I used to think January and February were the most boring months. Unless it snowed, it felt cold, gray, and dreary to me. That is until I started celebrating the 30 Days of Love with the Side with Love campaign. 30 Days of Love represents the month between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Valentine’s Day. This month celebrates love in action, or justice, by honoring different justice causes each week. Each week also presents a body practice, a prayer, a blessing, and a grounding practice to help participants delve into the week in a faithful way with a UU lens.
So why should we celebrate the 30 Days of Love? How does spending a week on each cause really help? For me, it helps renew my energy around justice work and connects this work to my spirituality.
Often, when I am doing justice work, whether I am raising money for reparations or raising my own awareness through education, I can feel like I am getting overwhelmed quickly. I can feel myself folding under the irrational pressure to fix systemic issues as an individual. There is so much work to do. There is so much to learn and unlearn. How do I keep doing the work and not fall into the traps of a white supremacy culture that values my own comfort over doing the hard work of justice?
For me, this is exactly why I love doing the 30 Days of Love program each year. It reminds me how my justice work is connected to my UU values and spirituality. By participating in different justice work—educating myself, sharing the message of oppressed people, protesting, engaging in difficult conversations with loved ones—I am doing holy work for myself. I am connecting myself to my greater power of love. Justice is love in action and love is the center of our faith. How can justice work be anything less than divine?
So, I encourage you to check out 30 Days of Lovehere for all it has to offer you. The site even has past years’ resources so you can extend your 30 Days of Love to 365! And, if you want to learn more daily practices you can do to connect with your UU faith, talk to me about UU Lent starting on February 14!
An Invitation to Pause in the New Year
Lisa Schilansky, Ministerial Intern
As the calendar inches toward February, the New Year celebrations can already feel far away. Resolutions can feel difficult for some, or clichéd, or perhaps the most life-giving tradition you look forward to each year.
Rather than a suggestion of a resolution, of a “New Year, New You” mentality, I invite you to consider ways you might slow things down, ways you might bring more spaciousness into your life. For me, the holiest time in my life is during a sunrise at the ocean. These are the moments that take my breath away, that make me connect with something much deeper than myself.
Since I was twelve, I’ve made a point of seeing an Atlantic Ocean sunrise at least once a year. This year’s witnessing, on January 8th, was a cloudier day than normal. Clouds can seem negative, but they add to the brilliance of a sunrise. Their heaviness reflects bright pinks and yellows, adding to this great canvas. There was no moment that morning of the bright ball of the sun
emerging from the ocean, of seeing that exact moment of cresting up. Instead, from behind the clouds, rays stretched their arms up, a whispered beacon of what lay behind. Right before the sky muted into the gray of that morning, the hole just above the lowest cloud was set ablaze, heralding the sun’s arrival.
On that morning in South Florida, toward the end of a vacation that already feels like a fading memory, I was made whole again. I crave these moments to quiet the noise. I crave these moments to ritually connect with something grander than myself.
If you need more time to pause, more time to connect with something unexplainably larger than yourself, I invite you to consider my monthly initiative Breathe: the world needs you whole. Each time we gather is an opportunity for mindfulness practices and intentional sharing. You can connect with others at UUCWC and recharge for another month. Our next gathering will be on Thursday, February 8th, at 11 a.m., on Zoom.
Whether at Breathe, at the ocean for a sunrise, or in other moments of quieting, I hope 2024 brings you opportunities to intentionally pause, to slow down, to take in the moment. I hope you can find stillness amidst the hecticness of it all. I hope you can remember to let your heart recharge.
Allie’s Garden Thrived in 2023
Al Johnson, Co-Chair, Earth and Cimate Ministry
Allie’s Organic Garden is tended by UUCWC’s Earth and Climate Ministry to provide vegetables for local food aid programs. We harvested in December with the help of the children from the Children and Youth Family Ministry, who braved the cold and the threat of rain. The garden has now been put to rest for the winter. As part of good land stewardship and sustainable practices, we have planted cover crops of clover and grasses on all early harvested beds. This will provide added fertility for next year’s crops.
