Friday, September 21, 2012

Social Justice at the U. U. Congregation in McHenry—Learn, Serve, and Advocate

Note:  I prepared a version of this for the weekly e-mail blast to members of the Untitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry.  But for folks in McHenry County, you don’t have to be a member to participate in these programs.  For those of you farther afield, it is a taste of the kind of work UU congregations do across North America.  If you like what you see, check out what your local congregation is doing.
At our September meeting the Social Justice Committee elected me as the new chairperson.  A tip-o’-the-hat to Sue Reckenthaler who held that post for several years.  She will continue to be active.  I hope to live up to her high standards.  Here is a brief report of our activities and opportunities for you.

  • Our Compassion For Campers program is winding down now that PADS shelters re-open October 1.  Thanks to the many of you who contributed material, food, and money and to those who volunteered, especially at the weekly community cook-outs on Mondays at the PADS office.  We also got great support from other churches and volunteers from the community.  Thanks to the success of our Just Plain Folks benefit concert, we will have seed money to start up again next year.

  • We have traditionally made PADS a priority project of the congregation.  That hasn’t changed just because we can no longer be a host church.  We continue to be involved with the Woodstock site, which will be at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1320 Dean Street this year.  Volunteers commit themselves to one Wednesday a month, and now are especially needed to prepare the site (5:30 to 7:00 PM) and to help with breakfast (5:30 to 7:00 AM). For more information please contact Marty Coonen, Woodstock Site Manager, office 815 526-3494 or cell 815-353-5732.

  • We have also traditionally supported the Woodstock Hunger Walk which will be held Sunday, October 14, walkers sign in at 1 pm and the walk begins at 1:30, approximately 3 mile route around the city of Woodstock, to benefit The Woodstock Area Community Ministry and The Woodstock Food Pantry. We are looking for walkers and people who will donate to sponsor the walkers. See Owen Burns at Church School or Church between now and then or contact Owen at 847 542-0179 or at

  • Interfaith cooperation on critical issues is important to us.  That’s why we urge you to attend Poverty Perceptions—Seeing the Need Around You this Sunday, September 23 from 4:30 to 6 pm at the Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, 8505 Church Street in Ridgefield.  Come join in this interfaith gathering to learn more about the needs of our neighbors. Speakers will be present from Home of the Sparrow, Crystal Lake Food Pantry, PADS, Faith in Action, and Family Health Partnership Clinic. We are co-sponsors with several other area congregations.  Lisa Jacobsen will represent the Social Justice Committee and report on the Compassion for Campers program. For more information contact the Presbyterian Church office at 815 459-1132.

  • We will be collecting gently used or new coats and other warm winter wear—hats, gloves, scarves—an annually drive of the Woodstock Area Community Ministry.  Look for a donation barrel near the front door of the church after October 1.  The coats will be distributed at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1320 Dean Street on Saturday October 27.  At the same location it will be the final day of a three day clothing sale to benefit the Build a Dream Foundation.  The sale will also be held on the preceding Thursday and Friday, October 25 and 26.  You may remember that the Build a Dream Foundation, which made presentations at our old locations and held their clothing sale there.  They support students and a school in impoverished village of El Vaquero in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.  They have provided thousands of dollars in scholarship funds and have helped supply the school with needed supplies.  The Foundation hopes to help build a community center and help residents make more improvements to their community.

  • We will be partnering with the Garden Quarter Resource Center in McHenry in the near future.  This facility in an apartment complex serving almost exclusively Hispanic and immigrant families, provides a safe after school environment for children. We will be looking for volunteers to tutor, share crafts and art projects, mentor, or just be with the kids.  Look for more details soon.  Sue Reckenthaller is coordinating this project.

  • Down the road a bit, look for exciting information in this space about an educational opportunity to learn about what the Doctrine of Discovery means and why the UUA voted at General Assembly to publicly disavow this cornerstone of European/American colonialism and the subjugation of native peoples.  We will have a program in conjunction with the congregation wide pot luck lunch celebrating the completion of the Church School curriculum on immigration on Sunday, November 11.  We hope to announce an exciting speaker soon.

  • Based on the vote of the Congregation a few years ago to support marriage equality and on the UUA strong and historic commitment to the cause, the Committee has authorized Rev. Sean Dennison to sign us up as a co-signer of a friend of the court brief being assembled by Equality Illinois that “Illinois’ civil law covering marriage is and should only cover civil marriage equality, with no impact on how each institution of faith defines or performs marriages.”  Again look for more information on this suit as it proceeds.
Whew!  That’s a lot.  And we have other irons in the fire waiting to get hot.  Want to help on any of these projects?  You don’t need to join the Committee or attend endless meetings.  But if you are interested, the next committee meeting will be Tuesday, October 4 at 7 pm at the Church.  For more information call Patrick Murfin at 815 814-5645 or e-mail

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