Minister’s Blog


We Are On the Move

Scott J. Neely

February 1, 2020

Social Justice Discernment Process Update
February Focus: Racism & Voting

  • 437 hygiene kits packed for our annual MLK Day Service project, distributed to four service agencies. Dozens of congregation and community members of all ages volunteered to serve, and five elected officials, all from the South Converse neighborhood, joined to share with us about our neighborhood’s history and to encourage our efforts.
  • Powerful representation of UU members at four other community events hosted by the City over MLK Weekend.
  • More than 70 participants in our first social justice dialogue after the third Sunday service in January, with probing questions and challenging insights shared.
  •  Five congregants participated in the “UU the Vote” web launch, promoting best practices for UU congregations to advocate for free, fair, and highly participatory elections throughout the nation this year.
  • Four congregational representatives attended the January Hispanic Alliance meeting to learn from our partners and to express solidarity.
  • Two letter-writing campaigns executed advocating for refugees and residents with temporary protected status (TPS), with sheaves of hand-written letters delivered to our Governor and our Senators.
  • One UUCS member advocated at City Council for the protection of statewide environmental legislation being targeted by legislators from the Upstate.
  • One visit from a staff leader from the UU Service Committee in Boston, to share with us ways our local work can align with national efforts.

All this and more took place in our congregation, only this January.

Our Social Justice Discernment Process is advancing quickly, with an abundance of activity and a profound flow of ideas. Thank you all for engaging in this work so productively together. Our honest, sincere, and heart-focused teamwork matters.

This past fall, our congregation submitted more than 80 suggestions of social justice causes and projects for us to consider doing as a congregation. The Social Justice Council carefully weighed every option—all of which were on point. The decision-making process was extended, laborious, and energizing in the depth of thought required of us.

Six projects were selected for us to consider as a congregation, three local and three national/global. This winter and spring, we are educating ourselves on these six focus areas:

  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.
  2. 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 sister anti-racism organizations.
     National/Global Project (Voting): Challenging voter suppression efforts and gerrymandering in our state and region.
  3. 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.

Throughout the winter and spring, 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.

We are asking ourselves: What is the unique work we can do as a congregation to make a difference in the world around us?

As a UU congregation, democracy is one of our seven core principles. Democracy depends on participation. For all who are already doing so much, thank you for all, all, all you are giving. It is amazing what we have done in just one month. For all of us, let us join together in this exhilarating process:

  • Engage with these project ideas through our Sunday services, in the UUCS Sanctuary or via our livestream video.
  • Take part in social justice projects announced in the Happenings, Unison, and Connect publications—these are real-time experiments with the projects and ideas we are considering.
  • Participate in our social justice dialogues on the third Sunday of each month, February 16 and March 15, after the Sunday service.
  • Contact me [minister@uucs.org], our Social Justice Chair Alice Sutton, our ministry intern Anne Garner [intern@uucs.org], or any member of the Social Justice Council at any time to share your insights and to push all of our thinking forward.
  • Plan to attend the Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 7, where all UUCS members will have a vote.

If we all engage in this process—if we all fuse our ideas, our energy, our will, and our gifts together—who knows what we may do?

We are on the move—

Scott


Drag Queen Story Hour

Scott J. Neely

January 30, 2020

On Sunday, February 9, from 2:00-4:00 pm in our Fellowship Hall, UUCS will host a Drag Queen Story Hour. Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is an event for drag entertainers to share books and stories with children in libraries, schools, bookstores, and community centers. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood. Kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

The February DQSH will celebrate Black History Month with readings by three favorite Drag entertainers, who will showcase stories of African/African American heritage, beauty, and excellence.

The event is free, but you do need a ticket. There are two sessions – 2:00-2:45 and 3:00-3:45. Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/drag-queen-story-hour-tickets-89874662535?aff&fbclid=IwAR3LxR72STioBH8XKaGgfd_IgpO8xX6W4tTztTCdSIxWlCaM7i85N8NVo78.

Come for the fun and the power of this event–

Anne & Scott