With Gratitude…

With Thanksgiving past and the holiday season approaching, this marks the beginning of the season of thankfulness and gratitude. And so we want to take this opportunity to say Thank You.

Thank you to the congregations who pay their fair share to the Annual Program Fund and those who stretch to pay as much as they can. Your funds make our work possible and allow us to provide resources, trainings and support to all our congregations in the region.

Thank you to all our Chalice Lighters who make a commitment to help those beyond their own congregation with growth and outreach projects, or to recover from devastating situations. Your generosity has an impact on the lives of our congregations and members that you cannot imagine.

Finally, we could not do it without our volunteers. Those who volunteer in our congregations to make them representatives of our values in your communities. The committee chairs and members, those who plan events, congregational volunteers who help us with on the ground planning and logistics for events and more. We would not be able to do anything without our volunteers. To you we say Thank You over and over again.

So to all of you who make these many things possible, we say Thank You.
Your Regional Staff

Rev. Megan Foley, Cristina Sanchis, Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Andrea Lerner, Rev. Hope Johnson, Patricia Infante, Rev. Megan Foley, Beth Casebolt, Evin Carvill-Ziemer, Paula Cole Jones, Rev. Sunshine Wolfe, Amy Kent and Shannon Harper

If you are feeling grateful and want to share your bounty with others, Giving Tuesday, November 27th, is a wonderful opportunity. Giving Tuesday kicks off the holiday season, when charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world come together in common purpose: to celebrate their cause and to give. Donations to the UUA on Giving Tuesday will be doubled. Learn more at their website. Faithify.org, our UU Crowdfunding platform has a number of worthy projects that you may also consider.

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Be That Spark

Recently we highlighted the Central East Region (CER) Chalice Lighter Program, sharing the HOW of applying for growth focused grants, and now we want to focus on WHY you as an individual should support this grant program.

Think for a minute, and recall a time when you helped a new dream into reality. What an amazing feeling of joy, love, even power – To know that the part you played made a difference! Maybe you rang doorbells for a candidate for public office, sharing your passion for positive change with your neighbors. Maybe you donated time and energy to a building program for low income housing. Maybe you were part of a circle of people that formed a new congregation, built that sanctuary or RE wing, called your first settled minister.  Congregations don’t get there on their own, of course.  A much larger community helps them on their way through sharing space, loan programs, producing curricula and hymnals, and support for ministerial formation, to name just a few of the myriad ways our Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations works to grow our faith.  Together, we all are the UUA, congregations and individuals, dreaming of a better society.  It’s work that we must do over and over, together.  As the poet Adrienne Rich says, we “cast (our) lot with those, who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”

In our busy lives, we have only so much time and energy for large projects.  Most of us do, however, find time to contribute every day in small loving ways to build for the future.  We conserve energy, recycle, follow the news, support organizations whose actions move our values out into the world.  The Central East Region Chalice Lighter Program is one way we can do this! Individuals and couples as Chalice Lighter subscribers contribute three times a year to fund UU dreams.  We issue the “calls”  in September, January and May, though some prefer to donate a larger amount once per year. Every gift is appreciated, and together those gifts have amounted to $180,000 in grants in the past year alone!  We want to build on this success, and we are inviting you to be part of the spark that lights the way to a brighter future.

The CER Chalice Lighter Program was formed from the separate Chalice Lighter Programs of four Districts of the UUA – Ohio-Meadville, St. Lawrence, Metro New York and Joseph Priestley.  Representatives of these four geographic areas meetthree times a year to consider growth-minded project applications from congregations or clusters of congregations seeking to share our faith more effectively.  The program partners with congregations to expand/improve buildings, plant new congregations, create new or expanded staff positions, and realize innovative initiatives that attract/retain members and promote justice, compassion and spirituality.

