2017-18 Team Reports
The following reports were submitted to the Board as a part of the preparation for the annual congregational meeting and the vote on the budget. If you have questions about the contents, please contact the person who submitted the report.
Social Justice in Action Team
Purpose: The Social Justice in Action Team (SJAT) encourages members of UUCS congregation to engage in social service, social justice, and social action efforts consistent with the UU Principles and our UUCS mission. We strive to take action on crucial social justice issues that impact us locally, nationally and around the world.
- Hold a monthly meeting at UUCS to discuss current social justice issues, and to prioritize actions
- Set up Resource Table on Sundays in Fellowship Hall during Fellowship Hour
- Publicize information on social service, social justice, and social action efforts with all team members and when appropriate, with the entire UUCS congregation.
- SJAT collected household items from our congregation for refugees relocating to Salem.
- Support and promote our partnership with the Simenfalva Partner Church.
- Put forward at the annual meeting in 2017 the Sanctuary Resolution which was adopted by vote of the congregation. This resolution directs the board to look into providing sanctuary for undocumented persons in our facility. We are many steps along the way, and hopefully near to being able to offer sanctuary to individuals.
- Held a successful benefit concert on January 27, 2018 to raise funds to replace the window in the green room so that it meets fire code requirements. The window is slated to be replaced on May 25, 2018.
- Put forward a request to the board to provide shelter to documented family members of undocumented persons, who feel threatened by the activities of ICE in their neighborhood.
- At the 2018 annual meeting, present a proposal that UUCS adopt a Resolution: UUCS supports Stop the IP 22 initiative. The IP 22 initiative would repeal Oregon’s “sanctuary state” statute.
Connecting UUCS to the Local Community
- Coordinate the “Share the Plate Recipient” program which involves selecting community organizations that may need financial support.
- Support and promote KAIROS community lunch, a free Sunday lunch for anyone at a local church.
- SJAT is the umbrella team for the Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network.
- Arrange to have events and/or movies on social justice issues at UUCS.
- Host Health Care For All and UU Voices for Justice annual conferences when they are held at UUCS.
- Maintain a Social Justice calendar of events on the UUCS website for congregation members and others in the community.
- Started a Social Justice in Action Facebook page to inform and publicize SJAT events and those in the community.
- Plan and coordinate the Cordon Road Stewardship program.
Outreach to the broader community
- Attend and set up informational tables at various community events, such as the Gay Pride Day in Salem.
- Either collectively or individually SJAT members attend a variety of social justice and community events, such as 34 Days of Peace, UU Voices for Justice events, voter registration drives, and the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative Task Force meetings.
- Reach out to community organizations, such as Causa, LUS, PCUN and Mano a Mano. The SJAT is also a partner with One Oregon, the political arm of Causa. Several team members also attend Willamette Valley Resistance Collective Social Service Team meetings.
- Attend rallies and protests with the UUCS “Standing on the Side of Love” banner. In the past year or so SJAT has attended the NORCOR rally, climate change events, and rallies to show support for immigrants, undocumented youth receiving DACA and part of LUS. We’ve also brought the UUCS “Standing on the Side of Love” banner to show another point of view during pro Trump events.
In the future, the SJAT would like to deliver on its long-held goal of opening a social justice bookstore and maintaining a social justice book club. The SJAT will continue examining and considering ways to be more effective in reaching out to those in need, demanding social justice, and effecting positive and lasting change. We’d also like to attract more members.
– Submitted by Sarah Rohrs and Michael Pollard
Our monthly activities:
- Monthly newsletter “The Chalice and the Flame”
- Weekly mailing “This Week at UUCS”
- Administer a Facebook page
- Keep up on the website, uusalem.org, including changes to pages, fixing links, and Hot Topics articles
- Publicize UUCS services and concerts, and ordinations in print media, online, and through Facebook and posters.
- Maintain and monitor the UUCS list, a Yahoo email group.
- Monitor and assist with publicity releases for other teams’ activities and church-wide activities.
