Forward Together Newsletter June 2018

June 1, 2018

Dear Supporter,

A friend of mine asked last week why I joined Justice On Jones Street, the first UU Forward Together personal lobbying event in Raleigh. In his gentle and sincere way, he asked how talking with state legislators who may already be progressive, although out numbered, made any difference. He went even further in his search for effective answers. He asked why it was in this the twenty-first century; we were still marching in crowds of thousands, much like the medieval peasants who stormed castles. Haven’t we, he asked, found more effective tools over the long stretch of history?

My quick and most effective answer was that storming voting booths is a qualifying innovation. But, I needed to bridge back to his quandary. I told him that talking with state legislators – even their staff assistants – might moderate their views. Our very presence with specific solutions to offer underscored our sincerity and resolve. For progressive legislators, supportive citizens bring new ideas – refined or in the rough – to generate new resolve and new thinking. As we often say, when UUs gather: “You are not alone.” Critics abound. Sometimes, we close our personal communications about justice, writing, “In Solidarity”. That is spiritual practice blending with our justice practice. Legislators, even those with whom we differ, are people, too.

Joining hordes of people demonstrating with the beat of drums, singing, and chanting is effective, although we no longer brandish pitchforks. Although legislators flee Jones Street any time Rev. Barber comes to town, bringing supporters of all colors and circumstances, they know we show up. Many fear that their time of deconstruction is limited. Marches do that sort of thing. It is also, and sometimes primary, that marching is an important form of solidarity. All sorts of organizations, causes, and new “recruits” come to learn, find their voices, and find the strengthening nature of solidarity.

During this brief encounter with my friend, I observed that public demonstrations and talking with one’s legislator do not represent an either/or false dichotomy. One tool reinforces the other, and strengthens both efforts.

My friend persisted. He protested my solidarity reference by citing that most of the people who serve at risk citizens in neighborhoods are rarely those who actively seek societal improvement by changes in public awareness and changes in public policy. He postulated that although charity work (in the best sense of that term) in the neighborhoods may ameliorate conditions, these efforts have little long-term effect and may work against needed public policy changes.  “Why the separation of people and apparent contradictory efforts?”, he asked.

I wanted to suggest a visit with the “Truth Fairy”. I did point out diverse skills and passions, the limits on personal time and energy, and that there is no limit on the number of committed people with the will to enter either or both vineyards. I did say that these seemingly different efforts strengthen each other – one giving legitimacy to the other. I did observe that this matter invited a fulsome conversation about the nature and extent of our justice ministries, and how these two dimensions of justice work together.

We move forward together – not one-step back.

Solidarity, my friend. Solidarity.

Doug Rhodes, President

Photo of Doug Rhodes, Interim President

In This Issue

Poor People’s Campaign Update: We Won’t Be Silent Anymore!
UU Voices at the North Carolina Legislature
June 1st Is National Gun Violence Awareness Day
UU Congregation of Wilmington UUJMNC’s First “Justice Partner”
Equality NC Day of Lobbying & Action: June 19, 2018
Voices of Moral Mondays
Forward Together Annual Gathering: October 13, 2018
UU Ministry for Earth
UU Service Committee Names New President & CEO
What’s Up?
Get Involved with UUJMNC


Poor People’s Campaign Update:
We Won’t Be Silent Anymore!

Poor People's Campaign banner,

Rallies, marches, and protests were held in Washington, DC and in almost forty states across the US as the Poor People’s Campaign began 40 days of witness and action to challenge systemic racism, systemic poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and our country’s distorted moral values.

About 500 people, including dozens of Unitarian Universalists from Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro, participated in the Poor People’s Campaign’s first day of witness and action in Raleigh on Monday, May 14, 2018. Almost 50 participants, including Forward Together’s Executive Director, Rev. John L. Saxon, were cited for impeding traffic by holding hands and singing on Jones Street.

In Washington, DC, over 50 UUs  joined Rev. William Barber to support the Poor People’s Campaign’s call for a movement of faith, social justice advocates and organizers, labor and poor people, who can together end poverty, white supremacy, ecological devastation, and the war economy it is all based on—and a number of UUs, including UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, were arrested for engaging in direct action. Click here to read Rev. Frederick-Gray’s reflection on why she chose to be arrested for engaging in direct action.

The crowd that gathered in Raleigh on May 21 was a bit smaller—maybe 200. But at least 20 Unitarian Universalists were there—many wearing their yellow Side with Love t-shirts and one UU was among the thirteen participants who were arrested inside the Legislative Building.

The Poor People’s Campaign needs you!!! Please help “give life the shape of justice” by
⦁    signing up to be a part of the new Poor People’s Campaign (www.poorpeoplescampaign.org) if you haven’t already done so;
⦁    coming to Raleigh on Monday, June 4, June 11, or June 18 to join the NC Poor Peoples Campaign’s demand for a moral revival of American values; and
⦁    attending the Poor Peoples Campaign’s direct action training session at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27605, on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm to learn more about how you can participate in or support direct action.

