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August 2014: New Church Year: Building a UU Fusion Coalition

Dear Friends,

“Upward mobility—the American Dream—has become a myth. Concentration of wealth and power has skyrocketed. Dr. King’s dream of justice and equality has fractured.  Half of all Americans are impoverished or struggling, as the middle class shrinks and billionaires take the profits. … Challenging extreme inequality has now become a moral imperative.

The new Congregational Study Action Issue on Escalating Inequality chosen at General Assembly (quoted above) provides a broad frame for the many injustices that UUs and others continue to address. The emergence of fusion coalitions in faith-based and progressive organizing (such as the Moral Mondays Forward Together movement) is an inspiring development. Fusion coalitions bring together different groups working on many different justice issues, acknowledging that all our causes are connected and that addressing economic inequality and defending democracy are key for success.

What would a UU fusion coalition look like? How are partnership, intersectional approaches, and a focus on escalating inequality infused into your congregation’s justice ministry? By framing our justice ministries in this context we can build a UU coalition in partnership with other faith and justice groups. Here are seven resources and suggestions related to our interconnected UU justice ministries for your new church year: 

1. Interconnected Justice Ministry
The UU Church of Akron, OH, is the 2014 winner of the UUA Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action. One of their three justice ministry focus areas was food justice, and they took a truly intersectional approach, connecting the dots between environmental justice, ethical eating, and hunger through education, advocacy, and direct service. Learn more! 

2. Resisting the New Jim Crow
Recent events in Ferguson, MO, and around the country offer stark evidence of where we are in the struggle for racial justice. New resources are available for resisting the New Jim Crow and mass incarceration, including a new hub of materials from the Interfaith Organizing Initiative from their spring summit on the intersection of criminalization and race. You’ll find videos, curricula, partner groups and more.

3. Growing the UU Environmental Justice Movement
Next month the UUA and UU Service Committee (UUSC), in partnership with UU Ministry for Earth and other UU groups, will jointly launch Commit2Respond, a brand new initiative to address climate change. Commit2Respond will be launched at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, the largest climate march in history. Join the movement: sign up for Commit2Respond and the People’s Climate March

4. Defending Workers Rights & Raising Wages 
At General Assembly UUs took a stand for economic justice, first by boycotting area hotels under fire for underpaying workers, then by joining a rally for fair wages in Providence. What is your #WageOutrage? The UUA and UUSC are continuing to work together on raising the minimum wage and protecting worker rights. Get involved

5. Beyond Marriage Equality
As marriage equality victories roll in, it’s vital to keep the momentum for LGBTQ justice going. Right now there is an enormous need for advocacy and witness around the injustices faced by LGBTQ detainees, asylum-seekers, and refugees. Just last week saw a new campaign to support a transgender detainee who was sexually assaulted and then put in solitary confinement. You can make a difference by getting connected with Immigration Equality

6. Keeping On for Immigrant Justice
UUs are urging President Obama to stop deportations and keep refugee children out of harm’s way. Visit our Immigrant Justice page to read about the July 31-August 2 actions in DC (31 UUs committed civil disobedience at the White House), learn how you can connect with the Not One More Deportation Campaign, and view the Immigration as a Moral Issue General Assembly workshop with UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, Sr. Simone Campbell, Rev. Susan Frederick Gray, Katia Hansen of UU RISE, and B. Loewe of NDLON. Learn about congregational actions and what’s needed now.

7. Organizing for Voting Rights 
For our justice organizing to be successful we must defend democracy by stopping voter suppression and engaging in voter registration and Get-Out-the-Vote efforts this November. Join our Voting Rights Organizing Call on Sept. 11 at 4 pm Eastern. See our new Voting Rights page for info, along with videos, resources, and info on easy, rolling Get-Out-the-Vote grants. And mark your calendars for the 50th Anniversary of Selma Commemoration, March 5-8, 2015.

Lastly, we know that many hearts are heavy about the violence in Gaza and Israel. The UUs for Justice in the Middle East have launched a Learning and Reflection Project and Churches for Middle East Peace has some excellent resources.

For all kinds of resources on strengthening your justice ministries and organizing tools see uua.org/justice and of course, as always, stay connected with us through Standing on the Side of Love.

In faith,

Alex, Annette, Audra, Janice, Jennifer, Jessica, Lesley, Nora, Susan, and Taquiena
Multicultural Growth & Witness staff

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