Orlando: First Unitarian Church of Orlando

First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1U of Orlando)  2014-2015  www.orlandouu.org

1U-Logo-1C-Blue

1U in the Central Florida Community and Beyond:

  • During the “Come Out with Pride Parade” in October, two thousand fans were distributed by church members and friends that said “We Want to Marry You” in expectation that same sex marriage would be determined legal in Florida in the near future.
  • On January 10, 14 couples were joined in marriage while family and friends as well as members of the First Unitarian community celebrated with them. Photos available at the church website.
  • Co-hosted a community event at 1U with Equality Florida to hear about the dire situation in Uganda regarding LGBT rights. Donations contributed.
  • Table at Central Florida Earth Day at yearly Orlando event.
  • Supported participation by our minister and church supporters at community events on issues that 1U principles support.
  • UU Justice Florida member

Individual member support of Central Florida organizations and Issues:

  • Members of the 1U community continue to be involved in the “#Black Lives Matter” events, Planned Parenthood, GLBT adoption, immigration events, minimum wage/inequality events.
  • Solar Energy Co-op being started by church members in Winter Park area.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW):

  • 1U with the assistance of a Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) grant, sponsored a bus to the annual event of the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers (CIW) in St. Petersburg in May. Friends and 1U members participated.
  • Learning:
  • UUA General Assembly 2014 Follow-thru: Action for Immediate Witness class and Congregational Study/Action Issues led to a 6 week inequality class in the spring and adult education opportunities on Sunday at church.
  • Common Reads were: Fed Up: The High Costs of Cheap Food; Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade-and How We Can Fight It; Class Lives: Stories across our Economic Divide.
  • Films and discussion: Immigration: The Unpardonable Sin; The Committee, a short documentary about the (so-called) “Johns Committee,” a committee formed in the early 1960s, formally called the “Legislative Investigation Committee” and led by Florida Senator Charley Johns, that authorized the surveillance and interrogation of both students and professors at state universities simply because they were suspected of being homosexuals; Filthy Dreamers, a 29 minute film produced by UCF’s Burnett Honors College Documentary Workshop class, 2013-14, concerning the teaching of evolution at Florida State College from Women in 1928.
  • Started a Native Plant area on the church campus.

Community Sharing:

  • Share the Plate: Four local organizations received 100% of undesignated funds collected twice during Sunday services each year. Organizations: Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, Orlando Youth Alliance, Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Zebra House, Shepherd’s Hope, New Image Youth Center. Approximately $11,000 donated total.
  • The Alliance continued to give food, clothing, in-kind assistance and cash to community organizations.

Communication and Networking

  • Justice googlegroup networking, a 1U Facebook and a church SmugMug site continue.

Volunteering:

Volunteering continues at the Second Harvest Food Bank and volunteering started at Clean the World – a hygiene recycling not-for-profit, supporting Amnesty International and OneBlood.

First Unitarian Church of Orlando 2013-2014   www.orlandouu.org

Church Action in Central Florida:

  • Press Release stating that First Unitarian would offer free marriages the weekend after marriage was declared legal in Florida.
  • Members of two congregations (8-12)) with UU Fellowship of Marion County minister and 1U’s minister with SSL Jennifer Toth visited Senator Rubio’s and Congressman Daniel Webster’s office to talk about Immigration as a Moral Issue in summer of 2014 after a SSL Workshop at 1U.
  • Members (5-10) attended Orange County board meetings to show support for registries and Rev. Kathy spoke for partner registries. Partner registries were approved in Orange County and the city of Orlando.
  • Contributor of UU Justice Florida.