We distributed all forty-five pounds of our sweet potatoes to the Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, operating out of nearby Gravity Hill Farm in Titusville. We also gave Rolling Harvest forty pounds of our carrots. Twenty pounds of carrots went to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, and we donated the last thirteen pounds to the “Free Store” operated by Homefront at their Lawrence headquarters.
This year’s harvest was truly an all-church effort. The Grounds Committee has been depositing fall-raked church leaves onto the garden; Denny Rogers grinds them up so they can more quickly contribute to the soil’s fertility. There have been noticeable soil improvements from the compost derived largely from the home kitchen scraps many of you have contributed to our compost bin. As well as helping with the harvest, the children also helped plant sweet potatoes in the spring. Volunteers helped weed, thin carrots and water all summer long and helped harvest the crops.
Thanks to all who made this year’s garden a success in providing food to those in need in our area. Our collective actions are a testament to our Unitarian Universalist principles.
The Food Ministry Reflects on Past Year
Christine Piatek, Food Ministry Team
UUCWC’s Food Ministry (FM) had a busy 2023. Things are not fully back to pre-pandemic times; still, we were able to provide cooked meals and prepared sandwiches as well as donations of money and shelf-stable pantry items. Our work last year included cooking/preparing:
120 meals over three months for Luther Arms Senior Housing in Trenton;
sandwich meal bags for HomeFront’s Monday night tutoring program;
snack bags for HomeFront in March (with assistance from our children);
monthly sandwich meal bags for the HomeFront Tuesday night Hopes and Dreams program; and
a pasta and meatball meal for one Wacky Wednesday session over the summer.
FM made donations of shelf stable food items to the Interfaith Food Alliance’s (IFA) Family Backpack Center Food Pantry in Morrisville, PA and to the Morrisville Presbyterian Church Food Center. We also collaborated with the Social Justice Ministry and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton to prepare meals for Loaves and Fishes in March and cooked eighty pounds of chicken for the sit-down lunch served at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trenton.
Lastly, FM sponsored a successful chili fundraiser for the IFA on the day of the South Philly Jazz Band concert, December 17.Read more here…
Food Drive Next Month
The Food Ministry is sponsoring a food drive on Saturday, February 10 (10:00am-12:00pm) and two Sundays, February 11 and 18 (9:30am-12:00pm). Help us give to others by donating essential food items for HomeFront, our longtime partner in providing local individuals and families with the resources they need to live with dignity. Look over the list of items most needed and sign up herefor your preferred drop-off date. Thank you for your continued and generous support of the Food Ministry and HomeFront.
Upcoming Musical Events
On behalf of Fundraising, Nick Mellis has been busy booking shows for our lovely sanctuary! The lineup includes these seven shows.
Each year, thousands of Unitarian Universalists gather to conduct the business of the Unitarian Universalist Association and to participate in workshops, learning opportunities and worship at General Assembly (GA). This year’s GA will take place solely online from June 20 to 24. With no travel involved, all can easily attend. Consider signing up for part or all of the exciting events!
We are hoping to provide for in-person gatherings at the church to experience GA in community. For instance, we are discussing a possible social event during which participants can watch the prestigious WARE Lecture together.
This is an important year for GA because delegates will vote on whether to adopt amendments to Article II of the UUA Bylaws governing Principles and Purposes, which include a new Values statement.
Al Johnson and his team of helpers harvested seventy-three pounds of carrots on a very cold December morning. All the carrots and forty-five pounds of sweet potatoes were donated locally. Thank you, Al!
Try This Easy Fundraiser
Steve Saddlemire, Fundraising
We started the Raise Right fundraiser a few years ago (thanks to Wendy Stasolla) and, last year, added close to $1000 to the church budget from gift card sales. For those of you who have not yet participated in the program, it’s simple. You purchase a gift card from a multitude of retail vendors you can find here. For every card you buy, Raise Right donates a percentage of its value to UUCWC.
Place your order for the card(s) with me, at email@example.com. I will place one order with Raise Right and distribute the gift cards to you at church on the first Sunday of the month. Do it monthly or intermittently. It’s an effortless way to support the church, apart from pledges and the Sunday plate. Questions: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing
268 Washington Crossing Pennington Road, Titusville NJ 08560