Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Join the Interfaith Fast Action for Immigration Reform

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Join the Interfaith Fast Action for Immigration Reform Share/Save/Bookmark Sep 05, 2013

All summer long, you have been standing on the side of love with immigrant families. From California to Florida to New York (where Rev. Susan Karlson recently got arrested to raise awareness about the dire need for immigration reform), you are putting your faith in action!

Now, with Congress returning from their August Recess next week, we must escalate our work for immigrant justice. There will be many ways to plug into over the next few months and we’ve just revamped our resources page. Click here to learn more and get involved.

We are also really excited to announce that Standing on the Side of Love is joining with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition in a rolling Fast Action for Immigration Reform during the month of September.

Imagine hundreds of thousands of people of different faiths fasting and praying together in an act of solidarity and hope. Join us for a spiritual fast that will enable us to take on some of the suffering of our broken immigration system and focus more clearly on reflection and action for change. Demonstrate your solidarity with immigrant communities by fasting for just one meal, a day, or every week, or you can fast by abstaining from caffeine or social media or whatever would be spiritually important to you. All our denominations will be spreading the word, sharing our stories, and creating a huge moral movement for immigrant justice.

Click here commit to join with thousands of others across the country for the interfaith Fast Action for Immigration Reform.

Standing on the Side of Love will be co-hosting a webinar this coming Monday to help kick off the fast, where you can learn about the current status of immigration legislation and how to raise awareness. Click here to sign up for the webinar.

Together, we will ensure that our voices are heard in the halls of Congress. We will get just, compassionate immigration reform passed this year!

In faith,

Rev. Noel Andersen, UCC Minister, Interfaith Immigration Coalition Grassroots Chair, & Church World Service Grassroots Coordinator
Jennifer Toth, Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager

PS: Heads up–we are also gearing up to join local immigrant rights organizations in a National Day of Action for Dignity and Respect on October 5.

The message above went out on Thursday, September 5, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

Running with Pride

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Running with Pride Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 02, 2013
Candice Czubernat

This post was written by Candice Czubernat.

I recently did something I never would have imagined doing a few years ago. I ran a 5K with my dad, but it wasn’t just any 5K; it was a gay pride 5K. It was his idea and even though I pretty much loath running I said I’d do it. I was grateful he’d be willing to do something so publicly gay, for and with his lesbian daughter. I still pinch myself when I think about my dad, the most Christian guy I know, running alongside lesbian couples, drag queens, and men in Speedos and tutus. If this story couldn’t get any sweeter, my mom came to root us on. She was so cute as she chanted our names and took pictures of us as we ran. I was overcome with gratefulness for both my parents and for what felt like a huge deal for them… their first pride.

I quickly (less than 3 minutes in) realized I should have trained for this run. I began to wonder, “Oh dear god! How am I ever gonna make this 3 miles when I feel like I’m going pass out 3 minutes in?!?” I looked over at my dad and he was going strong. I felt proud that my 62-year-old dad was in shape and strong, but simultaneously wished he wasn’t in such good shape so he’d want to stop the insanity of it all as much as I did and walk. I had pictured us running the whole thing together, but the second a woman jogging with a stroller approached us my dad looked at me and said, “Candice, we can’t let a lady with a baby carriage pass us! Come on, let’s go.” I knew I was in trouble because there was no way I could go any faster, in fact I was ready to take it down a notch. Through heavy breathing I murmured, “Dad, go ahead. I’ll meet ya at the finish line.” And off he went.

Candice and Dad at Pride 5K

Candice and her dad at the 5K.

People, running this 5k was not easy! My legs felt like they were going to give out, I was covered in sweat and couldn’t get rid of my side ache for almost the entire 3 miles. But I was determined to finish and not walk the entire thing. So I alternated jogging and walking as much as I could muster. By the end I was exhausted and just as I could see the finish line, I looked over to my left and I saw huge, and I mean, huge signs that read, “God hates fags,” “You’re going to hell” etc. We’ve all seen them before and honestly the big signs don’t really bother me all that much. But, over a loud speaker a man yelled out, “Why can’t you be normal??!!” “Why can’t you be normal??!!” He said it over and over again. I told myself they were extreme people and to shake their words off. I’m not sure if it was because I was so truly exhausted that I couldn’t ignore them, but I had to fight back tears. My heart hurt. And as I ran past them I began to pray. I prayed for my heart, I prayed for their hearts, and I prayed for those whose own self doubt and hatred increase when they hear words of hate like this. I also began to pray for my current patients and those who I don’t know yet, but will someday see as a patient in therapy.

