Saying Good-Bye to Guilt-Driven Giving

UUCJ and my boys’ school are huge pillars in my community. Both require significant levels of individual time and money to keep them afloat. As a single mom, I’m usually running on empty. So much of my energy is being poured into raising my kids and doing my own healing work that it’s often unfathomable to give even one hour of my time in any week. I’ve quelled my guilt over not being able to give more by donating a modest amount of my income to church and gritting my way through a weekly bread-baking session with 18 kindergarteners.

 As UUCJ progresses through its annual mission funding drive, in our most recent covenant group meeting we were asked to answer the question: is the church worth your time, talent, and treasure? Instead of answering yes or no, I found myself probing one level deeper in response to other members’ confessed guilt over their current level of giving. I want to know if there’s a better way to give—a way that springs from authentic generosity rather than obligatory guilt and that has an innate cyclical, nourishing nature for both the community and the individual.

 Last week, out of pure guilt, I signed up to participate in a church bake sale to raise funds for hurricane victims in Haiti. Saturday morning rolled around, and I dutifully gathered my baking supplies to make ginger crinkle cookies. I sped my way through mixing the dough without the boys noticing my project. They love to “help,” and we had a school campout to prepare for as well that morning. When I got to the last step, it hit me.

“Boys, go wash your hands. I have something important for you to do,” I said.

 “Okay, mommy!” said my 5 year old, Cameron. His eyes lit up like he was about to be handed his life purpose.

 “Remember how we had to go to the house with our friends to stay safe from the hurricane?” I asked.

 Cameron nodded.

 “Well, there are people in another country called Haiti whose houses got knocked over by the hurricane. We’re going to make cookies so our church can sell them and give the money to the people in Haiti so that they can buy new houses.”

 “Wow! Can I see pictures?” said Cameron. 

 “After we make the cookies,” I said.

 Next I gave them each a pan of sugar and asked them to roll the dough balls through the sugar and place them on a cookie sheet. Cameron had a hard time coating his dough evenly and threw himself on the floor in frustration. He has some sensory integration issues he’s been working through for over a year now, and this is a common scene in our house. I coaxed him back to the table. He tried again and created his own method of completing the task. Instead of rolling the balls, he buried them in a mound of sugar one at a time and shook them off before plopping them on the tray. Leo, my 3 year old, couldn’t care less what his balls looked like and proudly tossed them half way across the table to land in the tray. I cleaned up the boys’ mess and placed the cookies in the oven. Then I sat down with Cameron to show him pictures of Haiti and the damage from hurricane Matthew. I think he really just wanted an excuse to watch a video on my phone, so it wasn’t long until I sent him on his way to play and let me prepare for our camping trip. But later he did ask, “mommy, what about the cookies for the people in the country?” YES, I thought. He listened, and it mattered to him.

 For about 30 minutes of my time, my boys had a positive sensory experience and an effective lesson in empathy and social justice, all while I participated in a volunteer activity. I realize this is small potatoes. But it’s the little things. I asked the Universe to show me a new way, and this is where it starts for me. I’m making it a point to be open to receiving more and bigger experiences like our ginger crinkle cookies for Haiti. I believe it’s vital in sustaining and further building the communities that matter most to us. 

Clothes for the Needy

Over 330 pounds! That’s how many clothes we have delivered to St. Paul’s Clothes Closet so far. Keep ’em coming…clean out those closets! Shoes, baby items, personal care items also welcome.

Clean out those closets, and deposit in the hamper just inside the social hall.  

Garden Work Day

Saturday, Nov 5th (10am – 1pm)

Meet at UUCJ’s garden (growing food for pantries) located at Tree Hill Nature Center (7152 Lone Star Road 32211-East Entrance) to help us prep the beds for the winter growing season. We will be weeding and adding soil. Contact Leslie Gould, our church ground keeper,  with any questions. Tools provided. Bathrooms on site. Wear work clothes and bring gloves if you have them. The more help we have, the more food we can grow!

