The End of the Beginning

It’s the end, and it’s just the beginning. We’ve finished our discernment work with the UU Justice Ministry of California, and now the work of building a congregational social justice ministry begins. We have two focus issues: economic justice and immigrant justice. Now task forces will convene around each issue to flesh out plans of engagement, which we will bring to the full congregation. In the meantime, a policy task group, led by Deb Coon, will draft policies for Chalice’s social justice process, addressing issues such as authorizing ministers to speak on behalf of the congregation and how often Chalice will adopt social justice focus issues.

How did we get here?

Building on the groundwork of our first two social justice workshops, we asked you, the congregation, for feedback. We asked “With our UU principles and values in mind, what issues do you believe the congregation as a whole is called to work on?” Forty-seven of you answered. We looked at answers, and saw which umbrella issues rose to the top. Then the team and I did an initial survey of potential partners in those issues. I talked with a few area clergy, with representative of Interfaith Community Services, and with a local community organizer. From that initial review, it seemed like the two issues with the most interest and the most potential for partnership were economic justice and immigrant justice.

Economic Justice

This includes homelessness, hunger, poverty, income and wealth inequality, and classism. An interest in these issues came out in the first workshop when we listed our social justice history. Economic Justice issues are a match with our longest charity partner, Interfaith Community Services (ICS), and intersect with our other two charity partners, especially Just In Time (JIT)—foster youth are at high risk of homelessness.

Possible activities could include: serving meals or collecting materials for ICS and JIT, participating in forums and study groups about economic justice, attending or organizing protests against wage theft, and organizing in Escondido for a permanent shelter serving homeless individuals.

Immigrant Justice

In your feedback, you mentioned several things related to immigration, migration, and the immigration system, including: “border issues,” “supporting Hispanic community in related issues such as housing, unwarranted traffic stops, and undocumented workers,” “needs and rights of immigrants and families of immigrants,” “local Escondido issues with fairness toward the Mexican population, such as police profiling, landlord issues, driving status,” and “influencing the city to be more tolerant of our undocumented citizens.”

We will probably begin this work with education and reflection on the history of immigration in the US, the current patchwork of laws that govern immigration today, the forces that drive undocumented immigration today, the legal process for undocumented immigrants, and what the state of detention is in our area. Throughout, we will also seek to be in right relationship with immigrant communities, especially people most impacted by the broken immigration system.

We have opportunities for coalition work through the North County Immigration Task Force. Individuals are also invited to participate in the SOLACE program, organized with First UU Church San Diego, which visits visiting immigrants and asylum seekers detained at the Otay Detention Facility.