Social Justice News


The UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee highly recommends the annual worship service of Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries or DRUUMM.

Here’s the invite from DRUUMM:

Dear DRUUMM members, friends and supporters:

Each year we host a DRUUMM-led service that is open to all. As our ministry and membership grows, this special event is also our major fundraiser to support our pastoral care, community organizing, and antiracism work. The offering, and sponsorships, are invested in our People of Color programs and support our core staff. We hope you will join us and share the word with your networks. We invite you to join us for:

Shine On Beautiful & Resilient People

DRUUMM Public Worship
May 11th, 2023
8:00 PM Eastern/ 5:00 PM Pacific

Register Here


Rev. Katie Romano Griffin, Guest Preacher
Amanda Thomas, Musical Artist and the DRUUMM Choir

Shine on resilient and beautiful people with DRUUMM for our annual public worship featuring a festival of Black and Brown joy and resilience through original works of music and preaching. Musical director Amanda Thomas and guest minister Rev. Katie Romano Griffin are joined by gifted black and brown colleagues from across UU-verse to help bring some shine to your day including The Rev. Dr. Kristen Harper, Nasreen Khan, and Cassie Montenegro.  We will feature original works of music, prayer, and poetry.

About our Guest Preacher, Rev. Katie Romano Griffin

Rev. Katie roots her ministry in relationships and in the belief that each person is inherently good and worthy of love. She is a passionate activist who believes in centering the voices of historically marginalized communities in justice work and advocates for applying an intersectional lens as we work towards co-creating a just world for all.

Prior to being called to All Souls Indy where she serves as the first called BIPOC minister, Rev. Katie served Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in the DC Metro as an Associate Minister. Before entering professional ministry, she served as a lay campus minister at Florida Gulf Coast University, had a rich career as a nurse, and worked as the co-owner of a marketing and public relations company. She has a background in coaching and hypnosis, too.

Rev. Katie is a 2017 graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School. She serves as a Civil Air Patrol Chaplain with an emphasis on providing emergency/disaster ministry. She serves as a member of the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the UU Trauma Response Ministry and she has worked with the Sophia Lyon Fahs Educational Collaborative in developing a multi-faith, multicultural curriculum.  She is a co-author of the book Class Action: The Struggle with Classism in Unitarian Universalism and has contributed to the blog Braver/Wiser.

About our Musical Artist, Amanda Thomas

Amanda is a retired UU music director and a member of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, Illinois. She has been an active UU for 22 years, and has served on the Board of Trustees for the Association of UU Music Ministries and on the UUA’s Music Leadership Certification Committee. She has led workshops and music at the UUA General Assembly as a soloist, choir member, worship leader, and choir director for Ministry Days, as well as for The Service of The Living Tradition. Amanda is now serving as a Troubadour and offering services as a freelance soloist, music/choir consultant, choral conductor, workshop facilitator, worship leader, vocal instructor and respite music director. Amanda believes we can each find our own joy through music. As UU’s each travel their own path to a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, Amanda enjoys the monumental task of creating ways to inspire and feed the souls of all individuals through music.

Best regards,

Jolanda Walter
DRUUMM Administrator
[email protected]
617) 221-8589

UUS:E Members Support HUSKY for Immigrants
By Monica Van Beusekom

January 11th HUSKY for Immigrants press conference at the Legislative Office Building

On January 11, the HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition held a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to launch a new campaign to extend HUSKY insurance to all income-eligible people regardless of immigration status. The HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition is a broad group that includes the Great Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA) of which UUSE is a founding member. The crowd at the press conference was energized and ready to build on past successes to expand HUSKY. We heard powerful testimonials from immigrants whose health was severely impacted by a lack of insurance and firm commitments from several legislators to support the further expansion of HUSKY, including the leaders of the Human Services Committee. Following the press conference, Coalition leaders briefed volunteers on how to lobby their state representatives. Several UUSE folks were in attendance. There will be additional opportunities to get involved in this critical health care campaign. Stay tuned!

For those unfamiliar with HUSKY: HUSKY is an extension of the Medicaid program. Eligibility is based on household income; households earning up to 201% of the federal poverty level are eligible. In 2022, the CT Mirror reported that to be $55,778 for a family of four. Households with incomes between 201% and 323% of the federal poverty level may eligible but are subject to an asset test. To be eligible for Federal Medicaid, individuals must provide evidence of formal immigration status (for example, legal permanent resident, temporary protective status etc.). Recent efforts in Connecticut have focused on extending that eligibility to state residents who are undocumented.

