Be That Spark
Be That Spark

Recently we highlighted the Central East Region (CER) Chalice Lighter Program, sharing the HOW of applying for growth focused grants, and now we want to focus on WHY you as an individual should support this grant program.

Think for a minute, and recall a time when you helped a new dream into reality. What an amazing feeling of joy, love, even power - To know that the part you played made a difference! Maybe you rang doorbells for a candidate for public office, sharing your passion for positive change with your neighbors. Maybe you donated time and energy to a building program for low income housing. Maybe you were part of a circle of people that formed a new congregation, built that sanctuary or RE wing, called your first settled minister.  Congregations don’t get there on their own, of course.  A much larger community helps them on their way through sharing space, loan programs, producing curricula and hymnals, and support for ministerial formation, to name just a few of the myriad ways our Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations works to grow our faith.  Together, we all are the UUA, congregations and individuals, dreaming of a better society.  It’s work that we must do over and over, together.  As the poet Adrienne Rich says, we “cast (our) lot with those, who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”

In our busy lives, we have only so much time and energy for large projects.  Most of us do, however, find time to contribute every day in small loving ways to build for the future.  We conserve energy, recycle, follow the news, support organizations whose actions move our values out into the world.  The Central East Region Chalice Lighter Program is one way we can do this! Individuals and couples as Chalice Lighter subscribers contribute three times a year to fund UU dreams.  We issue the “calls”  in September, January and May, though some prefer to donate a larger amount once per year. Every gift is appreciated, and together those gifts have amounted to $180,000 in grants in the past year alone!  We want to build on this success, and we are inviting you to be part of the spark that lights the way to a brighter future.

The CER Chalice Lighter Program was formed from the separate Chalice Lighter Programs of four Districts of the UUA – Ohio-Meadville, St. Lawrence, Metro New York and Joseph Priestley.  Representatives of these four geographic areas meetthree times a year to consider growth-minded project applications from congregations or clusters of congregations seeking to share our faith more effectively.  The program partners with congregations to expand/improve buildings, plant new congregations, create new or expanded staff positions, and realize innovative initiatives that attract/retain members and promote justice, compassion and spirituality.

We’ve recently partnered with congregations funding accessibility projects like ramps and elevators, restoring a steeple, increasing religious education and membership staff from half to full time, and in our long history in the districts, provided new start congregations five $20.000 grants over time at different stages of their growth for a total of $100,000. We are touched by the thank you notes from the congregations, including this one that said, “Hot Dog!!!  Thank you so much!  This will really enhance our ability to grow and serve our NE Ohio community.”

Some readers here are already part of the Chalice Lighter subscriber community, mainly those who participated in the district programs, and we know we have not yet realized our potential to fund congregational dreams.  In October, you will receive a personal invitation to subscribe to CER Chalice Lighters, via email with the subject line “Be That Spark.”  Be watching for it!

Of course, there’s no need to wait – we invite you to subscribe!  Need more information? Check the FAQ page on the CER website.

About the Author

  • Andrea Lerner, retired as a Congregational Life Consultant for the Central East Region in 2019. She served as the District Executive for the Metro New York District for 9 years, and spent 4 years as the Program Consultant. Andrea is a graduate of Penn State University and attended graduate school in...

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