Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper: Earth & Social Justice Update

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Have you wondered what is up with the Earth & Social Justice Ministry here at UUCA these days? Here’s a little update. Our social justice work falls under the “Beyond” ends statement in the governance document, which says that, “Beyond our Congregation: We Work to Act meaningfully and visibly in community service, advocacy and education. Serve as a beacon of progressive thought and action…”

Over the past few years, we have worked hard to raise our profile in the larger community, building relationships with organizations like Moral Monday/Forward Together, the We Do Campaign, Democracy Now, and others. We get reasonable turnout for events that call for a Standing on the Side of Love presence, and we continue to have groups of people working in Affiliate Groups like Move to Amend, the Hunger & Homelessness Committee, and Room in the Inn. I also know that many of you volunteer regularly on your own for organizations from Habitat for Humanity to Read to Succeed and more. We have increasing numbers of participants from UUCA at Building Bridges, as well as meetings and activities relating to Black Lives Matter.

However, when I speak to individuals in the congregation about our activism, you tell me you want more. You tell me you want broader engagement throughout the congregation. You want more people engaged. And since my job is to help you implement your vision of what you want the congregation to be and do, I want that, too. Broad participation throughout the community is part of meaningful, visible action, part of being a beacon in the community. And yet, when the Earth & Social Justice Ministry (ESJM) meets, we have less than ten people in attendance. Sometimes less than five.

So, in September of 2014, we suspended meetings of the ESJM. Since attendance was so low, regardless of whether we had discussion topics or programming or required attendance, we put the group on hiatus. And the Affiliate Groups (Hunger & Homelessness Committee, Room in the Inn, et. al.) continued their work. In December, after I preached about Black Lives Matter, that initiative rose to the surface, and a good number of people expressed interest in and commitment to that work. I am proud of the work you have done in this area, and look forward to continuing it. 

After a year of no official Earth & Social Justice Ministry meetings, it’s time to regroup and see how we as a congregation want to move forward with this essential work. Toward that end, Tom Blanford and I will be co-facilitating a study group exploring the book Doing Democracy: The Map Model for Organizing Social Movements. This study group is designed to bring UUCA activists and aspiring activists together to discuss strategy, reinforce each other, and improve our effectiveness in our respective arenas. It is my hope that this will serve as a starting point for a new collaborative vision of how we work together to promote justice in the community. The study group will meet four Thursdays over eight weeks: November 5 & 19, December 3 & 17 from 6:30-8pm.

Please let me know if you have questions, suggestions, or would like to participate in the study group.