Brief congregational news items from the Fall 2012 issue.
People’s Church in Kalamazoo, Mich., received the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2012 Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action.
“We were inspired by the depth and breadth of your ministry,” wrote the committee that selected People’s Church, a 203-member congregation engaged in more than a dozen social justice programs from non-discrimination to prison ministry to domestic violence. The church is also undertaking a major new initiative to explore multiculturalism and antiracism.
In the past ten years, the congregation has founded a Social Justice Coordinating Committee and worked with the faith-based community organizing network Gamaliel to start a local interfaith organizing network, isaac (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community). Church members are involved in isaac taskforces and have led city-wide coalitions that secured major grants for family health and for preschool education.
Other members volunteer as mentors at a local school, sponsor a support group for people just out of prison, and help prepare a weekly meal for homeless people. People’s Church is also a partner with a Transylvania congregation and a new congregation in Bujumbura, Burundi, where it supports a microlending program, advocates for the rights of indigenous people, and helps prevent the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Phil Kramer, chair of the Social Justice Coordinating Committee, said, “Our social justice work is part of our UU values system. It’s who we are.” (See full story, 6.25.12.)
First Universalist Church of West Parish, Maine, celebrated its second annual Rhubarb Festival in May. Warm temperatures led to an earlier than normal rhubarb harvest and prompted church members to hold the festival a week earlier this year. Among the offerings were 40 rhubarb pies; rhubarb muffins, squares, and coffee cakes; pickled rhubarb; and jams.
A press release from the church reported that, “People wait in line all decked out with every manner of pie basket and other containers to tenderly transport their rhubarb baked goods home.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit the church’s electrical and heating systems. Money from last year’s Rhubarb Festival was used to replace the church’s front steps.
This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of UU World (page 44).
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.
Michelle Bates Deakin, a member of First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Massachusetts, was a UU World contributing editor from 2006 to 2011 and a UU World senior editor from 2011 to 2014. She is the author of Social Action Heroes: Unitarian Universalists Who Are Changing the World (Skinner House, 2011) and Gay Marriage, Real Life: 10 Stories of Love and Family (Skinner House, 2006).
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