Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

Tools for Moving Beyond the Mono-cultural Congregation

November 15, 2011

The UUA has recently added a new resource to its Web site — a 14-page document called Multicultural Welcome: A Resource for Greeters in Unitarian Universalist Congregations. The resource invites theological reflection on welcoming and hospitality; includes a section for training greeters; gives suggestions on inviting conversation with newcomers; a list of additional resources for reading and reflection; and more. Often, we’ve discussed how we want to move forward on becoming more multicultural, but have decried the lack of resources.  This looks excellent, and I invite you to give this some thought and try out the ideas. You can find it here: 


Conscientious Consumption at the Holidays – a New Approach

November 10, 2011

Some parents at First Unitarian Church in Des Moines IA have come up with a new idea about how to avoid overwhelming the local landfill with barely-used toys and books as they clean out their children’s rooms to get ready for another holiday season. They’ve launched a program called Play It Forward. This month, families are invited to bring in their excellent-to-good condition toys and books, and on one Saturday, the books and toys will be available for others to take home — for free! The only catch is that you can’t choose something for yourself, just to give to someone else. As an incentive to give, families who have donated toys can start their “shopping” an hour early. As a parent and grandparent, I think this is a great idea! Let’s share what our children no longer use. Recycled toys and books – yes!

Think We’re Too Small to Make a Difference?

January 24, 2011

Think we’re too small to make a difference? That we can’t get the attention of those in power? The folks at First Unitarian Church of Omaha have debunked that myth. Read all about it:  

Sorry for the bad link earlier.

Boy, we were Green!

September 1, 2010

The word from Minneapolis is that during General Assembly in June, NO waste was sent to landfills from our time at the Convention Center.

76% of waste produced was recycled and composted, and the rest was processed to generate electricity and steam. Wow! I’m impressed!

Thanks is due to all of the wonderful volunteers who stood by the recycling containers, explaining over and over how to separate things out or digging through what we’d discarded to be sure the items were put into the right containers. Their work, and the intentionality of the GA planners, and the cooperation of the Convention Center staff, made this possible.

I’m proud of us!

Congregations Respond to Needs in Haiti

January 28, 2010

I’m really inspired by our congregations’ responses to the desperate needs of the Haitian people after the earthquake there. Within a couple of days, there were ideas flowing.

The Unitarian Fellowship at Lawrence, KS, raised over $2500 when they hosted a chili and cornbread supper for their members and friends.

Unity Church – Unitarian in St. Paul, MN, raised $10,000 in a special collection at their Sunday services.

First Unitarian Church in Wichita, KS, was featured on their local tv station for their vigil and collection of donations. Efforts by First Unitarian Church in Omaha, NE, were noted in an article in their local newspaper.

Two other Twin Cities congregations raised over $1,000 and nearly $2,000 in their respective Sunday collections.

Money will be needed for months and years to come, as Haiti tries to rebuild their infrastructure and feed and house their people. Donations will continue to be needed. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee web site tells which organizations they are supporting with the

The Pumpkin Patch

August 24, 2009

Over the weekend, I heard about the coolest project that one of our congregations is doing — one that will raise the visibility of the congregation in their community, benefit the local food bank, and involve all ages in the fun. Here’s the scoop.

Second Unitarian Church in Omaha Nebraska planted an organic pumpkin patch on their lawn last spring. This fall they’re having a Fall Festival and will sell the pumpkins, with all proceeds going to the local food bank.

The children were involved; they planted the pumpkin seeds during a ritual that invited them to give the seeds something of themselves by holding the organic seeds in their mouths, in their hands, blowing on them, and holding them up to be warmed in the sunlight before putting them into the soil. The ritual was designed by an organic gardener/mentor for the project.

The pumpkins were planted on the lawn using a no-till, permapatch gardening method. Volunteers watered the pumpkin plants this summer, using water gathered in the church’s new rain barrel, supplemented by water from the tap.

Neighbors will be invited to the Festival, along with another church in the area. Signs inviting the public to attend have been placed on the lawn.

This is the first annual Harvest Festival, and the church will use this as one of their projects for Green Sanctuary certification. To learn more about this and see their wonderful photos, go to:

Everyone’s Birthday is a Very Special Day!