- Revising/creating online forms for sign-ups for various activities
- Merging mailing lists
- Training new members of the team
- Working with special fund-raising activities such as the Eclipse B&B, Auction, etc.
- Working on congregational activities such as the pledge drive, annual meeting, and ordinations
- Serving on an outside sign committee
- Working with Social Justice on a possible Social Justice Facebook page
One-year plan for UUCS Communications:
- Complete plans for and oversee installing a new outdoor sign for UUCS.
- Integrate interior message boards and their messages with other communications media to support the strategic plans of our congregation.
- Have a separate Facebook page for the Social Justice in Action team, with dedicated administrators. Link it to our UUCS Facebook page and other media.
- Explore the use of Instagram and Twitter for UUCS.
- Coordinate the flow of information to the Communications team to avoid unnecessary rewriting of articles, avoid lost information, ensure prompt communication to contributors, and time the publication of materials to best suit the needs of our community.
– Submitted by Vicki Cunningham
The Finance Team is responsible for monitoring expenditures, the annual stewardship campaign, budget development, oversight of investments and endowments, and oversight of congregational fundraising. The Team now meets monthly, whereas in the past few years it had only met to conduct the annual stewardship campaign and develop the annual budget. The focus this year has been on recruiting new members and building the financial infrastructure outlined in the Financial Policies and Procedures.
- The Finance Team has just finished developing a recommended budget for the next fiscal year 2018-19.
- We coordinated with the annual stewardship campaign in obtaining the total pledge number for the recommended budget.
- We added two new members the team.
- We recommended new Investment Committee members to the Board. The new committee will develop a new investment strategy for the Congregation.
- We developed an information strategy to help the Teams and the Congregation better understand the church’s finances. The information campaign will start in June.
- We developed a list of policies procedures that need written documentation. This work will be ongoing for the next few years.
– Submitted by Lorna Youngs
Thank you to all the helpful people at UUCS, in September, we were able send children’s English books and some pain relievers to our partners in Simenfalva, Romania. Our partner minister, Rev. Sandor Szen expressed much gratitude for these gifts. Our children in Religious Education created beautiful Christmas cards and Valentines that we forwarded to share with their contemporaries there. In March, our intern minister, Monica Tennessen Jacobson shared with us her experiences in Nepal, attending the International Council for Unitarians and Universalists. March was also Share-the-Plate month for Partner Church Fund, and people generously responded so that we were able to send $2000 to the Simenfalva Church for ongoing repairs to the parsonage. We are excited to announce that plans are underway for a pilgrimage to Transylvania in the second half of July, 2019. Please plan to attend future meetings if you would like to learn more. It is an unforgettable experience to trace the roots of Unitarianism and to visit our partners in Simenfalva. Your interest and assistance in our Partner Church projects keeps our connections vital.
– Submitted by Jean Sherbeck
Salem Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
Salem Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans continues to hold regular business meetings and host celebrations around the Wheel of the Year, which are rituals to celebrate the natural cycles and change of seasons. Our group continues to care for and improve the Sacred Circle in Bateman Woods and maintain a space on the patio as an herb garden to grow sacred plants to be used in ritual.
This year we were asked to participate at Maclaren Youth Correctional facility providing volunteer chaplain services to Wiccan and Pagan youths housed at the facility. Once a month a volunteer from our group travels to the facility and provides religious education classes.
We will be renewing our membership, with Board of Directors support, in the national Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans of which we are a local chapter. Attendance at our rituals has continued to increase. Our two largest events being the Samhain and Winter Solstice rituals. At our annual Winter Solstice ritual, we had approximately 90 people in attendance.
In the coming year we are planning to do more work on the Sacred Circle and our herb garden where we have planted new seeds. At our annual meeting, which will be held in June, we will be voting on changes to our Bylaws.
We will continue to be a voice and presence for pagans in the greater Salem community and stewards of our Mother Earth. We will host rituals and educational opportunities for pagans and patrons in our various gatherings.
