A Year for Social Justice

Modified on: December 30, 2019


Happy New Year to us all! I am very excited about the year before us. This year, we will reshape the future of our community and our world.

Our Endeavor
This winter and spring, we enter into a time of discernment for the work of social justice at UUCS. For the last four years, we have developed the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival. It has grown to the point that our partner, USC-Upstate, will now serve as lead organizer and host of the Festival going forward. It is time for us to find a new social justice project to focus on as a congregation. In a momentous year for our nation and for us all, we will ask: What is the unique work we can do as a congregation to make a difference in the world around us?

The Process
This fall our congregation provided a huge, varied, and compelling range of possible projects for our work toward social justice together. Our Social Justice Council has streamlined all the ideas that we received from the congregation into six focus areas, three local and three national/global. This winter and spring, we will educate ourselves on these six focus areas. During that same time period, the Social Justice Council will hone the specific projects in which we may choose to engage. At our Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 7, we will vote on our next Social Justice projects to focus on as a congregation, selecting one local and one national/global project at that meeting.

Our Schedule
Over the next three months during our Sunday services, we will think together about these focus areas and possible projects within them:

  1. January: Focus on Immigration
    • Local Project (Immigration): Building stronger relationships as a congregation with the Hispanic Alliance and PASOs, while deepening our work with both organizations.
    • National/Global Project (Immigration): Advocacy for the rights of immigrants, especially in concert with efforts by the UU Service Committee. We have been asked by the UU Service Committee to participate in a letter writing campaign to our US senators from SC as a trial run.
  1. February: Focus on Racism & Voting
    • Local Project (Racism): Confronting the internal biases of our own congregation through a process of self-education and reflection, and supporting local efforts to combat racism, including the City’s MLK celebration; the United Way’s MLK Day of Service; and participation in monthly events by Speaking Down Barriers.
    • National/Global Project (Voting): Challenging voter suppression efforts and gerrymandering in our state and region.
  1. March: Focus on Being A Neighbor & Environmental Action
    • Local Project (Being A Neighbor): Building stronger connections with the South Converse Neighborhood Association and residents neighboring the church by hosting community meals at UUCS, and doing the internal work as a congregation to host these meals in a truly neighborly, communal, mutually beneficial way.
    • National/Global Project(Environmental Action): Through the simple act of picking up litter, (1) adopting a highway as a congregation; (2) working with the SC Aquarium to document litter picked up; and (3) advocating for better environmental practices in the City of Spartanburg, especially at restaurants.

Your Input
Your input in this process is of crucial importance. Every church member will have the opportunity to vote on our project selection at our Annual Meeting in June. Prior to that, your comments, ideas, and suggestions are very much desired. You may contact me [minister@uucs.org], our Social Justice Chair Alice Sutton, or any member of the Social Justice Council at any time to share your insights and to push all of our thinking forward.

Dialogue
To challenge us all to listen and think together more through this process of discernment, we will hold three congregational dialogues after Sunday services on January 19, February 16, and March 15. These dialogues, similar to sermon talk-backs, will be an opportunity to reflect together on this discernment process, our exploration of these six focus areas, and the honing of the projects on which we will vote in June. Please come! These dialogues will be an outstanding time to bond as a congregation, developing stronger and clearer lines of communication to guide us into our future together.

This is a year for social justice, a year to reshape our lives, our community, and our world into the home of which we dream, a place where every person belongs, a place more livable for every one of us.

Now is the time. Let’s make this a year of power and hope.

With excitement and immense gratitude,

Scott


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