Thursday, July 3, 2014

Who's Who of Thursday Supper! Gerry Edition

This week we interviewed Gary, Frances' husband.

1.  What's your name?
"Gerry Lee"

2.  Where are you from?
"Athens, Ohio."
3.  What is your favorite food?

4.  Where is you favorite place in Athens?

5.  What do you like the most about Thursday Supper/
"Friends and good food."

6.  What is an interesting fact about you that most people might not know?   
"Eight heart attacks... still alive. Quit smoking."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Who's Who of Thursday Supper! Frances Edition

As new interns at United Campus Ministry this summer, we decided that it is time to get to know more about the people who attend, volunteer and are involved with Thursday Supper. This week we are featuring Frances, a regular at Thursday Supper:

1.  What's your name?

2.  Where are you from?

3.  What is your favorite food?
"Soup beans. I love soup beans."

4.  Where is your favorite place in Athens?  Why?
"I don't know... here."

5.  What do you like most about Thursday Supper? Why?
"I guess...rice with beef stew.  I think you had it two or three weeks ago."

6.  What is an interesting fact about you that people might not know?
"Love to sew...make quilts."


Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Annual Holiday Letter

Dear Friends of UCM,
Really, I’d planned on a witty and entertaining holiday fundraiser, like last year and the year before. I thought I’d write a takeoff on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” “On the first day of Christmas, my interns (or maybe donors) gave to me. . . .” But I never got that one written, and I think it’s because there’s something I need to say more.
We’re not always clear with you about what we do here at UCM, and why. You know a lot about us--about Thursday Supper and Saturday Lunch, about the alternative winter and spring break service/learning trips, about our stream cleanups and community service days and our interfaith organizing and community-building and our ministry to the LGBTQ community and our public witness on social justice issues. And I know you care that we feed the people we feed, and help the people we help, and clean up the things we clean up, and say the things we say. But sometimes we give you the idea that those things are at the heart of what we do, when really they’re the means to an end. And the end is . . . well, it seems silly when I write it out like this, but the end is to save the world.
First, last, and always, we are a campus ministry. And the students we serve have grown up and are coming of age in a world in need of fixing, one plagued by massive economic inequality and injustice, environmental havoc, and violent discord between people of different faiths. They have every reason to despair, to concern themselves with their own survival and to disregard the plight of others--and yet they yearn for the chance, and the spiritual energy and discipline, to make a difference. What we really do at UCM is give them that chance, over and over again. And over and over again, they’re transformed by the experience. Honestly? You and I will not be around long enough to fix everything that’s broken. Any fixing that gets done will get done by people, young now, who have felt this kind of transformation, who have learned how to connect the life they’re choosing for themselves with the things they believe in their hearts. For almost 60 years UCM has been a part of transformations like that.
At the same time, the institutional expressions of our various faith traditions--the denominations, associations, and other structures that support our various communities and movements--face dwindling resources, increased costs associated with their various ministries, and a suspicion among many younger people that the institutions themselves are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Often over the last decade or two these institutions have responded by diverting funds away from campus ministry--especially from ecumenical and interfaith ministries that aren’t explicitly identified with a specific denomination. So that chunk of our annual income has been shrinking--and we can expect it to keep shrinking.
This change in our funding stream is coinciding with two other changes--one you know about, and one you may not:
Change #1: The global economic climate. We share your pain on this one; like you, UCM is trying to make do with less, and like many of you we find ourselves faced with the possibility that we’ll simply have to DO less. But then there’s
Change #2: Despite the money thing, the relevance and effectiveness of UCM’s ministry is growing by leaps and bounds, more every year and especially this year. Whether you measure it by numbers of students participating in our programs, depth of their participation, or awareness of our ministry and mission in the campus community, UCM continues to make a difference here--and the difference we make continues to grow!
To borrow a question from our Interfaith Impact meetings, though -- “so what?” For me the “so what?” is a two-part challenge from me to you.
Part #1: Think about UCM’s world-saving mission, our growing impact on the OU and Athens communities and our transformative influence on the students we meet. Decide how much that amazing work is worth to you. And support UCM to a degree that matches your commitment to the work we do.
Part #2: Help us to get to know the people you know who don’t know us. We need to reach more people with the good news of our ministry here at OU, and the best way to do that is to enlist you, who already believe in what we do, as our goodwill ambassador. Pick a few friends you think would feel as you do about us, and talk to them about why you support us. Encourage them to give us a call, drop by, or make a donation online through our website--we’d love to meet them!
Thanks to our generous donors, UCM has been blessed with meaningful work to do, and the means to do it, for nearly 60 years. Please consider making a contribution now to help us continue our world-saving work. UCM is a registered 501(C)(3) non-profit organization--your contributions are tax-deductible and will finance operating, facilities, and programming expenses. Thank you for your generous ongoing support--we couldn’t do it without you!
With best wishes from the whole UCM family--
Rev. Evan Young, Campus Minister