As a result of earlier campaigns by the HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition, in 2021, the State Legislature approved HUSKY, regardless of immigration status, for children 8 and younger and in 2022 extended it further to include children 12 and younger. In 2023, the HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition aims to expand HUSKY still further to include all income-eligible individuals regardless of immigration status. As more than one speaker noted, susceptibility to illness does not end at age 12. Moreover, undocumented residents are workers who pay taxes, are often employed in essential services, and have a right to health care.

Rev. Josh Pawelek, Monica Van Beusekom, Jim Adams and Al Benford outside the HUSKY for Immigrants press conference

More background here:


UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee Pledges Support of “Recovery for All” Tax Reform Initiatives

The UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression committee (SJAO) has been an ongoing supporter of the Recovery for All coalition in CT.  Recovery for All is a statewide coalition of labor, community, and faith organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people across, racial, ethnic and class lines. They stand united in a long-term mission to eliminate systemic inequalities and build a better Connecticut.  Most recently, SJAO voted in favor of a committee resolution supporting Recovery for All’s efforts to change the state’s regressive tax structure, and to ensure federal and municipal funding is effectively used to help everyone in an equitable, transparent, and transformative way.  The following is the SJAO approved resolution:

Create a Recovery For All

Whereas Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity and compassion in human relations; 

Whereas hundreds of thousands of Connecticut workers lost their jobs during the pandemic, exposing and exacerbating longstanding racial and economic injustices; 

Whereas Connecticut’s 14 wealthiest billionaires have collectively increased their wealth by approximately $13 billion during the pandemic (according to a March 2021 Forbes Magazine article);

Whereas building a state where everyone can succeed, we need to devote sufficient resources to erase inequities in public education, create good jobs by investing in infrastructure, expand affordable housing, robustly fund public higher education and job training programs, and expand access to affordable healthcare;

Whereas building such a state requires revamping Connecticut’s regressive tax structure so that it rewards work, not wealth, and helps generate the sustainable, lasting economic recovery we all deserve;

Therefore be it resolved that, during Connecticut’s 2022 legislative session, the UUS:E Social Justice/ Anti-Oppression Committee will partner with the Recovery For All coalition to:

  • create greater transparency in our state’s corporate tax structure and ensure that those who do not pay what they owe are held accountable; 
  • build equity into the tax code by requiring the state to conduct annual tax incidence analyses to inform fair tax policy; and
  • ensure that federal dollars allocated to the state and municipal governments are used to fund programs and projects in transparent and transformative ways.This is our calling!

Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 West Vernon Street, Manchester, CT

UUS:E Proudly Declares itself to be a Sanctuary Congregation

At the Unitarian Universalist Society: East’s (UUS:E) 2018 annual meeting on May 20th, the congregation declared itself to be a Sanctuary Congregation and stated its willingness to offer physical sanctuary to immigrant(s) seeking to pursue their legal options in response to a deportation order. The text to UUS:E’s Sanctuary Congregation Resolution is here


Read Rev. Josh’s comments at the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding’s “Interreligious Call to Love They Neighbor and Act for All Americans,” at the Cathedral of St. Jospeh, Hartford, CT, January 29, 2017. No Room for Hate

Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter

Update from the Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee

Of course, all lives matter – our first principle (the inherent worth and dignity of every person) is clear about that. And we are upset by any oppression we hear about – oppression due to class, gender, disability, age, and any of the many other oppressions our current society is capable of.

In our country right now there is much evidence that, although we truly do believe that all lives matter, much of the behavior of those in power implies that, consciously or unconsciously, there is an underlying belief that black lives matter a good deal less than white lives.

We’ve been hearing recently about the black neighborhoods in Flint, Michigan being given lead-contaminated water with no one so far being held accountable, as well as about the barrage of statistics showing major racial discrepancies in health, jobs and income, housing, school achievement, and imprisonment. Currently, we are concerned about the high-profile police killings of young black men with almost none of the police being held accountable.

The goal of Black Lives Matter is to raise awareness of these discrepancies and injustices in order to bring an end to them. This will involve reaching a tipping point where more and more people are demanding change. This is the method used to bring about previous successes in other areas. While we continue to care about all lives, right now our attention is focused on the injustices visited on Black Lives. The Black Lives Matter movement is asking that we purposefully move toward the specific goal of ending injustice toward Black Lives.

All Lives Matter. This is true, but not all lives under assault the way black people lives are under assault the way black lives are. Not all lives are facing the devastating oppression that black people are facing every day. Black Lives Matter is not saying that black lives are somehow more important than other lives, but it certainly is saying that black lives need to be treated a whole lot more fairly than is happening in our country right now. When someone is drowning, we don’t begrudge the attention given—we recognize that, right now, that needs to be our focus—however much we dearly love the people standing safely on the shore.

