PrideWorks is a prominent educational conference for LGBTQ youth and their allies, held annually in Westchester County, New York. Every year, some 600 LGBTQ youth, their educators, parents, and allies flock to PrideWorks for seminars and speakers addressing such topics as healthy relationships, coming out, anti-bullying, and building a gay-straight alliance.
Every year there are also protesters outside the conference. This year their message was one of change–not for themselves but instead that our youth should change their sexual orientation. We are bothered every year by their presence as it’s the first thing that the youth see as they arrive. This year we offered a different greeting with a Standing on the Side of Love banner, which the youth appreciated enthusiastically.
Now in its fourteenth year, many Unitarian Universalist youth and adults in our area have attended the PrideWorks conference since the beginning. Some time ago, the youth group from our congregation in Hastings on Hudson held a fundraiser to support the conference, becoming the first UU supporter listed in the program. Over the past year, we have organized a bigger presence at PrideWorks. Each of the congregations in Westchester and Rockland obtained governing board approval to be an official sponsor and raised funds in some fashion, ranging from a youth group bake sale to share-the-plate programs.
This year, we were a “Rainbow Circle” supporter–recognized prominently with a display table to provide supportive material to youth. Many of us wore our Standing on the Side of Love shirts to help spread love all weekend long.
This post was contributed by John Cavallero, the Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester in Hastings on Hudson, New York. Other participating UU congregations include: Mohegan Lake, Croton on Hudson, Mount Kisco, White Plains, and Pomona.More >
Yesterday, I went with fellow members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) Steering Committee to meet with Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Associate Director of Latino Affairs and Immigration in the White House Office of Public Engagement, and present our list of key principles for compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform to the Obama Administration. I felt honored to represent the Unitarian Universalist community and proud of the good work that so many of our congregational and community leaders have done for migrant justice and the Beloved Community.
For us, any immigration reform that does not include a pathway to citizenship and prioritize keeping families together is unacceptable. As people of faith, we are calling for compassionate immigration reform legislation that:
• Addresses the root causes of migration,
• Creates a process for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship,
• Keeps families together,
• Enacts the DREAM Act,
• Protects workers’ rights including agricultural workers,
• Places humanitarian values at the center of enforcement policies, and
• Protects refugees and migrant survivors of violence.
What can you do to help support our work for compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform? Local congregations and individual faith leaders can sign on to our letter to Congress listing key principles of immigration reform. Click here to learn more.
Additionally, your congregation or community group can participate in the upcoming Breaking Bread and Building Bridges campaign—a program to create and strengthen relationships between people of faith, impacted communities, and immigrants’ rights groups, and increase local capacity to effectively advocate for just immigration policies.
Keep your eye out in the coming weeks—we are also organizing a national immigration reform call-in on the day after Inauguration (January 22). Join folks from across the country in asking President Obama and Congress to enact compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship and keeps families together. The IIC Steering Committee will be visiting key members of congress on that same day. Add your voice to ours and help ensure that the faith community is heard!
This post was written by Rev. Craig Roshaven, Unitarian Universalist Association Witness Ministries Director and a leader in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) Steering Committee.More >
Let us pray for the families who have lost loved ones and little ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Let us hold our own children and family members closer as we remember those who cannot do so today.
Let us pray with our work to make this world safer for all children and reaffirm our sacred obligation to protect the weak from the strong, the many who are peaceful from the few who are violent, the innocent young from the actions of reckless and dangerous adults.
Let us hope for healing in this time when healing seems unimaginable.
Let us love one another with a deeper appreciation of the sacred worth of every child and every human being knowing that when we do so there is a power greater than ourselves that can renew, restore and sustain us.
This prayer was offered by Rev. Chris Buice of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville in response to the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A shooting at that congregation in 2008 inspired the creation of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.More >
Across the country, people have been reflecting on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Can we challenge ourselves to stand on the side of love with everyone involved in this terrible tragedy? Rev. Fred Small shared this moving reflection with us. Please feel free to share your own personal reflections, prayers, or anything else that has moved you.
Prayer for Newtown
Rev. Fred Small
First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist
Hearing the news from Connecticut of the deaths of so many people, so many children, our sorrow is beyond words, beyond comforting.
This violence was concentrated terribly in that one schoolhouse in that one small town, and yet this violence is commonplace.
In our beautiful and beloved country, scores of people die from gunfire every day.
