What a great Thirty Days of Love it was this year! With MLK Day at the beginning and National SSL Day(or Valentine’s Day to some!) at the end as our anchor holidays, we stood on the side of love in inspiring ways. Here at the SSL Campaign HQ, we worked for months leading up the the Thirty Days of Love to create weekly and daily themes, identify powerful messengers, cultivate resources and more. And then, for 30 days, we offered a daily email, action, reflection, and more. But what is really amazing about this campaign is all the ways people like YOU take it home and create something unique that fits your community, congregation or family. While it would be next to impossible to recount every single way that folks participated, we want to give you an overview of the many ways that people stood on the side of love during the 2014 campaign, which ran from January 18- February 16.
While the Thirty Days of Love might be “over” this calendar year, here are ways you can stay involved until we meet again for Thirty Days of Love 2015!
1. Let us know what you thought about this year’s campaign, and help us shape next year’s by offering your feedback. Take the 2014 Thirty Days of Love Survey here!
2. Were you inspired by the messages and resources we shared? Feel free to use them in upcoming RE classes, social justice discussions, sermons and more! Click here to access the thirty Days of Love calendar with all the daily resource pages.
Thirty Days of Love 2014 by the Numbers
- Close to 2,000 people signed up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails. Did you miss those emails? Check them out by clicking on any day of the calendar, available here.
- Between 1,000-1,500 UUs participated in our signature witness event: the Mass Moral March in Raleigh NC
- Thousands of people participated in the campaign throughout the 30 days on social media, including sharing important actions with their networks, sharing their own stories, and continuing the conversations on justice issues.
- Dozens of Courageous Love Awards were presented to community love heroes throughout the U.S.
- Close to 60 Bloggers contributed to the daily messages, both those published on the official site, and through outside blogs that offered solidarity messages!
- 44 people RSVP’ed, and many more joined on the day of for our online chat on Valentine’s Day to talk about the future of Standing on the Side of Love.
Mass Moral March: Feb. 8, 2014 Raleigh NC
Our signature public witness event during the Thirty Days of Love 2014 was our partnership with NC congregations in the Mass Moral March on February 8th, in Raleigh NC. Read more about that day here, and check out our new Voting Rights Today page that will carry our work forward after Raleigh!
Honoring UU Heroes
On the eve of the Mass Moral March, we awarded Rev. Clark Olsen with the 2014 Standing on the Side of Love “Courageous Love Award”. Read more about Rev. Olsen and his long legacy of standing up for civil rights here. Read more about other Courageous Love Awards recipients below!
Extra Love Notes
In addition to the messengers who authored messages for the daily themes, the UUA’s office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries (YaYA) followed the Thirty Days of Love with a daily reflection by their staff. We also had an unexpected, lovely surprise: several days before the 30 Days launched, UU bloggers across the country decided to participate in a solidarity 30 Days “Blog-A-Thon”. Check out their great contributions here. Finally, Belief.net blogger Britton Gildersleeve also blogged daily during the Thirty Days of Love, check out her posts here.
Congregations that Sizzle
Congregations large, small and every size in between took part in the Thirty Days of Love campaign! Below are just a few of the stories that came in. If you have something to share you want to see added to our round-up, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, with 30 Days Round-Up in the subject line. You can also submit a blog post sharing more about your experiences during the campaign, just click here for more info!
Unitarian Universalist Church of Hillsborough, North Carolina
The UU Church of Hillsborough ended their 30 Days of Love Campaign by asking UUCH members and their friends to commit to community service in one of their five focus areas, including BLGT, prison ministry and community focused issues areas. They featured people working on each of the areas and presented a new model for community involvement.
Georgia Mountain Unitarian Universalist Church, Dahlonega, Georgia
The Faith in Action Committee of the Georgia Mountain UU Church, in rural north Georgia, facilitated the 30 Days of Love campaign for the first annual celebration. Their joys and successes prove that even a small church in a conservative rural area can build bridges of love! From sharing stories with the congregation, to community-held events, the Love in Action was abundant! Some of their highlights were the “Building Bridges of Love” by joining the Dahlonega community at the Methodist Church for the monthly soup lunch fundraiser, which was a great success with over 80 people enjoying the awesome soups, cornbread, and desserts, and $425 was raised for the Community Helping Place food pantry.
