Justice

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Faith in Action

Our work for justice is based on the principles of equality and solidarity. How we live matters; our living can make a positive difference in the world. We honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and honor all life. We have a long tradition of involvement in work for social change.

Our Goals are to:

1. Provide opportunities to grow and be transformed through action and service.

2. Educate others and invite the wider community to join us in living our seven Unitarian Universalist Association Principles.

3. Be a community leader in social justice through the active participation of the members and in coalition with other justice-seeking organizations.

The Social Justice Council leads our efforts, and provides vision, direction, and organizational support for our growing involvement in social justice activities.

A Note from Our Assistant Minister:

Man, is the work of social justice hard? It seems like everywhere there are fires to be put out and sometimes we feel like we are the only ones who can see that the whole thing appears to be burning down. I’m pretty sure those two sentences resonate with many of you, but even if only one of you hears it and says, “Gosh, Aaron described exactly the way I feel!” then you can take some heart in knowing you aren’t alone.

Of course, you already know that – the familiar faces that you see at taskforce meetings; the folks you know you should remember from the last picket line you stood on; the warm smiles, hugs and handshakes for people you are just now meeting for the first time at a vigil or in the courthouse – these are all reminders that our work however massive it might appear is never done alone, and can never be considered drudgery because it is done in community. Sure, it would be nice to have a couple more folks on the line or packing the hearing room, but that energy and worry will never contribute to our cause.

Yes, the work of social justice is hard; the ministry of social justice is hard. Sometimes it can even seem thankless. I was recently at the DACA walkout down at the Auraria campus. The students had organized themselves and spoke for themselves. The crowd was swelled with those directly affected, the students, their teachers, allies from the community. And I had the chance to overhear a conversation that might resonate with some.

As the events from the stage began, a woman with large thick sunglasses, a blue T-shirt with a pro-immigrant slogan emblazoned on her chest and a sunhat covering her grey bob spoke out to a young woman with long black hair, a school shirt and backpack. The young woman was carrying a sign that read: “Dreamers Stand Against White Supremacy.”

“Excuse me,” the older woman said, “I was looking at your sign. I just wanted you to know that I am not a racist.”

The young woman turned around and said pleasantly, “Okay.”

“I mean, I just, wanted to tell you,” said the older woman, “because I think it’s important. You know? Not everybody who is white is for what the president is doing. I don’t like it. And I’ve always been like this. I stand up for people. When you look at me do you see a white person?”

The young woman was looking increasingly uncomfortable, “Well, yeah.” The speakers on the stage continued to get the crowd charged. There was cheering and anticipation.

“You have to understand that all white people aren’t the same. We are in this together. And I react strongly to talk about white supremacy. So when you see me, just know that I am on your side,” said the older woman.

“Okay,” said the young woman very pleasantly and turned back around to blend back in with the crowd.

The work of social justice is hard; the ministry of social justice is hard. It becomes infinitely harder when we bring ego into our work. Ministry means to serve. At its heart it is a selfless act – and that is hard!

I know the older woman’s heart was in the right place. I know that she had the best of all intentions. She was afraid that she was misunderstood. It hurts to be misunderstood. But, honestly, social justice work is a lot like triage – the biggest wounds have to be healed first. All pain matters, but the pain of some needs to be dealt with immediately. The young woman in the crowd with the sign and her friends had just learned that they may not have a future in the only country they have ever known. It was as if a well meaning person holding a life vest jumped on to another person drowning in a pool, while shouting “Catch me! I’m falling!”

The writer of Ecclesiastes noted: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV). There is a time to explain and a time to be silent. There is a time to debate and a time to come together. There is a season for everything, but not everything is always in season. It was not the older woman’s day; it was the younger woman’s day – it was her future and the future of those dreamers assembled on the line. In the ministry of social justice: sometimes we should lead, often we should follow, and occasionally, we just need to get out of the way. Getting out of the way doesn’t mean bitterly putting down your load and refusing to go on, of course, but it does mean, knowing when your needs are getting in the way of ministering to the needs of another. It means being humble and listening.

Everyone who does the work of social justice is engaged in a ministry (whether they like the term or not), because it is an act of service to others. Like all acts, it can be done skillfully or not and it will be effective or it won’t. Done skillfully, social justice isn’t quite as hard and it is definitely more effective. As ministers, our purpose is to effect change in others and society at large; we must be self aware enough to know when we are trying to get those we claim to be helping to save us instead.

May we all be skillful, humble and unafraid as we do the good work of social justice for the benefit of the world we share.

