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UU Justice Action (JustAct) News

September 2013: UUA Statement on Syria + Justice for the New Church Year

Dear Friends:

UUA President Rev. Peter Morales has issued a statement on the proposed military strikes on Syria.  

In response to the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria, President Obama is asking for Congressional approval for U.S. military intervention against the Assad regime. I join all people of conscience in condemning the use of these weapons and grieve for the appalling loss of life. I urge the Obama administration to explore and then exhaust all peaceful diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the ongoing violence in Syria. Not enough has yet been done to rally international support for non-violent response to the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. The Unitarian Universalist Association joins with many other faith groups in urging our government to refrain from the use of military force at this time.

You can read the full statement here.

Also, in case you missed it last month, we are also republishing our special start of the new congregational year Just Act on 12 Ways to Support Your Justice Ministry in the New Church Year!

In faith, Alex, Annette, Audra, Janice, Jennifer, Jessica, Lesley, Meredith, Susan, and Taquiena - UUA Multicultural Growth & Witness  


12 Ways to Support Your Justice Ministry in the New Church Year

If your congregation or cluster’s social justice ministry is focused on partnerships for economic, environmental, racial, reproductive justice and/or LGBTQ equality we have resources for you. Videos, powerpoint presentations, webinars, study guides and more. We can help you connect with partners and funding too. Our UUA Multicultural Ministries and Witness Team, including our Standing on the Side of Love Team, are looking forward to partnering with you in the coming year!

You can start by joining in the new UUA Common Read: Behind the Kitchen Door.

  1.   UUA 2013-2014 Common Read: Behind the Kitchen Door
    • UUA-UUSC Campaign: Raising the Minimum Wage—A Moral Imperative
    • Labor in the Pulpits Labor Day Service
    • Best Practice from MI UU Social Justice Network
  2.   What’s Your State of Justice? Video from UU State Networks
  3.   Resisting the New Jim Crow – Organizing for Racial Justice
  4.   Congregation-Based Community Organizing—Building Bridges & Power
  5.   How to Gain Compassionate Immigration Reform & Stop Deportations
  6.   Multicultural Ministries Sharing Project--Seeking Insights from the Margins
  7.   Connect with Standing on the Side of Love—Save the Date for 30 Days
  8.   UU Funding Program Grants – 9-15 Deadline + rolling SSL & CBCO Grants
  9.   Building on 50 Years of Action for Reproductive Justice
  10.   Environmental Justice and Taking GA Home and to the EPA
  11.   New Congregational Study Action Issues Due Oct. 1st
  12.   UU College of Social Justice, UU Social Justice Calendar & Congregational Justice Resources

1) UUA 2013-14 Common Read: Behind the Kitchen Door

Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman, (Co-Director, of Restaurant Opportunities Center United), is the 2013-14 Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Common Read.  The book reveals how restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America and how poor working conditions—discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens—affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables. The author explores the political, economic, and moral implications of eating out.  Learn more.  Behind the Kitchen Door is available from the UUA Bookstore.  A UUA Study Guide will be available and posted on the UUA Common Read and economic justice pages by Oct. 1st.


UUA & UUSC Campaign for Raising the Minimum Wage—A Moral Imperative. See Joint Statement from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) President Rev. Bill Schulz. Add your name to join our advocacy for low-wage workers and their families.

Millions of low-wage workers in our country work full-time and still can’t afford life’s basic necessities. How can we expect hardworking people to support themselves and their families on $7.25 an hour? That’s just $15,080 a year for a full-time worker—$3,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. And income inequality is at an all-time high: the CEOs of the 500 largest U.S. companies make an average salary of $10.5 million. The U.S. Congress is currently considering the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would make the following vital advances:

  • Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015
  • Index the minimum wage to inflation
  • Anchor the minimum wage for tipped employees—currently an abominable $2.13 an hour—to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage

Six million people, three and a half million of them, people of color, would be lifted out of poverty if Congress raised the minimum wage.

Consider Holding a Labor in the Pulpits Labor Day Service to kick off your support!