Statement on Black Lives Matter from the UUS:E Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee

In the face of continued state-sponsored and individually perpetrated violence and hatred targeting people of color, America has a re-surgent racial justice movement known as Black Lives Matter.  Alicia Garza, a community organizer who founded the Black Lives Matter movement calls the name/hashtag/“slogan” an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity and resilience in the face of deadly oppression… as “Black people get free, everybody gets free.”

“We’ve seen a continuation of the narrative that demanding that your life has value somehow takes value from someone else,” Alicia Garza said. “At the most compassionate, it’s a denial of the fact that people are not treated equally in our country. At its most nefarious, it’s a deliberate distraction, a distortion of reality.”

The slogan #AllLivesMatter is often offered in response to #BlackLivesMatter—sometimes out of anger, sometimes out of a desire for peace—but never from a place of full understanding.  #AllLivesMatter is not a liberation movement. It is certainly a true statement akin to the the first Unitarian Universalist principle, “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” or, as we say often with the children, “each person is important.” All lives do matter. But all lives aren’t under assault. All lives don’t have to deal with racism the way Black lives do. When we insert “#AllLivesMatter” into the struggle against racism, it erases the unique experience of Black people, and it erases White society’s role in perpetuating racism. Garza says, “Progressive movements in the United States have made some unfortunate errors when they push for unity at the expense of really understanding the concrete differences in context, experience and oppression.”

 As a predominantly White, liberal, suburban congregation, the SJAO committee’s hope and prayer is that we understand and support:

  • that far too many Black people and other People of Color feel unheard, disrespected, forgotten, marginalized, penalized, demonized by generations of social, political and economic systems and refuse to live that way anymore; and
  • that we must actively support, participate in, and take risks with our partners in the Black Lives Matter movement, always keep in mind Martin Luther King’s first principle that nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

The assertion that black lives simply have value has been perceived by many in the mainstream and many “allies” as attacking and devaluing the life of other human beings.  If we actually believed that all lives matter, the act of asserting that oppressed persons have value could be celebrated as an act of devotion, patriotism, love… a prayer, a BLESSING, a SONG!

The liturgy goes a little something like this:

Leader:  May we learn. May we participate. May we be courageous. May we take risks.   Let us say clearly, proudly and courageously…

All:  Black Lives Matter!

Leader: “Black Lives Matter”

Let the people say: “Amen.”

Now we propose to witness in a new way.  We propose to place a Black Lives Matter  banner on UUS:E grounds, outside of the church on the road, by our mailbox. 

For further reading, see:

Alicia Garza’s “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”

Read the 2015 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly’s statement on Black Lives Matter.

Read about a Black Lives Matter installation at the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters.

Read about Black Lives Matter signs being vandalized.

See Rev. Josh’s 2015 sermon #BlackLivesMatter.

Se Rev. Josh’s 2016 sermon, “Perhaps Struggle is All We Have.”

 Get involved!

All are welcome to attend the planning meetings of the Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee (SJAO) which take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm in Rev. Josh’s office.  Contact our office at 860-646-5151 or [email protected]


Goals of the UUS:E Social Justice Committee:

One of our primary Social Justice Committee goals is to achieve a better balance between our advocacy and service work within the Greater Hartford community and our connective work within our own Unitarian Universalist Society: East community. We are accordingly working harder to listen and to respond to stories of our own members and friends. As a starting point, representative members of our Rainbow Alliance and Social Justice committees have been meeting together to determine how Unitarian Universalist Society: East can be an “additionally welcoming” place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members and friends. Rainbow Alliance and Social Justice will accordingly cosponsor an appropriate range of educational, legislative advocacy and relationship oriented activities. Some suggestions have been forums,movie nights and direct discussion opportunities (e.g., getting together in members’ homes). During our last meeting, we also discussed”radical communication” as a possible metaphor (e.g., more openly sharing our individual journeys and our resulting hopes and dreams).

Our Mission:

“When people come together to work on social justice projects, they break the bonds of individualism and isolation that fragment communities. They make sacred space for one another. Together they explore the issues that tear at their hearts, and cause them concern for the future. The issue and the passion can only come from them. And, together, they partner with others to understand their place in the community, the gifts they bring to the community, and the hopes and dreams of others. Too many people think that spirituality and social justice are at opposite ends of the continuum, even polarized from one another. In truth, neither can be fulfilled without the other.” Rev. Jeanne Lloyd

The Social Justice Committee (SJC) fosters and focuses the passion for social justice among the members and friends of Unitarian Universalist Society: East by undertaking certain activities itself, and by providing an umbrella forum for the initiation, coordination and lifting up of social justice activities in other groups at Unitarian Universalist Society: East. In doing so, we cover the full spectrum of social justice work, including service (S), education (E), witness (W), advocacy (A), community organizing (CO) and transformation (T).

Activities of the Social Justice Committee