Friday, August 28, 2015

Letter to Parents: Children’s Choir Invitation

I am pleased to invite your children to participate in the church’s Children’s Choir in 2015-16. Choir members need not read music, but they should be able to read words. New singers may join the choir at any time.

I have been the director of the Children’s Choir for the past year, along with being co-director before that. This year Marina Terkouafi will be our accompanist.

We are planning an exciting year for the choir, with a variety of music. As part of the Religious Education program, our primary goal is to help children become familiar with songs that are part of our cultural heritage and that express important values.

We will practice in Room 1, downstairs, on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:05 a.m., starting September 13. We plan to sing in the 10:15 a.m. services at which children are present for the first fifteen or twenty minutes, every two to three weeks. This fall we are singing on September 20, October 4, October 18, November 8, November 22, and December 13.

I welcome your participation and support. You can help us by ensuring that your child arrives at practices on time, as we will begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. If your child will miss a Sunday, please tell me by email at dana.antonelli@gmail.com or by telephone at 630-388-9642, because sometimes specific children will have special roles.

Let me know if you play a musical instrument. We sometimes need pianists and guitarists.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

September Shared Offering: Compassion & Choices

During the month of September, we will share half of the cash collected during our offertory (and all designated checks) with the organization Compassion & Choices. This organization works with individuals to plan for their end of life. As such, they advocate for having Advanced Directives completed, speaking with family about end-of-life wishes, and ending unwanted medical treatment; they also work with those who wish to implement physician-aid-in-dying laws.

“Compassion & Choices is the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping everyone have the best death possible. We offer free consultation, planning resources, referrals and guidance, and across the nation we work to protect and expand options at the end of life.

For over thirty years we have reduced people’s suffering and given them some control in their final days – even when injury or illness takes their voice. We are experts in what it takes to die well.

Compassion & Choices works with individuals and allied organizations throughout America to:
  • Make aid in dying an open, legitimate option recognized throughout the medical field and permitted in more states.
  • Increase patient control and reduce unwanted interventions at the end of life.
  • Pass additional laws ensuring full information and access to all end-of-life care options.
  • Normalize accurate, unbiased language throughout the end-of-life choice discussion (“aid in dying” instead of “assisted suicide”).
  • Establish aid in dying as a prime motivator in voter decision-making.
  • Support the expansion of the end-of-life choice movement and exert a leadership role in it.”
After the service on September 13, members of the Bloomington-Normal chapter of Compassion & Choices will be at our church in the Children's Chapel (downstairs) to talk about the organization. Please plan to join us. If you have questions, or if childcare is needed, contact Karen Retzer at karenfooteretzer@yahoo.com

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Kid Can Change the World

The UUCUC 2015 Summer Camp "Animal Crackers" was an especially fun time for all students and teaching assistants involved. Not only was every day full of arts and crafts with visits from live animals and two field trips, it was a life changing experience with global impact as campers raised $200 to donate a goat and honeybees to those in need. Learn more about the good deeds our children accomplished by viewing our feature story on Heifer's own site.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ready, Set, "Go Set a Watchman" Discussion

Join Cindy Wakeland, your DRE, for discussion of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman. Cindy purchased the book because To Kill a Mockingbird was for her (like many others) a favorite read. With all that is going on in the world today and right here in the cities where we grew up, she thought the tale might make a good discussion.  Everyone who has read the book – and even those who haven’t – are invited to join her for coffee and discussion before worship on Sunday, August 16 at 9:00 a.m. She'll even provide questions to initiate conversation. Hope to see your there!

Why I Want You to Teach My Kids: Seeking Meaningful Intergenerational Connections

I was lucky enough to grow up living next door to my mom’s parents. I attribute my early embrace of feminism to my grandmother’s lifelong commitment to educating herself. And my interest in history definitely came from hearing all of my grandpa’s stories about growing up in the Dust Bowl. My close relationship with my grandparents connected me to a generational and familial past while giving me confidence to dream about my own future. But like many of my peers, my life path has led me far from my family of origin. 
Julian and Celia only see their grandparents two or three times per year. To make up for that loss of family, I have worked hard to build a support network of friends who can provide my kids with the deep connections all children need to thrive. And my quest to find positive intergenerational influences for Julian and Celia is a primary motivator behind my commitment to UUCUC. I bring them to Green Street each week in part so they can meet and know other adults who live deliberately ethical lives. 
But one of my greatest frustrations at UUCUC has been the divide between “upstairs” and “downstairs” – there simply isn’t enough intergenerational interaction to fulfill my wish for my kids to truly know people outside their and my generations. I have spent the last two years teaching RE and know firsthand the joys of teaching the children of my peers. I’m writing to ask you to do the same in the coming year. Give of your time and yourself, and you will make a real difference the lives of our youth.                                                           – Julie Laut

If you'd like to sign up to teach Religious Education (RE) to our UU youth during 2015-2016, please contact our RE Director Cindy Wakeland at re-director@uucuc.org by Thursday, August 13.

August's Shared Offering: New Sanctuary Movement

The New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) is a growing movement of faith and immigrant communities doing what Congress and the administration refuse to do: protect and stand with immigrants facing deportation. Members of the NSM pledge to protect immigrant families who face workplace discrimination or unjust deportation.

Approximately 20 UUA congregations and organizations have pledged to support the work of the Movement.

First Unitarian Society of Denver (fusden.org) and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin (austinuu.org) are the two UU congregations actively housing refugees from Mexico and Central America.

First Unitarian of Denver provides sanctuary for Arturo Armando Hernández Garcia, a small businessman who has lived in the United States for more than 15 years. He is the father of two daughters, one an American citizen, and they need him at home.

Austin UU is providing sanctuary for Sulma Franco, a woman from Guatemala who had been a leader in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights activism. She fled her country and fears going back because LGBT persons in Guatemala are routinely murdered or physically abused. The Guatemalan government does nothing to protect them, implicitly supporting these abuses. 

Costs incurred by sanctuary host may include renovating and maintaining a living space in the church building, feeding and housing a sanctuary seeker, pastoral care visits, utilities, security, legal fees, training, events, and more.

Our August Shared Offering will be split and shared with these two congregations providing Sanctuary as both a safe-haven for victims of injustice and as witness against larger systemic injustices.

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.