In addition, the Faith in Action team created a community-attended event held in the town park, “Heart in the Park,” led by their part-time minister, The Reverend Charlotte Arsenault, to witness for marriage equity. The congregation walked with Standing on the Side of Love signs, and hand-painted Love signs made by the children from the church, through town to the park where other local people joined us. They gathered around to create a heart, singing hymns, sharing personal stories and being inspired by Rev. Charlotte’s words.The final event was to honor two local groups with the presentation of “Courageous Love Awards” on February 16. These awards went to PFLAG of Blairsville, Georgia, and Dorothy Foster, founder of Nacoochee Presbyterian Church Hispanic Ministry and founder of ESL program in Cleveland, Georgia. The participation for all the events was heart warming, proving that people really do want to be a part of Love in Action.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, North Carolina
The UU Fellowship of Raleigh hosted many of the events for UUs when we gathered in their city for the Mass Moral March, including a rocking worship service on Friday night and a “Taking It Home” debrief on Saturday afternoon after the rally. The UUFR provided support for logistics for people traveling, helped coordinate home-stays and shuttles, and ensured folks were well-fed throughout the weekend.
Magic Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Twin Falls, Idaho
The UU Fellowship in Twin Falls, ID held a potluck to teach congregants the ins and outs of the SSL campaign. Their political education campaign included a brainstorm about the priorities facing people across the state of Idaho. One of the priorities that emerged from their conversation was working to voice concerns about HB 427, the “Religious Freedom Bill” sponsored by Rep. Lynn Luker (R-Boise). As a small rural congregation the UU Fellowship reached out to the SSL team about ways to engage with other congregations working on similar issues. To contact them directly email love [at] uua.org and we’ll pass your message along.
First Unitarian Church, Louisville, Kentucky
The First Unitarian Church of Louisville celebrated 30 Days of Love by making a jazzy bulletin board to keep congregants in the know about all things 30 Days of Love.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Jefferson City, Missouri
Members of the UU Fellowship of Jefferson City in Missouri attended the founding convention of Faith Foundations in observance of 30 Days of Love. The event sought to bring together faith communities to build together across agenda including expansion of Medicaid in Missouri, the local public transit system and voting accessibility. See a video from the event here.
National Standing on the Side of Love Day: February 14, 2014
And here is just a small slice of the ways that SSL supporters celebrated National Standing on the Side of Love Day this year:
Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska
Members and friends of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln braved cold temperatures to rally for marriage equality on the steps of the Nebraska capitol on Valentine’s Day 2014.
Unitarian Universalists Across Virginia
Multiple UU Congregations in Virginia partnered with People of Faith for Equality in Virginia to participate in Witness for LOVE where LGBT couples sought marriage licenses or recognition for existing partnerships. Check out videos and learn more about that campaign here.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia
The UU Church in Richmond, VA helped organize Witness for LOVE events, held in their Capitol and across the state of Virginia on Friday, February 14. Unitarian Universalists in Richmond celebrated a federal judge’s striking down the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage. Congregants from First UU Church of Richmond celebrated Valentine’s Day by supporting six same-sex couples to turn in applications for marriage.
Unitarian Universalists of Gettysburg, Virginia
On Valentine’s Day, Unitarian Universalists of Gettysburg organized a License Our Love Valentine’s Day at the local courthouse. Though they planned to be denied, over 60 folks turned out in support of marriage equality. Watch video coverage of the event here.
South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, Salt Lake City, Utah
South Valley UU Society members gathered at the Utah State Capitol for the Unitarian Faith Day of the Coalition of Religious Communities. Members were there to call for a raise in the minimum wage and talk about the connections between immigration, minimum wage and broader justice movements. They also held a Valentine’s Day Dance Party for couples who were able to marry in Utah during the brief 18 day period when marriage was legal for all in their state.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Wakefield, Massachusetts
The UU Church of Wakefield celebrated its Standing on the Side of Love Sunday on February 9, 2014 with a sermon by Rev. Maddie Sifantus, “Share the Love,” special music and the dedication of our new SSL banner. In photo, some members posing with the banner after the service, including Rev. Sifantus and Rev. Ralph Galen, Affiliate Minister.