We’ve recently partnered with congregations funding accessibility projects like ramps and elevators, restoring a steeple, increasing religious education and membership staff from half to full time, and in our long history in the districts, provided new start congregations five $20.000 grants over time at different stages of their growth for a total of $100,000. We are touched by the thank you notes from the congregations, including this one that said, “Hot Dog!!!  Thank you so much!  This will really enhance our ability to grow and serve our NE Ohio community.”

Some readers here are already part of the Chalice Lighter subscriber community, mainly those who participated in the district programs, and we know we have not yet realized our potential to fund congregational dreams.  In October, you will receive a personal invitation to subscribe to CER Chalice Lighters, via email with the subject line “Be That Spark.”  Be watching for it!

Of course, there’s no need to wait – we invite you to subscribe here!  Need more information? Check the FAQ page on the CER website.

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Thank You to Our Honor Congregations

Each year congregations as asked to give to the Central East Region and the UUA to support us in providing services to all our congregations. Congregations that give the recommended amount are called Honor Congregations. Do remember that the UUA year runs from July 1 through June 30th so this report is for July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

This year we say thank you to all the congregations in our region who are Honor Congregations for 2017-18. If your congregation is not on the list and you think it should be please contact Katie Jacobsen, Congregational Giving Assistant ([email protected]).

For 2018-19 the Annual Program Fund is changing! The calculation will be based on your operating budget instead of your membership. Congregational presidents and treasurers received notification about this back in the spring and should be prepared. If you are interested in learning more about the Annual Program Fund, please visit the UUA website. And view this message from the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President, on the importance of the Annual Program Fund.

Note that congregations are listed alphabetically by state and city.

Delaware

Lewes – UUs of Southern Delaware
Newark – UU Society of Mill Creek
Wilmington – First Unitarian Church of Wilmington Delaware

Washington DC

Washington Ethical Society

Maryland

Annapolis – UU Church of Annapolis
Baltimore – The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
Barstow – UU Congregation of the Chesapeake
Bethesda – Cedar Lane UU Church
Bethesda – River Road UU Congregation
Bowie – Goodloe Memorial UU Congregation
Camp Springs – Davies Memorial UU Church
CHestertown – UUs of the Chester River
Churchville – UU Fellowship of Harford County
Cumberland – UU Fellowship of Greater Cumberland
Easton – UU Fellowship at Easton
Ellicott City – Channing Memorial Church, UU
Finksburg – Cedarhurst UUs
Frederick – UU Congregation of Frederick
Germantown – Sugarloaf Congregation of UU
Hagerstown – UU Church of Hagerstown
Leonardtown – UU Fellowship of Southern Maryland
Salisbury – UU Fellowship at Salisbury

New Jersey

Baptistown – First UU Fellowship of Hunterdon County
Cherry Hill – UU Church in Cherry Hill
East Brunswick – The Unitarian Society, A UU Congregation
Lanoka Harbor – UU Ocean County Congregation
Lincroft – UU Congregation of Monmouth County
Montclair – The UU Congregation at Montclair
Morristown – Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
Newton – UU Fellowship of Sussex County
Orange – First UU Church of Essex County
Paramus – Central Unitarian Church
Plainfield – First Unitarian Society of Plainfield
Pomona – UU Congregation of the South Jersey Shore
Princeton – UU Congregation of Princeton
Ridgewood – The Unitarian Society of Ridgewood NJ
Somerville – UU Congregation of Somerset Hills
Summit – Beacon UU Congregation in Summit
Titusville – UU Church at Washington Crossing
Waye – Lakeland UU Fellowship

New York

Bay Shore – UU Society of South Suffolk
Big Flats – UU Fellowship of Big Flats
Binghamton – UU Congregation of Binghamton
Bridgehampton – UU Congregation of The South Fork Inc.
Brockport – Brockport UU Fellowship
Brooklyn – All Souls Bethlehem Church
Buffalo – UU Church of Buffalo
Canandaigua – UU Church of Canandaigua
Canton – UU Church of Canton
Chautauqua – UU Fellowship of Chautauqua
East Aurora – UU Church of East Aurora
Fredonia – UU Congregation of Northern Chautauqua
Freeport – South Nassau UU Congregation
Garden City – UU Congregation of Central Nassau
Greenport – North Fork UU Fellowship
Hamburg – UU Church of Hamburg
Huntington – UU Fellowship of Huntington
Jamestown – UU Congregation of Jamestown NY
Kingston – UU Congregation of the Catskills
Little Falls – St Paul Universalist Church
Manhasset – UU Congregation at Shelter Rock
Mt. Kisco – UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester
New York – The Community Church of New York UU
New York – Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York
Plattsburgh – UU Fellowship of Plattsburgh NY
Pomona – UU Congregation of Rockland County
Poughkeepsie – UU Fellowship of Poughkeepsie
Rochester – The First Universalist Church of Rochester
Schenectady – UU Society of Schenectady
Southold – The First Universalist Church of Southold
Staten Island – Unitarian Church of Staten Island
Soney Brook – UU Fellowship at Stony Brook
Washingtonville – UU Congregation at Rock Tavern
Watertown – All Souls UU Church
White Plains – Community UU Congregation at White Plains

Ohio

Athens – UU Fellowship of Athens (Ohio)
Bellaire – UU Congregation of the Ohio Valley
Cleveland Heights – UU Society of Cleveland
Delaware – Delaware UU Fellowship
Findlay – UU Church of Blanchard Valley
Kent – UU Church of Kent
Lewis Center – North UU Congregation
Marietta – First UU Society of Marietta
North Royalton – Southwest UU Church
Rocky River – West Shore UU Church
Sandusky – UU Fellowship of the Firelands
Wooster – UU Fellowship of Wayne County Ohio

Pennsylvania

Athens – UU Church of Athens and Sheshequin
Beach Lake – Upper Delaware UU Fellowship
Boiling Springs – UUs of the Cumberland Valley
Devon – Main Line Unitarian Church
Erie – UU Congregation of Erie
Gettysburg – UUs of Gettysburg
Girard – First UU Church of Girard
Kingsley – First Universalist Church
Langhorne – UU Fellowship of Lower Bucks
Ligonier – UU Fellowship Ligonier Valley
Media – UU Church of Delaware County
Murrysville – East Suburban UU Church
Northumberland – UU Congregation of Susquehanna Valley
Philadelphia – Unitarian Society of Germantown
Pittsburgh – Allegheny UU Church
Pittsburgh – First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh – UU Church of the North Hills
Pottstown – UU Fellowship of Pottstown
Reading – First UU Church Berks County
Slippery Rock – Ginger Hill UU Congregation
Smithton – UU Congregation of Smithton
State College – UU Fellowship of Centre County
Stroudsburg – UU Fellowship of the Poconos
West Chester – Unitarian Congregation of West Chester
Wilkes-Barre – UU Congregation of Wyoming Valley
York – The UU Congregation of York

Virginia

Alexandria – Mt Vernon Unitarian Church
Burke – Accotink UU Church
Leesburg – UU Church of Loudoun
Manassas – Bull Run UUs
Reston – UU Church in Reston
Stephens City – UU Church of Shenandoah Valley
Sterling – Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling
Washington – UUs of the Blue Ridge

West Virginia

Morgantown – UU Fellowship of Morgantown

We thank you for helping us help each other.
Your Central East Region Staff

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An Old Covenant in a New Way

You should have recently received information about the new formula the Unitarian Universalist Association will be using for congregational giving in the Central East Region beginning in July – a formula that uses your operating expense budget as a guide, rather than the number of members you have in your community. (Lots of information about this – including webinar/online discussion dates – can be found in your purple packet about the New APF or at www.uua.org/amplify)

I want to talk about our continued covenant of faith.  Faith, in bold with a capital F!

Unitarian Universalism is a faith of relationship and mutual support. You can feel that in your congregations. In church, you aren’t individuals who happen to be occupying the same space. You are a community, where each can bring their gifts for the good of the whole, and each can be honest about their needs, in hope that the community will support them.

Same with the Unitarian Universalist Association, as an organization. Congregations have needs – resources, consultation, a listening ear, even a shoulder to cry on sometimes and certainly a voice to help celebrate. The UUA works to support those needs with the skill set that comes from being a national organization with a view that is long, in terms of history, and wide, in terms of seeing the whole landscape of Unitarian Universalism. In order to do that work well, the UUA as an organization needs to be supported through congregational giving. We who work for the Central East Region of the UUA are supported every day by the energy, enthusiasm, creativity and love of our member congregations. And we are supported every day by the financial gifts of our congregations.

This new Annual Program Fund (APF) model has been decades in the making and represents our efforts to streamline and remain responsive to congregational needs in a changing religious landscape. It’s a model that strengthens our shared covenant – the one where each brings their gifts, so we can support each other in our shared work. This covenant is not new; it has bound us for centuries. With this change, we are stronger… so we will be able to share in the work together for centuries more.

I ask you to recommit and to re-prioritize your support for one another and this collective faith through your contributions to the Annual Program Fund, which make the work of the UUA possible. Your congregation’s full contribution is needed so that all of our congregations can receive the support that they are depending on, and so that our Association can meet the challenges of our time.” ~ UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

  By the Rev. Megan Foley, CER Regional Lead

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Help First UU Society of Marietta Sponsor Interfaith Dialogues

The Three Amigos

A Minister, a Rabbi and an Imam walk into a bar…  We’ve all heard it but this time it’s not a joke. Pastor Don McKenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Sheikh Jamal Rahman were brought together by 9/11. “The Three Amigos”, as they call themselves, provide an entertaining presentation designed to bring people together, while respecting each other’s differences. Their approach to inclusive spirituality provides a foundation for personal and communal healing. They start with the premise, “Everyone’s truth is true.” They add that “To try to convince someone of something else, is a significant waste of time.” They begin their conversation with this question, “You mean there is nothing I can possibly say that would influence your belief? That’s how it is with me too. Now let’s talk.”

We are excited to welcome the Interfaith Amigos to Appalachia, an area that is among the least diverse culturally, religiously, and ethnically in the US.  Our goal is to build personal connections with those of different faiths, increasing understanding of faith traditions outside of our own, enhancing thirst for information and gaining a greater sense of welcoming and acceptance.

As our area becomes more diverse, there is a pressing need to learn about the growing number of residents coming into our community. Even more important is to get to know some of them personally so that our fears, suspicions, prejudices, and pre-conceived notions can be re-evaluated in the light of genuine friendship.  We must not only build bridges to newcomers, but also seek to understand the faith that these persons hold dear. We could all benefit from the sincere engagement of interfaith dialogue.

This project involves:

  • Four public presentations presented at Marietta College and Ohio University (2 each), Nov 10-12, 2017
  • A new course called Interfaith Dialogue: Finding Common Ground at Marietta College as part of the Institute for Learning in Retirement, including a visit to Arab-American Museum in 2018
  • A film Festival focused on interfaith issues
  • A coalition of local book clubs reading books on the interfaith issues
  • Interfaith Religious Education taught at local churches
  • “Getting to the Heart of Interfaith” added to the essential reading list at the Marietta Reads
  • The World Religions course adding interfaith dialogue and visits to a mosque and synagogue
  • Articles on interfaith dialogue released to the local media during and after the event
  • The office of student engagement to plan and conduct interfaith service projects in Marietta
  • Marietta College Bookstore purchasing 200 copies of “Getting to the Heart of Interfaith”
  • Establishing local interfaith dialogue groups throughout the area
  • Continued service projects and incorporation of interfaith dialogue in local college courses

We already have raised over $10,000 and need an additional $4,000. Please consider helping us make this a successful event! Learn more and donate at the Faithify website.

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UU Charleston Improving through Faithify Campaign

UU Congregation of Charleston, WV

Unitarian Universalist presence in the state of West Virginia is deeply needed and wanted in today’s climate.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, WV is West Virginia’s largest UU congregation, and the only one in the state which is minister-led. All UU congregations in West Virginia are dedicated to serve as beacons of hope, love and progressive religion in the state. Because of our size and location in the nation’s capital, our congregation feels a sense of responsibility in being a part of this state-wide UU effort to share the good news of our faith in our state.

Our congregation is known throughout the area as leaders in environmental and social justice issues. We are known as a place of sanctuary for many peoples: Pagans, atheists, theists, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, agnostics, younger folks, older folks, activists and those in recovery. Most recently, those who felt fear and despair following our presidential election came surging in through our doors.

And now, we need help. Our parking lot is in need of repairs, our doors and entry ramp are falling apart, and many who want to come can’t get in.

Let me tell you a bit more about us. We are a caring congregation, who is deeply committed to our community. This is clearly seen in our efforts to be a part of assistance following the water crises our state has experienced in recent years. We raised tens of thousands of dollars for groups working to protect people and water after the Charleston chemical spill in 2014 contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people. In the Summer of 2016, we again raised thousands, using this to help those ravaged by the June floods. By staying in relationship with community leaders and a variety of partners, we were able to identify gaps between immediate flood relief and long term recovery.

UUC Parking Lot

One example of this was our collaboration with Kanawha County School’s homeless coordinator and area principals and teachers, to identify needs of families displaced by the flood. Many were in transitional housing, living in tents or campers, staying with family, or back in their own housing with only the most urgent repairs being attended to. Many children and families were sleeping on floors with nowhere to store their belongings. With the help of many of you, we were able to provide beds and dressers, making their difficult living situation livable.

Our congregation, which has helped so many, needs help now. Help us continue to grow as a beacon of hope and love in our state. Help us be able to open our doors to all who wish to enter.

We are raising these funds through a Faithify campaign, which has more information on our repair projects, as well as a donation link.

Thank you for considering helping us to bring more love and justice to our community.

Sincerely,

Paul Dalzell
Operations and Outreach Coordinator
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, WV

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Are you familiar with Chalice Lighters?

This program has been in place for decades in most areas of the United States as a way to fund growth in Unitarian Universalist congregations –

  • establishing new congregations,
  • improving or expanding the existing structures,
  • funding new or expanded staff positions, and
  • resourcing programming innovations.
  • Clusters of congregations may also apply for funding for collaborative projects.

Want to know more?  Read our FAQ.

We are moving toward a Central East Region Chalice Lighter program beginning in the fall of 2017 replacing four individual District-based programs, and this is where you come in.  In order for our program to thrive, we need three things:

  1. Each congregation should appoint one or more Chalice Lighter Ambassadors, volunteers who recruit subscribers and make sure the word gets out about the program.
  2. Congregations should schedule a Chalice Lighter Sunday during the program year where you highlight the wonderful achievements of this program and have a membership drive.
  3. Become a Chalice Lighter Subscriber! Every person who wants to see Unitarian Universalism grow and thrive should consider donating at whatever dollar level might be appropriate.  The suggested donation is $20 per call, yet no gift is too small or too large.

Individual Chalice Lighter Subscribers pledge to contribute three times a year when the calls are issued – and those faithful contributions add up to significant funding.  In the Central East Region alone, contributions have totaled almost TWO MILLION DOLLARS over the past 15 years!

SUBSCRIBE TODAY – There is no payment due at this time, you will be contacted for a payment with the next call.

Andrea Lerner, Program Manager for Chalice Lighters.

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Update on the Annual Program Fund

We are thankful for your support of all of the congregations in our Association through your contributions to the UUA Annual Program Fund and your Central East Region. Just think about all of the lives reached by Unitarian Universalism nationally, and the important, painful and necessary conversations that find a home in Unitarian Universalism, where we transform ourselves in hopes of transforming the world.

As we continue along the path of regionalization, we are further streamlining our system of Associational stewardship in the coming fiscal year. We want to communicate clearly what this means and how it will affect the way your congregation contributes to both the Central East Region and the UUA.