– Submitted by Benjahmin Boschee
UU Compassionate Mind Sangha
As part of fulfilling the UUCS mission to provide a respectful home for spiritual exploration, the UU Compassionate Mind Sangha provided a joyful home for folks interested in exploring Buddhist meditation. This year, we:
- Provided the weekly opportunity for silent meditation each Wednesday from 5:30-6:30 pm (10-12 people attend weekly).
- Offered weekly Zen meditation with an average of 20 people attending. The program runs each Wednesday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and includes an introduction to meditation, silent sitting and walking, silent tea ceremony, a Dharma talk and chanting & the opportunity to study with a Zen teacher when requested.
- Coordinated an annual Sangha meeting (which includes a survey of members needs and planning for the next year’s events).
- Scheduled an annual Sangha dinner.
- Recruited volunteers for two UUCS Sunday coffee/tea services & one dinner.
- Recruited volunteers for building/ grounds work parties.
- Made small donations (as possible) to the UUCS gardens.
- Were self-supporting (via donations).
- Offered an annual all-day meditation (Zazenkai).
- Aligned with the UUCS vision and mission by serving its members, potential members and all who visit us to deepen their spirituality through meditation.
– Submitted by Lee Ann Nail
The UUCS Microfinance Project is based on the Unitarian Universalist principles that “we covenant to affirm and promote … justice, equity and compassion in human relations” and having a “world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”
The basic idea: Make small loans to people living on the edge, so they can increase their earning power, escape poverty, and make a better living for their families. Often, poor people are not able to borrow money to buy small equipment items or materials necessary for their businesses. Banks are few in rural areas. The UUCS microfinance project is trying to help people that banks cannot or will not help. Through UUCS donations, we establish permanent revolving loan funds administered by credible non-for-profit organizations so our funds continue to benefit poor families for many years as loans are repaid and then loaned again.
Thanks to the generosity of our UUCS congregation, we raised $6,300 in October from Share the Plate, direct contributions, and sales of artwork in partnership with the Zimbabwe Artists Project.
Ron Hockley with the NEO Fund spoke to our congregation at the October 1, 2017 services on the individuals that received micro-loans from the funds we have raised. He highlighted the various businesses that poor Nicaraguans have started and the profound difference in their lives through earning a sustainable income. Check out the NEO Fund’s website to learn more about how they have helped individuals: www.theNEOfund.org
We used the amount we raised in October to send $5,800 to The NEO Fund for microlending to the poor living near the dumps in Nicaragua. $500 was given to IMANI to help Kenyan women farm crops to yield food and a profit to be applied for healthcare and schooling. For more information on IMANI go to www.imaniproject.org.
The UUCS Microfinance Committee is in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Nicaragua to visit people we are helping through our project. We are considering going in 2019. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Submitted by Ann Hanus
Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network (SIHN)
In April, 2018 SIHN changed their name to the Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley.
In the last year, our congregation hosted a total of 14 guest families (including 48 children) for four weeks! For three hosting weeks, 60 volunteers contributed 385 man-hours to provide meals, companionship, and overnight hosting, as well as cleaning up the church before and after our hosting week. In addition, we hosted guests for a fourth week, providing overnight stays only (no meals), requiring an additional 112 hours.
Total volunteer hours contributed by our congregants to SIHN in the last year was 1,267! Other totals on behalf of our congregants to SIHN include:
- $1,500 in donations;
- 21 dinners and breakfasts;
- 28 nights of overnight chaperoning.
– Submitted by Denise Hughes
This has been a successful RE program year. With the use of the UUCS Family Connections Facebook Page, we have been able to keep parents up-to-date on what is happening and send reminders. If parents do not use FB, we made sure that the RE Calendar and notes are up-to-date on the website.
Yoga as a spiritual practice has been offered this year, having a certified teacher come during the first service RE offering on the first Sunday of each month. We have had steady attendance with one Sunday reaching 28 participants! We will be continuing this offering through the summer and into the fall.
This year, John Prohodsky installed a projector screen in the RE Commons and is working on connecting the Bluetooth speakers. We are able to use the screen during RE and add another element of learning to our programming. Excited about the ideas we have already been considering.
