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Giving & Generosity


News and Inspiration from UUA Stewardship and Development 

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Seasons of Giving
Spring 2017

In this Issue

The Spirit in Spring

Taking a Stand

Youth Ministry Training

Featured Donors

Double Your Gift

Additional Resources

The Spirit In Spring 

 By Rev. Darcy Roake 

To some, the advent of Spring symbolizes rebirth and beauty. To me...hay fever. I see my predicament as an apt metaphor for our times. It is hard to see the beauty around us when there is so much pain. One would rather stay in bed and wait it out for the season. But our UU faith calls us to build a more loving, just, equitable world. 

"We are Unitarian Universalists -- from one source, to one destiny -- here to love the hell out of the world."

Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford

And so we resist the pull to hide under our covers. Instead we go out into the world - adjusting to the beauty of the flowering plants and the misery of the sinus headache.

This choice need not be too painful, particularly if we take the theme of this year's General Assembly in New Orleans - Resist & Rejoice - as our guide. As a resident of New Orleans, I have learned from local leaders about the importance of both parade and protest - of sustaining joy in the difficult pursuit of peace, liberty, and justice for all. In our faith, lives, and work we must be loving and courageous, rising from our beds to create a flourishing garden where all can live in peace. Our faithful work will never be finished, so let us savor it in the springtime, as we savor the beauty of flowers…despite the sneezes. 

Taking A Stand

Since taking office, President Trump has signed a number of executive orders that run counter to the values of Unitarian Universalism. The Unitarian Universalist Association has responded by taking a public stand in defense of the human rights of refugees and other immigrants, transgender individuals, and women seeking full access to health care within and beyond our borders. The official UUA statements regarding oppressive policies reaffirm our commitment to action as we resist hate, fear, and bigotry. 

The Search for Truth, Meaning, and Youth Ministry Training
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  At the Youth Ministry Revival, Portland, OR, September 2016.  

Engaging, relevant youth ministry programs help congregations to support younger members in their own searches for truth and meaning, an essential part of their transition to adulthood. The UUA offers many resources to help adults build youth ministries that are inspiring, healthy, and safe. The latest addition is a new series of training webinars sharing best practices with ministers, religious educators, and lay leaders working with youth. 

The series of monthly webinars, launched in September 2016, is based on the Competencies for Ministry To/With Youth created by the UUA’s Congregational Life and Youth and Young Adult offices.

For a long time, youth ministry programs and training were developed at the Regional, District, or even the congregational level,” says Kim Sweeney, religious educator and Lead for Faith Formation and Safe Congregations for the New England Region. At a Youth Ministry Roundtable in 2015, participants recognized the need to train leaders in best practices and provide a more consistent message to youth. “The training needed to be free of charge, available across the country, and user-friendly.” 

The Congregational Life and Youth and Young Adult offices hosted the first of ten planned webinars in September 2016. Webinars are presented twice to a live audience, and a recording is posted on the web so the training will be available to non-attendees. “Some people attend live, and then use the recordings to train other adults,” noted Kim. 

Webinar topics have included healthy relationships between youth and adults, pastoral care to youth, inclusive youth group dynamics, and an overview of competencies for youth ministry. The most recent session addressed communication and social media, and future webinars will focus on building inclusive multigenerational congregations and considering different models of youth ministry.

“I’ve learned so much,” says Jonah Eller-Isaacs, Religious Education Administrator and RE teacher at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. The most important thing he learned was that programs and activities are only the beginning. “It shifted my focus for this work to community building and covenant; once you have that, all programs will be effective.”  

youth ministry revival 2016

2016 Youth Ministry Revival. Photos by Eric Bliss.

Webinar topics have included healthy relationships between youth and adults, pastoral care to youth, inclusive youth group dynamics, and an overview of competencies for youth ministry. The most recent session addressed communication and social media, and future webinars will focus on building inclusive multigenerational congregations and considering different models of youth ministry.

As a lifelong UU, the son of two ministers, and a former youth leader, Eller-Isaacs was pleased by the way safety and boundaries have been addressed in the series. “Making sure youth feel safe and are able to express themselves is vital, because the more honest the youth can be, the better I can serve them.”

