July 1, 2018
There is this old New Yorker Magazine cartoon that is a play on what I guess is a soothsayer in humble robes carrying a sign, “The End is Near”. The soothsayer’s sign in the cartoon reads, “This Will Go On and On”. It’s not funny anymore, given our current national and state circumstances. I’ve noticed that even our “This Is Not Who We Are” signs at Raleigh rallies are getting shopworn.
Still, after the crushing feet of racism and hate move to the next outrage, stronger green shoots reemerge. The new homemade fashion craze of the week all over the country has burst forth with duct tape and paint with many different messages under the general heading: “I Really Care. Don’t You?” The promising thing about this is that the size of the jackets increasingly fit our youth.
Rev. John Saxon’s June 20 letter to the editor of the Raleigh News & Observer about the most recent cruelty of family separation is one of the more recent and welcome UU public statements expressing our values. Rev. Saxon’s UU Forward Together statement embraced the UU connection with foundational Christian values about children. Here’s the link: https://www.uuforwardtogether.org/2018/06/22/zero-tolerance-and-family-separation-what-would-jesus-do/
Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman’s forceful public remarks as part of the Poor People’s Campaign strengthened our spines and annealed our resolve to do more than merely deplore the plight of people living precariously on the edge of despair, hunger, and persecution. Rev. Osterman, Lead Minister of the UU Fellowship of Raleigh, mixed his call to action with expressions of hope, underscoring our UU principles and ideals. Rev. Osterman’s essay in the June 25th Opinion section of the News & Observer based on his direct experience at Gitmo was an eloquent and powerful reminder of North Carolina’s participation in the worldwide rendition network of CIA torture centers. That blot on our collective conscience and its portent, today, gives us pause.
On World Refugee Day, June 20th, the North Carolina Council of Churches issued its public statement that read in part: “… faith leaders from different traditions and people of conscience welcome refugees and immigrants. All our holy texts instruct us to welcome strangers in our midst and to show hospitality to foreigners. Our churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples believe deeply in the sanctity of the family and stand against family separation. The family unit is the foundation of society and families hold our country together. We must lift up a prophetic voice and stand against these egregious acts towards immigrants, refugees, and families.”
Careful, but not so silent are those UUs and congregations in our state who are working with immigrants and refugees, either to observe and protect them or organizing safe houses in sanctuary for the undocumented. Several UUs with others are pressuring local city councils to advance a resolution supporting the sanctuary movement, as was accomplished in Durham.
We, in solidarity with many religious leaders of diverse faiths, are finding our voices. Congregations, including UUs, are raising their voices. Throngs of UUs show up at rallies and raise their voices and bend their backs, their time, and treasure toward justice.
Here’s the thing: Just when the summer calendar promises the possibility of relaxation and diversion from the cares of the day, I sense an acceleration of the tempo of the times. There seems to be a maturing of convergence among justice and faith-directed organizations that a year ago was suffused and nearly paralyzed with dismay and anger. Although initial searching for partners continues, we are moving forward together, establishing common agendas, and moving to public action. No more UU invisibility restricted to our own sanctuaries. There is too much at stake.
It is in this spirit that your calendar needs to “ink in” October 13 to participate in the first Forward Together Annual Gathering. Working sessions promise a productive and inspiring day. Join our discussions about “Going Public” With Your Justice Values, What Partnering With Organizations Means (Issues, Benefits, Risks), How Small Congregations Can Do Justice In A Big Way, and more. More specifics later. In the meantime, mark your calendar.
Suffer the little children to come unto me. WWJD, indeed!
|Solidarity, my friend. Solidarity.
Doug Rhodes, President
The Poor People’s Campaign: A Beginning Not the End!
Organizing Justice Action Teams to Work on Voting Rights and Immigrant Justice
Mobilizing for the 2018 Elections
Getting Involved, Speaking Out, and Taking Action for Immigrant Justice
UUJMNC Annual Gathering: Hold the Date
Love Resists in NC
Write Here! Write Now! Advocacy Toolkit
Webinars for Congregational Social Justice Leaders and Activists
Get Involved with UUJMNC
Speaking about North Carolina’s “Moral Monday” protests in 2013, Rev. William Barber often said: “This is a movement, not a moment.” And the same thing is true of the new Poor People’s Campaign.
The rallies, protests, direct action, and arrests that have taken place over the span of forty days in May and June were the beginning, not the end, of a new movement—an ongoing campaign for a moral revival that will confront systemic poverty, systemic racism, ecological devastation, and the war economy.
Unitarian Universalists were well-represented in the Poor People’s Campaign here in North Carolina, in Washington, DC, and across the United States. A number of UU ministers and lay people served as campaign leaders at the national, state, and local levels, scores of UU ministers and lay people were arrested for engaging in direct action, and thousands of UUs took part in Poor People’s Campaign protests and rallies.
