First Unitarian Society of Plainfield Historic Window Vandalized

Interior view of Robinson window
Interior view of Robinson Window

On November 15, 2015, The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield discovered that it had been vandalized by someone throwing objects at their historic church’s large stained glass window. The Society’s building has been acknowledged by inclusion in the National Historic Registry in 2008. The beautiful Robinson Window, the pride of the 126 year old church, is cracked and broken in several places.

The Robinson Window depicts some of the values of our denomination. The six major religions of the world are illustrated. Circular panels show education, family, industry and people at work:  scientists, musicians, farmers and teachers. The broken panel is unique, a boat in rocky seas, a lighthouse in the distance.

As of now, they don’t know why the church was vandalized. The congregation recently hung a rainbow flag in a nearby window (it used to be in the foyer). In the last couple of weeks, they have added an eye catching outdoor banner that says “Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter Your Life Matters.”  They don’t know if these statements prompted an attack on their beloved window.

Robinson Window at First Unitarian Society of Plainfield
Robinson Window at First Unitarian Society of Plainfield

First Unitarian Society is a modest, urban church, blessed with a beautiful building that has served their community for more than 100 years.  The original name of the building was All Souls Church, a fitting name for a place that welcomes everyone.  They will continue to reach out, especially to those who feel as if they have no other recourse but to throw stones.  They will welcome them to Sunday’s worship, hope they join them at Thanksgiving Dinner or attend one of their community service projects, like World Aids Day or a legal services workshop.  The congregation hopes the vandals see they are standing on the side of love and that rocks or rocky seas will not alter their commitment to their community.

If your congregation needs assistance with issues like this please contact your primary contact. If you would like to offer support to the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, you can post on their Facebook page or contact them through their website.

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Clusters Offer Opportunities for Collaboration and Learning

Pittsburgh Cluster Assembly WelcomeThe geography of Pittsburgh PA is challenging when trying to get from one part of the city to the other. With three rivers, a few tunnels and many bridges, it’s tempting to just stay in one’s own neighborhood. The UUs of Greater Pittsburgh challenged that tendency in the Fall of 2014 by organizing themselves into a cluster, complete with bylaws, board and an annual “Cluster Assembly.”

 

vail wellerOn November 7, they held their 2nd Annual Cluster Assembly at the UU Church of the North Hills.  The energy and quality programming helped them to exceed the attendance of the first cluster assembly – from 70 to over 100 attendees.

 

One of the reasons was keynote speaker, the Rev. Vail Weller, who was raised in the UU Church of the North Hills and is now the Congregational Giving Director at the Unitarian Universalist Association. You can watch her keynote below.

Rev. Weller’s keynote was preceded by a lovely worship service offered by the ministers and interns of the member churches who elaborated on the “crossing rivers and bridges” theme.

 

Along with the afternoon workshops, the day included lots of opportunities for congregations to connect and plan for future collaboration.

cluster assy logo2015-11-07 09.50.562015-11-07 09.32.30

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Together We Can Help Huntington, WV Recover

huntington fire damageOn September 5, 2015, the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington, WV, experienced an electrical fire that results in fire, water and smoke damage throughout the building. Thankfully the fast response by the fire department prevented a total loss and minimized the damage.

But it is estimated that nearly $8,000 of the damages will not be covered by insurance and the roof, which was in need of repair before the fire will need replacing immediately. Replacing the roof is estimated to cost over $23,000.

The congregation has already received $5,000 to help with the roof repairs from the OMD Emergency Relief Fund – a fund created for instances just like this. The money from this fund comes from Chalice Lighter Calls, Friends of the OMD donations and other fundraising activities. A true example of our district coming together to help one another.

Huntington Fire DamageThe congregation has also posted a request on Faithify.org which to date has had $1,745 pledged towards their $8,000 goal. If the goal is not met, they will not receive any of the money. So we are asking that you please reach out and support them on Faithify. We have heard that several congregations around the region will be taking up collections in the next several weeks to support their sister congregation. Any way your congregation can help is appreciated. But don’t delay, the drive on Faithify ends December 2.

The congregation is currently meeting in office space graciously donated to them for a brief time. This temporary space is not appropriate for the full spiritual expression of the congregation, but they count ourselves fortunate to have it. Finishing the repairs to the congregation will allow them to return to their spiritual home and resume their outreach work in the Huntington community. We need UUism in West Virginia to see our values represented where they aren’t always easily accessed!
We are Better and Stronger Together.
Beth Casebolt
Communications Consultant
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Experimenting with Partnerships

Partnerships sometimes emerge in strange but exciting ways. The Partnership of the UU congregations in Binghamton NY and Cortland NY is a mix of contrasting sizes, ages and histories.  But these contrasts bring strength to the relationship. This video shares the views of the ministers of the two congregations: The Rev. Douglas Taylor at the UU Congregation of Binghamton, NY and the Rev. Kathy Rickey of the UU Church of Courtland.

 

The very small,  historic UU Church of Cortland and the mid-sized UU Congregation of Binghamton, founded in the mid-20th century,  are forming a Partnership of shared preaching, teaching, ministry and social justice work. And they are seeking funding from FAITHIFY donors to help them get things off the ground this year.

The Cortland church is over 200 years old.  In its long history, the church has hosted great figures like Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Thomas Starr King, Theodore Parker, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Martin Luther King Jr. The Binghamton church is a thriving mid-sized congregation with a vision of becoming a beacon in the larger community and demonstrating UU values and principles in action.   Their mission is to Explore, Encourage and Act.

When the Leadership of the two congregations met in person to start to create their Covenant of Partnership,  it was uncertain if they could find common ground to work together. But during discussions, each group developed a deep appreciation of the gifts that the other congregation had to offer. Binghamton was drawn to the historic depth and sense of community rootedness found in the Cortland church.  And the Cortland leaders were thrilled by the energy for ministry in the Binghamton congregation and it sense of mission.

Both congregations found they shared a deep call to reach out to their larger communities to share the good news of Unitarian Universalism. And they are now moving forward together in new ways.

And they need help from the larger UU community to help jump start this important new work and realize their joint potential. Please consider giving to their efforts through Faithify – there are only 20 days left in this project, please don’t delay!

 

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

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