Two resources to support UU Justice Work
This UUA link includes a great list of UU processes and resources available to help with your justice work.
The archived UUA Statements of Conscience can guide and affirm the justice work you engage with.
The Northern New England District is experimenting with Congregationally Based Justice work. Engaging justice work this way will increase the collective impact of our UU values in the world. Engaging justice work this way will build yet more congregational capacity to be great partners in justice work. One example follows:
Congregationally- Based Justice at Work
By the Rev. Sylvia Stocker
A couple of years ago, our congregation decided to approach social justice in a whole new way so that we could bring that work into the center of what we do.
Believing congregational buy-in was a key to success, representatives from our Strategic Planning Committee and Nominating Committee worked with our Minister to design a process that would invite the congregation to choose the direction of its social justice work. We held a series of well attended, open, brainstorming meetings. We asked what kinds of work people were interested in; but, more important, we explored what we wanted to name as key components of our justice work. We decided:
- To fold all of our justice work under one umbrella, one big topic, instead of creating a bunch of piecemeal justice opportunities. We realized we can't do everything; being focused in our work will allow us to go deeper into that work.
- To identify self-transformation as a key component of our justice work. We felt this be to the spiritual element of justice work and, thus, critical to our program. We wanted to avoid a top-down approach that assumed we knew the answers; instead, we wanted to allow ourselves to be changed by the work.
- We wanted to partner with people in this work. We decided it was far too easy simply to collect money to send somewhere or to sign a petition at hospitality hour. We wanted to develop real, meaningful relationships in our community. Therefore, we determined we would concentrate our justice work in our local geographical area.
At the final brainstorming meeting, we examined people's many ideas for projects and then grouped them into broader categories so that the congregation could choose a big umbrella under which to do social justice work. We fleshed out the following three “big umbrella” topics in a Sunday service. The congregation then voted on the “big umbrella” topic
- Addressing Hate and Prejudice
The congregation chose the last of these, addressing hate and prejudice.
To gain congregational buy-in in such a way has made a big difference both to the energy level of the workers and the success of the programs we have planned thus far. At some point, we will no doubt have to invite the congregation back into the kind of conversation we had a couple of years ago so that people can choose again the focus of their justice work. Holding that kind of congregation-wide conversation helps to keep people engaged, to promote the centrality of justice work and, ultimately, to create the kind of climate in which we can make real changes – both to our inner hearts and souls and to the wider world.
About Congregationally Based Justice Work
- Uses a congregational process to identify and affirm the work
- Is an expression of the congregation’s mission
- Engages the congregation spiritually and morally on an ongoing basis (grounding and evaluating the work through these values)
- Engages the congregation at multiple levels
- Intentionally builds a sense of community and partnership within and without the congregation
To learn more about congregationally based justice work, read articles from leaders of four NNED congregations experimenting with it in different ways, including
Seeing the Truth: from personal experience to reflection on the way things work
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast in Maine
Reviving and Restructuring our Social Justice Ministry
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford, NH
Woodstock's Sustainability Program
The Northern Universalist Chapel Society of Woodstock, VTs