by Wini Atlas.
Social justice is one of my passions. It is a joy of my UUCF membership that many in the congregation share this passion. This community is so much more together than merely the sum of its parts. As I reflect on my first year as lay minister for social justice, I’m more aware of this than ever before. I started my tenure with joy, anticipation and a bit of trepidation. I was lucky to have the support and encouragement of Martha Ades, the outgoing lay minister for social justice. Rev. David A. Miller, at that time starting his ministry with us, made it clear that social justice was also important to him. I am grateful for his counsel over the past year.
One of my goals for my tenure as lay minister was to start a conversation at UUCF about racial justice. UCCF has a long and strong history of racial justice work, and I was glad to find we were on the same wavelength when Rev. David told me about Standing on the Side of Love’s “Thirty Days of Love,” a racial justice education and advocacy program. Last fall, a group formed to plan the monthlong program and UUCF had an amazing and inspiring month of activities and services about racial justice beginning on Martin Luther King, Jr’s, birthday weekend and ending on Valentine’s Day. I’m grateful that the planning group has grown into the Racial Justice Steering Committee – under the able leadership of Kaye Cook, Mary Frances Kordick and Milo Valenzuela – so that we can continue these conversations.
I am lucky to have such dedicated members on the Social Justice Council (SJC). Judith Keith, Bob McCarthy, Sandy Myles, Rita Roth and Autumn Yates, along with youth member Sidney Roth, have generously contributed their unique perspectives to our work. We learned a lot about each other in the continual effort to fulfill the recommendations of the Program Evaluation Committee’s (PEC) 2014 report on social justice by evaluating our charter, covenant and job descriptions to ensure they reflected the strategic thinking that the PEC felt would make the social justice program more vital. We reviewed the social justice mission, vision and goals and the new strategic goals of the congregation when they became available. Rev. David brought the Unitarian Universalist Association workbook “Inspired Faith, Effective Action” to our attention and it contained a good blueprint for our social justice groups to evaluate their work and help them understand the new strategic thrust of the SJC. This effort will continue with the UUCF Social Justice Summit on Oct. 1. Change isn’t always easy but I’ve seen many examples of good will and beloved conversations as the work continues.
All sorts of social justice work is happening at UUCF and I am amazed at the dedication of those involved. I’ve learned over the last year how important it is to give service but also to try to change policy so that someday the service may not be needed. I’ve also learned that help has many nuances. Our attitude toward service is changing. It is not enough to tell those we help what they need. It is better to try to discover with them how we can work together to meet their needs; to learn how we can be allies to those we help. This can be a hard lesson to learn; yet I realize, more than ever, that striving toward that goal is important spiritual work.
As a new congregational year begins, those of us involved in social justice at UUCF look forward to many of our programs gearing up. Watch the UUCF announcements for information on many social justice efforts, many of them intergenerational, happening in 2016-17.