Social Justice @UUC
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The Social Justice Council is composed of representatives of committees that concentrate on specific areas of UUC’s social justice work like racial, environmental and worker justice. The Council works together to coordinate the efforts of various committees. We also staff the Social Justice table on Sundays, provide reports at Sunday services, manage the "Share the Plate" offerings and other philanthropic funds, encourage social justice organizations to use UUC facilities, and make decisions about new initiatives brought to the Council. The Social Justice Council meets at 9:30 am most third Saturdays. The committees are where most of the real work gets done. If you would like to be part of a team that works on a certain issue, please see the contact at the end of each committee description below.
COVID-19 has posed a particular challenge to our Social Justice work here at UUC. As we have had to shift to virtual, this dedicated team has sought to highlight some historic examples of social and racial injustice and inequity here in the United States. Represented in a series of articles entitled: "Racism, What You Didn't Learn in School", they can be accessed here:
Social Justice Articles
Unconscious Racism (03.19.21)
The Tulsa Massacre (10.16.20)
Bracero Program (09.30.20)
Food Injustices (09.17.20)
Tainted Science (09.04.20)
Racially Offensive Mural in St. Petersburg (08.05.20)
Anti-Literacy Laws (07.22.20)
Social Justice Reports/Minutes
Black Lives Matter
The mission of the UUC Black Lives Matter Committee is to work to end racism and white supremacy. Our work is both a personal faith journey and a call for social action. We face how racism privileges the white majority and we take risks to support people of color in their work for justice. As a mostly white congregation, we focus on the role of white people in becoming aware of white supremacy and privilege, ending white silence, and uniting with others for community action to end the injustices faced by Black people in our communities. Many of us have read and discussed Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving. In 2018 and 2020, 35 of us completed the Beloved Conversations curriculum for exploring race in individual and congregational life. We support Clearwater’s African-American community in seeking Justice for Markeis McGlockton. We participate in many Pinellas County NAACP events.
Contact: Susan Allen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Compassion and Choices
Compassion and Choices (or End-of-Life Choices) is working to change the law in Florida to allow a medical-aid-in-dying option. We try to educate people to think about their lives and how they want their medical care handled if they become unable to speak for themselves. We inform about what documents could best help us achieve this result. Everyone is encouraged to share their stories about painful deaths so that we may share those with our legislators as motivation for medical-aid-in-dying legislation. Also, we ask people to write to and talk to their legislators, friends, and others about this movement.
Contact: Anne Burnham: email@example.com
Our goals are to inform and educate the congregation concerning environmental issues, especially the impending climate change crisis. We encourage courageous action to fight climate change and environmental and human injustices. We envision that our congregation will be infused with a spirit and passion to join others in life and planet-saving work with the recognition that this work intersects with the work to eliminate poverty and injustice.
We act as a clearinghouse for environmental activities and actions and work with other environmental groups to plan and promote activities to protect the environment. The committee challenges the congregation to be true to the UUC Environmental Policy and Green Sanctuary Status by composting, recycling, conservatively using heat and AC, using least toxic cleaning and pest-control methods, and limiting the use of disposable items. We are monitoring when UUC might be ready to go solar and we advocate a meatless diet. We take time to celebrate and enjoy our beautiful earth and the interdependent web of life.
Contact: Barb Shimer, Barbara4yoga@gmail.com
The Social Justice Council resumed selling Equal Exchange Products in September 2018. Equal Exchange coffee, tea, chocolate bars, and hot chocolate has been sold once a month from September to May.
Contact: Barbara Brandt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) is a dynamic multicultural, congregation-based, interfaith social justice organization made up of over 46 congregations throughout Pinellas County. UUC is a member of FAST and members of the UUC FAST Justice Ministry work on local social issues together with clergy, lay-leaders and members of the other congregations. At the annual Nehemiah Action in April, the organization proposes solutions to pressing problems to local elected, county, city and law enforcement and school board officials. Some of the issues FAST has researched and worked on are homelessness in Pinellas County, reducing the achievement disparity between white and African American students in the Pinellas County Schools and increasing the use of civil citations for youth in the state of Florida.
Contact: Linda Stoller, email@example.com
For about a decade, members of the congregation have conducted a preschool program for Spanish-speaking parents and their young children at the Hispanic Outreach Center (HOC). Four to five faithful volunteers spend Thursday mornings every week during the school year implementing this program. It introduces preschool routines and activities to children and parents who might not know norms of a typical U.S. English-language school program. Another HOC program to support parents is jewelry-making classes. This year HOC parents attended the holiday fair at UUC to sell their jewelry and holiday crafts.
Contact: Susan Allen, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Migrant Justice Team seeks to implement our faith by identifying the needs of Florida farm workers and assist them in achieving their goals. We join in the actions initiated by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and seek to make life better for those who pick strawberries in Plant City. In this way, we are honoring the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings as well as placing value on the interdependent web. Our major initiatives are collecting and distributing blankets to the Plant City workers as well as rice and beans to supplement their pre-harvest dietary needs. We have frequently answered the call from the CIW to assist them with their actions and boycotts.
Contact: Harriet Ha-Sidi, email@example.com
Puerto Rico Connect, now a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, originated from Social Justice’s Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Committee, which sought to address the many issues that new arrivals to Pinellas County were experiencing. Now mainly comprised of volunteers from the surrounding community, the group has several major activities, among them: A Thanksgiving Food Giveaway, backpacks for students, and the largest family-friendly New Year’s Eve party in the county. Hundreds of individuals & families are reached through this organization. Puerto Rico Connect is not a membership organization; calls go out for volunteers when needed.
The Refugee Committee has conducted its 9 to 11 am Saturday morning ESL program for Arabic speaking adults since 2016. Countries of origin include Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt. Our church membership has responded enthusiastically to the need for more tutors. Lessons focus on the students’ lives and cover topics such as a closer look at Florida and Pinellas county, driving, health, jobs, and hurricanes. Each week, tutors receive an email detailing the lesson for Saturday. Tutors meet thirty minutes before the lesson begins to go over the material and activities and share ideas. All tutors are involved with making the lessons interesting and active. Our classes began in early November and end in May, before Ramadan begins. Childcare for children ages five and older is part of our Saturday morning program.
Contact: Barbara Foley, firstname.lastname@example.org