For the 2013-2014 congregational year, the UUS:E Social Justice / Antiracism Committee has been focusing its energies on addressing the problem of mass incarceration. We are working on two projects and hope you’ll want to get involved:
The UUS:E Policy Board has created a search committee to locate an interim Director of Religious Education to follow retiring DRE Vicki Merriam. The search committee held a ‘start-up’ meeting on January 23rd with Karen Bellevance-Grace, Director of Faith Formation for the Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Members of UUS:E’s Interim DRE Search Committee are Clare DiMaiolo, Andrew Clokey, Jennie Bernstein, Walt Willett, Kristal Kallenberg, Monica Van Beusekom, Peter Marotto and Diana Sherman. UUS:E Vice President, Polly Painter, is serving as liaison to the Policy Board. Rev. Josh serves ex officio.
Thank you Interim DRE Search Committee members!
The Interim DRE Search Committee expects to post the job in mid-February, interview candidates in mid- to late-March, and make a final recommendation to the Policy Board in mid-April.
UUS:E’s minister, Rev. Josh Pawelek, appeared on National Public Radio’s “On Point” with host, Tom Ashbrook, on Thursday, December 12th, at 10:00 AM. The show focused on the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Listen to the show here.
The UUS:E Welcoming Congregation Steering Group (WCSG) would like to hang a rainbow flag on the main level of UUS:E. WSCG members feel strongly that hanging a rainbow flag is a powerful way to communicate to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer visitors that they are welcome at UUS:E—and not only welcome, but safe and free to bring their full selves into our community.
We’d like to get your feedback on hanging a flag. We’ll be holding a congregation-wide conversation on January 5th at 1:00. What do you think? Can you support this gesture? Why or why not? What are your questions? If you can’t make it to the conversation, Rev. Josh is collecting feedback. Please feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-646-5151.
In the interest of educating UUS:E members and friends (and anyone visiting this website) about the origins of the rainbow flag as the symbol of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community, identity and struggle, we offer this brief history:
It was Harvey Milk – activist, visionary, trailblazer, and the first openly gay person to win a high public office in a major American city – as City Supervisor from the Castro District on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors – who challenged fellow activist Gilbert Baker to create a positivesymbol of hope and pride for the gay community.
Empowered by Milk’s challenge, Baker, an artist and drag queen who sewed his own dresses, used eight colors to create the original Rainbow Flags raised at San Francisco Pride on June 25, 1978. According to Baker, the eight colors reflected the diversity of values in the LGBT community: pink represented sexuality; red, life; orange, healing; yellow, the sun; green, nature; blue, art; indigo, harmony; and violet, human spirit.
Baker and his band of volunteers hand-dyed and hand-stitched the materials for the first Rainbow Flags, but the commercial unavailability of hot pink led Baker to an act of artistic compromise which resulted in a seven-striped logo suitable for mass production.
The six-striped version of today’s Rainbow Flag evolved in the wake of Harvey Milk’s November, 1978 assassination, when San Francisco’s LGBT community decided to use Baker’s flag to demonstrate their solidarity and political strength at the 1979 Pride Parade. To enable the equal division of the flag’s colors along the parade route – three colors on one side of the street and three colors on the other, the 1979 Pride Parade Committee eliminated the indigo stripe, leaving the widely available remaining colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
While tradition dictates flying the Rainbow Flag horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow, Gilbert Baker has said: “This flag has no rules. It has no protocol that governs its display. It is the community’s for the taking.”
However it is displayed, the Rainbow Flag, the most visible icon of LGBTQ pride, inspires hope. It is a symbol of hope for unity in inclusiveness, hope for strength in diversity, hope for an end to relentless threats of violence and hate, hope for love, liberation, and equality. “The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on [his] car or [his] house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.” Action which affirms the inherent worth and dignity of all people, through its enduring symbol of pride, in celebration of hope, love, support, personal safety and welcome to the LGBTQ community.
