6/26/2017: Spotlight On Congregations, by Jane Bannor


Throughout the year, the UUJEC web-site has been presenting profiles of the social justice work done by different UU congregations across the country.  While some activities are popular in many of the churches in our denomination, others fill special needs or are carried out in unusual ways. Since adoption of the Study / Action issue on Income Inequality, many congregations have held workshops on the issue.  There are six different curricula on the subject available under the “Escalating Inequality” tab of the UUJEC web-site at https://uujec.org/csaiCurriculum 

Many congregations have moved beyond studying the issue to join the Fight for $15 Minimum Wage and support Black Lives Matter efforts.  At First UU Church of San Antonio, TX, members of the congregation developed Project Quest to provide services and training to low-wage workers.  The UU Church of West Brookfield, WI used a 10-mile bus trip through working class and poor neighborhoods to bring to light the problems of poverty and job loss in nearby parts of their community.

In their effort to combat poverty and homelessness, many congregations also volunteer at local shelters and food pantries.  For example, the BuxMont UU Fellowship of Warrington, PA has a 25-year association with the Doylestown shelter in their community, while the UU Society of Schenectady, NY has joined Family Promise, a national organization that provides emergency shelter and services to families in need.  At the UU Society of Madison, WI they’ve established an Eviction Prevention Fund, which helped keep 79 households off the streets in 2015. 

The Social Action Ministry of Shoreline, WA emphasizes the structural causes of poverty and excessive wealth.  They’ve both offered help to the homeless in their community and conducted various sorts of policy advocacy, both as a congregation and through state-level coalitions.

Other congregations are working on immigration and incarceration issues.  At First Parish in Sudbury, MA they’ve started a prisoner mentoring program.  And at the Mountain Vista UU Church in Tucson, AZ they’re working on immigration issues through their state legislative action network. At Conejo Valley Fellowship in Newbury Park, CA they’re focusing on the rights of farm workers, scheduling meetings with growers and lobbying their state legislature.

Social action efforts at many churches are also beginning to emphasize justice components in their environmental work.  Both the First Universalist Church of Norway, ME and the UU Congregation of Venice, FL have concentrated on issues surrounding fossil fuels and their economic impact.  Not far from Flint, MI the Escalating Inequality Task Force of Metro Detroit has demanded action to help those suffering from crumbling municipal infrastructure and a lack of potable water.

With the adoption of the newest Congregational Study Action Item on the Corruption of Democracy, many congregations are also starting to emphasize voter registration work and to become active with local Move to Amend chapters.  These and other social justice efforts continue to be a major focus of UU congregations nationwide. 

To read in detail about the social action activities of each of these congregations, visit the “Economic Justice Spotlight” page in the Resources section of the UUJEC web-site.  https://uujec.org/ejs

To share the Economic Justice Booklet featuring all 12 Spotlights, you can find it here.


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