Support for Afghan Refugees – In the past several months, our congregation has donated several carloads of goods for the Afghan refugees.  We have delivered winter clothing, baby items, dishes, cookware, and other necessities to Catholic Charities and the International Institute for them to give to the Afghans as they resettle in our community.

One carload of items collected for the Afghan refugees resettling in Erie.

Rev. Kristina’s article in the February 13 Erie Times-News:

Rev. Kristina Church: What if Valentine’s Day was more than flowers and candy?


What love looks like in public

Reflections, by Kristina Church 

[Faith page of Erie Times-News, Feb. 13, 2021]

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” Dr. Cornel West

Sunday is Valentine’s Day, a time to rededicate ourselves to love. We celebrate a relationship with a partner, or hope for affirmation from that special crush. We collectively spend sums on heart-shaped candy and flowers that could fund a justice movement several times over. While lucky couples frolic in delight, far too many of us feel lonely and left out of the festivities. But maybe it’s our definition of love that has been too narrow.

As our hearts grow in capacity, we’re called to move beyond the confines of our own personal lives, and work for justice here in our community. What if Valentine’s Day was more than flowers and candy? What if we made it a day of justice-making and truth-telling, all in the service of love for this beautiful world?

There is always possibility for faithful action springing from our deeply held values, even in the midst of a pandemic. To paraphrase the words of the late Elandria Williams, a national lay leader in Unitarian Universalism: There is a second pandemic that has been raging on for hundreds of years, the pandemic of racism.

Many with privileged identities have stood by for decades, looking away and sitting on our hands, while systemic racism has blighted the lives of those who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color. We must commit to undo and repair that legacy.

Each of us can do something. Maybe we can’t attend a protest, but could we support a cause we believe in. Maybe we don’t have lots of money, but we could commit to making phone calls seeking to stop police brutality or end mass incarceration. Maybe we’re short on time, but we could donate to an organization in need, or vow to patronize Black-owned businesses here in Erie. Love will always find a way.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May our hearts expand to enfold the entire world in a faithful embrace. Every member of our human family deserves a world where we can thrive. This is what love looks like in public.

We are accepting monetary donations to support the West Millcreek Food Pantry at this time. You can send checks to UUCE, PO Box 3495, Erie, PA 16509 and we will forward all donations to the food pantry. Thank you for supporting this important work at this time of food insecurity for so many.

The following social justice activities are suspended or happening remotely during the building closure due to the pandemic.

five at MLK walkThe Caring Team, a dedicated group of congregants who respond to needs within the congregation and beyond, prepares and delivers sack lunches once a month for the Upper Room Homeless Shelter.

Our congregational Safenet Project buys holiday gifts for women and children who are in temporary housing to escape domestic violence as well as donating to year round personal needs.

BLM lectureThe Teen RE program’s social justice efforts included Standing on the Side of Love activities. Local Erie Activist Marcus Atkinson gave a talk on Black Lives Matter. Later the teens participated in their first ever Martin Luther King Jr. march which was followed by a luncheon event at Gannon University. They were joined by the adults in the congregation who attend the march annually. Teens have also studied Eboo Patel, Founder and President of the Interfaith Youth Core.

The Inspire Team participates in the Annual Gay Pride Parade and Pride Picnic.

In past years, with all viewpoints receiving due consideration, our congregation took public stands supporting same-gender marriage, and advocating a moratorium on capital punishment.

As well, for the sake of racial justice and alleviating mass incarceration which adversely impacts families, our Congregation strongly encouraged Erie City Council to enact appropriate legislation decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana for non-medical, personal use.