What will remain the same for Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018):

  • Your financial support of our Association through our UUA Annual Program Fund (APF) and through your Regional dues will remain vitally important. The vast majority of the budget for Central East Region programming and staff operations comes from your APF and  Regional dues contributions. Your support provides services not only to your own congregation, but also to other congregations who count on your full participation.

What will be different for Fiscal Year 2018:

  • This week you will receive your annual pledge form from us, and it will look a little bit different.
    • There will be a message from our three Interim Co-Presidents.
    • The forms will list the amount requested for your Region, as well as for the UUA, and then a total combined amount. There will be a space for you to enter the single total amount that you pledge.
    • We will ask you to make your FY2018 contributions by sending single checks made payable to UUA-CER rather than by separate checks made out to UUA and to your Region.
  • The amount of combined dues you owe will be based on the district your congregation historically belonged to and your contribution to the UUA.
  • Please note that for the remainder of the current Fiscal Year 2017, you will continue to receive Regional dues invoices from the Central East Region as well as invoices from our UUA for any remainder of your FY2017 Annual Program Fund pledge.

We would be happy to help with any questions you have about Associational stewardship. You may reach out to Andrea Lerner (484-201-4384, [email protected]) with questions about the nature of the program or Cristina Sanchis (302-377-8971, [email protected]) with specific financial questions.  Norrie Gall, UUA Congregational Giving Manager (617-948-6514, [email protected]) is also a resource as we transition to her office for invoicing and record keeping.

Friends, we are congregations in covenant. When each congregation becomes part of the Association, they pledge their support to the UUA. Your gifts to your Region and the Annual Program Fund are the fulfillment of a promise already made. Your contributions are used to provide programming and services to your own congregation, as well as to those throughout our Association, which we are faithfully providing. Thank you so much for your faithful giving, on behalf of all Unitarian Universalists.

In Stewardship,
Rev. Megan Foley, Regional Lead, Central East Region
Andrea Lerner, Associational Giving Program Manager, Central East Region
Cristina Sanchis, Financial Manager, Central East Region

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First Universalist Lyons Experiencing Revival

The First Universalist Church (UU) of Lyons, OH is experiencing a revival in northwest Ohio.  This small village (pop. 562) is just west of Greater Toledo, and the suburbs are steadily stretching out closer and closer to Lyons. The congregation’s new “G.O.D.” (Growth, Outreach, and Deeds) team has been a big part of the congregation’s recent revival, forming partnerships with local service organizations and engaged in intentional efforts of community outreach and service.  The congregation has made quite a few changes to its Sunday service, with updates to worship and music.  This revival also has a lot to do with the dedication of the congregation’s minister Rev. Larry Hutchison.  The congregation could only afford to bring him on as a part-time minister, yet he does so much more on a volunteer basis.  Things have been looking up for this very small but now growing congregation.

Then, all of a sudden, the congregation’s focus was jerked back to financial struggles and the basic operation of the church.  A recent wind storm hit the aging and worn sanctuary roof with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. This was followed by heavy rains that led to a large ominous dripping wet spot with ceiling tiles stained and loosened. To keep the 149 year old church home from sustaining any more damage the members have had to scramble to raise the money to get the work underway as quickly as possible.  The most economical bid for the replacement of the main part of the roof, just over the sanctuary, is $13,500.00.  The insurance company has pledged $6000.00 to cover only what was damaged by wind, not the entire section of aging and compromised roofing.

The congregation now has a Faithify campaign to raise $5000.00, which leaves $2500.00 for them to cover with an unplanned and hurried capital campaign and from their modest financial safety net.  Failure, however, is not an option.  Failing to secure a roof on our beautiful yet fragile church home could result in not only ending this amazing revival but the closure of the church.  After surviving the Great Depression, World Wars, a lightning strike, and a beam falling through the sanctuary ceiling, it would unthinkable that a worn roof would be the end.