See www.uua.org/economic for more information and resources and to sign on!


Best Practice! On July 24th, the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) and other UUs witnessed in Detroit to call for an increase in Michigan's minimum wage.  Randy Block, MUUSJN Director writes: “Raising the minimum wage is a MORAL issue.  People living under the poverty level are our brothers, mothers, friends, congregants and community members who are suffering silently, choosing between buying food, getting to work and paying the rent. MUUSJN's commitment to increase the minimum wage is framed as part of its campaign to work for Reproductive Justice in our state.  Not only should parents have the right to have children (or not have them) but they must have the resources they need to raise them. “ (See article).  


2) UU State Advocacy Networks:  Over half the states in the US now have UU State Advocacy Networks and we are making a difference from getting immigrant family friendly Trust Acts passed at the state level, to gaining marriage equality for same gender loving couples, to raising state minimum wages.  And the “Network of State Networks’ is pulling together on federal campaigns as well.  UU state networks work with interfaith partners (including CBCOs) and justice organizations in their states.  See  “What is your state of justice?” video that debuted at GA and find your state network here.


3) Resisting the New Jim Crow!  UUs are connecting with community partners and each other to resist what Dr. Michelle Alexander has termed ‘the New Jim Crow’ – the enforcement of racial caste through criminalization of communities of color, mass incarceration, stand your ground laws, disenfranchisement and voter suppression.  The verdict in the Zimmerman trial following the murder of Trayvon Martin has called many to act.  See video from GA 2013 Workshop: Building the Movement to End the New Jim Crow with Rev. Eric Meter, Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Paula Cole Jones, and Susan Leslie on how to develop community partnerships (many congregation-based community organizations are working to stop the school to prison pipeline) and take concrete action steps.  You’ll also find worship and educational resources, all at www.uua.org/thenewjimcrow.  Join the FB Group UUs Resisting New Jim Crow.


4) Building Bridges, Power & Beloved Community through Congregation-Based Community Organizing!  Over 160 UU congregations are part of CBCO--interfaith community organizations bringing people together across the divides of race and class at the local, state and national level.  See CBCO Ministers Council GA presentation and learn what UUs are doing as part of this movement at www.uua.org/CBCO.  You’ll also find the new ‘state of the field report’ by Dr. Richard Wood, along with his GA presentation and slides.  And UU Funding Program rolling matching funds for congregational leaders to attend CBCO training and for first year’s dues as new CBCO members. 


5) Road from Phoenix:  Compassionate Immigration Reform.—Stop the Deportations!  Congress is on August Recess and they return to Washington on Sept. 9th.    Now is the time to turn up the heat in our home districts so that our elected officials know that people of faith want compassionate immigration reform passed this year!  We’re also joining immigrant rights groups and some members of Congress in urging President Obama to suspend deportations while the nation debates reform. 

Here’s how to join in:

Check out our updated immigration reform webpage with new resources, including a powerpoint presentation, to help you meet with your representative and spur grassroots action in your own community.

See video from our GA Workshop Road from Phoenix: Building on Justice GA with Revs, Peter Morales, Susan Frederick-Gray, Leslie Takahashi-Morris, and NDLON Organizer B Loewe to learn how we’ve been transforming our faith and what’s next ‘on the road!”

Statement of Conscience on Immigration as a Moral Issue Adopted Unanimously at GA!


6) The Multicultural Ministries Sharing Project consists of a comprehensive survey, and, later, focus groups, to help UU leaders and staff understand where we are now and what we need to be well-equipped to meet the ministry needs of UUs in the 21st century.

We need your help! Take the survey and spread the word! All those 13 and older with a UU affiliation who are LGBTQ, people of color, people with disabilities, or otherwise marginalized due to gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, race, and/or ethnicity are invited to participate.  

The Sharing Project Survey is open now and ends October 31, 2013. Learn more and take the survey! www.uua.org/sharingproject


7) Connect with Standing on the Side of Love and save the date for the third annual Thirty Days of Love! Mark your calendars for January 18-February 16. Join us on this "spiritual journey for social justice" for a month of intentional action, service, education, and reflection. 