Friday, September 2, 2011

Better Together

So, we're planning this Interfaith Peace Walk for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And we send out a press release, and a reporter contacts me and says he's doing a story about the declining level of compassion and unity in the years since 9/11 brought us all together, and can he ask me a couple of questions? Here's how the exchange went:

Him: Why does it take a tragedy to bring us all together?

Me: We humans are creatures of compassion. We see another’s suffering, we recognize it as in some sense our own, and we respond with kindness, concern, respect, and generosity. This is built into us, it’s how we are able to do community. But most of the time we’re distracted from our common humanity—we feel separate, we think our suffering is special, we don’t consider the suffering of others legitimate. Until a tragedy strikes that we all in some way experience—through news coverage, through personally feeling the tragedy’s impact or knowing someone who feels it, whatever. In the days following 9/11 we recognized each other as suffering the same pain, fear, and loss, and our compassion took over. In time we went back to feeling separate and not well understood, and we returned to feeling alienated from each other. We forgot that common thread that unites us.

Him: What happened to all that unity [we felt in the days following the attacks?

Me: Well, see above. But there’s more. Because the stories we hear and see most often are about difference, division, and conflict—how Republicans disagree with Democrats, how Muslims hate Christians or Jews, how the poor resent the rich, how the rich think the poor want a free ride, and on and on. Stories of unity, of bridge-building across persistent divisions, don’t get the same kind of attention—even though they’re happening every day, in communities all over the country. Take our Interfaith Peace Walk—and Better Together, the year-long interfaith community building campaign of which the walk is a part. The walk and the campaign tell a story of all kinds of people working together to make the campus and the community better--and judging by the numbers and enthusiasm of the people who want to participate, it’s a compelling story. But I’d be very surprised if we make the cover of Newsweek.


I liked my answers, so I thought I'd share them with you. If you like them, you should think about getting involved with our Better Together campaign at Ohio University. This is our year.

-Rev Evan Young

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reflections of a UCM Intern

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rachel Hyden, I’m a senior at Ohio University studying public relations and I’m the PR intern for United Campus Ministry. If you follow UCM on Facebook or Twitter, you probably see my updates, and if you walk through campus and see flyers for events, well, those are mine too. My duty is to make UCM visible to the public so all of the Athens and Ohio University community will know just how hard UCM works for spiritual growth, social justice and community service.

Recently UCM has partnered with Ohio University to take on President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, a nation-wide call of action to advance interfaith cooperation and community service in higher education. The campaign will focus on organizing around the issues of water security and poverty, and I am fortunate enough to be involved as a student leader in charge of water security.

Because I am in a leadership position, I, along with UCM’s Campus Minister Evan Young, will be attending the Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) in Washington D.C. from July 25 to July 28. The Institute is sponsored by Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit organization supporting religious pluralism on campuses across the country. The purpose of the ILI is to equip students, staff and faculty to lead an interfaith movement on their universities campus. Since Ohio University is committing a year to interfaith service, this Leadership Institute will prepare me to help lead this movement.

            As I said before, my position in the campus challenge is as a student leader for water security. I am very enthusiastic when it comes to clean water advocacy, and am genuinely excited that I was chosen for this role in the campaign. I’ll be putting my passion into action by organizing stream cleanups in Southeast Ohio as well as educational events focused on the importance of clean water. A good portion of my agenda for the challenge will be focused on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a method of oil and gas drilling that can contaminate ground water, essentially ruining our right to clean drinking water.

