In the spirit of holiday giving, the Unitarian Universalist Coastside Community is hosting a fundraiser for Senior Coastsiders with a virtual interfaith music festival on Sunday, Dec. 19. Many musicians donated their work for the Turning Towards the Light: A Holiday Fundraiser for Senior Coastsiders program, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the service agency.

“This is one time that we can really get behind a community project and it’s our time to give,” said UUCC Planning Committee Chair Noreen Cooper Heavlin. “For Unitarian Universalism, social action is just part of our DNA and I don’t think you can consider yourself a good congregation unless you’re doing something that’s directly helping the community.”

The UUCC is a congregation that is based not on beliefs but on a set of seven principles.

“People can come into Unitarian Universalists with all kinds of different beliefs, including those who consider themselves atheists, humanists or agnostic,” said Cooper Heavlin. “We honor all belief systems. We get together because we agree on the same basic principles about the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

At the UUCC, members don’t follow a specific religious text but draw inspiration from the Bible, Koran and Torah and also from philosophers and poets.

“One thing that is special about Unitarian Universalism and our own particular congregation on the coast is that we have a very strong music program and we always have,” said Cooper Heavlin.

The UUCC connected with many musicians for the Turning Towards the Light event and they will render a combination of original songs and familiar classics. The program will include Jewish, Christian and solstice yuletide traditions around the themes of light, love, joy and celebration.

“I was just this morning reading some things about music by Rick Fabian, a founder of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Parish in San Francisco, and Rick said, ‘Music brings people together as nothing else can do,’” said Tom Devine, UUCC music director. “I think that’s really true. It involves your body, your mind, your emotions, your intellect, everything that’s in you. So when people sing, they’re alive.

“One of the purposes of church services is to bring people more alive,” he said. “The importance of music in a congregation is to wake up all the parts of ourselves that can sometimes be lulled to sleep by everyday life. It wakes up our minds and feelings.”

Devine curated the program that features Coastside talent such as Lisa Spector, along with songs by David Tamulevich and Fendrick and Peck. Other participating artists who donated their music for the event include Clovice Lewis Jr., Gigi Cohen, JoAnn Schriner, Krista Enos, Linda Grace Frost, the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Choir, Mo Robinson, Rabbi Moshe Tom of the Coastside Jewish Community, Shauna Pickett-Gordon, Vera Vanderschalk, Voices of the Coming Tribe and the UUCC Choir.

“We have a great range of contributions by many beautiful musicians, and I think it will be enjoyable for everyone,” said Devine. “Artists never earn a lot, so donating their art, in this case, music, really does mean something about their love for music and for this cause.”

This is the UUCC’s fourth year hosting a fundraiser for local organizations. Past beneficiaries include Coastside Hope, Abundant Grace and the Coastside Adult Day Health Center. Last year the event raised $5,000 for the Adult Day Health Center.

Each year the UUCC chooses a new organization to support and this year it chose Senior Coastsiders partly because it had a senior member of the congregation who was supported by Senior Coastiders when she was having some challenges in her life.

“I really have a new appreciation for how important the Senior Coastsiders is for our local seniors,” said Cooper Heavlin. “I always knew they did a great job but sometimes when things hit home you have an even deeper appreciation for the good work many of these organizations do here on the coast.”

Gathering music will begin at 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 19 and the official program will begin at 11 a.m. The Zoom link for the program will be posted on uucoastside.org on the day of the service.

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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