Resources for General Assembly 2018

Attending General Assembly is a whirlwind of activity. Attending for your first time can be overwhelming! Your Central East Region team wants you to feel prepared. Here are some resources we think you might find helpful. Several are good for off site attendees as well as on site attendees.

As a note, early bird registration ends on April 30 – you need to register today if you want to catch the lower price!

The Central East Region is hosting a GA Orientation webinar on Tuesday, June 13 at 8 pm ET.  This orientation is recommended for everyone attending GA but especially first timers and especially delegates. If you are attending as an off-site delegate, don’t worry we have you covered too! The GA Orientation Webinar for Off-Site Delegates will be Wednesday, May 24 at 7 pm ET. Rev. Darcy Laine will share how her congregations used this opportunity to create a community event.

New to GA? Not sure what to expect? There are two resources we recommend.

  • The GA Forums has a number of discussion boards you can ask questions on. There is a topic specific for questions from first-timers, those who are participating off-site, delegates and GA business, information about the elections and more. You must have an account on the UUA website and be logged in to participate.
  • And download or access the GA App. The 2018 update will be live in early June. You can download the app to your phone now. It’s available from iTunes, Google Play and as a mobile enhanced web app for others. I highly recommend you use the app at GA to track your calendar, look at workshop options in advance and find maps. You can also provide feedback and connect with others attending GA.

One suggestion we make is to look at the program schedule ahead of time and make some preliminary choices about what you want to do. You’ll make changes on the fly once you are there but it helps to have a starting point. The preliminary schedule is already up on the GA Webpage, so you can start planning now.

The UUA has provided a series of resources to help individuals prepare for General Assembly this year. You can find the full list of resources at the UUA website. There are readings, videos and actions individuals can do to prepare themselves fully for the GA experience in Kansas City and complete several actions and you can even earn a ribbon. Those attending off site can also participate and let the UUA know what they’ve done via an online form.

If your congregation does not have a full complement of delegates attending GA in Kansas City, you can opt to send off site delegates. Off site delegates have access to livestreamed video of all the activity in the plenary hall, plus any business workshops (the budget hearing for example) as well as a selection of some workshops. They are able to speak on the floor during meetings and to vote in real time, including the election. Learn more about off-site delegates and general off site participation.

Those attending GA will receive an email from us highlighting CER events during General Assembly in June.

We’ll see you in Kansas City!

Beth Casebolt, CER Communications Consultant and Operations Manager

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Sharing Vision Statements

After developing a vision statement, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate how it should impact the ministry of the congregation.  The UU Fellowship of Greater Cumberland created this stunning Vision Visual to help guide that process. They plan to share it at…and post it…. So that it can guide the board, committees and ministry teams going forward.  And they have graciously agreed to share their Vision Visual with the rest of us.

The congregation intends to put the Vision Visual on posters and post them in the sanctuary, our community room, and the room where the Board meets. They will devote part of one Sunday service next month to discussing the Vision Visual with the congregation, then present it again at the Annual Meeting on May 5. Each Board member will get a copy for the Board Manual and we will distribute a copy to each congregation member. An additional Strategy Vision for the board was also created.

Thank you to the UU Fellowship of Greater Cumberland for sharing this with us all.

Download a PDF of the Vision Visual

 

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UUs Participate in March for Our Lives

Fifty people left UU Fellowship of Harford County early on Saturday, March 24 for the rally in Washington, D.C. The experience seems to have resonated with the students who attended as well as the adults.

“Today (March 24) was very inspirational to me, and to others all across the world. This is something only we can solve, and today was a great stride towards success. Old sins cast long shadows but not in our case. We can use our past to brighten our future, only if we stand together and act as a whole body who wants to make a change.” So said 14 year old Aaron Knight, an 8th grade student at the Tome School in North East, after participating.

Mary Jane Price organized the trip. When asked what her motivation was for going, she responded, “TIME Magazine has called 1968 “the year that shaped a generation”. I believe that 2018 may well be the year that shapes this generation. As someone who lived through the Viet Nam war protests, the Kent State killings, the assassinations of RFK and MLK – I will never forget those times, and they forever changed me. Now I have the honor, and obligation, to help our young people navigate our current political and social climate – and discover what is within themselves, and what they are capable of. My respect for the ways in which they are stepping forward is boundless.”

Valerie Greene, a dental hygienist in Bel Air, had difficulty reflecting on the day without tears coming to her eyes. She was so impressed that kids who had gone through this unbelievable trauma were so courageous and articulate expressing their goals for removing assault weapons, also known as weapons of war, from being sold to individuals. She went on to say that one time a man tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe on a plane and even though he was unsuccessful, 17 years later we are still removing our shoes in order to board a plane. However, assault weapons have killed hundreds and nothing has happened yet.

