Social Justice News, January 2020

Modified on: December 26, 2019


Martin Luther King Day Activity, Changes for our fair trade coffee program, Choosing the social justice focus issues for the coming year, And a new meeting time for the Social Justice Council!

There’s always a lot happening in Social Justice, but this is an exceptionally busy time! Our meeting this month is at 12:00, TUESDAY, Jan. 7th, in room 5. (We’re trying this daytime meeting for the winter months.) Everyone is always welcome to join our meetings and share ideas.

Before I share our focus issues for the upcoming year, let me tell you about two other ways you can help our church, our community, and our world:

  1. Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 20th, in the Fellowship Hall. Many people asked about repeating last year’s activity, packing 388 hygiene kits for the homeless and others in need, so we’re doing it! Adults and youth are welcome (please feel free to invite a friend or two). We’ll work from 10:00-12:00 (last year, we finished well before noon). All month, we’re collecting the items to pack: soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and washcloths (we already have ordered 432 toothbrushes). If you can donate, just put your donations in the containers under the Social Justice bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall. This month’s share-the-plate will also be used to purchase supplies for the kits.
  2. Equal Exchange For almost ten years, we’ve been buying fair trade, organic coffee, tea, and chocolate through Equal Exchange’s interfaith program for congregations, along with over 6,000 other congregations throughout the US (over 450 UU!). We support small farmers and help the environment by buying organic, and we know that the chocolate we buy isn’t produced by child slaves. Equal Exchange also gives $.20 a pound of UU purchases to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee AND charges us wholesale prices– we buy great coffee for less and cover the cost of the coffee and tea we drink during coffee hours. I think that’s WIN-WIN-WIN-Win! For several years, Russ and Tracy Stapleton have been wonderful coffee shepherds, selling coffee, etc., once a month. But they’re leaving for Spain, so starting in March we need to train a new team, ideally, four people, two per month, to keep our coffee and tea (and chocolate) coming. Could you be one of those four people? If you’re interested, talk to Tracy or Russ, or email socialjustice@uucs.org
  3. Lastly, Focus Topics The social justice council has chosen our focus topic options for June 2020, a total of 3 local and 3 global issues for the congregation to learn about and consider between now and the vote at our annual congregational meeting in June 2020. The issues chosen will be our focus for the year July 2020-June 2021. There were many vitally important issues submitted by the congregation at our church service Nov. 3rd, at Social Justice (SJ) meetings, and also by email or notes on the SJ bulletin board. Our SJ meetings elicited intense discussions encompassing the passions of SJ members, the concern shown by congregational “share the plates,” as well as the recent collection of food and sundries for PASOS (Hispanic, poverty) and other actions such as the coat collection for the Atheists Helping the Homeless, the youth collections for animal welfare, etc. We also looked at which issues offered the best opportunities for action for our entire church community, i.e., what organizations we currently have connections with, for potential partnerships, and resources available from UUA. Our notes below begin to expand on the issues; we will continue to discuss ideas for actions and education for all of them.

 

LOCAL ISSUES:

  1. Racism. Address need to understand history from perspective of Native Americans, African Americans, and other ethnic groups. Activities: work with Speaking Down Barriers, join MLK Parade, work to put up lynching memorial/ remove any Confederate statue in Sptg, similar. Write letters to support legal actions. This ties into various poverty, education, and UUCS internal concerns. UUA and racial justice: https://www.uua.org/racial-justice
  2. Immigration and Hispanic Alliance. Treatment of refugees as well as children in custody. Many issues re changes of immigrants and longterm immigrants. We have many church members who are passionate about this, and overall support has been shown by contributions to PASOS food and sundry drive, share the plate for lawyers for immigrants and services for children in custody. We have an ongoing relationship with the Hispanic Alliance in Spartanburg. Actions could include more of above, English lessons for adults or homework help for children. Also relates to poverty, and more.
  3.  Being a Good Neighbor in our church community and in Spartanburg. More details on this one later.

 

GLOBAL ISSUES:

  1. Also Immigration and Hispanic Alliance. Treatment of refugees as well as children in custody. Many issues re changes of immigrants and longterm immigrants. We have many church members who are passionate about this, and overall support has been shown by contributions to PASOS food and sundry drive, share the plate for lawyers for immigrants and services for children in custody. We have an ongoing relationship with the Hispanic Alliance in Spartanburg. Actions could include more of above, plus visit to detention center, plus political activity (letters, more). Also relates to poverty, climate change, and more.
    Unitarian Universalist Assoc. and immigration issues: https://www.uua.org/immigration
    And 2018 https://uucsj.org/immigrationstudyguide/
  2. Citizenship Action and Get out the Vote. Although local actions, e.g., to register citizens to vote,encourage youth to vote, and to inform ex-felons of their voting rights, are important, they may seem not meaningful enough in this conservative state. However, local experience in voter registration may be practice for participating in voter registration in neighboring states. Also, citizen action, particularly phone calls and letters, can be effective in influencing legislation that affects many causes, including S.C. legislative action on the environment (local initiatives banning plastic straws and bags threatened by upstate legislators), work licensure for Dreamers, solar energy, marijuana legislation (criminal law reform), gun violence, education, etc. A monthly or bimonthly letter-writing + campaign could be a part of this, first, as part of the Congregational Education on Issues, and then, after the election of 2020 is over. Our strong ties with League of Women Voters would give us partners for this work, as well as our ties to WREN and “green” groups, and, of course, our own experience with Spartanburg Earth Day. This UUA webpage offers a way of pulling together a lot of our concerns about voting and citizenship: https://www.uua.org/justice/vote
    #3. Environmental Action. We have just completed a 4- year focus on the Spartanburg Earth Day Festival, and as we partner with USC Upstate and become their junior partner.. we have ongoing actions that relate to the commitment underlying the festival. Our global concern is reflected in ongoing local activities with the SC Aquarium on working against single use plastics, and with professors at USC Upstate on a project to help restaurants in Spartanburg become more environmentally friendly. Wider global action could include phone calls, petitions, letters, and demonstrations supporting/fighting legislation. This is another issue with lots of information for action from UUA, including at
    https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/climate_broch_short_edge.pdf

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