It is the season of generosity, of giving and receiving,
unexpected ways. For generations, people have "lit candles
in the evergreens to
drive the dark away," and sought the love and
support of friends and family at
this time of year when the day fades
early and night can stretch on for an
eternity. And within our larger
Unitarian Universalist family, the acts of
congregations have lit candles in the lives of those they have
The year 2005, while marked by tragedy, has also been a year marked by
In Nantucket, Massachusetts, the Rev. Jennifer
Brooks ministers to a
congregation of 100. She was
touched by a message received from the Rev. Lyn
Oglesby, minister of
the All Souls UU Congregation in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Oglesby knew that many
children had come into her area following Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita.
So many of those children were from families who'd lost their
their possessions – and for the children, it was beginning to look like
Christmas was not going to be merry at all. Oglesby set out to try and
children, asking her UU minister colleagues if they might be
able to suggest
their congregants provide $50 gift cards to the
children. Jennifer Brooks'
congregation, which had partnered with the
congregation to provide
other types of hurricane-related aid, was one
of those responding. Brooks wrote,
"We are zeroing out our hurricane
fundraising account by sending Lyn Oglesby an
additional $2,538.80. The
total we've sent to Shreveport is $5,538.80, plus $500
the UUA-UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund. Altogether, a net of $6038.80!" Oglesby
wrote back that, thanks to the generosity of the Nantucket congregation, "Fifty
are getting Christmas presents from your gift!"
The Rev. Frank Schulman's life has been marked by
love of Unitarian Universalism. An author, parish minister and
historian who holds an honorary doctor of divinity degree from
Theological School, Schulman is dying of brain
cancer. Schulman, aged 78, is
joined by his wife Alice in making a
donation of $4.5 million from their estate
to the UUA.
Schulman said, "We wanted to contribute as much money as we could to
Unitarian movement because we believe in its principles so
Unitarian has literally changed our lives for the
better, and what better way to
say thank you than giving back what was
given to you?"
He retains his zest for living even as life slips away: "I hope my life goes
on as long as it can," he said. "But when I go, I am ready. I have made
with myself and others. I have lived my life to its fullest and
every minute of it."
Schulman, who is also an author and teacher, has blessed the future of
Unitarian Universalism with his generosity and his love. His legacy
a bright future for seminarians and our congregations.
When flash floods devastated
parts of Transylvania in the late summer, Unitarians and
around the globe responded. Transylvania, the historic
seat of Unitarianism, is
the site of many Unitarian churches which are
connected to UU congregations in
the US. Those
congregations and concerned individuals around the world responded
the disaster with more than $152,000 in aid. Funds were directed to the
congregations and villages damaged, and were significant enough to meet
needs in the affected areas.
At the time, a Unitarian from Great Britain visiting in Translyvania reported, "the area of the Nyiko Valley of Transylvania was hit with an 8-foot wall of water in a flash flood that swept through the Unitarian villages of Simenfalva, Kobatfalva and Kadacs" (located today in Romania).
When hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast,
the UU Trauma
Response Ministry Team flew the Rev.
Zirpolo, Interim Assistant
Minister to Families and Children of
the Winchester (MA) Unitarian Society, to
Lacombe, LA. Von Zirpolo was to provide the Northshore
Society (in Lacombe) with a worship leader and
pastoral care provider for the
weekend of October 23rd while the
congregation's minister took a much-needed
It was at the Sunday service in Lacombe that a school band teacher got up to
light a candle of concern. The teacher asked congregants to donate any
instruments they had to help her supply her students – many of
whom had come
into her school following the hurricane – with
instruments. Von Zirpolo wrote,
"Unbeknownst to her, I was in the early
stages of planning a road trip [to return to the
came home and put the word out to folks in the Winchester congregation
addition to pots, pans, towels and bed linens they were gathering, they
could add band instruments. I also let [UU social worker] Annette
Marquis know that we'd be trying to provide this [additional form of]
when we went to Louisiana. Annette wisely sent along the
request to those at the
UUA involved in music ministry. When all was
said and done, we were able to
deliver two trombones, one trumpet, two
keyboards, one French horn, one
saxophone and a dozen clarinets into
that band teacher's classroom."
The teacher, Charmain DeMoruelle wrote, "That large shipment of musical
instruments was the nicest thing that ever happened to me! The students
school are returning every day. Students are coming from all over
Parish, Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. Most students
come with nothing – their
parents have nothing. They are seeking new
employment (their job washed away),
and trying to figure a way to
rebuild a house with no income. The two music
stores located within 1/2
mile of our school were flooded."
She continued, "One young man at our school was quite depressed. His
great-grandmother had passed away after the hurricane. He had been
affluent private school all his life, and this was his
first time in a public
school. His father's job had been lost, as well
as their very nice home. I had
issued one of the very old, ugly, nasty
trombones to him, and found out that he
played very well. I promised
his mother that as soon as I could get a better
instrument, I would. In
your shipment was a new trombone. I issued the
instrument to the boy,
and he has been smiling a lot more since. Thank you so
In so many ways, Unitarian Universalists have lived the generosity that
the seasons lift up. On behalf of UUA President William G. Sinkford,
Gini Courter, and the staff of the UUA, a blessed and
peaceful holiday season!
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Friday, June 17, 2011.
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