In Boston so far this year, 49 people have been murdered, 34 of them by guns. The youngest victim was 9-year-old Christopher Miles. The oldest was Mary Miller, age 70.
Each person precious.
Every violent death an abomination.
We are desolate. We are disconsolate. We are angry.
And so we pray.
Spirit of Life,
God of hope in our despair,
God of compassion and forgiveness,
God of many names and one abundant love:
We pray for parents whose children will never again dash through the kitchen, never slam the door, never spill jelly on the sofa, never wake in the night needing comfort, never leave home, never fall in love, never grow up.
We pray for children whose buddies will never again ask if they can come over and play, whose siblings will never again tease them about their hair or their clothes.
We pray for children whose parents or grandparents will never again pick them up, never hold them close, never tuck them in, never kiss them goodnight.
We pray for every person who has lost a lover, a companion, a friend.
We pray for every child and every adult who will never, ever forget what they experienced in that school Friday morning.
We pray for teachers who must learn lockdown drills as well as prepare lesson plans.
We pray for a culture that fetishizes violence in movies, television, videos, songs, and first-person-shooter electronic games.
We pray for a mental health system so emaciated it makes no pretense of reaching those who desperately need help.
We pray for a criminal justice system that privileges punishment over healing, incarceration over reconciliation.
We pray for a political system so corrupted by wealth and bullied by power that good people are frightened to do what they know is right.
We pray for communities where shootings and other violent acts are daily occurrences.
We pray for those abused by the slow-motion violence of poverty and oppression.
And we pray for ourselves, that we may have the wisdom and the courage to act;
to change the conditions that make these crimes not only possible, but inevitable;
and to build the Beloved Community on this earth,
in this community,
in our time.
Amen and Blessed Be.More >
“For each child that’s born a morning star rises and sings to the universe who we are.”
- Y. M. Barnwell, “WE ARE”
A star rises in hope and sings to the universe that with each child we have a chance to do better, to be better. For each candle we light there is starlight, the light of hope, the hope that we can illuminate our path, that we can brighten the future. This is no accidental imagery. These are images and metaphors that tie together generation after generation, that link us with each other. Generations have prayed that it will be better for their children, that their children will make a difference in the world. In the words of Ysaye Barnwell, “We are our grandmothers’ prayers. We are our grandfathers’ dreamings.” This is the time of the year when many faiths tell these timeless messages in story and song.
Countless traditions have these stories of optimism; the anticipation of a brighter day, the story of new life, of someone who rises to lead us forward to a place of peace and goodwill. For me, the point of these stories is not about “rightness” but instead about the underlying longing in the message. How can we love each other with all of our differences, how can we build a peaceful and sustainable world? Hope arises from our stories of birth–be it the birth of a child or the birth of the light. With the end of the season, with the unraveling of the ribbons from the presents and the trees, we revert to the familiar patterns of life that can leave our hope dormant. The breaking of these patterns takes courage–we must go beyond the borders of our comfort driven by faith in the power of love to transform injustice, ignorance, and fear.
How will you harness the transformative power of love in the New Year? Click here to find out how you, your congregation, and/or your community can get involved in the Thirty Days of Love, starting on January 19.
This year, our congregation will once again taking part in National Standing on the Side of Love Month. We will kick-off our celebration with a photo exhibit on immigration and speakers from nationally recognized immigrant justice organizations. We will provide readings and meditations for the congregation on love, compassion, and kindness. On four consecutive Sundays, we will present “Courageous Love Awards” to individuals in our congregation and the broader community who have demonstrated courage of faith and love in their actions, attitudes, and achievements. These are people who have seen new possibilities and have found ways to birth them into being. As we honor these award recipients for the work they have done, we will remind each other that we all carry this combination of hope, love, and possibility.
Please join us in participating in the Thirty Days of Love. Consider giving your own “Courageous Love Awards” in your community or congregation. Click here to learn more.
As you plan your own Thirty Days of Love, remember that “We are our grandmothers’ prayers. We are our grandfathers’ dreaming.” During the holidays and into the New Year, let us go beyond the borders of our comfort, let us have faith in what is possible, and let us never lose hope in the transforming power of love.
Rev. David A. Miller
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach, California
Member, Standing on the Side of Love Creative Advisory Team
PS: Not a member of a congregation or relevant community group? Stay tuned for more opportunities to participate that are geared for individuals and families!
The message above went out on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >