Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee

NEWS AND RECENT EVENTS – HAVE YOU SEEN US IN ACTION?

Announcing the Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee

UUS:E has had some version of a Social Justice Committee since the 1980s. It used to meet Sunday mornings for breakfast at various members’ homes during the first service. During the 2000s we developed a separate Anti-Racism Committee that met monthly as well. Over time, we noticed that many of the same people were showing up at both meetings. For busy people, this seemed a bit redundant. We gave up the breakfasts and began meeting regularly on the first Tuesday of every month as the Social Justice/Anti-Racism Committee.

In the meantime, the Welcoming Congregation Steering Group was formed with a roving meeting night. Its purpose was to ensure that if we’re calling ourselves a Welcoming Congregation, we really are wel­coming in all the ways that the word “welcoming” can imply. But again, as we looked around, many of the people attending this meeting were also members of the Social Justice / Anti-Racism Committee. Wouldn’t it make sense to consolidate again? Of course it would. So now we have merged the Welcoming Congregation Steering Group with the Social Justice/Anti-Racism Committee and we area calling it the Social Justice/ Anti-Oppression Committee. This committee typically meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 in Rev. Josh’s office at UUS:E.

Anti-Oppression” seemed a more appropriate name than any other because the committee seeks to address a variety of forms of oppression in our congregation and in our society. Mental health is one con­cern, treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people is another. Health care is yet another. Unequal arrests and sentences for drug use in cities as compared to suburbs is one more. While we intend to not spread ourselves too thin, a name that can act as an umbrella gives us leeway to focus on different oppressions at different times as needed without having to form a whole new committee for each oppression.

Meetings are open to anyone who is interested. You’re welcome to just come and check us out or to become a full-fledged member. Or you can ask to be added to the committee’s email to keep up with our news that way.

Get Involved!

All are welcome to attend the monthly planning meetings which take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm in Rev. Josh’s office. Contact the current Chair Rhona Cohen with questions at: rhona@ctneweconomy.org

Activities of the Social Justice Committee

The Social Justice Committee (SJC) presents several Sunday services on spiritual aspects of social justice each year, organizes educational presentations every other month on social justice concerns of our local community, and coordinates a monthly film series where you can catch up with movies related to social, economic and environmental justice issues.

Unitarian Universalist Society: East Social Justice Concerns

Economic Justice

  • The impact of the inadequate social services in our State on the members of our congregation.
  • Stepping up to meet the economic and social service needs of the members of our church. “Social Justice starts at home—Here at Unitarian Universalist Society: East.” “We are hypocrites if we do not address the needs and problems of our own membership! We have working poor here.”
  • Bringing funds back to social services—it is obvious that churches alone do not understand the full needs of multiple cultures/people systems in our state as well as others—the administration has taken funds out of state systems to fund grants to churches and in so doing has crippled state systems; the services are not distributed to all in need. We need to address this issue.
  • Affordable housing
  • Job finding assistance/training low income workers.

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Environmental Justice

  • Need to organize rides for people who have poor night vision driving.
  • Concerns about people with scent allergies and sensitivities

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Anti-Oppression

  • Disability civil rights movement—oppression of people with disabilities
  • Concerns about oppression of all minority groups in our own congregation
  • Concerns about stigma toward mentally ill persons.
  • Would like to have announcements of protests or gatherings of solidarity in response to injustice and oppression; it’s important for us to know where we can make a difference.

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Social Justice Groups & Activities Affiliated with Unitarian Universalist Society: East

