Youth Learn About Fair Trade During Nicaragua Trip

MLUCNicaraguaThree teenagers from Main Line Unitarian Church (MLUC) now have a much clearer picture of the social injustice that exists outside of the United States. Justin MacDonald, Tyler McDowell, and Mercedes Reyes spent two weeks in Nicaragua last summer on a trip with Witness for Peace, a politically independent grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith. They recently gave a presentation to the MLUC congregation on what they learned and how the experience affected them.

During the trip, the travelers witnessed the effects of U.S. Trade Policy toward Central America, explored the benefits of Fair Trade, and immersed themselves in the culture and history of Nicaragua. Part of their visit included a home stay with a Nicaraguan family.

Mercedes Reyes admitted that the experience was very emotional, but has definitely impacted her buying habits here at home. “The trip to Nicaragua was like nothing I had ever experienced,” said Reyes. “It is in all honesty a beautiful country with beautiful people, but the people there go through many struggles that they do not deserve. I don’t think I could ever describe the emotional impact the trip had on me, but I did start trying to buy everything either fair trade or made in the U.S. in hopes that I can set an example for other people to do the same.”

Each student received a scholarship for the trip from the Craig Roberts Memorial Fund, set up by members and friends of MLUC to honor the life and work of Dr. Craig Roberts, a longtime church member. The late Dr. Roberts was an ardent advocate of social justice and eager for MLUC youth to be exposed to the lack of justice in many Latin American countries. He dedicated much of his time and energy working in post-civil war El Salvador.

Rev. Morgan McLean, Associate Minister of Main Line Unitarian Church, applauded Mercedes, Justin, and Tyler for sharing their experience with the congregation. She said, “I’m proud of the youth in our congregation for showing an interest in local and global social justice. Trips like the one to Nicaragua help shape Unitarian Universalist identity and allow a new generation to live the values of our denomination.”

Other recent volunteer trips have tapped into expanding Unitarian Universalist resources like the UU College of Social Justice, which helped congregants organize a mixed-group service trip to Haiti in January.

For more information on MLUC’s social justice initiatives, contact Communications Coordinator Adam McGrath ().

Photo (from left): Justin MacDonald, Tyler McDowell, and Mercedes Reyes spent two weeks in Nicaragua last summer as part of a Witness for Peace delegation. Each youth was supported with a scholarship from members and friends of Main Line Unitarian Church.

The Future of Religious Education at MLUC

Visioning for the Future, Honoring the Past
A UUA-Facilitated Conversation

Saturday, February 8, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

JoyBerryAll are invited to join together to talk about the ministry of religious education and faith development in our church. During this time we will share our knowledge of the history of RE at MLUC and look to the future, as we envision the program of faith formation we will work to create together. This work is covenantal in nature. All who have an interest in religious education and faith formation should plan to attend—lay leaders, board members, parents, elders, teachers, and youth are especially invited.

From the UUA: The word covenant has broad meaning. It is traditional religious language that refers to a “solemn agreement” or “promise from the heart.” Developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association in the early 1990s, Covenanting for Excellence in Religious Education is a facilitated process between a religious educator and a congregation for purposes of identifying a set of mutually agreed-upon commitments. In its current incarnation, this covenantal process considers present expectations of the congregation and outlines mutual hopes for the future of the program. It may be used as a tool for growth and deeper understandings for the congregation and religious educator, with identified resources, mutual commitments, and support systems. It can specify results expected and how these results will be achieved. The covenant should be a living document that represents more than a list of objectives and aspirations; it reflects a commitment to ongoing congregational transformation. A covenant reflects the quality of the relationships involved, rather than the contractual dimensions of employment.

Setting the stage for congregational change and transformation, a Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education deepens and strengthens the bonds of Unitarian Universalist community through intentional commitment to the common vision, awareness of faith development, and growth and change.

The covenanting process is conducted by trained facilitators, and includes the religious educator, parish minister and other church staff, lay leaders, and other interested congregants. It involves individual and group theological reflection and exploration of the congregation’s history and culture, clarifying and prioritizing goals and expectations, articulating a common vision, and celebrating the accomplishment in a special service.

A Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education invites us to place lifespan religious education and faith development at the center and heart of congregational life.
In this context of religious community, all aspects of congregation life are interconnected and are affected by the changes in priorities and ways in which leadership is shared.

Maria Harris, esteemed religious educator, offers us the philosophy that everything we do is educating religiously. Harris views the entire course of the congregation’s life as its curriculum, the context for its life-long creative and educative processes. Within this framework of Congregation as Curriculum we can identify five central aspects of Unitarian Universalist faith communities:

Social/Community—the people and relationships of the church, pastoral care networks, social events and community celebrations

Social Justice—service projects and social justice activities in the wider community

Worship—worship services and rituals practiced in the congregation

Learning—the more formal learning context of Religious Education classes, workshops, and adult programs, as well as the informal learning that comes from engaging in other aspects

Leadership—opportunities for all ages to learn and practice leadership skills; also the coaching and mentoring practices of professional staff and congregation leaders in empowering others

The Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education process is a stepping stone in the larger process of congregational transformation. Once created, the covenant is intended to be a vital and sacred part of a multigenerational faith community—a true “promise from the heart.”

Please plan to join us. Childcare and lunch will be provided. RSVP by February 3 to .

A UUA-Facilitated Conversation: Visioning for the Future, Honoring the Past

Religious Education at Main Line Unitarian Church


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

MLKServiceMonday, January 20, 8:00 a.m.
UU Society of Germantown

Opportunities abound for church members and friends to put their values into action during this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Dr. King championed the ideals of justice and compassion, and in honor of his legacy, Unitarian Universalists throughout the Philadelphia region will be engaging in a variety of community service projects on Monday, January 20. Make your day off a "day on" by joining in.

The day's events are sponsored and organized by the Unitarian Society of Germantown, located at 6511 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19119. Plan to meet there at 8:00 a.m. or carpool from MLUC. Visit to sign up for one of more than a dozen service projects, ranging from making soup for local soup kitchens to cleaning local schools to painting murals for local shelters. There is something for everyone, regardless of age.

The MLUC Social Action Leadership Team is sponsoring a specific project for the day, which is assembling and delivering winter emergency kits to clients of the Outreach Program of the Unitarian Universalist House of Philadelphia. The Outreach Program is a free, non-denominational service that helps adults 60 years and older remain safely in their homes. Even if you can't make it that day, you can donate items or cash for the emergency kits ahead of the event.

Donate 1–30 of the following items for the kits: alcohol wipes/hand sanitizer, tote bags, Band-Aids, breakfast/protein bars, votive candles, cookies, lap blankets, matches, small note pads/pens, raisins, tissues, bottled water. Items can be dropped in the lower leverl coat closet.

Look for more information in the Notes of the Week, E-Notes, and at the sign-up table outside the Main Meeting Room in January. For further information, contact Pam Fried.