Have You Heard of Faithify?

At General Assembly in June an exciting new program rolled out. Called Faithify, it is a UU specific crowdfunding program. Faithify is a new way for those of us with exciting new projects that need funding to reach those who might want to fund them. Watch the video below to learn more.

The kick off was amazing and the program has been growing stronger. Thus far there have been $120,000  in donations collected, 159 folks registered on the site and the average pledge is $118. Unitarian Church of Rochester successfully had their campaign to expand the Uni-Uni program completed on Faithify this month.

So, what are you waiting for? Does your congregation have an innovative program you’d love to put in place but just need the funds for? Go to Faithify.org, find out what you need to do in order to put your project on Faithify and post it there. Then we’ll help advertise it by sharing it on our facebook pages and twitter accounts. This is the way to reach folks well beyond your cluster or even district borders. Faithify is international. You can reach UUs everywhere. What makes it work is how much people share your information on their facebook, google + and other social media platforms. This could be the answer to being able to try those innovative programs out.

Not sure if your program or idea would fit? Go to the Faithify website and check out what projects have already been successful. Read the information on the website on how to post a project. Ask questions and get them answered.

Don’t have a project but interested in supporting one? Check out the current projects on the site and go back regularly to see what new projects have been added. Projects can only stay on the site for a maximum of 60 days so they are always changing.

Together we can help each other reach out and grow.

Beth Casebolt
OMD District Administrator & CERG Communications Consultant

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Intergenerational: Better Together

Between the evening of Friday October 10 and the morning of Monday October 13, sixty youth and twenty-two adults from across the Central East Regional Group gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County in State College PA. The second annual CERG youth con was a chance to connect with new and old friends, learn from other UU’s wisdom, and discover how we truly are better together. One thing that’s special about this con is that it draws the leaders from each district which creates a special atmosphere of cooperation, inclusion, and enthusiasm where those who normally run the cons get to experience the con.

Ella and Mitchell lead the congregation in song
Ella and Mitchell lead the congregation in song

Youth cons are also a special crucible of UU community—a chance to truly live covenant, to stretch to become more inclusive, and to build intentional intergenerational community. On Sunday morning, the youth and adults at the con joined the congregation for a shared worship service co-planned with youth leaders. The speakers had such insights into the magic of intergenerational community:

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Sarah Diaz speaks

From Sarah Diaz, an adult member of the congregation: “The presence and personality of every person of every age here at the Fellowship enriches this community. We share energy, optimism, humor, talents, attention, experience. Open your mind to the possibility of rich intergenerational relationships. Open your home or your heart to make connections with people older and younger than you. Open your eyes to see them, not just as they are now, but ask them about who they were and imagine who they may become. Open your ears to their voices. Spread your arms wide to embrace them. “

From Lars, a youth from the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady: “I find that I truly enjoy the relationships with trusted adults that I do know. I can only imagine how nice it would be if every youth and adult was as close as the youth are to our advisors. One of the ways I feel that would help this is if adults understood took the time to

Lars

sit down and have a conversation thats longer than “Hi how are you?”, “good”, “Hows school going?” “good” “And what colleges are you at?” As a whole I find that meeting with different people keeps me inspired. Whether they may be a youth from and different district or if they are a trusting adult. The important thing is to know that everyone in this community values and supports you.”

Eva and Lars "power" pose before the service
Eva and Lars “power” pose before the service

From Eva Beal, a young adult from the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh: “Something inside my 6 year old self knew that my 16 and 26 year old selves knew I was going to need a community like the one I’ve found in UUism. And the beauty of intergenerational community we get to connect to all age of ourselves: who we have been, who can and will be, and who we are now. And in this age stops becoming definitive and becomes liberatory.”

Following these reflections, youth and adults gathered in small groups to tell their stories of the challenges and blessings of intergenerational community and their longings. The conversations continued at social hour with the kind of connection and sharing we know both youth and adults long for with each other. So this year’s CERG Con was not only a chance to learn again how much we can learn from each other across district lines, but also a chance to relearn the power in human connection across age.

Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Congregational Life Staff

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Past blogs in CERGing Forward and some in Better Together have outlined a number of the reasons that factor into our discussions about regionalization:  a desire to live our theology of interdependence,  our covenant responsibilities within the tradition of the Cambridge Platform, a desire to forgo duplicative efforts,  the need to streamline communications, a desire to create new structures to  meet  the needs of our ever changing social context,  the need for coordination and team effort to better support our congregations and their ministries,  and more.  Look at the past blogs and you will see a number of these reasons discussed.

CERG LogoUnfortunately,  there are also several other stories going around about why we are moving to regionalization – stories that may contain some fact but are mostly fiction.  Let me outline a couple of these that seem to be spreading in parts of our region.

  1. Fiction — We are moving to regionalization because one or more of our districts are going bankrupt.
    Fact – Two of our districts are smaller than the others, but none are going bankrupt.   All of the districts in the Central East Region (JPD, MNY, SLD and OMD) have areas of strength to share with the others and we are stronger when we bring these strengths together.   And all have weaknesses that we can help alleviate when working as a team.  We are much better together.
  2. Fiction – Regionalization was a plan recently developed by the UUA president and administration to save money.
    Fact – Folk in our Central East Region started talking about sharing staff and resources and working as a team more than seven years ago.   And our districts began to put these ideas into practice about five years ago with our initial staff sharing arrangements.   This inspired other districts and regions to change the way they work as well.
  3. Fiction – No matter who came up with the idea,  the goal is still to save the UUA headquarters money.
    Fact – It is not planned that our regionalization efforts will result in saving money.   Yes,  we plan to reduce redundancies.  And eliminate duplicative efforts and expenses.  But the plan is to then reallocate savings in those areas to increase support for our congregations and their leaders.   And we hope to use any savings to develop new ways to support emerging UU groups and multisite efforts and other new congregational ministry efforts.   Regionalization won’t save any money.   Actually,  we hope that congregations will become more generous with their Fair Share as they see what all of us can accomplish when we work together.  And this increased sharing will  enable CERG to increase its support for congregational efforts to an even greater extent.
  4. Fiction – UUMA Chapters and LREDA Chapters will have to merge.
    Fact – UUMA and LREDA Chapters are not part of district governance structures.  They are separate entities of the UUMA and LREDA.  There is nothing that would make them change their current configurations.   It is hoped that chapters might find value in reaching out to one another and find areas where they can positively collaborate.  But that is entirely up to the LREDA and UUMA members.

There are a number of stories out there about regionalization.  These are just  few that have been repeated to me.   I hope that if you hear something that is questionable,  you will check it out with one of the district Board members or one of the  CERG staff folk so we can separate fact from fiction.

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere
Congregational Life Staff and CERG Staff Lead

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