  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC): [S,E,A, CO, T] UUSC is an independent organization committed to the principle that working with local partners and building a grassroots movement will bring about the most enduring changes for communities in need. UUSC offers outreach, aid and advocacy on domestic and international issues. The Guest at Your Table program, presented during the Thanksgiving season at Unitarian Universalist Society: East, is a fundraising, educational and membership program of UUSC. Sarah Karstaedt and Kate Kimmerle are co-Local Representatives for UUSC.
  • The Greater Hartford Interfaith Coalition for Equity and Justice (GHICEJ): [E, A, CO, W, T] The GHICEJis a coalition of churches from a wide range of denominations that have come together to identify policies and policy changes that would foster greater social equity and to advocate for their passage in the State legislature.
  • Congregations United for Racial Equality and Justice (CUREJ): [E, CO, A, T] CUREJ congregations include the three UU congregations in the Greater Hartford region and Bethel AME Church. Monthly activities and programs bring the four congregations together with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of each other and our different approaches to worship as well as to address environmental, social, and economic justice issues of mutual concern. Recent educational presentations have focused on environmental racism.
  • Community Outreach Ministry:[S] The Social Justice and Stewardship Committees jointly sponsor the Community Outreach Ministry which identifies deserving local charitable organizations to which 50% of every Sunday’s collection is contributed. •Covenant to Care: [S] This statewide organization pairs faith-based communities with social workers from the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Cindy Maury is our liaison. Our congregation provides the children she serves with those extras that make their lives a bit brighter, such as backpacks filled with school supplies in September, and items from their Christmas wish lists.
  • Washington School Partnership & STARS Tutoring Program:[S]Volunteers from Unitarian Universalist Society: East have been helping students from Washington School in Manchester, and Milner School in Hartford, for over a decade. These two schools struggle to educate disadvantaged, often transient children. At Washington School volunteers are engaged as class-room aids, one-on-one tutors, or facilitators for group projects. Jean Labutis heads up this initiative. The STARS Tutoring Program works one-on-one with children from the Milner school every Saturday providing homework support, computer literacy skills, and reading and math tutoring. Diana Creamer and Nancy Pappas coordinate the STARS Tutoring Program.
  • Rebuilding Together: Christmas in April: [S]Every April, a volunteer crew is assembled from Unitarian Universalist Society: East members and friends to repair, repaint, and replant the home of a Manchester resident who otherwise would not be able to afford or undertake the work.
  • Study Groups: [E,T] Unitarian Universalist Society: East conducts regularly conducts study groups on particular topics, many of which have a social justice orientation. Three study groups are currently underway with strong social justice substance: The Anti-racism study group, the Anti-oppression study.•Housing Initiatives: For nearly 20 years, Unitarian Universalist Society: East has helped to provide affordable housing in Manchester. First we joined other area congregations to form the Manchester Interfaith Social Action Corporation (MISAC), which built 191 units of subsidized housing off North Main Street. These apartments boast a long waiting list and an active tenants’ association. Unitarian Universalist Society: East is also a founding member of the Manchester Interfaith Corporation (MIC) which purchased and renovated 32 small ranch-style single-family homes that were no longer needed by the military. These homes, located in a very desirable neighborhood, were sold to very low, low and moderate income families. MIC continues to renovate homes in transitional neighborhoods to increase owner-occupancy. Speak to Malcolm Barlow for more information.

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Social Justice Groups Unitarian Universalist Society: East or its members and friends actively engage with:

  • Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ): [E, A, CO, T] This group advocates against environmental racism. CUREJ has partnered with CCEJ to promote economic justice in Connecticut. •One Connecticut (OneCT), formerly the Campaign to Fight Poverty and Build Economic Security: [E, A, CO] OneCT, organizes the efforts of over 100 faith-based and social action groups to ensure the passage of legislation that benefits the least powerful and most needy in our society.
  • Love Makes a Family (LMF) is a grass-roots non-profit organization created in 1999 by five organizztions (ACLU of Connecticut; Connecticut Coalition for LGBT Civil Rights; Connecticut Conference; United Church of Christ; Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund; Permanent Co0mmission on the Status of Women) to advocate for the civil rights of same-sex couples in Connecticut. Its advocacy efforts include education, grass-roots organizing, and lobbying. LMF was instrumental in the passage of the co-parent adoption law, defeatin a DOMA (“Defense of Marriage”) act, passing a bill grantring same-sex couples a short list of rights related to serious illness and death, and passing Connecticut’s Civil Union Law. It continues to advocate for marriage equality for same-sex couples.
  • Manchester Area Conference of Churches (MACC): MACC is an ecumenical partnership of religious organizations that addresses unmet basic human needs in the greater Manchester community. Its programs include The Samaritan Shelter, The Shepherd’s Place Soup Kitchen, The Emergency Food Pantry, The Human Needs Fund, The Clothing Store, The Job’s Program, Seasonal Sharing Programs, and Foodshare. Bring non-parishable food items to our foodshare box in the foyer of the church. Susan Barlow is our MACC and Foodshare liaison. •Cleft Palate Program in Nepal: [S]In the hills of Nepal, most people believe that a cleft palate signifies the child was evil in a previous life. As a result, many cleft children suffer abuse and neglect. This program offers free cleft palate repair to children and with it, a life of dignity and hope. Contact Jennipher Young-Hall for more information.
  • Focus on Canton: [S, CO] Focus on Canton provides services for Canton citizens in need as well as coordinating other community efforts and providing grants to other community based organizations. The assistance provided range from helping elderly residents with yard work to providing housing to the temporarily homeless. Although Focus on Canton is not a religious organization, it was started by six Canton churches in 1997, and was later joined by other civic organizations and non-profits.•American Association on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Religion and Spirituality Division (AAIDD): [S, A, T] The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is an interfaith, interdisciplinary association of professional ordained and lay people who journey with persons with developmental disabilities and their families.

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Links Important to this Group:

  • Unitarian Universalist Association, UUA:  uua.org.
  • There are many social justice related activities and committees such as the Committee on Social Witness and the Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community.  Search on “social justice”
  • Unitarian Universalist Service committee: UUSC:  uusc.org
  • Love Makes a Family:  lmfct.org

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