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Seasons of Giving, March 2018: Quarterly news from UUA Stewardship & Development

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Pink cherry blossoms against blue sky (credit: Sally Carroll, UU Stock Photo
Seasons of Giving
March 2018

In this Issue

Opening Words

Update on Dismantling White Supremacy

Matching Gift Opportunity

UU's Rally to Provide Aid to Disaster Areas

In Memoriam: Denny Davidoff

Congregational Giving News

Staff Profiles: Michaella Patterson

UUA Highlights

Opening Words

"Grounded, Willing, Open to New Life"
by Caitlin Breedlove, courtesy of WorshipWeb

Fertility in social movements and among people is not something we control. We cannot make new life like we make plans or money.

It's hard to be fertile when we are not grounded. Fertility is about making new life that becomes self-determining: that does not belong to us.

If we drain ourselves as leaders, we don't have what that takes. If we drain other leaders of time and energy on busy work, we should not be surprised when they don't have the power to create.

If we're always looking in mirrors—made of glass or social media—and looking outward, we should not be surprised when truly new things don't want to come through us to be born.

May we be fertile in movement-building: grounded, willing, open to new life.

Find this reading and more at

An Update on Countering White Supremacy: Faith Development
  Jessica York headshot

Jessica York. Photo (c) UUA.

By Jessica York, Co-Director, UUA Ministries and Faith Development, and Director, Faith Development Office

Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun’s paper, “White Supremacy Culture” (From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, ChangeWork, 2001), notes several characteristics of white supremacy culture, including individualism, perfectionism, fear of open conflict, and worship of the written word. The Faith Development office at the UUA is striving to name these characteristics as we see them and ask if they are truly serving our faith.

One way we are doing this concerns closer examination of the material we have created and continue to create. Tapestry of Faith, our new, online core curriculum, is a body of work of which we are proud: years in the making, the result of multiple planning and focus groups, we think it lifts up important Unitarian Universalist values in a way that supports all ages in living faithful lives.

Yet, we acknowledge that it is not perfect.

This knowledge has been pointed out to us with increasing frequency as the Association wrestles with centering the experiences of people of color.

Religious educators and teachers are writing to us to let us know when they find Tapestry of Faith lacking: stories that center only white experience, activities that are not respectful of a diversity of viewpoints, places where we have failed to be as inclusive as we should be. What a gift!

It is a gift to be held accountable to the people we serve. Every email we receive from a religious educator asking us to rethink our material is a reminder of the covenant we share to walk together in faith.

It is also a powerful reminder that we cannot do this work alone. Instead of individualism, we embrace the perspectives of the many. Instead of fear of open conflict, we listen to those who love our faith enough to raise issues, especially when the issues are hard. Instead of worship of the written word, we recognize the fluidity and ever-changing nature of language, not giving words, once written, more power than they deserve. Instead of perfectionism, we acknowledge mistakes and strive to use them to practice the same lifelong learning our programs preach.

So keep those emails coming. Let us, together, strive to live up to our highest ideals, know humbly that we often will fail, practice forgiveness when we do, and yet try again and again, returning to do the hard work of creating a heaven on earth.

Matching Gift Opportunity through April 30!
  Text reads "Your generous gift will be doubled! Matching gift challenge" styled like a stamp

Thanks to a generous matching gift challenge from the UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, all gifts to Friends of the UUA made by April 30 will be matched, up to a total of $125,000. Thank you for your generous contributions that keep our UU faith healthy! 

Make your gift online here, or call us at (888) 792-5885 to contribute by phone.

UU's Rallied to Provide Aid to Disaster Areas

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, UU’s immediately sprang into action, contributing half a million dollars for hurricane-related recovery efforts. Gifts made in response to Harvey supported grants made by the UUA to Black Lives of UU (BLUU), Emerson UU Church in Houston, TX, and Bay Area UU Church in Houston, TX, and grants made by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Living Hope Wheelchair Association, and Fe y Justicia Worker Center.

Subsequently, as Hurricanes Irma and Maria took devastating paths across the Caribbean and Florida, and as severe wild fires in Northern California struck, a general UUA Disaster Relief Fund was established. To date $450,000 has been given by 265 congregations and more than 1,200 generous individuals. Thank you to all who have contributed so far.

In Memoriam: Denise T. "Denny" Davidoff
  Denny Davidoff standing at a podium

Denny Davidoff speaks to the 2017 General Assembly in New Orleans. Photo (c) Christopher L. Walton

Reflections shared by Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President, at The Unitarian Church in Westport, Westport, CT, in January 2018.

On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the wider UU movement, I offer to Denny’s family, her closest friends, and this her beloved congregation – our deepest condolences and love.

On this day, the thoughts and prayers of our wider Association are with you, and all of us, as we celebrate Denny’s life.

More so than anyone else, Denny left her mark on just about every major UU institution of her time, including the UU Women’s Federation, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Commission on Appraisal, the General Assembly Planning Committee, the board of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the UUA Board of Trustees, and, most recently, Meadville-Lombard Theological School.

