Social justice events to engage youth

Youth who want to pursue social justice interests this summer have several offerings to choose from through the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice.

There will be a gathering of youth on June 25 in Providence, R.I., the first day of General Assembly, to get acquainted and learn about the issue of raising the minimum wage. The event is described as “a primer for all youth who care about social justice, even if they are unsure where to begin.”

In partnership with the UU Living Legacy Project, both youth and adults are invited on the Mississippi Civil Rights Journey, July 5–12, honoring the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and exploring the continuing struggle to preserve voting rights. 
Application deadline is May 19. Cost is $1,280. Financial aid is available.

In July and August there will be three youth justice trainings in New Orleans, Boston, and Seattle. In partnership with local organizations, youth will learn about the realities of oppression and build skills needed to enact social change. The cost is $840, $1,860, and $1,100, respectively, plus transportation costs. Financial aid is available. Reservations are due by May 4, May 11, and June 1, respectively.

College of Social Justice needs our hands

The Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice has a number of justice-oriented trips planned for the rest of 2014 and into next year to places including Haiti, Mexico, and India.

It is also offering Youth Justice Trainings in Boston, New Orleans, and Seattle, and it has twenty summer-long Global Justice Internships available for college-aged young adults. The internships are focused on issues that include justice for restaurant workers, immigration rights, and the right to water.

Internships are unpaid, but interns may apply for a cost-of-living stipend to cover basic living expenses and local transportation. Full information on all these programs is on the UU College of Social Justice website.

 

Choosing vendors for your church using UU values

From our June InterConnections feature, now online at UUA.org:

Congregations traditionally promote and encourage Unitarian Universalist values through sermons, religious education, and social justice work. Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minn., is taking its values to a new level—applying them to the companies that it buys products from.

Unity Church leaders refer to this as holding “values conversations” with those vendors. Here’s how it works: Any company that the church buys $2,500 in products or services from annually will be evaluated as to how well it meets certain social justice criteria—minority hiring, environmental sustainability, community engagement, fair treatment of workers—and whether its fees are competitive.

This practice, which gets underway this summer, had its genesis in the renovation of Unity Unitarian’s building, which was completed in November and dedicated May 19. Going back farther, said Barbara Hubbard, Unity Church’s executive director, the congregation has had an active antiracist and antioppression effort for at least ten years, and that work is becoming woven into the fabric of congregational life.

Go to full article.

Successful share-the-plate program supports Denver nonprofits

From one of our May feature stories, now available online at UUA.org:

When the offering plate comes around on Sunday morning at First Universalist Church of Denver, Colo., many nonprofit groups in the community feel the earth move just a little. This is the third year that the congregation has given its entire offering—every Sunday—to local groups or to support the work of the congregation’s own Social Justice Council task forces.

Associate Minister the Rev. Jeannie Shero said nearly $150,000 has been collected so far through the program, called Compassion in Action. “The first year we collected $44,000, then $56,000,” she said. “This year, which ends in June, will be close to $60,000. Prior to the program the offering would bring in around $25,000, much of which was largely used to support the operating budget.”

“This program represented a major shift for us,” Shero noted. “Was it a hard sell to the congregation? No. Did it make the board of trustees nervous? Yes. Giving up $20,000 for the operating budget was no small thing since the board has fiduciary responsibility.”

Go to full article.

 

Summer 2013 youth social justice experiences

High school youth are invited to participate this summer in three social justice experiences through the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice.

The first is the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, a trip through civil rights sites in the South, July 6-13. Second is the Boston Youth Justice Training, June 30-July 21. Third is the New Orleans Youth Justice Training, at the Center for Ethical Living and Justice Renewal, August 3-10. The pilgrimage is $975, the Boston training is $3,300, and the New Orleans training is $800. Fee reductions are available. Application deadline for all events is April 15.

The Rev. Kathleen McTigue, director of the College of Social Justice, said the programs are designed for youth who are “newly inspired to take action against the injustices of our world and for seasoned social justice youth leaders.”

Youth social justice training in Boston

High school-age youth interested in social justice are invited to apply to attend a three-week training program this summer in Boston. The National Youth Justice Training program will be June 30–July 21, sponsored by the new Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice. The program offers a tiered funding structure, ranging from $500 to $3,300 per person. Application deadline is April 15.  More information is included in a NYJT brochure.

In addition to time spent together learning about social justice leadership skills and UU social justice history, participants will intern at various sites in the Boston area. The trip leader is the Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, who is also the social justice educator at Boston Mobilization, which trains people for grassroots campaigns for peace, economic justice, and democracy.

This will be the second year for the youth training.

New articles focus on sustainability, youth service, and more

From October’s InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

InterConnections is not the only source of useful information for lay leaders. Check out uuworld.org for stories about innovative congregational projects and new resources from the UUA. Here are some articles on sustainability, youth service, social justice, and outreach published between May and September 2012.

Go to full article.

 

Coordinate your social justice efforts with the UUA

Coordinate your congregation’s social justice efforts with the UUA’s through the Association’s online Social Justice Action Calendar. The calendar currently features ten events, beginning with Labor Day weekend and progressing through Indigenous People’s Day (October 8), the Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20), and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 21).

Also online are suggestions for how to mark those dates, as well as resources for preparing worship services and engaging in public witness events. Books and videos are also recommended for many of the events.

New program helps kids live their values

Getting children involved early in social justice work can set a pattern for them for the rest of their lives. At Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colo., member Joyce McLaren has started the Living Our Values (LOV) program. About once a month children up through middle school age come to church with their parents sometime during the week, other than on Sunday morning. Activities this year have included making blankets for a home for teenagers, visiting a retirement center to put on a talent show, a trip to an organic farm, and helping collect school supplies.

Each activity has an orientation and a debriefing. Before the retirement home trip the kids learned from aging specialists how to talk to someone who doesn’t hear or see well. Said McLaren, “The kids’ goal was to make that person feel warm and loved because they don’t get very many visitors. And the kids really got it! They can’t wait to go back and see their elders again.”

More information about Living Our Values is in JUC’s newsletter. Look for Kids Practice Living Their Values, July 3, 2012.

UUA’s 2011-12 Common Read is ‘Acts of Faith’

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, a memoir by Eboo Patel, is the 2011–2012 Unitarian Universalist Common Read. The Common Read project invites Unitarian Universalist youth and adults in all congregations to share a common reading experience, and to engage in reflection and action about that book.

In Acts of Faith, Patel shares his faith journey as an American Muslim who comes to believe in religious pluralism. Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a nonprofit focused on building an interfaith youth movement. Patel invites those who believe in religious pluralism to support young people, helping them ground themselves in a faith that can equip them to work across faiths to make the world a better place.

Gail Forsyth-Vail, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Adult Programs director, said the book was chosen with an eye to both the tenth anniversary of September 11 and to the work of building coalitions as UUs prepare for General Assembly 2012, a “Justice GA” focused on immigration issues, in Phoenix.

The discussion guide will be published in October and will offer materials for a single 90-minute session or three 90-minute sessions, each expandable to two hours. The guide will provide the option of splitting the single 90-minute session into two shorter sessions. Download a flyer for Acts of Faith. The UUA Bookstore is offering the book for $14, plus a discount for multiple copies.

The UU Common Read last year was The Death of Josseline, stories about crossing the Mexico-Arizona border.