Courageous Love Awards
First Parish Unitarian Universalist, Cambridge, Massachusetts
First Parish Unitarian Universalist awarded their fourth annual Courageous Love Award to the Westborough 8 on February 16, 2014. The Westborough 8 are young climate justice activists who last year committed nonviolent civil disobedience at the office of TransCanada to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. The group sat down in the lobby of the TransCanada corporate offices in Westborough, Massachusetts, and refused to leave. They Super Glued their hands and chained their waists and ankles together. They were arrested and charged with being disorderly persons, disturbing the peace, and trespassing.
“These young activists are carrying on the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Senior Minister Rev. Fred Small. “Their courage, creativity, and determination inspire me. But we need to do more than honor them for their climate activism—we need to join them.”
By awarding them the Courageous Love Award, First Parish in Cambridge honored the Westborough 8—Emily Edgerly, Devyn Powell, Lisa Purdy, Shea Riester, Ben Thompson, Ben Trolio, Alli Welton, and Dorian Williams—for their determination to create a more just and sustainable future.
“We stand together,” the young activists said in an online statement, “as representatives of a desperate generation who have been forced into this position by the reckless and immoral behavior of fossil fuel corporations such as TransCanada. The Keystone XL pipeline . . . represents an intolerable threat to our future. . . . Today, we add our peaceful civil disobedience to an accelerating tidal wave of actions as people across the nation rise up together.” The Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver dirty tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas for global export, has been called “game over for the climate” by former NASA scientist James Hansen.
Founded in 1636, First Parish in Cambridge is dedicated to working for justice and building the Beloved Community of Dr. King’s dream. Each year, First Parish in Cambridge celebrates Valentine’s Day Sunday as “Standing on the Side of Love” Sunday. Past recipients of the Courageous Love Award are the Student Immigrant Movement (2011), transgender activist Nancy Nangeroni (2012), and Louis D. Brown Peace Institute founder Tina Chéry (2013).
Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalists, Finksburg, Maryland
The Cedarhurst UUs celebrated Thirty Days of Love with a Social Justice Film Fest and awarding three Courageous Love Awards. The awardees are June Horner, Rev. Lucy Brady, and the Human Service Program of Carroll County, represented by Cindy Parr. June Horner was honored for her work in helping to start a local PFLAG group and for her tireless advocacy for the Marriage Equality Act. Rev Lucy Brady was honored for developing a safe space at St Paul’s United Church of Christ for LGBTQ and allied youth that is supportive and accepting. The Human Services Program was honored for the services it provides to those at risk and its efforts to help them achieve self sufficiency
A few weeks ago, Donna Quinn of the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) asked me to help spread the word that their coalition of more than 2000 Roman Catholic sisters had endorsed the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that birth control be included as a basic health care service for women. Because of their faith, the NCAN wrote that they believe “that women should not be singled out by any organization or group through its refusal to insure a woman’s reproductive needs.”
The nuns are speaking out just as those on the right want us to believe that birth control use is immoral. On March 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing two cases where company owners who don’t personally support contraception are denying their employees insurance coverage for birth control as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The lawyers for these private corporations go so far as to call birth control use sinful and immoral. To make it worse, the owners are claiming that including contraceptives in health care violates their company’s religious freedom.
Sister Donna and the nuns at NCAN know differently, and they’re bravely standing up to their hierarchy. But they need us as Unitarian Universalists to stand with them — to say that as people of faith we support universal access to contraception. Sign the petition here and then help gather more support by sharing via social media.
Unitarian Universalists have a longstanding commitment to women’s moral agency and reproductive justice. We believe women should be able to make personal decisions about their families, their bodies, their sexuality, and their health. It is precisely because life is sacred that we support the intentional and moral use of contraception.