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Group of UUs at the North Carolina Legislative BuildingUU Voices at the North Carolina Legislature

About a dozen UUs participated in the UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina’s first annual “Justice on Jones Street” lobbying and advocacy day at the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh on May 22nd.

After learning about the legislative process, getting some tips on talking with legislators, and discussing some of the issues and legislation that may be considered during the 2018 legislative session (which began on May 16 and will run through late June or early July), they walked to the Legislative Building and spent the afternoon talking with their state Senators and Representatives about education, environmental protection, gun violence, voting rights, and other issues.

A package of information for “citizen lobbyists” has been posted on our Forward Together website. We hope you’ll use it to let your voice be heard by calling, emailing, or writing your state Senators and Representatives during the 2018 legislative session.

And we hope that you’ll join us next year in Raleigh for our second “Justice on Jones Street” lobbying day and add your voice with ours to make it an even bigger and better event that will help “give life the shape of justice” in our state.

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June 1st Is National Gun Violence Awareness Day

After the Valentine’s Day shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, tens of thousands of student all across the United States walked out of school and demanded that lawmakers take action to address the epidemic of gun violence and school shootings, chanting “Enough Is Enough.”

In the immediate aftermath of Parkland, the Republican-controlled state legislature in Florida and Florida’s Republican governor defied the National Rifle Association by enacting bipartisan legislation raising the minimum age for purchasing firearms from 18 to 21 and imposing a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns.

But, so far, Congress and North Carolina’s state legislature have failed to act.

And now, nine more students and a substitute teacher have been murdered at a school in Santa Fe, Texas by a student using the pistol and shotgun that his father kept at their home.

Enough is enough! Too much is too much! And inaction in the face of gun violence is inexcusable!!!

Please add your voice to the hundreds of thousands of people all across the United States who are calling on state legislators and Congress to enact common sense gun laws.

Today—June 1st—is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and it’s a great day to take Everytown for Gun Safety’s pledge to “wear orange” and “vote orange” in November and to contact your North Carolina legislators to demand that they enact a “red flag” gun law and other common sense gun legislation before they leave Raleigh this summer.

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UU Congregation of Wilmington Recognized as
UUJMNC’s First Congregational “Justice Partner”

The UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina is proud to recognize the UU Congregation of Wilmington as its first official Congregational “Justice Partner.”
Members of UU Congregation of Wilmington with Forward Together bannerJustice Partner congregations are Unitarian Universalist congregations in North Carolina
⦁    whose governing board (and minister(s)) have established a covenantal relationship with UUJMNC;
⦁    who financially support UUJMNC by donating at least 1/4 of 1% of their annual operating income to UUJMNC each year through a line item in their congregational budget, a special collection, or other fundraising activity;
⦁    who agree, if asked, to co-host an event for prospective sustaining donors once every three years;
⦁    who share information about UUJMNC with the members of their congregation;
⦁    who have a designated UUJMNC liaison;
⦁    whose members are connected to and involved with UUJMNC; and
⦁    who are actively engaged in social justice work within their congregation and in the wider community.

More information about becoming a Justice Partner Congregation is posted on the Forward Together website.

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Equality NC Day of Lobbying & Action: June 19, 2018

Join Equality NC on Tuesday, June 19, in Raleigh, NC for a day of lobbying and action at the North Carolina General Assembly.

Your participation will not only raise our voices at the North Carolina General Assembly, it will equip fair-minded folks just like you with the skills and tools necessary to fight for LGBTQ Equality in your local communities.

Equality NC will be partnering with you in our ongoing work to secure employment nondiscrimination protections for state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
For more information, contact call (919 829 0343) or email Maddie Majors (maddie@equalitync.org).


Voices of Moral Mondays

The NC Council of Churches is proud to publish a brand new collection of testimonies from Moral Mondays. Voices of Moral Mondays—32 short vignettes from North Carolinians across the state—tells the story of everyday folks being motivated to speak out on account of their faith.

Many, though not all, of the accounts describe what it was like to engage in civil disobedience and be arrested by the authorities. Some narrate their experiences in profoundly theological terms, while others use a more common tongue – still no less infused with power and grace.

Click here to download the book (PDF).

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Forward Together Annual Gathering: October 13, 2018

Make your plans now to attend the UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina’s first “Forward Together” annual gathering at the Eno River UU Fellowship in Durham on Saturday, October 13, 2018.

More details and registration information will be posted soon on our Forward Together website: www.uuforwardtogether.org.


UU Ministry for EarthUU Ministry for Earth logo:

Is your passion environmental justice? If so, you can learn more about the UU Ministry for Earth by visiting their website (www.uumfe.org) and signing up to participate in one of UUMFE’s monthly webinars the will deepen your faith grounding, learning, and skills for environmental justice.


UU Service Committee Names New President & CEO

Rev. Mary Katherine Morn has been named as the new President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
More information about Rev. Morn and the work of the UUSC is posted on the UUSC website: www.uusc.org.

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What’s Up?

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.


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