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Atlanta Video Ignites Volunteer Program
Atlanta Video Ignites Volunteer Program

When the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta created a new volunteer/community building program called Spirit in Service, organizers wanted a way to promote it and inspire friends and members to participate.

That’s how Jeep Hook came to produce “Fire it Up,” a three-minute video based on the story about how the chalice came to be a UU symbol. Hook, a professional musician and record producer who is a member of the Atlanta congregation, was drawn into this act of creation by his wife, Sonya Tinsley-Hook, who is helping coordinate Spirit in Service.

“On one level, Spirit in Service is simply about creating a more effective way to integrate people into all of the many volunteer activities and projects within our large congregation and to encourage each person to share his or her strengths and gifts,” said Tinsley-Hook. “However, on a much deeper level, the purpose is to help all of us understand our service as an expression of our UU faith and principles...and to inspire all us of to do more, much more, to let our personal light and the larger light of our flaming chalice shine in the world.”

She added, “Rather than issuing a run-of-the-mill call for volunteers, we wanted to do something in the spirit of a team sports anthem that would get our congregation feeling proud to be UUs. We wanted to show how even the seemingly insignificant and small volunteer jobs within our congregation have a direct connection to our inspiring history as UUs and help us move forward in our collective effort to create positive change in the world––both now and for the future.”

That’s where Hook came in. He said, “We decided to write a contemporary hip hop/sports chant song that would be simple, memorable, and uplifting.” He drew in fellow congregation member, Trixi “Showtime” Moore, who he knew could rap.

Said Hook, “We used the simple but effective technique of congregants holding up signs and mixed it with the powerful image and story of the chalice.” The video includes many photos of congregants and congregational activities.

The video was presented to the congregation March 11 along with a list of more than sixty volunteer opportunities and a PowerPoint presentation on the new program. Hook said the video—and the program—were received enthusiastically. Around seventy people attended the three-hour kickoff. The congregation now has six teams managing its volunteer coordination. They are divided as follows: Volunteer Handbook, Volunteer Reception and Recruiting, Strengths and Talents, Communications and Marketing, Leadership Support, and Inclusion.

A side benefit of creating the video was that it has been picked up by other congregations and used for various purposes. Hook had that in mind when the video was created. “We wanted to produce something that might reach a wider UU audience, something that might touch, inspire, and speak to all UUs. We knew there was little on the web that mixed our UU message with contemporary music. We felt sure that the UU community would be hungry for something like this.”

Added Hook-Tinsley, “It has been amazing for us to see this video passed along to our fellow UU congregations around the country and to realize that it has the potential to inspire them to 'fire it up.'” She said the production team wants to do a second video showing how other congregations are using their own “Fire It Up” signs. “We hope they’ll send them to us at uucaspiritinservice [at] gmail [dot] com,” she said. “We plan on having a lot of fun with this.”

This is not the congregation’s first foray into music productions. Hook noted that the congregation recently produced a music CD called “Let It Shine,” featuring several music groups within the congregation under the direction of Music Director Donald Milton III and with Atlanta minister the Rev. Anthony David singing “Blue Boat Home.”

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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