Some of you have asked me, “didn’t we already do a social justice discernment when we picked our charity partners?” Yes and no. The Charity Task Force did help lead the congregation through discernment, and the partners we identified are indeed part of our social justice program. The choice of Just In Time for Foster Youth as our third main charity partner does reflect a congregational interest in issues of youth empowerment, family, poverty, and education. But charity and service are only PART of a balanced social justice program.
What we’re doing now is “zooming out:” moving from a specific project or charity out to the broader issues and injustices which are behind that project. For example, supporting Interfaith Community Services might “zoom out” to a congregational commitment to economic justice; speaking at the City Council for a shelter for migrant families might “zoom out” to a multi-faceted program exploring immigrant justice and migration. That’s what we’re up to: identifying one or two of these larger themes so that we can then really approach them from multiple angles.
What do I mean by “multiple angles?” UU organizers suggest five pillars of a balanced social justice program: service, education, witness, advocacy, and community organizing. In our last workshop with the UU Justice Ministry of California, Evan Junker led us in brainstorming actions that fall into each of these pillars. We explored five potential focus areas—immigrant justice, criminal justice, economic justice, educational access, and environmental sustainability—and thought of service, education, witness, advocacy, and community organizing opportunities for each focus area.
But that was just a brainstorm. The next step is to hear from you: what do YOU think our focus area(s) should be? When you balance both our UU values and the pressing needs of our community, what emerges? Where are we called as a congregation?
Please weigh in on the congregational social justice survey, which is coming soon.