurred, see the public statues of our heroes, the graves of our forebears, and the office of our presidents. They can also meet the staff at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), ask questions, and realize that real people are working on behalf of all of us to make Unitarian Universalism a force for good in our society today. Tours and historical sites are not the only ways they will learn on the trip. Experiencing the excitement of new places, talking with friends, learning to respect the boundaries of others when all are tired and hungry, making decisions as a group, and figuring out how to handle yourself away from home are all valuable learning opportunities.”
This year, our students have already raised money through donut sales, painting classes, a Valentine’s Dance-a-Thon, an Italian dinner, and an Easter pancake breakfast. We’re turning to the UU community for help getting this inspiring group to Boston in June 2019.
The students will continue their fundraising efforts through the entire academic year, seeking funding both within their own UU community and from the wider community. The group still needs additional funding to cover travel from Chandler, AZ to Massachusetts and for accommodations for the students and their chaperons.
Won’t you consider helping them meet their goal to get to Boston this summer?