“Love is the spirit of this Church and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love and to help one another.” We say this every week at our Fellowship as we light our chalice. We are a small congregation, but we have many members who are active in the community with organizations that serve the community in a variety of ways. Because we support our members in their endeavors and in their fight for various social justice issues, we also support those organizations monetarily, through attendance at events and encouraging others to become members of those organizations.
FIGHTING FOOD INSUFFICIENCY
The UUFLV is a member of the Ligonier Valley Association of Churches and the Fellowship is very active in the programs of the Association that combat food insufficiency.
1. The Association has their own Ligonier Food Pantry that distributes food in connection with the Westmoreland County Food Bank. Each congregation that is a member of the Association, commits to the collection of 50 units or more of a particular item of food 5-6 times a year and makes sure that collection is at the Pantry for the monthly distribution.
2. Every year in October, the Association and our Fellowship, takes part in the CROP Hunger Walk which is a program of Church World Services. CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. We raise money and also provide walkers for the event. Our Fellowship has for many years, despite being one of the smaller congregations in the Association, collected the most amount of money and often had the most walkers.
3. Through the Association and the Westmoreland County Food Bank, our Fellowship also once a year pays for and gathers volunteers to do the Fresh Express outside Food distribution. This provides fresh dairy, produce and canned goods to those who are designated by the Food Bank to be eligible.
4. The major fundraiser of our Fellowship is our yearly Used and Unique Sale that takes place every October and raises money for the Westmoreland County Food Bank and for the Ligonier Food Pantry. The Fellowship keeps none of the money. Folks in the Fellowship donate sale items and then there is a one day sale that is open to the community. We have done this for 13 years and during that time, $23,099.00 has been raised. Items that are left from the sale also go to various organizations such as Union Mission, the Welcome Home Shelter, St. Vincent DePaul, various nursing homes, and other charitable organizations that the Sale Committee chooses.
5. The Fellowship also donates money from the Beulah Rosen Committee for Social Concerns to the Westmoreland County Food Bank and the Ligonier Food Pantry.
LGBTQIA JUSTICE AND EQUALITY
During the years 2005-2007, the Fellowship worked on the UU program to become a Welcoming Congregation which we did become. Shortly thereafter, several former and current members of the UUFLV realized there were no active LGBTQIA groups in Westmoreland County. They then contacted people who were from the clergy of various denominations, teachers, social workers, counselors and other helping professions, started meeting and eventually formed a group called the Westmoreland LGBTQ Collaborative. Out of that, came 2 distinct organizations that in 2010 became PFLAG Greensburg and the Westmoreland LGBTQ Interfaith Network. PFLAG Greensburg is one of 400 chapters of PFLAG National and the Westmoreland LGBTQ Interfaith Network is a non-profit that includes clergy and involved lay-leaders from a number of denominations. Currently the presidents of both organizations are members of the UUFLV and other members of the UUFLV are officers or members of both organizations.
The focus of PFLAG Greensburg is to provide support, education and advocacy for the LGBT and allied community which is done through monthly meetings, training and education programs to the community and events that will draw attention to the issues of the LGBTQ community that require legislation to prevent discrimination. The mission of the Westmoreland LGBTQ Interfaith network is a group of people who affirm the Spirituality of all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning people and provide pastoral care and education on LGBTQ issues.
Members of the UUFLV are often present at the offered trainings and events.
The Westmoreland LGBTQ Interfaith Network holds the Sue Lau Memorial Labyrinth event in May that is open to the public, but particularly those in the LGBTQIA community who are looking for a spiritual experience. Dr. Sue Lau was a member of the UUFLV, was a monthly speaker at the Fellowship for decades as she was professor of Religion, was a founding member of the Westmoreland LGBTQ Interfaith Network and served as secretary until her death. It was her idea to do the labyrinth which was done for several years with Sue and her husband Fred serving as the labyrinth builder leaders and then after her death, the labyrinth has continued in her honor.
PFLAG Greensburg holds an Annual Pride in the Park Picnic every August and a December Holiday Party that are open to the public. Both organizations are very active in the community, supporting the events of other organizations such as the NAACP,Blackburn Center against domestic violence, Voice of Westmoreland, the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition, Wesley Family services, Mental Health America and others with information tables and education programs. They also march every year in the Greensburg Holiday Parade and Pittsburgh Pride. Members of the UUFLV often join in these events supporting the LGBTQ organizations. The Beulah Rosen Committee also gives a financial donation to each organization so work for the LGBTQ community can continue.
UUFLV CONNECTION TO OTHER RACIAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE GROUPS
Greensburg-Jeannette NAACP: We have a number of UUFLV members who are members of this Branch of the NAACP. They serve on the Branch Board and are also Committee Chairs. The Fellowship supports two of the major fundraisers of the Branch: the April Human Rights Banquet —with buying tickets and attendance and ads in the Banquet program as well as a donation to the scholarship fund and the October Fashion Show through buying tickets and attendance and ads in the program. Many UUFLV members also attend the Martin Luther King, Jr. program and the Black History Month Program that take place through the NAACP Branch.
Johnstown NAACP: Ed and Karlice Makuchan belong to his chapter in Cambria County where Karlice is Chair of the Black History Committee. They are a very active chapter with numerous committees and events. Two special events occur in June and January. They have over a weeklong series of events to celebrate Juneteenth that includes, panel discussions, health fair, historic roundtables, music, many children and youth activities, and a parade. The highlight is a Music Celebration at Peoples Natural Gas Park. Another important celebration is Martin Luther King Day in January. Special programs are planned for Black History Month.
Blackburn Center Against Domestic Violence: The Fellowship supports this organization through involvement in their April fundraiser called Walk A Mile in Her Shoes. The Fellowship gets a Stepping-up Sponsorship and also a number of UUFLV members walk in this event supporting many organizations who attend this major fundraiser. The Fellowship has had the CEO of Blackburn Center do services and other events to discuss the very serious issue of domestic violence and where people can get various forms of therapy and help.
The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition: We have 2 members of the UUFLV who serve on the board of this organization that presents educational programs and events to fight discrimination of all kinds. Members of the UUFLV have done trainings through the Diversity Coalition, attended the programs and attended rallies for various issues. Every year in October, the Diversity Coalition holds a Unity Celebration where various organizations can have information tables. The UUFLV has partnered with the 2 other UU congregations in Westmoreland County—Smithon and East Suburban to have an information table.
Voice of Westmoreland: this organization brings attention through meetings, programs, rallies to the various issues confronting our communities whether it is voting, environment, immigration, gun violence, racial injustice or police violence and a number of UUFLV members regularly attend these as well as being speakers. The Beulah Rosen Fund has also donated money to support the organization and their programs.