Last month, Norfolk, Virginia held its annual “Out in the Park” Pride festival with an estimated 17,000 attendees. The Unitarian Church of Norfolk (UCN), the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (UUFP) in Newport News, and the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists (WUU) joined together to spread the news about Unitarian Universalism and UU LGBT history.
In 2011, our table at Pride was bare, staffed only by members of UCN, and had a homemade cardstock display with only a few brochures. We had very few visitors.
This year, we had tablecloths, professionally prepared banners and signs with UU chalices, and a professionally done LGBT timeline depicting UU LGBT history. And beads; lots of beads. After a while, the UU booth became a magnet for Pride attendees. Visitors not only received our ‘special’ rainbow beads, but many also talked with UCN Minister Cyndi Simpson or other volunteer representatives from the UU congregations in Newport News and Williamsburg. One young adult visitor kept exclaiming to her friend, “I found it! This is MY church! This is MY church! I’m a Unitarian”! A very good time was had by all.
Much appreciation and world of thanks to our Rev. Cyndi Simpson and all the volunteers from UUFP, WUU, and UCN who gave their time and energy to showing love, care, and concern for the LGBTQ community of Hampton Roads. Thank you all!
This post was contributed by J Kila Chong, Office Administrator at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk (UU). More >
In her book 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong encourages us to intentionally study one nation, culture, or religion different from our own. In response to her call, I decided to learn about Islam. The Unitarian Universalist Association’s participation in the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign has provided me with a number of opportunities to get to know American Muslims. I have attended symposia, town hall meetings, news conferences, and interfaith gatherings involving members of the American Muslim community–a community that reflects the multicultural diversity that my faith, Unitarian Universalism, longs for.
Through these encounters, I have also witnessed the pain that occurs in this community as a result of stereotyping, targeting, and discrimination. Mosques are vandalized, people speak hatred against Muslims, and they are terrorized in their own country. Yet Muslim American communities were among the first to stand in solidarity with those of Sikh faith after the recent attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Let us heed their example and reach out to people of different faiths as neighbors and act in solidarity to stop the violence and bias they suffer.
Two of our partner organizations are releasing resources this fall to help interfaith communities be in solidarity with American Muslim communities:
On Monday, October 22 at 4:00pm ET, Shoulder-to-Shoulder will provide a webinar for clergy and lay leaders about addressing bias and discrimination against American Muslims called “Engaging the Faithful: Coordinating Multi-Faith Partnerships to End Anti-Muslim Sentiment.” RSVP for the webinar by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and affiliation.
- The Interfaith Alliance will launch an FAQ to dispel the misperceptions about our American Muslim neighbors. Click here to sign up to receive this resource after the September 20 launch date.
Tolerance is not enough if our goal is to stand on the side of love with people who are targeted because of their religious identity. Compassion–the capacity to connect to the suffering of other people–and interfaith solidarity are necessary if we are to be the country we claim to be. I hope that the SSL community will take the opportunities provided by Shoulder-to-Shoulder and the Interfaith Alliance to learn about American Muslims and Islam so we can open our hearts and minds more fully to the richness of this and other minority faith communities.
Multicultural Growth & Witness Director
Unitarian Universalist Association
The message above went out on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here. More >
The Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) has been hard at work witnessing for love justice in the Great Lakes State this summer.
On Tuesday evening, August 14th, a public meeting was held in Bloomfield Township to consider a proposal for a local Muslim Cultural Center. Though many attendees were opposed to the plan, MUUSJN mobilized activists from four Unitarian Universalist congregations to demonstrate on behalf of religious tolerance. They were part of an interfaith coalition that submitted testimony urging a local Planning Commission to make decisions based on respect for religious diveristy rather than Islamophobia.
Their witness received coverage in several newspapers, including this article in the Arab American News that showed real appreciation for the interfaith witness.
Wednesday, August 15th marked the first day that young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children could apply for deferred action. That day, Unitarian Universalists in Detroit and Lansing displayed solidarity with young Dreamers and their allies by holding Standing on the Side of Love signs at press conferences held in each city. Several UUs also volunteered at special workshops to assist dreamers to determine their eligibility for deferred action status. The program allows young, undocumented immigrants to apply for work permits and gives them two years immunity from deportation.
MUUSJN Director Randy Block says of the event, “I was touched that Cindy Estrada, UAW International Vice President, asked if she could hold up my Standing on the Side of Love sign that said ‘Dreamers Deserve A Chance for the American Dream.’ Of course, I said yes.”More >
We all know how much is at stake in the upcoming election at the national, state, and local levels. Regressive policies and corporate control oppress people on the margins and disenfranchise the vulnerable among us. Nevertheless, you can use your voice to lift up the issues that affect our communities.
The outcome of an election is determined by who speaks up and who turns out. Join the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Standing on the Side of Love, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the UU State Advocacy Networks for the “Take Love to the Polls: Elections 2012 Webinar” to learn about what is at stake this season and how you, as a person of conscience and faith, can work with your congregation, community partners, and other allies to help level the political playing field this election season!
The “Take Love to the Polls: Elections 2012 Webinar” will be held Wednesday, September 12 at 7pm ET. Space is limited—click here to reserve your spot today!
Religious groups play a prophetic role in public life by calling attention to oppression, demanding change, and holding leaders and institutions accountable for their actions and policies. For Unitarian Universalists, participation in the democratic process is specifically held up as an act of faith in the Fifth Principle. You can help register members of your community to vote, get out the vote, and stop voter suppression. Most importantly, you can partner with community groups, organizations on college campuses, and statewide networks to lift up the voices of those in our society who are historically under-represented and help empower those who are most affected by regressive policies. By helping people participate in the democratic process, we show them we care that their voices get heard.
Please join me in standing on the side of love this election season. Click here to register for the “Take Love to the Polls: Elections 2012 Webinar.”
Inspiring the words of Abraham Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address,” Unitarian minister Theodore Parker said that democracy is “a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people.” Join us to learn how we can work together this election season to help make that a reality.
Associate for Grassroots Mobilization
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
The message above went out on Thursday, August 30, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here. More >
Charlotte Welcomes the No Papers No Fear Riders
Saturday, September 1
El Siloe Church
2633 Eastway Dr. Charlotte, NC
(bus is estimated to arrive near 5pm)
No Papers No Fear Immigrant Rights Contingent in the March on Wall Street South
Sunday, September 2
Rally starts at 11am, bus to arrive at noon, march leaves at 1pm
1201 West 4th Street Ext
Charlotte, NC 28202
Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo Festival de Canto, Poesia, y Arte
**This will be the major public community event.**
Monday, September 3
Conozca a los viajeros del undocubus // Meet the riders
Vea a la exhibición de arte // See the art exhibit
Escucha la música de los Jornaleros del Norte // Dance to the Jornaleros del Norte
Restaurante Fiesta Jalisco/Skandalo’s
5317 E. Independence Blvd