I’m a gay, Christian therapist and not the kind that says being gay or straight is better. My goal is to help people become more alive, connected and okay with who God created them to be, no matter what their sexual orientation. As I ran, I connected with something deep inside that reminded me of what it was like to ache with not feeling normal. I remembered begging God to change me and make me straight. I remembered feeling that there was no hope and no way out. It all came back in that moment as I ran down the middle of the road towards that finish line.

As I reflect back on this experience, I’m really glad it happened. Even though I no longer am filled with an ache and desire to change, it feels important to remember what it was like. It’s important so that I can join my patients in deeper ways when they too feel the ache and desire to be “normal.” I see people in therapy who need a place to process this ache of wishing they weren’t gay; people who are in gay relationships, but having problems within them; people who aren’t sure if they’re gay and have no one to talk to about it. I also see family members of those who are gay who need a place to talk about their feelings and beliefs around their gay family member. I beg you, do not let the voices of those around you, questioning why you can’t be normal, shut you down.

I want you to know there is hope. There is peace, joy, and a wonderful life that you can have. To see a therapist doesn’t mean you’re crazy, suicidal, or mentally unstable. It simply means for a time you need someone to help you sort through your internal world as you figure out what it means to be you. While it might always sting when we hear hateful words screamed through a bull horn, I promise you that there will be a time when you will be able to shake those feelings off and instead be filled with joy and gratefulness. Reach out today.

Candice Czubernat is a licensed mental health therapist and founder of The Christian Closet. The Christian Closet is a therapy practice for people who need a safe place to process their LGBTQ and faith identities. She sees her clients over Skype so that no matter where they are in the country, they can get the support needed.

Trayvon, You Will Not Be Forgotten

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Trayvon, You Will Not Be Forgotten Share/Save/Bookmark Jul 19, 2013

May I live my life so that Trayvon Martin did not die in vain.
May my anger give me strength to take action,
To stand my own ground, the ground of compassion,
The ground of justice which dwells beyond courts of law and its technicalities,
The ground of worth and dignity of every human being.

- From “A Prayer for those Whose Hearts are on Fire” by Rev. Meg Riley

Trayvon Martin’s family (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Here at Standing on the Side of Love HQ, we’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about the George Zimmerman verdict–grieving for Trayvon, digesting our personal reactions, and figuring out where we go from here. We’ve collected some of the responses to the verdict that have helped us find purpose in this tragedy and resources to help carry forward our work for justice. May we all channel our emotion toward a better tomorrow.


Television host and Unitarian Universalist Melissa Harris-Perry says, “I live in a country that makes me wish my sons away.”

Rev. Kathy Schmitz, in her sermon at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando:

“I would rather have a guilty man go free than see an innocent one convicted. I realize that, at its best, this is one of the things that our legal system is supposed to ensure… So let me grant for the current moment that those in the system did their jobs. And now I will do mine. Our legal system is broken. American’s legal system is incapable of achieving justices for all its citizens. In particular, it is powerless to ensure justice for its citizens of color.”

 Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow:

“If Trayvon Martin had been born white he would be alive today. That has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. If he had been white, he never would have been stalked by Zimmerman, there would have been no fight, no funeral, no trial, no verdict. It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty – far more than the man himself… Trayvon, you will not be forgotten. We will honor you – and the millions your memory represents – by building a movement that makes America what it must become.”

Carey McDonald, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries for the Unitarian Universalist Association, on the Blue Boat blog:

“When I look at this case I just don’t see the culpability of a single shooter, I witness the cruel matrix of violence, racism, ignorance and machismo that created the roles which these two individuals were fated to play… It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the magnitude of what it takes to push back against the waves of injustice that pound us against the rocks, particularly those of us on the receiving end of the American racial caste system we have inherited.”

Anti-racism activist Tim Wise was interviewed on CNN by Don Lemon (below) and wrote a poignant reflection entitled “No Innocence Left to Kill: Racism, Injustice and Explaining America to My Daughter.”

Rev. Jude Geiger of First Unitarian Brooklyn, in an article entitled “Pretend-Argue:”

“In our national dialogue we pretend-argue that something is or isn’t racist when we all really know what’s going on. Statistics clearly show that people who look a certain way (who don’t look white) are treated differently for employment, housing, prison-sentencing and it goes on and on. We can pretend-argue about it so long that we don’t do enough to change it… As a white man, I can walk in circles foolishly arguing whether race is a factor for hate and harm in our country, or I can simply pay attention to the world around me.”

