• Putting our faith into action has always been very important to Unitarian Universalists.

Our church has many faith-in-action activities and events, some which happen year around and others that are seasonal. For some FIA projects, we partner with or support the efforts of other organizations. For others, our church members and friends plan and implement the entire project.

Check out the many faith-in-action opportunities below.

 

YEAR AROUND FAITH-IN-ACTION ACTIVITIES

Faith-in-Action/Social Justice meetings  

Last Sunday of the month

12:20 p.m. in the Martin House  (the brick building next to our sanctuary)

Faith-in-Action activities are open to everyone; you don’t need to be on the FIA committee to participate. However, attending FIA meetings allows you to be part of the decision-making and planning.  To share ideas for future FIA activities or for more information, contact FIA chair Margaret Becker.

Faith in Action Survey  

            The Faith in Action/Social Justice Committee is working to identify areas of common interest within our congregation. Members and friends are asked to complete a short survey (available at each September service.)  If you will not be at church in September, send your answers to the questions below to Faith in Action Chair,  Margaret Becker or mail them  to Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown, att: Margaret Becker, 13245 Cearfoss Pike, Hagerstown MD 21740.           

Survey questions:

Are you currently engaged in the work of social justice  (i.e. climate change, LGBTQ issues, immigration, economic inequality)?

            Do you attend rallies, lobby, etc.?

            On which areas of social justice would you like our committee to focus, even if you are not currently involved?

 

Offering in Action

All undesignated cash (and checks with offering in action in the memo line) in the September 16 and October 21 offering basket will be donated to HARC’s Learning Parties Program.

          Learning Parties are interactive, hands-on events that promote young children’s development of school readiness skills by teaching their parents easy and enjoyable ways to make everyday moments into learning moments.  For more information, visit www.harccoalition.org/programs.

     Since July 2016, our Offering in Action program has raised $4549.90 for social justice and other organizations reflecting our UU principles. In May and June, we donated $442.07 to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

          Previous recipients have included the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, the area library system (for resources on world religions), the local Humane Society, League of Women Voters, Equal Justice Initiative, UUA Disaster Relief Fund, local Literacy Council, UU College of Social Justice, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, CASA (local shelter for people in domestic violence) and Planned Parenthood.

 Selection of the recipient of the Offering in Action donations currently rotates among six church groups to encourage input from a wide range of UUs: the Book Group, the RE students, the Women’s Spirituality Group, the congregation-at-large, the UUCH board; and the Men’s Discussion Group.  If you want to suggest an organization, talk to board trustees-at-large, Donna Catling and Jerry Harness, who are responsible for the program.

This outreach project was proposed by board members who also participate in the Men’s Discussion Group, after reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Many UU churches of all sizes are now giving away all or part of their Sunday offerings and report increased donations for both the outreach and support of the church.

Micah’s Backpack

Our church provides packs of weekend food during the school year for at risk children at Paramount Elementary School.

Each Friday afternoon these school children receive a bag or backpack of food for two days (or three days  for a long weekend) —three meals and a snack for each day— fruits, vegetables, cereal, juice, shelf-stable milk, tuna, peanut butter, crackers, soups, and other nutritious foods in individual serving-size packages.

Each spring, the Washington County Public Schools conduct a survey with all the Micah’s Backpack recipients, their parents and the teachers involved with the program. The 2018 Micah’s Backpack survey showed that 90% of the children share the food with their families. 75% of the teachers believe that the children are more engaged in learning. 85% of the parents feel their children are doing better in school. (See the full survey results at the end of  this page*)

How you can help:   

  • Donate Money:   Your contributions are essential to ensure that these children are not hungry. Give monetary donations, with “Micah’s Backpack” in the memo line of any check,  to our church treasurer, Mike Shaw.

    Our UUCH budget includes $2000 for Micah’s Backpack but this is not enough. Providing weekend food for one child during the school year costs approximately $350 – $400.Some food is available at reduced cost from the local food bank but our out-of-pocket costs are $4,250 – $5,100 for the school year.

  • Help Pack Meals in the Martin House basement at 10:15 a.m. every other Sunday. People of all ages are encouraged to participate.
    • Packing Schedule:  The start date for packing food will be announced later. The Washington County schools did not open until after Labor Day so the Micah’s Backpack set up and parental paperwork at the schools may be completed later than previous years.
  • We are no longer accepting food donations. The Micah’s Backpack food list is so specific in types and sizes that some donations have not been usable. Please donate money instead.
If you are interested in helping or for more information about the program, contact Courtenay Elder.

 

CASA shelter for abused women

Abused women and their children often arrive at the CASA shelter with little but the clothes they’re  wearing. They need personal care items; bath towels, wash cloths, blankets; disposable diapers; children’s clothing and toys; paper products;  laundry supplies; grocery store gift cards; and school supplies.   Most needed now are cleaning supplies (especially laundry supplies), toilet paper, paper towels, and non-perishable food items.

