UUA offers eBooks focused on Phoenix experiences

Two resources, which have grown out of Unitarian Universalists’ witness in Arizona in support of migrant communities, are available from the UUA Bookstore. Both are only available as eBooks.

The first is Assembled 2012: Select Sermons and Lectures from the 2012 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (held in Phoenix). It includes the Berry Street Essay by the Rev. Fredric Muir, the Sophia Lyon Fahs lecture by Louise Derman-Sparks, the Ware lecture by Maria Hinojosa, and sermons from the Service of the Living Tradition by the Rev. Karen Tse and the Sunday morning worship service by the Rev. John Crestwell.

Also available is Annette Marquis’ Resistance: A Memoir of Civil Disobedience in Maricopa County. Marquis, LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager for the UUA, was arrested and spent a night in the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix in July 2010, along with a number of other UUs, as she protested the implementation of Arizona’s anti-immigration measure SB 1070. In her 48-page book she reflects on what compelled her to act and what she learned about the struggles of migrants and people of color.

Marquis’ book is available free with purchase of Assembled 2012. Each can be purchased separately.

New immigration study resources available

New resources are available from the UUA to help congregations prepare for the “Justice General Assembly,” June 20–24 in Phoenix, and to engage with immigration justice work in their home communities.

  • United States Immigration: Theological Reflection and Discussion is a collection of twenty-two brief excerpts from sermons and writings about the topic of immigration offered for UU congregations. Each excerpt is followed by questions for discussion. Download a copy of the resource, and find out more about it by listening to reflection authors Susan Karlson, Michael Tino, and Colin Bossen on The Journey Toward Phoenix, an internet-based radio blog hosted by the Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith of the UU Church of Arlington, Va.

For more information, contact Gail Forsyth-Vail, Adult Programs director, Ministries and Faith Development, Unitarian Universalist Association.

Children’s immigration curriculum coming

A children’s religious education curriculum on immigration justice will be available by February 1 from the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group. Gail Forsyth-Vail, Adult Programs director for the UUA, says the curriculum is tentatively titled With Justice for All. Information could be available as soon as mid-January on Forsyth-Vail’s blog, Cooking Together, Recipes for Immigration Justice Work.

The curriculum is a part of the resources the UUA is developing for the 2012 Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in June. The sessions, to be available online, will be suitable for Sunday morning RE as well as retreats and multigenerational gatherings. There will be four sessions for children in grades 1-3 and four related sessions for those in grades 4-6, all by Mandy Neff, director of religious education at First Parish of Cambridge, Mass. They will emphasize compassion and fairness and are grounded in the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation.

The sessions will give children an opportunity to explore their own family traditions and stories of migration and dislocation, reflect on fair and unfair rules, and examine the concept of human rights. The program engages parents and families, culminating in a family event where children share what they have learned.

For more information email Forsyth-Vail.

Immigration resources program, Cooking Together, created

Congregations are being invited to share their stories about how they are engaging in immigration-related social justice issues this year and how they are preparing for General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix, on a new UUA blog, Cooking Together.

On a new, related web page, Immigration Justice, congregations can also find immigration resources, including ways to include immigration topics in worship and religious education, information about state and federal immigration policies, and ways to organize and carry out actions in support of immigration rights.

Current Cooking Together blog posts include a description of a program of the UU Church of Boulder, Colo., that invites people to develop spiritual disciplines aimed at increasing levels of compassion, and an essay by Asha Arora, the GA 2012 Youth Caucus junior dean from the UU Congregation of Phoenix, talking about GA 2012.

The Cooking Together program was created by representatives of five UUA staff groups led by Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director. She said congregations are encouraged to share not only their stories about their immigration work, but also any resources they develop that would be useful to other congregations.

Top-selling books at General Assembly 2011

Top-selling books at General Assembly 2011, by the UUA Bookstore. Many of these are being promoted by Skinner House as a useful part of congregational programming:

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, by Karen Armstrong (Ware lecturer at GA 2011)

Universalists and Unitarians in America: A People’s History, by the Rev. John Buehrens. This book, in honor of the 50th anniversary of consolidation of the Unitarians and Universalists, will be useful to book groups, in lifespan education classes, and as a historical reference.

The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, by Margaret Regan. As we look toward General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix, this is one of the books that helps explain immigration issues. In 2011 it was recommended to congregations as a “common read.”

Darkening the Doorways: Black Trailblazers and Missed Opportunities in Unitarian Universalism, by the Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed. The story of black UUs in a predominately white faith. Useful for book groups and lifespan classes and in sermon preparation.

What’s Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West, by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Broken Buddha, book of essays by the Rev. Meg Barnhouse.

