On June 19, 2022, as part of our “Juneteenth” Service, we will debut our “Spirituals Program,” whereby we contribute funds to a beneficiary organization for every African American Spiritual we sing in Sunday Service. We begin this initiative as a demonstration of UUCCH’s commitment to reparations and racial justice.
Beginnings – In December of 2021, I learned of a church in Brookline, Massachusetts, that began a practice of collecting “royalties” when they sang Negro Spirituals. I felt this aligned with our values at UUCCH and wondered if we could launch a similar program. In January, members of CREE and CoMM expressed support for such a program at UUCCH.
I created a sub-committee with representatives from our Committee on Racial and Economic Equality and our Committee on Music Ministry (Mike Doheny, Stacey LaBelle, Jennifer Lauby, and Holly Willet). We worked as a team to create a proposal, identify a beneficiary, and work through logistical details.
We choose the Universal African Dance Ensemble (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with headquarters in Camden, NJ) as our beneficiary. (http://www.unitycommunity.com/Universal_African_Dance_Ensemble.htm)
In March of 2022, the proposal was approved by the Board of Trustees.
Rationale – We begin this program as an acknowledgment that the system of slavery that flourished in the United States systematically denied oppressed people the fruits of their labor. This includes the incomparable contributions to our musical and spiritual heritage in the Negro Spirituals that we sing as part of our worship in Sunday Service. In the absence of being able to pay royalties directly to the creators or their estates, we honor and value those upholding musical and heritage-based traditions for others to experience, by contributing to their continued endeavors.
This initiative is in line with our congregation’s 8th principle, adopted in June 2020, which affirms our commitment to “Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
The Committee on Music Ministry’s mission and vision state our desire to support and nurture music-related experiences that enrich our spiritual community. CoMM is committed to collaborating in the music ministry’s financial and programmatic support through promoting its growth and outreach beyond the church’s walls.
We look forward to fostering this relationship with the Universal African Dance Ensemble, and we hope that you will support our endeavors with your financial contribution.
Contributions– To contribute to this project:
Donate via our Church Website https://uucch.org/connection/donate/
You will find a box at the bottom of the page; click on “Select Fund,” choose “Spirituals Program,” and enter the desired amount. Click “Add Donation.” Click “Next” and enter your information.
TO DONATE VIA TEXT: Alternately, text the dollar amount you wish to donate and “Spirituals” to 844-984-1040 to contribute. (For example, text “10 Spirituals” to donate $10.)
Follow the prompts for setup and credit card entry.
After the initial setup, text the dollar amount and “Spirituals” to 844-984-1040 again, and the donation will go through automatically based on your mobile phone number.
CHECKS WELCOME: You may also make out a check UUCCH to with “Spirituals Program” in the memo line or pay with cash by dropping your contribution in the offering basket within an envelope indicating- “Spirituals Program”.
Gratitude: We thank you for your generosity and support as we foster and nurture this relationship with the Universal African Dance Ensemble and the connection between the songs we sing and the Beloved Community we wish to create.
-Natasha Steinmacher, Director of Music Ministry