Little Free Library
Poetry, Music and Tacos
Dresses for Malawi
Guest Speakers
Christmas Parade Lit Float
Adopt a Highway Program

In the last year alone, the congregation…:

  • Started a “little free library” in our modest village that no longer has a public library.
  • Have marked out an area for our new community garden.
  • Sponsored 3 “Christmas families,” with a house full of gifts and household necessities, when they would only have taken on one in prior years.
  • Partnered with Sunnyside Peace and Justice Center in Adrian, Michigan to host a night of “Poetry, Tacos, and Music”.
  • Sent durable church-made dresses to Malawi so that girls there can meet the sole requirement for enrolling in school, having a dress.
  • Brought in quite a few guest speakers to bring insights about topics as diverse as solidarity with standing rock, NAACP, living as a Muslim-American, and overcoming addiction, to name a few.
  • Handed out treats at the village’s Trick-or-treat night, which facilitated a lot of community questions about Unitarian Universalism, including one child, to the dismay of his parents, asking, “What kind of church passes out candy at Halloween?”
  • Passed out free food and refreshments during the 120 mile yard sale on route 120.
  • Entered a lit float into the village Christmas parade.
  • Hosted movie nights. Some had a deep or intense message, others were just fun and for all ages.
  • Continued an adopt-a-highway portion of route 120.
  • Lots more…
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CER Minister Founds Interfaith Program to Feed Hungry Children

Rev. Karen Rasmussen
Rev. Karen Rasmussen

If you’ve looked on Faithify lately you’ll have seen a project called No Child Goes Hungry. This project was posted by Rev. Karen Rasmussen, minister of the UU Congregation of Columbia, MD. This project addresses her personal interest in making certain no child goes to bed hungry. We asked her about her project and her program and wondered how other congregations might get involved.

Why did you choose child hunger to focus on?

It’s crazy isn’t it, that any child goes hungry.  It makes me the kind of frothing at the mouth kind of crazy that any kid doesn’t have enough to eat. In our schools, congregations and on our very own streets, kids go hungry every day. I’ve been a hunger activist for about seven years and I figured I could either let the issue overwhelm me or I could work to fix it-one kid and one meal at a time.

How does No Child Go Hungry work?

Once a donation is made to No Child Goes Hungry, I give a congregation or a small groups a grant or “seed money.”  I offer to consult with the leadership of that group on how to feed kids in the community and the  congregations in turn decides where in their community the money can best be used . The people of the congregation, both clergy and lay leaders, work with a local school or organization to directly feed kids. I talk with the on how they spent the grant and keep the accounting that way.

I mean, who better than the congregation on the ground in the community to work with a local school to make sure kids have enough food on the weekends?

For me, listening to the nine congregations who already have grants plan and organize to feed kids in their own communities is both exciting and inspiring.

What does it mean to be a partner with No Child Goes Hungry?

To partner with NCGH means your congregation or organization has a grant and you are working on ways to feed kids right in your own communities. I’m looking to branch out and offer seed money to scout troops, parent teacher organizations and small businesses so they can organize food raising for local shelters and schools. Many PTA’s in schools already have a pantry to get some food home for kids on the weekends. I also help congregations reach out to their local elementary schools for help with the national Blessings in the Backpack program. One of the first questions I ask a congregation is “which is the closest elementary school to you and do you know if they help feed kids on the weekends and holiday?”  That gets the ball rolling for our partnership.

What is the project on Faithify raising money for?

To supply more congregations and small groups with seed money for provide meals for kids. The nine congregations already with grants are of three different denominations and in six different states plus the District of Columbia. 100% of the donations go directly to feeding kids and I have a waiting list of at least 14 more congregations ready to organize, plan and provide meals.

I serve as a change maker, a connector and a consultant to make sure no child ever goes to bed hungry.

To learn more about this project visit the No Child Goes Hungry website or watch the video below.

Interested in posting a project on Faithify? Visit their website or Faithify University for assistance.

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