As we begin a new church year, we look back in amazement at all that we accomplished in this pandemic year. Some of it was because of the pandemic, some was in spite of the pandemic, and it was much more than we dreamed of accomplishing. We go forward with a profoundly changed belief in how we can make a difference – how our cumulative small efforts together can have a large impact!
This year’s Social Justice program was the broadest and most ambitious we have ever attempted, in a congregation that has earned the LGBT Welcoming designation, the Green Congregation award, hosted Spartanburg Earth Day festivals, and more. We had ambitious plans before the pandemic impacted us, but as our congregation responded to the covid19 pandemic, we developed an expanded understanding of who we are, what we can do, and how we want to grow. Our plans for the coming year are to give our congregation, again, the chance to be all that we can be and to make a difference in our world.
Our overarching project was to do the work of consciousness through workshops and dialogues on becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppression, multicultural congregation. From this commitment to consciousness, four teams worked on distinct projects in the areas of Immigration, Voting, Ecology, and Being a Neighbor, in cooperation with partners in each of these areas. Then we added one more, as the pandemic raged- we formed a mask sewing circle that made over 6,600 masks, mainly for low income communities.
Opportunities to work with one another and with partnering organizations were seriously affected during the pandemic, as we followed CDC guidelines on “meeting up.” Zoom meetings only partially made up for the lack of face-to-face interaction. Nonetheless, we persisted. Often, we expressed the importance of social justice causes by our donations to the monthly “Share the Plate” recipients.
We also continued, as best we could, our oldest social actions: the food barrel for two community organizations and the newspaper collection for two NPO’s providing animal care. And, individuals continued volunteer work for those causes dear to their hearts.