Michelle Garcia, in an Advocate article entitled “Where Trayvon Martin and Matthew Shepard Collide:”

“When I see Trayvon Martin, I see the old white women who clutch their purses and cower when I (yes, nerdy old me!) pass them on the street. I see a boy who could be my son. I see my uncles and cousins. I see my father, my grandfather, and the fathers who precede them. I see the families of LGBT people left behind after senseless acts took countless lives, with little to no legal recourse. And I see Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, a mother and father who are undoubtedly still grieving at the loss of their son, no matter who threw the first punch, who pulled the trigger, and who said what in those fleeting moments.”

Rev. Josh Pawelek of the UU Society: East in Manchester, CT, writes:

 ”It’s long past time for American faith communities to launch a social, economic and political revolution in support of Black and Brown youth… At the heart of such a revolution, imagine organized faith communities of all racial and cultural identities—urban, suburban and rural, wealthy and poor—recognizing that the command to love our neighbors as ourselves extends to America’s Black and Brown youth. Imagine not wavering from that basic idea! Imagine a faith-based revolution with love at its center that offers and sustains a radically new message to America’s Black and Brown youth: You matter.”



Day 24: This is My Prayer

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| Day 24: This is My Prayer Share/Save/Bookmark Feb 11, 2013

Today is Day 24 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to write your own prayer, mantra, or meditation to help us “share the love.” To see some examples from last year, click hereClick here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

Each week at the Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, we open our services with the words of one of our founders, Bob Kintz, “This is a sanctuary for those seeking their own answers to questions of faith. This is a sanctuary for those voices lifted up for peace. This is a sanctuary for those seeking companionship in their struggles and journeys.” We state this intention to create a safe space in which to worship, to affirm our purpose to cultivate peace within ourselves and in the world, and to acknowledge our oneness and the interwoven context of our lives. I believe that by setting intentions we mindfully manifest the life we want to live.

For me, prayer is setting an intention and requesting the support needed to cultivate the qualities required within us. From this perspective there are several things necessary for prayer, including insight, awareness, and the ability to receive support. It is empowering to identify when we need to cultivate courage, forgiveness, or compassion. It is healing to honor that other beings are suffering around us and ask for them to receive love, joy, and peace. It is transformative to learn how to earnestly ask for and receive support from that which is bigger than ourselves. Each time I pray I am blessed with clarity, a deep sense of our interconnectedness, gratitude, and a renewed openness to receive.

In the spirit of loving-kindness, this is my prayer for us today:

May we know true peace and commit to finding moments of quiet in order to listen deeply to our own truth.

May we open our hearts wider than we ever knew was possible, and welcome all beings into our understanding of community, in the spirit of radical hospitality.

May we cultivate compassion not only for others, but for ourselves, knowing this is essential for all our healing. 

May we love deeply and boldly speak our truth so that our authenticity becomes an invitation for others to Stand on the Side of Love.

May we embrace our courage, creativity, gratitude, and sense of humor to sustain us and allow us to flourish on this transformational journey of love!

May it be so…blessed be… amen…namaste!

For today’s action, join me in offering a loving prayer, mantra, or meditation. Click here to share your prayer.

Peace & gratitude,

Kelley Grimes

Kelley Grimes is a counselor, artist, and chair of the Sunday Services Committee and Peace Team at the Palomar UU Fellowship in Vista, California. She is a Unitarian Universalist deeply rooted in an earth based spiritual and Buddhist perspective.

Let Us Pray

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Let Us Pray Share/Save/Bookmark Dec 17, 2012

Let us pray for the families who have lost loved ones and little ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Let us hold our own children and family members closer as we remember those who cannot do so today.

Let us pray with our work to make this world safer for all children and reaffirm our sacred obligation to protect the weak from the strong, the many who are peaceful from the few who are violent, the innocent young from the actions of reckless and dangerous adults.

Let us hope for healing in this time when healing seems unimaginable.

Let us love one another with a deeper appreciation of the sacred worth of every child and every human being knowing that when we do so there is a power greater than ourselves that can renew, restore and sustain us.

Rev. Chris Buice

This prayer was offered by Rev. Chris Buice of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville in response to the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A shooting at that congregation in 2008 inspired the creation of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.