Thursday, October 2, 2014

Welcome to our Interim Accompanist

We are happy to welcome Gonzalo Farias as our Interim Accompanist. Gonzalo is a native of Chile and has lived in Boston since 2004, before coming to Illinois this summer to pursue a graduate degree in conducting at the University of Illinois Music School. He holds several degrees in piano performance. Gonzalo joined us in early September and will remain with us through January 1st, as the Personnel Committee conducts its search for a permanent accompanist.

Three-Part Orientation to UUism

Are you new to this church? Have you recently signed the membership book, or are you considering joining? Would you like to learn more about Unitarian Universalism? Axel Gehrmann and the Membership Committee will offer a three-part orientation at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, October 16th,  23rd, and 30th.

The sessions focus on individuals’ religious journeys, discuss UU history, beliefs and polity, as well as explore the various groups and activities of this particular church. If you are interested, please sign up using the sheet on the Minister’s Office door, call the church office, or email Axel at

Help Decide Next Year’s Shared Offerings

The Social Action Committee is soliciting nominations for Shared Offerings for 2015!

Do you know of a non-profit organization that you think is deserving of a financial contribution from the church? The Social Action Committee (SAC) is now soliciting nominations for the 2015 Shared Offerings to be chosen by members and friends of the church at the November SAC meeting. Those organizations that are chosen for a Shared Offering will receive half of the plate cash collection and all designated checks from each Sunday service for a month.

There are three ways to nominate an organization:
  1. In the Order of Service on Sunday, October 5th, there will be a form you can fill out to nominate an organization. You can take that form to the SAC table in the Fellowship Hall afterward.
  2. Use the new online nomination form, available here.
  3. Email Ryan Latvaitis, SAC chair, with your suggestions at
The deadline for nominations is Friday, November 14th.

The meeting to choose 2015's Shared Offerings will be Monday, November 17th at 7:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Shared Offering choices are divided among local organizations (usually 6-7), as well as national (2-3) and international (2-3). Organizations are chosen to represent different categories of help, such as Housing, Environment, Food, Children, Medical/Health, and social justice concerns, and will also be discussed regarding how well they align with UU Principles as well as their charity rating, if available.

A Coffeehouse Celebration in Memory of Kent

Join us in an intergenerational celebration dedicated to Kent Conrad, our beloved former Music Director, as we hold a UU Coffeehouse Saturday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. You’re invited to present a song, skit, musical theater snippet, poem, dance, or whatever else you think the congregation would enjoy. Take advantage of the church’s new percussion instruments (drum set, maracas, claves, cymbals, etc.) purchased this summer!  We will follow the usual format of brief performances (8-10 minutes), yummy desserts, and beverages for the entire family. Sign up to perform, bring goodies, or help with setup/cleanup in one of three ways: in person between Sunday services, or via email to either Jim Hannum at or Sandy Hannum at

Monthly Shared Offering: Canaan Development Foundation’s SAFE Houses

Our Shared Offering for October will support the Men’s SAFE House and the Women’s SAFE House in Champaign-Urbana. “SAFE” stands for Substance Abuse Free Environment. Each provides a 12-month program of residential care for men or women with alcohol or drug addictions, as well as drop-in support. The Men’s SAFE House opened in 1994, the Women’s in 2012.
Both were created and are administered by the Canaan Development Foundation (CDF), a community-supported non-profit founded by Canaan Baptist Church.
The mission statement for the Men’s SAFE House is: “To provide positive alternatives for those who seek to escape the pressures of areas with high drug activity.” For the Women’s SAFE House, it is: “To combat the incidence and impact of drugs and alcohol abuse among women; to empower these women to make informed choices about their future and the future of their dependent children.”
Each of the SAFE House programs provides extensive support for residents – overnight accommodations; breakfast, lunch and dinner; and classes in substance abuse, family life skills, violence prevention, as well as communications skills The Women’s SAFE House also provides residential care for residents’ dependent children.
The importance of these SAFE houses to us all is clear. The CDF website puts it succinctly.
What costs over $700 million and provides no value to the purchasers? That’s the yearly cost to feed, clothe, and house incarcerated men and women in Illinois, not including the economic value that prisoners could have contributed to society’s wellbeing!
How do so many capable individuals end up behind bars? To be sure, poor personal choices, coupled with the social ills of poverty, violence, abuse, and neglect, have contributed to the plight of prisoners, but only drug abuse characterizes all incarcerated populations. Drug abuse is an equal opportunity drain on our society’s wellbeing. Nearly 75% of all White, as well as Black, and over 60% of Hispanic prisoners admit to regular drug use prior to incarceration.
It’s simple – Less substance abuse, less prisoners. Today’s global economy requires every individual to be a contributing member of society. We don’t have a single person to waste! In other words – CDF promotes “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”
To learn more about these programs, visit CDF’s website,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for a Good Cause

Mark your calendars: Saturday, October 18th at 5:30 p.m. is the annual Partner Church Committee's (PCC) fundraising dinner for our partner churches in Transylvania, Romania, and the Khasi Hills in India. Our theme this year will be a dinner/film combination honoring the Transylvanian region of Romania. Enjoy a light dinner consisting of sour cherry soup, artisan rolls, a selection of sandwiches, and German strudel with ice cream for dessert. The dinner will cost $15 per person, with larger donations welcome, to support our partner churches.

Contact Brigitte Pieke at if you need a ticket.

PCC Members: Anne Sharpe, Barb Strauss, Christine Cahill, Gail Hueting, Libby Tyler, Peri Ceperley, Sally Babbitt, and Brigitte Pieke (chair).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Hour is the Best Hour

Join us at the next Happy Hour this Thursday, September 18th as we try the bar at the new Hyatt Place Hotel, located at the corner of Neil and Church in downtown Champaign. Join us anytime between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. to get together, chat, and relax.  For more information contact Russ Rybicki at Hope to see you there!