rev Claudia JiménezThis Sunday is Celebration Sunday at UU Asheville, an opportunity to reflect on abundance–the generosity of time, talent, presence and resources in our faith community. I won’t be joining you because I will be supporting the planning for the May 15 Coming of Age youth service, one of the most meaningful, moving services of the year and one you really don’t want to miss! The commitment to supporting our youth on their spiritual journey is one of the many gifts this congregation offers our faith community. This year ten mentors, four facilitators and our Religious Educator Jen Johnson, with the support of the youths’ families, have provided a meaningful experience of reflection, community building, and spiritual deepening for our youth. Celebremos!

Last night I led the final Vespers and Program for this year focusing on Beauty, Justice, and Eco-theology. Wednesday Vespers will resume in September. We gathered online to reflect, listen to music, share joys and sorrows, build community, and explore our relationship with the Earth. This was just one of our many Wednesday gatherings offered online for the past two years and led by creative, committed volunteers. This wouldn’t happen without your support and participation. Celebremos!

I could go on and on sharing my appreciation for all that is happening at UU Asheville despite the trauma and losses of the pandemic. In October of last year, Adam Griffith invited staff to document all who serve in leadership roles on boards, committees, and taskforces. We documented over 80 people, and that list doesn’t include the over 50 people who support the BeLoved pantry, more than 30 who are part of the Circle of Welcome for an Afghan family as well as all the volunteers for Religious Exploration, participants in Soul Matters Groups, Wednesday program facilitators and so forth. You get the idea! There is mucho que celebrar!

 I see my role as Minister of Faith Development to serve as a catalyst to invite you to explore theology, spiritual practices, and community as you discern how to use your gifts, presence, and resources to put your UU faith in action. Many of you are doing that, and for that I say Celebremos!

A more personal celebración this month was a trip to Long Beach, California to attend the Finding Our Way Home retreat for religious professionals of the Global Majority sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association. That is one of many activities the UUA organizes and finances to support congregations and religious professionals. I gathered with colleagues from all over the country: ministers, religious educators, music directors, administrators, membership coordinators, and lay leaders to heal, mourn colleagues who died during the past year, to worship, to learn, and relish each other’s company. We hadn’t been able to meet during the past two years, so this retreat was truly a homecoming. I share this because our congregation is not a Fair Share congregation in the UUA, which means we do not pay our complete dues (6.5% of our budget) to the UUA. I hope one day we will be able to fulfill our obligation. The UUA supports congregations in ways we are often unaware of. Interim minister training and support is provided by the UUA. My journey to full fellowship as a UU minister was supported by UUA staff. Training for our religious educators and consultants who we reach out to support Faith Development are provided by the UUA. In such a privileged congregation, this feels like a shortcoming we should be aware of.

Beloveds, tenemos mucho que celebrar, we have much to celebrate! This journey of ministry enriches my life because working with you, getting to know you, and learning together how to put our faith in action continues to be challenging, transformative, and a blessing, una benedición. May you also feel blessed, challenged, and transformed by your connection with this faith community.

Un abrazo,
Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Minister of Faith Development

Equitable, Affordable Housing in Asheville, Past and Present, Sunday, May 15, 12:30pm, Sanctuary

After coffee in Sandburg Hall, head back to the Sanctuary to view This Divided Land, a 20-minute film that was made by Asheville Habitat for Humanity. Andy Barnett, the Executive Director of Asheville Habitat, will be here to answer questions about the film and to discuss their contributions to providing equitable affordable housing in our community.

After discovering a racial covenant on a property developed for affordable housing, Asheville Habitat decided to learn more about discriminatory housing practices that took place in our community, how those shaped our city, and how practices like racial covenants have contributed to current day racial disparities.

Justice Ministry Film: Suppressed and Sabotaged, Friday, May 13, 7pm, Zoom

Logo of film titleSuppressed and Sabotaged: The Fight To Vote (2022) is a powerful documentary about the growing threat of voter suppression and election sabotage. In 2021,19 states passed 34 new voter laws following the 2020 Presidential Election. The film focuses  on this recent wave of voter suppression and subversion laws being enacted in states, and how the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp provides a deplorable example of today’s voter suppression laws across the country.

The film includes perspectives from voters in Arizona, Florida, and Texas that highlight how these new laws will affect their constitutional right to vote. Suppression tactics covered in the film include: registration hurdles; polling place closures; voter purges; missing absentee ballots; extreme wait times at polling locations; exact match disqualifications; new vote-by-mail limitations; changes to ballot collection and drop off; and more. Voter suppression laws disproportionately affect American Students, Senior Citizens, Black, Indigenous, Latine, and People of Color from casting their ballots. Suppressed and Sabotaged is a  call to action against the calculated, unconstitutional and racist attacks intended to suppress the right to vote in America.

Note: This film will be viewed on Zoom.  Send a request for the link to Charlie Wussow at mnpopi@icloud.com by Thursday, May 12th.  There will be a discussion after the screening of the film.

Official Trailer                      https://youtu.be/_RhrbEh-osI                           runtime: 44 minutes

Earth Day Service

Sunday, April 24, 2022 11am  In person
Rev. Claudia Jimenez, Minister of Fatih Development
Join us for a time to reflect on the Earth that sustains us, grieve the damage we humans have inflicted upon it and recommit ourselves to act collectively for environmental justice.