Elite: Uncovering Classism in Unitarian Universalist History, the Rev. Mark Harris. Tells the story of the privileged founders of Unitarianism and Universalism and describes how we can grow into a more inclusive faith. Discussion guide available online.

Coming Out in Faith: LGBTQ Voices in Unitarian Universalism, by the Rev. Keith Kron and Susan Gore. Testimonials about the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer UUs. Useful for Welcoming Congregation sessions and raising awareness of LGBTQ issues.

From Zip Lines to Hosaphones, Dispatches from the Search for Truth and Meaning, essays by the Rev. Jane Rzepka. Includes introductory material on Unitarian Universalism in an entertaining manner. Ideal for new member classes, gifts for Coming of Age youth or bridging young adults, and small group ministry gatherings.

House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century, by the Rev. John Buehrens and the Rev. Rebecca Ann Parker.

Skinner House resource, including discussion guides, for some of these books can be found at www.uua.org/companionresources.

Postville immigration raid video available

Congregations studying immigration issues now have another resource. An independent film has been made about the infamous U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, on May 12, 2008. The raid resulted in nearly 400 arrests of immigrant workers. Many served five months in prison before being deported. The 96-minute film, abUSed—the Postville Raid, was filmed at Postville and in Guatemala after the raid.

The Northeast Iowa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Decorah, Iowa, is the closest UU congregation to Postville. Sue Otte, program chair at the congregation, said the fellowship helped out in the raid’s aftermath:

We were closely involved in assisting the folks impacted by this raid, and along with our Decorah Faith Coalition, we assisted nine young men released from prison on ridiculous charges of identity theft. Our fellowship is very interested in seeing that UUs see this film, especially in light of our focus as an association on immigration as a moral issue, and at General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix.

The fellowship did a three-weeks series of programs on immigration this winter.

A DVD of the film for personal use is $23. The price for faith-based communities begins at $100 depending on the size of the community and ability to pay. Learn more on the Postville Raid blog or email abusethepostvilleraid.sales at gmail.com.

Common Read of ‘Josseline’ continues

“How far would you go to feed your children?” That’s one of the questions raised in the book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, about the struggles that face Mexicans and people from Central America as they try to cross the border between the United States and Mexico in an effort to survive.

Several hundred die each year, including 14-year-old Josseline, whose body was found in the desert in 2008. The Death of Josseline is a UUA “Common Read” this year, meaning that all congregations are encouraged to read the book, discuss it, and use it in sermons and in other ways.

The book is available in paperback for $15, with discounts for buying five or more copies, from the UUA Bookstore. Bookstore Manager Rose Hanig says they have sold more than 1,100 copies. Gail Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Adult Programs director, adds, “Winter is a great time for congregations to join the many other congregations where this book is being read. This is a book that begs for processing and conversation in a trusted community.”

Linda Laskowski, a member of the UUA Board of Trustees and the UU Church of Berkeley, Calif., has written about the book on her blog. Forsyth-Vail says the author of the book, Margaret Regan, will be at General Assembly next June to discuss the book and talk with those who took part in the Common Read.

Immigration study resources ready

A new study guide, curriculum, and worship resources are now available for the Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI): “Immigration as a Moral Issue.”

The guide provides a range of resource materials for congregational and individual study. There is also a curriculum on immigration for a six-week adult education course as well as a worship resource supplement. Topics include: understanding the causes of migration, the history of immigration in the United States, the economics of immigration, security and enforcement, and building a theology of migrant justice. The guide is available at http://tinyurl.com/newstudyguide.

Additional resources, including congregational stories, news and updates, and interfaith and community partners can be found at www.uua.org/immigration.

Here are upcoming social witness deadlines:

• Vote in the Congregational Poll (closes Feb. 1, 2011) to approve placing the Draft Statement of Conscience (SOC) “Ethical Eating: Food & Environmental Justice” on the final agenda for General Assembly 2011.

• Submit comments on the Draft SOC “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice” (closes Feb. 1, 2010).

• Submit comments on the Draft CSAI “Immigration as a Moral Issue” (closes March 1, 2010).

The comment forms and instructions on voting are at www.uua.org/csw. Also available: “What Are We Voting On?” and a guide for collecting congregational comments.

July/Oct. 2010 congregation-focused articles from UU World

InterConnections is not the only source of useful information for lay leaders. Check out uuworld.org for articles about UUA changes and congregational activities. Sign up for a weekly email about new articles on uuworld.org.

Immigration book suggested as congregational ‘Common Read’

From a special InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

Congregations are being invited this fall to engage in a “Common Read” of the new Beacon Press book on immigration issues, The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands.

Gail Forsyth-Vail, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Adult Programs director, says the hope is that all types of small groups within congregations—lifespan education programs, small group ministry groups, book groups, etc.—will read the book and discuss it between now and next spring.

Go to the full article.