            My interest in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, stems from my work as a Clean Water Fellow with the Ohio Sierra Club. I was awarded the fellowship in mid May and have been working on the issue ever since. I do quite a lot of research and even more educational advocacy. I find it highly important that this community be properly informed of the dangers this method of drilling poses, and have made it my utmost priority as a Clean Water Fellow to do my very best at securing clean water for my community.

I am so thankful that UCM has been open to my work with the Sierra Club and that I’ve been given this opportunity to lead a movement according to my passion for water security. Sometimes I can’t believe how things have turned out, just a year ago I had no idea what I was doing with my life, but now, having had experience working for social justice and water security, I know I have found where I truly belong. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

UCM Social Justice Awards!

The Board of Directors of United Campus Ministry is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2011 UCM Social Justice Awards! Join us in a ceremony and celebration of their activism and efforts to promote peace and justice in our community and beyond.

Special music by Divine Covering OU gospel choir. Refreshments will be provided and the event is free and open to all!

Congratulations to our 2011 recipients:

Appalachian Peace and Justice Network for conflict resolution and alternatives to military service education in public schools.

Future Women of Appalachia, an OU student group, for empowering girls and young women in Appalachia.

Good Earth Farm for sustainable agriculture and food security.

Elisa Young for anti-coal and environmental justice activism.

And Bill Sams (posthumous) for his commitment to workers’ rights.

The Kuhre Griesinger Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual or organization that has received at least one UCM Social Justice Award and demonstrates a high level of sustained social justice activism. This years award goes to Dr. Francine Childs for a lifetime of advocacy and activism in civil rights, nonviolent social change, women and children, and education.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To Celebrate or to Weep?

Osama bin Laden is dead. Shot in the head by Americans during a raid on the house where he was staying in Pakistan. And I'm challenged by my faith.

My own Unitarian Universalist tradition embraces the inherent worth and dignity of every person. And teaches justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. 

I feel these convictions in my heart, and yet I don't know where in my heart to find compassion for this man; I don't know what justice would look like given what he did; I struggle to see the worth in a life spent sowing hatred and plotting destruction.

The Christian tradition in which my own is rooted counsels the believer to "love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5). 

It's no great reach for me to pray for the souls and the families of those who died in the attacks this man planned, and in the compassionate and heroic response to those attacks. I suspect that hating him and the others who executed his plans is beyond me—but I'm not sure it should be, and I'm a little embarrassed not to find that hatred in my heart. On the other hand, I'm not sure I can find my way all the way to loving him.

The Jewish tradition from which Christianity springs says, "Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble" (Proverbs 24). And at the core of that tradition, in the Ten Commandments, we are told, "You shall not kill."

I have never believed that I would be able, in a life-or-death situation, to kill another person. But I have never been in such a situation. And I can love and extend compassion toward those who, face to face with him, found it in them to kill Osama bin Laden.

How then to respond to this event? I can imagine weeping–in sadness, and in relief. Sadness because any death we deal out to any one of us, no matter who, diminishes us all; relief because the specter of fear and harm and mayhem bin Laden personified has been lifted from us all. I can imagine prayer—because a soul in the kind of turmoil this event has produced must give voice to its anguish, must seek solace, must frame in words its yearning for understanding and guidance and order. And I can imagine asking forgiveness–for bin Laden and for all who prayed for his death; for President Obama who bears the burden of having ordered him killed; for our soldiers who faithfully carried out those orders; for the families of his victims who yearned for revenge; and for all of us who, time after time, lash out in fear and anger when we are hurt, though we know the better course is compassion. I can’t imagine cheering, or celebrating, or pumping my fist or waving a flag.

I understand that as flawed and fallen humans we sometimes feel inevitably compelled to take the life of another. And I understand that the turmoil produced by that compulsion might move us to justify our actions, to proclaim our right to vengeance, to take it upon ourselves to decide what is justice and to mete that out with a lordly hand. But I believe that at such times the best in us is that piece that humbly asks forgiveness for transgressing a divine law we revere but cannot fully embrace. Can we accept that we felt we had to do this, that it goes against what we believe, and that our lot is to live with the consequences? That would be a hopeful sign indeed.

-Rev. Evan Young