Offering Outreach: Children's Safe Harbor

Amparo de la Ninez DonationRev. Morgan McLean recently visited the Philadelphia offices of neighborhood non-profit Amparo de la Niñez, or Children’s Safe Harbor. McLean was there to present a donation to the organization’s directors, Felipe and Iris Myrtha Castro, on behalf of the church’s Offering Outreach program.

Felipe and Iris Castro founded Amparo de la Niñez 26 years ago, with the intention of keeping children focused, educated, and engaged in positive activities throughout their lives. The successful non-profit is rooted in the community, offering music, art, poetry, and computer classes to children ages 6 through 12.

Felipe was happy to show Rev. Morgan around the facilities, describing Amparo’s many classes and activities, including a weekly radio program.

“It helps get the word out,” Castro said. “Kids train with the equipment, then are interviewed and play music or read poetry.”

Castro also commented on the impressive longevity of the organization. “Been going 26 years,” he chuckled, “now some kids are back as adults to volunteer.”

All of Amparo’s programs, including the extremely accomplished Celestial Voices Choir, are run by volunteer staff. The operating budget comes completely from donations such as the one provided by Main Line Unitarian Church (MLUC). Amparo de la Niñez was chosen as the church’s Offering Outreach recipient for the month of March, resulting in a $2,292 donation from the congregation’s Sunday collections.

Rev. McLean said of her visit, “It was a pleasure meeting Felipe and Iris. Their commitment to the community is inspiring, and Amparo de la Niñez does an amazing job of instilling good values in young people. I’m so glad MLUC has been able to partner with them.”

Photo: Rev. Morgan McLean of Main Line Unitarian Church (left) presents a donation of $2,292 to Felipe Castro, Founder and Director of Amparo de la Niñez, with assistance from church member Mimi Collins, who also volunteers with Amparo.

Coffeehouse Featuring Orion Freeman

OrionSaturday, April 26, 6:30 p.m.

The Coffeehouse at MLUC returns! This month we will be featuring the talented singer-songwriter Orion Freeman. Open mic sessions will precede and follow Orion’s performance. Sign-up begins at 6:30; music kicks off at 7:00. No admission charge; free snacks and soft drinks; wine/beer available for a donation.

Orion Freeman is a singing, songwriting, guitar-playing seeker from the woods just beyond the mortar and bricks of Philadelphia. His souled-out, reggae-infused, flamenco-tinged, bluesy folk-rock aspires to move: your shoes; your heart; the cobwebs, so as to allow your soul to shine.

Hovering somewhere within the chasm between the worldly and the divine, his music is an intimate glimpse into the spiraling states of freedom and folly, playfulness and prayer. Orion has been hard at work on his debut full-length, fully orchestrated record, The Divine Game, due out later this year.

Maura Dwyer accompanies on cello and fiddle, creating sonic tapestries of harmony and texture, swirling out from within the core of Orion’s heartfelt tunes. Perched upon her active world of performance and teaching, from classical cello to Irish fiddle, Maura is also the mother of two future rock stars!

Events sponsored by the Music Committee of MLUC.

A New Adventure for Joy Berry

JoyBerry1Try as I might, I can’t seem to come up with a good way to start this letter. Sometimes there is no chance to segue gracefully into the changes life hands us. And yet, we have to step forward into them. I need to let you know that I will be saying goodbye to Main Line Unitarian Church and all of you good people at the end of this church year, June 30. My husband and I have made a decision to relocate to North Carolina, where I will continue my work in religious education at the UU Congregation of Asheville, and he will transition into work as a science teacher.

It’s been nearly two years since I began getting to know all of you, and your children and youth. It’s been a time of great growth and opportunity for me as a religious educator, and I want to thank you for that. I have been truly blessed by this congregation’s support and trust for me, even as I encouraged changes to programming and worship that asked a little more of everyone. But being here was challenging for our family; my husband was not able to find employment in his field of expertise, and we found the 1,000 miles that separated us from family an insurmountable challenge—my husband and children have missed our parents and grandparents terribly. And, especially as my parents age and their health declines, I find I want to be closer to them.

This congregation has much to be hopeful about and proud of. Dedicated and inspired lay leaders and committees, mature and enthusiastic volunteers, highly competent and creative staff, and strong ministerial leadership are the rule in this congregation. The Religious Education program will continue to thrive and grow with all their support, and with the trust and vision of the congregation as a whole.

It’s bittersweet to consider leaving this program and congregation. I hope I have planted seeds of change and health that will thrive, even as you all co-create the details of the faith development garden to come. At the same time, I am excited about the opportunity for growth and change I will experience in the coming years. I hope the health and vitality we have experienced together here will continue to accompany all of us, even as we part ways.

In deepest gratitude for the time and work we have shared ~ Joy


 

We hope you will join us in congratulating Joy and wishing her and her family all the best as they prepare for an exciting new opportunity in Asheville, NC. We know that our congregation greatly appreciates Joy’s years of leadership in our Religious Education program, and we are grateful to her for her insight, her energy, her depth of vision, and her tireless devotion to our church’s children and youth and their families.

The process is already underway to assure continuity in MLUC’s lifespan faith development programs. We have been in conversation with denominational officials and staff and leaders of our church, and we are moving steadily toward filling the position of Director of Religious Education this August. 

There will be many opportunities to wish Joy well in these next three months. We encourage you to visit the special event on our Facebook page to add your good wishes.

Yours in our faith ~

Rev. Evan Keely, Interim Senior Minister,

Rev. Morgan McLean, Associate Minister