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Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, MD

We have big dreams of where we want to be, where we need to be,” declares Jim Paoletti, President of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Silver Spring. “In the end it was the congregation that came through to make this happen.”

What happened is this: due to a combination of events, the church found itself with a budget gap of over $72,000. After making selected budget cuts of over $20,000, within a week’s time, the church leaders envisioned a plan to raise the $52,000 they needed to retain critical 2008 budget goals, and brought it to the congregation on May 11th. The message was inspiring, the vision compelling, and the congregation responded enthusiastically. By the time the Sunday services were over that day, the church had raised over $25,000 in contributions. And they kept coming. A “Target Fund” was established for the nearly $36,000 pledged, and the remainder of the congregation pledged to a “Match Fund” which quickly brought the tally to $54,000. By June 5th, the gap was completely closed.

During this period of time, church leaders also fulfilled their goal of contributing their congregation’s full Fair Share contribution to the UUA’s Annual Program Fund. “The leadership of our congregation has made it a priority to return UUCSS to Fair Share status for several years now,” reports Geoff Gavett, the church’s Vice President of Finance. “We entered May thinking that we might have to make serious cuts in our expected funding of the Fair Share contribution. Our minister, Liz Lerner, challenged the Board to take the issue back to the congregation in our Mother’s Day services. At the end of it all, we learned that giving is not a function of logic and numbers. It comes from inspiration, faith, and passion for the work of our church and the denomination to which it belongs.”

On May 24th, a check was cut for the entire balance of their full Fair Share contribution. This was sent along with a letter ceremoniously signed by the minister and nine elected leaders of the Board. The message was clearly stated:

Please find enclosed our check in the amount of $20,250.00 in payment of our congregation’s fair share to the UUA [Unitarian Universalist Association] Annual Fund for the 2007-2008 fiscal year. Our payment represents our congregation’s return to fair share status after many years of financial scarcity.

Our congregation takes great pride in resuming full financial partnership as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We hope you will share the good news with the rest of the Association. Our delegates look forward to wearing their “Fair Share” ribbons to the General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale.

“I feel very honored to be this church’s minister,” says the Reverend Liz Lerner. “A lot of people dug really deep to give this much in support of their church. They responded with alacrity and graciousness.” In addition, Liz expresses her appreciation for the Unitarian Universalist Association and the many ways the church has benefited from the training, programs and services the UUA provides. President Jim Paoletti was ready to attend his third UU University at the June 2008 General Assembly. By sharing their perspectives, leaders have raised awareness throughout the congregation about the value of their Association, and thus stimulated interest in increasing their financial support to the UUA.

Clearly the UU Church of Silver Spring had a lot to celebrate during their June 8th Flower Communion Sunday services. Together they have risen to this challenge out of their love and commitment to their church and its vision for the future, one of growth and diversity and all the best that they can be as Unitarian Universalists in community. Thank you, UU Church of Silver Spring!

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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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