By Michelle Leebens-Mack, a member of the Diamond JUUbilee committee and head of February’s anniversary observance
UUFA’s Diamond JUUbilee!
Looking Back and Moving Forward
Celebrating our Connections to the Greater Unitarian Universalist Community
As we continue the 2014 celebration of our Unitarian Universalist community, during February we hold up our connections to the greater UU community.
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian and Universalist congregations came together to create the UUA in 1961. “Each congregation in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is democratic in polity and operation, governing itself. Congregations unite in the Association to provide services that individual congregations cannot provide for themselves.”
Watch a video on Unitarian Universalism: You’re a Uni-What? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st5Pv3lsG60
Through our support to the UUA, the UUA in turn supports affiliate congregations such as ours through:
- offering advice and support to grow and to thrive (http://www.uua.org/management/index.shtml),
- providing religious education curricula and support for religious educators (http://www.uua.org/re/index.shtml),
- empowered by the direction given by congregation delegates at the annual General Assembly – From time to time, the Unitarian Universalist Association is asked to sign on to statements of position on certain issues, in the form of letters to public officials, open statements, shareholder statements, and amicus briefs. UUA sign-ons are determined by whether or not we have grounding based on positions we’ve taken in our social witness statements. (http://www.uua.org/justice/index.shtml),
- providing resources for lay leaders such as Interconnections and Skinner House Books
- offering UU programs such as Veatch to offer financial program support;
The UUA provides to each member of a congregation a subscription to the UU World and its online version, uuworld.org. This quarterly magazine “helps readers build their faith and act on it more effectively in their personal lives, their congregations, their communities, and the world.”
Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens are known bibliophiles, sharing books in its rolling market and digging deeper into books through its monthly Book Talks. Beacon Press, an independent publisher affiliated with the UUA, has a history of publishing noted, “ground-breaking” classics, including James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son and The Pentagon Papers, and more recently partnered with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. to print new editions of Dr. King’s writings.
Standing on the Side of Love
“Standing on the Side of Love is an interfaith public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression. It is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association and all are welcome to join.”
The Standing on the Side of Love campaign elevates compassionate religious voices to influence public attitudes and public policy.
From the middle of January through February, SSL sponsors the Thirty Days of Love program. This is an opportunity for people of all faiths to reflect on areas of social justice, to encourage them to educate themselves on issues, and to take intentional action to make a difference in our communities and in our world.
Standing on the Side of Love helps us to share in this Living Tradition. Members of the UUFA have worn their gold SSL t-shirts bearing witness to LGBT and immigration issues. Join US!
Watch a video on Standing on the Side of Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIN4VSM5K2Q#t=14
UU’s at the District Level
“The Mid-South’s greatest resource is its people.” The UUFA has received program support through consultants and educational programs for its leaders over many years. The Mid-South district has now combined resources with other area districts forming the UUA Southern Region to better support the congregations in this region. As UUA staff, they help to provide educational and leadership programming and support.
Coming up in the next few months:
- Celebrate and Inspire Leadership! February 8
- LREDA Midwinter Conference – February 7 – 9
- On Being Unitarian Universalist: We All Lead – Mar 13-16
- VUUYA: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference – March 28-30
The Chalice Lighters program “encourages and supports growth of Unitarian Universalism by awarding grants to member congregations and clusters. Grants are awarded for both traditional and innovative growth projects.” If you become a chalice lighter, a “call” will go out no more than three times a year asking you to contribute at least $10 to help another congregation in our district in an initiative.
The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center:
Otherwise commonly known and loved as “The Mountain!” The Mountain, just across the border in North Carolina, provides a beautiful setting for our semi-annual UUFA Retreat. (We will again hold our Retreat there in October of this year). Our children and youth have attended summer camps at the Mountain, and they have also built connections with other UU’s and deepened their UU faith through the youth “Cons” (conferences).
Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council
The UUFA is a member of the UU Partner Church Council, where we endeavor to promote peace, justice, and liberty for all, supported through global partnerships.
The UUFA started exploring the idea of partnering with a Unitarian church in Romania in 1991, when our minister exchanged letters with a young ministerial intern, Levente Kelemen. Two years later, Rev. Kelemen was appointed minister of the church in the historic village of Okland and our formal partnership began. In the following 21 years, the UUFA has supported the church in its efforts to renovate its buildings, to restore the village economy, and to aid deserving students who must pursue secondary education in boarding schools far from the village. We are currently supporting four young people. Our members have made three rewarding “pilgrimages” to Okland and have enjoyed reciprocal visits by the minister and his wife, Eva, his daughter Kincso, and a number enthusiastic teens. We are hoping the Kelemens will visit again in 2014.
Watch this video on the history of the Partner Church Council
The UUFA has a growing relationship with Rev. Mark Kiyimba to support the work he is doing standing on the side of love through his orphanage, school, and support of those in his country who are LGBT in Kampala, Uganda. (https://www.facebook.com/mark.kiyimba?fref=ts)
Watch this video on the work that Rev. Mark is doing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5mEjhjhtqk
For an overview of the celebration, visit the Diamond JUUbilee page here.