We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs; religious freedom cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. We know that millions of people of faith agree with Donna Quinn and the nuns of NCAN that “We support women as moral agents able to make the right choices for their own bodies.”
Please join the Religious Institute and the nuns to stand on the side of love for women, birth control, and real religious freedom. Sign the petition here.
If you can come to Washington, DC on March 25, join us at the Supreme Court for a faith rally to demonstrate that people of faith support birth control and true religious liberty. I would love to see a sea of yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts and hats at the Court that morning. RSVP here for details.
Rev. Debra W. Haffner
President, Religious Institute
The Religious Institute is a multifaith nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual health, education, and justice in America’s faith communities, cofounded and directed by Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Debra W. Haffner. To find out more and join its mailing list, go to www.religiousinstitute.org or like us on Facebook.More >
Today is March Forth! Here at the SSL Campaign HQ, we will be fasting for 24 hours as part of our commitment to take action today along with the United Church of Christ(UCC) and our partners at the Fast for Families. And while we are fasting, we will be letting Congress know why: the time to take action and pass immigration reform is now! We just updated our resource page on immigration: click here for new materials and ways to take action today.
Read below for a beautiful reflection and prayer from Rev. Susan Frederick Gray in Arizona, who recently spoke with Fasters when they made a stop in Phoenix this past Sunday. After reading Rev. Susan’s message, call Congress today at (202) 224-3121. Click here for a sample script and more.
Fast for Families: A Reflection and Prayer
It is time to act! It is time to fast! It is time strengthen the demand for humane immigration reform. It’s time to end the system of mass detention and deportation.
Too often in the conversation about immigration, people talk about the rule of law. But the truth is what we have in this country, affecting millions of people is a failure of law.
Our immigration system is broken. As a result it is everyday breaking up families, inflicting untold suffering and fear, even death. It is a broken system that has for generations exploited immigrants and their families.
Over 1,000 people are deported every single day in this country. Children losing their parents, parents losing their spouses. No one who has not been through it can imagine the pain, the suffering, the heartbreak. It is a failure on the part of our leaders, on the part of Congress and of the President to hear the cries of the people. It is unjust. It is wrong. It is morally indefensible. Morally indefensible – this means that no one could stand before God, could stand before Love, and justify this system. The family is the foundation of human goodness, of human community, and it is families that this system tears apart.
For generations, this nation has demanded and benefited from the hard work of millions of immigrants, yet refused to create enough legal pathways to these jobs. The system is broken – designed to take advantage of workers, of immigrants, while refusing to acknowledge their humanity. And now we criminalize these same workers, these men and women, and their children.
We see the painful effects of these policies and the refusal of our politicians to act. For too long this issue has been used as a political tool, a way to win elections, an issue full of rhetoric, full of blame, full of promises that remain unfulfilled. It must not continue. But it will continue until we create the political and moral pressure to force our leaders to act. They will not act unless they are compelled to do so.
Power never gives up without a demand. We must continue to build coalition, to bring our friends and our neighbors and our families to this struggle. We must continue to build power and pressure and the moral dilemmas that will force action.
I pray for all of those in this struggle. I pray for all who hunger for justice. Who dream of a day where we might all be free, where equality and human dignity – where freedom and justice will no longer be mere words, mere empty rhetoric, but the law and the spirit of the land.
I want to end with a prayer. Spirit of Life, Most Holy God – Lover of Justice and Truth, be with all of us here today – and all those across this land who are doing what they can to bring a great change to our nation. Give us courage, because we need it. Give us strength, because we need it. Give us the power to tear down the border around our hearts, the militarized borders around our nations. In our actions, in our fasts, in our prayers – help us bring to light the injustices, the indignity of what is happening, and the suffering that is hurting so many families. May the hearts of our leaders be opened, may their eyes see the truth, may all ears hear the cries of the people. And may all hearts be broken open by its truth, so that all hands might work together to bring an end to this terrible injustice.
May not one more family divided. Not one more young person denied her dreams. No more detentions. No more deportations. Let us pass Comprehensive and humane immigration reform. Let us act, let us pray, let us fast – until this day comes. God give us courage because we need it. God give us strength because we need it. May God give us the power to break down once and for all these walls, these borders around our hearts, and may one day we all be free. May it be so. Amen.
