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First Unitarian Church, Rochester, NY

The Christmas holiday season is over, and the spring is on its way. However, thanks to the holiday generosity of the members and friends of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, their holiday giving will benefit their community and the wider world throughout the year. For the third holiday season in a row, the congregation has enthusiastically supported the Greater Good Project, raising over $200,000 for worthy social service agencies, according to Rev. Kaaren Anderson, co-minister of the church. The church is now exploring partnerships with other area churches that may want to join in making a significant difference in their wider Rochester community.

The Greater Good Project works like this: people are asked to estimate their typical holiday spending, then divide that amount by half. Individuals and families then contribute the fifty percent they usually spend and give it to the church to go to that year’s designated Greater Good project recipient organizations.

The children of the church are involved in the selection of the organizations that will benefit from their congregation’s generosity—everything from International programs benefiting the people of Honduras to a local agency serving troubled youth. Jan Gartner, Director of Religious Education, writes, “In October, representatives from last year's Greater Good Project organizations came to share stories of how our gifts were making a difference. Then in November, some of our teens presented vignettes to the younger kids to illustrate this year's three local project options. The kids really impressed me with their insight and compassion. There was a lot of energy around the voting process, as children's sense of empathy got them invested in how their generosity would improve the lives of other kids.”

The Greater Good Project 2008 raised over $60,000 to benefit their local Center for Youth and the International Honduras project. The presentation of gifts was made to the recipient organization leaders by Rev. Scott Tayler and Jan Gartner on February 16. For more information on the Greater Good project, visit the website of First Unitarian Church.

Generosity is an active force at the First Unitarian Church in other ways as well. In an effort to address the pastoral needs of congregants negatively impacted by the effects of the economy, a special emergency fund was set up in the fall of 2008.

The Reverend Kaaren Anderson reports that fortunately the pastoral emergency fund has not been fully tapped at this point in the year, but it is reassuring to know that more funds are available when a crisis arises. The ministers know that there is a greater degree of diversity among those attending the church and that anxiety around personal financial well being is growing. A discussion group is being offered, featuring these topics.

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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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