Last Sunday, 30+ people joined Rev. Julie and the Transition Team to explore the future of social justice work at UUCW. With the ministerial transition and our increasing re-engagement following the pandemic, this conversation was needed in order to establish some common understanding…of what social justice projects matter to UUCW…or how this congregation is organized to take action…of what kind of leadership and involvement are required.

Here’s a brief re-cap of what was shared:

Why was it important for you to be here today?
Passion for social justice work. I want to know how to get involved. What are the key needs right now? How can we make a meaningful change in the world?

What are the projects and initiatives that UUCW is doing (and has done)?
MICAH, SOPHIA, Guest House, Food Pantry, River Keepers/River Clean up, Split the Plate, Anti-Racism, Earth Ministry, Green Sanctuary, Welcoming Congregation, Get out the Vote, Black Lives Matter, Drag Queen/Banned Books Story Hour, Youth Mission Trips, Bridges to Community, Prison Ministry, Pride Fest/LBGTQ floats, Mental Health, Recycling, Fair Housing, Crop Walks, Habitat for Humanity…and more…

In what ways/why has Social Justice work been important and/or empowering for you?
Building empathy, gratitude, facing injustices, awareness of privilege, outrage, personal lived experience, upbringing, making a difference, learning humility, feels good, gaining sense of community, incredulity at what’s happening, engaging youth, awareness of suffering, vision for a different world…

What particular Social Justice work draws you to get involved? What are you passionate about?
In this exercise, individuals put their most important issues on sticky notes and then we grouped those sticky notes into like kinds.
The list, without prioritizing, includes:
Providing food and clothing, Literacy and education, Marches and protests, Reproductive rights, Environmental justice and Climate change, Anti-racism and racial justice, Gun control, Universal health care (and mental health), Universal basic income, Voting rights, Getting proximate with other communities, MICAH and SOPHIA, Self-education, Prison reform, Immigration and refugees, LGBTQ+ rights, Affordable Housing… and more…

What’s needed?
This question was not pointedly asked. Yet, throughout our time together, several themes emerged. We need a structure in order to know HOW to do this work. We need leadership who will carry the torch. Some people expressed a need to focus on a few projects rather than trying to do too much, while others feel that everyone should feel empowered to get involved in what interests them most. And we need the willpower and the commitment to show up and make things happen.

Now what?
After some time was spent in breakout groups imagining how we could best organize, a small team was formed to recommend a new ‘structure’ for social justice work at UUCW. Building on how things have been done in the past, and incorporating what was shared during this conversation, they’ll imagine the next steps. (Stay tuned for further developments.)

Because we believe UUCW can…
Have a meaningful impact on social justice issues in the community, Revive our service-learning work, Be a beacon for the community by standing up for justice, focus its efforts and have an impact, Join with other organizations and establish strong relationships, Participate in marches and protests, Make a tangible difference, Create systemic change, Help to heal the world….and more!

We believe UUCW can do anything we have the will to do!