The 50th Anniversary year at UU Church West was a powerful acknowledgment of the importance of this open-hearted, compassionate, justice-seeking spiritual community. Fellowship, action, learning, and caring across the generations and out into the world -- that’s what we accomplished in 2012
The purpose of our year-long 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2012 was to honor and celebrate our church’s past, present and future. It was a wonderful year, and we had had a lot of meaningful fun while meeting this goal.
We began the Anniversary Year on January 29, 2012 with a big opening celebration called, “Come as You Are, Leave Inspired!” It was a banner day, with high attendance and special guests -- including our own charter members, City of Brookfield aldermen, interfaith neighbors, and representatives from area Unitarian Universalist congregations and the Central Midwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Members of our Board of Trustees shared moving personal testimonials, bringing to life our Global Ends (Read testimonials). Words from our former ministers were spoken (Read more), children were our light-bringers, and the music was wonderful (Read more). And of course we had fabulous food afterwards! If you’d like to look back at the Anniversary Opening Celebration, view the photos here.
And that Opening Celebration was just the beginning! We held an average of two special anniversary-themed events each month throughout 2012 sponsored by different committees and groups in the church. Quite a few of the events were multigenerational, like the “Blessings Banners” sessions where children and adults created prayer flags to hold blessings for our children and our church for the next 50 years (Read more). “Fifty Campers in the 50th Year” was a weekend campout in Door County, and the September “Food Packing for Hunger Relief” brought people of all ages together to send food to hungry people across the globe. There was a kite-making-and-flying workshop and a “50 Valentines Art Workshop and Gallery Show.” And the marvelous “Interweave Tie Dye Day” in July drew a huge crowd of diversity-celebrating adults, youth and children with its food and music and creative fun.
March 2012 was our “UUCW History Month” with 30 panels filled with fascinating photographs and articles from our archives on display all month in the Community Room. The history panels were crafted thematically. Topics included: our beginnings & buildings, early and current social action, fun and fellowship, religious education, music programming, worship and ministers, as well as some panels focusing on key events in the life of our church. Also during that month we had a special Sunday worship service with Peggy Rozga, widow of Father James Groppi, one of the leaders of the Open Housing Movement in Milwaukee. Ms. Rozga reminded us of UUCW’s important role in the 1960s open housing movement – when we hosted Father Groppi to speak publicly – the only suburban church to do so.
Music and the Arts were another theme for our Anniversary celebrations. In April, we dedicated the beautiful “Anniversary Art Quilt” that now hangs on the north wall in the sanctuary. It was designed, created and sewn by the UUCW PieceMakers quilting group (Read more). April also brought the “50th Anniversary Gala Concert” featuring the UUCW Choir and an orchestra performing the powerful Missa Brevis Pro Serveto. In October, we hosted a special “50th Anniversary concert with National Recording Artist Peter Mayer,” which drew hundreds of people from all over the community.
Some of our 50th Anniversary events were specifically planned to help us build community internally, like the “Gold Star Challenge” which invited all of us to do four different things at church to earn a “gold star.” We also held the “Bumper Sticker Challenge” to encourage us to show our UUCW Pride, and the “Meet 50” challenge. And in November, our community Thanksgiving Dinner chose the theme “50 Reasons to be Thankful.” And, of course, our “Inspired Giving Pledge Drive” and our “Going for Gold 50th Anniversary Auction” helped us raise funds as well as building community!
Social action was another important aspect of our Anniversary year. We named Common Ground, the community-based organizing group to which we belong as our Social Action focus for the year, and quite a few of our members took part in Common Ground events, teams and workshops (Read more). The Gala Concert in April dedicated its proceeds to Common Ground, and this fall, our Common Ground Core Team began working with the our high school youth group on an issue campaign of the group’s own choice. Another Anniversary social action project was “50 Brigadistas in the 50th Year” a push for volunteers to work in Nicaragua which resulted in 46 members and friends of UUCW participating last summer (Read more). And in December, we reached $50,000 total monies given to local non-profit organizations since the inception of our Split the Plate outreach giving program (Read more).
We also had two important future-oriented focuses during the Anniversary year -- the “Doors to Our Future” campaign which resulted in beautiful new doors at our East Entryway and our Vision 2020 Long Range Planning process, led by a team of leaders to craft a plan to help us continue to flourish and grow as a congregation and to share the vision and the values of our faith far beyond the four walls of our church!
Overall, the 50th Anniversary at UU Church West was a powerful acknowledgment of the importance of this open-hearted, compassionate, justice-seeking spiritual community. Fellowship, action, learning, and caring across the generations and out into the world -- that’s what we accomplished in 2012!