First U Social Justice Project

2009 April 22
by DoMC

The congregation is in the process of choosing its first congregation-wide, year-long social justice project. The brainstorming meeting on March 28 yielded the following two projects, chosen as the best of the ideas presented. At our Annual Congregational Meeting on May 17, members will choose one of these to be our project for next year.

We want to hear what you think about these projects and any ideas you may have to improve them. There will be two opportunities for input, so these concepts can be finalized prior to the Annual Meeting:

1)     HOUSE MEETINGS on Sunday, April 26, 5-7 pm
      Our Bodies, Our Spirits, Our Lives – at the Church 
      Simple Gifts – at the home of Vonda Brunsting, Cobble Hill      
For the house meetings, please RSVP to Jocelyn Smith at OR
2)     INFORMATIONAL FORUM after service on Sunday, May 3, 12:45pm

Project descriptions:

  Our Bodies, Our Spirits, Our Lives:

Equal Rights and Equal Care for People of All Sexualities and Genders

This project proposes that the congregation spend the next year working for equal rights for people of all sexualities and genders. Unitarian Universalists have been at the forefront of the struggle for gender and sexuality equality. Our own congregation has a long history of supporting women’s rights, reproductive rights and gay rights. This year finds our state and our nation at a tipping point where goals we have hoped to achieve for many years now appear to be within reach.

If we choose this project as First Unitarian’s social justice focus for the coming year, we would have the opportunity to apply our progressive faith’s values toward justice issues pertaining to sex and sexuality discrimination. The project will allow congregants to work on activities such as promoting comprehensive school-based sex education in NYC, legalizing civil marriage for gays and lesbians in New York State, preserving legal abortion in the U.S., joining with local UU congregations to implement a young adult OWL (Our Whole Lives) sexuality curriculum, joining with UU congregations nation-wide to advocate for the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in the military, and supporting federal financing of comprehensive family planning programs — including abortion — around the world.

Simple Gifts

“Simple Gifts” proposes that the congregation work with other institutions to create a social and economic justice network. The idea was brought to us by the Coordinator of Community Service at St. Ann’s School, and partnership with local schools and with other faith institutions would be an intrinsic part of this effort. We would join together to coordinate monthly “drives” to collect necessities such as food, clothing, books, computers, etc, and make sure they are delivered to people who need them. We also hope to establish one-on-one partnerships with groups serving those we intend to help. Finally, we would host forums on social and economic justice issues.

This project would help us address the needs of those who have been hit hardest by this economic downturn, take an active hand in reusing valuable resources that might otherwise be discarded, and allow us to strengthen our ties with other institutions and individuals in the community. Congregants could get involved in a number of ways, including by publicizing or coordinating the “drives,” by planning the forums, and by taking part in volunteer opportunities with the groups serving the individuals we are helping.  

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