See the complete list of current CASA needs on the Faith-in-Action bulletin board in the sanctuary foyer.  For more information, talk to Dodie Ruskie.

Recycling at UUCH

Aluminum Cans: Put your cans in the labeled bin on the barn porch. Help the earth and our church. Remember: aluminum cans only. No foil or other metals. Cans are taken to a local recycler; the money earned goes to the church.

Batteries: Place items in the labeled bins on the barn porch. Both rechargeable and non-rechargeable dry-cell batteries of any size (AAA-D) as well as battery packs from cell phones, cameras, laptops and power tools can be recycled. Mike Seering is now taking our batteries to a recycling program where he works.

All Other Recyclables (paper, plastic): Put in the appropriate container in the sanctuary, in the Martin House kitchen or in the green recyclable can outside the Martin House. Volunteers are needed to take items to recycling collection areas.

Fair Trade coffee, tea & chocolate

Our church participates in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Coffee Project with Equal Exchange, an employee-owned fair trade company. A portion of all proceeds is returned to the UUSC to support its development projects.

SEASONAL FAITH-IN-ACTION ACTIVITIES

HARC Hike for Hunger & Hope

Usually in June, Rescheduled to Saturday, Sept. 8 at the C&O Canal

Our church is a sponsor for the HARC Hike for Hunger and Hope, a non-competitive fundraising event open to all ages. Designed for all abilities with 4K, 10K and half marathon, the hikers are supported with snacks and drinks along the way and provided lunch after the event. This year’s hike includes a new photo scavenger hunt for youth teams and a nature scavenger hunt for younger children.

          For more information, visit http://harccoalition.org/hike/. 

Area Pride Events

         Our church is a UUA-recognized Welcoming Congregation so of course we participate in area LGBTQ events. UUCH members and friends staff our UUCH tables at Pride events in Hagerstown and in Chambersburg. Our displays  have information about the Standing on the Side of Love movement and Unitarian Universalism’s long history of inclusion. For more information, contact faith-in-action chair Margaret Becker.

Hagerstown Hopes Annual Pride Festival

Saturday in July (no 2019 date yet), noon – 6 p.m.

in the first block of South Potomac St. Hagerstown

Hagerstown Hopes was established in 2012 to bridge the gap between the straight and LGBTQ community. The  annual Pride Festival activities include female impersonators, music, speakers, food, and displays by area vendors, organizations and agencies.

          For more information, visit www.hagerstownhopesmd.org or the Hagerstown Hopes Facebook page.

Pride Franklin County

Saturday in August (no 2019 date yet), 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

on the Wilson College Campus, Chambersburg, PA

            Pride Franklin County incorporates traditional Pride elements and activities while maintaining a family-friendly and welcoming atmosphere. All entertainment is PG-rated.

          This first annual Pride Franklin County celebration in 2018 was organized by  Franklin County Coalition for Progress and Franklin County Equality Center to increase the visibility of the LGBTQ community and their contributions to Franklin County, to bring the LGBTQ community and straight allies together, and to celebrate diversity, acceptance and respect in Franklin County.

          For more information, visit www.fccforprogress.org.

Free-for-All 

Saturday in August  (no 2019 date yet), 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

St. John’s Lutheran Church (141 S. Potomac St.)      

Despite its name, the Free-For-All is more like a swap meet with everyone encouraged to bring something to share with others.

Bring garden produce, clothing, toys, books, household items, or anything else you wish to give away. School supplies and children’s clothing would be particularly appropriate.

Since part of the goal for this event is for our church to be a presence in the community, please bring your items to the courtyard Saturday morning and stay for the conversation and community involvement. There is ample parking behind the church.

If you can not bring your donations, please clearly label them “Free for All” and leave them on the center table inside the first barn door (beside the recycling cans) before the event (but not  earlier than July!)  Volunteers are needed very early on that Saturday to transport items left at our church and to help set up. For more information or to volunteer, contact Faith-in-Action chair.

The Free-for-All was started in 2009 by Lou Murray, our previous UUCH musician. The event moved to St. John’s in 2012.

 

Children’s Book Drive

August 1 – September 9

Donate new and gently used books for children, infancy – age 11 in the collection box in the sanctuary foyer.

If you’ve given all your books in previous years, check out Wonder Books (607 Dual Highway), Booksavers (13625 PA Ave.), and other area sources for used and new books.

Donated books go to the new Community Book Warehouse, which distributes them to community organizations, schools and individuals to get books into the hands of vulnerable children.

In the 2017 book drive , our church donated eight boxes of children’s books. Throughout Washington County, 13,849 books were collected in the community book drive, co-sponsored by the Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC), United Way, Rotary Club, FedEx and the Early Childhood Advisory Council.

For more information, contact the book drive coordinator, Shauna Seering.