Rev. Susan Frederick-GrayMore >
Today, light a chalice or take a moment to reflect, plan, and act on how we can support immigration reform as individuals and as a larger community. Families continue to be torn apart by our broken immigration system. Below see a reflection by Nora Rasman, Campaign Coordinator, Standing on the Side of Love. How will you Stand on the Side of Love?
I just returned from the United We Dream 2014 Congress in Phoenix, AZ. United We Dream is the ‘largest immigrant youth-led network,’ comprised of dozens of organizations working for local and national immigration reform. The event was attended by over 500 Dreamers and included plenary sessions, break out workshops and caucuses, and an action where hundreds of Dreamers marched to the Phoenix ICE office to call for an immediate halt to deportations, support local hunger strikers, expand access to driver’s licenses, and in support of human rights. I am eager to watch and support the exciting and brave organizing of UWD. Here are a few of my lessons learned:
Let creativity lead: I was excited by the varied and innovative ways folks organized events and spaces throughout the UWD Congress. During Saturday’s action, attendees each wrote a dream on a white balloon. The balloons followed us to the action and were released in unison. The walls of the plenary hall were covered in art created during the weekend: art with specific messages and demands as well as more abstract political imagery. Each morning opened with an optional yoga or dance class to keep participants moving and get energized for the day ahead. The creativity throughout the UWD Congress pushed me to get creative and past any “business as usual.”
Listen: The stories shared throughout the weekend were powerful, painful, and transformational. Each speaker came with clear needs of ways their community and organizations can be best supported. We can benefit from taking time to listen and learning how we can lovingly engage from where we enter.
Search for nuance: Our deeply polarized conversations can make it hard to find common ground with our opponents. I am energized to stand on the side of love by engaging lovingly with people across political difference.
The time is now: The violent and dehumanizing impact of deportation on individuals, families, and communities was a central theme of the UWD Congress. Sign this petition to stand with detainees and their families on hunger strike calling for their release and the end to all deportations. Click here for more information on the #Not1More campaign.
We have much work to do: The day before we arrived, SB1062 passed the Arizona state legislature. The law would have allowed businesses to use religion to discriminate against serving people based on their perceived sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression. The UWD Congress participants wove protest against SB1062 widely into their content and action talking points. The Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a project of UWD, had a strong presence and addressed the ways undocumented LGBTQI folks will be disproportionately targeted by the new law. Late Wednesday, February 26, 2014, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB1062. Our work continues with similar religious freedom bills being proposed in many states across the country.
All the love,
Nora Rasman, Campaign Coordinator
Standing on the Side of Love
Each year in this country, people living with disabilities are murdered by their family or caregivers, with 2 more last month alone. Please bring witness on the side of love on the National Day of Mourning this Saturday, March 1, 2014 to remember those who have passed away.
The first annual Day of Mourning in 2012 was a response to the murder of George Hodgins and the public reaction to his death. As is so often the case, media attention focused on justification for the murderer, his mother, because she was burdened with a disabled family member. George’s life was erased in the process.
Too often, when a person with a disability is murdered, people act as though their life had no value.
It is time to change this.
Nothing counteracts dehumanization and violence better than LOVE.
If you can attend a vigil on Saturday, March 1, 2014 for the Disability National Day of Mourning, please come! Wear an SSL shirt, carry an SSL sign. Show the world that these lives matter. Your witness is needed. Click here to see a list of vigil sites. There’s also a virtual vigil. These vigils are organized under the auspices of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
If you can’t attend a vigil this year, consider following the conversation on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #DayofMourning. Please do what you can to shift the conversation about the worth and dignity of the lives of people living with disabilities. Together, we can make a difference. Thanks!
President, EqUUal Access
To find out more about the National Day of Mourning, review these resources: Statement on the White House blog about the importance of the Day of Mourning, ASAN Statement on the murder of Jaelen and Faith Edge, and the Advocacy Monitor, a project of the National Council on Independent Living.More >