New ways to engage with multiculturalism

Looking for new ways to engage with multiculturalism? The UUA’s Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group has posted ideas, including the following:

• Holding multicultural trainings for Sunday morning greeters

• Creating a “Common Read” program on antiracism, antioppression, and multicultural topics.

• Holding yearly leadership development trainings around antiracism.

• Sending small groups to trainings such as the Living Legacy Pilgrimage through the UUA and UU Service Committee.

• Working with district staff to create a district-wide training on multiculturalism.

See the full list here.

Email the Multicultural Growth and Witness staff team for more information, or call them at 617-948-6461.

Tax liability possible for congregations

Take the time to brush up on the law in your city and state regarding annual reporting of tax-exempt status. One eastern city requires tax-exempt organizations to file each year for continuation of that status. Because the city did not enforce that requirement until 2007 (when a new assessor took office), one UU congregation received tax bills for two consecutive years before it recognized it had a requirement to file an annual statement.

The city sold the unpaid tax bills (with interest they total more than $200,000) to a collection agency and the congregation had to hire a lawyer to sort everything out. Many months later negotiations are continuing with the city. Because the tax leins went to collections, the issue is more complicated to resolve. The congregation does not know what its ultimate liability might be.

Indigenous Peoples Day resources

Looking for ways to mark Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day on October 10? The UUA’s Multicultural Growth and Witness Staff Group has 10. They include the following:

• Find out whose land your congregation’s building was built on.

• Lobby your public officials to rename Columbus Day. South Dakota calls it “Native Americans Day.” Dane County, Wisconsin, calls it “Indigenous Peoples Day.” So do the cities of Berkeley, Sebastopol, and Santa Cruz, California.

• Connect with nearby Native communities

• Engage with “Immigration as a Moral Issue,” the 2010–2014 Congregational Study/Action Issue.

The whole list is here. There is also a section on Justice for Native Peoples about issues that face them and how to connect with them.

Alex Kapitan, Congregational Justice administrator, said his office is making a special effort this year to engage congregations with this annual day. “We want to be more intentional about encouraging congregations to celebrate this holiday and to make it more of a solid part of the liturgical calendar.”

He added, “Indigenous Peoples Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance.”

Association Sunday 2011 focuses on excellence in ministry

From a September InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

Excellence in Ministry is the theme for the fifth Association Sunday, which gets under way October 2. Funds collected this year will be used to support Unitarian Universalis ministries in a variety of ways, including providing scholarships and continuing education grants for UU religious professionals and conducting a comprehensive assessment of UU ministries.

Association Sunday is an annual fundraising campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Association to promote growth and to reaffirm our connections as an Association of congregations. Congregations are invited to set aside a Sunday to focus on their connections to one another and to the Unitarian Universalist Association. They are also asked to take a collection to support special UUA projects.

Funds raised by Association Sunday in previous years were used, in part, to fund scholarships for UU ministerial students. Gretchen Haley received a $17,000 scholarship in 2010 through Association Sunday.

Go to the full article.

UUA’s 2011-12 Common Read is ‘Acts of Faith’

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, a memoir by Eboo Patel, is the 2011–2012 Unitarian Universalist Common Read. The Common Read project invites Unitarian Universalist youth and adults in all congregations to share a common reading experience, and to engage in reflection and action about that book.

In Acts of Faith, Patel shares his faith journey as an American Muslim who comes to believe in religious pluralism. Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a nonprofit focused on building an interfaith youth movement. Patel invites those who believe in religious pluralism to support young people, helping them ground themselves in a faith that can equip them to work across faiths to make the world a better place.

Gail Forsyth-Vail, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Adult Programs director, said the book was chosen with an eye to both the tenth anniversary of September 11 and to the work of building coalitions as UUs prepare for General Assembly 2012, a “Justice GA” focused on immigration issues, in Phoenix.

The discussion guide will be published in October and will offer materials for a single 90-minute session or three 90-minute sessions, each expandable to two hours. The guide will provide the option of splitting the single 90-minute session into two shorter sessions. Download a flyer for Acts of Faith. The UUA Bookstore is offering the book for $14, plus a discount for multiple copies.

The UU Common Read last year was The Death of Josseline, stories about crossing the Mexico-Arizona border.