Liam Gallihue, a 15 year old from Havre de Grace has a plan as to how a change will happen. Although he isn’t old enough to vote, he plans to encourage his friends to talk to their parents about voting for representatives who do support the goals of: banning assault weapons, stopping the sale of high capacity magazines and closing loopholes in background checks. His mother, Suzi Gallihue,  went on to say that, “If 800,000 people can stand in silence (during Emma Gonzalez’s speech), the world can be changed!”

“Witnessing first-hand the determination, courage and conviction of so many young people gives me hope for our nation’s future. I believe this march will be noted in history books as a turning point for changes in gun laws — on par with historical marches to end the Viet Nam War, racial segregation, and suppression of women’s rights,” was Belcamp resident and former school administrator Olivia Spencer’s reaction to her experience on the 24th.

Lisa Nickerson, from Havre de Grace, attended with her college professor son Evan, and she was equally moved. “To see ‘our’ children in such pain broke my heart. Saturday’s rally gave me hope that adults who have turned a blind eye to the NRA’s corporate greed are now awake. And, that our youth will hold us all account.”

“From my perspective, the courage, strength, passion, and eloquence exhibited by these students is awe inspiring. Where most kids are afraid to get up in front of a classroom, these kids are standing up in front of the world” was the reflective take-away of Maureen North, former teacher and administrator from Bel Air.

Other UU Churches around the region also participated in DC or at local marches.

First UU Columbus sent a bus filled with 20 youth, 3 young adults and 13 adults to Washington DC for the March 24 March for Our Lives led by Rev. Eric Meter and Sylvia Howe. They enjoyed the hospitality of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, VA. The youth raised funds for over half the cost of the trip through donations from the congregation.  They held a bake sale and sign-making party for the entire church to participate.

First UU Columbus also had a great delegation of folks meet up with many other UUs from Central Ohio to attend the local march in Columbus, OH.  The Washington DC youth rode overnight back from the march and reported that they learned a lot about gun safety and gun violence. They shared their reflections about their experiences on Sunday, April 8th, at First UU Columbus as the congregation marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The photos below are from the Columbus Trip.

The UUs for Social Justice in Washington DC also participate and took photos. Executive Director Pablo DeJesús said:

“March For Our Lives was an inspiring rally here in D.C., especially for the beauty of all ages living our UU values together, with the youth leading the way, and the diversity of those voices. Glimmers of a beloved community indeed! I heard talk about transforming the rally event into a movement against ALL gun violence, about making the rally moment into an inflection point in the debate. I heard youth talking about the power of their future votes, and a readiness to hold elected leaders accountable at the ballot. I heard a desire to change American culture from favoring gun safety locks over safe schools and safe communities. Fundamentally, I heard our youth in a collective declaration ‘we are our changemakers’ echoing the refrains of ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for’ and ‘el pueblo unido, jamás serávencido.’  As we UUs discern how to help the youth transform the Good Trouble (Rep.J.Lewis D-GA.5th) activism of these rallies into concrete advocacy, I urge us to embrace our denominational history on the gun issue, build upon that intellectual and moral foundation, and support sustained federal advocacy to help bring about the vision of this new generation of changemakers.”

These photos were taken by UUSJ during their participation in the March:

Below – UUs gather at All Souls Unitarian in Washington DC to make signs. Pictured is Community Minister Rev. Karen Scrivo, UUSJ Board Member for Goodloe MD, who is busy coordinating her people by cell.

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Below – March participants move along the street towards one of the entry points.

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Below  – Signs from the March. Two of the UUs in this photos are key UUSJ volunteers.

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Below: UUSJ Executive Director Pablo DeJesús is interviewed by the news (in the black hat and jacket), also pictured is Key UUSJ volunteer, Lavona Grow, to his right and UUC Arlington SJ/Youth staff, Elisabeth Geschiere, in the sunglasses

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Now is the Time

“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season.  (W.E.B. DuBois)

For me, now is the accepted time and the appropriate season to retire from my work with the Central East Region as a congregational life consultant as of April 15, 2018.  This was decision was not made lightly.  There are a number of personal,  health and deep family issues that have combined to make this the right decision for me and my family at this time.

Don’t give up hope.
You’re not alone.
Don’t you give up.
Keep moving on.  (Melanie DeMore)

There have been amazing changes in the Central East Region since I first came in 2007 as the District Executive for Ohio-Meadville District (OMD).   There is more support for our congregations and resources to draw upon than we dared dream about 10 years ago.  The Central East Regional staff, along with other Congregational Life staff,  provides and will continue to offer outstanding service to our congregations and our movement.  The Central East Region will continue to keep moving on in partnership with each other and with the talented UUA professionals who serve our congregations and UU movement.

