Innovative Ways to Collect Donations

The First UU Church of Niagara in Niagara Falls, New York made local news with their holiday food drive. The small but active congregation used the controversy about divisive border walls to create a different narrative. They took up a collection of canned and other non-perishables and created a wall of food for those in need in the local community. President Betsy Diachun shared about how they partner with local missions to get the food to those who need it most.

They were featured on a local TV station, WGRZ, Channel 2:

This is not the first time First UU of Niagara has built a structure out of donations. Last year they created a tree out of packages of toilet paper that they then donated to local charities.

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Has Your Congregation Certified Yet?

It’s certification time for the UUA and your congregation needs to act before February 1 at 8 pm ET.

Every year the UUA asks each congregation to give us some basic information and statistics. Some of this is information we ask you to check and update that is reflected in our directory online – your address, website, contact information – so folks can find you. We also ask about statistical information such as members, re enrollment, average attendance numbers and so forth. We ask that you vote in the congregational poll which is part of our social justice process. And very importantly, we ask about your congregation’s budget and expenses. This is particularly important since this is the information we now use to calculate congregational fair share amounts.

The president, minister and administrator of the congregation (or at least the person who is on record as being in that role with the UUA) should have received an email with a direct link to your congregation’s account (no login required!) back in December. If you did not get that email please go to the UUA Portal ( login using your congregation’s id number and password or contact Data Services at the UUA for assistance. If you did get that email please find it and make sure you complete the information and submit it by the deadline. A worksheet of all the data being asked for is available after you login so you can download it, gather the data and then go back to enter it all.

Not sure if your congregation has completed this process yet? You can check the certified and not certified lists on the UUA website:

Confused? Have questions? Not sure what is your next step? Reach out and we’ll do our best to get you connected with the folks at the UUA who can help. Start with your primary contact, or reach out to our Operations Manager, Beth Casebolt at [email protected].

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Join us for Youth Ministry Revival!

This week’s blog is by Shannon Harper, CER Youth and Young Adult Ministries Specialist.

Answering the Call of Love Youth Ministry Revival 19, March 1-3, 2019Do you have youth in your congregation who are yearning for connection with other UU youth? Who are interested in exploring spiritual practices that help us survive and thrive in the world? Who would like to learn more about justice issues from activists and organizers in the field?

We’re excited to announce registration for Youth Ministry Revival 2019: Answering the Call of Love in Bethesda, MD March 1-3 is now open!

Youth Ministry Revivals, or YMRs, are national, weekend-long conferences open to Sr High youth in grades 9-12 as well as young adults and adults who support youth ministry in congregations. We had our first YMR in 2016 in Portland, OR and the second in 2017 in Chicago, IL. For more information about YMRs see the UUA webpage.

Who Should Attend YMR2019?

YMRs are open to any UU Youth in the US and Canada. We encourage congregations to send teams of youth and adults; people who will be interested and supported in bringing back their ideas and learnings to your congregation. Adult sponsors (25 and over) are expected to participate in the conference, so it’s important to choose adults who are truly interested in supporting youth and willing to join in. Registration is also open to YAs (graduated from High School and between the ages of 18 and 25), especially those with leadership experience and willing to help out as staff (see sleeping arrangements below). We are happy to accommodate different physical and social needs, just let us know what they are.

What Are the Sleeping Arrangements?

Regardless of whether your congregation sends a group or just one, all youth must have an adult (over 25) sponsor who sleeps in the same place as the youth. Our expectation is that most attendees will sleep at the church. However we understand that this is might not be ideal for certain people. We have blocked a number of discounted rooms at the Bethesda Marriott for $89 a night, available until Feb 2. To make a reservation visit their website. Remember that youth must sleep in the same place with their adult sponsor, so if your sponsor is staying at the hotel, the youth must stay there as well. YAs under the age of 25 must make their own arrangements to sleep offsite. For questions about accommodations please contact Amy Kent at [email protected] .

Is there an Approval Process to Attend?

In accordance with Central East’s safety policy everyone attending YMR2019 must be approved by a staff member or designated leader in their congregation (ideally their Religious Educator or Minister). For people who reside outside of CER the registration form will have a way to indicate who we should contact for a reference. That person will be sent an automated email with instructions for approving the registrant. If you have any questions about the registration or approval process please contact Evin Carvill-Ziemer at [email protected] .

Program Details to Come!

The Central East Region is excited to host YMR2019! We’re planning with Youth and YA leaders, community partners, local musicians, UUA and congregation staff to bring you a dynamic and inspiring event.  Some of the things attendees can expect to experience: dynamic, interactive worship; creative expression through visual arts, spoken word music and song; workshops with community organizers and activists; community circles for building deeper connections and relationships; identity circles for sharing and exploration; spiritual practices to take back with you. As we confirm our schedule and guests we’ll update our website so please keep checking back. For questions about the program or schedule please contact Shannon Harper at [email protected].

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CERSI Highlight – A Young Adult’s Reflection on the Youth Program

Today’s blog is written by guest writer, Becky Mitchell

Youth at Summer Institute

I remember being nervous in the days leading up to my first Summer Institute as a Youth. I had missed the previous SI, which would have been my last in the Children’s Program. It felt like a major leap going from a small class of pre-teens to being in a large group of teenagers, ranging in age from 12 or 13 all the way up to 18. My brother had already successfully bridged in and seemed to be having fun, but I remained anxious nonetheless.

I’ll never forget the moment that I walked into the Youth Dorm common area after unloading my belongings and seeing a group of Youths chatting and smiling. They were a year or two older than I was. I recognized them, but I did not know any of them. I was plotting a path back to the safety and security of my dorm room that did not involve walking past the group when one of them said, “Hey, are you Becky? You should come hang out with us.”

Little did I know that in that moment, I had just met my life long best friends. We had every meal together that week (mostly consisting of ice cream). We sat by each other during the youth theme speaker. We held hands during Youth Vespers every evening while singing and really starting to understand the Seven Principles for the first time. We spent the afternoon playing volleyball and cooling off in the pool. We stayed up a little too late every night munching on candy, teaching each other card games, and discussing what little we knew about politics and Social Justice at the time. After the week ended and we said our tearful goodbyes, the countdown to the next time we would see each other began immediately. 358 days to go.

That first year in the youth program will always go down in my book as the best SI I ever had. I walked into the week expecting to feel awkward and embarrassed the whole time, but I walked out of the week with an invaluable support system. Although we are all very different people, we are all bonded through our common Unitarian Universalist beliefs. In the years to come, having that group has kept me sane. It was and continues to be comforting knowing that I have an entire community to look to for advice and help when I need it.

Why do I keep coming back? My last year in the Youth Program was 2011, but I feel my supportive community grow every year. As a new Young Adult, my community expanded to include people that were 15 years my senior. Now as an “Old” Young Adult, my supportive community has grown to include people of all ages. I can’t wait to see who becomes part of my supportive community this year.

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