This year’s Independence Day will not soon be forgotten by members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Canton, OH. July 1st was the congregation’s first weekend in their new building—a former car dealership at a busy intersection in Canton—after many years of meeting in rental space and moving from one location to another. This is quite an accomplishment for a smaller congregation of about 50 adults and 30 children, in existence for just 15 years. In addition to meeting this financial challenge, the lay-led congregation is in search for a part-time minister. All the while, the congregation has maintained full Fair Share giving to both the Ohio-Meadville District and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
The congregation’s president, Dianne Digianantonio, reports, “We’ve always made the commitment to give our fair share to the district and the UUA. We have gotten so much support from them and from our involvement.” And involved they are, with Dianne serving on the district’s new Leadership Team and another member serving on the Ohio-Meadville District Board. Congregation members have been active participants in district conferences and leadership training events.
There is a spirit of generosity at work in this thriving congregation that seems to spring from their strong sense of Unitarian Universalist identity. Dianne notes that the congregation made a special effort to buy Beacon Press books to help the publisher and the UUA out during the financial crunch a few years back. They used the Beacon books and the UU World magazine in their religious education classes.
Everyone is involved in renovating their new space. People of all ages showed up for a big work party during which 3,000 square feet of carpet was pulled up in the windowed showroom that serves as their sanctuary. Surfaces were cleaned for painting, and plans made for tearing out walls to expand the space for the growing attendance at Sunday services. The work parties will continue until the congregation has their building ready for the many newcomers who will find them in their new, highly visible location.
And the congregation’s generosity has come back to them. An anonymous gift toward the purchase of their building was made by someone who had moved away from Canton. The donor had not been a member, but wanted there to be a Unitarian Universalist home for those in the Canton community.
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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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