Justice Ministry

The Justice Ministry at UU Asheville

Working for justice and equity in our own community and beyond is integral to what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Our Justice Ministry is where we organize our justice work and support one another as we strive to live our values, both as individuals and as a congregation. As a congregation, we are charged by our governing documents to “come alive with a passion for justice and work as a faith community to positively affect the environment and lives of people beyond the walls of our Congregation.”

There are many dimensions to how we seek to alert, educate, inspire and involve people in the work of justice. The links on this page identity those areas that are our current areas of focus and contacts for those areas, as well as opportunities to get involved.

The work is overseen by our Justice Ministry Council, which exists to support and facilitate communication about our justice work. For more information contact Minister of Faith Development or council members.

Racial Justice – Fredda Mangel
Environmental Justice – Wink Zachritz
LGBTQ+, Gender & Sexuality Justice – Bernise Lynch
Economic Justice – Joyce Birkenholz
Community Plate – Linda Kooiker
Denominational Action – Deb Holden
Spiritual Grounding – Nancy Bragg
UU the Vote – Joanne Fox
Animal Ministry — Iris Williams

Racial Justice

Our congregation has made a strong commitment to being advocates for racial justice in Asheville and the wider world. In June 2016 the congregation adopted a Resolution in support of Black Lives Matter Movement that calls us to educate about and deepen our understanding of white privilege and racially oppressive systems and to partner with local organizations to harness the power of love to combat oppression at all levels in our communities.
Our work in this area is currently being organized by our Recommitting to Black Lives Matter committee. Our activities now are currently focused on Education and Awareness and Major Actions of Commitment. We also look for opportunities to leverage our privilege and power by joining local boards that would benefit from the presence of “awakened voices.” 

The Racial Justice group includes members who are involved in Immigration Justice. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has made a commitment on a national level to support undocumented and other immigrants. Members of UU Asheville have begun to take initiative in this area, working with local community partners to advocate for the undocumented community here in Western NC.

On October 29, 2017, our congregation voted to provide physical sanctuary (or a safe living space) for a person or persons at risk of immediate deportation. The Sanctuary Steering committee, comprised of members from UU Asheville, Temple Beth Ha’Tephila, and Land of Sky Ministries worked within the larger WNC Sanctuary movement to educate themselves about the logistics, resources, and risks involved with this work. Our guests resolved their status and UU Asheville members Katie Winchell and Sharon LeDuc keep us informed about what is happening in the local immigrant community.

Environmental Justice

UU Asheville is committed to helping our congregation and its members live more sustainably upon the Earth. We were recognized as a Green Sanctuary in 2008 and are currently applying to be recertified in that status. Environment Action Committee  (EAC) meets monthly to coordinate our work for environmental justice. Also, we as a congregation have undertaken many projects to help us live lightly on the land, including installing rain gardens & native plantings and retrofitting our buildings based on energy audits. We recently completed a major project of installing 100 solar panels on our main building. Together we are working to reduce our energy consumption and to serve as a beacon of hope in our community.

Arial view of the array of 105 solar panels installed March 2019 with funds raised by members of UUCA.

Environmental Action Committee (EAC)

This group leads our congregation’s work in issues of Earth justice, including seeking to stop climate change, reducing our carbon footprint and helping us to live sustainably. It is guided by the value of our 7th principle: “Respect of the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” Over the past couple of years, EAC has enjoyed diverse participation in the congregation by pursuing several different initiatives. Everything from book discussion groups to volunteer workdays in the community, from campus landscaping to putting 100 solar panels on the roof. EAC is always on the search for passionate environmental leaders and welcomes new ideas.

Here are Green Tips we’ve posted in the past.  Click on the green button below to see more!

Please join us at our next monthly meeting! We usually meet the 4th Thursday from 6:30-8:00 pm.
Please check the church calendar or weekly newsletter to confirm.


Current Projects

  • Plan workdays to benefit the Earth, such as tree plantings and river cleanups in partnership with Asheville GreenWorks
  • Coordinating our re-accreditation for Green Sanctuary
  • Staffing an outreach table in Sandburg Hall following services to help share our current projects
  • KillAWatt Meter you can borrow to test your home energy use
  • Campus Landscape Information
  • Pollinator List on the hillside next to the parking lot entry

Economic Justice

Two of our Unitarian Universalist principles lead us to action in the area of economic justice. We believe that every person has inherent worth and dignity and we believe in justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. These values lead us to several of our congregation’s initiatives.

