With the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, delegations began visiting and chronicling the desperate condition of Unitarian churches in these once closed-off areas. In response, the Unitarian Universalist Association initiated in 1990 its Sister Church Program, now known as the UU Partner Church Program. Dwight Cramer spearheaded the effort in our congregation to become a partner church with the Fiatfalva Church in Romania, which began in February 1992. Dwight also led the effort in 2006 for River Road to partner with the Unitarian Church in Kyrdem, Khasi Hills of Northeast India.
Here are some highlights of what we have accomplished with our partner churches:
- The past minister and current minister of our Fiatfalva partner church, plus our contact person with the Kyrdem church have visited River Road. We have visited our Fiatfalva church on several occasions over the years.
- We have helped make life a bit more comfortable by providing funds so that the Fiatfalva church and parsonage could be connected to the nearby gas line and the Kyrdem village to have a public latrine.
- We helped the Fiatfalva church purchase a new tractor, which has served the entire village and pays the church an annual lease.
- We have supported educational initiatives at both churches, with scholarships for Fiatfalva village students to attend high school or technical school and funding for the Kyrdem church to purchase books, school uniforms, and school furniture. We provided funding for the Kyrdem church to add a grade 5 class.
- We have aided Unitarianism at Fiatfalva by providing funding to renovate spaces for religious education classes and to support two young ministers.
- We have routinely supplemented the Fiatfalva ministerís meager salary while we have also supplemented Kyrdem teacher salaries and provided salary for an additional teacher.
Through our partner church alliances, we have taken our social justice work to an international venue, directly helping and learning from our fellow Unitarians.