Both Sweeney and Eller-Isaacs agreed that the value of the webinars goes beyond the content. The ability to connect and share information with their peers has created a growing community of UU adults active in youth ministry around the country. As Jonah points out “No one comes into youth work knowing how to do this naturally. It takes work. It takes learning.”

There are many ways to get involved in youth ministry. Learn more about becoming a Religious Education teacheryouth group advisor, or Our Whole Lives teacher; mentoring youth through life transitions with Coming of Age and Bridging programs; enabling participation in conferences and events; or helping lead youth projects and service trips

Featured Donors: Robert and David MacPherson
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  Seven generations of UU: David MacPherson with daughter Dianna and granddaughter Erin at GA 2011.

Brothers Robert and David MacPherson have seen nine decades of Unitarian Universalism. Fifth-generation Universalists, they were born in 1925 and 1928 respectively, and grew up near Boston, attending the West Somerville Universalist Church. Both studied at Tufts University and became Universalist ministers. Their careers and their gifts to the UUA are a part of our history, and through their planned gifts, they will continue to support UU values long into the future.

Dave, 88, is minister emeritus of the First Church of Richmond, VA; he retired in in 1998 after 47 years of ministry in Massachusetts, Maryland, Wyoming, and Virginia. He was married for nearly fifty years to “the most wonderful, beautiful woman I could have met,” his wife, Dottie, who died in 2004.  

For Dave, the Sixth Principle is the core of our faith. “We have to become a diverse faith. We have to transform the world.” Dave was active in civil rights, and was arrested in 1963 while protesting the segregation of Gwynn Oaks Amusement Park in Baltimore. Aware of his privilege, he also noted “I spent a large amount of time working in a number of struggles for civil rights without experiencing the larger needs and implications of the issues.” His service at UU Church West in Wisconsin in the 1980s helped him develop “a much more multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-sexual-orientation understanding of our faith.” Today, he describes himself as a “social democrat” and remains active, preaching guest sermons, riding his recumbent bicycle and building models of 17th century New England buildings.

UU Fellowship Ashevillle NC

Bob and Ann McPherson helped build the UU Congregation of Asheville's first church, dedicated in 1972. 

Bob MacPherson recently celebrated his 92nd birthday. Bob served as president of the Universalist Youth Fellowship in 1946-48, and as a young minister, was involved in the 1953 merger between that group and the American Unitarian Youth, creating the Liberal Religious Youth. He says that “the youth led the way” as the two denominations moved toward becoming one. The first church he served was a merged Unitarian and Universalist congregation in Cleveland, Ohio, the hometown of his wife Ann (1926-2015), a teacher; subsequently he was called to churches in Boston and Maine. In the early 1960s, he developed an interest in audiology, and earned his Ph.D. at Syracuse University. He started an audiology program at a VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. He and Ann joined the small UU Fellowship of Asheville, and helped to build the congregation’s first church in 1972; today, it is among the largest UU churches in the country, with more than 500 members.

Though they have much to look back on, Bob and David MacPherson are passionate about the future of Unitarian Universalism. Dave made a gift to the UUA’s pooled income fund in 1993, which generates part of his current income and will eventually support church growth programs, and both brothers have included the Unitarian Universalist Association in their wills. Dave’s recent sermons “I’m Spiritual AND Religious” and “Universalism Must Become Universal” are available online.

Thank you, Dave and Bob, for your commitment, service, and generosity to Unitarian Universalism.

Double Your Gift

This spring, the UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock will double the gifts made by contributors to the Friends of the UUA! This matching gift challenge means that every donation, up to a total of $100,000, will be worth twice as much. Don’t miss this opportunity to make a doubly generous gift at, 888-792-5885, or by sending a check c/o Friends of the UUA to P.O. 843150, Boston, MA 02284 by June 30. Many thanks to you and many thanks to the UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock!

Additional Resources
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UUs supporting immigration justice.  Photo © SSL

UUs are helping create safe spaces for people under threat today by offering sanctuary in our churches and promoting sanctuary in our communities. Want to know how you and your congregation can get involved?  The UUA, Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, and Standing on the Side of Love have joined forces to create Tools for Sanctuary and Solidarity. Resources include webinars, a Sanctuary Toolkit  for congregations considering offering physical sanctuary, and Expanded Sanctuary information you can use to protect and defend immigrants in your community.