Yours in Faith and Fellowship,
Aaron Norris
Assistant Minister


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We Affirm and Promote

 

Equality, Education, & Safety

  • Our Gay Rights Task Force works to eliminate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people.
  • Our Gun Violence Prevention Task Force was formed to reduce the suffering caused by gun violence in our country and, especially, in Colorado. Its aims are to make it harder for dangerous people to obtain firearms, and to reduce the number of victims that can be assaulted by a shooter. The task force works in collaboration with Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence, a multi-congregational group of congregations, ranging from the Front Range to Summit County.
  • Our Racial Justice Task Force helps us to explore Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multiculturalism (ARAOMC) within the framework of our faith.
  • Our Immigration Justice Task Force works to eliminate unjust immigration policies that are tearing families apart.
  • We Stand on the Side of Love with the Unitarian Universalist Association and with Unitarian Universalists around the world.

Housing for the Homeless & Food for the Hungry

  • The Habitat Interfaith Alliance Task Force works in conjunction with 12 other faith groups and the Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. We have built 12 houses so far!
  • Our Homeless Justice Task Force assists people experiencing homelessness by educating congregation members about the issue, recruiting volunteers for direct service, and establishing partnerships with like-minded organizations.
  • We collect donations of food, clothing and money to support people and families in need through Integrated Family Community Services.

Environmental Justice

  • Our Green First Task Force seeks to reduce resource consumption and overuse through education and support of our members and community to live environmentally-sustainable lifestyles. First Universalist is accredited with the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Green Sanctuary!
  • Our Ethical Eating Task Force seeks to educate and inspire our members and community to practice ethical eating in daily life, and to support organizations and businesses who hold ethical food practices.

 

Get Involved!

Would you like to get involved with social justice efforts at First Universalist?  We’d love to have you; there are many ways to get involved!

Join a Task Force: 

Do one of these listed groups interest you?  Task forces are always looking to add new members who are passionate about the work they do. Click on the links above to get more information about each social justice group in our church and the contact person to learn more about how to get involved directly with that group.

Show up for events: 

Want to rally, protest, testify, volunteer, support, or just be a part of the action? Our task forces have events going on all the time at locations throughout our communities. If it’s a rally in Civic Center Park, UUs generally meet on the West steps of the Capitol building (unless a different event location has been identified). Events are posted in our events calendar, on the church Facebook Page, Twitter, and in emails and other weekly/monthly church publications. If you aren’t currently signed up to received these publications directly in your email, click here to subscribe.

Help behind the scenes: 

If helping with events behind the scenes is more your speed, we have lots of opportunities for you as well. Organizing carpools, making posters, assembling kits, preparing/bringing food, setting up or cleaning up a space for volunteers, and much more. These are great ways to engage in social justice work, and critical roles that must be filled so that we may continue or legacy of justice in our community and beyond.

Join the Social Justice Book Club:  

Come one, come all to First Universalist’s Social Justice Book Club. Every month we read a different selection of either fiction or non-fiction dedicated in some way to the pursuit of social justice. Authors read so far include Michelle Alexander, Anthony Doerr and Malala Yousafzai.

During the building project we’re meeting at First Unitarian at 1400 N. Lafayette Street. We meet at 7:00 on the fourth Monday of the month. In April, that will be the 24th.

For our next selection, we’re reading a classic: Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel is a bracing work of speculative fiction about a dystopian future where women are subjugated in a fascist Christian regime. It won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke Award. It was nominated for the Nebula Award and the Booker Prize.
Social justice takes many shapes and forms, and we’ll continue to read books that explore the innumerable facets of justice, equity and compassion in human relations. We’d love to have you.

 

Donate:

There are several ways to donate much needed supplies, resources and financial gifts to those in our community who need it the most.  At each Sunday service, we have a Compassion in Action offering, which you can read about here. One hundred percent of this Sunday collection goes directly to these organizations right here in our community.

We also collect nonperishable food items for IFCS and basic needs supplies for our Homeless Justice Task Force. While we are out of our building this year, we collect these items on the second Sunday of the month, Social Justice Sunday.  Bring these items with you to the service at Hamilton Middle School on second Sundays at 10am and drop them off in the donation bins in the front entryway.

Come to services:

Our services are a great way to participate in social justice because you get to be in community with other like-minded and like-hearted people. You’ll have a chance to hear about community events, meet task force members, and in the Order of Service, you’ll see all the upcoming events of the church.

If you have any questions about how to get involved or simply didn’t find what you were looking for here, please contact our Social Justice Council Chair, Liz Hopkins, and she will gladly connect you with the people/information you’re seeking.  Contact Liz here.