Individual member support of Central Florida organizations and Issues:

  • Demonstrations/press announcements attended by members at elected officials’ offices during year about immigration and women’s health issues.
  • Justice Now Advocacy regarding Trayvon Martin-various local actions.
  • Amendment One Water and Land Legacy Amendment: Advocacy and petition signing to put on ballot and to get support. League of Women Voters environmental lobbyist showed film and talked about the issue.
  • Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando: Individuals volunteer to support clients entering clinic and church space donated for a training.
  • Four members of 1U marched in the first national-call Moral Monday March in Raleigh.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW):

  • Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW): Film viewing encouraged: Food Chains, The Revolution in America’s fields;
  • Publix conversation encouraged: Give Pennies for Publix to Support Farmworkers campaign offered. (Tape a penny to a note that reads: I want to see Publix sign the Fair Food pledge with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers so farmworkers can have better pay and decent working conditions. Please use my pennies so Justice is done, join demonstrations as asked).
  • Grant received from UUA/Standing on the Side of Love that allowed for the -rental of two buses anyone in the Orlando area to use for transportation to Lakeland for Coalition of Immokalee Workers march to Publix Headquarters.
  • Ongoing sustainable food discussion and contribute building space for the monthly VegCF (Veg Central Florida) Potluck hosted by 1U Green Team.

Learning:

  • UUA General Assembly 2014 Follow-thru: Action for Immediate Witness class and Congregational Study/Action Issues weekly classes on Reproductive Justice.
  • Common Read: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman.
  • Justice Film Series: Water’s Journey, Immigration: The “Unpardonable Sin,” Every Three Seconds

Community Sharing:

  • Share the Plate: Four local organizations receive 100% of undesignated funds collected twice during Sunday services each year. Organizations: Homegrown Local Food Cooperative, Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, The Hope CommUnity Center, Shepherd’s Hope, Zebra Foundation, Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, New Image Youth Center. Approximately $11,000 donated total.
  • Community Gardens- 10 plots for members, neighbors, local food bank.
  • The Alliance: Active since the mid 1920’s, The Alliance is an organization of women (though men are welcome) from the First Unitarian Church of Orlando and the University Unitarian Universalist Society of Orlando.  We meet weekly to process donations of clothing, household goods etc., mostly from church members, and prepare the better ones for sale to church members on Sundays.  We also run a weeks-long Holiday Boutique and two yard sales during the year, all of which bring in around $10,000 a year. Money is donated to a dozen or so charitable organizations in the Orlando area, focusing on the needs of children, women and the homeless.  In addition, dozens of sandwiches for the homeless are made once a month, and items are donated to the homeless and sheltered women as needed.  There are speakers about once a month, either representatives from organizations that are supported or those being considered as well as speakers with information useful to the members.  The Alliance members form a community, supporting each other whenever it is needed. 
  • Organizations that received donations were: Coalition for the Homeless, Planned Parenthood, Healthcare Center for the Homeless, New Image Youth Center, Women’s Residential Counseling Center (WRCC), Shepherd’s Hope, IDignity, Samaritan Resource Center, Covenant House, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). Total to these organizations was approximately $10,000.00.
  • Gave free space to healthcare navigators for the Affordable Care Act a few times.

Communication and Networking

  • Justice googlegroup networking: Members and friends can be part of the group so information can be shared about any justice issues and events in central Florida.
  • 1U Facebook page available for church social justice news.
  • SmugMug Church website available for photo-sharing of justice events.

Volunteering:

  • Food Bank–Work at Second Harvest Food Bank in Orlando takes place the every other month, working from 1-4 in the afternoon.  Second Harvest “feeds” the many, many food banks in central Florida, rather than giving food directly to clients.
  • Blood drives–OneBlood sends out the Big Red Bus to park on our lot and accept blood donations of all types every other month.
  • Amnesty International–Amnesty International works for human rights and justice throughout the world.  A lot of their works take place in the form of individuals writing letters to the government officials of the country where the abuse might be taking place.  This process has many times provided success in undoing the human rights abuse.  Details about each case, and the addresses necessary to write, are all provided in an e-mail format from Amnesty’s extensive research done by their on the ground staff is synopsized so that information is fairly shared.   Upon receipt of the information about the case, information is conveyed to the 1U google social justice group with the hopes that as many volunteers as possible will write to the noted government officials putting pressure on them to correct the abuse taking place.
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