Lift up your eyes
Don’t you despair.
Look up ahead.
The path is there.  (Melanie DeMore)

I will certainly miss working with you all –  the congregations and the church leaders I have come to admire and love.  I count many of you now as friends.  While I will be retiring from the UUA,  I will continue to serve our UU movement as the part-time Executive Director of UU Justice Ohio.  This is another decision that was not made lightly.  But this new ministry path will fit within the limits of my family’s needs and concerns.

It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year.
It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. (W.E.B. DuBois)

I am excited to walk this new path of life as well as move into a new part-time justice ministry in Ohio.   I believe strongly that the times we now live in call us to lift up our voices and values in the public sphere.

If we truly want to build the Beloved Community we dream about,  we must dare to experiment, to risk, to organize and even engage in new strategies of nonviolent confrontation to speak a very necessary truth to today’s chaotic power.

I hope to try and respond to this call as best I can with my (post-retirement) work in UUJO.

Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.” (W.E.B. DuBois)

I have been proud to serve the Ohio-Meadville District and Central East Region.
I feel I have been part of an great effort to plant seeds of an increasingly powerful, effective and healthy Unitarian Universalism in our region.

You gotta put one foot in front of the other
And lead with love.  (Melanie DeMore)

Not only do we lead with love,  but we leave with love – And I leave carrying love for all of you and our UU movement deep in my heart.

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Columbus, OH

The Central East Region is pleased to announce that the Rev. Sunshine J. Wolfe will join our staff team as Congregational Life Staff starting August 6, 2018. We’ll be making adjustments to who is managing which programs and some primary contacts may be shifted as Sunshine joins our staff so stay tuned!

Rev. Sunshine Wolfe

The Rev. Sunshine J. Wolfe is an Accredited Interim Minister in Training currently serving their third interim congregation- May Memorial UU Society of Syracuse, NY.  Ghe hails originally from Indiana where ghe learned to sing, dance, and cause trouble- the social justice kind.  Ghe is currently a member of TRUUsT (Transgender Religious professional Unitarian UniversalistS Together) and DRUUM (Diverse Revolutionary Multicultural Ministries).

Sunshine is committed to helping congregations become the healthiest versions of themselves so that they can do their important work in the world.  Ghe has served many congregations throughout the country first as Spiritual Development Director at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson.  Ghe served as intern minister at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, OH and then completed a Chaplaincy Residency at Indiana University Health Hospitals.  Ghe has also served as Interim Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Montgomery, AL and First Unitarian Church of Alton, IL in the St. Louis metropolitan area.  During gher service in Alton, Sunshine was active with the resistance movements in Ferguson, MO.  Before seminary, Sunshine worked for five years as a Case Manager with homeless adults searching for employment in Tucson, AZ.  Sunshine has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry.

Sunshine enjoys silliness, board games, music of all kinds, and thunderstorms.  Ghe particularly likes to go hiking, color mandalas, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where a small handful have gone before.  In other words, ghe’s a science fiction geek with a specialty in Star Trek.

Sunshine identifies as genderqueer and transgender and uses any third gender pronoun including they/their, ghe/gher, and zi/hir.

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Living Our Values – Congregations Collaborate to Support LGBTQ Youth

Our five congregations in Westchester participated in the Prideworks for Youth Conference on March 14, 2018. Prideworks is an annual county-wide conference for about 500 LGBTQ youth and allies, and UU’s have been an important part of the conference in its almost two decades of existence, when it was called “Healing the Hurt.”

UU Youth, DRE’s and ministers have offered workshops, served on the board and planning committee, and volunteered in many ways. After the example of one of our youth groups, collections are held annually in all five congregations, ranging from a plate share to a youth group bake sale. Today, these congregations are the largest financial supporter of Prideworks.

Several years ago, the youth were greeted outside the conference by demonstrators who were holding the most hateful signs. Our UU’s in attendance vowed to be a more welcoming presence, and have ever since welcomed school buses with a Standing on the Side banner and cheering UU’s.

This year there was a total of 20 volunteers from all five congregations, workshops were offered by Rev. Michael Tino of Mount Kisco and Anthony Arrien of White Plains. Three congregations have members of the Planning Committee and DRE Tracy Breneman, serving Hastings on Hudson and Mount Kisco, is a member of the board and one of those primarily responsible for the success of this major initiative.

Most importantly, LGBTQ+ youth feel affirmed, connected and celebrated. Our UU values in action!

See the photos from the day below:

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