March 12, 2009

The Unitarian Church in Lincoln NE sponsored a mass birthday celebration for children served by a local hunger relief and outreach center. Forty two children whose families are served by the Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach enjoyed cupcakes, pizza, party games and treats, clowns, as well as a professional comedy magic show. Each received a $10 gift card and a refurbished bicycle. The children of the church enjoyed hosted the event, with help from adult church members and several companies, agencies, and groups that donated generously to the day’s activities. The event was covered by the local media and that coverage inspired a local women’s circle to send the church a check for $240 for another party next year!

The church’s Religious Growth Director is engaging the children and youth of the church in several service activities, including volunteering at a local animal shelter and putting on a Hunger Banquet at the church.

These are wonderful ways to engage our children in activities to learn about social issues and live out our values!

Black Friday and UU Values: Making Yourself Known

December 1, 2008

Unity Church-Unitarian [Saint Paul MN] received wonderful publicity over the weekend for their Black Friday project. There were articles on the front page of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Friday and on Saturday, an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune business section on Saturday, and a feature on KARE-TV 11, which got picked up by CNN and went national. In this way, many, many people learned about this congregation’s commitment to the challenges posed by commercialization, debt, frantic pace, unrealistic expectations, stress, and more.

According to the Star Tribune, nearly 300 people gathered in the sanctuary at Unity to explore the pressures of our society in regard to the Christmas season. The program on Friday morning featured a story for children “The Man Who Loved His Hats Too Much” [and photos of the children were prominent in the press coverage]. The program also included music, conversation, and a talk by Kevin Kling, nationally known playwright and storyteller. Parents of young children were interviewed for the newspaper articles and feature on television.

This program is part of the church’s UU Christmas Reclamation Project, which began with a meeting a year ago facilitated by Bill Doherty [church member, well known author of books on family life, and member of the family social services faculty at the University of Minnesota]. Read more about the process they used in Unity’s December newsletter. See page 10

Read more about this on Phil’s blog at

Another Breakthrough Congregation in Prairie Star!

November 25, 2008

I’m so pleased to say that another congregation in Prairie Star District is being recognized as a Breakthrough Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations! We’ve just received word that First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, Iowa, has been chosen as one of four Breakthrough Congregations for 2009.

First Unitarian Church, Des Moines IA

The church added a Saturday afternoon service a few years ago, to welcome new people.

 First Unitarian Church, Des Moines IA

The congregation recently completed a building renovation that added new office and meeting room space and renovated the religious education classrooms. A lift that goes to all levels, a new large foyer, and a downstairs area for greeting families with children were important additions for welcoming newcomers.

The church is actively involved in AMOS — A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy — a congregationally based, community organizing group — along with other Iowa congregations. The minister, Rev. Mark Stringer, is active in AMOS and has served as President of the local Interfaith Alliance.

The congregation has grown from 251 adult members to 389 in the last eight years, as part of a concerted effort to serve the needs of more people and their community. Their budget has grown accordingly, and people have pledged generously.

Congratulations to First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, who joins our District’s other Breakthrough Congregations — All Souls UU Church in Kansas City, MO [2007] and White Bear UU Church in Mahtomedi, MN [2005].

Topeka Congregation Featured in News Article

July 16, 2008

Our congregation in Topeka, Kansas, got some very nice coverage in a recent article in the local newspaper. See it here:
I like the article because it is upbeat and begins by reporting the story of the young families currently being attracted to the congregation and then tells how the congregation is responding to this growth. Other aspects of congregational life — how to live sustainably, their welcoming of BGLT people, their selling of Fair Trade products, their excellent minister and staff — are highlighted. It will be easy for anyone reading the article to figure out just what Unitarian Unitarians are all about.
I also checked out the congregation’s Web site, and it’s very good. If people read the newspaper article and then look at the fellowship’s Web site, they’ll find current information about programming, and a visitor’s page that tells what to expect at a Sunday service; what resources are available for children, youth, and adults; details about their location, with directions; and suggestions for finding a convenient place to park. There’s also a section about the plans for their building expansion, which was referred to in the newspaper article. Find their Web site here:
Well done, Topeka!