Our mindful room was a successful addition to our program. The space is used to learn different methods of quieting the mind. Children/youth enter the space, get a timer and a mat, and spend two minutes with anything from the shelves as a quiet mind focus activity. At the end of two minutes, they can choose an alternate activity or they can just relax quietly on their mats and practice meditating. The lighting is very dim, the black-out blinds are pulled and quiet zen music is playing when they arrive in the space. It is a very calm atmosphere. The space has also been used as a tool if we have children that have extra energy and need a bit of redirection during our class times. We have been able to tell them it is their turn in this space. It has been a very positive way to handle situations that may have gone a different direction without the ability to shift the energy. It is quite remarkable how calm and centered the children are when they walk out of the space.
This year, we successfully used the Soul Matters Themes to deliver programming for our children as well as connected the theme to our principles. Since it is very important to encourage children/youth to attend the services in order to make connections outside of Religious Exploration, we dedicated the second Sunday of each month to having children/youth in the service for the Soul Matters Sunday service. With the addition of the coloring tables in the sanctuary, this created an opportunity for all ages to worship alongside each other for a wealth of learning opportunities and connections to the larger community. It will be so exciting when congregants see the children in worship and do not ask, “Is there not RE today?” and just recognize children and youth as part of their UUCS worship experience.
The Soul Matters Covenant groups are a very successful way to engage our congregation in discussions. We added a drop-in Covenant group every Second Sunday to catch anyone that was not already engaged in a regular covenant group.
Cozy Corner has been a great space for families and any person that wishes for a space where they are able to move about more and still be able to see and hear the service without being in the sanctuary. The visual display has made the difference for the increased use of this space.
Our youth program, every third Sunday, visited other faith services offsite and talked with their youth group and/or faith leaders. Thank you to Phil Carver for helping arrange these each month. We had three Sundays when faith leaders came to our congregation to meet with our youth and middle school. I love this connection with our religious faith communities.
Our Good Samaritan project has been a success. We partnered with Cindy and Bob Francis on this project. Toiletries and small snacks have gotten into the hands of many people in need in our community. Sadie Booth even set up a similar project with her school friends that she organizes with her friends from her house. Other families report creating the bags at UUCS and then taking their children out in the community to hand out the bags. We are very proud of the ripple effect that this project has had on our children and the awareness it has brought to homelessness in our community.
The RE Team has played an active role in supporting our programming in addition to being regular volunteers for our classes. We have five parents joining our RE Team that will help continue the connection for RE to the direct needs of our families.
The UU explorers class was added to our programming this year. We have had a lot of young children join our program this year, making it a better fit to have our 4th – 7th graders do some separate learning. We had wonderful leaders who contributed in individual ways to lead and create active lessons using the Soul Matters RE Packets.
Our RE Offering project this year was to help the MicroFinance Team with earning money for small loans. The children interacted with this team and attended a presentation about this project. Each Sunday, they have learned about a new person/family that has benefited from a loan and that is looking for their next loan. To date, we have earned almost $400 for this project!
RE also collected 150 pounds of food for Marion Polk Food Share!
Our women’s retreat and men’s retreat both happened this year thanks to volunteers! Stephanie Jernstedt organized the women’s retreat with a team of volunteers and Steve Rosen led the men’s retreat. Thank you to all that were involved making it happen and to those that attended. In addition to these two retreats, we have some parents anxious to make a family retreat happen this next year!
Noah Seitz has continued to be an incredibly consistent volunteer for RE. Every second service, he plays his guitar and teaches the children hymns. We have had the pleasure of Sara Greenleaf-Seitz joining us along with Noah in May.
The RE roosters got a new home with financing from the Corys and the physical effort of volunteers. In our new program year, we are planning a specific fundraiser to pay back the money spent towards this project.
We have had a successful year enjoying being a part of the Sunday experience for families and look forward to seeing all of our ideas for the next program year come to fruition!!
– Submitted by Christi Olsen