Thomas Clayton, a member of the UU Church of Greensboro, served as a documentarian for the NC Poor People’s Campaign and has posted videos of the PPC rallies in Raleigh.
Thank you to everyone who showed up, sang, spoke, protested, donated, volunteered, or was arrested in Raleigh and across North Carolina or who made the journey to Washington, DC.
Our challenge now is to keep connected, remain energized, and stay involved with the Poor People’s Campaign in the months and years that lie ahead.
Several UUs across the state have expressed interest in helping organize, leading, or serving on two state-wide Forward Together “Justice Action Teams” that will work on issues involving voting rights and immigration.
To make this happen, though, we need a “critical mass” of at least seven people for each team. If you haven’t already done so, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let us know if you’re interested in helping organize, lead, or serve on one of these two Justice Action Teams (and which of the two teams you want to join).
More information about Justice Action Teams is posted on the Forward Together website.
It’s an understatement to say there’s a lot at stake in the upcoming 2018 elections—both nationally and here in North Carolina.
So what can you do?
You can learn about the proposed constitutional amendments (including voter ID and judicial selection) that will appear on the North Carolina ballot this fall.
You can vote. You can urge your friends (like-minded or not) to vote.
You can support and work for progressive candidates for local office, the state legislature, and Congress.
You can get involved with and support the work of Democracy NC [https://democracync.org].
You can advocate with your county board of elections to adopt an early voting plan that is as strong and fair as possible despite the recent legislation limiting early voting in North Carolina. Find out how here.
And you can participate in a UUA webinar at 7:00 pm on July 12 on “UUs Mobilizing Towards Electoral Justice” to learn how you and your congregation can organize and support voter registration and Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns, work with migrants, people of color, and low-income people, and speak out on public policies and ballot initiatives that will be issues in the upcoming elections.
President Trump said that he was going to stop the separation of undocumented migrant children and parents who enter the United States but his “zero tolerance” policy is still in force and, despite all the talk in Washington, Congress has yet to agree on a legislative fix for the DACA “dreamers.”
So what can you do?
Keep urging North Carolina’s US Senators and Congresspersons to reject the Trump Administration’s cruel and inhumane immigration policies and instead, enact reasonable bi-partisan legislation that will protect the DACA “dreamers” from deportation, provide asylum to migrants fleeing violence, and keep migrant children and parents together.
Get involved with Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Service and Education (UURISE) [go to uurise.org]. UURISE provides information about current immigrant justice issues and opportunities for UUs to advocate for more humane and just immigration policies.
Join the North Carolina Sanctuary Coalition and volunteer to support North Carolina congregations that are providing sanctuary to immigrants who are resisting deportation.
Please “hold the date” and plan to attend the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina’s first annual Forward Together gathering on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at the Eno River UU Fellowship in Durham, North Carolina.
More information about the gathering, including the name of our keynote speaker, workshop descriptions, and registration, will be posted on the Forward Together website [uuforwardtogether.org] later this month and “hold the date” postcards, letters, and posters will be sent to North Carolina’s UU ministers and congregations and individuals (like you) who are on UUJMNC’s mailing list.
Allison Mahaley (a member of the UU Congregation of Hillsborough) has received a grant from
Love Resists (the UUA’s campaign to resist the harm inflicted by criminalization and create safer, more just, welcoming and sustainable communities) to provide a FREE, three-hour training session for groups of UUs and others who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of and commitment to the sanctuary movement and learning more about the criminalization of minorities, immigrants, and people of color in America.
You can learn more and contact Allison if you or others in your congregation or community are interested in this training opportunity.
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) has developed an advocacy toolkit for letter-writing campaigns organized by UU congregations, social justice committees, and others.
UUSJ’s “Write Here! Write Now!” letter-writing toolkit is free (but donations are appreciated) and can be downloaded on-line.
Want to learn how your congregation can engage more effectively, more relationally, more spiritually, and more sustainably in the struggle for social justice? The Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance [www.muusja.org] offers a number of webinars for UU social justice committees and leaders on topics ranging from congregational organizing to multigenerational justice work to community partnerships. Each online session lasts 75 minutes and is appropriate for lay leaders, clergy, and justice leadership teams. Past webinars can be downloaded on demand.
Are you a social justice leader or activist who needs a source of hope, inspiration, and resilience in the face of the resistance, setbacks, and backlash that are an inherent part of the never-ending struggle for justice? The UUA’s Side with Love campaign has developed a series of on-line interviews with social justice leaders and activists talking about the role of faith in their own lives, reflections and lessons from the struggle, the current political moment, and how faith communities can resource, support and engage with today’s leading movements. The interviews (Fortification: Spiritual Sustenance for Movement Leaders) are available on-line.
What’s going on in your congregation and community with respect to social justice?
Please email us so we can share your social justice news and events with other UUs in North Carolina via the Forward Together website and social media.