Posted by Rev. Lissa Anne Gundlach

In this time of great uncertainty, the need for moral courage is critical.  With new injustices threatening the rights and freedoms of our nation on a daily basis, our religious community is not only a vital need, it is a valued resource.

Your gifts and pledges fuel our church’s mission to “proclaim justice in its many forms and take action towards systemic change and a compassionate, sustainable, and peaceful world.”

Here are just a few ways we’ve taken action as a church this year:

We helped settle a family of five Syrian refugees, integrating them into Southern California with a welcoming new apartment, teaching English, and providing transportation.  We continued the vibrant Building Bridges Interfaith Muslim solidarity event and deepened our commitment to racial justice through programs like the New Jim Crow reading group and White People for Racial Justice.  Through our social justice offerings and the holiday Alternative Gift Market, we’ve sent over $30,000 to our community partners to sustain their work.  We also started an Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry working group at the church and a series of educational and community building events around the transgender community.  Most recently, we sent a full bus to the Women’s March as a part of our Healing Justice weekend while dozens more people spent the day community building and taking action on campus.

The Unitarian Universalist social justice song leader Ysaye Barnwell has recently said, “Songs come to you when you need them.”   Songs come to you when you’re feeling blue, bringing a joy that only music can bring. Songs come to you when you are facing a great challenge and in need of courage which is strengthened by the voices who sing alongside you and by the voices who have come before.

This little light of mine….

I’m gonna let it shine….

Lately this song echoes in my ears as I think of our pledge drive ahead and our church’s call to respond to these troubling times with our vision of an inclusive religious community connected by love, spirit, and service.

Neighborhood, it is our time to shine.

Our congregation is a beacon: a sanctuary of refuge and peace and a powerful force for justice.  And we are needed in these times more than ever. This year, we need you to help us to keep the beacon of our light burning strong. Bold contributions from our members will help us live bravely into our mission next year, funding our social justice and other important programs. A plentiful pledge drive will help us fund our religious education program fully for its new chapter.  A plentiful drive will ensure our facilities are welcoming and accessible for our visitors, newcomers, and long-term members of all ages, abilities, and identities. A plentiful drive will ensure fair compensation for our staff.

Thank you for your contributions to our church this fiscal year. We are excited to introduce two new categories of giving for the upcoming year. As you may know, Neighborhood Church requires approximately $2000 per household to operate with our current membership and budget. Going forward, we will be recognizing those households and individuals who contribute $2000 or more as Sustaining Members. Those who contribute $3600 or more annually or $300 monthly will be recognized as Lead Donors.

Please consider joining our Sustaining and Lead Donor circles. If Sustaining or Lead giving levels aren’t appropriate for you or your family’s budget, I invite you consider stretching to make a gift that feels right for you. As always, we have many payment options for fulfilling your pledge. If you haven’t already, please consider making your pledge payments regularly through automatic bill pay or the church’s pay pal account. You can review all the payment options and make a payment on our website at http://neighborhooduu.org/pledge/.

Our pledge drive kicked off Feb. 12th and is now in full swing—please turn in cards over the coming Sundays at the Stewardship table, with your canvasser or Neighborhood Neighbors meeting or in the church office.  If you would like to discuss your pledge, please let me know. Thank you for participating in these efforts and for your ongoing generosity to our church.

I end with a quote from John Murray, one of the founders of our Universalist tradition.

“You may possess only a small light, but uncover it, let it shine, use it in order to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. Give them not Hell, but hope and courage. Do not push them deeper into their theological despair, but preach kindness and everlasting love.”

So let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

With gratitude,

Rev. Lissa