Thanks to their
pro-active minister and several generous donors, the First Parish Unitarian
Universalist (UU) in Needham, Massachusetts, is one of the five
congregations to be named an Empowering
Congregation. They are given
this honor because they reached, and surpassed, the $50 per member contribution
to Association Sunday 2007.
accomplishment, the Rev. John Buehrens writes:
The goal had to be $14,000, $50 each for
280 voting members. I concluded
that the only way to raise that amount would be to have a $7000 matching
gift. I put up $1000 myself,
got the most generous donor in the church to put up $5000, and got a retired
minister and spouse to give $1000.
I announced the matching fund, including my own gift, in my column in the
church newsletter several weeks in advance and specifically asked for people to
consider gifts of $50, $100, or more.
I repeated that appeal in a letter to the whole congregation, with a
stamped return envelope included, again in advance. Then we held Association Sunday on
October 21. I got to preach, and
gave a candid analysis of why we UUs don’t grow more (because we don’t fund our
growth efforts adequately).
Our Needham congregation
raised $14,854 to Grow Our Faith,
energized by the exceptional leadership and generosity of Rev. Buehrens and
Universalist Fellowship of Durango, Colorado is another of these five Empowering Congregations. When asked how they were able to reach
this level, Ken Carpenter wrote:
I wish I had some magical words to
describe how we met the goals set out for Association Sunday but it really boils
down to personal commitment to provide the maximum opportunity for intellectual
and spiritual growth for ourselves and the community in which we live. We know we cannot do this work of faith
alone…. Lois and I felt the message of Unitarian Universalism was not only worth
sharing with our friends locally but also spreading our message throughout our
district and nation. The Unitarian
Universalist Association of Congregations was the vehicle for spreading the word
beyond our local community.
Ken and Lois
Carpenter led the Association Sunday service in their fellowship last fall. Not only did they use the materials from
the UUA’s worship resources packet, they told stories about how our faith has
grown historically, spoke of how the UUA had helped them in the past, and held
up copies of our first UU ad in TIME Magazine. And, in preparation for their special
service, they even started a choir which sang Now is the Time and Wo Ya Ya.
Fellowship has its own story of growth.
It was founded in 1967 and by the 1990s had between 20 and 25 members.
Today, because of the dedication and commitment of their members and lay
leaders, they have 89 members and were recently able to purchase a new church
building! Fair Share contributors
for 25 years, this congregation is growing Unitarian Universalism in its
community and across the nation.
Unitarian Fellowship of Morristown, New Jersey, defines a part of their mission
as follows: “To reach out to all who share our liberal religious values and
participate in the broader Unitarian Universalist movement.” Our Morristown congregation did just that on
Association Sunday 2007. With a
membership of 306, they are the last of five Empowering Congregations who contributed
over $50 per member to Grow Our
congregation’s board designates only a limited number of special collections per
year, they voted to hold one on Association Sunday. One member family offered a matching
challenge to the congregation, to contribute $3 for every $1 given by others
that Sunday, and Rev. Alison Miller, minister at Morristown, celebrated this gift during the
Inspired by the
challenge, Rev. Miller also doubled what she had intended to give, and from the
pulpit, encouraged everyone to do the same. To further energize members, she
described the “Find Us and Ye Shall Seek” advertisement in TIME, which was
funded by Association Sunday, as expressive of who we are as a religious
Rev. Miller, who
was born and raised a UU, has a long history of successful fund raising and
supporting our Association. She was
one of the two organizers of the Association-wide Minding the Gap Campaign in 2002, which
raised funds for young adult programming through a designated Sunday service and
collection. Through her leadership,
and the generosity of other Morristown members, the congregation continues
to play major role in Growing Our
Let us celebrate the exceptional commitment of these three Empowering Congregations, their vision for Unitarian Universalism, and the gifts they shared with our whole family of congregations—because we are better together.
Read about the two other Empowering Congregations: River of Grass in Plantation, FL and the Fellowship of Huntington, NY.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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