 

Taste of the Town REACH Fundraiser 

Sunday evening, September 23, 2018 

Hager Hall Conference Center; Hagerstown, MD

 $45 per person.  Reservations required

Taste of the Town is a great opportunity to sample foods from more than 20 restaurants, bakeries and caterers while also supporting REACH, the local, faith-based organization that operates the cold-weather homeless shelter and other programs. Our church usually reserves a 10-person table, which fills up fast.

If you’d like to join our UUCH table, talk to Bill Pike.  Then give your check, payable to UUCH (memo line Taste of the Town) to our church treasurer. For more information, visit www.tasteofthetownwc.com or contact Bill Pike.

 

Potter’s Bowl to support free clinic

Sunday, November 4 at the Elks Club

 $50 per person. Limited seating.

Tickets required

Enjoy a meal, take home a hand-made bowl, and help the Community Free Clinic, which has been providing free medical care and prescriptions to medically uninsured Washington County residents since 1990.

If you’d like to attend, give your check for $50, payable to UUCH (memo line Potter’s Bowl), to our church treasurer. For more information, contact Dodie Ruskie.

 REACH Cold-Weather Shelter

          Our church will host two nights at the homeless shelter  this year, Sunday, December 16 and Friday, December 21.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Bill Pike.

Our church has been volunteering with the Cold Weather Shelter for many years. 

In addition to providing an evening meal each evening, UUs also assisted the REACH staff in other areas, including registration, laundry co-ordination, and socializing with the shelter guests.

For more information about REACH, visit  http://reachofwc.org/

 

*Micah’s Backpack 2018 Survey Results

During the spring of 2018, the Washington County Public Schools conducted a survey with all of the Micah’s backpack recipients, their parents and teachers who are involved in the distribution of the program.  The survey resulted in 200 returned student responses, 106 returned parent responses and 78 returned teacher responses.

 

Student Responses

Of the responses,  69% of students indicated they were less hungry as a result of receiving a weekly backpack, 90% indicated that they shared with their family, and 56% said there are still times when they are hungry and have nothing to eat.    Additionally, 70% indicated that they were better able to pay attention in school, 29% stated that sometimes they come to school just to get food, and 54% responded that their family still needed more food. Nearly 80% felt better in school when they were not hungry.

When asked what they didn’t like about Micah’s Backpack, 5 complained that the bags are too heavy; 3 didn’t like the vegetables and fruits; 8 didn;t like the milk [which is shelf-stable rather than fresh]; one didn’t like the cans; and one mentioned lids coming off the applesauce.

When responding about the items students liked about the program the following quotes were received:

    We can get food that we do not have money for.

    You get to have food that is good and healthy.

    It gives me food for over the weekend.

    It helps families with their food problems.

    They give you treats.

    That it gives my family food to eat.

    I like how they give you food for free, if you can’t afford it.

    It makes me kinda learn more better, get good grades and feel confident.

    What I like about it is I can share with my family members.

   

Lastly, in response to concerns about bullying, 88% of students indicated that they do not get picked on for receiving a backpack.

Parent Responses

Of the responses, 85% indicated that their child is doing better in school since receiving the backpack, 79% felt that the portions in the backpack were just right; 54% indicated their child is less sick and thus misses less school since getting extra food.  Additionally, 76% responded that they do feel more engaged in their child’s school since receiving a backpack.  68% responded that they had other children at home  that could benefit from having more food. 76% felt that they were more engaged with their child’s school since receiving the backpack. Lastly 74% indicated that the backpack allows them to be able to pay other bills.

When responding about what they liked about the backpacks the following statements were made:

When responding about the items they do not like there were no clear concerns other than a few comments relating to the cans (weight), not liking canned meals and pasta, pears and raisins. Predominantly the remarks were positive.

When responding about what they liked about the backpacks, the following statements were made:

    The fact that my child receives healthy snacks.

    The extra food helps my kids.

    The variety of items that helps for breakfast, snacks, and dinner, even with the canned vegetables.

    Love it, helps a lot.

    Very generous and highly appreciated.

    Helps us and other people out.

    They give you the food you need.

    Provides a variety of foods we may not have at home.

    It helps over the weekend when we may be short on groceries.

 

Teacher Responses

Of the teacher responses 68% indicated that the students are absent less which is up from last year at 62%.  Additionally, 78% responded that the students are better behaved, 75% believe the students are more engaged in learning and 93% believe the program has fostered a more positive relationship between the students and the teacher.  52% believe the students complain of fewer health issues.  In reference to family dynamics, only 26% have indicated more parental engagement at school, up from 20% last year, 60% stated that the receiving students have indicated that other members of their family are food insecure.

When asked for additional feedback, there was not many negative comments.  Most teachers commented the program is great and doing well.  The most negative feedback was the heaviness of the bags.

Lastly, all teachers responded that they have never witnessed bullying in relation to this program, one respondent stated if anything other children wanted it too.