Unitarian Universalists work for Social Justice
Our fervent hope for peace and justice in the world is the heartbeat of all our congregations. Together, we "affirm and promote the worth and dignity of every individual," (Our First Principle) and "promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations" (Our Second Principle). We live our values in beloved community together, in our civic communities, our workplaces, and in the larger world. Many congregations offer opportunities to work together to bring justice, equity, and compassion to others. Children and their families are very much a part of the social justice projects of all our congregations.
Anti-racism has been a long-time concern of Unitarian Universalists. Many congregations have participated together in the study/action program, Journey toward Wholeness. As articulated by the Racial Justice Task Force of First Unitarian Church of Chicago,
We envision a society which is not color blind but color appreciative, which judges beings by the content of their character, not the color of their skin or their cultural heritage, a society which treasures human diversity in human community.
Gay rights. Unitarian Universalists were there at the beginning in affirming the dignity of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Over half of our congregations (and counting) have completed a national study/action process that qualified them to be designated "Welcoming Congregations." Congregations host Pride Youth and PFLAG groups, and members unite to advocate for anti-discrimination policies. Unitarian Universalists have a regular slot in the Pride Parades of Chicago, Rockford, and other communities.
Economic justice has informed the work of an increasing number of congregations: Fair Trade, immigrants' rights, workers' rights, economic sustainability. Our congregations work with Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, Church World Service (CROP), The Night Ministry (in Chicago), Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community, the Responsible Budget Coalition, and others in affirming the worth and dignity of people facing homelessness, hunger, economic discrimination, and inequality of opportunity.
Compassion feeds the work of a wide range of projects contributing to the comfort of those in need, including peace shawl knitting projects, helping in shelters and soup kitchens, assisting with hospice care, and helping in animal shelters. What we do together nourishes our souls as we nourish others.
Environmental sustainability ensures adequate resources for all nations and generations to come. Many Chicago-area Unitarian Universalist congregations have completed a study/action process to be designated a "Green Sanctuary," and most others are in the process of completing the program. Faith in Place is an area-wide organization founded by Unitarian minister, the Rev. Clare Butterfield. Faith in Place offers opportunities for people of faith to care for our environment and to advocate for practices that promote our responsibility to sustain, conserve, and share our resources. "Cool Congregations" is a day-long workshop to help congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their building and its community. Several of our congregations stage information fairs for their communities.
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have
come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us
work together.-aboriginal woman
FEATURE: Beverly Unitarian Church recently installed an electric-vehicle rapid recharging station at its back door, available free of charge to the congregation. It is the first of a series of charging stations to be installed around the city to stimulate the use of clean energy for transportation. The project is part of the work of their Green Sanctuary Program. Among many projects designed to reduce their carbon footprint, they also support the purchase of wind certificates contributing to the realization of viable use of wind energy to create electricity for the Chicago area.
FEATURE: "No More Turning Away" is a collaborative, multi-church social justice project. Congregations throughout the Chicago area focus on homelessness through the year. Leadership shares resources, including children's religious education curricula, Sunday services, resourceful community organization, discussion outlines for movie and book discussions. The project will culminate in the "Cardboard City" project. On Saturday, March 21, youth and adults from all participating congregations will sleep outside in cardboard boxes and tents on their church property. "Sleepers" will collect pledges for their night out and the money collected will go to each church's local homeless organization of choice.
FEATURE Third Unitarian Church has worked for many years with the families of their Austin neighborhood to be a beacon and gathering place for their children and youth. For over ten years, they have collected funds to offer scholarships to graduating teens each year. They stage an end of summer picnic, at which they give away school supplies and backpacks to the children looking forward to school. Most recently, they have bought the house next door and plan to renovate it to be a community center.
LinksUnitarian Universalist Service Committee
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (Chicago)
Faith in Place
Journey Toward Wholeness
Green Sanctuary Program of UU Ministry for Earth
No More Turning Away
Habitat for Humanity
Church World Service (CROP)
The Night Ministry
Fair Trade Chicago
I am but a drop of water. Alone, I would disappear. Dried up by the scorching sun or sucked up by the dry, thirsty earth. But together, we can wear out stones, carve out the Grand Canyon, make streams and rivers, and find our way to the sea.
-Rev. Kok-Heong McNaughton