Our focus on social justice is a unique strength of Unitarian Universalism and every congregation embraces it differently. An important role of the minister is to challenge a congregation to be aware of the issues and engage in opportunities to make a difference. Education and familiarity are critical for engagement.
My approach to social justice is self-education, followed by sermons and other educational opportunities, which leads to collaborative action. The goal is to start a cycle of learning, action, reflection, learning and action that perpetuates itself. I think of myself as the catalyst.
These are examples of my recent efforts at social justice engagement:
– Within the first months of my internship, I participated in an educational trip to the Penokee Hills encampment, the Ojibwe response to the proposal for a massive open pit mine threatening tributaries to Lake Superior. I coupled my experience and additional research on the issue into a sermon the following Sunday and facilitated a discussion group.
– In seminary I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class on multi-cultural ministry at All Soul’s Unitarian Church, Tula, one of the most integrated congregations in the UUA. That experience resulted in a sermon titled “The Courage to Make Black Lives Matter” and a companion discussion session. I also helped coordinate the first Black Lives Matter March in Wausau which was sponsored by my internship congregation.
– Last year I participated in a week-long Border Witness Program on the immigration justice issues on the Sonora/Arizona border provided by the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice. I followed this extraordinary experience with a group presentation for a liberation theology class at Meadville Lombard Theological School as well as a sermon and discussion session.
– In recent years, I have attended two conferences sponsored by Out and Equal in the Workplace. I leveraged the workshops on ally engagement to help support the LGBT Equality Event in Wausau in collaboration with the two Unitarian Universalist congregations in the area, as well as several sermons and discussion sessions. Additionally, as a leader with PRIDE@Kimberly-Clark, I created a new communication vehicle titled “Proud Moments” which highlights positive experiences for LGBT employees and allies. Last October I brought a national renowned speaker on gender and sexuality to town and hosted workshops on campus and in the community in collaboration with the local chapter of Rainbow Over Wisconsin