Letter from a Blue Ribbon Congregation: The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington

By Allison Hess

Why and how does the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, New York, continue its support of the UU United Nations Office at the "Blue Ribbon Congregation Award" level

In June 2016, at this year’s UUA General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, our congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, NY (UUFH), will be receiving a Blue Ribbon Congregation Award from the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO). This is our 6th Blue Ribbon Award in a row, and as a congregation we would like to let our fellow UU congregations know why and how we generate this commitment to support the UU-UNO’s many activities promoting justice throughout our larger world. Located in Huntington, within the Greater Metro New York City area, our congregation has been “Living Our Values Enthusiastically” since it was founded in 1947. As the decades have rolled by, we have faced, as all entities do, controversies and challenges. Yet, a big part of why we have continued to use these ebbs and flows as opportunities to grow both as community and a spiritual home, is our realization that we can be more than the sum of our individual parts. That, in fact, we have the ability to reach beyond our walls to encourage others to join us as we continually strive to reach our congregation’s potential. As any congregation knows, this is not very easy. Nevertheless, welcoming challenges is the force that enables us to continue our pursuit of actions based on our mantra: an “open mind, loving heart and helping hands.” For the UU Fellowship of Huntington, this mantra has led us to have a very active social justice advocacy agenda, including the protection of our environment, promotion of affordable housing in our township, an active “Journey-Toward-Wholeness” program, shelter for the homeless, becoming one of 10 “Peace Ministry Network” congregations, and the energetic participation in internationally-oriented endeavors such as the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO.) Throughout the years, our Ministers and Boards of Trustees have stressed that our faith’s Seven Principles call for us to participate directly in good-works that reach beyond our walls. With this leadership, our members have adopted this philosophy, and the devotion to “causes of justice” that it generates. Thus, it became natural, and remains so, to extend our influence outward, not only to our local, state and national communities, but even to the level of worldwide involvements, including a direct connection to our faith’s UU-United Nations Office as an integral part of our very being as a congregation. It is with this interest, that one of our congregation’s social justice advocates, Mr. Dick Kopp, laid the groundwork for our congregation to appreciate the work the UU-UNO does, including enabling our faith to have a forum to foster our values at the United Nations, be it through UN General Assembly activities, or as an active participant in Non-Governmental Organization discussions. By 2011, our congregation welcomed the addition of a Youth Envoy to our UU-UNO endeavors at the urging of our Adult Envoy. Ms. Alley Wolff’s tenure exemplifies what a youth emissary can do for a congregation, while also demonstrating what a positive affect such a responsibility can have upon a young person’s development into adulthood. Alley’s work and growth has also encouraged other youth from our congregation to directly participate in various UU-UNO activities. We now have two UU-UNO Youth Envoys, and two additional youth have asked to become UU-UNO Youth Envoys. The plan is to welcome these youth into our Envoy Program this September, 2016. Taking advantage of the opportunity to interact with the broader world, our congregation regularly sends our youth to participate in the Intergenerational Spring Seminar hosted by the UU-UNO each year in April. At this venue, they meet new people in the UU community and learn about ways to help the wider world as Unitarian Universalists. This impact on our congregation’s youth, alone, has been a richly rewarding result of our UU-UNO commitment. Our congregation’s active connection with the UU-UNO, both in activities and financially, has proven to be invaluable in promoting our faith’s values. Though at one point it seemed out of reach, our congregation pulled together to help us far exceed the requirements for this year’s Blue Ribbon Award. It’s with great enthusiasm that we look forward to continuing our association and commitment. We would like to thank the UU-UNO Envoy Coordinator, Ms. Allison Hess, and the Director of the UU-UNO, Mr. Bruce Knotts, for giving us this opportunity to let you all know a little about how important the UU-UNO can be in helping your congregation be a beacon of light. In addition, the good news is that today’s technology enables us, and you, if you so choose, to be directly connected online to live talks and discussions sponsored by the UU-UNO, the UN NGOs and various other UN entities. Thus, the roadblock of not being able to physically attend meetings, events, etc., is no longer the detriment it was only a year or so ago. We hope this allows you to become a little more familiar with the reasons for getting your congregation to directly participate in our faith’s UU-UNO endeavor. You will find it most worthwhile. In fact, we would venture to say, how can you not? Maybe there is a Blue Ribbon Congregation Award in your future. Peace, From the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY: Ben Testa, Adult Envoy Julia Moskowitz, Youth Envoy Ben Sussman, Youth Envoy
Learn more about the UU-UNO's Envoy Program and how your congregation can be involved and become a Blue Ribbon Congregation! This year's Blue Ribbon congregations will be honored at the UUA International Reception on June 24 at the UUA's General Assembly in Columbus, OH.

Peace Pole at UU Fellowship of Huntington
Alley, UUFH's first youth envoy at the UN Headquarters

Alley, UUFH's first Youth Envoy at UN Headquarters

Ben Testa, Julia Moskowitz, and Ben Sussman at the United Nations Headquarters