Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July’s Shared Offering Recipient: SPLC

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, the center works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality. The center employs three strategies against racial and social injustice:
  • Tracking the activities of hate groups and domestic terrorists across America, and filing lawsuits that seek to destroy networks of radical extremists.
  • Using the courts and other forms of advocacy to win systemic reforms on behalf of victims of bigotry and discrimination.
  • Providing educators with free resources that teach schoolchildren to reject hate, embrace diversity, and respect differences.
SPLC’s Current Priorities:
Thousands of vulnerable children – disproportionately black and often suffering from learning disabilities – are being needlessly pushed out of schools and into the juvenile justice system.
The SPLC monitors hate groups and extremists throughout the U.S. and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public. The center has crippled some of the country’s most notorious hate groups by suing them for murders and other violent acts committed by their members.
Immigrants perform some of the hardest, most dangerous jobs in our economy – for the least amount of pay. But they are routinely cheated out of their wages and denied basic protections in the workplace. They face bigotry and discrimination in their communities and are vulnerable to hate crimes.
The SPLC is dedicated to defending the rights of the LGBT community. Its current work has a national reach but is primarily focused on the Southeast where relatively few organizations advocate for this community.
The center’s Teaching Tolerance program reduces prejudice, improves intergroup relations, and supports equitable school experiences for the nation’s children. The center provides free anti-bias resources to teachers.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Save Water, Stones from Your Summer Steps

On Sunday, August 30, we will have our traditional Ingathering Service, which will include a Water and Stone Communion. Please remember to collect a small vial of water, or a stone, from your summer travels and activities, which you can share in the service.

Thank UUs; The Cakes You Baked Made Our Days

We'd like to thank all the folks who provided birthday cakes for our 2014-1015 church year: Mona Shannon, Marcy Joncich, Amber and Mike Higgins, Ann Odom, Cindy Loui, Anne Sharp, Virginia Brubaker, Gail Schiesser, Karla Peterson, and Jenna Zeidler. Thanks also to Lavanya Neelapa, who has volunteered to bring a cake for the first Sunday in August.

Now it’s your turn! Please consider providing a cake for the first Sunday of some month between July 2015 and June 2016. So far, August 2015 is the only date that is filled. You can get more information if you need it, or simply sign up, by contacting Virginia Brubaker at

From the Center from Global Studies: Host a Visiting Teacher

The Center for Global Studies (CGS) at the University of Illinois is proud to have been selected by the U.S. Department of State to host a five-week Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for 20 teachers from around the world. This will be the third consecutive summer that CGS has hosted this program and we are excited to introduce a new group of international educators to our wonderful community. In past years, community members have enjoyed spending time with the SUSI teachers and helping them learn about our community. If you’d like to volunteer your time with this program, please visit our blog for the full announcement.

This summer's group hails from Belarus, Chad, Finland, France, French Guiana, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Japan, Malawi, Mozambique, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkmenistan, and Uganda, Uzbekistan. To learn more about the participants and the program, please click here.

We would like our visitors to have opportunities to meet local residents for conversation and learn more about the rhythm of life in the American Midwest. We are seeking individuals and families to host international secondary school teachers for activities, such as a home-cooked meal, sporting event, worship service, Fourth of July picnic, etc. during their stay in the Champaign-Urbana community from June 21 to July 27.

In addition to helping to arrange informal opportunities for interaction with the SUSI international teachers, there are three specific activities that CGS has planned for host families and program participants:

The Fourth of July is an important holiday in American society. The SUSI international teachers will have the opportunity to spend a few hours or all day with a local family. In the past, families have hosted small groups of international teachers by inviting them to backyard barbecues, the parade, a pool party, and/or fireworks. Community members are encouraged to include the teachers in whatever activity your family does to celebrate Independence Day. 

July 17-19 is “Faith in America” weekend for the SUSI Program. We are looking for community members willing to take one to three international teachers to a religious service sometime during this weekend. We are looking for host families from a variety of faith traditions to show the diverse religious communities in our area and the United States. At the end of the weekend, the international teachers will reconvene to share their experiences and discuss the role of religion in American society.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Center for Global Studies Outreach Coordinator Jeremie Smith at or call our office at 217-244-9352

Friday, June 5, 2015

Gehrmanns Called to Carmel

Dear Friends,
As you hopefully heard a few weeks ago, Elaine and I spent the last days of May visiting the UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula (UUCMP) in Carmel, California, meeting members and friends, and exploring the area. Last Sunday, the congregation voted to call us as their new co-ministers, and we accepted. This means Elaine and I will indeed be leaving Urbana-Champaign this summer, after nineteen remarkable years with you.

My last Sunday in the pulpit will be June 21st. The next day Elaine and I will head off to the UU General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, and after that I will enter my summer period of study leave and vacation, which – this year – will be spent packing up our possessions and, hopefully, selling our house in Urbana. My official last day as your minister is August 15th. August 15th also marks the arrival of your new interim minister, the Rev. Janet Newman.

In the Uniter and the E-News, you can find additional information about the upcoming transition, as well as events planned to celebrate the many good years we have shared.

The upcoming weeks will be busy, and I look upon them with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the changes and possibilities that lie ahead are exciting. On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine leaving this community and all our friends after many happy and rewarding years here. In the midst of it all, I feel a growing sense of gratitude for countless blessings, both past and future.

Please know that, despite the busyness, I am available to talk, to listen, and to answer questions you might have.

Deeply gratefully yours,

Reverend Roasting Revelries

Save the Date! On Saturday, June 13th, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., we’ll honor Axel and Elaine Gehrmann with a Roast and Toast Coffeehouse celebration. Please come and, if you can, sign up to contribute an appetizer or dessert – or even perform an act for the show. Beverages will be provided.

Relish the Chance to Ketchup at Picnic in the Park

Sunday, June 14 will be our last worship service with both Axel and Elaine Gehrmann. (Elaine cannot attend Axel's last service on June 21.) So come, celebrate the Gehrmanns as we worship, eat, and play at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. There will be no worship service at church that day. The service will begin at 10:15 a.m. Bring your own lawn chair or blanket for worship. Also, bring your favorite picnic food to share – along with beverages, plates, napkins, knives, forks, and spoons for your crew.

Crystal Lake Park is located north of West Park Street, west of North Broadway Avenue. We will meet at the Large Pavilion, which is located near the parking lot off of North Central Avenue. There is a volleyball net and children’s playground nearby. You may want to add some picnic games and toys to your basket of goodies. Hope to see you there!