Interweave of South Jersey – A New Chapter’s Beginnings by Allison Woolbert
As a newly formed chapter of Interweave, we have begun the journey of providing services to our local congregants as well as our immediate community. Interweave of South Jersey started having meetings in January of 2009. The initial meeting held 31 individuals from our congregation and community. We began by creating 5 small groups that would be our main focus for this year. The groups consisted of several “lenses” Communications, Education, Social Justice, Outreach and Support. Our mission was to provide the very best in support to all within our five county community.
We started by having educational seminars on gender and sexual orientation and have had a few events this year including a Karaoke night, games night, a pot luck dinner, movie night (normally with discussion group afterwards). We additionally started support groups for the Family Members of GLBT, as well as gay and transgenders within our community, which are non-confrontational and very welcomed by many members of our community.
By creating the outreach and communications committees we were able to publicize our groups widely throughout southern New Jersey. We have a growing membership of two to four new individuals a month showing up to our UU services due to our community outreach.
Our Board of Trustees is dedicated and appreciative of the efforts made by our local Interweave chapter and their support is unwavering. Without their overwhelming support, our efforts would have been seriously diminished.
Recently we organized a UU district-wide panel on Interweave that brought individuals together in our district to discuss what is going on with their current Interweave groups and what could be done to revitalize the district’s program. The panel brought out many excellent ideas and we had a great response from all who attended.
We also attended, as a sponsoring organization, the Philadelphia National Equality March on May 3rd which provided a national forum for the expression of Equal Rights for all GLBT members. We were quoted by the Associated Press concerning transgender medical rights which subsequently was published in hundreds of media outlets across the world.
Our group has solicited other groups within our region to join in our events which have led to building a coalition that has a much stronger voice and presence. Stockton College students attended the rally with us as well as another Interweave chapter from Bux-Mont UU in Pennsylvania. With one voice our coalition challenged the Christian hatemongers that were badgering the attendees and stood hand in hand in our support of each other and our GLBT sisters and brothers. We were very honored to be part of such a national effort and we are now beginning to coordinate further outreach with the organizations sponsoring the rally.
Our willingness to step out into the community as a strong advocate for GLBT has enabled us to grow our membership in our Unitarian congregation, and to also make a stand during such critical times in our country’s history.
Although we are a new chapter, there is no time like the present to make a difference in your congregation and community by stepping up and championing GLBT equality of and the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings.
If we can be of any assistance to your Interweave group, please contact us via our website, http://interweave.uucsjs.org, or email Allison Woolbert at email@example.com.