Congregations that have participated previously report that this campaign helped them deepen their engagement with spiritual justice and build stronger community relationships. Find more info at www.standingonthesideoflove.org/30days2014 as it becomes available. Questions? Email love@uua.org.

SSL Grants: Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) Grants—The Fund for UU Social Responsibility has set aside $25,000 to be made available as rolling matching grants of $500-$1,500 to UU congregations participating in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. SSL matching grants will support congregations mobilizing at critical times, using social networking and coalition building to stand with people who are excluded, oppressed, or attacked based on real or perceived identities.  

Learn more and find the applications here


8) The Unitarian Universalist Funding Program (UUFP) is a denominational grantmaking program of the UUA.  Inspired by the richness and diversity of our liberal religious tradition, the mission of the UUFP is to promote the influence of Unitarian Universalist principles through grantmaking. With funds generously provided by the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, the UUFP awards grants to Unitarian Universalist (UU) and non-UU projects and organizations.  Next deadline to submit grant requests is September 15, 2013.  Learn more at www.uua.org/giving/funding.


9) Reproductive Justice! As your congregation gets the new year up and running, make a plan to celebrate the UUA’s 50th Anniversary of activism on reproductive choice! Fifty years ago, we were faithful pioneers - the first religion to publicly proclaim the rights of women to dignity and bodily autonomy. With the UUA’s recent commitment to reproductive justice, we continue our work as pioneers – we are again the first religion to endorse the movement for the social conditions and human rights to enable all people to make sacred decisions about their families, their bodies, and their sexualities. What should your congregation do for the anniversary?! Preach! Offer the Curriculum! Public Witness! Teach OWL! For information and resources contact jhalperin@uua.org.  


10) Environmental Justice (and) Taking GA Home! Did you or members of your congregation attend the Public Witness event at General Assembly in Louisville? Thousands of UUs gathered to call upon the EPA to witness the environmental injustices taking place in Louisville and surrounding areas, and everyone brought home a small, biodegradable vial of sterilized Ohio River water. Take action by writing to the EPA and see the UUA’s other resources for taking the energy, lessons, and water vials back to your congregation this fall.  


11) Submit CSAI Proposals! Less than a year from now, delegates at the 2014 General Assembly in Providence, RI, will select a new Congregational Study/Action Issue, which will become a social justice priority for staff and congregations for the next four years. Congregations and districts like yours propose these CSAI topics, so get writing! Draft a CSAI proposal about a major social issue that is on the mind of your congregation or district. The issue must be worthy of prolonged study and action. Proposals are due October 1! Questions? Consult the Proposer’s Guide at UUA.org/csw


12) UU College of Social Justice, Social Justice Calendar & Social Justice Resources

The UU College of Social Justice offers programs that help people cross boundaries, gain insight, and imagine new ways to bring their faith together with their yearning to make a difference in the world. The college offers experiential learning journeys and social justice training grounded in the UU faith’s historic commitment to human rights. UUCSJ programs offer participants intensive engagement with justice work along with the tools they need to bring the experience home again. Visit http://uucsj.org/ to learn more!

Plan your multicultural justice-making  for the year with our UU Social Justice Calendar and connect with the initiatives that support your congregation’s justice ministry. Link your social justice projects to collective national advocacy with the UUA, Standing on the Side of Love, UU social justice organizations, and other UU congregations! Click on links below to find worship resources, action campaigns, educational materials and more! www.uua.org/justicecalendar

You’ll find a wealth of congregational ‘how to’ resources and stories from UU congregations at www.uua.org/justice.  

Can't find what you are looking for? Write to socialjustice@uua.org.

See www.uua.org/justice for resources, organizing campaigns, stories, and more!


Congregational Advocacy & Witness 
25 Beacon St | Boston, MA 02108 | Phone 617.948. 4656  | Fax 617.742.03213

Witness Ministries Washington Center 
1100 G Street NW Suite 800 | Washington DC, 20005 | Phone: 202.393.2255  Fax: 202.393.5494

email: socialjustice@uua.org | website: www.uua.org/justice