Mission Funding Progress

What a great start! We have 108 pledges of $186,537.04 toward our budget goal of $265,000. Don’t delay, turn in your commitment forms today!   Fill out your declaration packet here.

Little Free Library Book Donations

Books for young readers and other donations are needed for UUCJ’s Little Free Library. It is on the UUCJ driveway and also on the walk short-cut to the Avalon Hill Apartments just east of the UUCJ Campus. 

Books for young readers, paperback dictionaries, beginner’s cookbooks, books about sports, science, nature and others are all needed. Appropriate DVD’s would also be welcome. These materials may be bought to the social hall on Sundays or left in the church office during the week. 

Our Gang Outings: 2016/17

Oct. 11, 2016
Start Time: 4:00 PM
Cummer Art Museum for Free Tuesday Night – Dinner at their restaurant and tour the museum, which is free.
Gerrie Cunningham 904-353-7831

Nov. 20, 2016
Start Time: 12:00 Noon Leave UUCJ
Tour and Music at Stetson Kennedy’s Literary Landmark Home & Beluthahatchee Park – Reservations required – Limit 40 individuals – $10 Donation is Recommended.
Call Carlos Fraticelli, ASAP to make your reservations 904-894-4660

Dec. 2, 2016
Start Time: 11:00 AM
Friday Musicale Concert
Nancy Ratnour 904-200-1329

Jan.  , 2017–
First Friday Time:
American Beach Museum, Amelia Island – Remember the Ferry Times if coming from Beach
Ann Winfree 904-246-8858

Feb. 8, 2017
Ravines State Park to view the Azaleas – Palatka
Barbara Robinson 904-874-2603

Mar. 12, 2017
Main Library Concert – Sunday Afternoon at 3:00 PM
Lois Hoeft 904-725-1946

Apr. 5, 2017
Agricultural Museum in St. Johns County
Alice Ricker 904-372-7914

May , 2017
Underground Downtown Jax Tour – Date will be provided at later time after research.
Yanella Parra 904-477-7728

Jun. 16, 2017
Lunch at St. John’s Cathedral and Karpeles Museum
Leisla Samson 904-745-7803

Clothes for the Needy

UUCJ will begin collecting clothes and shoes for the needy by joining forces with St. Paul’s Methodist church at 8264 Lone Star Road, where their volunteers staff a separate building on their premises (The Clothing Closet), and those in need can shop for items. People can come every Tuesday from 1-4 pm and make selections, which are free of charge. We will participate by placing a clothes hamper in the social hall, where you can place used items you wish to give away. Donna Janesky will periodically empty the hamper and take the items to St. Paul’s for distribution. So – clean out those closets! And thank you for your participation.

Healthy Eating Class: Oct 23, 12:30 Fletcher Rm

Lisa Franzino, Certified Vegan Chef, will present “Setting up your Kitchen for Healthier Eating”. This will cover many areas- pantry items, utensils, cooking paraphernalia, spices and condiments, and much more. In addition, she will be making a yummy dessert for all to sample. All are welcome – omnivores, vegetarians, vegans – we all want to eat healthier. Bon Appetite!

Women Over 50 Group: Fall 2016 Update

UUCJ’s Women Over 50 group will meet on Oct. 13 & Oct. 27 in the Anthony Room. The Nov. 10 meeting will be in the Regency Square Public Library conference room rather than at the church.  No regular meetings in December.

Town Hall Meeting Follow-Up

The comments at the Town Hall meeting on Sept. 25 were valuable input as we continue plans to Preserve, Revitalize and Expand our campus.
These are the accesses that were mentioned in the Town Hall meeting:

  • To see drawings of the proposed plans go to:
  • To view the 50th Anniversary service go to, click on “live link to our 10:45am Sunday service”, click on bars in upper right hand corner, click on videos.
  • To comment on any of the plans send an email to