By Mason Moseley & Alicia Hofler
Photo by Rosalee Pfister
Tidewater Cluster Annual Assembly
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg (UUFF)
The fifth gathering of the seven regional Unitarian Universalist congregations occurred this past weekend with several early-morning carloads making their way to Fredericksburg. Newport News had much to provide this event, both in planning and workshop leadership.
The Reverend Doug McCusker led the opening worship telling his own story of coming to UU ministry via having his United States Government employment security needs pointing the way. This led to his gratitude to his spouse for “having his back” during that transition challenge. That led to his offering participants to light a votive candle (harder than it looks) to honor those who have been there for us. Fredericksburg members showed that Doug has had a meaningful impact in his two years there.
Eunice Haigler, a Fredericksburg community activist and UUFF member, spoke of being African-American in a culture that upholds “white” values and consciousness. She reminded us whites to “invite us, we like to eat.” Ever hopeful in her many efforts at social justice, her words were inspirational.
There were four workshops in both the morning and afternoon sessions. UUFP member Alicia Hofler led “Fundraising: The topic that must not be named.” It’s not every day I get to hear from a Jefferson Lab scientist, so I attended. Being an academic, she started with a list of resources:
Alicia’s approach had us all involved, and we shared fund-raising stories and ideas from the three congregations represented. This, I feel, is the value of a gathering like this, hearing how others keep their faith community working. The responses kept her busy recording. “Mission budgets” versus “line budgets” was what had an impact; i.e., showing budget categories of an overall congregation’s mission rather than dollar amounts next to accounting lines.
Lunch was healthy and bountiful and provided for more greetings. Conversations were in full swing.
The afternoon saw Henry Chambers lead a workshop on "Nurturing Your Congregation."
Mason attended the workshop: "Virginia 2021: Virginians for Fair Redistricting," led by Brian Cannon, executive director, OneVirginia2021. He laid out the organization’s strategies, both successes and those less so. He demonstrated how this is a bi-partisan effort and how voters signing OneVirginia 2021’s petition is used and can get legislator’s attention. Additionally, he emphasized the need to have interested people watch the documentary on their website “GerryRIGGED, Turning Democracy On Its Head.” Brian believes this issue will be prominent in the next General Assembly session. He is a dynamic, enthusiastic leader in this effort. He remained through the closing session.
Pam Luke and Alicia attended the session on "The Richmond Pledge to End Racism." Members from Glen Allen described the history behind the pledge starting with the Birmingham pledge. Before signing the pledge, people are encouraged to take part in a two-day workshop that Richmond has developed to help participants better understand where racism is found in our society and within ourselves. The workshop motivates and charges participants to take action against racism and solidifies the commitment of pledge signers. The UUFP’s Social Justice Committee is considering bringing this workshop to the UUFP.
Everyone gathered for the Keynote Workshop: "Coalition Building."
Lisa Manion of UUFF took the information from the site “Community Tool Box.” In these times of seeming cross-purposes, she reviewed how to go about organizing and keeping on-track.
Sandra Engelhardt and Reverend Jeanne Pupke, First Unitarian Unitarian Church of Richmond, gave an overview of plans to revive the UU Legislative Ministry of Virginia by starting at the congregation level. More details to follow.
Rev. Doug wished us safe travels and reminded us to “have each other’s back.”
All were invited in the “get-it-ready-for Sunday-services” ritual.
The Fredericksburg Fellowship site is an excellent example of what could be if the UUFP decided to expand or build on another site.