Taking Action

ROOM IN THE INN – Four times a year, UU Asheville and Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church on Merrimon Avenue, provide a week of lodging and meals for about 10 to 15 homeless women. Grace Church provides lodging facilities and Grace Church and UU Asheville together provide evening meals (main dish, vegetable, salad, dessert), breakfasts, lunches, and volunteers to spend the night that week. You can also sign up in Sandburg Hall following Sunday services, prior to the event.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY – In support of affordable housing, UU Asheville annually joins the local Interfaith community and Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity to build an Interfaith house. Our congregation provides financial donations and volunteer “builders” to help realize a dream for an area family. No building experience is necessary! 

SUMMER LUNCH PROGRAM THROUGH BUNCOMBE COUNTY SCHOOLS NUTRITION PROGRAM – This Summer program is designed to serve lunches five days a week to children up to the age of 18, who live in lower income neighborhoods. UU Asheville volunteers help each summer with this program, serving lunches that are prepared by school kitchens at various venues. Contact Judy Mattox at judymattox@sbcglobal.net



Community Plate

Each month our congregation provides support for a community partner who we believe shares our values. We encourage our congregants to learn more about these organizations and actively volunteer in the work they do. On the first Sunday of each month, our offering is dedicated to that month’s partner. as well as all checks identified as “Community Plate” during the entire month. The Community Plate Committee of our Earth & Social Justice Ministry team recommends the agencies or projects.

Click here to see guidelines for nominating recipients.

To submit a Community Plate nomination, please fill out this online form

For a list of past recipients, and more information, please visit our Community Plate page.

Members of the Marvelous Math Club here at UUCA describing their wonderful program.

Gender Justice: A Welcoming Congregation

Our congregation has long provided support and a welcome sanctuary for lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. As long ago as the 1990s Rev. Maureen Killoran convened one of the area’s first World AIDS Day services. We organized an Interweave group to support LGBTQ people and for a time provided space for a Metropolitan Community Church, which provided gay-friendly Christian worship, to meet here. In 1995 UUCA was recognized by the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Welcoming Congregation.

This commitment continued in 2005 when the Rev. Mark Ward announced he would not sign marriage licenses until same-sex people were allowed to marry. UU Asheville joined coalitions seeking to change the law. In 2014 Rev. Ward and two UU Asheville members joined as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit that succeeded in overturning a constitutional provision banning same-sex marriage. Former Associate Minister Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper officiated at the first legal same-sex wedding in North Carolina on the steps of the county building and the congregation hosted more than a dozen same-sex marriages on its campus.

We are committed to providing a religious home free of discrimination where all who visit us will hear us declare that, “whatever your heritage, whomever you love, you are welcome in our faith community.”

Learn more about Welcoming Congregations at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) website.

Here’s a link to an article that gives information about what you can do when you experience cyberbullying.

Universal Rainbow Unity

This group seeks to promote Love, Acceptance, Compassion, Justice, and Equality in all areas of sexual and gender identity while providing education, encouraging awareness and nurturing full inclusion in a spiritually diverse community. Contact Joe Penno.

Denominational Engagement

Attending General Assembly

This is the annual meeting of our denomination. It is an opportunity to gather with UUs from all over the country and the world to learn, worship, build relationship and do the work of the denomination. General Assembly 2023 will be in Pittsburg, Pennsylvanio June 21-25, 2023.

General Assembly Public Witness 2019: Attendees demanding jobs not jails


Supporting UUSC: The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

UUSC advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. Our work is grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power and dignity. Learn more about our unique approach.

The 2019-2010 Guest at Your Table theme is “Women Leaders, Strong Communities.”

UUSC will launch the program during the November 24 Sunday service. The Guest at Your Table program is an annual UUSC fundraiser to raise awareness about key human rights issues and support the work of grassroots partners around the world.


Purchasing Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolate

As people of faith, we need to live out our values through our consumer choices. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) Coffee Project is a collaborative effort between Equal Exchange, the UUSC and UU congregations to involve more UUs in supporting small farmers around the world. Support of worker cooperatives is a good way to advance human rights. As a Fair Trade organization, Equal Exchange buys directly from small-scale farmer cooperatives, owned and run by the farmers themselves. Because the farmer partners are paid above market prices for their crops, they are able to make investments in community projects, educational programs, and technical training. These cooperative organizations also help keep rural communities healthy and strong, and keep local cultures vibrant. Equal Exchange is also committed to supporting sustainable farming methods that help green the earth through reforestation, natural resource conservation and organic practices. Contact Phil Roudebush.

Faith Development

Representatives from adult and children’s Faith Development programs provide an intergenerational link to what is happening and share opportunities for all ages engagement.

All Ages creativity on Social Justice Sunday, October 6 when representative from Beloved worked with our children and shared their vision for creating home dealing with the housing crisis in Asheville. They also learned about the Beloved Village, a project to build tiny houses to create deeply affordable homes


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