Jun 152016
 June 15, 2016

Build for Unity — invitation to UUSS for an interfaith Habitat project

Posted by Rev Roger

Posted on June 15, 2016

From my June 12 sermon “Beyond Religion”: 

This brings me to a telephone call I received recently.  Jeff VonKanel, the publisher of the Sacramento News & Review is a member of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento.  He was eager to tell me that they are launching a project entitled Build for Unity.  This is an effort of a diversity of local religious institutions to promote cooperation across faiths, and solidarity with Muslim congregations.  The motivation for this outreach was the desire to respond to anti-Muslim hostility and suspicions now plaguing our country and our community.  In particular, these leaders were troubled by the recent escalation of anti-Muslim rhetoric in political campaigns.  After today’s atrocity in Orlando, I can imagine this hostility will get worse.

The goal of this project is to demonstrate that Muslim families are not only our neighbors but also contributing and caring members of the community.  Another goal is to build homes in this area for two families between August and December of this year.  (Habitat has identified two families of Ukrainian immigrants for these homes.)

To promote fellowship and connections, Build for Unity events will be hosted by various congregations in this region, with food at those events, of course, and activities for children.  It started in January, with a ceremony at the Sikh house of worship with a shared meal following.  People were invited to sign their names on plywood boards and add their good wishes and blessings.  The plywood will be part of the frame of each new house.  He invited me to invite you to participate as a congregation.

Here is what comes next.  Leaders have designed and written an eight-page publication to raise awareness of this project; it will invite people to participate, by giving of their time, labor and money.  Several congregations have signed on, and their names will be listed as partners in this project.  In July this publication will be distributed as an insert in the Sacramento Bee and in the News and Review.  Additional copies will be delivered to congregations all over the place.  A web version will appear online.

Jeff, the Habitat for Humanity board member, is present with us today.  He told me their vision is to launch Build for Unity projects in over 100 cities around the country, but Sacramento is where it starts.

To have our name listed as a sponsor, the donation from UUSS would be $1,000 or more.  The money goes toward publicity and toward the materials needed to start building the houses.  The Build for Unity project is going to distribute 200,000 copies of this insert in a few weeks.  I asked our Board of Trustees to approve the listing of our UUSS name with the other sponsors.  They said yes.  They also authorized me to invite donations from you to help cover the $1,000.  I hope you will think about it.

If you would like to make a donation, send or bring a check to the office at USS (Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00) or hand one to Rev. Lucy or me.  Make it to “UUSS” with “Habitat” in the memo line.  (Cash in an envelope needs the same designation.)

If you’re into building a house or two–and building friendships as you do it–we’ll be hearing about that soon.[1]

Of course, there are many ways to build fellowship and partnerships based in our shared humanity.  May this most recent local innovation give us hope.

[1] See the Build for Unity kickoff video at this link.

See Habitat for Humanity’s BUILD for Unity at this link:  http://habitatgreatersac.org/get-involved/buildforunity/

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