Her commitment will always be remembered in historical ways as Moderator and as the 2006 recipient of the UUA’s Distinguished Service Award, an award she shared with her beloved husband, Jerry. But it will also be felt in ways that may be harder to name. Last June, Denny attended her 50th consecutive General Assembly. Her leadership and presence to our faith and its institutions has and will continue to shape Unitarian Universalism well into the future.

Personally, Denny’s leadership had a profound impact on me. Denny was the Moderator of the UUA when I first became aware of the larger movement. The first General Assembly I attended was in 2001 in Cleveland – Denny’s last as Moderator. The way she moderated the plenary sessions with wit and insight, as well as an obvious love, not just for the faith, but for the people of our faith, inspired in me an abiding commitment to the health and vitality of our wider institution.

In a 2001 UU World interview, Denny said: “The old saw says the preacher has one sermon. Mine has been, ‘If you love this religion, learn more about it, learn its history, and go out and speak it. Go out and be it in the world, not just in the comfort of your home church. Get out there and be a Unitarian Universalist.’

Denny’s profound love for Unitarian Universalism was reflected in all she did. She inspired and deepened the commitment of so many. The best way to honor her memory is to follow her advice: let us go out and be Unitarian Universalists in the world, every day, and in every place – with courage, generosity, fierceness and above all, love. So may it be. 

Congregational Giving News

By Katie Jacobsen, Congregational Giving Assistant

"...the joy inherent in cultivating generosity as a spiritual value." First UU Church of San Diego Generosity Team. This text is overlaid on an image, a part of a colorful mural of variety of people under trees, mountains, and the sky at sunrise or sunset.

First UU Church of San Diego's Generosity Team mission is highlighted on the Amplify UU page. The image comes from a mural on their Hillcrest campus.

Did you know that your Annual Program Fund (APF) has a Facebook page? You can find us at For a little inspiration, the Annual Program Fund team is sharing words from some of our member congregations leading the way in stewardship and generosity.

Generosity is transformative, and cultivating it during times of scarcity—when giving what little you have may feel counterintuitive or even impossible—is essential. 

The following quote comes from First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. Their Generosity Team's mission statement is a reminder of the joy that stems from cultivating a culture of giving, and the role generosity plays in living our UU values: 

"Our Mission: To develop financial and spiritual resources for the current and future needs of First Church with integrity and with an awareness of the joy inherent in cultivating generosity as a spiritual virtue."

Thank you to the incredible Generosity Team at First UU San Diego for amplifying our values.

What does giving look like to your congregation? We want to see the role generosity plays in your mission statement, committees and Sunday practices.

Send us an email 

You can find information about congregational support of the UUA at

To get in touch with the APF team, please call (617) 948-6512 or email

Staff Profile: Michaella (Mae) Patterson
  Headshot of Mae Patterson, Stewardship & Development Office Assistant

Mae Patterson
Photo © UUA


Michaella (Mae) Patterson is a new team member working as Office Assistant in our Stewardship and Development office.

In her role she provides general administrative assistance to the Director and to the Assistant to the Director and Events Coordinator. Additionally, she supports the staff group in many ways including donor communications, answering the phone, research and event support.

She comes to us having done many interesting and varied internships including her most recent one right here at 24 Farnsworth for Beacon Press.

Other internships have had her working with young people of color in Boston’s underserved neighborhoods and on contemporary social issues at OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center. Mae also interned at Studio Theatre, a nonprofit contemporary theater company in Washington, D.C., that develops inclusivity trainings for corporations.

Mae is a graduate of Bridgewater State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a Concentration in Culture this past December. She lives in Framingham, MA.

Mae can be reached at (617) 948-6508 or

UUA Events and Highlights

Upcoming events and new resources from around the UUA:

  UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray and acting Chief Operating Officer Carey McDonald standing together  
  • Mid Year Update from UUA Leadership:

    Watch this video from UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray and acting COO Carey McDonald. The written transcript is included just below the video.

  • 2018 General Assembly
    June 20-24 in Kansas City, MO
    Early registration rates run from March 1 - April 30

    General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process. Anyone may attend; congregations must certify annually to send voting delegates.
      purple scene of fountain and the words Kansas City, Missouri 2018  
    This year’s theme is “All Are Called”: Grounded in a deep belief that we are all prophets, Unitarian Universalists ask, “How can we faithfully meet the demands of our time?” The call to witness and act for justice in our society and in the world is clear. So, too, is the call to examine our structures and practices, dismantling and transforming those which fail to recognize the full humanity of all people and to honor the interdependent web of life.

    Join us in Kansas City as we dive deeply into questions of mission for our Unitarian Universalist Association, for our congregations and communities, and for each of us as individuals. Together, we’ll ask:
    • Who and how are we called to be at this time, individually and collectively?
    • How are we called to act and to live?
    • How does our Unitarian Universalist legacy strengthen us in living out our mission? In what ways does our legacy present challenges and impediments to answering our call?