Brief congregational news items from the Summer 2012 issue.
Three or four times each year, members of the UU Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, Mass., gather for Quilt-a-thons to sew blankets for people undergoing chemotherapy and for sick children. Church members have been sewing for the Power of the Quilt Project since 2003, and have produced more than 1,300 quilts, which are distributed to area cancer treatment centers, hospitals, and shelters. People can also request a quilt for a friend or loved one in need of comfort.
The Quilt-a-thons attract expert and novice quilters, with the more experienced guiding beginners. Other volunteers solicit grants to help the quilters purchase fabric and supplies.
First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisc., has developed a “Microfinance Starter Kit” to help organizations that are interested in starting up their own microfinance funds. A group of volunteers at First Unitarian developed the starter kit after establishing a microfinance fund for their congregation. “We wanted to spread the word about microfinance,” said Scott Andersen, a member of the First Unitarian Microfinance Committee. The starter kit is available at fusmadison.org/microfinance.
First Unitarian created its microfinance fund in 2010, investing $33,000 in two community investment funds. It raised its starter capital from contributions from members of the congregation as well as matching funds from First Unitarian and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Andersen hopes that local and national nonprofits will consult the starter kit to create a microfinance fund of their own. “We want to galvanize excitement on a local level across faith traditions and across organizational structures,” he said.
The Walpole, N.H., Unitarian Church is concluding a year of celebrations commemorating its 250th anniversary. Festivities culminated in the creation of a giant origami rainbow peace crane, which members unveiled at an October Sunday service called Honoring our History, Celebrating the Present, Envisioning our Future. The church recommitted itself to supporting peace and becoming a Welcoming Congregation. During its festivities, the congregation reached out to the wider community, held a Victorian tea party, and set up a labyrinth of lights. One friend of the congregation named a star on the church’s behalf: Celebrate Walpole Unitarian, NH 17612011 is located in the Lynx constellation.
The Comal County UU Society in New Braunfels, Tex., suffered more than $2,000 worth of damage when a vandal fired bullets into the back door and windows of its building in late February. No one was injured by the bullets, and church staff were unsure precisely when the shooting took place. Local police are investigating, according to KGNB radio (2.29.12).
The Unitarian Church in Hinsdale, Ill., received a $27,000 phone bill in November after its system was hacked. The bill was quite a departure from the church’s typical $300 bill. The church disputed the charges, and in March, AT&T credited the church for the entire amount. AT&T determined the bill resulted from thousands of two-minute phone calls to Libya.
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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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