The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) connects Unitarian churches in the US with Unitarian churches in India. This program started in 2001 with a few relationships between religious education programs in this country and in India; it was called “Sunday School Across The Seas”. Today, 11 churches in North East India are fully partnered with churches throughout the US. These partnerships merge communities in long-term mutually caring relationships across the miles.

Most of the US partner churches provide some help to the Unitarian schools within their partner village. A few incorporate the traditional Sponsor-a-Student (SAS) program and others use a modified approach since their relationships are different and involve the entire church community and many times the village, as well. An example of this type of relationship is The Unitarian Church of Puriang/ Khasi Hills and UUC Fairfax, VA. The large school of 380 students is sponsored by members of the Fairfax congregation through the sponsorship of classes rather than individual students. Communication takes place between sponsors and teachers at Puriang and has involved exchanges of children’s artwork and lesson plans. Fairfax calls this modified SAS program – Sponsor Our Partner School. This is a good alternative program for the Fairfax Church because they also run scholarship programs for students in their other partner church in Transylvania and at the Unitarian High School at Koloszvar. In a couple of villages, two different US Unitarian Universalist churches work together – one in partnership with the church (UUPCC) and one in partnership with the school (SAS). In this way, the two programs overlap and complement each other.

Richard Ford, the community development advisor for the UUPCC has visited this area twice. He is a research professor at Clark University with 40 years of experience in about 35 countries in Asia and Africa. He has started working with the local university in Shillong to train facilitators to work with villagers on community capacity building programs. The first pilot project with a specific village in this part of the world is scheduled to start in early 2008.