If “a true flag is not something you can really design . . . [but] is torn from the soul of the people,” then the soul of the people can be mended through love and hope. Choosing to prominently display the Rainbow Flag at UUS:E, we put our faith into action by standing on the side of love and healing with hope.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of Rev. Josh Pawelek’s call to serve as UUS:E’s parish minister, our special guest preacher on November 10th is Josh’s mentor, the Rev. Mel Hoover. Mel currently serves as co-minister of the UU Congregation of Charleston, WV, with his wife, the Rev. Rose Edington. For many years Mel served as the director of the UUA’s Faith in Action Department where Rev. Josh was a staff-member.
Rev. Hoover is the 2013 recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Distinguished Service Award. The UUA Board of Trustees presented this award to Mel at the 2013 General Assembly in Louisville, KY in recognition of his work in anti-racism, anti-oppression, community-building, gender equality and environmental justice; and his role in shaping the path of faithful justice-making in the UUA. In presenting the award, board member Lew Phinney said, “Mel is a truth-seeker, truth speaker, collaborator, networker, and community-builder. His ministry is filled with gifts of the spirit-grace, hope and courage. Where others see injustices and fall into despair, Mel looks for ways to make new paths.”
Rev. Hoover is the coordinator for the West Virginia UU Advocacy Network. He’s a leader in West Virginians United for Social and Economic Justice, the West Virginia Budget and Policy Group, the Charleston Area Religious Leaders Association, and the Commission on Religion in Appalachia. He also serves on the Faith Leaders Religious Roundtable for the National Conference for Community and Justice and on the Religious Leaders Roundtable of the Congressional Caucus of Black State Legislators. Hoover is involved with the Earth Charter Movement and is an incorporator of “Earth Scouts” for boys and girls 3 to 17. He is a founding member of West Virginia Patriots for Peace. For eleven years he served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Crossroads Antiracism, an interfaith antiracism education and organizing institution, and he continues as a Crossroads core trainer.
We are deeply honored to have Mel with us for Rev. Josh’s tenth anniversary weekend.
Every week UUS:E dedicates a portion of the funds in its collection plate to organizations whose work helps to sustain the local safety net. Mindful of the October 12th fire which destroyed the building at 801 Main St., UUS:E will dedicate its weekly offering on Sunday, October 20th to the “Main Street Fire Victims Fund” established by the Manchester Area Council of Churches. Information about the fund and how to prepare checks is below.
MAIN STREET FIRE VICTIMS FUND
MACC Charities has established a fund for victims of the Oct. 12, 2013 Main Street fire.
Checks may be made out to: MACC Charities. In the memo line please enter “Main Street Fire”.
If donors wish to designate their donation to a particular category of fire victims they need to make note of their preference in the memo line as follows:
- Main Street Fire Victims – Residents
- Main Street Fire Victims – Employees
- Main Street Fire Victims – Businesses.
- Donors may further designate to which business they wish their contribution to go. CT Valley Coin or Great Harvest Bread Co.
Checks should be mailed to: MACC Charities, P.O. Box 3804, Manchester, CT 06045-3804.
If you do not designate and write “Main Street Fire” in the memo section of your check – the money will go to the fund and be used to meet the greatest need. NO cash will be given out. Needs will be assessed by the case management team of MACC in partnership with the Social Workers and staff of the Town of Manchester’s Human Services & Senior, Adult and Family Services departments. Assistance will be given through a voucher system (paying a vendor directly on behalf of the victim as needed and/or issuing gift cards for food, clothing, gas etc.)
No housing arrangements have been completed at this time for the 8 adults who lost everything at 801 Main Street. NO furniture or household items are needed until arrangements have been made and we know what people need.
Thanks for your generosity.
The UUS:E Welcoming Congregation Steering Group sponsored a reception in honor of National Coming Out Day on Thursday evening, October 10th. Participants told stories of coming out and reflected on the progress the United States has made in recent years in moving towards full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. We also noted that despite progress there is still much work to do both inside the church and in the larger society.
The next meeting of the Welcoming Congregation Steering Group is Tuesday evening, November 12th. Between now and then our goal is to organize UUS:E members and friends to attend the 2013 Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th) in Hartford. We also want to begin a conversation at UUS:E about hanging a rainbow flag in the sanctuary as a strong symbol of our welcome to GLBTQ people.