Sunday, 23 May 2010

Kiva Loans by Unitarian Flames


Have you ever wanted to do something about poverty in faraway parts of the world? Have you ever wanted to help someone directly? Have you ever noticed how, even if you found a way to do it, that most of your donation disappears in money transfer costs? And have you ever wanted toi do it with a Unitarian connection?

Unitarians Lisa and Mike Greenly introduced a wonderful new program at the Victoria CUC meetings this weekend that can get our dollars directly and responsibly into the hands of the people who most need it. I signed up. It was fun and felt really, really good.

Lisa and Mike have made a connection with the Kiva organization (, a group that arranges and monitors micro-loans all around the world. Their slogan is "loans that change lives". They have local professionals who vet and approve proposed projects. They monitor the projects once the loan is made and collect the repayments.

So what happens if you want to get involved? First you join Kiva (it's free) and become a Lender, then you can explore the available loan projects. It changes all the time. This Sunday morning there are 1,282 projects raising funds. There is a handy search engine that allows you to shrink the field by gender, by region or nation, by project type (for example agriculture, green work, personal use etc.) You can read profiles about the people and the projects, find out how much they have already raised and then choose which project you want to support. The total size of loans run from a few hundred up to about $2500.

Now here's a fun part: Kiva only wants you to donate $25 to any one project. They believe this should be a shared experience. When was looking I found Stephen Mugambi,a 62 year old Kenyan farmer trying to raise $600 to purchase a dairy cow. Yesterday afternoon he had one donor. I thought it worthwhile and clicked the "Lend $25". Sunday morning I checked. Stephen's loan is fully raised. Yahoo!

Once you set up your account, you can follow the project, check on how your recipients are doing on their repayments and so on. When the loans are fully paid, your money comes back to you! You see you aren't a donor, you are a lender. You can take the money out or you can relend it elsewhere.

One of my daughters has her seventh birthday coming soon. I plan to give her $25 to lend and hope we can have some fund finding a person and a project she wants to support. Why do I think she will pick something to do with animals? :)

So back at the start of this article I mentioned Lisa and Mike Greenly and the Unitarian connection. When I joined up, I became part of the "Unitarian Flames" team. Thanks to a great organizational effort by the Greenlys and friends, a generous gift from a benefactor, and the willing generosity of Canadian Unitarians at that meeting, Unitarian Flames is now the largest Canadian religious lender group. Woo Hoo!

You can reach Lisa and Mike directly at

Now for those who are members and friends of UCE, when we get back to Edmonton, I will come bearing gifts. We will arrange a Kiva-Unitarian Flames workshop after the Flower Communion service on June 13 for anyone who wants help signing up. To kick-start the program, Lisa has given us 20 gift certificates from the anonymous benefactor. These gift certificates are good for one $25 loan. In other words, you can make your first loan using . How cool is that!

It's easy, it's fun, and most importantly it's a way to directly change a life of some specific individual who really needs your help.

Rev. Brian Kiely

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Remember & Celebrate Norbert Čapek

ICUU Member Groups are encouraged to celebrate sometime in June the 140th Anniversary of the birth of Norbert Fabián Čapek on June 3 1870. He was a key figure in the development and history of Czech Unitarianism. The ICUU Global Chalice Lighting for June will focus on this important part of our heritage.

Carl Seaburg described Norbet Fabián Čapek “as important to liberal religion as Channing, Ballou and Parker were in the 19th century, and more than equal to Skinner and Holmes in the 20th.”

William F Schulz has written “Among Unitarian Universalist heroes and heroines, only a handful were martyred for our values—Norbert Čapek is one of that handful. He embodied the best of our faith in the worst of times.”

Services on Sunday June 6 would be a suitable time to commemorate this “deeply religious figure endowed with unusual courage” (Henry) as that very day (in 1870) his parents dressed him in a christening gown and walked the two hundred yards to the local church to receive the priest’s blessing on the day dedicated to St. Norbert.

Many will know him for the flower communion he created, now shared annually in many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world. A flower communion would go well in a service remembering Čapek as he first held such a communion on the first Sunday in June 1923. This year the Prague Congregation will hold its Flower Communion Service on June 13.

A wealth of downloadable material; in English written by or about this great Czech Unitarian can be found at the website of the Czech Unitarians ( Notable among the offerings there is current Senior Minister Petr Samojský’s superb paper Czech Unitarianism and Norbert Fabián Čapek, written while Samojský studied at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Another recommended resource is Richard Henry’s inspiring and comprehensive biography titled Norbet Fabián Čapek: A Spiritual Journey. Henry’s book is published by Skinner House and sill available from the UUA Bookstore (

Hymns with words and music by Čapek (translated into English by Richard Boeke and others) can be found in the hymnal SINGING THE LIVING TRADITION as 8, 28 and 78. Versions of Čapek’s Flower Communion Prayer and Consecration appear in the same volume as 723 and 724. One of the Čapek hymns Universal Spirit also appears in the British Unitarian Hymns For Loving as number 43.

A new article on Čapek by Petr Samojský has just been published in the journal Faith and Freedom (from Harris Manchester College): "N. F. Capek and Prometheus Bound: Or the Price for Bringing Fire" (Vol 63: Part 1, Number 170).

Monday, 17 May 2010

Share Info on Upcoming Events with ICUU Community

ICUU Member Groups are invited to submit information about upcoming events to be listed on the Member Group Events page of the ICUU Web Site.

Events should meet the following criteria –

a. Take place within the next two years

b. Are likely to be of interest to the wider ICUU community

c. Attendance is possible and encouraged by people from other lands

d. Are supportive of and consistent with the mission and objectives of ICUU

e. Are sponsored by an ICUU member group or a group associated with ICUU

f. Are open to all or open to all within criteria such as for ministers or people in a certain area.

Descriptions of up to 200 words can be included and additionally a web address or email address must be supplied for those who wish to obtain further information.

ICUU reserves the decision as to whether any particular event will be listed and the right to edit supplied text.

The requested information about events should be sent to the ICUU Executive Secretary at

Information about new events can be submitted at any time and the relevant webpage will be updated periodically.

Monday, 10 May 2010

First News of EUU Retreat with UUA President

OCTOBER 29-31 2010

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Paris is happy to invite you to attend the Fall EUU Retreat in Alsace, France. We are privileged to have the Rev. Peter Morales, recently elected President of the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association – USA), as our theme speaker. Morales was elected on a platform of growth and multiculturalism. Public witness is central to his presidency; he is especially passionate about immigration reform and environmental justice.

An extraordinary theme speaker, a setting in the historic and beautiful Alsace region and the simple gifts of EUU-Retreat fellowship, fun and music are sure to enrich your lives. (EUU = European Unitarian Universalists)

Rev. Morales’ retreat theme, "Building a Religion Beyond Belief," will explore religion not as a set of beliefs but as what we love - including the role of religious community and the need to adapt to contexts. See (

All are welcome
EUU retreats are for people of all ages – we offer a full program for young people as well as adults.

The retreat will be in Mittelwihr, France (near Colmar) on the eastern side of the Vosges Mountains, along the Route des Vins d'Alsace (Wine Route). Nearby Riquewihr is a walled, well-preserved picturesque medieval market town. The province of Alsace is known for its typical wood framed houses, large black hats and regional specialties. As one of the regions of Europe welcoming to Renaissance humanists, it is a fitting setting for our retreat.

For more information
To read more now, go to Retreat registration will be available on the website later on.